Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the iPhone 5 yesterday, presenting a major step forward in Apple’s smartphone design, both inside and out. We’ve all heard about how great the device’s specifications are from accessory developers and business analysts – but what does it mean for consumers, and the many iPhone competitors?
There were a number of big change to the iPhone’s design and internal technology, the most obvious being the new 4-inch Retina screen. This is where Apple was smartest, recognizing that the 3.5 inch screen wasn’t enough in 2012, where advanced apps and games demand more space for complex actions. Apple, in a art design choice, decided to make the iPhone 5 display longer, increasing its screen size over 40% without adding width forcing a boxy, awkward device doesn’t fit comfortably.
The new iPhone is powered by the new A6 chip, which doubles the graphic power and speed of the A5 found in the iPhone 4S. Apple was a little conservative here, staying with the more reliable power of a dual-core processor, rather than following the trend of the industry towards quad-core processors. It’s a smart move: Apple made its device more powerful, while consuming less energy. It might cause the iPhone 5 to be infinitesimally slower than the top-of-the-line Android devices coming this winter, but the careful attention Apple pays will yield reliable battery life in devices.
I don’t think the iPhone 5 could boast the same battery life if the chip was a less advanced, quad-core chip: the extra juice needed to power the new 4G LTE technology, larger screen, and processor would be too much to handle. In reality, all the new technology already has an effect on the life of the device – despite being smaller, faster, and more efficient, the iPhone 5’s battery life is the same as the iPhone 4S, a clear sign that Apple’s devices are catching up with the technology curve (both are about 200 hours of stand-by time, and 8 hours of 3G talk time, according to Apple’s website).
Other features in the phone received minor, but useful updates: the iSight camera remains 8MP – which isn’t as gaudy sounding as 10 or 12MP, but with Apple’s advanced optical system, the differences in pixels is all but eliminated. But there are some new features, including dynamic lighting and panoramic photos, along with a new 5MP HD front-facing camera for FaceTime calls.
Thankfully, the sixth-generation iPhone returned to a metal-back design, eliminating the shatter-prone glass backs from the iPhone 4 design, and giving the lighter, faster iPhone a sturdier feel. The only other big change with the iPhone 5 is the Lightning dock connector, which is going to give birth to an entire new line of accessories and cords for iPhone users.
This does present a small problem for the many accessories that will no longer work without buying an adapter from Apple. Albeit a small cost, this will be a requirement for most people upgrading to the new device who already have costly accessories – a bit of a frustration for users, but an important move for Apple as they continue to advance their ecosystem. Hand in hand with the new Lightning cords are the brand-new ear buds, representing another two quiet, but important updates Apple made to their popular device line.
All in all, the iPhone 5 didn’t introduce any new Android-killing features, instead focusing on subtle changes to an already-successful formula. With the iPhone 5, Apple clearly focused their attention on the externals of their smartphone, adding just enough technology to keep up with the newer, powerful Android models on the market, but not pass them. It’s not going to turn any Android users in iOS 6 lovers, but the 200+ new features and fresh design of the iPhone 5 will satisfy existing iPhone owners and attract millions of new users.