Last week saw one of the biggest anti-climaxes in the history of Apple, as the iPhone 5 was launched to an audience who already knew exactly what it was going to feature.
Unheard of under the late Steve Jobs’ watch, the already-leaked phone matched the prototypes we’d all seen in height and design, coupled with a ‘no-one will really notice’ faster chipset and iOS6 features which are very tenuously classed as ‘improvements’.
Oh, and there was a slightly better battery and a smaller camera. According to the official tech specs, the advertised improved power cell can be proven by 225 hours of standby, 25 more than the 4S, but this is still way short of the 700+ on rival Android devices. And surely this improved battery is going to be chowed through by the phone’s LTE high speed data capability, so a true improvement won’t be seen? As for advertising the smaller camera as a feature? I’m really not sure how this improves the handset one bit, other than admittedly making the device thinner and lighter than before.
And then there’s the connector. Oh dear. Apple has finally decided to sack off the 30-pin connector of old (you know, the one which features on all four of your docks and five of your chargers) in favour of ‘lightning’, the ridiculously-named replacement. Other than saving Apple space on their device, this new connector does nothing to improve the phone whatsoever, preferring instead to inconvenience millions of dock-wielding punters. Fear not though! Apple have unveiled an adapter that can bridge the 30 pin of old to the new connector. The bad news? A cursory glance around the Apple store shows that the bulky accessory is going to retail at £25 and isn’t available until a month after the phone comes out.
As far as technological bollock dropping goes, Apple could well have really done it this time. They must still be reeling from having to dish out bumper bars due to the notorious iPhone 4 signal issues, and the consumer backlash around the lightning connector can surely only result in these adapters being given away for nothing to satisfy furious fanboys?
Another big let-down has already been talked about by app developers who have been getting hands-on with the iOS6 pre-release. Firstly, the replacement of Google Maps with Apple’s own seems to lack the detail of the old, with the map’s usefulness being glossed over by demonstrations of flashy 3d fly-over functionality. Also due to the Apple/Google fall-out, the old YouTube app has been removed, replaced by a money-making ad-heavy one.
It isn’t just Apple who are getting complacent either. The UK mobile networks have been jumping on the money-making bandwagon, with O2 only offering 24 month contracts with the iPhone 5, knowing full well that customers who HAVE to have the latest tech will still pay and get hooked into long-term deals.
So, overall, what we’ve got is an expensive and not-much-improved-over-two-years device with the inconvenience of having to buy all-new accessories, a loss of operating system features, and some new earphones which surely can’t be of any interest to those who value half-decent sound quality and so invested in decent lug-hole speakers years ago rather than putting up with the awful bundled ones of yore?
When Apple first launched the original iPhone five years ago, it was playing catch up to a grand master in the form of Nokia. Following the vast improvements to its device, the iPhone 4 truly became a leader and almost made Nokia bankrupt, but now it seems as if Apple is on the back foot once again, this time behind the slew of Android devices from the likes of Samsung and HTC.
So, is there light at the end of the tunnel? Of course there is. Apple die-hards have already been pre-ordering in their droves. The guaranteed 5S next year will also up the ante once more, and there is a massive question mark over where mobile phones can actually go next from a technology point of view, with 3D devices not exactly setting the world alight.
One thing’s for sure, those thinking that Jobs’ legacy has been decimated would be wise to look at all the other times when Apple have been written off; they’re sure to not go down without a fight.