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Apple's iPhones are too big for many women, including me



My iPhone is too big.

I can hold my iPhone XR in one hand. I've been cycled through three PopSockets in three months, determined to find something to grab onto. If I have a drink in one hand, my phone is basically un-usable, if my thumb cannot reach the far side of the screen. (The letter "A" – so near yet so far.) I clutch my phone on the subway, paralyzed with fear that it will fall into the gap between the train and the platform.

What I can do with my iPhone with one hand. Most of the phone is impossible to touch.
Kate Taylor / Business Insider

Fortunately, I have a heavy-duty phone case. But, I imagine the day it bounces out of my control and gets run over by a truck. Or, when it falls off to ledge, plummeting straight into an unsuspecting civilian, causing near-fatal injuries.

Am I going to be sued? Will Apple cover the legal fees? Will I be sent to jail for a crime committed by my horrible, too big phone?

While I have the freakishly tiny hands of a baby at age 28, I'm not alone in my struggles.

Read more: I've been using my iPhone X for a month and I've decided I hate it

In 2018, Apple faced backlash for its super-sized iPhone X lineup , with many women calling out the company for ignoring the practical realities of people with smaller hands.

"I don't think Apple is evil and deliberately setting out to design phones that are too big for the average female hand," Caroline Criado-Perez, a campaigner and journalist who developed a repetitive strain injury from using an iPhone with a 5.5 inch screen, customs The Independent.

"They are simply part of an industry – and a world – that consistently fails to remember that women are 50 percent of the population," Criado-Perez continued.

At the time, I vaguely agreed. Now that I've fallen into the trap of buying a new iPhone of my own, I am furious.

My preemptive responses to everyone who thinks I'm an idiot

Bring back the five inch phone – or go smaller.
Hollis Johnson / Business Insider

" Well, Kate, "I already imagine you typing in an email," Why didn't you just buy an older, smaller phone? "

Because I wanted portrait mode, duh. I want to look hot in my pictures! All I want in life is look good on Instagram and to scroll aimlessly on my phone while I'm waiting for the subway. Apple should not force me to choose between the two. The smallest iPhones with portrait mode are the iPhone 7 plus and iPhone 8 plus, both of which have five and a half inch screens – slightly smaller than the XR, but still, I have found, too big for my hands.

Read more: Here's why Apple's "Portrait Mode" feature only works on some iPhones and not others

Again, I'm not alone on this one. More than one woman I've spoken with has expressed a similar tension between her desire for portrait mode and her fear of over-sized phone.

"Well, just buy a non-Apple phone, you idiot," I see you writing in another email, cc-ing my boss calling for my resignation.

To which I say – no! I have gotten used to Apple running my life. They already have all my data, and I like the basic infrastructure and connection between devices.

Anyway, I'm not going to read a million other phone reviews in an effort to figure out what non-Apple phone is best for me. I write about fast food, not tech. I shouldn't have become an expert in technology before spending several hundred dollars on a phone. I'm not sure you read my fast-food backlog to decide what you're ordering at McDonald's.

Goodbye Jony Ive

Jony Ive
Getty Images / Michael Kovac

Why am I complaining about this now?

For one thing, I've been complaining about it out loud pretty much every day since I got a new phone in April, and everyone is sick or listening to me.

But, I also wanted to write this now because of the departure of Apple's chief design officer Jony Ive.

"Ive, described as the Lennon to Jobs' McCartney, is … the man who essentially changed the way we consume media on the go with the invention of the iPhone, the iPad, and other iconic hardware," reports Business Insider's Shona Ghosh

Revolutionizing the way we consume media, Ive consistently skewed to a certain type of male customer. Back in 2008, when Apple entered the iPhone 3G era, iPhone faced backlash for making a phone that was essentially impossible to use with long fingernails.

People adapted, with voice-to-text services and adjusting the angle used to type. But, again and again, Apple has shown that the iPhone isn't created with women in mind.

Instead, the needs outside of those of American American tend to be a footnote, with tweaks made after the product hits the market. It took Apple a year after the launch of its HealthKit platform to add a period tracker – something that would be significantly more common to track than blood glucose level for a significant portion of the population.

Apple did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment on this issue.

While Ghosh notes that Apple isn't churning out hardware innovation like it used to, Ive departure signals to Apple's new era. Hopefully, it's an era that looks at the population more broadly when developing new products.

Even if some things never change, I hope and pray that they are true and that the new era brings a new, smaller phone that might actually fit in my hands. And, please let it have portrait mode.


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