Tech Watch: The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree with the iPhone 5

Category:  Tech Watch
Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 11:00 AM

By: Michael Haas

Let me preface this article by saying that I’m not against Apple. Yes, I use Android and absolutely love my Samsung Galaxy S3, and ultimately I think that Apple has done some great things for the industry. But since the loss of Steve Jobs, the “Apple” we have grown to love has suddenly become more of a “Crabapple.”

First, let me rewind a bit. In October 2011 during the first major product launch since the death of Steve Jobs, Apple announced the iPhone 4S. This came as a big disappointment to a lot of Apple lovers. As Jason Gilbert of the Huffington Post wrote on October 5, 2011:

“It’s not that the new iPhone won’t be great. It will be one of, if not the, best smartphone available to consumers when it is released on October 14. After all, it is identical to the fantastic iPhone 4, except its antenna will be much-improved, the Internet and the apps will load and run faster and the camera and battery will put its predecessors’ to shame. And that – exactly that! – is the reason why everyone is so disappointed. It is exactly identical to the iPhone 4, except it got some nerd-friendly upgrades on its insides.”

Siri was innovative, the specs were better, and it sold 4 million in first three days of initial sales. But was it a success in terms of what’s made Apple a successful company in the past? Probably not. Apple is one of the most innovative companies in the world right now, and churning out a product with no significant changes just doesn’t cut it. People were expecting the iPhone 5, and instead they got the iPhone 4’s geeky cousin.

However, that’s all in the past. On September 4, Apple sent out the invitations for its big launch of the year: the iPhone 5. Finally. The phone we’ve been waiting for, the one phone to rule them all, the Übermensch of phones…right?

I may not use Apple products, but even I was excited to see what the technology behemoth was going to showcase. And then, on September 12, the big news came: “The iPhone 4S (Version 2.0).”

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Technically, the name is “the iPhone 5,” but to me, this was a huge disappointment. No innovation, no striking new features, and an unsurprisingly boring presentation by Apple’s Tim Cook. For a company that originally defined the smartphone market, the announcement of the iPhone 5 was less than ideal. In fact, it was a complete disappointment.

Let’s look at the specifics here. First of all, the screen is now larger, upgraded to 4 inches, over the previous 3.5-inch screen standard to the iPhone since its conception. With the increase in screen size, the resolution of the screen has increased from 960x640 to 1136x640. This increase of 176 pixels of space is beneficial to new applications to come out for the iPhone, but users of the new device will lack the benefits of this larger resolution until the developers of the applications they love re-optimize and retrofit their creations to fit on the newer resolutions. Until then, users will simply see a 960x640 application centered on their screen, with a black bar on top and bottom of the application content to fill this new space.

The next big advancement is 4G LTE technology. This new technology allows iPhone customers, for the first time, to be able to utilize the 4G LTE networks, the fastest possible wireless data connection provided by their carrier. While this is great news, it is nothing special. The 4G LTE technology has been a standard in Android devices since the launch of the HTC EVO 4G by Sprint in June 2010, over two years prior to the announcement of the iPhone 5.

But don’t let that get you down because there’s a number of other great features on this new device: smaller dock connector (oh wait, that means you can’t use any of your old Apple accessories unless you purchase their converter mechanism), iOS 6 (iPhone 4, 4S, and 3GS users will also be getting this update, although 3GS customers are likely to see their iPhone become slower than an old three-legged English Bulldog), faster processor (still not as fast as many of the newer Android devices), updated mapping system (you’re losing Google Maps), and updated Siri (which 4S users will also receive).

I’m not sure if you can tell yet, but I’m not pleased with Apple. I’m sure they’re going to sell millions of new devices, and Apple fans everywhere will hate me for writing this article. However, we have to get serious for a second: Apple can do better, and it needs to if it wants to remain viable.

According to Mashable, in the second quarter of 2012, Android accounted for 68.1 percent of all new phones shipped. Apple phones only accounted for about 17 percent, and to give a bit of comparison, last year Android only accounted for about 45 percent of the market share. The Samsung Galaxy S3 (the phone I currently own), has broken sales records set by Apple in the smartphone industry.

Simply put, Apple needs to get its groove back. The company had great innovation in the past, and I still expect that same level of innovation today. But Apple can’t continue under the assumption that it can “Think Differently” by repackaging old ideas with a larger screen.

Michael Haas can be contacted at

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