The iPhone 3G plug: little things count

The Apple iPhone 3G's marvellous adapter

Look around your office floor or home office's power strips. How many big, obstructive, hot black power bricks and adapters can you count? My home entertainment system sports about six for a very modest set of gear; my office has three. Power adapters aren't given much thought by designers.

That's part of what makes the new Apple iPhone 3G's adapter so marvellous. While oceans of ink and electrons have been written about the network and software features of the phone, I'd like to wax briefly rhapsodic about the tiny bit of white plastic with a USB port on one side and two metal electrical prongs coming out of the other.

Apple likes to rethink basic assumptions. They know what we hate and what we love. Where other computer and phone makers have seemed to require teams of people working separately to integrate their varying projects at the least cost in a sort of "you got your peanut butter in my chocolate" sort of collision, Apple works iteratively and progressively among all its teams.

The famous scroll wheel on its iPod? Suggested by a marketing chief, according to Leander Kahney's excellent new book Inside Steve's Brain. (Contrary to the title, it's not about Steve Jobs per se; it's a business guide to how Apple's CEO aggressively directs small, hard-working teams in avoiding accepting a second-best alternative — ever.)

When an Apple exec slid the iPhone 3G power adapter to me across a conference table during a briefing Monday, I was briefly confused as to what he was showing me. It was so vastly unlike every other power adapter ever designed. Even Apple's own tiny rectangular bricks with easily swapped plugs — for international use or to replace a two-prong plug with a cord with a third-prong end — pale in comparison.

I've seen once before a simple adapter designed for devices that could adapt universally to local voltage that simply fit over whatever plug style you were using with the plug style you needed. But this is the first I've seen a company work so hard on this particular item.

Apple isn't just about the flair and pizzazz. They're about the hard engineering work required to make things simpler and less invasive. It takes a village of wonks to shrink a power adapter.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Glenn Fleishmann

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?