I’m an Apple fanboy and even I’m underwhelmed by the iPhone 5

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.

  • Rick Weber

    First off, I have been an Android user since the original Evo launched in 20120.  I am not going to say that the iPhone 5 is a bad phone. It now has some features that were sorely missing from the previous versions. And, if you’re a current iPhone user, this will likely be a good upgrade for you. I will also admit that Apple truly changed the mobile industry in 2007- with the introduction of the iPhone.

    With that said, Apple’s underlying problem is that they are no longer “innovating” as a company. All they announced yesterday was a 4-inch phone with new features that I have been using on my Android phones for over 2 years now. I understand that Apple will likely do a good job implementing those features; but the newer Android phones are also doing a good job too…and the OS has really matured (and even rivals iOS in smoothness, I might add). What made Apple so successful is that they were always a company that pushed the limits of technology. In short, they were hungry and driven. It seems now that they are playing catch-up with the likes of Android, and even Windows Phone- in terms of innovating (not sales, per se with WP). This is not a position Apple wants to be in. They need to get back to their roots if they want to keep succeeding in this competitive and fast-paced market. Sooner or later, even iPhone users will start looking elsewhere as other manufacturers, Google, and Microsoft continue to put out great devices that offer more to the consumer. Heck, this has already been happening for quite some time now. We are finally just beginning to realize it.The other thing Apple needs to be wary of is that they are now perceived as the “villain” who is only out to stifle competition by filing lawsuits against their strongest competitors. I don’t care that it’s “legal” to sue, or that you even have recourse; this is not a positive image for Apple. And it really gives off the impression that they don’t believe enough in their product development to stay ahead of their competition anymore. The only thing they can do is continue to file for trivial patents, and hope that a judge will see it their way when it comes down to a court battle. Whatever happened to shutting up the competition by releasing a “game-changer?” Have all the good ideas already come and gone? I don’t think so. I just think that Apple has been blinded with a “too big to fail” mindset, and it will ultimately hurt them. Maybe not this year or the next; but their mindset along with the green little robot will eventually make Apple irrelevant in the mobile realm.

  • ditto

    Using non-standards is worrying but since Apple has always been a CLOSED-SYSTEM, their walled up garden is OK to most fanboys.

    No NFC, non-standard SIM, non-standard ports, everything about the iPhoney 5 is disappointing. PERIOD. Coming next month when all my friends are putting their NFC devices against the toll-gates of MRT, toll stations, I’ll still  be using old techno cards.  Pathethic!!  Think I’ll swithc over to Meego!

  • Anonymous

    The Galaxy S3 hard to use with one hand? That is a new one, I own a GS3 and it is so sweet to use with both or one hand. Even my friends at work that have Iphone love and praise the design of the GS3. Plus, even when the GS3 have a part that is plastic, it have proved to have more quality than the Iphone on the crash tests. 

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps if you stopped reading every single “leak” you’d be more surprised and less disappointed.

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