Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5: Why It’s Not the New iPhone

For months, we’ve heard rumors that the iPhone 5 would be called the “New iPhone.” Of course, I doubted this and hoped it wasn’t true, but I let it play out. Hours before today’s Appleannouncement we learned that it would be iPhone 5, and then hours later at the conference we learned why that is: it’s not new. Okay, there are some pretty cool features in the new device and iOS 6 has functions I’d like on my current device (iPhone 4). Steve Jobs was one of my heroes and Apple is my obsession, so you can trust that it’s not easy for me to say this – don’t rush out and buy the iPhone 5.
The Good.
  • It’s pretty. The big thing Apple is trying to push is that it’s thinner and the screen’s bigger. This is pretty significant considering it’s the first time Apple has ever made its screen bigger. It’s longer and not wider. This isn’t a huge deal for me because I don’t play a ton of games or watch movies, but I do think it was a necessary update for them. All my Android friends (yes, I still hang out with non-Apple folks…sometimes), tell me their device is better (it’s not) and their big selling point is the screen size. Well, I don’t pay extra to see movies in IMAX and I’m not paying for a phone because it has a bigger screen. Big is big enough. Still, a lot of folks did want this, so I say it was a good move for Apple. And oh yeah, this phone is thin – 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S, which was already pretty thin. The folks at CNET observed that it looks to be about as thin as the current metal strip on the sides of the iPhone 4/4S. Speaking of that metal strip, the iPhone 5 is made entirely out glass and aluminum. The aluminum finish is different on the black and white models – silver for white and slate for black.
  • It’s fast. The iPhone 5 will run on iOS 6 (more on that later) and will have an A6 chip – which is fast. And now Sprint will get LTE too, not just AT&T and Verizon. So this iPhone should be two times faster than A5, with faster graphics too. Word on the web from folks who were there is that the graphics looked incredible during the demo. Software on the phone has been updated as well, which means more email and web pages in Safari. Not sure I needed these, but it’s fine to have.
  • Great photos. I love a great photo as much as the next gal, and I’m definitely one of those who has replaced my digital camera in favor of my iPhone. In fact, when my camera recently died, I took photos of the Collessuem in Rome with my iPhone and I have no complaints about the quality. But, even better quality is always welcome, so I’m excited about the new camera features. There is “dynamic low light,” which enables better photos without flash. There’s also spatial noise reductions, a smart filter and a lot of other technical stuff that make photos better. As Mashable put it, “bottom line, pics should look better and be captured 40% faster.” The coolest feature of the camera though, is the Panorama feature. There are apps out there that do this, but now it will be built in to the iPhone’s camera. It takes photos in real-time and stitches them together, with 28 megapixel panoramics.
The Bad.
  • Lightning. I was praying each day until this announcement that the rumors about the power connector were wrong. Unfortunately, they weren’t. All of your iPhone, iPad, and iPod car charges, wall chargers and USB connectors will be useless on their own, ditched in favor of a smaller cord. Now, it does appear that Apple will sell you a small connector so they’re not useless, but good luck keeping track of that small part when you probably have power cords hanging around in several rooms in your house and your car. And, oh yeah – what about my iHome, where I charge my iPhone every single night? The connector is reversible, which is…interesting, but altogether unnecessary. It’s not that difficult to turn a cord around. The worst part of the new connector, they’re calling it Lightning. I love Apple and almost all of its branding, but is it really necessary to name your power cord? Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.
  • App overload.  Turns out that the iPhone 5 will have five rows of apps on the home screen instead of four…why? Is there really a need to crowd my home screen with 24 apps (including the bottom stationary row)? I’m not sure if the designers were trying to say we’re too lazy to swipe to our next page of apps or not, but this is not an update I’m excited about. I get that the screen is now longer and the size of the app icons may not be all that different, but it does seem too crowded to me. The other unfortunate part is that any apps that aren’t updated will remain the same size as they are on the 4 and 4S, so app developers are strongly encouraged to update the apps. The good part is that they won’t be stretched or scaled, but the user will see a black rectangle to offset the size difference. Supposedly it won’t be that difficult to update apps, but I’m curious to see how quickly this all happens.
 iOS 6
I have nothing bad to say about iOS 6, and it might be the only reason I consider buying the iPhone 5. Here’s why:
  • Siri.  Now, I have the iPhone 4, so I don’t have Siri and that’s never bothered me much. But version two, as with any major feature or product update, will be better than version one. In iOS 6, much like the rest of the first world, Siri’s on Facebook. This could be potentially disastrous for late-night posts after a few cocktails, but it’s a cool feature. For sports fans out there, Siri can also now give you sports scores and recaps. And if you want to check your Fantasy League, no worries there, because Siri can now launch apps – a much anticipated feature from yours truly. Siri better not be a Yankees fan though, or we may have some SIRIous issues.
  • Maps. I like Google Maps, they’ve always gotten me where I need to be. That doesn’t mean I love it, it just did its job. For obvious reasons, Apple got rid of Google Maps to replace it with its on version. I used to have a Tom Tom and I truly miss having a voice physically tell me where to turn while I’m driving. After all, it is better for safe driving. Apple’s new Maps feature uses Siri to tell you where to go with turn-by-turn directions and it’s in 3D, which is pretty cool. The major bonus that Google didn’t do is that this Maps feature integrates from Waze to include real-time traffic information – super helpful. Oh, and Maps has a print option displayed so you can easily be old school if you choose.
  • Passbook. Welcome to Apple’s virtual wallet app. CNET said it right, too: “other apps do this, but having it centralized and improved really will be useful. This is the virtual wallet most people will use for the first time.” You can integrate movie passes, Starbucks cards, concert tickets, sports tickets, flight information, store loyalty card, etc. It might not be a fully loaded virtual wallet, but it’s one step closer and I’m all for that.
  • 196 others. Yes, there are over 200 new iOS 6 features and a lot of them seem pretty cool. For example, you can now Tweet from whatever app you’re in. One thing I still haven’t seen though, and maybe I missed it, is better Facebook integration. I complained about iOS 5 because I couldn’t share photos to Facebook directly from the Photos app, and I really hope they fixed that for iOS 6.
Those are the gist of the things that everyday Joe should care about for the iPhone, in my humble opinion. A few other things to consider are that FaceTime is available over cellular data now, but some carriers will charge extra for this  - I’m looking at you, AT&T. The earpiece is 20 percent smaller as well, for more noise cancellations. There’s also a five-day week view in calendar, for those of us (everyone, right?) who has ditched appointment books for digital calendars. Of course, I have to give a shout-out to CNET andMashable, since I got my information and photos as quickly as possible from their live-blogs.
My recommendation is not to run out and buy a brand new iPhone. If you have an upgrade available and you want it, then go for it. But certainly don’t pay full retail price for it and if you have an iPhone 4S, consider hanging on to it a little longer. The improvements aren’t revolutionary and there were no Siri-like game-changers this year.  It’s nothing new, it’s just updated. Considering the mobile world makes product and feature updates more often than my tween cousin updates her Facebook status, you probably won’t have to wait long for an actual game-changer to come along. Let me be clear though, I still recommend iPhone over any other mobile phone on the market so if you’re thinking of the switch from Android then it’s time to stop thinking and do it already – 400 million people can’t be that wrong. (Apple sold its 400 millionth iOS device last quarter).
I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts, will you be buying the iPhone 5? Let me know in the comments section.

A version of this post also appeared on prSPEAK, a blog from PAN Communications. 

1 comment:

  1. Quite disappointed though. There are no other changes and features aside from its being thin though. Anyway, I love Apple products.