Today, Apple unveiled its long awaited iPhone 5, a device that was highly rumored so the new features were not a surprise, at all. During the time where those leaks happened, the main friction points that we have noticed among commenters were the display size and the prospect that battery life would not be increased significantly because of the thinness (7.6mm, which is impressive).
In an ultra-competitive race where super large displays (see any other successful high-end smartphones like the HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S3 and the new Galaxy Note 2), uber-cameras (see the new Nokia Lumia 920), incredible battery capacities (like the Razr Maxx HD), and amazing new features (see Samsung S-pen capabilities) are unveiled every week, we wonder why Apple has not committed to maintain the wow factor of the iPhone, because the company could easily do it.
Apple has the purchasing power and the financial strength to build any high-end feature it wants in its new mobile devices. As such, the disappointing 4-inch display size, the slightly better battery and the regular camera (see previous competitors) released in the iPhone 5 are conscious design choices made by the company executives.
Tim Cook made it clear today: making products bigger is “not a challenge”, he said – that was obviously a snipe to the larger Android and Windows phones.
Apple’s dogma of pursuing the ultra-thin and compact form factor at all cost is holding back its customers, preventing them from benefiting from large displays, extra battery life, extra camera features such as the awesome optical image stabilization technology that Nokia unveiled a week ago. All these technologies require a larger chassis.
When the Galaxy Note (first generation) with its 5.3-inch display was announced, I heard the comment “it is too large for a phone” so many times. A few months later when it hit the market, only the men with no jackets (aka no large internal pocket) made that same comment. I was even stopped in the street and asked about the device by a man who had not seen such a nice display in a smartphone before.
Today, many people are used to large smartphone displays (4.5″+) so the HTC One X or the Galaxy Note 2 seem just a little bigger, and frankly, very few people think about commenting on the size when trying the Note 2’s S-pen and its split screen and video overlay features.
Most people barely use smartphones for the phone capabilities: content consumption, productivity tasks and image capture are the main activities and for those, large displays, extended battery life, high-end cameras are the necessary features.
This does not mean that the iPhone 5 won’t sell very well. It will because there are many more reason to get it, or to upgrade from an older iPhone (the iPhone 5 is vastly faster!). The value of iOS and of the overall Apple eco-system should not be underestimated, because it is in fact extremely powerful. We’ve always said that iTunes was the real force behind the iPod.
As usual, Apple picks and chooses what people really “want” (because the company thinks that most of the time, people don’t know what they want). And to be fair, it has been very good at that in the past decade. However, this time, we feel that choosing thinness and weight over vastly better battery life and a more comfortable screen is a miss.
Ideally, we would love to see an iPhone 5 XL which would come with a 4.7″ display, a 3500mAh battery capacity and a fully stabilized camera module in a chassis that would be as thin as today’s iPhone 4S, and only slightly heavier. What do you think? Would you prefer buying an iPhone 5 XL if it existed? Drop a comment below or fill out our FB survey: “Are you impressed by the iPhone 5?”