iPhone 14 — Apple needs to fix this big iPhone 13 design problem

iPhone 13 Pro Max review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We think that the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max are some of the best phones that you can buy today. With excellent cameras, great OLED displays, and an overabundance of horsepower, the iPhone 13 series is really hard to beat. Even the best Android phones struggle to compare in some areas.

But one advantage several Android phones have over the iPhone 13 comes down to ergonomics. Phones like the Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro all feel a lot more comfortable to hold, even given their large chassis. How do they accomplish this?

They have rounded backs around which your hand can better mold itself. The iPhone 13 has a blocky design with sharp edges, making the newest models uncomfortable. The hefty iPhone 13 Pro Max (weighing 8.5 ounces) is especially bad, even though I have big hands.

With a phone as big and heavy as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, shortcomings in ergonomics become very noticeable very quickly.

I honestly hate picking up the iPhone 13 Pro Max and it's a feeling that continues to fester the more I use the phone. The smaller models have a similar problem, just on a lower scale. But with a phone as big and heavy as the Pro Max, shortcomings in ergonomics become very noticeable very quickly.

Early rumors point to Apple staunchly sticking with the flat edges with the iPhone 14. I think is a bad idea, as I've elaborated above. While "sharp" may be a bit of a hyperbole, I simply do not like the design that Apple has stuck with since the iPhone 12. As for why it's done so, only Apple knows.

iPhone 14 renders by Front Page Tech and Ian Zelbo

(Image credit: Ian Zelbo | Front Page Tech)

But we're almost a full year out from the next iPhone. Apple has likely finalized many of its details, but I'm still holding out hope that we'll get a return a more comfortable, ergonomic iPhone 14. In fact, I find the iPhone 13 Pro Max so uncomfortable and unwieldy that I switched to the Pixel 6 Pro for my main phone. Operating system differences aside, it's a night and day change between the two physically.

Cases certainly help with the edges, but I don't like using cases if I don't have to (one of the benefits of rarely leaving your home office). To say that they can make the phone easier to hold is a band-aid solution — and one that doesn't translate to usability considering that cases, even the slimmest ones, add varying degrees of bulk.

We've seen that the iPhone 14 could be a mishmash of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 4 and I find that a bit disheartening given what I've said here. Apple doesn't seem to listen to our design opinions most of the time, especially when it comes to its smartphone design. And the rare times that Apple does listen, the changes can take years to come to fruition (like with 2021 MacBook Pros, which were five years in the making).

Rounded backs are a good thing. Smartphones are already quite large for the most part, why make it even harder to handle them? Some Android phone makers have figured this out and it's high time for Apple to, as well.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.

  • nleeklee
    i can't believe this article.
    i mean.. it's like someone getting open heart surgery and everything going very well.. with the best doctors on board.. and then being handed a cup of water and saying..
    'it's only half full.'