Saturday, September 15, 2012
Apple’s iPhone 5 receives mixed response
The iPhone for some has failed to catch up with the technology of other smartphone manufacturers. Screen resolution, chip speed and camera resolution on some smartphones still exceed the new iPhone. Many observers suggested the iPhone 5 was a poor attempt at playing catch-up.
But aside the slightly thinner and taller design [a feature that was mocked by some with Mashable speculating what the iPhone 10 might look like], an increase in screen and camera resolution, and a new connector, there is little that has changed from previous models. In fact it could be argued that the new iPhone was a step backwards from earlier incarnations [BBC / Sky / Telegraph / Reuters].
No Google Maps
The new operating system iOS 6 comes without YouTube or Google Maps. Google have released apps for both, but they don't come as standard. Apple did not offer any alternative after dropping its own YouTube app effectively forcing Google to release one. Apple have released an alternative to Google Maps, but in many respects it is inferior to Google Maps [see also tvnewswatch: Apple maps may be poor imitation of Google Maps].
The biggest bone of contention amongst critics was the introduction of a new connector meaning anyone purchasing the new device will either need to buy new accessories or adaptors. New accessories are yet to appear in the shops, though manufacturers are said to be rushing to make them available. Meanwhile an adapter is being sold by Apple, though it may not be compatible with all devices. Even a statement on the Apple store appeared to acknowledge the adapter might not work in some situations.
There is criticism that disposing of the 30 pin connector in favour of a redesigned plug flies in the face of an almost universally accepted micro-USB charging standard. As well as potentially leaving many iPhone 5 users out of pocket should they buy new accessories or adapters, there is also the problem of increased waste as landfill sites fill up with obsolete electronic junk [Sky / SFGate / CNET / NPR / PocketNow]
Another drawback is that Apple have decided to dispense with the micro-SIM and adopt a nano-SIM instead. Around 40% smaller than the micro-SIM used in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S there is no clear reason why Apple have adopted the new subscriber identity module. While smaller, there appear to be no major advantages, and many disadvantages.
While a nano-SIM may be obtained from a mobile phone service provider, it could prove difficult in some countries. Those who frequently travel around the world often swap SIMs in order to make use of local service providers and save on call costs. The mini-SIM is almost standard around the world, though it can be cut down without too much risk for devices using a micro-SIM such as many iPhones, the Galaxy SIII and other newer devices. The cutting down of a micro-SIM to a nano-SIM could create issues, given the size. Furthermore to swap a nano-SIM into a phone which takes a micro or mini SIM could also prove difficult, even with adapters [Inquirer].
While lighter, thinner and faster, there is not a great deal that's new in the iPhone 5. Many top Android devices still beat it on price, speed and screen size. The iPhone also lacks features which are now become standard in many modern smartphones such as NFC [Near Field Communication].
The technology is backed by the largest US carriers and credit card companies, but has failed to take off in America because merchants have been reluctant to spend money to upgrade their checkout terminals until NFC is more widely adopted.
"Anyone hoping NFC would be a reality soon is disappointed," Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, told Reuters. "Many in the industry were hoping inclusion in the iPhone would be a springboard for more adoption. This takes the impetus away." [Telegraph]
It will also be a snub to Google which have poured much time and investment into NFC and Google Wallet.
The excitement amongst Apple fans was not reciprocated by companies making components for Apple products which saw some shares slide soon after the unveiling of the new device [Reuters]. However there was a distinct recovery later in the week with Apple shares in particular jumping to an all time high on Friday, in what one analyst called "iPhone 5 fever" [Reuters].
For iPhone fans the biggest selling selling point is perhaps its 4G capabilities, though the fast mobile broadband service has yet to reach many parts of the world and even where it has there are few operators that offer the service.
Besides the criticism, some warranted, some less so, pre-orders for the device are said to have already exceeded demand and Apple say those wanting to buy one may have to wait weeks. Such a gap in the market could leave Apple vulnerable with competitors stepping in to take advantage, particularly Samsung whose Galaxy SIII is seen as a strong rival to the iPhone [Mashable].
Hobson's choice or a false dilemma
The new iPhone is unlikely to encourage mobile phone users to jump ship. Having made the choice of Android many have invested heavily by buying apps on Google Play. Similarly iPhone users may well have spent a considerable amount in iTunes, stuff that they could not transfer to another platform.
The iPhone 5 might appeal to new users, those who have yet to take the plunge into the smartphone market. For those with an iPhone already there is the very serious question concerning whether the upgrade is worth it [Telegraph].
tvnewswatch, London, UK