iPhone 5 one word review

There are no shortage of iPhone 5 reviews and reviewers:

  • Professional reviewers – including the chosen few who had pre-release phones and will never say anything other than positive things – and those who didn’t, who will pride themselves on being able to find and comment on any perceived flaws they read from others
  • Bloggers – with various audiences from millions to nil)
  • Technical teardowns – who will remind you that this is going to make a LOAD of profit for Apple
  • Competitors – who will tell y ou that their phone has x, y or z feature better than the iPhone
  • and normal people … your friends, family, those you know and trust – who will happily share their positive experiences – note: if you have just bought one, you are an Apple fan, so the experience you share will be positive (buyers validation).

So not wishing to be left out, I walked into the Apple stop (not a store as I am British) so I could make my own mind up.

And here comes the review.

In one word.

One word to capture a multi-billion dollar product that that directly influence US GDP!

A word that captures my experiences; across all aspects of the phone, the technical complexity, the pros (intuitive interface), the failures (Apple maps), the beauty, the design, the usability, the aesthetics, the everything. You get the idea.

And the word I chose.

is …

nice

At this point, my English teacher from when I was aged 12 (that is Year 7 if you are aged over 3o) is screaming at me for using this word that was so obnoxious to him. A word that said so much, was so ubiquitous, it said nothing; and was therefore to be avoided at all costs. Certainly if you didn’t want to have your handwritten masterpiece of literature (or homework as we called it) splattered in a bloodbath of the very best red Bic ink (the type of pen with the plastic top with the hole in that everyone chewed).

But that is the best word for the iPhone5.

It is nice.

Everything about it is nice.

Nice interface, nice design, nice weight, nice size.

I simply didn’t see anything that merited a much stronger adjective because it simply didn’t impress me that much (confession: I own an iPhone4), but conversely nothing disappointed me either. So the word fits perfectly.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a great phone, but not that much better than the iPhone4S, which in itself was not that much better than the iPhone4 (and I thought the iPhone3 was more confortable than any later version. Square edges look great, but are uncomfortable. Ah, the irony of a company that used for rounded rectangles using hard straight edges.

Having seen iOS6 on my existing phone, I know that maps are now utterly rubbish, but this is a service so can be quickly fixed. I have no doubt it has made the top of the agenda in the Cupertino war rooms and efforts are being doubled – or whatever terminology Apple use. If I used maps a lot I would care, but I don’t, so it doesn’t really bother me. The quality of the service did amaze me though – that Apple did such a poor job. They know that though. They knew the risks and they took these in a calculated way. They knew they would get savaged, but presumably, they also know how many people use maps and have confidence in their ability to fix this. Sometimes you need to make the hard call strategically (such as cutting ties with Google) and  cannot delay the decision. My guess is that this was one of those things. Either that, or because Jobs said so many moons ago, and no one had the courage to challenge him (even when he was no longer around).

So there you go.

Nice.

If you like previous iPhones, you will like the iPhone 5.

(unless you perhaps have loads of accessories and are crying at the cost or impracticality of making these compatible).

I’m sure lots of buyers will love their iPhone. Good on them.

And for everyone else?

If you love Android and in particular Samsung Galaxy S phones (or HTC X phone), then there is little to convince you to shift (back) to Apple. There is still no memory slot, no user changeable battery and Google have much better maps.

Finally, don’t forget the iPhone is very, very expensive.

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a smartphone, then Android gives you more options.

In fact at the entry level of smartphones, Android is pretty much your only choice (are you listening Apple).

If you have faith that the Nokia/Windows8 phones will one day arrive and not be terrible, then you could hang about for one of these (end of October 2012 is my guess). They will be cheaper than an iPhone (heck they need to be a LOT cheaper). Few will wait though (and yes Nokia, you completely messed up the launch of the new Lumia phones, because even if I did want one – I cannot buy one). I can buy an iPhone today … and many of your potential customers will do this (and then lock themselves into 2 year contracts that you will not be able to break).

So the battle between Android and Apple continues, with Apple failing to land a hard blow on its competition.

Watch this space with interest. The battle continues. With the lessons learned from the recent court cases and the knowledge that a new physical form of iPhone is unlikely for 2 years, competitors have a clear window in which to innovate, launch new products and challenge Apple. With this in mind, expect the innovation from Apple to increasingly shift to software and the ecosystem – one area in which it clearly leads the competition.

As for me.

Did I buy an iPhone5?

No.

I did buy my wife a Galaxy SII last week. It was about 1/3 the cost of the new iPhone – and she loves it.

Will I buy an iPhone5?

Possibly, but at the moment, I’ll stick with the iPhone4. Apple should hope that this keeps working, because if it breaks and I am looking at a big repair bill (as often happens with Apple products out of warranty), then the chance of my staying with Apple is zero.

I have to agree that the ‘innovation margin’ is closing. The iPhone5 simply had no ‘wow’ for me. Sorry. As an Apple liker (not lover, or fanboy), this is disappointing, but as a technology lover this is great news. There is nothing better to spur innovation than a competitor wanting to win market share from an entrenched leader.

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