Why the iPhone 5 will be the most expensive iPhone ever
We Apple users are used to paying a bit more for our tech than our PC and Android-owning friends (assuming we are willing to hang out with to “those” kinds of people). We appreciate that way the hardware looks and feels in the hand can be almost as important as how well it works, and yes, we are willing to fork over the extra dough for this “design and engineering tax”. In fact, we love Apple’s designs so much, we’re disappointed when a new iPhone or MacBook comes out and it looks the same as the “old” one, as with the 3GS and 4S models. We just can’t wait to see what Apple will come out with next!
Unfortunately, our hunger for the “next big thing” from Apple is what is going to ultimately cost us a bunch of extra money come this September(?) when the iPhone 5 arrives. The good news is, assuming the leaked parts videos like the one below are legit, we will indeed be getting a brand new hardware design with the iPhone 5. The bad news is, it looks like it isn’t going to work with anything you currently own, from speakers to cases to docks.
Obviously, expecting to use the same iPhone case on each subsequent iPhone refresh is a bit of a pipe dream, and we’ve lucked out in that Apple seems to have adopted an “every-other-year” plan for its form factor designs, meaning that $35 you spent on an iPhone 4 case COULD last you 2 years, up through your iPhone 4S’s lifespan (assuming you upgrade every year). But expecting to use your existing car charger, speaker, alarm clock, dock, or other dock connector-based accessory, such as a Bluetooth adapter or microphone, isn’t all that unreasonable, or has been a non-issue for the last 4 iPhones. But it’s looking like that is not going to be the case with the iPhone 5. Why? Well, not only is Apple allegedly changing the Dock connector, which has been around since the first iPod (more or less) to a smaller (but apparently still proprietary) connector, it has also decided to move the headphone jack to the bottom the the device, just like the iPod touch.
Let me just take a quick moment to rant about how annoying that headphone jack placement is going to be, as it’s the worst thing about the current iPod touch. What this design move really means is that it is going to very difficult to listen to music while charging your iPhone, and in effect means you will need to buy all new charging stations and docks. Of course, Apple changing the Dock connector would necessitate this anyway, but moving the location of the headphone jack to the bottom means whatever charger you get will have to have a built-in audio pass-through of some sort so that you can connect it to a home speaker, and that will cost more than a standard dock. Currently I have a nice setup with an iDapt changing station which has 2 iPhone/iPod charging cradles in it in my kitchen. I often have one of the hooked to a JBL speaker via a mini stereo plug (coming out of the top of iPhone) and I can play music while my iPhone charges. This will not be possible once the audio jack is blocked whenever charging. So this means I will need A) a new charging pad for $35-$65 or B) a new speaker/Dock $100-$200. Or I will need to buy an extra Apple-made wall charger and cable, which is traditionally about $29. Oh, and I’ll need to buy 3, actually, as I have one in my bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one at work, and I really can’t see myself carrying one cable with me everywhere I go. Oh, and I assume the Phone will ship with a USB cable ($19) but I will need one for the car as well. Oh, and let’s not forget that I am the only one in my family who will be getting the iPhone 5, so I still need to keep all the “old” dock connector charging cradles and such to keep their iPhones and iPods charged while adding mine to the mix.
Listen, I do understand “in the name of progress”, and I understand there are design decisions that necessitate change, and I realize that Apple would gladly remove the iPhone’s screen itself to shave 2 mm of the thickness of the device. I get it. And while I’m not THRILLED with the change of the Dock connector’s size and shape – as I don’t think at this point it looks like it will ADD any functionality the current connector can’t support – I’m ultimately cool with that too. But the real cause of the money drain on iPhone 5 users is going to be the placement of that headphone jack. I predict it will cost the average iPhone user about $80 – $120. How did I come up with that figure? I pulled it out of my ass, that’s how.
And do you know who I blame for all of this? No, not the ultra-hip fanboys that demand a hardware refresh every couple of years and crave thinner devices. I blame the children.
That’s right, the kids. Why? Because when Apple’s iPod touch had its audio jack moved to the bottom of the device, there was no huge outcry, not rioting, not even a whimper. But there SHOULD have been. So why not? Because the iPod touch is a child’s toy. Feel free to tell me in the comments how you are a 35 year old doctor who loves their iPod touch, but face it, most are sold to 5 – 18 year-olds, and those people only know how to complain to their parents, NOT to companies, and apparently Apple took this silence as a sign of acceptance.
But let’s be serious for a second and see if I can actually put together some “real” numbers here on what Apple changing the Dock connector and headphone jack placement will mean for me:
1) I believe I will need 3 Apple wall chargers, x $29 each, so $90
2) I will use the included USB to NEW DOCK cable (I assume they’ll include one) in my computer bag to bring around with me in case of emergencies, but I will need a new Car Charger cable (I have a generic USB adapter in my car, so I don’t need to buy an iPhone-sepcific car charger, but I DO need a cable) 1 x $19
3) I have a nice iHome speaker/charger at work that will no longer work, and it cost $140. I can probably charge the iPhone via a USB cable and all outlet and then get an audio cable and plug that into the audio-in port of the speaker, but obviously that defeats the purpose of an all-one-charger/speaker, adds cable clutter, reduces sound quality, and just makes the desk look messier. So while I will probably live with it for awhile, eventually let’s say another $140 will be needed.
4) I have a bunch of other weird Dock-compatible devices, like portable speakers, the Audio Engine wireless streamers and a Blue Microphone, but I will write those off as I don’t really use them too much.
5) I have a couple iPhone 4 and 4S-compatible battery pack cases that I love and use regularly as well, and these I will need to replace. Let’s be reasonable and say I will only get one, and it would be about $90.
6) Finally, let’s remember that I have 3 other iPod touch/iPhone users in my house, so everything I own now I need to KEEP, cable-clutter and counter space be damned! So it will cost me emotionally every time I look over at an over-crowded outlet, and I’m not sure you can put a price on THAT kind of pain, but let’s say $99,000 a year.
So It looks like it would cost me between $350 – $99,350 to get back where I am NOW, as far as the ability to stay charged and listen to music and podcasts as I do now. And let’s throw a new case on that total for $50 to make it an even $400 – $99,400. I’ll be nice and skip the tax on that. Although, it would be about $28, so let’s NOT skip it, and say I am now soon-to-be-out $428. (I am now over the $99,000 of mental trauma so I will drop that).
So $428 on top of the $499 I assume the phone will cost me, plus tax and AT&T upgrade charges. I think we’re at about $1000, where each of my past iPhone upgrades since the first version has only cost me the price of the phone itself, and maybe a case. Yes, truly this alleged new Dock connector and audio jack move will be the costliest iPhone design change yet to the faithful iPhone users who have loyally upgraded with each new interaction and over the years amassed a sizable accessory collection.
And while traditional wisdom would say 3rd-party case/speaker/dock makers are looking forward to the refresh as it should force people like me who are happily using up to 4-year old accessories back to the stores, there IS a downside for them as well. I can’t help thinking high-end 3rd parties that make $600 iPhone speakers (like the Bowers and Wilkens Zeppelin) are going to keep licensing the Dock connector from Apple, as its costumers are not going to be lining up to plunk down another $600 to re-buy pricey speakers just to regain a clean audio connection. Or maybe Apple is hoping these companies will all be licensing AirPlay.
Probably the saddest thing about this entire thing is that it’s ultimately going to be even a SLIGHT deterrent to me buying the iPhone 5. I’m just saying is all.