The new status bar in "system-default" apps is distracting. (At least according to public screenshots available http://www.apple.com/ios/ios6/ – I'm referring to the status bar in the Mail on iPhone screenshot).
Steps to Reproduce:
Look at public screenshot of an iOS 6 "system-default" UI app.
It wasn't as distracting in 5.0. See Notes.
On 5.0 and below, the gradient of the system-default navigation bar transitioned cleanly into the light gray/faintly-blue status bar. That is, the top half of the navigation bar gradient had nearly the same brightness as the bottom half of the status bar gradient. For the eye, it was a relatively clean transition, only apparent if you looked directly at it.
In 6.0, the transition between the navigation bar and the status bar is bold. There is strong contrast between the two elements. Contrast is good for important UI elements but not good for less important UI elements. The status bar is unique in that it is always visible (in most apps), and in the same spot, so users will never have to "hunt" for it. Contrast in this case is a bad thing, as it detracts from the more important elements on the screen.
I appreciate the direction that the new Maps app (also a public screenshot) is going, where the UI elements are monochrome and the status bar is full black, blending into the hardware of the phone, letting the app itself be the prominent thing on screen. Unfortunately this is only the case with the black iPhone.
But the white iPhone has other problems. First, a problem of color-balance. The LCD will emit light at a frequencies it was built to, the ambient light sensor only adjusts brightness, not temperature (though that would be neat). The white of the bezel on the front of the phone will reflect ambient light. Your eyes will adapt to one of these temperatures, making elements in the other temperature space look yellow, or blue, or some other putrid hue. (The black iPhone battles this problem by leaving a black border (unaffected by temperature) so your eye would have to do more work to detect this color shift). The second problem is that the manufacturing of the screen still leaves a slight black border between the face and the LCD. So if the new status bar is an attempt to make the status bar blend into white hardware better, it fails.
Philosophically the beauty of these devices is that because they are *a screen*, they become whatever you are doing with them. Minimizing extraneous hardware, and extraneous system interface elements should be a goal. A distracting status bar is antithetical to that.
It is inevitable that there will be strong contrast somewhere between the edge of GUI and the hardware itself, and I would argue that that transition should occur at the bounds of an *app*, which does not include the OS-provided status bar. Dividing the device into app/not-app makes the answer clear: the status bar should try hard to blend into the hardware of the device. For a black iPhone, this means a full black status bar. For a white iPhone… unfortunately, there is no good answer (for the color temperature, brightness and border gap problems mentioned). But seeing as white iPhone owners don't seem to care about this, my vote is to make it consistent with the device that looks *great*.