Something changed for me last week with regards to my perception of Apple. A little piece of the magic slipped away as the launch of the iPhone 5 got under way and the full ramifications of the event dawned on me.
It wasn’t the lack of styling change or the obvious enhancements of the new iPhone. It wasn’t the lacklustre ‘seen it all before’ keynote. It was something more subtle that crept up on me as the hours passed- I felt like Apple was taking me for a fool. The price of the adaptors for the new dock connector struck me the most and for a loyal iPhone user of many generations, I resent being asked to pay so much for something that must cost pennies to make. It’s a small part of the iPhone package, but something that maybe shows too visibly Apple’s true intentions. The fact that one is bundled with the iPhone helps, but not hugely if you own a lot of accessories. Of course all companies want to make a profit, but Apple has been very good in the past of not making the pricing blatant in terms of including a huge mark up. The iPhone has been forgiven for the sheer quality that comes with it and so have the iPads and Macs, but the accessory side is pushing it a little too far.
Add to this my thinking process as a 4S owner. There is so little here to tempt me to upgrade outside of contract that for the first time I am failing to see any genuine benefits of the latest iPhone. The camera is improved, but is still 8 Megapixels and the 4S camera is already great. The speed will be beneficial no doubt in the long run when developers get around to taking advantage of the new processors and the extra height of the screen offers potential good and bad points. More screen space is of course beneficial and I like that the width has not changed, but I wonder if it will make the phone feel too tall. Everything that you can do on iOS 6 on a 5 can be done on a 4S and so there are no actual changes to what can be done, just some small upgrades in how they are done. My 4S has never stuttered or slowed down in a year and this is my main concern- at what point will the 5 be a requirement and for this reason alone I see no reason to jump early and pre-order. Potentially, I may not see a reason to move to the 5 in the next year and could wait for the 5S, but time will tell on that one. I do, however, love the fact that Apple chose to double the speed of a device which is already incredibly quick.
Credit where its due- Apple made a very good smartphone with the 4S and it is understandable why the 5 is a minor upgrade. However, it has maybe reached a point where the update is so small that for many the need to upgrade is much less than previously seen, even with the minor jump from the 4 to the 4S. The 4S has no major failings (battery life maybe, but not expecting the 5 to suddenly solve that) and on a personal level, there is nothing in the 5 that ‘solves’ anything. That is ultimately the crucial reason for my decision (a decision that you know will not stick). I also wonder if some of the Apple magic is going away as time passes. Without Steve Jobs as the ultimate tech showman, it seems as though no-one else in the company is able to create the same buzz around their products, but no doubt the sales figures will prove me wrong.
As for my feelings towards Apple, something changed last week which is hard to explain. Maybe the fact that these keynotes have naturally become less exciting as familiarity grows and innovation becomes harder is part of the reason.
This is my last article on the iPhone 5, three in a row is a bit of overkill and so I will move on to new topics when the inspriation hits me.
And then Peter M. popped up with a different view, with some similarities on specifics-
Loads of people still seem to have an expectation that Apple will somehow revolutionise smartphones again - and they won't. Every iota of this product was leaked in the months beforehand and people still expected more!
The truth is that the iPhone was already a great product and so there are only fractional gains to be made. And they did about as much as you could reasonably expect.
* The retina display is already pretty damn good, but has apparently better colour saturation now, as well as the extra headroom. It's really going to pop - and that extra headroom will be welcome for browsing and messaging, as well as 16:9 movies and games.
* CPU and graphics. Up to twice as fast! That's a pretty incredible upgrade - more than incremental. What tempers it is the iPhone UI already runs synched at 60fps, but you'll see massive gains in camera performance, app loading and gaming. It is likely the memory has been doubled too.
* Camera. Nokia has overtaken Apple here and Samsung has equalled it, but there are still welcome nuggets for camera fans here; better low light performance, sapphire lens, better image stabilisation and panoramas. And although it wasn't spoken about, iOS6 now adds exposure control through the SDK, which will bring a whole new class of camera apps. Looking forward to a little astro-photography, myself.
* Design. It's recognisably an evolved iPhone, but an entirely new construction using top-notch materials. It's really quite beautiful and, like many of us, I know you appreciate timeless, beautiful objects.
* Connectivity. With just about every communications standard known to man, how much better could they make it?
Sure, there are always more things you can cram into one of these devices, but Apple's attention to detail on the features they do push forward is very evident. Would you rather have a stack of new, underdeveloped features or a focused set of superbly realised hardware and software upgrades? I'm way too old to want change for change sake, any more, so I appreciate the gradual evolution of Apple's hardware and software, this way.
I'd quite like NFC, but I don't know what I want it for, which is telling. I suspect Apple is biding it's time and when they do launch an NFC product, they'll work things like smartphone payments deeply into their ecosystem and support it with many real-world partnerships. Time will tell.
I suggest to the court that this upgrade is just as meaningful as the move from the Galaxy SII to the Galaxy SIII - and that has been very well received.
Next up - the launch of the iPad Mini, which will be EXACTLY an iPad 2, but an inch and bit smaller. And will sell so many bucketloads, buckets will be out of stock everywhere.