Bits And Bytes (week of 9/18)

petershihpetershih ZTE FanaticUnited StatesPosts: 378 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
<body><p>Welcome to our weekly <a _jive_internal="true" href="">Bits And Bytes</a> poll and discussion! Give your honest opinion, debate ferociously, and respect each other at all times...</p><p></p><p><strong>Question</strong>: when evaluating a phone's overall design, which do you generally value more: <span style="text-decoration: underline;">functional</span> design or <span style="text-decoration: underline;">aesthetic</span> design?</p><p></p><p><strong>Context</strong>: a phone's look and feel can instantly capture our hearts, even without knowing what's under the hood. But what we may not understand is the purpose behind the design - sometimes they're functional (e.g., car spoilers don't just look cool, they serve to increase downward force at high speeds and thereby increase traction and performance) and other times they're purely aesthetic. More recently, we are seeing more phone design cues that are driven by aesthetics over functionality. Case in point: the new iPhone 7 has two speaker grills at the bottom, but only one of them has a speaker underneath. While this design promotes symmetry and balance, it could possibly mislead the casual customer. In this iPhone 7 example, the design is aesthetic-focused rather than functional-focused. While there are pros and cons to both, which option do you generally prefer and why?</p><p></p><p><strong>Action</strong>: 1. Select one of the options below and 2. reply to justify your reasoning. Although there is no correct answer, please provide sound reasoning to support your selection. After a week or so, your Mod Squad will soon identify and reward those with the most thoughtful responses!</p></body>

Bits And Bytes (week of 9/18) 73 votes

Aesthetic design
6% 5 votes
Functional design
93% 68 votes


  • fzrrichfzrrich United StatesPosts: 4,257 mod

    I voted functional but I believe that BOTH are extremely important. Just as your reference regarding the spoiler is both functional and looks cool. It serves a purpose but has to be designed to look cool as well.  A phone has to function well but the aesthetics is what is going to make someone pick it up in the first place,  never want to put it down,  and show it off to all your friends. They go hand in hand.

  • runtohell121runtohell121 Analyst United StatesPosts: 2,262 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted functional, as I prefer having functional features over aesthetic ones. Having actual functional design, such as dual camera, dual speakers, etc., would be a lot better than just having an aesthetic design to look like the product have those features. Although the aesthetic do play a big role of deciding on the phone to get, I do think that functionality play a bigger role when making phone purchase decisions. As with some people, we could get a case, skin, or some sort of item to cover up some of the phone's aesthetics if it doesn't affect the phone in anyway. So yeah, I prefer functional more than aesthetics, but having both is definitely important.

  • hollaphollap United StatesPosts: 8,377 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted for functional. I don't care what something looks like if it works every time I use it. My reference will actually be another phone.  Remember please, this is all just my opinion.  In 2015 Huawei teamed up with Google to create the Nexus 6P.  Arguably the best functioning phone of 2015. But in my opinion, also one of the ugliest phones I've ever seen.  But that wouldn't have stopped me from buying it. And it certainly didn't stop hordes of others from buying it also. On on the opposite side of the spectrum, Samsung designs some of the most aesthetically pleasing devices on earth, but then ruin them with their TouchWiz interface.

    While I understand there needs to be a balance between the 2, I prefer function over form any day. Remember the old saying never judge a book by its cover

  • maulgandhimaulgandhi United StatesPosts: 519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I saw two options Aesthetics and Functional without even reading the context above, I voted for Functional design. Functional design is more important to me than aesthetics. Finally, I read what you guys mentioned in the context menu. If you guys did not mentioned an example of aesthetics, I'd have mentioned Apple's iphone example: They have been following aesthetic design for years for that reason their new phone 6/6s/7 are so tall compared to the same size phone on android. Aesthetic is important, but if it makes the phone tall or if there is no use in case of iphone 7 speaker grill or Axon pro (top part of the phone looks like speaker grill) then don't bother. I would definitely prefer functionality over form. That is one of the reason why I like Project ARA so much (unfortunately, Google killed ARA project).

  • chrsnchrsn New YorkPosts: 217 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You separate form and function with the iPhone as an example, but in my opinion you are looking at a distorted view of 'form and function'.

    The iPhone of course has a metallic unibody and finish that gives it a premium form, but do iPhone users really go around saying how well designed their devices are? No, or else they wouldn't be lining up in droves despite the minimal design change.

    iPhone users have become accustomed to that new iPhone not only having less build flaws, but having superior function. Apps don't crash due to there being only one phone manufacturer and phone, the iPhone, and therefore its easier to develop for. iMessage simply works, snapchat, messenger, the camera, everything just works. Nobody cares there's no gorilla glass, nor that there is no removable battery or that they can no longer charge and listen to music. The phone works, it works well, and the experience is CONSISTENT. Your iPhone 7 builds on the 6s and so on, but you expect each iteration to do what the previous could but better, with not that many bugs.

    Android phones may have the unibody, may have the functions, and even cool things like modules and custom OS's made to make life easier. But what doesn't android have? A consistent experience. Samsung has gone the opposite direction of Apple, and offered multiple functions galore along with what some people a bloated TouchWiz. Why do they sell millions of devices now as opposed to during their overstock of S5 devices? Consistency. Your typical flagship Samsung has a good camera, good speed, good screen, and good performance. And TouchWiz.

    To limit function to software is a fallacy. The user experience and the consistency of that experience over time is what keeps users. This is something Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, and now Google(I.e. the Nexus experience) know. The user experience is everything, and while form and function may help different aspects of the experience, the secret sauce between them is consistency.

    One last example: OnePlus and their initial success being partly attributed to popular ROMS like Cyanogen. The user experience would be consistent expectations of what Cyanogen are (quick, fast, good modifications to AOSP). They launched Oxygen OS for other devices afterwards and lost alot of credit, and sales with the next iteration of the device.

    Sorry for wall.....

  • vagavaga USAPosts: 347 ✭✭✭

    A device should have features like dual front stereo speakers, solid camera, fingerprint reader, etc. Those are the functional features. But additionally, the phone should be easy to hold and designed to have a large (greater than 3200mAh) battery so that it can last all day. That being said, it shouldn't be ugly.

    The Axon 7 is a great example of a mix of both function and aesthetics in design. Bezels are small, speakers are present, buttons are well-made and well-placed. Couple things that it could improve on though is that its smooth surface can be kind of slippery (not a big problem for me so far) and (most importantly) redesign the left and right edges of the phone to be cut more straightly like the OnePlus phones rather than bulge out and curve. The straight edges make it much easier to firmly grip and more ergonomic.

    A larger battery would also not be a bad thing

  • shoman94shoman94 MainePosts: 605 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I chose functional because I live the placement of the button but I do wish the power button was textured to differentiate it. I also like having the capacitive buttons but also wish they were lit. I live the front facing speakers and that big for me but the downfall to that is that they are plastic.

    The shape feels natural in my hands and the fingerprint reader is definitely more natural there. I don't think that allowing it to operate and unlock the phone while in my pocket is a problem. The proximity sensor should be added as a check before allowing the phone to wake. I have pulled my phone or off my pocket a few time to have the flashlight lit.

    The screen resolution is perfect for 5.5 inches and love havinga small edge on the sides to omit ghost touches. It also has just enough nits for outside use.

  • mobilegeezermobilegeezer Chattanooga, Tennessee AreaPosts: 1,204 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted functional because, though aesthetics are important, I think too many everyday users are/can be misled by the 'look' if they are not paying attention to what's really happening 'under the hood'.

  • jabird101jabird101 Cleveland, OH, USAPosts: 225 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I didn't choose my car because it is pretty, I chose it because it does what I need and want it to do.  I wasn't able to get my first second or third choice in color, It was a year old model (a full year old left over on the lot because of the color) but the price was what I wanted to pay and it was the last of it's kind within 2,200 miles, so no real shot at getting exactly what I wanted so I compromised.  I have no problem sacrificing the look for the function. 

    I will use poop on a stick to make a call as long as it works. 

  • taotao Posts: 72 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been looking all over for a phone with a good DAC for great audio quality while listening to music.  I was going to get the Galaxy S7, especially since it was rumoured to have an ESS Sabre DAC.  Not only did the S7 not have a Sabre DAC, they had a home brew implementation with no specs to be found anywhere.  Aside from "no specs, no money" it was poor that the supposed king of the hill would cut corners on any feature, let alone the feature of being a portable music player.

    Anyway I went Axon 7 purely out of functionality.  The only feature close to athestics that I would rule out a phone on are the availability of a good case.  By case I mean something that will protect it from a drop, not a shell that simply wraps over the phone (think otter Box).  I almost passed over an Axon 7 due to not having an Otter Box or something equivalent for drop protection, but I did find a passable chepo drop resistant case to tide me over until something better comes out: ZTE Axon 7 Belt Clip Case, CoverON® [Explorer Series] Holster Hybrid Armor Belt Clip Hard Phone Cover For ZTE Axon 7 Hol…

    Don't get me wrong, that case is pretty ugly, but not as ugly as walking around with a dented side and smashed screen.

    Long story short:  I rather functionality and an ugly protective case, than carrying around something which would be an effective paper wieght that just happens to look pretty.

  • ironbaybeedollironbaybeedoll United StatesPosts: 4,630 mod

    Without functionality, the aesthetics is irrelevant.

  • samsamhasamsamha United StatesPosts: 2,363 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    personally, I am a sucker for functions and I like my device to do things I want. However, I do feel that aesthetic and sex appeal sells. Because it is really the first thing that people notice. I think as long as a device is not terribly bad looking and also is somewhat unique with a balanced industrial design, then I am fine with it. I really feel that Axon 7 is a good example of great design. I think finding a way to merge of the two and find the right balance of the two is ultimately what would make a device perfect. Though if there is something needed to sacrifice a bit of design for great functionality then I am find as long it's something that I truly want.

  • fzrrichfzrrich United StatesPosts: 4,257 mod

    I think the best route is to put together a fully functional phone packed with great features that works well and then reevaluate the design and "tweek"  it here and there to make it more aesthetically pleasing and less slippery in the hand. 

  • dabehrsdabehrs Dripping Springs, TexasPosts: 446 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Pretty things are nice to look at... but I need to get $h!# done...

    (I don't expect to win with that answer but it is the truth)

  • hollaphollap United StatesPosts: 8,377 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Amen to that ​!

  • jasonejasone United StatesPosts: 2,118 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I kind of hate that I voted aesthetic but in your example I agree with that. Huawei and others have included two grills before even though there was only one speaker. I liked the balance design and design is important to me, but within reason. I almost see the edge screens to be aesthetic as I don't really use the edge screen on Samsung devices. I still think it looks really good though and would want it mostly for it's looks rather than function.

    That being said I think it should be within reason. Such as if you're losing functions like microSD then nope. If the edges are so rounded the phone becomes way too slippery to hold (I'm looking at you Axon 7) then nope. If you're making it so thin that you can't provide reasonable battery life, then nope. If you're dropping he microphone jack just to drop it, then nope.

    Basically I'm a bit torn on it I want aesthetics but without losing function, but still respect a good design.

  • Functional design for me, since most of the phones nowadays look almost the same!

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