Apple has made a number of missteps over the years. From Bendgate to “You’re wrong,” we introduce the biggest failures.tec
The latest example of a major misstep is the Qi charging mat AirPower announced in 2017, with which iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPod owners should have charged their devices wirelessly. The company often tries to sweep problems under the rug and rarely admits its own mistakes. Buyers hardly get an apology for this. Instead, they simply give out freebies, offer discounted repairs or extended warranties. A journey through the history of the best and funniest Apple fails.
At the end of 2017, complaints about poor performance on older iPhone models increased. Geekbench developer John Poole demonstrated in a Reddit post that iOS deliberately cuts power to save battery life. After initial hesitation, Apple confirmed the throttling and justified it by saying that it should prevent sudden crashes. However, because of the secrecy, users saw it as a covert attempt to force them to buy a new device.
– iFixit (@iFixit)April 17, 2018
Ultimately, Apple apologized for the incident and built a function in iOS that can be used to disable throttling. In addition, the company offered owners of an iPhone 6 or newer a battery replacement at the reduced price of 29 euros until the end of 2018.
Hockey Puck Mouse (1998)
There is not much to say about this round mouse – except that it was impossible to use. A classic example of form over functionality that absolutely went too far. The completely unergonomic shape of the mouse meant that you had to cramp your fingers to press the button. After all, the colorful iMac G3, with which the mouse was shipped, has meanwhile become a cult object. And somehow the mouse is one of them. But just somehow.
Speaking of mice, the hockey puck is not Apple’s only wrong design decision in this area. The best example is the wireless Magic Mouse 2, whose charging port is on the underside. Charge and use the mouse at the same time? Nothing.
iPhone 6 Bendgate (2014)
The iPhone 6 heralded a new era at Apple: From then on, the company offered its smartphones in two sizes. The regular iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were both larger than the previous iPhone 5, and that’s where the problems should begin. As is typical for Apple, the devices had to be slimmer despite the larger area, and the first complaints a few days after the start of sales. In the forum of the Macrumors page, a user posted a photo of his iPhone 6 Plus with a noticeable bend. Not long after that, YouTube was full of videos of people trying to bend their iPhones by hand. According to Apple, only a few users were affected by the problem, but Apple still offered a free replacement if the bend was actually caused by normal use.
– Tom Warren (@tomwarren) May 24, 2018
The folding function of the iPhone 6 became known on the Internet as “Bendgate”. Apple gave the subsequent iPhone 6s a thicker aluminum frame to avoid further incidents of this kind. Since the iPhone 6 Bendgate there have been a few reviewers who test every new smartphone for its structural strength. One of them is Zack Nelson, who runs the YouTube channel JerryRigEverthing and subjects smartphones to an ordeal test to examine resistance. The new iPad Pro also fell victim to this test at the end of 2018, under which the “two-thumb test” simply collapsed in the middle. In fact, some iPad Pro owners have complained that their devices were easily bent. Many felt reminded of Bendgate and the reaction increased so much that Apple was forced to publish a statement in early 2019. The company admitted that some devices may have slight bends, but that this is normal and will not affect its functionality.
Apple Maps (2014)
Meanwhile, Apple’s own map service doesn’t really show that it was once one of the company’s most controversial missteps. Introduced together with the iPhone 6, Apple Maps was supposed to replace the already excellent Google Maps on iOS, but it turned into a disaster. Apple Maps was so bad that numerous users were misdirected by the navigation and in some places buildings, cities or entire islands were incorrectly drawn. Apart from that, the satellite images were partly in black and white or completely flat, instead of the promised 3D.
Apple Maps was one of the rare occasions when Apple issued an official apology that has since been deleted from the Apple site. In the apology, Tim Cook wrote that the launch of Apple Maps had failed and that everything would be done to fix the problems. In the meantime, users should simply use the map alternatives from Google, Waze or Bing again.
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iPhone 4 Antennagate (2010)
After two years of the slippery plastic backs of the iPhone 3 and iPhone 3GS, Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with a glass back and an aluminum frame in 2010. The chic design, admittedly, had a fatal problem: shortly after the market launch, buyers noticed that when they were on the phone, the signal suddenly disappeared and the call was cut off. The aluminum frame acted as a row of antennas, which were simply blocked in certain positions in the hand.
Apple’s first answer to the problem: “You think it’s wrong”. This saying went down in the history of the Internet and is still popular today when a device does not work as it should. A few weeks later, however, Steve Jobs apologized for the fiasco known as the “Antennagate” and vowed to remedy the situation. You wonder what the solution looked like. Apple simply distributed colorful bumper cases that covered the aluminum frame – that’s what I call a practical and inexpensive solution. At least for Apple.
Apple Pippin (1996)
Okay, this is practically an antique, but the Pippin was one of the biggest failures for the young Apple. The Pippin was developed with Bandai and was originally intended to be an affordable Mac for gaming. The result was an overpriced game console with internet access and a desktop operating system that – believe it or not – only sold 42,000 times. You don’t even have to compare that to the 100 million units sold by the original PlayStation to see that the Pippin was a total letdown. Fifteen months after its launch, the Pippin was freed from its suffering and discontinued – shortly after Steve Jobs returned to Apple.
Butterfly keyboard (since 2016)
While our list includes mostly disreputable examples of Apple’s iPhones, there are also enough questionable design choices with the popular MacBooks. Practically every year new problems come to light, only recently IFixit reported on the Stagelight problem, in which the MacBooks literally go out of light due to short connecting cables.
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One problem that has been affecting all MacBooks since 2016 is the so-called butterfly keyboard, which Apple proudly presented in the 12-inch MacBook from 2016. It has been installed in all new MacBooks since then. Compared to the classic scissor keyboard, the butterfly keyboard can be much flatter, which means that the MacBook itself can be built flatter. Aside from the fact that the keyboard can take getting used to and uncomfortable to type, it is also extremely prone to dust. As soon as only small particles of dust get under the keyboard, the keys can block and no longer register any input. Apple has now installed a new version of the keyboard in its current MacBooks, with a silicone layer hidden under the keys.