The midlevel editor said I couldn’t do that in an article title, so I iGnored him.
This is nearly two weeks old, but unless you hang out around iFixit everyday, you might have missed it. In any case, the site recently acquired the kilobuck-priced iPhone 11 Pro Max, and did exactly what they always do: they tore it to bits in front of a camera. Even better, the author seemed possessed of more irony than is typical for one of their write-ups, making it a treat to read as well as watch. Highlights:
- Battery is (relatively) easy to access for future service, on par with an iPhone 6.
- Everything else rates a 6/10 for repairability, which is mediocre.
- RAM, parts list, etc. nearly all confirmed via identification numbers.
- It turns out you CAN make a phone imperceptibly thicker and gain a new lease on battery life. Who would have thought.
The poor overall repairability is no surprise once you see everything that’s stuffed into this chassis. iFixit didn’t spend too much time on the new camera, deferring instead to the detailed writeup at Halide. Both articles are recommended reads. Suffice to say it’s an all-around impressive achievement in both technical capability and product packaging, if you can accept the “Steve Jobs never would have let a camera stick out like that” aspect.
As to the phone more generally: the features of the 11-series have been variously lauded and mocked elsewhere since the release, with our ongoing favorite being iPhone mitosis. Our second favorite involved arachnid anatomy, which trended on Twitter long enough to make a news segment at NBC. Those are done well and done to death, so we’ll leave them alone here.
Our complaint is more prosaic. The one thing iFixit didn’t find in the teardown was a headphone jack. (Did you see that one coming?) Yeah, yeah, get with the times, they say. Here’s the thing: anymore, the “times” seem to involve random Bluetooth pairing errors, glitches, and dropouts, sometimes mysteriously resolved by rebooting one or both affected devices, and sometimes only by declaring one of the two devices incompatible and replacing it with something else. Or, perhaps, by purchasing the same vendor’s matching headphone accessory for the assurance of lab-tested interoperability, for the low price of an entire day at Disney World. So, no, we’re not going to let that one die, especially since it was Apple that hamfisted the entire industry in that direction back at the iPhone 7 launch.
Yes, we know that Samsung, Apple’s behemoth bête noire in the phone space, is belatedly giving up the fight. And yes, we know that Google’s only recent concession was to include a headphone jack solely on the downmarket-targeted 3a of its third-generation Pixel lineup. Together, those decisions end any hope of a mass return to sensibility. We’re still annoyed. Since I travel for business now and then and have seen a lot of late-model rental cars, I’m painfully aware of the lack of consistency and compatibility from one vendor’s implementation, to the next, both for USB interfacing and Bluetooth. Running audio out of a portable device to an Aux Jack may seem soooo 2008, but it Always Works as a last resort.
Don’t even ask a true A/V production nerd what they think of the matter. Smartphones from roughly the gen1 Pixel and iPhone 6, and forward, are among the best all-purpose A/V recording devices in existence, and killing the headphone jack eliminates one of the most foolproof ways ever invented of getting audio signals in and out of such a machine. So meanwhile, Apple is selling $1k, jack-less phones to somebody other than me, and I’m collecting $80 gen1 Pixels off eBay as hobby spares.
And get off my lawn.