Apple’s iPhone 5 Event: 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 iPhone 5 announcement. 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 Apple’s iPhone 5 event broke down:
The iPhone 5. It’s bigger, faster, somehow lighter and 18% thinner, and has 5 rows of icons! OH MY GOD! FIVE ROWS! But seriously, I apparently have 712 apps on my iPhone right now, and this will actually help me get to the 30 or so I actually use a lot faster. The screen is a nice bump up in size to the predicted 4-inch, and boasts a 44% increase in color saturation. (No word yet on whether that color saturation will come with one of the yellow or blue tints, as with previous models… ZING!). Connection-wise, it should have you covered as we now have GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA and finally, LTE, so everyone can shut up, which might be the best new feature. The new A6 chip replaces the A5, and promises “only” a 2X speed and graphics increase, which means you’ll get used to it in a week and think it feels slow. Oh well. The new camera appears to be the old camera, but thinner, with much improved low-light response, which will be awesome, and a cool new panorama feature that I will overuse. All in all, I actually feel this is indeed an “upgrade-worthy” update even if you own the 4S, and I’m not just saying that in case my wife is reading this. I really DO need this phone!
New iPod touch. Ooooh now in colors! Actually, since pretty much every iPod touch goes inside a case almost immediately, colors don’t matter much to me. But I always DID like the old iPod commercials where you saw all the different colored iPods fan out and dance to various Feist-type songs, so hopefully this will bring those back. What’s nice here is it has the same great display as the iPhone 5, and it got a bump to the A5 chip – so not as fast as the iPhone 5, but it finally gets dual-core processing, plus a 7x increase in graphics. Throw in Siri (finally!) and the upgraded 5 MP camera with a flash, and you’ve got my son’s next birthday present.
New headphones. Obviously I will have to hear these “EarPods” to legitimately be able to put them in the “Good” category, but I’m going to go out on a limb and hope Apple didn’t make the sound quality WORSE than their predecessors. The only real question is whether they will fit comfortably in my giant ears.
iOS 6: Everything here looks good, but we’ve sort of seen it. Maps, VIP mail, Passbook… All good stuff.
Siri update: Siri now seems to respond better to more types of questions, such as “What are some GOOD movies playing nearby?”, and we can finally launch apps via voice commands.
New iTunes: I always get scared when someone at Apple uses the phrase “We’ve simplified X to make it even easier”, as usually it was not all that complicated to begin with, and what they REALLY mean is “We removed some of your favorite features and made others harder to find”. From what I’ve seen I THINK we’re going to be OK with the new iTunes, and if anything, it looks like they made it WAY more complicated, but I think you can still go back to the traditional track list we have known forever, so I am not too worried here, and I’m optimistic that at least some of these new features (which almost ALL seem to be designed to sell more stuff) might be useful in the future.
The new “Lightning” connector. Apple has made the switch from its venerable Dock connector to the brand new, smaller, Lightning connector. I’m all for progress, but this change means if you have heavily invested in iPhone peripherals over the last 4 years which utilize the Dock connector, you have a big pile of junk to get rid of, and a new pile of junk to buy. I suppose this change is ultimately a good thing for 3rd party accessory makers, but as a consumer, I doubt I am going to notice any benefit from this, and my wallet certainly won’t. In fact, Apple didn’t really say WHY they changed the connector, other than I would assume a smaller connector helps them reclaim space in an already cramped device. I must say though that I DO like that the cable is reversible, which means plugging your iPhone in to charge in the dark just got a whole lot easier (assuming finding the new smaller hole in the dark doesn’t make the process more difficult.)
Facetime over Cellular connections: This in THEORY is great, but your experience will obviously depend on your carrier, and how much, if at all, they decide to gouge you. I have no friends, so this feature isn’t a big deal for me, but I know you crazy kids will enjoy Facetiming video of the food you are eating to your friends versus simply Instagramming it.
No NFC. Most people in the industry would file the lack of NFC under “Bad”, but I wasn’t really looking forward to making the switch to paying with my iPhone anyway. Again, this is another “lifestyle” issue, where I currently buy 90% of my stuff online already, and don’t have a daily Starbucks run each morning where I would potentially use this. Maybe next year, but for now carrying a credit card around isn’t cramping my style.
The new Nano: Hey, lots of fun colors here, and a larger screen! I’d actually like to see the breakdown on how many people own both an iPhone AND some sort of an iPod. I see very little place where the iPhone and iPods don’t overlap, and even if I were an Android phone user or a kid who wanted an iPod, it would be the touch, not the nano. I know Apple likes to show runners and such using the nanos and shuffles and but really, how heavy is the touch? Anyway, if you are a nano fan, this update is I’m sure a nice one, but really, just get an iPhone or iPod touch people. You’re missing out.
64 GB is still the largest capacity iPhone available. Yes, yes… I’ve been bitching about this for years, and apparently will continue to do so for years to come. And don’t tell me “iCloud man!” because SCREW YOU! I just got back from vacation with a full iPhone, and I had to delete videos I brought along to watch in order to make room for the photos and videos I took while on vacation. Apple keeps encouraging us to buy apps and take take high res photos (the new panoramas are 28 MB each) and HD videos with the iPhone, but with my 712 apps, I don’t have 40 GBs free on my 64 GB iPhone, I have more like 7. Anyway, I guess you can just skip this paragraph in all future Keynote coverage, as I will be copying and pasting it until I gets me 128 GB, or until there is no storage at all, and iCloud REALLY works.
The shuffle … really?
So, that’s it, the Good, the Bad, and the Meh from today’s “iPhone 5” event. All in all, VERY little to complain about – and believe you me, I loves to complain! Feel free, as always, to tell me how dead-on correct I am in the comments.