Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When Bigger is Biggest—Big New iPhone 5

iPhone 5, The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.

It's not quite the grammatical gauntlet Apple threw down with "Think Different," but the iPhone 5 slogan still achieves a puzzling lack of syntactical precision. No matter that the next biggest thing is also the first big thing, but bigger, there are plenty of reasons to want one.

Here's Apple PR's one-line summary of new big things:

"Apple Introduces iPhone 5
Thinnest, Lightest iPhone Ever Features All-New Aluminum Design, Stunning 4-Inch Retina Display, A6 Chip & Ultrafast Wireless."

That's six comparatively bigger things: thinner, lighter, newer design, bigger display, faster A6 processor, faster wireless.

Here's my list of new iPhone 5 things:

1. New body is bigger, lighter, and thinner;
2. New display is longer*, clearer, and the colors more accurate;
3. New Lightning connector* is smaller, all digital, more durable, and reversible;
4. New A6 processor is 2x faster, 22% smaller;
5. New dynamic antenna;
6. New Wi-Fi with 2.4ghz and 5ghz on 802.11n;
7. New HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and LTE added;
8. New battery lasts longer, 8-10 hours of use;
9. New iSight camera with sapphire lens is smaller, sharper, quieter, clearer, more dynamic, more precise, it's 8 mp, and it has panorama mode;
10. New FaceTime over cellular, take photos while shooting video, and both video stability and face detection improved;
11. New 3-microphone design—bottom, front, and back;
12. New speaker design with smaller five magnetic transducer, sideband audio, and noise-canceling earpiece;
13. and with new iOS6, but that's another story.

It's worth noting that this is the
* First screen-size change since the original iPhone, 2008
* First connector update since the original iPod 30-pin connector, 2003

And probably just as importantly, the iPhone 5 will ship to 100 countries and 240 carriers before the end of the year. What other company could manage logistics of this scale and on such a relatively tight schedule?

I find it an impressive list, even though the Wall Street Journal found the following "technology gaps:"

the iPhone 5 is missing:
• Digital Payments (Near Field Communication, NFC, technology)
• Touch to Share (Seems to be unique to WebOS, HPs defunct mobile operating system)
• Dynamic Home Screens (A feature of Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), which runs on tablets. Doesn't seem to be a hardware function.)
• Face Unlock (Android software security feature linked to the camera. It doesn't seem to be available, yet.)
• Even Bigger Screens (Meaning something bigger than the iPhone and smaller than the iPad)
• Wireless charging (Inductive charging devices are available from third-party suppliers)

Of this list, I'd like NFC capability in my phone, but the rest seem pretty uncompelling. If there's a technology gap, it's the one Apple maintains over its competitors. Apple needs the competition, but there remains no mobile device as thin, light, clear, elegant, and useful as the current iPhone 4S. As of this Friday, we'll be comparing everyone else to the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone; the newer, bigger iPhone 5.

N.B. Auspicious, inauspicious, coincidence, or bad planning—the 4" iPhone 5 runs iOS 6.

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