I suspect I’m going to have this argument for the next part of six months: Apple fanboys are going to say the iPhone 5 is a revolution, and pundits are going to say it hasn’t evolved enough. But what’s really going on is that Apple – and most other manufacturers – can merely evolve the phone from here on in, as opposed to revolutionise it.
You’re going to get a lot of people who believe the iPhone 5 is a revolutionary device, and after playing with it, I can tell you that there are some pretty special things going for this smartphone.
But it’s not “revolutionary,” and there’s nothing Apple can really do to make it that way. Not that it’s trying to.
The Apple iPhone 5 is an evolution of what was already a strong smartphone entry, and Apple knows it. The company isn’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes with its ironically fifth-named sixth-released smartphone.
But why can’t it be? Why can’t the iPhone – or any other smartphone manufacturer – release an entirely new smartphone that redefines the industry?
Apple has never been one to mess around with screen technology in its mobile handsets.
The first generation iPhone that wasn’t released in Australia featured a pretty nice screen (this reviewer has one at home), and Apple made it even better in the iPhone 4 – its third handset – with a “Retina” display that boasted clearer text.
Now we’re seeing the iPhone gain a bit of length allowing it to better compete with Android manufacturers.
A bigger screen isn’t just a way of saying “hey, we’re competing,” as it’s something that customers seem to really want.
At one point, mobile phones were all about being small, as we told companies that we wanted these tiny devices to carry around for texting and phone calls.
Then the mobile internet revolution happened, and everyone wanted to surf the web where ever they were. There are apps, social media, lots of websites, and YouTube, and that means we want a bigger screen.
Handset manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, and HTC are responding, with 4.7 to 5.5 inch smartphones that fit in our pocket and offer huge high quality screens on the go.
Apple has for years seen its 3.5 inch display as perfect for a smartphone, hence its decision to leave the design mostly unchanged, that is until now, where a few extra lines have been thrown in and the screen has become bigger, better for the big screen browsing, though still not necessarily what everyone is after.
But has much changed?
Our test of the iPhone screen still shows that it’s the lovely sharp Retina display, although with a 4 inch display, the numbers are closer to 326 pixels per inch than the 330ppi in the 3.5 inch display of the iPhone 4 and 4S.
Still, that many pixels per inch is greater than what the human eye can generally pick up on, with 300ppi being the rough number that is the human limit. Beyond this, our eyes are the bottleneck, even if the technology will inevitably get better through the years.
Screen technology does improve beyond definition, with panels types, scratch-protection, and even built and design.
Already, the iPhone 5 features the high grade In-Plane Switching display technolog used in the Apple iPad, and Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass protects this section, too.
Quite a few other manufacturers are using technology of this calibre too, including HTC and LG, so Apple isn’t alone here.
But screens are changing.
Being able to throw a phone in our pockets that is potentially foldable or can flex slightly with our legs as we walk is awesome, and we’re still amazed that Corning has managed to improve its Gorilla Glass in the second generation product.
There’s even talk that Samsung has a flexible screen that it’s working on for a future smartphone, so you really have to ask yourself what’s coming, and more importantly, how will it improve what already works so well?