The iPhone 14 repeats one of Apple's most annoying design flaws

iPhone 14
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When Apple unveiled its iPhone 14 lineup earlier this month, most people were eager to see what new features were going to appear in the latest devices. Would Apple improve the cameras? (Oh boy, would they.) Would the iPhone 14 Pro enhancements outshine the changes to the standard models? (In a word, absolutely.) And what fate would befall the notch? (On the Pro models at least, it's gone to live on a farm upstate. Now stare in admiration at the Dynamic Island.)

I was interested in these things, too — sort of. But what I really wanted to see was whether Apple made any changes to the familiar Apple logo on the back of its phones.

I didn't expect the logo to move, of course. Apple's got to brand its phones somehow, and now that the iPhone's notch is being eased out the door, that image of an apple with a bite out of it that adorns the back of every iPhone is easily the most recognizably Apple thing about these handsets. The location of the logo or even its very existence on the iPhone isn't the problem here.

The problem is that the Apple logo is really shiny — overly so, I would argue. And that trend continues with the logo on the back of the iPhone 14.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple adorns its phones with a mirrored company logo and has done so for quite a long time. I've got devices here dating back to 2018's iPhone XR, and each one is shiny and shimmery against the device's back panel. But I would argue that starting with the iPhone 12, things got particularly shiny, with that mirrored logo standing out on whatever glass material Apple was using for the iPhone's back.

That's when I began to notice the Apple logo on the iPhone more at any rate. And not always for reasons that Apple intended.

Lay down your phone face down on a desk with the logo facing up — a not uncommon practice to avoid being distracted by your smartphone — and a sunbeam or a light will hit just right. And suddenly, there's a flashing reflection dancing in the corner of your eye. Or even worse, you'll be using your phone and notice that you're inadvertently redirecting a beam of light onto someone else's face.

You know that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana Jones uses the Staff of Ra to capture a sunbeam within the Map Room at Tanis to reveal the location of the Well of Souls? The sun hitting off the mirrored Apple logo on the iPhone is a lot like that, only you don't wind up finding the Ark of the Covenant and the end result is only slightly less face melting.

Indiana Jones in the map room from Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones uses his iPhone to find the Well of Souls. (Image credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Obviously, this overly shiny logo is more of an annoyance than a problem, but as far as annoyances go, it's a puzzler. Our smartphones provide us with an awful lot of valuable tools at our fingertips, but with that comes a seemingly endless capacity to irritate all the people around us with notification pings, grating ringtones and — yes — distracting lights and reflections. Most of these irritations we can do something about, whether it's silencing your phone or disabling your always-on display or Rise to Wake feature. 

But there's no way to block out the sun blazing off the apple-shaped mirror on the back of your iPhone, short of wrapping your phone in a case. (To that end, maybe you should consider picking up one of the best iPhone 14 cases before you inadvertently blind any passersby with your new handset.)

Again, having a phone with an Apple logo that sparkles like it's a vampire in a Stephenie Meyer book is not the worst thing in the world, especially when you take all of the iPhone 14's many strong points into consideration. I may not like seeing that shimmer of distracting light bouncing off the iPhone 12 I'm currently using, but I'm not about to ditch the excellent cameras and iOS 16 experience over that.

It's just this is an example of those occasional instances where Apple has placed the aesthetics of a mirrored logo over how practical that design decision actually is. Maybe we can add a less flashy logo to our iPhone 15 wish list, and hope that by next year, Apple sees the light — literally, as it bounces off the logo on the back of the iPhone.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.