This week, Apple announced not one, but two new iPhones, in a yearly announcement that used to make people want to rush out and spend on the latest thing. But that didn’t happen this time, and now it appears as if Apple isn’t doing as much of what innovators do best: innovating.
Upon first glance, the new iPhones are exactly what people want, and what have been rumoured for some time. They’re sleek, stylish, and feature that finesse in design that only Apple can give to its products. The operating system that’s heading to iPhones has been worked on and now looks more modern and better than ever, and for all intents and purposes, these are iPhones that have evolved from where Steve Jobs and his creative crew first started the idea in 2007.
That was an important move, too. The 2007 iPhone was unique because there were other smartphones in the market, but none of them really made the world go “wow, I have to get myself one of those.”
The iPhone did it, and it kept doing it in such a way that it challenged other manufacturers to work harder, creating devices that were better and took the fight directly to Apple.
Google’s Android operating system has helped that, and because of its price – free – it’s now one of the most used operating systems around the world. In terms of market share, Android dominates, and there have been over one billion devices running Android that have been activated.
Devices are getting better too, and it’s now about the hardware, with companies like HTC, Samsung, Sony, and LG, to name but a few, all creating products that are about more than just the OS they run, but are about the experience, customising the look and feel of Android, while pushing the hardware to new levels.
And it’s here we find ourselves at Apple, and why people are down on the brand.
You see, before the world caught up, Apple had something awesome to show at its iPhone briefings.
The speakers would invite the world, make a quip here and there about the competition, and then leave every jaw open at the sort of ways technology could be used in consumer devices. Console gaming power in your hands. A video chat system that not only worked, but one you’d want to use. A screen that was so good, it surpassed what the human eye could see and made text and images jump off the page.
But not this year.
No, this year Apple feels like it has stalled, and while the rest of the world has not only started catching up and has even begun to move on, Apple feels stuck.
One of these reasons is the lack of choice.
If you’re looking for a smartphone at the moment, you are spoiled for choice. There is just so much to pick from, and most of it, based on the reviews we’re doing, is pretty damn good.
Devices come in all shapes and sizes, from 3 inches to 6 inches and even beyond, and basically mean you can choose the size of the world you can take with you.
Remember that a phone is no longer “just a phone,” and now is about taking photos, talking to friends on social networks, and seeing and exploring the worldwide web.
That means a bigger screen can make for a better experience, and that’s where Apple falls short at the moment, because you really only get two screen choices, and they’re not much different from each other. Whether you go with the budget 3.5 inch iPhone 4S or the newer 4 inch iPhone 5S or 5C, you’re really getting the same option, and that is Apple’s view on the size a smartphone should be.
There’s nothing wrong with this, either, but if the world wants a bigger phone, there are plenty of manufacturers who will be keen to provide it, and is why Samsung is doing so well with the Note series of devices.
Price is also a huge factor, and one the world hoped Apple would correct with a budget iPhone.
For a long time, the rumours pointed to an iPhone 5C, where there “c” would mean a plastic body and a budget price tag, as a sort of attack at the budget to mid-range smartphone market, which has Android phones ranging from $40 to $499. That’s a big spectrum, but you can find great devices all throughout this set of prices.
But when Apple announced the iPhone 5C this week, it was all about “colour” and not “cost.” It was, essentially, last year’s tech inside a bigger plastic case, so you could understand why some people would view this device as being close to a budget device, but when Apple revealed the pricing, that idea was lost. Starting at $739, this is a phone that carries a price similar to flagship devices from other brands, and yet obviously isn’t.
Hardware is another issue that seems to plague this recent revision of Apple products.
People like the option of upgradeable memory, and while some devices in both the Android and Windows Phone camp lack this, others let you expand the memory until the cows come home, settle on your SD card, and jam with the music left there.
There’s the omission of Near Field Communication, a wireless hand shaking protocol that allows devices to talk to each other quickly. Already, speakers, headphones, and computers are using it to initiate easy setup modes to make connections just that more seamless. Hotel card keys are beginning to use NFC technology too, and even Commonwealth’s contact-less payment system was forced to add it to Apple’s phone by way of an accessory.
Obviously there’s demand, but Apple just doesn’t agree.
Infrared is another one of those hardware features missing in action.
Regardless of whether your watch TV much, the option to turn your smartphone into a remote control is one many people love, and is why HTC and Samsung now have it in devices, with LG getting it soon in the G2.