Is iPhone 5 a disappointment?

In the last few weeks I have talked to quite a few people who are very angry at Apple for the way iPhone 5 came out. Anger, disappointment and strange amount of love for Samsung are dominant emotions during all iPhone related conversations. I can relate to some of this. I too am a bit upset with the breakup of the Apple-Google relationship, and the subsequent removal of Google Maps from iOS 6. Apple Maps are an inferior product at this point, and it does detract from the value of the new phone. But most people are not upset about that. Most people I have talked with are angry at apple for not exceeding their expectations and blowing their minds.

I must ask, what were you expecting iPhone 5 to be like? Like just about all Apple users I followed the rumor mill, and read the descriptions of leaked designs. Before the big unveiling I had a pretty good idea what the new phone was going to be like: taller display, retina technology, faster cpu, more memory, better front facing camera, etc. Performance wise, it is noticeably faster and snappier than the old model:

I never really thought that the new iPhone was going to be anything but an incremental improvement over the existing model. And that’s exactly what it turned out to be. Apple released exactly what I expected, and in my book that is good enough. Barring the crappy map implementation you can hardly argue that iPhone 5 isn’t better than 4S. It is definitely a faster, more capable phone.

Did people thing the new iPhone will be Tony Stark’s super-phone from Iron Man? Did people expect it will have have a built in wall projector? That it will have the laser keyboard (that keyboard is terrible btw)? Holograms? 3D features? Cure for cancer? That it will have a drastically different look? That it will somehow change the world for the better overnight?

Or are Apple snobs just butt-hurt that the new device is not better than the Galaxy 3 in every conceivable way? That the Samsung could list more features on their bullet point list, and boast about their larger screen?

Sure, Galaxy 3 is a very nice phone, but I’m not really going to be switching to it. I have never been really impressed by bullet point lists of features. Those have always been the tools of marketing drones. The truth is that more features does not always automatically mean better. You have to look at a complete package to really see the value of a product.

For me Apple is still better value for the buck. For one, I rally like iOS. I think it functions well, and fulfills my needs quite adequately. Android is a great mobile system, and I’m really glad it exists. I want it to be as awesome and innovative as possible – I want it to compete with Apple on every step, because competition is a good thing. It keeps all involved players from becoming complacent and resting on their laurels. But, I have been using an iPhone for close to two years now, and I don’t really feel like jumping ship at this point. I know my way around the system, I know the little tricks, I have my favorite apps. The iOS works well enough and I don’t see any reason to switch right now.

I like the Apple hardware. Most of the Android phones that I held in my hands felt a bit cheep and disposable. The iPhone has always been a polished, high quality product. I have heard rumors that the new model is susceptible to scratches and chips, but I’m hoping they will correct that by the time I will be ordering mine – just like they eventually corrected the antenna issue on iPhone 4.

iPhone 5

iPhone 5

I might be in a minority, but I don’t really think a large screen on a phone is such an advantage. I played around with a few big-screen Android phones and I found them cumbersome to grip and operate one handed. The width of 4 and 4S is about the right size for my hands, and I’m actually glad Apple decided to keep it that way. I have mixed feelings about the taller screen. On one hand, more vertical screen real-estate is definitely a good thing for most apps. Browsers and content delivery apps will be able to show more per screen, and 720p movies will finally be watchable without letter-boxing or stretching. That said, I’m a little concerned that the upper left corner of the iPhone 5 screen will become inaccessible for my right thumb. This wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t an iOS convention to put the back button in that corner on most apps. So I wouldn’t be disappointed if the screen size on the device stayed the same and apple just upped the effective resolution with the retina technology. Galaxy 3 screen size does not impress me at all.

To me a phone is an investment – it is not a toy, or a gadget that I will play around for a while and then discard. This device is to serve as an extension of my brain. It is my virtual limb, my sixth sense through which I experience the digital sphere. It needs to be stable and robust and hassle free. I love to tinker and hack things, but my phone just needs to work. The iPhone has been fulfilling this role for two years now, and I haven’t had a single complaint as to it’s function. My only issues were related to the app delivery model – or rather the closed nature of the iPhone ecosystem. But that was something I knew about going in. It was something I came to terms with and accepted before I plonked down the money for the phone.

Since I have gotten the phone, I have upgraded it’s OS twice and each time that upgrade was smooth and problem free. Each upgrade improved the phone’s performance, and made it more enjoyable to use (well, except the Apple Maps thing – that was a disappointment). My Android using friends on the other hand frequently complained about their phones running OS that was a version or two out of date, about lack of vendor and carrier support for updates, about memory leaks in core applications and etc…

This is the thing – I know that Apple supports their entire product line. I know that when I buy a phone, I can expect to be fully supported for the next 2 years. I can be sure that I will get not only security updates and bug fixes, but also full OS upgrades for free. If I was to switch to an Android platform, no such guarantee exists. Phone vendors support their latest and greatest model for up to 6 months at which point they usually switch their focus towards their new lineup of products. Cell phone carriers usually insist on crippling the Android OS and often want to be the sole provider of updates and bug fixes which they tend to be horrible at. It is a mess tat I don’t want to worry about when upgrading my phone.

So when my contract is up for renewal mid-October, I will be purchasing the iPhone 5. How about you?

Are you getting the iPhone 5?
Total Votes: 84 Started: October 1, 2012 Back to Vote Screen

Are you going to be getting the new iPhone? Are you mad at apple? Are you switching to droid? If yes, let me know in the comments.

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23 Responses to Is iPhone 5 a disappointment?

  1. ST/op DENMARK Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    No! As a happy Galaxy S3 user (1), I don’t think the iP5 is a disappointment… What’s happening is that the iPhone is just becoming mainstream, instead of being a leading product. The ‘revolution’ is over. Smartphones are here to stay, and everybody owns one. The iPhone is not special anymore. It’s just an offer among others. It’s great, but not outstanding.

    I really believe that the most important thing lately, was the release of the dirtcheap Huawei smartphone. Not the new ‘me too’ (I’m stretching it!) iPhone.

    1) Android 4.0.4 on 3.0.15x kernel. Jelly Beans on the way…

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  2. Luchs Opera Windows says:

    None of your option applies to me. I have an iPhone 4 and I don’t plan to get any other phone because, well, the iPhone still works perfectly fine and I’ve got a prepaid card which doesn’t have any contract cycles.

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  3. Morghan UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux says:

    The iPhone was never for me, but I wasn’t mad at them until they went sue-happy on basic features that never should have been registered for anyone.

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  4. Eric Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I think the worst thing about the new iPhone 5 is the incompatible connector …

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  5. ST/op DENMARK Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Eric:
    It’s not the worst thing: It’s barely an epiphenomenon. Get used to it.

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  6. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Eric:
    I love the new connector. I love being able to plug it in without paying attention to orientation. The only issue is HAVING to buy more cables. I keep two in my car (iPod dock + quick charger), one at my bedside, one at my home office, and one at my office office. That means I had to spent $100 on cables. Shitty if you ask me, but I won’t have to buy anymore cables for a LONG time, because the Lightning connector is here for awhile, just like the 30 pin was.

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  7. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I love my iPhone 5. It’s very fast. I love the quality of the screen, not necessarily the size. Although, as more apps are updated to be iP5 compatible, I find myself also enjoying that extra screen real estate. I never thought it would make much of a difference, but in some apps it really can be nice. Just like you Luke, my phone is an extension of me. I don’t want to have to hack it constantly just to get the most up to date OS. I just want it to work. A lot of Fandroids complain that iOS is “boring.” Well, for one, I welcome boring. I don’t need my PHONE to be that exciting, I want it to work and be secure. This it accomplishes. The wonderful thing about having Android (and for that matter, WP8) is that there is alternatives. If you think iOS is boring, get Android or WP8 phones. To each his own.

    I’m not really sure what everyone expects apple to do now? How much more innovation is left in a product like this? Just small incremental updates really…

    I felt like Jobs was bringing us more innovation in his ability to bring NEW products to market that we never had before, iPhone/iPad and even Apple TV. It will be interesting to see if Apple goes like they did in the 80s and lose that innovation or not.

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  8. Eric GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I mean, there is a ton of audio products using the ‘classic’ apple connector. Many mobile phone companies have agreed to change to standard USB Connectors. So anything beside those two seems no logical approach. I assume the iPhone 5 is only the first product showing how much Apple was Steve Jobs …

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  9. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Eric:
    So what if everyone else uses USB. Everyone else has to use two different ports for the same end goal. Apples dock connector can pass audio/video/data/ and charge, all at the same time. Can USB do that? Didn’t think so. Apple does it for the sake of minimizing the ports on their devices. Also, I guarantee you Steve Jobs was heavily involved with the design and implementation of the iPhone 5.

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  10. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Why isn’t there an option for “I’m happy with my current phone!”? :D

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  11. Morten DENMARK Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    My mobile phone is a rather old HTC Legend running Android 2.2 or some such. To be honest, it’s somewhat shitty, but I don’t care enough to replace it. If I were to, I’d be getting an iPhone 5 though.

    I did find the iPhone 5 somewhat disappointing. Not because they didn’t blow my mind, but because they made changes for no apparent reason. I may be wrong, and the new screen size is absolutely perfect, but it really feels like they just needed to make /some/ visual change, and this was what people had demanded.

    I also did not like the new connector. Like with the new MagSafe connector, the reason for the change seemed to be rather weak. You can now orient it both ways and it’s slightly thinner? Big deal. If these occurences are one off things, I guess it’s fine, but I’m worried that they’ll start playing fast and loose with compatability in the name of minor gains like shaving off a few millimeters of thickness.

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  12. swoo CANADA Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ Zack:
    Of course you can pass audio video data and charge with a USB.

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  13. Zack UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    @ Morten:
    It’s not just slightly smaller. It’s MINI. It’s waaaay smaller. You don’t realize quite how small it is until you see it

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  14. Victoria Netscape Navigator Mac OS says:

    I still have iPhone 4 and I’m not upgrading unless smth bad happens. I have just upgraded to the ‘new’ iPad and that’s enough for me :)

    I liked the metal body of iP5 and the new connector (finally the sides do not matter, why did it take them so long?) but that’s not enough to make me switch.

    The new maps are a disgrace, but I rarely use them anyway, I was more disappointed about native Youtube app.

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  15. Zack UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    @ Victoria:
    New YouTube app from App Store is about a million times better. You click on YouTube things and they still open appropriately.

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  16. Victoria Safari Mac OS says:

    @ Zack:
    for iPhone, yes, but not for iPad yet. I’m using Jasmine now but it’s not the same.

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  17. Sameer Google Chrome Windows says:

    No switch to iP5 for me either. Very happy with my 4S. The only complaint I have is that it feels a bit heavy in my hand, the centre of mass is something I needed to get used to compared to my 3GS. That phone was still in mint condotion after 2+ years of use. I’ll always take special care of my phones. I intend to use my 4S for at least 2 years and if there are significant new develpments by that time, I might get something to replace it. If Apple continues to bring us a high quality iPhone I’ll stick with them for sure.

    I always hear people bitching about new iPhones not being anything new and like you said Luke, I don’t know what they’re expecting exactly. This phone does anything I need it to.

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  18. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Victoria:
    Ok, I am not running iOS6 on my iPad yet (don’t wanna lose my Jailbreak), so I can’t comment on that. Are you saying there isn’t an iPad YouTube app, just the iphone one that’s scaled down?

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  19. Victoria Safari Mac OS says:

    @ Zack:

    yep, I’ve installed the youtube app on iPad and it looked horrible – all blurry and all. And the videos shown are the size of iPhone too, so when you scale them up, it’s PixelLand. I hope, they hurry up and make a normal app, but the prognosis is it will take a couple of months.

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  20. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Victoria:
    You can always just create a shortcut for m.youtube.com and that’ll work.

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  21. Eli UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    Your timing for this article is spot on, as I just purchased an unlocked iPhone 4S after about 2.5 years using the Samsung Galaxy (the original ones, yes). In the beginning, I was very excited about it–I was involved with Android dev; I had friends who were compiling nightlies, etc. I think my excitement died sometime after the 1-year anniversary. Samsung never released an update. Apps on the market stopped supporting such an obsolete platform, so I rooted my phone and switched to custom ROMs. That worked for a while, but it felt like a clutch rather than a solution. There were serious memory issues; apps were constantly crashing; I could never lock on a GPS signal; calendars and contacts are never correctly synced between my computer, Google, and my phone, etc. etc.

    I think what I loved about Android was the theoretical possibilities. What I got instead was an outdated and semi-broken phone in a very fragmented ecosystem.

    I absolutely hate the fact that Apple is controlling the apps market and trying to run a closed system. In the recent future, I will probably jailbreak my phone. But for better or for worse, they DO know how to design a seamless user experience. My Mac, the cloud server, and my phone are always in sync.

    I don’t lack the technical knowledge to configure my electronic devices, but I have to be honest, I do prefer having something that *just works* over something that requires constant troubleshooting. After all, a phone is supposed to make my life more convenient and less complicated, right?

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  22. Ron Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    While there is a a lot of nice bits to the iphone range, im not really intersted in joining their mono-culture, add in their recent sue happy of patently bullshit claims, and I refuse to buy anything from Apple.

    Shame wouldn’t mind some of their products (Air mainly).

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  23. Robert UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    @ Morten:

    Folks who are complaining about the iPhone’s new connector, it’s not just about the smaller form-factor (though when the old connector was taking up a significant fraction of the phone’s volume, that’s certainly a consideration) or the orientation. It’s about electricity. Specifically, that tablets need about 10 watts to charge and micro USB is only rated to deliver 9. Apple’s Lightning connector is rated for 12.

    Sometimes there really are reasons for these things, you know.

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