Apple’s new war weapon
The iphone 5 has reignited the smartphone war, writes Jennifer Dudley-nicholson
IN TWO days Australia will become the world’s first testbed for Apple’s debut 4-inch smartphone. But the iPhone 5, with its bigger screen, slimmer body and high-speed 4G connection has divided opinion among telecommunications experts.
Some argue the redesigned smartphone will set worldwide sales records, winning over fresh Apple fans and existing ones alike.
They assert Apple has packed enough ‘‘ wow factor’’ into the iPhone 5 to win back users lost to Google smartphones, which are winning the overall device war.
Others, however, say Apple has left too many features off its new device.
Apple revealed the phone in San Francisco last week, showing off a familiar but redesigned sixth iPhone.
The iPhone 5 features a 4-inch screen for the first time that is longer but no wider, a significantly thinner body at just 7.6mm, a metal back, 4G internet connectivity and a new, smaller charging port.
Internally, iPhone upgrades include a faster dual-core chip with up to twice the speed and battery savings, an enhanced 8-megapixel camera with new image processor, and a better front-facing camera.
This is the thinnest, lightest phone we’ve ever made
Apple worldwide marketing senior vice-president Phil Schiller says the company is setting a new ‘‘ gold standard’’ for smartphones with the iPhone 5.
‘‘ This is the thinnest, lightest phone we’ve ever made and even with that the team has packed in innovation at every level of the design.’’
But some analysts argue Apple has not gone far enough to win back its old customers and win over new ones.
Ovum devices and platforms analyst Adam Leach says the company ‘‘ risks leaving the door open to their competitors’’ by releasing an update of its existing phone, rather than a completely new handset.
‘‘ The iPhone redefined the smartphone category in 2007 but can’t rely on past success to guarantee its future,’’ Leach says.
Apple had been widely tipped to include an NFC chip inside the new iPhone for wireless credit card payments, for example, in addition to a quad-core processor like its Samsung and HTC rivals. Neither innovation appeared inside the new iPhone.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says while both are important technologies, their omission in this iPhone is unlikely to turn off Apple fans who are more focused on usability than specifications.
It could, however, convince freshly minted Google phone users to stay away, he says.
‘‘ If you’re a high-end Android smartphone user and you’re relatively satisfied, it’s unlikely that you’ll see anything in the iPhone 5 that will make you want to switch,’’ Fadaghi says.
‘‘ Apple no doubt focused more on their existing users knowing they are valuable to the company and they pay a
KEY APPLE LAUNCH DATES
lot of money for applications.’’ But Gartner research vicepresident Carolina Milanesi argues that Apple was smart not to muddy its formula.
‘‘ It (new iPhone) is very light but it doesn’t feel cheap,’’ she says. ‘‘ They retained quality in a much lighter device.’’
Apple’s decision to add a longer rather than altogether larger screen will also be less divisive for users, Milanesi says, as big phones are not widely accepted in all markets.
Apple has a long way to go to catch up to Google Android smartphone sales, however.
Figures show iOS accounted for 18.9 per cent of smartphones in 2011, compared with 46.5 per cent for Android. Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple. iOS 6 SOFTWARE: Today iPHONE 5: Friday NEW iPOD NANO AND iPOD TOUCH: October REDESIGNED iTUNES: Late October 5 NEW iOS 6 FEATURES Passbook: A virtual folder for boarding passes, movie tickets, loyalty cards and more. Maps: Made by Apple, these maps feature 3D Flyover views of Sydney and Melbourne. More Siri features: Siri can now transcribe and send Twitter and Facebook updates or launch apps. Photo Stream: Mobile photo collections you can sharewith others. VIP contacts: Users can designate contacts as VIPs, listing their emails in a separate VIP folder.
Apple insists its phone sets a new ‘‘gold standard’’.