Yesterday saw the launch of the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c phones – an event so powerful – I’d have missed it had a couple of enthusiasts I knew not sent me last minute emails.
When the original iPhone and iPad came out there was invariably a buzz in the air – in particular the iPad 2 which both my wife and I just HAD to have, having watched the launch video. After standing in a queue at the Gateshead Metro Centre for several hours, the time we actually got into the store we were so very excited. Apple were moving from a niche computer supplier to the dominant mobile operator and here they were selling us a dream – a practical, super-thin tablet straight out of Star Trek. I’d already owned the iPad 1, my wife having shipped one of the first models over from America so I could present it to my colleagues in the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). For some time this machine had the market all to itself… but that was then… this is now.
Compare that early buzz to yesterday’s Apple launch and the resulting two phone models starting with the “cheap” iPhone 5c, which looks like something a back-street Chinese operator might produce with it’s bright colours at a “stunning” £469 for a 16g basic phone, then there is the new 5s which looks much like the previous iPhone except for the addition of 2 coloured LEDs for the flash, a faster processor and a price tag of £769 for the 64g model. Still no sign of NFC (near field communication). Ah, well.
Think about it, £769 – you could buy a half-decent laptop or computer for that! And what do Google do in response? They’ve just (strategically?) dropped the price of the very competitive Nexus 4 phone to a stunningly low £199 – so much so I’ve ordered a couple to test. Like the Apple it has an 8 Meg camera, whereas the resolution of the Apple is only 1136*640, the Nexus is 1280*768 and hence much better suited to movies even though this is by NO means a new model. The limit of memory on the Nexus is 16Gig like the Apple 5c but then you can easily plug in an SD adaptor to the bottom for carrying around large movies. Do the maths over two years… £199 for the phone, let’s say £12 a month to Giffgaff for the SIM and…. you have a pretty good bargain – I never thought I’d say it but pay as you go seems like a reasonable way to do things given the above.
I’ll grant Apple that the fingerprint sensor is a great addition – a long-overdue security enhancement (but then back in 2011, Motorola did the same thing and some folk had problems with it) but how well will it work in practice?
It would seem that Apple are now merely incrementally improving their products – the spark seems to have gone – where is the new amazing iPad or the new amazing iPhone – nothing – nothing really new or exciting, just some solid, incremental improvements – but is that enough?
Were these phones really cheap I could see it, but at the prices we’re seeing I wonder how many parents will be daft enough to buy these for the next generation, not too many I fear. Could we finally see Apple lose it’s market dominance? Was it always going to be just a blip? Or is it down to the loss of Steve Jobs – after all, Microsoft seemed to lose it’s sparkle around the time that Bill Gates went on to other interests.
I would not say that Google is perfect, not by any means – but from Android 4.2 onwards they’ve done an impressive job and the likes of Samsung are making phones to match. Meanwhile who knows what Microsoft are up to – and not many seem to care. Aside from rather pathetic battery life I can’t fault my Samsung S4, it’s a beautiful machine – and I’m looking forward to testing the slightly less powerful but stunningly inexpensive Nexus 4 which I am told lasts at least a clear day of use – more of that here no doubt in the next few days as I test the thing to death.