Apple's iPhone 5 was unveiled in San Francisco on Sept. 12 to a crowd filled with special guests and journalists. The device, as expected by the rumor mill, came with a host of improvements, including a larger Retina display, a new design, and 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service. In many ways, it's the device that customers today needed. But in far too many ways, it's also a smartphone that disappoints those that were hoping for something far more special â and dominant.
Apple is undoubtedly a company that deserves all of the respect it gets. For years, it has found ways to innovate beyond anything the market has seen. And competitors have been left to only hope to catch up. It's a feat unlike anything we've seen to this point. And it speaks to the genius of the late Steve Jobs and his executive team.
But because of all of that success, Apple is held to a higher standard. Customers can view the company's nominal upgrades, while nice, as disappointments. And while any other company would be celebrated for launching new design updates each year, Apple can only get that courtesy when it totally changes a product's look.
Although the following might seem like more of the same, this time around, it's truly hard to not be down on Apple. The iPhone 5, as a standalone product, is nice and worth buying. But when considered in the context of its market and competitors, it looks awfully dull for a company that has spent so much of its time talking about how innovative it is.
1. The 4-inch screen is small
Although everyone complained that the iPhone 4S' 3.5-inch screen was small compared to competitors, the same might soon happen with the iPhone 5. That device's display comes in at just 4 inches. Sure, it's better than its predecessor's screen, but what about the countless 4.3-inch devices on the market? What's worse, what's Apple's answer for the 4.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S III?
2. The design has hardly changed
There is a slightly new design in the iPhone 5, but it's not a major upgrade. Apple basically made the device thinner, lighter, taller, and changed the back a bit. As Apple's design guru Jonathan Ive said himself, Apple didn't want to change the iPhone's design too much. It shows. And it's disappointing.
3. Where's the NFC?
Apple made no mention of near-field communication in its presentation. It's unfortunate. Near-field communication delivers communication between products, would offer mobile payments and much more. It's available in countless Android-based devices. Why wouldn't Apple offer it on the iPhone 5?
4. The 8-megapixel camera isn't a major update
Apple played catch-up with the rear camera in the iPhone 5. The component comes with an 8-megapixel sensor, some low-light improvements, and a better lens. But who cares? Nokia recently announced the PureView camera in its Lumia 920 and that appears to be superior to the iPhone's. Even the Galaxy S III's camera appears to be able to match Apple's option. Where's the benefit in your option, Apple?
5. iOS 6 is nice, but not a major upgrade
Apple's iPhone 5 will ship with iOS 6. For those keeping score, the operating system will launch with over 200 updates, including improvements to the calling screen, better do-not-disturb features, some Mail enhancements, and more. Even so, it's not a major upgrade over iOS 5. And it's highly unlikely that it'll be a major selling point for Apple customers.
6. The new Lightning is annoying
Apple tried to put a good face on its new Lightning port, which replaces the 30-pin connector found in its previous devices. However, it's a bit annoying. The port requires an accessory to connect the iPhone 5 to existing dock-ready devices, and will force customers to upgrade to new devices sooner than they might like. It's nice that it'll sync more quickly, but let's be honest â Apple is trying to get rid of that, anyway.
7. Quad-core processor? Yawn.
Apple has finally unveiled the A6 quad-core processor. It's a nice addition to the iPhone 5. But quad-core processors are by no means new. The chips have found their way to a host of Android-based devices, including those from Apple's biggest competitors. Apple needed to deliver something better, and it didn't.
8. More storage, please
Was anyone else disappointed that Apple didn't offer up more storage in the iPhone 5? With video viewing becoming far more popular around the world, it would only make sense for Apple to give users more storage to allow them to keep that content on their devices. Instead, it topped out the iPhone 5 at 64GB.
9. How long will it take developers to catch up?
With a new screen size comes new headaches for Apple's developer partners. The apps that were built for 3.5-inch screens won't fit on the 4-inch displays until developers make modifications. That becomes a problem when there are many more 3.5-inch screens out there. Look for apps to look awfully weird after the iPhone 5 launches.
10. Don't forget the hidden costs
Although the iPhone 5 comes in at the same prices as its predecessor, customers should be aware that there will be hidden costs. Chief among them? The aforementioned adapters for the Lightning port. Wondering how much that will cost? A whopping $29. Now, think of all of the products that need the 30-pin connector, and ask yourself if you want to carry that single adapter to all of them. Upset yet?