Editorial: Apple's removal of 3D Touch is a backwards step for 'Pro' iPhones

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple's iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are exceptional new devices, packed full of new features. While there is much to like on the new phones, the absence of 3D Touch is a step backwards.

3D Touch versus Haptic Touch
3D Touch versus Haptic Touch


Not everyone used it, but 3D Touch brought the iPhone a whole new level of fast interactivity -- and now we've lost it.

Instead, the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max all used the cheaper alternative that Apple introduced with the iPhone XR. Instead of an actual pressure-sensitive display, we get what Apple calls Haptic Touch.






This is the iPhone-maker's attempt to replicate the physical pressure-sensing display purely in software. While it has a fancy name, it isn't much more than a long press that triggers some feedback from the Taptic Engine.

It's portrayed as an enhancement for iOS 13, but even if you think that, it still means Apple felt it could ditch the more costly physical display 3D Touch required.

Unfortunately, as those who have used 3D Touch for a long time can attest, Haptic Touch simply isn't a good enough replacement for 3D Touch. The difference is small -- but it isn't slight -- and it mars the otherwise excellent iPhone 11 Pro experience.

Where it falls short

Haptic Touch does a decent job throughout the OS mimicking pressure sensitivity. It can preview emails, move the cursor, rearrange icons, open the camera from the Lock Screen.

It does these things that we've come to like, yet in every case it does them worse than it did with 3D Touch.

Rearranging app icons is less intuitive with Haptic Touch
Rearranging app icons is less intuitive with Haptic Touch


Take rearranging icons. Before it took a long hold to enter "jiggle mode" and a force press to open up the 3D Touch contextual menu. Without 3D Touch, you have to long hold to open the menu, and hold even longer to rearrange (or use the Rearrange Apps button in the menu).

On the Lock Screen, it now takes even longer to deliberately open the flashlight or access the camera -- frustrating on a phone that is overall faster thanks to the A13 Bionic processor.

Toggling the flashlight on accident is more common with Haptic Touch
Toggling the flashlight on accident is more common with Haptic Touch


Frustratingly, the same feature means it's actually quick to turn on the camera or flashlight accidentally. As we pull the phone out of our pocket, the screen comes on, our finger happens to be in one of the corners, and so the light or camera start.

With 3D Touch, it required a purposeful press instead of just an elongated period of time.

Inside of Messages, we also weren't able to preview links that were sent. A long press in Messages means you want to use the Tapback feature, or copy the link. 3D Touch allowed us to long press for those features, but forcefully press for a link preview via Peek and even harder to open it via Pop.

Moving the cursor is easier with 3D Touch
Moving the cursor is easier with 3D Touch


On the keyboard, users could use 3D Touch to forcefully press anywhere on the keyboard to move the cursor around. With Haptic Touch, you must instead press and hold on the space bar. It isn't as intuitive, you're never going to find it by chance, and it is slower.

No future

On the iPhone XR, Haptic Touch was a fantastic replacement for 3D Touch that meant Apple could make a more affordable phone. On the iPad, too, it brought us features that had been previously limited to iPhone.

Camera is now slower on iPhone 11 Pro Max because of Haptic Touch
Camera is now slower on iPhone 11 Pro Max because of Haptic Touch


Unfortunately, for Apple's flagship phones, it is a huge step backwards. Directly compared to 3D Touch on the iPhone XS Max, Haptic Touch is slower, it is more frustrating, it is less user-friendly, and is simply a progression in the wrong way.

Apple's software ability is legendary, and we wouldn't doubt that there will be iterations and improvements to Haptic Touch, but without that physical pressure-sensitive screen, it will never be able to fully replicate what 3D Touch was capable of.

Despite this arguably being a Pro feature, the hardware required to do it has been stripped from Apple's new Pro phones. It's gone for good, and it isn't coming back.
razorpitprismatics
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,064member
    Couldn't agree more. 3D Touch was awesome. RIP...
    gregoriusmsergiozchemengin1cy_starkmanHeliBumappleinsiderusernetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 60
    PujiMakPujiMak Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I’m quite disappointed when updating iOS13 on my iPhone XS.. 3D Touch was totally scrap. For a phone which has 3D Touch capability, the software turned off this feature. Like WTF. Honestly this really annoying.. even my colleagues tend to agree with me. 

    Yes 3D Touch wasn’t really popular for the masses. But Power Users aka Pro Users.. really utilise this. 

    So for this, I’m quite sad about it. 
    gatorguyrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 60
    Its kinda sad the new iOS removes significant 3D Touch functionality from iPhone devices which have been sold with this feature advertised. I'd really love to downgrade back to iOS 12 if I had done a backup previously ^^'
    edited October 2 gatorguyPujiMakcy_starkmanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 60
    netroxnetrox Posts: 820member
    I agree. I don't really like the Haptic Touch. 3D Touch was way much better and faster. But given the fact that it added substantial cost to iPhone and not many people took advantage of 3D, it just no longer make sense to keep supporting it.
    chemengin1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 60
    netrox said:
    I agree. I don't really like the Haptic Touch. 3D Touch was way much better and faster. But given the fact that it added substantial cost to iPhone and not many people took advantage of 3D, it just no longer make sense to keep supporting it.
    Did they lower the cost of the phone when they removed Touch 3d?
    80s_Apple_Guynetmage
  • Reply 6 of 60
    I like the new haptic touch rather that the inconsistencies introduced by the 3D Touch of having to know how hard and how long to press which resulted in a confused mix of actions. 
    n2itivguylkruppSweeTangobaconstangIreneW
  • Reply 7 of 60
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,518member
    It's true that 3D Touch had no standard implementation, and having on phone newer than my SE, I have no dog in this fight. But I thought 3D Touch was a great feature, and figured that one day I'd have a phone with it.

    I'm disappointed that it's gone. I see it as a contextual menu that can be different for every app (that used it) and the complaints of non-uniformity didn't change my think. 

    RIP, 3D. I hardly knew ya.
    pscooter63netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 60
    Agree wholeheartedly. I didn't think I'd miss it much and would find Haptic Touch a sufficient replacement. I was wrong. After nearly two weeks with an iPhone 11 Pro Max, not a day has gone by that I haven't run into something that I found more efficient and more intuitive with 3D Touch. Very bummed.
    chemengin1razorpitnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 60
    LacreidLacreid Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    netrox said:
    I agree. I don't really like the Haptic Touch. 3D Touch was way much better and faster. But given the fact that it added substantial cost to iPhone and not many people took advantage of 3D, it just no longer make sense to keep supporting it.
    Apple removed 3D Touch not because of cost, but because of two main factors:
    1. As much as I loved it, VERY FEW people used it. Discovery of allowed shortcuts was crap, and the experience was inconsistent. A smallish group of pro / hardcore users loved the feature like I did, but it was hardly a top 10 feature for the masses.
    2. Removing the 3D touch components created a TON of space inside iPhones to expand the battery. Those extra 4-5 hours come from a more efficient processor, AND a bigger battery. 

    I guess, given the hard choice, I would choose longer battery life and haptic touch over the alternative. I still miss 3D touch, particularly with Peek / Pop and in the keyboard.
    n2itivguyPujiMakMplsPjdb8167Deelronnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 60
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,516member
    Lacreid said:
    Apple removed 3D Touch not because of cost, but because of two main factors:
    I'll suggest a 3rd reason: inconsistency. I can't count the number of photo opportunities I missed because the camera wouldn't open from the lock screen. Or the number of times I couldn't move the cursor, using 3D Touch over the keyboard, but instead added gibberish to a message.
    firelocknetmage
  • Reply 11 of 60
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 457member
    I agree, 3D Touch was great for me and my workflow.   Especially disappointed it was removed via software update for iPhones that previously had it (like my Xs).
    chemengin1PujiMakrogifan_newwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 60
    rwesrwes Posts: 174member
    PujiMak said:
    I’m quite disappointed when updating iOS13 on my iPhone XS.. 3D Touch was totally scrap. For a phone which has 3D Touch capability, the software turned off this feature. Like WTF. Honestly this really annoying.. even my colleagues tend to agree with me. 

    Yes 3D Touch wasn’t really popular for the masses. But Power Users aka Pro Users.. really utilise this. 

    So for this, I’m quite sad about it. 
    Its kinda sad the new iOS removes significant 3D Touch functionality from iPhone devices which have been sold with this feature advertised. I'd really love to downgrade back to iOS 12 if I had done a backup previously ^^'
    Yeah, I thought maybe I was just doing something wrong initially, but then began to realize it was functionality changed/removed.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 60
    jvaleskijvaleski Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    agree. this was a step backwards. 3D needed some refinement, but it was a solid additional UI metaphor for devices. #missed
    chemengin1razorpitrogifan_newnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 60
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,267member
    Lacreid said:
    netrox said:
    I agree. I don't really like the Haptic Touch. 3D Touch was way much better and faster. But given the fact that it added substantial cost to iPhone and not many people took advantage of 3D, it just no longer make sense to keep supporting it.
    Apple removed 3D Touch not because of cost, but because of two main factors:
    1. As much as I loved it, VERY FEW people used it. Discovery of allowed shortcuts was crap, and the experience was inconsistent. A smallish group of pro / hardcore users loved the feature like I did, but it was hardly a top 10 feature for the masses.
    2. Removing the 3D touch components created a TON of space inside iPhones to expand the battery. Those extra 4-5 hours come from a more efficient processor, AND a bigger battery. 

    I guess, given the hard choice, I would choose longer battery life and haptic touch over the alternative. I still miss 3D touch, particularly with Peek / Pop and in the keyboard.
    Why did it have to be disabled in the models that shipped with the proper hardware and offered it as a feature? Totally honest question. Are you sure it's been removed from the previous models with iOS13?

    Removing features after the purchase isn't something that users tend to take lightly, see Nest and the camera notification light for example. 
    edited October 2 mobirdmuthuk_vanalingam80s_Apple_GuyRedtortoise
  • Reply 15 of 60
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,060member
    Its kinda sad the new iOS removes significant 3D Touch functionality from iPhone devices which have been sold with this feature advertised. I'd really love to downgrade back to iOS 12 if I had done a backup previously ^^'
    My iPhone X still seems to have 3D Touch in iOS 13, and the options to turn it on and off are still there in Accessibility settings?
    svanstromjdb8167netmageascegan
  • Reply 16 of 60
    omasouomasou Posts: 25member
    I absolutely hated, hated 3D Touch. I took way too much effort to apply the correct pressure to invoke the correct function, e.g. selecting text. So my experience has been the exact opposite of the positive points used as examples in the article.  Guess that's what makes us each unique ;)

    Though I do prefer the long press for rearranging app icons vs. the display of a context menu. I mean when does anyone ever rename an icon, a group yes but I only do that when I create a group and the normal method of opening it and then editing the caption is fine. Apple we don't need it in a context menu and we don't need a done button either.

    The only feature that I truly liked and ever used was to position the cursor while editing text vs. trying to tap in a small textbox with my finger and hope the cursor would land where I needed it to. So thank you for the article b/c I didn't know about pressing over the space bar. Works great.
    jdb8167docno42
  • Reply 17 of 60
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,454member
    Sad, disappointing, a step backward, you know, the usual carping about anything Apple does. Well, somebody is going to be pissed off about something no matter what.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 60
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 273member
    Most games support 3D Touch and now it’s super awkward to play them. New Call of Duty for example or Modern Combat 5 or PUBG even Fortnite. I am very sad. 
    cy_starkmanrogifan_newwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 60
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 85member
    tylersdad said:
    netrox said:
    I agree. I don't really like the Haptic Touch. 3D Touch was way much better and faster. But given the fact that it added substantial cost to iPhone and not many people took advantage of 3D, it just no longer make sense to keep supporting it.
    Did they lower the cost of the phone when they removed Touch 3d?
    No, they just added a bigger battery and an extra camera and kept the price the same. But you knew that already. Right?

    Seems like a logical compromise to me. Trade in a feature that very few developers and even fewer people used in exchange for giant upgrades to the two features nearly every survey says are the most important things people consider when purchasing new phones. 

    Had they kept 3D Touch, they would either have to raise the price of the phones or earn lower margins on each one sold. Both of those scenarios would have resulted in louder, longer, and more widespread outrage. 

    Meanwhile, this controversy will pass. We may have lost a few conveniences with the switch, but Haptic Touch will continue to develop and evolve. In six months this won’t even be a conversation any more. 
    edited October 2 lkruppjdb8167muthuk_vanalingampscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 60
    I find the Haptic Touch features incredibly frustrating on my XR. Previously, I found 3D Touch extremely unnecessary, but now it’s worst features have been floated upon me. Wish there were a way to turn it off while still keeping system haptics from iOS 12. 
Sign In or Register to comment.