On the morning of September 12th before the Apple event kicked off, I have to admit I was way too excited. I kept talking about the iPhone 5 announcement with my friends and they all thought it was hilarious, but after I kept talking and talking about it, I’m honestly surprised I didn’t see my friend count on Facebook plunge.
When the event finally began at 10 a.m. pacific, I eagerly loaded up a live blog and followed along. Tim Cook took the stage and started off by bragging about how gorgeous Apple’s latest retail store is along with recent sales numbers and statistics for its product lines, all of which follows a common theme for the beginning of Apple keynotes.
Then Phil Schiller took over to talk about the iPhone. Yeah it’s named iPhone 5. I’m not happy about that because it’s the sixth iPhone, but for my sanity I’m rationalizing the name because 2012 is the iPhone’s 5th birthday. I have a coping strategy in place. Then the design was unveiled and surprise, it’s the same design we saw in all the leaks. No surprises there. Wait a minute Phil, did you just say the iPhone 5 has a larger display? How large? Oh, 4 inches. Yeah we already knew about that, thanks.
For about the first half hour I was utterly disappointed with what Apple was announcing. The iPhone 5 had a new design, a bigger display, and 4G LTE. Those are all awesome, don’t get me wrong, but my mind wasn’t blown. We heard these features were coming time and time again from sources who continually leaked all of this out.
My attitude started to pick up when there were a few pleasant surprises. The A6 chip brings a 2x faster CPU and graphics. There were a couple leaks about this, but it was never really “confirmed” and I was always skeptical about the CPU getting a boost since the iPhone 4S just got one. Not very many publications mentioned improved cameras either, so I was happy to see yet again Apple made some excellent enhancements including adding 720p video in the front.
At the end of the event I was pretty satisfied. I’m going to buy the iPhone 5, duh; so will millions upon millions of other people. Before you stop reading and scroll down to the comments section to attempt to emotionally scar me, at least know that I own an iPad and Mac, so it only makes sense for me to also have an iPhone to complete the iCloud ecosystem and keep my life in sync.
That doesn’t excuse the fact that there’s something different about Apple’s latest cellular toy compared to the generations that came before it. Every year after reading a live blog or watching the keynote for the new iPhone, I’d feel confident that the iPhone was the best phone on the market. If someone wanted to argue, I felt that I was always able to say “The iPhone is the best smartphone available and here’s why” and more often than not I’d win the argument. Plus, Apple always added something to the iPhone that no other phone was able to fully compete with. Last year it was Siri and the year before that was the retina display.
This year, there’s no killer feature. That’s perhaps what disappoints me most about the iPhone 5. Apple is known for incredible over-the-top innovation and I don’t feel like there’s anything in the iPhone 5 that makes it scream “I’m the best phone ever! Buy me!” I also don’t feel like I’ll be able to easily win arguments over what the best phone is. It’s really just going to have to come down to personal preference, but that’s something I’ve always said. Even though I enjoy a good debate, I don’t really give a damn if you like Android better because it’s your life and your phone.
For me, the iPhone 5 is still the best phone on the market. I’m sorry if you wanted this to end with me saying that I no longer like Apple or the iPhone and I’m joining the army of green robots. What the iPhone 5 does bring to the table that I personally don’t feel the competition does it that it’s tries (and presumably succeeds) to be good at everything. It has an excellent camera, it has Siri, it has hundreds of thousands of high-quality apps, it’s fast, and it has beautiful hardware.
The Nokia Lumia 920 has that PureView technology which makes the camera almost certainly better than the iPhone 5’s, but at the same time, Windows Phone doesn’t have the expansive marketplace of apps. The Samsung Galaxy S III has its Siri competitor, S Voice, as well as a gigantic high-resolution display (and some do think bigger is better,) but it has this cheap-feeling plastic hardware and the phone is often hard to use with one hand. The iPhone 5 seems to be a great phone across the board, rather than having one or two superlative features at the expense of some other mediocre or half-assed features.
I’m still underwhelmed though because my opinion still stands that there isn’t one single killer feature this time around. Android phones have had 4-inch or bigger screens and 4G LTE for years now. I’m also underwhelmed just because of how unsurprising the announcements were. Tim Cook didn’t deliver when he said at the D10 conference some months ago that he wants to double down on product secrecy. A few leaks here and there are perfectly acceptable because they get everyone hyped up, but this year we knew way too many rumors and that ultimately made the real thing less sensational.