The launch hype rolls on, but we've now got a much better picture of what the iPhone 5 will be capable of — and more markedly, what it won't.
Clearly there are those who will rush out to buy an iPhone 5 next Friday (or order one online from 5:01pm today); Apple's got a reasonably large and loyal following that way. Having given it a little bit of time to let the launch dust settle, I've been mulling over why (or why not) I'd want to buy one.
There's been a fairly solid "meh" reaction to the iPhone 5's launch, and it did strike me yesterday afternoon that part of that might be down to the fact that just about every tiny detail about it leaked out prior to the launch. As such, there were no wow features, because there was little we didn't already know. It's also an evolutionary step, and I think that put some people off — although quite how many of them would buy an iPhone is a question unto itself. It also reminds me of the Galaxy S III launch; there were plenty of expectant fans when that rolled around, and while it's a good phone, there was some bitching at the time about whether Samsung had delivered enough "wow" factor.
Disclaimer: I review pretty much every handset on the Australian market. Currently, a 4S is my day-to-day phone. Last year, that task was taken up by the Galaxy S II. Make of that what you will, but you might want to read this first.
So what are the "best" new features worth upgrading for?
- It's faster — or at least it should be. I think this has been largely overlooked; Apple's upped the specification for the internal processor, and it has very tight control over the code. Just as Microsoft got a lot out of single core processors in Windows Phone 7 by controlling the hardware, Apple's managed to wring a lot out of its hardware control. With a better processor should come a more responsive phone. This is, still, ultimately an improvement on its predecessor, in other words.
- It's 4G — and not just for the US. Unlike the 3rd Generation iPad, the iPhone 5's inbuilt 4G capabilities will actually work here on both Telstra and Optus' networks.
- The screen's larger, but shouldn't feel larger in the hand. That's a personal preference thing, to be sure; I've got no issue with larger smartphones, but I've found over time that I just don't find them all that comfortable for day to day usage. Every time I use one over a longer period, I start to find myself thinking that I could be doing the same large-screen tasks a little better on a tablet (whether that's my Nexus 7 or iPad). This one will definitely need some hands-on time, though.
So much for the good stuff. What's holding me back?
- The stuff we don't get. Luke over at Gizmodo has highlighted one of the main ones, being the lack of Australian turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6. That'll affect the 4S as well, naturally, but that's in my hand right now. It's genuinely baffling why we're missing out on this particular feature. There's also the features that could have fallen into wish list territory, like microSD card compatibility (I can dream) or a 128GB iPhone, which again feels like something we've waited an age for.
- The lightning connector. Change is painful, but this is markedly painful, because not only does the connector's adaptor cost $35 (or $45 if you want a 20cm cable with it), but it won't pass through video, won't sit well on most docks, and the new connector only uses USB 2.0 speeds anyway. If you're going to change things up, why not either go with the microUSB standard (which would also neatly work within the EU mandates for such things), or at least bring an interface to market which will sync faster?
- 4G's about to get a whole lot slower. This one's not precisely Apple's fault, but it's almost a certainty. The iPhone 5 is 4G, and it'll no doubt be quite popular. That'll up the number of people on 4G networks (where they're available), and reduce the overall network speed for everyone markedly.
That's my current take on the iPhone 5; I'm waiting to get my hands on a review model in order to work out whether it's a worthy upgrade or not. What's your view?