Let’s Talk iPhone: The Good The Bad, and the Meh

As with all big Apple events, I once again find people turning to me for my opinion on the announcements from Apple’s Let’s Talk iPhone Event. Honestly I can’t blame them, as my opinion is often the only correct one when it comes to such things. I seem to have the uncanny ability to cut through the hype with laser beam-like precision, and somehow categorize the day’s events into one of three categories: Good, Bad, and Meh. Here’s how the Let’s Talk iPhone Event broke down:

The Good

iPhone 4S: Well, newer is always better, and today we got a new iPhone. Obviously the A5 processor should make an “iPad 2-like” difference in graphics-heavy games, which is a funny thing to think about when you look back 4 years and realize how crazy the idea of worrying about how much dedicated graphics RAM your phone would have sounded. Now, usually I take the “meh, so what?” point of view when it comes to gaming on the iPhone, as I find that while I spend about 23 hours a day gaming on the thing, the games I play are usually the Words/Hanging with Friends, Tiny Tower, DragonVale variety which aren’t overly taxing (although I HAVE noticed quite a slow down on my iPhone 4 on Tiny Tower and DragonVale as you get into the post-floor100 and level 18 respectively). The idea of playing a FPS or fighting game on my iPhone, no matter how pretty, seems unattractive to me as I think some games just don’t lend themselves to touch screen controls, especially when your fingers and buttons cover half the action. So yes, I suppose ultimately a speedier iPhone will always be a good thing, but iPhone developers are insatiable creatures who can never be fed enough RAM and Processing cycles. Games, even seemingly simple ones, will gradually start taxing even the A5′s power. The real danger here is that as we get more and more speed and power, some developers might get sloppier about optimizing their code to keep it from getting bloated and hogging resources, making it unplayable on NON-iPhone 4S iPhones. Hopefully this doesn’t happen until after next April when I get my new iPhone 5 (?).

iPhone finally gets 64 GB of storage! This has been a thorn in my side since the iPhone 3G, and the fact that Apple held on to this bargaining chip for so long means they looked ahead on their iPhone roadmap and knew they’d need to pull this one out down the road to help make the 4S a more enticing upgrade. While I always thought I would buy any iPhone with 64 GB sight unseen, now that I’ve seen it, I’m sorry to say it’s just not enough. But still, this is a welcome addition. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until the iPhone 6 to see 128 GB.

iPod nano: With a slightly redesigned UI, a price drop, plus a built-in Mickey Mouse watch, how can this be bad? Well, I suppose it’s bad when you compare it to the OLD iPod nano (with a video camera) but if you’re resigned to this being the future (or at least, “present”) of the iPod nano’s design, this small update seems like a smart one, albeit mainly software based. Hmm… actually, now that I think about it, they might not have updated it at all… stay tuned and see if they release a software update for the current ones.

Meh

We got a 4S, not an iPhone5. Yes, better Camera, more storage, and a faster processor are all nice upgrades, but from even 2 inches away it’s an iPhone 4. I’m not knocking the upgrade, and if you have a 3GS or (shudder) an iPhone 3, then by all means, run out and get your spot in line NOW. But given how obsessed I am with new Apple tech, if I am able to convince myself that I don’t NEED to get a new piece of Apple hardware, then Apple has done something wrong. This is not to say if Apple crammed everything in the 4S into a new body I’d be standing in line either (although admittedly, it would help). I have bought each and every iPhone model (2 of each, actually) since the original launched, but I think I can finally skip one. I’m not sure what it is that the iPhone 5 would need to make it a must have upgrade from the 4, but the 4S doesn’t have it. Of course, maybe when iOS 5 hits and slows things down on my 4, I will feel the need to jump to the 4S.

Assitant/Siri: Judging from every person on the planet around me, I am likely going to be in the minority here, but I don’t think I care about Siri (Apple’s new “spoken assitant” for the iPhone 4S), and the amount of attention it got today sort of adds a bit of extra “meh” to the event. I realize everyone else on the planet seems to have no problem with everyone knowing their business, but quite frankly, I do not want to “speak” to launch apps, reply to an email, or navigate my iPhone. And as for iPhone use in the car, well, we’ve long established that I have no friends and therefore never get phone calls in the car, and I listen mainly to podcasts while driving these days, so I rarely need to switch tracks and such. I suppose this is really geared towards the high powered super busy handsome man I see in movies, often played by Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling, driving his expensive black car in his expensive suit as he travels from supermodel to meeting to a different supermodel, making and changing appointments as he recklessless changes lanes, finally pulling an e-brake skid into his parking spot. I’m sure I will find SOME use down the road for Siri and eventually wonder how I ever got along without it, but since it only runs on the 4S anyway, odds are I won’t discover that use until the iPhone 5 comes out.

The Bad

iPod touch: Now in black and white, and also slightly cheaper. The new iPod touch doesn’t actually seem all that new – basically a color change – as the camera and processor and storage all seem to be the same as last year’s model. I guess all those cool new gaming features shown off today will not be appearing on what Apple calls “The World’s Number 1 game system”, as they forgot to include an A5 chip in the “new” iPod touch. Well on the bright side, at least I don’t need to buy the kids a new one this Christmas!

Siri technology doesn’t appear to provide spoken turn by turn directions for Maps. Oh well. I have so many 3rd party GPS apps now that this doesn’t kill me, but SIRIously, Apple, how can you not have addressed native TBT directions on the world’s most advanced phone by now?

Nothing Amazing/No One More Thing: The only other bad thing about today’s event (besides no Steve and no live stream so we could judge Tim Cook’s presentation skills instantly) is that there wasn’t anything AMAZING announced today. One could argue that for Tim’s first solo act (a solo act where Phil seemed to do most of the talking) Apple should have tried to pull out a “One More Thing” to show us that a change of leadership hasn’t changed the company’s core love of showmanship. Still, the 4S is a very nice piece of tech, and a solid upgrade for those iPhone 3G/3G S users who were able to hold out and resist the iPhone 4. But as an iPhone4 user, I don’t feel quite the need to upgrade as I did for the 3G to 3G S bump.

Now, that’s not to say accidents don’t happen, and my iPhone 4 could very well get dropped in a toilet or backed over in the driveway requiring a replacement… stranger things have happened.

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Comments
19 Responses to “Let’s Talk iPhone: The Good The Bad, and the Meh”
  1. Mike says:

    There are quite a few nice features in the latest iOS. They’ve helped make Android the best selling smartphone os on the p lanet….

  2. darrell says:

    i was surprised that they aren’t making a bigger push into the low end market. sure at $0 the iPhone 3GS is a great phone – but on an $80/mo contract, $200 and $0 aren’t really that far apart.

  3. ferfe says:

    one MORE thing

  4. Joe says:

    Doc, you didn’t think anyone would remember, but you made this promise a year ago about the iPhone 5.

    “…I think deep down none of use expected Apple to truly cop to a design issue. I’m pretty confident Apple knows the antenna in the band design was not their best design decision, and the proof will be in the iPhone 5. As a symbol of the strength of my belief, I make this promise to you now… I will eat my iPhone 4 if the iPhone 5 has the exact same antenna design.”

    Eat your iphone good sir!

    • Hey Joe,
      Well, I think I can slide by on this for two reasons:
      1) technically the iPhone 4 S is NOT the iPhone 5.
      2) The 4S uses the 2nd VERIZON antenna design, not the original ATT one

      so I think I’m OK.

      :)
      But kudos to YOU good sir for holding on to that nugget! Glad to have readers who remember what I wrote even when I do not.
      - The Doc

  5. Oops says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow orthe next day Apple quietly goes… Ohh, and one more thing…. It would be so poetic…

  6. Ago says:

    This is the blackberry killer. It will sink Rim’s ship.

    and Siri, i’m sure he can get you laid, the girl in the corner’s digits, and your favorite drink, while checking everyone’s facebook relationship page, how far removed they are from your wife/girlfriend and calculating the best odds you have with which girl, based on your past cool self and even coach you on what lines to use, but can he get apple to pick up your bar tab and that smug look swiped off your face before you approach her and find out Siri was only joking ;)

  7. Ago says:

    oh, and one more thing.

    apple should fix all the shortsighted issues in ios before they add any new features. it might give The Doc and myself reasons to go buy new products. I’m sure The Doc would like to listen audio at something other than 1/2x, 1x, and 2x and have people in his band be able to dump the songs they just recorded in garageband onto their touch devices so they can listen to it on their way home. Others may want multiple users for the device, because everyone knows you do not want your friends reading your notes or your kid calling people in your contact lists, blowing their eardrums out, asking siri too many questions…

  8. Jos says:

    I think that for all the non computer savvy people Siri IS amazing. As for the 4S itself, yes please, I’m still enjoying my 3GS and this looks like the perfect upgrade for me. I’ll have to wait and see how much the providers want to rip us off here in the Netherlands.

  9. gewappnet says:

    There is no iPhone 3. The iPhone 3G was the second one and the iPhone 4S is the fifth. I wonder if the next one will be called iPhone 6. The name iPhone 5 wouldn’t make sense.

  10. Alex says:

    I think that Apple decided to hold their innovations. They are making a huge money so why bother with gorgeous new devices? If there is a iPhone with new design and e.g. larger display or so, what I am sure they have something like that ready, they would gain no such market share or additional profits to surely skip the “S” version. I mean, have two-year innovation cycle is much more cheaper and stands for no decrease in financial/market data.

  11. andrew says:

    The Keynote slides in the presentation were so redundant I was feeling “Death by Keynote” chills coming on. Did they really have to show the Drop effect on every number? There were so many pie charts and graphs that even these “Stunning” graphic started looking a little cheesy. It didn’t help that much of what was talked about was talked about in the previous iOS 5 event.

    Apple needs a good director (dictator) to keep things running kool and not icky.

  12. imajoebob says:

    What would be the reaction if there had been no (bogus) build-up of the iPhone 5, and they had labelled THIS 5? I think half the grumbling is because it’s not the “right” number, not the lack of (pretty darn impressive) improvement.

  13. Alf says:

    I am with you on this one good sir.
    Double data speed
    Double cpu speed (No need to convert vids etc)
    Amazing camera that will effectively decommission my canon
    Siri, cool although I will not be using this as much as people commuting by their own car.
    The ability to run ios5 faster than my current phone

    All deciding factors for me.
    And I care little if they Call it “iphone4S” or “iphone5″

    Two things I would have liked to see though:
    Lte (oh well, I have wimax on the side anyway for work purposes)
    “Paychip” would have been Nice as I live in Japan and use this a lot.

  14. Jon says:

    Apple handles new technology a little differently than other companies. They tend to not include new tech until it can work smoothly and seamlessly. That’s why they didn’t use OLED and why they didn’t include 4GL. They look at the overall user experience. That’s one reason why 95% of users are happy with their iPhones.

    I have a 3GS (I usually skip a generation).the 4s looks like a very good upgrade for me. Now, 32 or 64 GB?

  15. Joe says:

    No mention of worldphone. I think most people writing about the new model are missing some very important points. The design will continue to skip a generation unless there is something seriously flawed. I didn’t care for the black plastic but it carried over. The iPhone 4 is a work of art. I’m glad the design didn’t change and glad that the rumored tapered design did not come true. Keeping the same design, making it a worldphone, and improving absolutely everything else inside was brilliant. One of the best cameras, mobile CPUs, antennas, etc. This isn’t just a CPU bump.

  16. Ago says:

    with the case design being the same – all accessories fit too, saving lots of shelf space, returns/exchanges, doc adapters etc.

  17. ArtOfWarfare says:

    I seem to remember Cook saying that Jobs was watching the keynote live from the comfort of his home with his family. Surely Cook realized that Jobs was on his deathbed as he ran the conference… how does anyone feel about that? Is it creepy or… what? I can’t even think of how to put it.

  18. TJ says:

    Hey Doc,

    it seems that for a lot of handicapped people, Siri is not really “Meh”. Apple has done a lot already in this area, but there are illnesses, where you e.g. cannot reliably position your fingers, especially not on a surface without any tactile feedback. Siri is an opportunity to interact much better with a phone and more than welcome to support people with a handicap.

    Cheers
    TJ

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