Well Apple had their annual press conference yesterday to introduce the new iPhone 5 and while many people will be jumping at the opportunity to get the latest iteration I can’t help but feel that Apple is losing its luster and the “innovations” have fallen off. Here’s my full reaction to the iPhone 5.
Apple has been a leader in the mobile industry since the initial launch of the iPhone in 2007 and every year they’ve come out with something new and “ground breaking”. This year they’ve failed to live up to their reputation by merely matching the hardware specifications of other high-end devices on the market, and in some cases falling short.
The iPhone 5 has incorporated LTE, which has become a standard in any “flagship” smartphone over the past year. The problem is this is the first year that the iPhone will include LTE, every other phone maker has been putting out LTE phones for over a year now, so the “wow” factor has worn off. The innovation (if you want to call it that) that Apple has with their LTE chips is that there is one chip with one radio for data and voice that will handle all the switching between bands. This means that the phone will not have a 4G-radio set and 3G-radio set, which means less power consumption and better battery life. The thing is Apple didn’t make this chip it is a Qualcomm chip, available to any phone manufacturer. So yes Apple did take advantage of high-end technology in the market in one instance but they only went half way. Apple will be again releasing multiple versions of the iPhone with different radio sets in them. There will be a CDMA version for Verizon and Sprint; a HSPA version for AT&T and other U.S. based carriers and then a European HSPA version. What Apple could have done that would have been truly ground breaking would have been to have one version of the iPhone that worked across all carriers in all regions. That would have meant a single chipset that did everything everywhere, which Qualcomm also makes.
The next big step forward for Apple was using a 4” screen on the iPhone 5, until now Apple has stuck with 3.5” screens. Yes Apple has increased the resolution of their displays but they real estate of the screen has remained the same since the initial iPhone launched in 2007. In a market where competitors are making 4” – 5“ screen devices Apple having a 3.5” screen was just a joke. The step up to 4” was needed with the launch of the iPhone 4, if not the 4S and now it’s just late. They incorporated sensor on the screen technology to make the phone thinner but other manufacturers are doing this as well, heck even Nokia managed to make a screen that works when you have your gloves on, but Apple couldn’t figure that out?
Apple decreased the size and the weight of the iPhone and claimed that it is the thinnest smartphone on the market at 7.6mm thin. That claim has already come under fire across the board with the likes of the Motorola RAZR line being around 7.1mm thin, along with Huawei and Oppo who have phones that measure in at 6.66mm and 6.65mm respectively. So even though Apple claims to have built the worlds “thinnest smartphone” they couldn’t even do that right?
Apple failed to have a single update to the iPhone 5 that is a “must have” feature. There is no step forward that makes you look at your current phone and go “wow I really need to get that phone instead of mine”. Yes there are techie things missing that only real buffs wanted to see, NFC support, Wireless Charging, Bluetooth 4.0, but all of those wouldn’t have huge mass market appeal so they wouldn’t have been tipping points but with out the iPhone 5 having those things which are becoming more and more commonplace amongst smartphones it just feels like Apple is content with minor updates to a working formula instead of pushing the boundaries like they once seemed to.
As Apple still sits on top of the Smartphone landscape it is hard to poke holes in what they’ve been able to accomplish, but industry leaders have a tendency to get “fat” on their successes and forget about the little guy who is out to prove himself.