Thoughts on the iPhone 5 from an Android User


Today’s a big day for Apple fans. Not only was iOS 6 announced, so was the iPhone 5. However, some of us don’t use Apple products, from folks like us, what’s our take on all this news coming out of San Francisco today?

There are a few ways an Android user could approach a story like this. Hopefully my observations won’t come across as anything other than frank comments. We can all use some open, honest discussion and we can keep things professional, right?

What’s with the name?

What do you call the iPad that comes after the iPad 2? The iPad 3? WRONG! It’s the “New iPad”. Why? People aren’t interested in numbers to help tell the versions part. They’ll just know they can either get the new one, or save a few bucks and get the old one, right?

Okay, I’ve got to give that one to Apple, it makes sense, though I’d prefer to know exactly what I’m getting.

Apparently a different company is selling the new iPhone, I mean the “iPhone 5”. Either that or Apple likes inconsistency. Or maybe, just maybe, they realized that people want to know what they’re getting. I know, it’s a little thing, but I had to say it. Admit it, you were thinking it, too!

I’m confused though. Will the “next” iPad be the iPad 3? Will they call it the iPad 4, since the “New iPad” was really the iPad 3? Or will Apple be inconsistent and keep calling the next iPad the “new” one, but keep iterating the numbers on the iPhone? Please, Apple, just pick one.

Taller screen, still not HD

I have to use iPhones occasionally to test websites to make sure they display properly and whatnot. Every time I pick one up I’m amazed at how small the screen is. Everything looks like it’s crammed into such a tiny space. Then I go back to a Galaxy Nexus, or HTC One X, or Galaxy S III with their large screens, and I’m relieved to see content on a bigger screen. Sure, they’re not that much bigger, we’re not talking tablets (or even phablets) here folks, but it’s nice to have the extra room.

Apple got the memo. According to their announcement, the iPhone 5’s screen is 1136 x 640, a true 16:9 experience. I’ll let it slide that it’s actually a 640 x 1136 screen with a 9:16 aspect ratio, but that just seems like a weird number. Why? It’s not HD!

The front-facing camera captures video in 720P HD — that’s higher resolution than the screen can display!

Sure, it’s got a Retina Display with a super-high PPI, but video comes in specific formats, games come in the same formats, TVs come in the same formats, computer monitors come in the same formats. Why go with a non-standard resolution, Apple? 720p is 1280 x 720 (or 720 x 1280 in portrait). Why not make things easier for content providers and be consistent with standards?

Panoramic photos

The iPhone 5 can now shoot panoramic photos with its built-in photo app. That’s great! Android has had that since Ice Cream Sandwich.

Photo Sharing

A new feature, one of the 200 that were added, is the ability to share your photos with your friends. Phones help us be more social and a picture says a thousand-words. Sharing photos is an integral part of sharing our lives with our friends and family. I get that. From the looks of it, Apple has done a fabulous job with making photo-sharing elegant and simple.

It reminds me of Google+ Events on Android — but not quite as easy to use.

3D Maps

A challenge to every piece of consumer electronics is bridging the gap from the “real world” to the digital one. Apple has replaced the Maps app in iOS6 with their new, home-built solution. It looks great. Buildings are very nice looking, and the 3D fly-around stuff, well, let me just say “wow!”

Google has the same thing, with a much better infrastructure in place for expanding their 3D modeled buildings to more cities faster. Apple even “borrowed” the gesture to tilt into 3D view from Google Maps.

Lightning Connector

Like Adam mentioned in his article, the new lightning connector looks promising! Finally our Apple-loving friends will have a connector that’s as small as that on most Android’s. Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy all your accessories over again, or get adapters for each one.

Many Android devices have added more features and functionality to their microUSB ports. These include USB host support to plug in keyboards, mice, thumb drives, and even hard drives. With the right cable some even let you plug your Android into your computer monitor or big-screen TV using HDMI or even MHL. It’s also a data cable that you can charge through — and is compatible with every other microUSB connector on the planet.

The Lighting Connector does have something cool, you can plug it in upside-down or right-side-up.

How many devices?

According to one slide, 400 million iOS devices have been sold through June 2012. That’s really something, don’t get me wrong. According to Google, they just passed the 500 million mark — with an additional 1.3 million being activated every day.

I’m not bringing this up to rub it in my iOS friend’s faces. Rather, it concerns me.

Another slide from the presentation contained a quote from Time magazine:

“The phone that has changed phones forever.”

I cannot argue that. I will not argue that. However, they were talking about the iPhone from 2007. The quote itself was spoken five years ago!

I’m worried

Please don’t take this article as if I’m ragging on Apple. I’m not. I’m thankful for the introduction of the iPhone half-a-decade ago. As I’ve said many times before, it pushed the mobile industry ahead. Neither Android nor Window Phone would be what they are today without the honest competition that Apple brings.

The iPhone 5, however, isn’t revolutionary. It’s barely evolutionary. It has a bigger screen because it has to. It’s got HSPA+ and LTE because it has to. Apple is playing catch-up. They’re not innovating. They’re not pushing the platform forward.

That really has me worried.

We need Apple not only to make good hardware, but to push boldly into the future. With them busy playing catch-up, someone else will step into the innovator’s chair, and I’m not certain that would be good for Android, let alone for the mobile industry.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours? Don’t be silent, let me know what you think in the comments below!


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.