Big­ger, slim­mer, faster … but is it bet­ter?

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son trav­elled to San Fran­cisco as a guest of Ap­ple.

AUS­TRALIA is the world’s first test­bed for Ap­ple’s de­but 4- inch smart­phone.

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.

Ap­ple world­wide mar­ket­ing se­nior vi­cepres­i­dent 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.’’

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 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 lot of money for ap­pli­ca­tions.’’

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.

Ap­ple has a long way to go to catch up to Google An­droid sales

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