Nothing really leaps out as a "big deal" about Apple's announcement of the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s on Tuesday.
But, I don't really care about any "big deals". My iPhone 4S works very well, but I'm looking forward to the iPhone 5S working better:
- Better radios!
- LTE vs 3G. I wouldn't have guessed that the wireless telcos would have deployed LTE so widely, so fast, and so well. But they have. LTE is faster and better for the same price as 3G.
- 5 GHz Wi-Fi (big deal in my household, and conferences, as 2.4 GHz is getting badly crowded).
- Better wireless sensitivity overall - I've seen my iPhone 4S side by side with an iPhone 5 and where my iPhone 4S could not pick up any wireless, the iPhone 5 could.
- Better camera
- What looks like a really stunning panorama mode
- Better low light capability
- Ability to shoot a number of shots with one button push (really useful at conferences sitting in the audience)
- Better flash for better skin tones when using a flash
- Lightning connector (believe it or not, it's a minor pain to figure out the right orientation of the 30-pin connector, get it in straight, etc. The Lightning connector is simply easier and less hassle.
- Better sound - Apple wisely used the "reclaimed" real estate from the 30-pin to Lightning connector transition on the bottom of the iPhone to include a bigger, better speaker (and undoubtedly some new audio processing tricks) to provide better sound from the bare iPhone 5x.
- iPhone 5x is taller and a better fit for my big paw.
- 64-bit; all of Apple's apps have been rewritten for 64-bit, and it's ready to go in IOS7 for third-party apps. It's gotta be wicked fast.
- Fingerprint sensor. I'm one of those that don't use a lock code on my phone (shhhh, don't tell the muggers) because it's a pain every time I want to check it, but I will use the fingerprint sensor because it sounds pretty painless.
- The M7 coprocessor sounds like it will provide a LOT better battery life. If Apple did it right, the GPS is one of the inputs to it, then apps that require location data won't burn so much CPU and battery life constantly checking my location.
I'm not even factoring in the advances in IOS7, easier to access Control Center (I will be using THAT a lot), AirDrop, iTunes Radio, and a lot of other delightful surprises that I don't know about yet.
One little case in point - Lightning connector. Keyed connectors suck. ALL keyed connectors suck! Because, you have to figure out the right orientation and be careful not to jam a small, fragile connector into the socket the wrong way. Apple figured out that there was a pain point there, and just got rid of it. Yes, they could have gone with a more industry-standard small USB connector, but that still sucks becuase it's keyed. The Lightning connector isn't keyed - you just plug it in and it just works.
One other little case in point - signing up. If you've only ever signed up for wireless telephone service at one of the company stores, or an affiliate, or a third party store like (shudder) Walmart... that's about as user UNFRIENDLY an experience as there is. I've done that, and it sucks, Sucks, SUCKS! It's totally maddening to watch someone tap a keyboard and move a mouse for 15-30 minutes to get a wireless phone account set up. It's painfully obvious that they're inputting information into multiple systems and that's complex and takes a lot of time. I'll never do that again.
When I signed up for my iPhone 4S at the Apple store, and ported my phone number to a new carrier, it was done in under 5 minutes with about six questions total. When my wife and daughter got their iPhone 5s (two of them, not the iPhone 5s which isn't available as I write this), the transaction was more complex than my signup - changing plans, adding some options, two phones... and it didn't take ANY longer. Cloning the phone numbers from my daughter's old phone into her iPhone 5 took another 5-10 minutes.
OK, one more. The Wi-Fi on my iPhone 4S stopped working. I brought it in to an Apple store, they confirmed the problem, set up a brand new phone, explained to me how to set it up to download from the automatic online backup, and I was out of the store in under 15 minutes with a working phone.
So, here's the bottom line, for me about buying an iPhone. None of this stuff was "sexy", worth glaring headlines exhorting me to buy! Buy! BUY! Apple didn't make a sexier phone... it just keeps making a BETTER phone AND making my experience of using their products better, and better. My hassle factor of using a phone and apps keeps going down, and my satisfaction keeps going up. So until they make it worse, I'm hooked as an Apple and iPhone customer.
So, do the math above. Even if, somehow, another phone manufacturer got Android and the hardware to be as good as an iPhone... that still leaves me at the mercy of the crappy experience at something other than an Apple store. So, voting with my wallet, no.
Disclosure - I'm an Apple shareholder (after I became a user of their products and decided it was a good bet).
By Steve Stroh