When the iPhone X arrives later this fall, it won’t have a home button – which means several major features are leaving along with it.
No physical home button means no more fingerprint scanner, so you won’t be able to unlock your phone with the touch of a finger or thumb.
It also means no more “reachability.”
Reachability was introduced three years ago with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple’s first larger-screen devices. The feature lets you navigate the larger display with one hand by tapping on the home button twice. It pulls everything halfway down the screen so you can reach everything using just your thumb.
Apple stayed true to the smaller phone screen for a long time. Even when Apple’s competitors were making devices with larger screens, Apple had barely changed the size of the iPhone. AppleInsider points out that Apple even made a commercial in 2012 saying the average person could reach every corner of the iPhone 5’s screen with their thumb, meaning the phone was still great for one-handed use.
When the bigger screen came out, however, Apple needed an easy way to let people continue using the phone with one hand. Thus, reachability was born.
Here’s what reachability looks like on your phone. Apps are pulled halfway down the screen, and the extra space is filled in black.
While it may seem niche, the feature is popular – 76% of millennial iPhone users take advantage of reachability, according to comScore’s “2017 US Mobile App Report,” which gathers data about smartphone app use among US adults.
The feature isn’t as widely used among older iPhone users, though. The study found that 39% of those ages 35-54 used reachability, while 32% of those ages 55 and up used it.
On average, though, 55% of those surveyed by comScore said they used reachability.
The feature may quickly become a thing of the past, but if you have small hands, fear not – it may still be possible to use the iPhone X with one hand. The phone’s design differs from previous iPhones because Apple mostly eliminated the bezels, or edges around the screen. Since its face is almost entirely the 5.8-inch screen, the phone is smaller than Apple’s Plus models and likelier to support one-handed use.
If you’re not sold on the iPhone X, Apple’s other new phones – the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus – have home buttons, which means they still have reachability. And if you miss the smaller design of Apple’s older phones, you can still buy the iPhone SE, a $350 phone that looks like an iPhone 5S and runs like an iPhone 6S.
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