Big iPhone 6 Bulges in All the Wrong Places
By NICK BILTON
SEPTEMBER 24, 2014
It’s the ultimate first world problem. You go to the Apple store, drop $400 for an iPhone 6 and then discover it doesn’t fit in your pocket.
In the past, such problems were limited to hipsters with curly mustaches, whose jeans were so skinny they might actually be cellophane wrap. But now mere mortals with normal pants and purses are in despair.
Over the weekend people bravely took to the public complaint box, Twitter and Facebook, to grumble about this oversized issue. (Pun intended.)
“My new iPhone 6 doesn’t fit into the pocket of my Lululemons,” Sarah Watsonwrote on Twitter.
“I capitulate. The iPhone 6 Plus simply won’t fit comfortably in my not-at-all skinny jeans,” David Heinemeier Hansson lamented. He added, with a sad emoji face, that he was “downgrading“ to the iPhone 6. And an in-depth thread popped up on Reddit discussing how to get around this problem.
Technology blogs have tried to help. Dozens of videos have appeared on YouTubeoffering expert tests of iPhones slipping in and out of random pockets. (No, I’m not kidding.) A number of downloadable guides allow users to print out a fake iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to see if they will fit in your clothing. (Again, I’m not kidding.) It won’t be long before a Silicon Valley start-up gets $10 million in funding for an app that tells people which iPhones will fit in which jeans. (This time I am kidding — I hope.)
While it’s easy to joke about this being a non-problem, this is actually a bit of a real issue, given that the smartphone is arguably the most important gadget in our lives today, and one that is usually just inches away from us.
Video | The iPhone 6: Is Bigger Better? The iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 rival the competition in sheer size. But when it comes to taking advantage of those bigger screens, Molly Wood says, Apple’s new phones don’t always measure up.
Among gadget reviewers, women seemed to have the most trouble with the new iPhones. Lauren Goode of Re/code said the larger model was too big to hold in her hands or wear on her arm while exercising. My colleague Molly Wood, a columnist for The New York Times, told me that the iPhone 6 Plus won’t fit into her purse. And Abby Johnston of Bustle noted that because women’s jean pockets are smaller than men’s, either pockets have to get bigger, or phones smaller.
But don’t expect either of those to change anytime soon. I called around to dozens of jean makers and designers, and heard a lot of noes when asked if companies planned to change the style or aesthetic of their clothing to accommodate bigger phones.
“Our skinny-jean pockets are too small for the new iPhone,” said Katrina Klein, denim director for Rag & Bone, adding that she has no plans to change that. “We expect people to carry their larger phones in bags and purses.”
Lela Tillem Becker, a founder of Mother, a high-end clothing designer, said that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus fit in the rear pocket of the company’s jeans, but they too won’t make accommodations for the front pockets. “If it disrupts the shape, it’s just not worth it,” she said.
But fear not, men of Silicon Valley. Some guy-centric brands seem to be fine forgoing form for techie function.
Last year Dockers announced that it had expanded its “coin pocket,” which is the smaller pocket inside the larger pocket of men’s pants, by an extra inch to accommodate larger phones. Bonobos, the online clothing store, now offers a jacket called the Jetsetter, which has a larger inside pocket that fits a passport or larger smartphone.
“If none of our pants fit the iPhones, that would be a real problem,” said Dwight Fenton, vice president for design at Bonobos. “You ignore them at your own peril.”
But how much bigger can pockets even get? Josue Perzell, store director of Denim Doctor, a Los Angeles-based vintage jean seller and repair shop, said that over the years, jean pockets had already grown drastically.
“Early vintage jeans tend to have much smaller pockets because people didn’t have much to carry back in the day,” he said. “They weren’t thinking of adding phones or anything else. Today’s pockets are much bigger.”
There are more serious pockets to worry about. For one, doctors have complained that the larger iPhone 6 Plus does not fit in a lab coat and awkwardly juts out. With many physicians in the United States using iPhones, this could pose a real problem should they upgrade.
Style watchers are having fun predicting what fashion trends these larger screens may usher in. The man purse, also known as the “murse,” could resurface. Cargo pants, with their jumbo side pockets, could be the rage again. Or fanny packs could make a miraculous comeback. (We could call them Phony Packs.)
More than likely, the bloated new iPhones could alter public etiquette, again. “You know how you’re never supposed to take your phone out at dinner?” wrote Dennis Tang, an editor at GQ. (Besides being uncomfortable, there have been reports of the iPhone bending — the horror! — after users kept them in their pockets for extended periods.) The larger phone, he said, means it is now O.K. to flout that rule. “Leaving it untouched and silenced at the edge of the table should do just fine.”
Some extreme hipsters won’t have to worry about pockets being too small or new etiquette. They are stalwartly refusing to upgrade.
Eric Goldstein, a founder of Jean Shop, a New York-based high-end jean maker, said that some of his customers have said they don’t want to buy the new iPhone because it will leave a different wear mark on the front pocket of their jeans.
“A lot of our customers wear their jeans repeatedly to make them look vintage,” he said, and explained that they develop a unique rectangular shape where their phone has rubbed up against the pocket. “With the different sized phones, people are getting upset that they are going to have an another shaped rectangle on the pocket area,” he said.
Now that is a first world problem.