The sisterhood of the non-internet pants

OK, so now that everything we knew about the new iPhone has been confirmed,1 I want to talk about Andy Ihnatko’s blind spot as a reviewer.

I like Andy’s reviews, and what I like most about them is his understanding that not everyone cares about, or even recognizes, the attention to detail that Apple tends to put into its product design. For people who treat their cell phones and computers as things instead of boon companions, Andy is a voice of reason. Even those of us who do care about fit and finish and have deep relationships with our devices have limits on the amount of money, time, and attention we can lavish on them. Andy understands that better than any other pundit in the Apple orbit.

Sometimes I think he goes a little too far in defending the philistines against the Apple aesthetes. He has, for example, been saying for a few years that [insert latest Android phone here] is finally the one that could be an adequate substitute for an iPhone. He said it again on last week’s Ihnatko Almanac.

But that’s not Andy’s blind spot, that’s just him trying to be fair. But his blind spot did come up during the podcast when he talked about the advantages of having a larger phone like the Samsung Galaxy S III he’d been trying out. He never mentioned any disadvantages of the larger size, and that’s a consistent problem whenever he talks about portable devices.

Andy, you see, has no idea of the pocket sizes of normal human beings.

I can remember several times on MacBreak Weekly, when he’d talk casually about putting a first-generation Kindle in his pocket. This was a hard plastic device that measured 8″×5.3″×0.8″ and weighed over 10 ounces, and Andy considered sticking it into his pocket the most natural thing in the world. He seemed to have no idea that most of us would never dream of doing such a thing.

And then there was the matter of his internet pants, which seemed to give free rein to his pack animal instincts. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he now carries an 11″ MacBook Air in them.

Once upon a time, the cool thing about cell phones was how small they were. When the iPhone was first announced back in aught-seven, one of the features that caused a stir was how damned big it was. Now idiot tech pundits are calling it tiny and saying that the size increase of the iPhone 5 is just a copycat move on Apple’s part. I guess it’s hard to remember a whole five years ago.

I suspect Apple’s reluctance to increase the size of the iPhone—and its decision to increase it only in length—came from the recognition that a significant number of its customers would find a larger phone to be a burden. Not only because a larger phone is harder to stretch your thumb across when using it one-handed, but because a larger phone is just harder to carry around.

If you think a larger phone isn’t an encumbrance, my guess is that

  1. you don’t wear dress pants, or if you do, you don’t care what they look like with a big chunk of glass in them; and
  2. you’re not a woman.

Now I’m sure there are plenty of women who carry their phones around in their front jeans pockets, just like men. But I’ve never seen one. The women I’ve seen carrying phones in their pockets have them in their back pockets, and even the current iPhone sticks out of the top of a back pocket.

Cargo pants? The pockets on women’s cargo pants seldom carry anything. They’re there for style, not function, just like a man’s tie.

Women do put their phones in their purses, but purses have limited space, and although men like to think they’re filled with junk that could easily be removed to accomodate a larger phone, women certainly don’t think that, and it’s their opinion that matters. Until every woman can have a purse like Hermione Granger’s, space will be limited and larger phones will strain their capacity.

Unlike the overwhelmingly male tech punditry, Apple understands that its customers are both men and women and that they’re both young and old. While some may be willing to put up with an inconvenient size to get extra “power,” most aren’t. Many of their customers can even remember a time when people didn’t carry phones around with them at all.

I’m sure Andy Ihnatko remembers those days. That was when he had a paperback book stuffed in his back pocket.

  1. Except the name. Remember when “the new iPad” meant that Apple was ditching numbers across its product line? Good times.