The recent Apple event on 12 September launched new versions of the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPod Nano. I have never really needed an iPod. I’ve had an iPhone since the first ones landed in Australia, and between my and my wife’s phone, the iPad, the iMac, and a ‘decommissioned’ iPhone 3G that is now basically an iPod Touch, we’ve always got a music device handy. So the iPhone 5 is of the most interest to me.
Being in the club that got the 3G when it first came out, my biannual contracts always cycle in time for each major iPhone update; so far being the 4 and now this year with the 5. So the decision whether to make the upgrade and continue on a more expensive phone plan or whether to keep the old iPhone 4 and move to a more economical plan is currently top-of-mind.
First of all, my current iPhone 4 is still mostly working okay. The battery life is still good, the screen is still perfect apart from a bit of yellowy discolouration in one of the corners, and the body has been kept safe in a case so it still looks practically brand new. However as programs get more complex, I’m sometimes left waiting as the processor catches up, and I wouldn’t mind if the Wifi and 3G worked a bit faster. The other thing is the physical design of the device. The glass back has never impressed me. I looks nice in photos, but in the real world it just feels tacked on, heavy and fragile. I much prefer the alloy back of the iPad, so I have high hopes for the iPhone 5 feeling similar in quality. The other thing that’s always annoyed me is that the iPhone 4 feels like a sharp sheet of glass against your ear during phone calls, again I feel Apple underwent form over function in this area. Lastly my home button is starting to die a slow and frustrating death … sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t …
So the new 5. The design to me although similar to the 4, simply improves on an already classic design—a design that makes nearly every other smart phone on the market feel like it was made by Fisher Price. The fit and finish of the iPad 2 and iPad ‘New’ is already better than the 4, so by the looks of the photos the 5 will be possibly the highest quality phone in terms of manufacture available on the market. For someone who has a European car and a Swiss watch, this appeals to me immensely! Have they fixed the sharp on-ear experience? From the photos I’d say not, but I won’t know for sure until I get my hands on one. Having said that, using the headphones and Bluetooth in the car largely negates this issue.
Having the headphone port at the bottom next to the charging port makes sense to me, as I often have the charger hanging out the bottom and a cable out the top when plugged into the surround sound. Having them together will neaten it up nicely. The new headphones look promising, but I’m also wary that it may just be another exercise in marketing. Hearing them with my own ears will be the only way to know for sure. With the new Lightning port, I guess I can believe they had to change it for space reasons, though this will mean we can no longer share charging cables at home and at work, and it will render my speaker dock and car stereo connection useless. The 30 pin converter will be fine in the car as the phone rests in the centre console, however the speaker dock stands the phone up and I reckon there will be too much pressure on the connectors with the adaptor in place. I’ve seen that they’ll do a cable version with is probably a safer bet, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having an iPod speaker. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is annoying. What might be a deal breaker is that I currently have a Turkish leather iPhone case that I absolutely adore—it’s my favourite accessory that I’ve ever bought—and the news that the new taller phone will not fit into the holder is just a little bit disappointing (guess I could fork out another $80 for a slightly longer one …).
Apart from those changes all the improvements are positive: thinner, lighter, longer battery life, larger screen, brighter colours, faster processor, faster wifi and 4G, better camera … all of this just makes the iPhone experience just that much better than before without mucking up an already winning formula. So if you’re in the market for a new phone, it’s a no-brainer. If you’ve still got an iPhone 4 that works just fine, I’m not entirely convinced there’s enough reason to upgrade unless you simply ‘just want one’—especially as anyone with the 4 or 4S will soon have iOS6 anyway.
Having said all that, if my home button keeps stuffing up much more, I’ll end up throwing the 4 at a wall in frustration … and then I’ll have no choice but to upgrade! 😉
See the thoughts from the rest of the MacTalk team here: