Another year has passed, and here we are with a brand new shiny iPhone. The iPhone 5 was announced today (September 12, 2012) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Overall I am very pleased with the announcement today. I think it falls somewhere between an evolutionary update (iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S, and a revolutionary update (iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4).
Items that were a PLUS
LTE: This was probably the most significant update to the iPhone today. With speeds of up to 100 mbps – this is not just a modest increase from 3G speeds – this is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade in cellular data speed. This should make things like maps, Siri, YouTube, etc. much faster to use when outside of a wifi network. I haven’t used an LTE device yet, but I have high hopes for the new speeds coming our way. On a related note, I am confident that the Rogers network will output some of the fastest LTE speeds around due to less crowded networks. I am always shocked at how much faster 3G is here in Canada as compared with 3G in larger US cities such as New York, Chicago, etc.
Screen Size: I wasn’t sold on the 4″ screen size at first (during pre-announcement rumor time), but after watching the Apple product spotlight videos on repeat for an extended period of time, I am much more confident that it will grow on me quickly – and soon enough, I’ll be wondering how I ever got by with such a small screen in the past ;)
Dimensions: I know that 18% thinner and 20% lighter doesn’t sound like much, but when you are down to the fine strokes I think this will make a noticeable difference. I am always happy when the item that goes literally everywhere with me gets thinner and lighter. Read below for my only concern re: dimensions.
A6 Processor: I’m pretty excited that Apple decided to break the mould here and introduce a brand new processor for the iPhone 5, instead of just putting in the A5X processor from the iPad 3 (or The New iPad). What’s even more exciting to me, is that the A5X processor that I’ve been using in my iPad 3 is noticeably faster than the A5 processor used in the iPhone 4S. There are reports that the A6 processor is “twice as fast” as the A5 – if this is true, I think we are in for a real treat in the day-to-day operating speed of the iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 Design: Leading up to the event there were a lot of rumours going around (including images) about what the new iPhone might look like. Almost the whole time, I was hoping that it wouldn’t look like those images. Well, it does look very close to those images – however, there was one thing missing from all of those images that I got to see for the first time today. It was the final level of polish that Apple put on the iPhone 5. If you watch the video on Apple’s homepage right now, you will see how much effort goes into making the iPhone. Everything is so precise, and every last detail is refined. I read somewhere today that the effort they put into the design of the iPhone is comparable to that of designing an expensive watch. I’m always impressed with Apple’s level of detail in everything they do – from the packaging to the final product.
720P Front-Facing Camera: The previous front-facing camera was pretty poor in quality making for lacklustre FaceTime calls – even though they were done over wifi. With the updated front-facing camera of the iPhone 5, I am certain we will see a marked improvement in the quality of FaceTime calls. And now that we can also make them over the ultra-fast LTE network, they should be just as good over the cellular network also. I’m not sure if this will make me use FaceTime more, but time will tell – I’ll certainly be putting it through the paces in the first few weeks.
Improved Audio: At this point I am not sure how impactful this will be, but there are two notable improvements to the audio on the iPhone 5. The first is broadband audio – this requires carrier support but is supposed to improve the sound quality of calls made with the iPhone 5. I think this is a MUCH needed advancement as I sometimes I wonder why they haven’t improved upon cell phone call quality over the past 10 years. The second is the addition of a new microphone on the iPhone 5. This third microphone (on the back of the device) is said to improve the call quality while inside of a loud room – another area that could use some improvement in my opinion.
Lightning Connector: There is a lot of mixed opinions about the new lightning connector that Apple introduced along with the new iPhone 5, iPod Touch (5th gen), and iPod Nano (7th gen). However, I see it as a necessary leap forward. The old dock connector had been around for 9 years, and in the world of technology, that is quite a long time. In order for Apple to continue innovating, and making our beloved devices as small as possible, they need to save space in every way possible. It’s the same reason why they moved from a micro-sim card to a nano-sim card – to save space. More saved space equates to smaller products, lighter products, larger batteries, etc. Yes, I will have to replace a few charging cables, but the bottom line is that the move away from the 30-pin dock connector was bound to happen at some point or another.
Items that were a MINUS
No NFC: I am putting this in the minus column only because it is something that I have wanted from my cell phone for a long time – the ability to pay with my phone, open NFC enabled doors, etc. However, after hearing Phil Schiller discuss why NFC is not ready for mainstream yet, I tend to agree with him. Besides, I think Passbook is just the start of something really big in this area.
No Wireless Charging: This is another one of those cool “wants”, but not necessarily a “need”. Phil Schiller also touched on this and pointed out that you’d still have to plug something in (the charging base station), so it might not provide that much convenience after all. Until wireless charging agrees on a universal standard, and it begins to ship in our cars, desks, etc. I can do without.
It’s Taller: This is a bit of a stretch (no pun intended), but I am not sure that I love the fact that the iPhone 5 is taller than the iPhone 4. I know they had to stretch it up to fit the larger screen, but it would have been even better if they managed to fit the larger screen on the same WxH dimensions of the iPhone 4/4S. Maybe a smaller or flattened home button, or less space around the earpiece. I suppose they also needed more room for circuitry as well. I’m sure it will feel natural and will grow on me, but at first thought, I think I would prefer a smaller phone than my previous phone – not just thinner.
No Water-Repellent Coating: Back in January 2012, a company by the name of HzO said that it was in talks with Apple about offering waterproofing future devices. I had to see the technology for myself, and it looks very promising. There is another company, Liquipel, that offers the same type of treatment to devices. I’m not sure how far away this technology is from our mainstream devices, but I personally can’t wait until it is commonplace.
Lightning Connector: Yes this was also on my PLUS list, but I do have one gripe with Apple on this one. I believe that during the inaugural year of the lightning connector, that Apple should have included ONE 30-pin to lightning adapter with each of the new devices that supports it. I realize that a portion of people buying these products may have never owned an Apple product before, and therefore have no use for the adapter, but it would still have been a nice gesture on Apple’s behalf to all of their loyal customers.
So that is my Plus/Minus report for the iPhone 5. Feel free to leave comments below with your thoughts. Thanks for reading.