An Outsider’s Take on the New iPhones

5C Crocs

Some quick background about me and Apple: I was a card-carrying member of the cult from my second-ever computer in 1995 all the way up to 2009, when I switched my desktop computers to real Linux — you know that OS X is actually based on BSD, right?

But I digress…

I myself was never interested in the iPhone because, when it came out, the web apps seemed so far behind the very real apps I was using on my S60 Nokia. In retrospect I totally failed to grasp that (1) Apple had revolutionized the smartphone interface, and (2) just about every website had a version optimized for iPhone in short order. And then, you know, the App Store and stuff.

Taking these past mistakes into consideration, I’d like to think that I’m now able to provide an objective view of yesterday’s announcements, whether you use Cupertino’s products or not.

In other words, Apple fans, you need this. Everyone else hold your noses… I’m going in!

iPhone 5C

The big surprise with Apple’s cheap and cheerful line of colourful smartphones is that they don’t seem to be targeted at the developing world as originally expected — but rather, at teens (or even tweens) closer to home.

Why do I say this? Because Apple never mentioned an off-contract price. If they were to sell an unlocked 16GB 5C at $199 they would have a runaway worldwide hit on their hands — hell, I might even buy one. But instead, just like every other phone maker they’ve demonstrated once again that their primary customers are carriers, not consumers.

And those cases… my god, they’re just hideous.

They at least reinforce my argument that the 5C is for kids. And good on Apple for realizing that they’ve been missing out on a huge new source of revenue. I wouldn’t pay $29 for an phone case at Pacific Mall, but Apple can probably get away with it.

5C Case

One other thing about the case and its cheese grater back… I found this image on Google+, and the person who posted it makes a good point — I don’t think Steve Jobs would have allowed even this minor aesthetic slip-up.

iPhone 5S

Did everyone get the memo? Black is henceforth to be known as “space grey”.

I’ve always seen the iPhone “S” versions as incremental upgrades. Somewhere around the 3GS I think Apple realized that they need to catch Americans coming off their two-year AT&T contracts every year, rather than every two years. So in my mind a new number signifies a major hardware change, and an “S” means the same hardware with something new under the hood.

Sure enough, Apple has claimed the first-ever 64-bit smartphone OS.

The hardware has been upgraded, too. In addition to the new colours there’s now a fingerprint sensor. My first thought was that Apple wanted to give users an easier way to unlock their device screens, like the pattern unlock on Android. But its clearly more than that; verifying App Store purchases with your fingerprint, for example, is a very cool idea.

Expectations were high that Apple would announce a deal with China Mobile, and yours truly was convinced that the new gold iPhone would be an exclusive to that carrier. That didn’t happen, but apparently they’re still working on it.

So is the iPhone 5S enough to make me switch from Android? Of course not. Will I point and laugh at anyone who buys one? Of course not.

And I’m probably not the person to tell you if you should break your current contract to upgrade from the 5 to the 5S. I mean, among other things, Apple products are clearly status symbols, right? So it would certainly make sense in that regard.

Random Thoughts

In talking about the fingerprint sensor the point was made that Apple will not be harvesting the virtual ink of its users. It can be argued whether or not this will actually happen, but that it needs to be brought up in the first place is a sad sign of the times.

Oh, and one more thing…

During the 5C reveal they kept talking about “backside illumination”, which I eventually came to understand as the flash for the camera. So Apple won’t say “flash” because of Adobe Flash? That’s just nuts.

3 thoughts on “An Outsider’s Take on the New iPhones”

  1. BSI or Back Side Illumination has nothing to do with flash but about the image sensor.

    Some time ago a smart chap found out that a CMOS sensor can catch alot more light when you put the rear side to the front. Hence: back side illumination.

    Nothing new, nothing fancy. Just some technobabble that sounds important.

    But staying with the “flash” (it’s only a pair of LEDs, not a real flash) – I really like the approach of using to diffrent colored LEDs to provide a tiny bit of additional illumination when it gets dark. Now we finally have a device with a “smart” “flash” that can tune itself to the current lighting situation (sun light, shadows, incandescant lighting) and make the resulting photo look more natural. Photographers did that for decades with their speedlights. But they had to use gel filters. I wonder how long it may take until we see speedlights that do this.

    Oh, and the finger print sensor? It’s a load of crap. You want to secure a device, that is constantly touched and full of fingerprints with a fingerprint reader? Good joke. No, really. I’ve had a good laugh when I heard the roumor was true. It’s so easy to fool these things.

      1. That’s not possible.
        And I think most people not actually into photography know what BSI is and what it does

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