The Relief of Dropping An iPad
Cracked screens and scuffed edges. The mental toll of using devices not designed for the real world
A few weeks ago, I dropped my iPad. There was a moment, a gut-wrenching moment, seemingly in slow motion, as I watched my iPad Pro, 12.9", with its Apple A12X chip, Bionic 64-bit architecture, and Apple M12 motion coprocessor fall. Millions of dollars of research and development, decades of Moore’s Law, and the ultimate manifestation of Jony Ive’s vision meet: the floor.
At the Apple Special Event™ that launched the iPad Pro, the screens behind Apple’s polo-neck-enveloped executives filled with abstract videos of iPads spinning, tumbling, and turning through the air, weightless and indestructible. In the split second my iPad fell, those images popped into my mind as a sort of cruel mocking parody of the fate about to, quite literally, befall my iPad. The difference between Apple’s marketing videos and my world seemed infinite. In Apple’s videos, a falling device is elegant. Like a ballerina. In my world a falling device is clumsy. Like a brick.
Apple’s imagined devices never come into contact with the sharp corners of reality and concrete. No devices in promotional videos have cracked screens. The fronts are immune from fingerprints. Most aren’t in cases. To hear Apple’s videos tell it, you’d think no one had spilled water on an iPhone until Apple introduced an IP67 waterproof rating.
In the real world, our devices fall in toilets and baths. They break and chip. Walking around, I see people swiping thumbs across spiderweb screen cracks, and I give an involuntary shiver. Have they just dropped their device and, even now, are swiping to book an appointment at the closest Genius Bar? Or can they not afford the exorbitant repair cost and are making do? Perhaps they have got used to the crack in the same way we get used to scars and no longer notice it as they scroll their way through their life.
My iPad survived its tumble, with just a small chip in its bezel to show for it. I breathed a sigh of relief. The visceral fear we have of our fragile devices falling is not just economic, but also emotional — a fear of the perfect world of silicon and aluminum coming into contact with reality, shattering the fragile…