Beauty marks: The iPhone 11 camera bump

The iPhone 11’s most noticeable feature is a powerful marketing tool.


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Surely you know the story of the ugly duckling. If you don’t, it goes a little like this: pundits had not yet seen the duckling but they spent months telling everyone that it most assuredly was going to be a very ugly duckling. And then, when it was revealed on September 10th, it turned out it wasn’t a duckling at all! It was a smartphone with a really good camera.

The Macalope’s pretty sure he’s got that right.

If you will recall (or even if you refuse, really), Gordon Kelly of the Forbes contributor network and Institute for the Advancement of Screaming at Pigeons in the Park spent the better part of the spring and summer bemoaning how the iPhone 11 was going to be $10,000 of ugly in a device as low $399 with a qualifying trade-in. Why? Because of the camera bump.

Now, let us go on a magical journey through time and way too much mental space for this nonsense to see if he was right.

In early May Kelly said “Apple Insider Corroborates Ugly New iPhone Designs”. A few weeks later he told us how “New iPhone XR2 Renders Detail Apple’s Shocking Design”, saying it will look “like a lazy knock-off.” He continued in June, linking to more renders based on leaked details of case designs.

He most likely wrote a lot more than those three pieces about how ugly the iPhones 11 were going to be but there’s only so much Forbes contributor network and government cheese warehouse even an ungulate can stomach.

All of Kelly’s doom-and-gloomism was based solely on renders created by—surprise—people who were not Apple employees. You’d think that would give one pause but then you, Norman, do not write for the Forbes contributor network and idle speculation mill. Having not actually seen the device in question did not stop Kelly from declaring:

There’s a popular theory emerging from Apple fans: the company’s ugly new iPhone designs will not look so bad once you get them in hand. But they’re wrong.

Hmm! OK. So, here we are, iPhone 11 Pros in hand…

Were Apple “fans” wrong? Turns out they were. Because not only does the iPhone 11 Pro “not look so bad,” it kinda looks great.

Apple is actually using the camera bump to market the product. Which makes perfect sense because the camera is the major upgrade in the iPhone 11 Pro. The videos during the September 10 keynote heavily featured the bump and if you go to the product page for the iPhone 11 Pro, you’ll see that the top three images heavily feature the device’s camera. As David Chartier noticed, the cardboard where the camera bump is on the image of the iPhone 11 Pro Max on the box it ships in is raised.

Of course Apple thinks the bump is great. Apple made it. But whether or not you agree it looks good is not the point. The point is it’s a visible difference between the iPhone 11 line and last year’s iPhones. It tells potential buyers that the camera is going to be better even before trying it. It would be a problem if the camera actually wasn’t, but it really, really is.

Now, you may not like the bump. You don’t have to. It’s true that aesthetics are a matter of personal preference. So Kelly can always declare victory by claiming that the iPhone 11 Pro is ugly. But it’s clear it’s not the liability that he and other critics predicted. Not by a long shot.

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