It’s become an annual tradition for Apple to excite the world with the latest version of the iPhone. This Wednesday, the gadget super company rolled out the specs and features of the iPhone 5, which thanks to internet leaks had all but been revealed already. The Popblerd team, dedicated pundits that we are, decided to weigh in on the new device, and whether Apple managed to convince the world they’ve still got “it” in the smartphone market.
Stephen – Android owner, former iPhone owner, gadget junkie
Possibly through no fault of their own, the already leaked to hell and back iPhone 5 launch was easily the company’s most boring reveal yet. Apple’s cards had spilled weeks ago, and announcing iOS6 weeks ago, which is half the news of the new phone, didn’t help the matter.
But even if we hadn’t known anything about the iPhone 5, I still would have been underwhelmed. For a company who has mastered the art of user interface and innovative tech presentations, the announcement was essentially a list of routine features, many that have been on the market in Android devices for close to a year.
It’s great that 4G LTE will be out to the iPhone masses, but that’s Apple playing catch-up, not breaking ground. Ditto on the larger screen. Sure it’s 20% lighter, but is anyone really going around complaining about how heavy and bulky their iPhone 4S is? The fast processor, likewise, is great, but without clear specs, we don’t know how much better it is than any of the competitors out there, let alone the not too distant Windows 8 phones.
The one exciting takeaway, of course, is the promised battery life, which if accurate will be a huge advantage to the iPhone, as my Galaxy S2 Skyrocket sputters to get through the day on 4G. The Passbook too is a cool feature, but it’s a feature wholly contingent on other vendors adopting it. Odds are they will, but it’s not a home run.
Maybe I am too hard on Apple, but as a former iPhone user, I was really waiting for that big zinger, a killer feature that reminded me why Apple is king and how foolish I was to leave them for the land of top-end Android devices. Instead we got another incrementally better smartphone. Outside those who haven’t upgraded in a while and those who must be on the bleeding edge no matter what, I can’t see a compelling case to ditch any phone made in the past year (including the 4S) for this one.
GG – Self-avowed Apple fan, longtime iPhone owner
Though I would consider myself a big Apple fan (two MacBooks, two iMacs, two iPhones, an iPad, an Apple TV, and a Time Capsule in my family), I also was slightly underwhelmed. None of the news was actually news because like Stephen said, it was all leaked beforehand.
But because I’m a Mac user and all of my data and media is synced seamlessly to my network of Mac products, I’m not leaving the family. In fact, while feature-wise, Apple may be behind the curve slightly, they can be. The other companies are trying to make big splashes and the way to do that is to build some of these things more quickly. Apple will just build them better and more efficiently (which is definitely arguable based on what side of the fence you’re on).
I will more than likely upgrade to the iPhone 5 in the winter because it’s just the next iteration of what I already consider a great phone. I spend tons of time using my phone daily and I have no intention of changing anytime soon.
Dennis – Generous father, iPhone owner
We’re an all Apple household too with pretty much multiple everything in their lineup. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed or underwhelmed, but nor was I over the top excited. Most of their last major product “unveilings” have really been confirmation of what’s been floating around the internet well ahead of the announcement date. It’s more like Christmas when you get to be my age. You’ve told your wife exactly what you want, and while it’s always fun to unwrap gifts, there’s no real whiz bang surprise. That’s pretty much what watching the live blogs today was like. We’ve heard about most of the features already and seen iOS6 a couple of months ago, so no big whoop (and the earplug port at the bottom doesn’t count). I think the passbook has the potential to be the biggest new feature, but to me today was more of the same from Apple – make something incrementally better, not necessarily something new, and continue to bind customers to their ecosystem.
I think the “surprise” to me was that tacit admission that the last generation of iPod Nano missed the mark. The new one is closer in form of the previous generation, with it’s bigger screen, video capability, etc. It’s like when they tried the no button shuffle only to switch back to something similar to the square version.
As for disappointments, I’m still yearning for iTunes and iTunes Match/Cloud improvements. We’ll see if the new iTunes is any snappier at handling large music libraries and hog as much CPU resource. I’d like to be able to better manage what’s in the iTunes in the cloud or not, and, I will repeat my rant actually stream instead of download music to iOS devices. The benefit of the cloud is to not have to need a lot of physical storage, but iTunes actually downloading music defeats that. Sorry, right now Amazon’s cloud service handles that aspect far better.
Will I upgrade from my iPhone 4 to the 5. Probably although maybe not for a few months. I’ve skipped the S versions of the 3 and the 4, and we’re at the point where the 4 won’t run iOS 6 features like Siri or turn by turn navigation (the latter I could use since I don’t have a GPS in my car). The tipping point, though, is that my daughter is agitating us for something to text and/or call home with. This is probably the opportunity to hand mine down and get some new Apple goodness for myself!
Lastly, I understand why Apple changed their old 30 pin docking plug, but charging $30 for a lightning adapter is a bit much. Just looking at all the various docks I’ve got at home and office and I could easily spend more than $100. I’ll defer upgrading until I see if cheaper, third party alternatives hit the market.
Grez – Resident Apple Cynic
Even though I’m not an Apple fan, I’ve always been impressed by their launches in the past, and they’ve been able to present a lot of spin, mostly for good reasons. However, I found zero “wow” factor about the iPhone 5. It’s pretty much a slightly-improved iPhone 4S (even right down to the same camera, slightly tweaked) with a longer screen and shorter battery life. Anything interesting in the launch was primarily software-based, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the phone itself. For me, the whole deal was “meh.”
On the flipside, both Android and Windows Phone continue to innovate and add features and functions that are actually new and innovative. Heck, even the new Blackberry stuff has some things that make you sit up and take notice. This makes me wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of Apple losing its chokehold on the market, and if perhaps enough people have had enough of the handcuffs and are starting to look around at other options. As a consumer, it would be great if we had a lot more equitable competition in the phone space (especially from the standpoint of what it will do for prices for all of us).