The 'iPhone 5S' problem

The iPhone 5s problem

Apple may or may not release a product called the "iPhone 5s" this year. The presumption, however, fueled by Apple having previously released the 2009 iPhone 3GS-as-in-speed, and the 2011 iPhone 4S-as-in-Siri, is that 2013 will see an iPhone 5s-as-in-something update. Whether it ultimately proves real or not, the perception of a yearly update cycle and its tick-tock nature, is becoming problematic.

Between 2007 and 2010, Apple released new iPhones in late June or early July, one after the other, like clockwork. In 2011 and 2012, Apple released new iPhones in October and September respectively. While that pushed the date from summer to fall, it still kept the iPhone release window within a roughly a 3 month period. It made it predictable.

Some people like predictability, they like McDonald's, they like to read the spoilers. However, even consumers that don't read sites like iMore every day, and don't track every rumor on the web, began to realize when new iPhones would be released. That led to a slowdown in sales for existing iPhone models just prior to the presumed next release. Apple taught people when to buy, and by extension, when not to buy.

Apple also taught competitors how to counter-program the iPhone. It's probably not a coincidence that HTC announced their next-generation Android phone, the HTC one, back in February, or that Samsung is holding their Galaxy S4 event this March. While I assume BlackBerry might have preferred their relaunch to have been sooner rather than later, they're also introducing the BlackBerry Z10 in the U.S. this spring, far from the long, fall shadow of the iPhone.

Rather than competing for attention with Apple, who continues to dominate the media cycles and best-seller lists during their launch quarter, competitors are waiting until halfway in, when the iPhone is no longer fresh, and yet still not due for a refresh.

Thanks to Apple's tick-tock product cycle, where a new design is introduced one year, and that design is iteratively updated with new internals the next year, both of those problems -- consumer presumption and competitive counter-programming -- become amplified.

When the impression is that Apple will "only" release an S-class phone in any given year, consumers might be more interested in seeing what else is out there. They might be interested in seeing something different.

While the iPhone 5 was almost entirely new from a manufacturing standpoint, because it had the same general, flat, rounded rectangle design as its predecessor, it was criticized by some consumers, and more than its fair share of tech pundits, for being boring. New unibody construction, a camera that was a feat of optical engineering, a taller, 4-inch display, and LTE -- boring. If marketing the iPhone 5 as re-revolutionary was tough, marketing an almost identical-looking iPhone 5s to the same crowd would inevitably be tougher.

Keeping the same design for two years allows Apple tremendous economies of scale, and instead of funding an entirely new phone every year, they can spend their resources on making the same phone better for the same price. That's theoretically good for everyone.

However, holding to the same design also limits what Apple can do to make the iterative iPhone "better". Making the screen bigger again would require a new casing. Adding extra radios like NFC or wireless charging could require changes to the entire package. Fingerprint scanners could complicate the current mechanisms or require other changes. Anything more aggressive than a better camera, more advanced processor, and more encompassing LTE chipset could simply be beyond the constraints of an S-style update.

In the past, to mitigate against hardware similarity, Apple has turned to software differentiation. Even if it felt arbitrary, the iPhone 3GS had video recording and the iPhone 4S had Siri. An iPhone 5s could also have some other, exclusive flagship software feature.

Competitors, however, are free to take their biggest shots at Apple during the S-years, throwing even more against the wall in an effort to see what sticks and what clicks. Whether it's digitizer-based styluses and incredibly large, ridiculously dense displays, and software that listens for you and watches your every move, anything perceived and sold as different has a better chance of standing out against anything perceived as the same, no matter how it's sold.

2013 could be especially brutal in that regard. In previous years Apple enjoyed tremendous market and media support. Even in the face of major PR stumbles like the iPhone 4 antenna, overall Apple received incredibly positive coverage. iOS 6 maps wasn't recovered from as easily or fully, and now Apple is doomed rhetoric fills Wall Street and its journals of record. In this current climate whatever iPhone is fielded this year, no matter how good it might be, Apple may have to work harder than ever before to get even a percentage of the positive coverage they enjoyed in the past.

That shift in reality distortion is benefiting competitors. Google is getting a lot of buzz for Project Glass and the Pixel, and Samsung is enjoying unprecedented mindshare for a mobile company without a fruit in its logo. They're also far, far, exceeding Apple and everyone else in the market when it comes to ad-spend. And that's working for them. They're shaping perception.

A few years ago Apple convinced the world that technology alone wasn't enough. That it was experience, not specs, that mattered. Now specs and feature lists are being hurled at Apple, and they're being accused of losing their sense of innovation, and failing to push the envelop.

The original iPhone didn't have 3G or GPS. The iPhone 3GS didn't have the larger, higher resolution screens of then cutting-edge Android phones. The iPhone 4S lacked LTE. The iPhone 5 skipped NFC. That used to cause some complaints among power users. Now even the idea that an un-announced iPhone 5s might not have a 1080p, 400+ ppi display and biometrics is pointed at by an increasingly mainstream audience as proof positive Apple has lost their way, and that other manufacturers are now leading that way.

In tick years Apple has leapt ahead with technology like Retina display. But in tock years like this one? Markets are fickle and sentiment can gain momentum. And the fear facing some iPhone users is that, in the face of all this, an "iPhone 5s" simply won't be enough.

Apple's a smart company, though. They understand the problems that come from predictability and the reality-distorting power of perception. Last year, when explaining why the iPad 3 was called the new iPad, Apple's senior vice-president of global marketing, Phil Schiller, said it was because Apple "didn't want to be predictable". Only 7 months later Apple CEO Tim Cook said they were putting the "pedal to the metal" and announced the iPad 4. They said it, and then they did it. If Apple can release two iPads (three if you count the iPad mini) in one year, what else could they do?

Rumors abound of less expensive iPhones, and of large screen iPhones. Apple has already bifurcated their tablet lineup into the 9.7-inch iPad and the 7.9-inch iPad mini. We've heard rumors that the next full-size iPad could arrive as early as this spring. If Apple chooses to, they could conceivably release one iPad now and one in fall, to better spread out the schedule. We've also heard the iPhone 5s could arrive as soon as August. Apple could also do the same thing with the iPhone, have two sizes, 4-inch and 5-inch, and eventually have spring/summer and fall releases for those as well.

And then there's that watch thing, which could directly or indirectly increase the perception of overall platform value.

Some of these rumors, like all rumors, are no doubt misinterpretations or completely baseless, and believing all of them, especially for this year, would be a mistake. But to dismiss all of them all, for all time, just because they don't fit a previous pattern, or because they sound like something Apple would never do, could be just as big a mistake.

The "iPhone 5s" problem is the idea that Apple has become predictable coupled with the perception that the next big thing might just come from somewhere else. There are signs Apple is already moving to break those patterns and challenge those expectations. That's just one way to solve that problem.

iPhone 5s

iPhone 6
Presumed name for the next-generation 2014 flagship iPhone. Rumored features include:

Complete preview >

Anticipated
Fall, 2014

Current
iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 4s

Replacement
iPhone 6s
Fall, 2015

Resources
Buyers guide
Rumors forum

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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The 'iPhone 5S' problem

234 Comments

Instead of writing a comment longer than your article, I'll try something novel. I'll condense a concept that you spoke of: One man's "evolution" is another's "convolution". That was actually pretty clever. I'd jot that down. I come up with this stuff out of the blue. The self-adoration comes from my uncontrolled narcissism, haha...

That is probably not going to keep me with Android. I have invested a lot of money into my Google ecosystem, but I'll jump to either BlackBerry or Apple this year

What has prompted you to leave the Android platform?

For myself, I've been heavily debating switching from my iPhone 4S to Android, most likely the Galaxy S4 or Galaxy Note 2 or 3.

2yr android user here and then 1yr iphone user. Recently, this February, went back to Android. What drove me to switch... If you're big on productivity, then Android may be for you. Apple is no longer the clear king for apps. Sure, overall they're better and they do look better, but with android sometimes you find better. For me, actually often. Example... Can't send emoticons via WhatsApp. BlackBerry and Android can send it... The web's better on android, the larger screen really helps. Biggest one... iOS is just so restricting... You can only send 1 picture per email. Wow... really? There's a long list... The notification bar on the iOS is pretty bad...
FYI - I switched to the Nexus 4. My girlfriend has had Apple since the iPhone 3G (currently owns the iPhone 4 and will probably switch to android. There have been situations where what she wants we can't do on the iPhone, but we can on mine....

Apple is absolutely the king of apps, especially productivity apps, video apps, music and audio apps, graphics apps, publishing apps, 3D authoring apps, 3D games — anything with Mac/PC heritage is better on iOS because iOS runs C/C++ apps, unlike Android which runs baby Java apps.

Apple is also the king of hardware accessories. I can't be separated from my Apogee MiC. How is it restricting to have 100,000 hardware accessories that all just work?

You can send as many photos in one email as your email account will allow (Apple's email allows 20GB of attachments.) There is an app for that — many apps — or you can just Paste in as many as you like. You can also easily create a video slideshow with iMovie in almost no time or work, including transitions and music, and send that in an email.

You can send Emoji in any iPhone text-messaging app by turning on the Emoji keyboard. An app doesn't have to provide this system feature.

The Web is better on iPhone. That is not even controversial. The Android browser is so bad it is a scandal among Web developers. And it is based on the iPhone browser, same as Chrome.

If you want a bigger screen, buy an iPad mini and run big screen apps and you won't need to use a notebook or desktop nearly as much if at all.

It's great if you like Android better and that is what you want to use. But the things you said about iPhone are simply incorrect. You can't compare an iPhone and not include the apps. Apps are iPhone's #1 feature, even more than phone calls, and with the no-viruses App Store, all 3rd party apps are essentially built-in. When a user decides they are in the 1–10% of users who want to send more than one photo per email, they can scratch that itch in under a minute via App Store. Same with everything else.

Wow... Your loyalty to Apple is commendable but your comments like "baby java apps", "king of apps", "king of hardware", "web is better on iPhone", "Android browser is so bad" are hard to take seriously when you can't look at things objectively.

Running apps in a JVM on a smartphone is pretty lame and is the reason for poorer performance and memory usage on Android phones. Also the cause of lawsuits since Google appropriated code from others for the Dalvik jvm as they have with so many other things. Android forums are full of complaints about both the stock Android browser and Chrome. This is probably one of the reasons why Android users use the web dramatically less than iOS users as is well known. iOS apps and the app store destroy Android still in quality and selection and its not even close in the tablet space.

not really. a lot of low tech users accept android. it's the default cheap phone these days. many data sets show that among actual smartphone-using pools, iOS is king.

How is my statement false? Yes, there are TONS of cheap android phones circulating. Most of the OEMs that use android have cheap options for sale... which is a really smart business decision. Those same OEMs (Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, etc.) still compete in the high end market, and compete well. None of what you stated debunks my original claim. 70%-80% of the world chooses Android over iOS. And isn't the low tech user base supposed to be iOS territory?

You do realize that Android also runs native apps right? Developers have a choice, run native apps or Dalvik apps. A lot of apps are native, like the FaceBook app for example.

And the reason iOS shows so much more web traffic than Android is because every time you go to another tab in Safari or jump to another app then back to Safari the webpage reloads because of the crap memory management in iOS. I swear my iPhone 5 reloads web pages for no reason half the time. This will naturally inflate numbers. While on my Galaxy S III with 2GB of RAM I can have a webpage open, jump into Real Racing 3, then back to the browser and the webpage doesn't reload.

While I agree with everything you said, you could've picked a much better native app example than Facebook. For a native app, load times are complete garbage on all my android devices except my Nexus 7, and even on there it's barely tolerable!

"The Web is better on iPhone. That is not even controversial. The Android browser is so bad it is a scandal among Web developers. And it is based on the iPhone browser, same as Chrome."
I'm a web developer and... what? Both Safari and Chrome use the WebKit layout engine. Sites that I have designed and developed look and function almost identical between those two browsers on mobile. Honestly if i were to nit-pick, I would say that the iPhone's skinnier screen causes more headaches for me when developing responsive designs.

Coming out swinging with an emoticon argument in WhatsApp is kind of weak when you lead off with productivity as the reason to use Android. And your statement about only being able to send 1 picture per email is in outright lie. If you aren't using the OS, you might not want to comment on it's limitations. I'm not here to argue that Android doesn't suit your needs better than the iPhone, but you can't make false statements to make your case either.

Another thing you need to keep in mind with the 'apps' in Android versus iOS is the amount of malware even in the Google Play store. As many as 1 in 10 of those have been found to contain malware and even if that figure is blown out of proportion, there's no arguing that a malware problem exists in the Android community and will in any "open platform" environment. I've been using iOS for years and before you call me a fanboy, I also own and use a Nexus 4 which I like to a certain extent. I've never had a issue with malware on the iPhone devices but I have on the Nexus. Also, things on the Nexus do not run nearly as clean as they do on the iPhone. For example, the bluetooth: In my car, my iPhone easily streams Slacker and Spotify over my bluetooth stereo system giving me the artist and track name on my head display. When I stop the car, the music stops. On my Nexus, pair was bothersome and once paired, it often drops the connection for no reason. Or, if I get a phone call, it will pause the music and will not resume the playback until the auto has been restarted. And when it is functioning, there is no music info displayed on my system since they didn't bother to license the type of AD2P bluetooth that would allow it to display.

Again, there are things that I like about it. I think Google Now is great and the voice recognition is better than Siri. However, the Google Maps seem to function and look better (for me) on my iPhone than they do on my Nexus. Also, my Apple Maps accuracy experience has been as good, as far as I can tell, as Google Maps, and looks a heck of a lot better.

Android is still a mess and unless you are willing to buy a Nexus which mean, subpar camera, no LTE, no replaceable battery, no memory slot, and 16 gigs of RAM (many things that Android enthusiasts knock the iPhone about) you never know if you are going to get updates to your OS unless you are willing to root and flash your device. The vast majority of people out there are just not willing to do that because despite what some people tell you, you CAN permanently brick your phone doing so. No to mention your putting someone else's "home-brew" OS on your phone and unless you go through the code line by line, you have no idea what you are opening yourself up to.

I agree that Apple needs to start doing some serious innovating again. I for one am sick of looking at the same static rows of icons, and the main reason that I bought a Nexus was to get a bigger screen experience so yes, a bigger screen will be necessary for me to stick with the iPhone in the long run. To be fair, Apple said we didn't need a smaller iPad for a long time and look how well the Mini has done.

"You can only send 1 picture per email."

Actually, that's not correct. I've been sending multiple pictures via email since my 3gs.

Go into your camera roll, click edit, then check each picture you want to email...then press the share button to send via email.

" The web's better on android, the larger screen really helps."

I'm really curious, since i would think a larger screen would be better for web usage...but why is it then that, while Android outsells the iPhone pretty easily, every web metric has iPhone users ahead on web usage. Any thoughts?

Also in the body of the email, you can tap and hold in the empty space until the popup menu come up, arrow over and select the Image/Video option and insert your photo. You can then scroll down and do that multiple times. Your way is faster of course but if you've already started your email and decided to send the photos as an afterthought then you have that option.

I send multiple pictures from my iphone 5 near enough on a daily basis ! I also used to do this on my older ios devices.

You can send more than one picture per email. The fact that you don't know that tells me you don't know enough to make your other statements.

Man, I don't know what you are talking about. You probably don't know how to use your iPhone. User guides are written for exactly this reason. Yes, you can send emoticons in WhatsApp on iPhone and I am doing it every day. Yes, you can send more than 1 picture in the email on iPhone: I send emails with 8-12 pictures. I just checked the number now. I did not try more pictures so may be you can go higher. PLEASE, read the manual and learn the product you don't know how to use before you make such broad statements.

Not that you need convincing but I'll tell you why I left the Apple Ecosystem after having spent about $150 into it's ecosystem at the time.

1) I was tired of having to drill down into multiple levels of menus just to turn off my GPS, WIFI or Bluetooth (for battery management reasons).
2) I did not like the keyboard and Apple does not offer alternatives, nor do they allow people to.
3) I was missing flash from my web browsing experience. Jobs stated that Flash was dead but he was wrong. It's dying sure, but it's still around and I enjoy having the option of using it.
4) iTunes. Nothing else needs to be said about this one.
5) 3.5" screen was not perfect for me despite Apple repeatedly telling me that it was perfect for me.
6) I was using a wifi analyzer app and Apple banned it form the market so when I tried to install it again when I bought a new iPhone, it was gone. That made me realize that Apple had too much influence over what I could and could not do on my phone.
7) I came from the Palm world where I was used to being able to customize my main screen for how I used my phone. Apple does not allow users to do this and I found it very annoying and inefficient.
8) Inability to attach more than 1 file type in an email. Want to share an image, mp3 and doc file in iOS? That is 3 separate emails and that made no sense to me why they did it. Security reasons I'm sure but it made things woefully inefficient for me.

The Apple ecosystem has some good things going for it but I saw that Android was closing the gap and even surpassing Apple in certain areas so I jumped ship and have ever looked back. All the gripes I listed were solved by going to Android and while things were a bit buggy a 2-3 years ago, it's been over a year since I've experienced any issues at all with the OS. As for apps, I don't think that is such a differentiator anymore.

In fact one of the best apps that got me to try Android in the first place was an App called Tasker which to this day cannot be replicated on iOS because of Apple's policy of controlling everything. Also, if you do make it over to the Android platform, be sure to also check out Cyberus security app - it's pretty sweet.

Just the opposite. Unless you'd care to elaborate regarding his points aside from #8 and possibly one other incorrect one.

Wow, that's a fair amount of incorrect information.

1. Wrong. The settings app is on the home screen and the settings you speak of are immediately available without drilling further.
2. Okay, you don't like Apple's keyboard, but you've not claimed why. I've seen Android keyboards that are missing key characters like the @ symbol, etc. Is that really better?
3. Flash? Really?? Sorry, but even Adobe would disagree with you here since they've killed flash for mobile.
4. iTunes. Sorry, but you need to explain your issue here. While you're at it, demonstrate a superior alternative (or at least try to).
5. Okay, 3.5" and 4" screens are fewer in choice than what's available with Android. That said, this is a subjective choice and not a matter of fact as to which option is better. From my perspective, people look retarded holding a phablet to their ear. Enjoy.
6. Okay, fair point about Apple limiting what apps we can use. Of course, that's easily offset by the malware rampant on the Android platform which is directly related to the lack of control of the app platform. Choose your poison.
7. Customization... fair point. Again, that's offset by ease of use and consistency across devices on the platform. This is very subjective in nature and not a clear victory either way.
8. Wrong. I just forwarded a word document and attached both a picture and a video as a test.

Also, I wouldn't brag about the latest security app. The brag should be about not needing one in the first place.

Pretty sure Hoopla Palooza is entitled to his opinion.. so you don't agree with him. I'm sure most people reading his post on here don't agree with him. Doesn't make him wrong. His first statement makes perfect sense If you are used to, lets say Samsung's TouchWiz UI that has the Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, etc. toggle in the notification pull down, then I could see why he discribes the process of turning those off in iOS as "drilling down".

I agree with the notion that Hoopla is entitled to his/her opinion. On several of the items, I clearly acknowledged that a preference one way or the other was subjective. In those cases, I simply provided balance in order to make it clear that it wasn't necessarily a better or worse option. Hence terms used like "choose your poison".

However, in other cases, there were simply factually incorrect statements. Example, you don't have to "drill down into multiple levels of menus just to turn off" features like bluetooth, wifi, etc. The point being, if you're going to make up points to support your position, you should expect them to be challenged. Also, people like "bp240" is obviously unaware of how these points could be challenged.

Speaking of TouchWiz, why not mention of the well documented copy and paste bug that crashes apps? I guess that's not a selling point we want to discuss here.

I'm not advocating TouchWiz. I was simply using it as an example to back up his/hers "drill down" statement.. If you want to bring up every little nuance and bug that differ between the two competing OSs then we will be here for a long time. POINT is "dill down" is a subjective statement and it is most definitely true to him/her. Depending on what you are doing with iOS at the time, it could take anywhere from 1 to 3 EXTRA steps to toggle off (whatever).. Pretty sound argument IMO.

Not to beat a dead horse... but, it should suffice to say that you don't understand the definition of "drill down". As for extra steps, honestly, if this is a common task, you'd simply pin the settings app do your dock and you'd have no extra steps. Not exactly a big deal.

I actually disliked having to try and find my settings every time I wanted to change my brightness or go into wifi to choose a better signal since my device would never choose the one with the stronger signal for some reason. So getting out of my app, going to my home screen and then selecting the app. Then selecting the brightness or the wifi option. Then changing the setting, double tapping to have the app switcher and finally getting back to my app or new article. I would call that a hassle. I recently got a nexus 7 and have really really grown to love the access to these options without leaving the app. It wasn't a deal killer for me but it was something that bothered me every time even before I had experienced android so I agree with him especially now that my home button has become useless since it will only respond to maybe one out of several keys I press which makes it really cumbersome to navigate or do anything on my device. Just my opinion but as you can see I would not say the guy is wrong either unlike you. As for the other things he mentions. I also don't like Apple's keyboard since it is too small and the spacing is hard to deal with. I also don't particularly like the nexus 7 keyboard but find it easier to type with and I have almost no mistakes with it but at least I have the option to choose another if I got fed up with it which I don't have with Apple. He said flash is dying but he still needs it and I also support his statement. I don't use flash on the Nexus 7 but I definitely use it and enjoy it on my Playbook since there are a decent amount of sites I use that still have it and run better for me with it so I would prefer having it available than not having it. I disagree with him on iTunes. I love it on the go. Not so much on my computer but for mobile it is the best in my mind. Havent tried others though. As for the size I agree with him. My screen is 3.5 and it is too small in my mind and if your gonna make fun of the large screen phones by criticizing people with phablets I think iPhone users look pretty lame with their phone right up to their face just so they can read on it and message without making mistakes. I also see it as bad for their eyes but whatever. Never had an issue with apps on any of my platforms which includes the Playbook. I don't normally use apps or have a need for them but what I found cool was that I can save any apps on backup in case something happened on my nexus and I could just redownload them from my computer or the cloud even if they are no longer on the store. I haven't changed any of the settings on any of my devices since all of them have just worked. For my Playbook and Nexus I have had to toggle between developer mode but that is probably the biggest customization ive made on any of them so I can't say much there. Also just so you know the only reason you were able to forward a video and photo on one email was because they are both from gallery. You wouldn't be able to do that with multiple apps on the same email which is something I have been frustrated with since I normally don't send photos and and want to send documents from different sources without a hassle.

Why do you need to??? That shouldnbe the question. Not how to make it easier. Ahhhh, Android folk...

Lots of different scenarios come to mind. Saving battery because you're not going to be near a power outlet for a while is probably the main one. As smart as these OSs are, sometimes user control is needed.. Ahhhhh, iPhone folk..

Your scenario proves my point and is exactly why a toggle is pointless. If your not going to be around a power outlet for a while, why do you need a quick toggle?

Maybe because like me your home button is broken and makes it a huge hassle to move around so having a quick toggle of some sort saves me both time and stress.

OMG, this is a joke.. Maybe you are at an airport and EVERY wall outlet is taken. And lets say your phone hasn't had a full charge for some time (this has happend to me). If you are going to be waiting around for a while you may want to conserve battery. So you delve into the settings, turn everything off and sit there. Well, I don't know about you.. but i'm going to find reasons to use my phone. Going into the settings to turn shit on and off every time i need the internet is going to get old real fast. I have painted the best picture i could. If you still don't get it then you are a troll and i have waisted my time. If that's the case, touche.

Nvm haha I realized that you werent replying to my messages but to the guy I had replied to so ignore my message if you read it. My bad.

Android apps are not as sticky as iPhone apps because they are much less unique. If you spent most of your phone time in GarageBand, Pages, FaceTime, and using iMessage, you would have a very tough time considering another phone.

Just curious, how much have you invested monetarily in the Android ecosystem? On average, Android users invest far less than other platforms as they generally expect things / apps for free and are fine with the ad based delivery. Likewise, I'm curious to what consists of a "lot of money" in this case.

Also, I'm curious as to what the draw is for the Blackberry platform at this point. Clearly, it's not the ecosystem as support is extremely limited at this point. The draw used to be the connection to the enterprise market, but the enterprise market is clearly moving away from Blackberry. Two years ago, that was my only choice for work and now, it's no longer supported.

Amen there. That, and its still the smoothest running phone out there. There are a few reasons Apple "fans" stay with them.

Sadly, in my case, I'm going to have to agree with you on this for I have invested in hundreds of $$$ in ios apps... But at the same time... I could just keep my iPad or an iPod touch to keep the apps I purchased and use them that way...

I'm prepared to jump ship on the phone since its software is slowly aging for me.

Love the integration... But at times I feel like I'm holding a gameboy with phone capabilities, compared to other phones in the market with better specs andsoftware features.

I have said this before, and I'll continue to do so, Apple needs to at least give us the option of a bigger (not just longer) screen on the next iPhone. Many apps are designed for portrait only mode, and a longer screen hardly increases usability for them. I really want to stay with Apple products, but if that option is not presented this year, I may have to consider jumping ship. Apple makes great products, but they can only continue to ignore the wishes of their customer base for so long, before it really begins to diminish brand loyalty.

I agree with you completely. We definitely need that option. The supposedly popular "one-handed operation" explanation is really getting tired to me.

While I totally agree that a bigger iPhone is desired by consumers, the problem that Apple would need to address if they do make one is battery life. One of my biggest gripes with the phone. Having to keep my brightness at 25% all the time, turning off Bluetooth and wifi, also making sure to turn off the screen the moment I'm done using it. Drives me nuts.

why on earth are you disabling those things? I've never spent one day worrying about wifi or GPS (both on, of course), and enjoy 24 hours of use. i charge midday at work.

Right there with u....been "iOS only" for about a year now after always having an Android phone & an iPad, one of the best things I found when I switched to an iPhone was NOT having to switch off Wifi/GPS EVER & battery lasts a full day. ALWAYS had to adjust settings on any android phone I had when it came to wifi/GPS. Still enjoy tinkering with my Nexus here & there, but going "iOS only" for my main devices has definitely worked out FOR ME.

Get an iPad mini and keep your current iPhone longer, because you will use it less anyway. With an iPad mini, you not only get a bigger screen, you get full-size PC apps. You then also have 2 devices that match the desktop PC and desktop phone that makes a traditional office setup. You can refer to an email, Web page, book page, or anything else on iPad mini while talking on the phone.

As for cost, iPad mini costs quite a bit less than a Galaxy Note or the next flagship iPhone. And you can use your existing iPhone longer once you have an iPad and spend the same or less.

But if a giant Android phone is the right thing for you, then just switch. Don't threaten, because your words mean nothing until after you have used a giant Android phone for 3 months and not switched back to iPhone because you realize you were totally spoiled by thousands of unique iPhone features. Nobody cares either way other than you. Especially not Apple, who are very confident that their lineup of iPod nano up to iPad Retina and App Store is the best mobile lineup.

If apple didn't care, they wouldn't have made the ipad mini when they said the full size ipad is the perfect size, or made a larger iphone when 3.5" screen is the perfect size( according to them) so please saying apple doesn't care is the most foolish thing to say. They changed their releases because they care.

+1 to adding an ipad mini and off-loading some iphone tasks to it -- doing this now. originally got the wifi-only model, then exchanged it for LTE...love it. no going back. the LTE costs me an extra $10/mo, but oh well. the thing weighs next to nothing in my satchel. i use it to generate new invoices, show customers product images, email, surf, etc.. all while keeping my iphone's batter at a higher level. its a keeper.

Yep. Since I got my iPad I think my phone has started feeling neglected. I will always choose my iPad over my iPhone for anything besides voice calls and texting because of the screen size. Poor iPhone!

S stinks, iPhone 5 was like an S (only a year too late) and people need to see some action. Why it was boring ? LTE available in other phones, 4" inches obviously present and popularized in the past, camera slightly better than the last year's model, design/shape slightly tweaked but generally the same, ancient iOS. It screams "Nothing to see here folks, move along".

No, I'd say it was because there was nothing done by Apple that either laid the foundation for some kind of killer app or new experience. After buying the 5, it was all S. Speed (mostly from LTE), size. After a day, my wife was like "why did we spend to upgrade these again?" It's the best iphone yet, but the change to Verizon from AT&T was the highlight. The coverage is much better and that sold her.

The OS changes were a negative. Apple Maps took a pounding and still does. Cook even apologized, fired people, and embarrassingly pointed people to other maps apps. That was a major sign of weakness. And I think to this day, hardly anyone knows what the heck Passport is or does.

Passbook is my girlfriend's favorite app.

If you replaced an iPhone that was less than 2 years old, then maybe you didn't need the upgrade. If you replaced an iPhone that was 2 years old, you got about 10 times the CPU, GPU, and cell bandwidth, and about 3 times the Wi-Fi bandwidth, a better display (not just bigger,) Siri, 1080p video capture, twice the megapixels, and the ability to run many apps you could not previously run. And you got a thinner, lighter device and bigger screen no matter what.

You make a great point. I think these folks that are upgrading their devices every year and complaining of the lack of "compelling" upgrade features are missing the point. Most people only upgrade their phones every two years and some longer than that. I wonder what those that hopped from the HTC One X to the One X+ thought?

agreed. the iPhone is not designed to entice geeks to upgrade annually. it's on an iterative design cycle, like a TV or car...you upgrade when you need one, and enjoy all the new stuff it has over your stale one.

amazed that phone geeks don't get it.

And yet iPhone 5 is the #1 best-selling phone on the planet, by a large margin. Not just during the time it has been available, but of all time.

Your comment reminds me of the famous Slashdot original iPod review: “No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.” and then 75% market share.

Apple needs to stick with just one phone every two years. There is no point in doing anything silly like making a cheaper iPhone and so on. What the need to do is make iOS 7 something special and sell their phones because of that. People always want bigger screens or more megapixels. But it always boils down to the user experience of everyday life.

I have to disagree. Apple is already falling behind because of their "s" models being released every other year. Android is moving at the speed of light and marginal upgrades aren't going to cut it. I hope they skip the 5s this year and blow me away with a 6.

how are they "falling behind" when every single phone they release because the single best-selling phone ever? and when they reap the most profit per mobile company? and when they set record sales and profit each quarter?

winning...?

Falling behind in sales? No. Falling behind in features? Yes. The GS3 (I singled out Samsung because IMO they are the only ones giving Apple any competition), for example, has some really cool features built into TouchWiz. It has things like smart stay, smart rotation, voice control for your camera. Those things add to the user experience. When the Note 2 came out, I was impressed with how many new features were added into TouchWiz and the S-pen has some awesome functionality. I suspect the GS4 will have even more. I like my iPhone 4s (and my iPad too!). Its reliable, my employer has apps for me that are only available on iOS, and I have about 40-50 gb of "stuff" in iTunes that I don't want to abandon. I'm not an Apple hater but I'm not living in denial either. They are falling behind. Should they wait until their sales start dropping like lead balloons to do something about it (*cough* *cough* RIM)?

Outstanding improved camera... Greater greater battery life ... Bigger 5 inch screen.... That is all i Ask Apple.... Please please please give me one....

Yes, Apple has a "S" problem (besides Samsung!) but I predict their competitor will have their own "S" (4) problem in a few weeks as people see the new model of their phone is not all that different from the old(er) S3. It's hard to introduce a radically different form factor every year, especially when you're mass manufacturing tens of millions of phones...

If there is an iPhone 5S, i'm willing to bet that the "S" stands for security. There are lots of rumours of Apple putting in a biometric fingerprint scanner which would enhance the level of security on your iPhone significantly. Now, since these are just rumours, i'm not ready to put any money on the table that the S really does stand for security, but it does make sense.

Interesting point. What you seem to believe is that an UI fast (and yet "secure") unlock/sign feature will enhance overall security. I'm afraid it's not enough for sensible organizations. What security is about is a whole OS/apps/Ecosystem control from the bottom ("BIOS-like") to the user (OS), trhe middle end (carriers/protocols) and Enterprise management software (MDM/BYOD). This cannot be patched over an existing "not secured enough" system. This must be the fundamental mantra used as constraint and philosophy rule #1. Some have paid a very heavy price for pretending this true in the last 5 years. But now, it seems (real world usage has to confirm that) that BB has mixed both of security, ease of use and even sexyness. I don't pretend BB will ruin apple nor that appl is a toy or any blah things. But where apple "secure enough" was wiped by its indisputable advance in the UI paradigm, the emerging facilities like payment with the device (NFC/Carrier Billing) will focus users about "security" not being only a privacy concern, but also a very concrete money one.

Next OS opus (7 ? well the world ... lol) have to match these criteria and gain the -2 security certifications, not only for companies. If not, there will be troubles, IMHO. So, yes, "S" for security, but it doesn't fit the pattern described by René ... more likely to happen in a major "6" release ?

(I'm a CB contributor, but please don't believe I'm the usual basher. BTW, Nice article René !)

iPhone is already the most-secure phone. iPhone already has the most secure firmware. The Mac is already the most-secure PC, and is the only PC with secure (non-BIOS) firmware. BIOS is 30 years old — older than the Mac. Android phones have zero security. That is why they run 96% of all phone malware.

If there is a fingerprint scanner in the home button in a future iPhone, that will only increase Apple's giant lead in security.

Not sure who wrongly informed you otherwise, but don't trust them going forward.

Previous iPhones didn't need the latest tech because the competition was so bad. No other platform had good build quality, app store, and yearly OS updates.

Now the competition is much better. Google Play has all the important apps iOS has. Jellybean has redefined Android, Microsoft and RIM both redefined their own OS. Samsung has been able to go mass market. Owning a Galaxy is "cool" like what owning an iPhone used to be. HTC One has really good design and build quality (taken a page from Apple). Nokia Lumia phones and Nexus 4 are also quite nice. Not a fan of GS3 plastic though.

Personally I believe Apple still has the lead in design and hardware. That being said, iOS so stale now. iOS 7 needs to change some things up.

Its ridiculous how you need to double tap the home button to use mulittasking, how notifications dont sync, how I still can't share videos in Photo Stream. No attachments/photos for Notes app, no night mode for Maps, no group call over FaceTime, no live icons for Weather/Clock. And please Apple fix the Podcast app.

Also take a look at Google Now and Google Docs. Siri and iWork needs improvements.

Apple has the talent to do this, but will they? hopefully.

Also, I think it's silly to have to close each app individually, should be a globel close all command.

you DONT need to close your apps. the apps suspend and hibernate themselves...what youre viewing is merely a recently-used-apps *list*. removing items from said list is a pointless waste of your life. it does nothing, unless youre removing a currently-running app running a special process such as audio or GPS.

I do close apps on my iPhone 4. Especially games like Real Racing 2 and Infinity Blade which dry out my battery.

Same with my iPad 1. If I don't delete apps it just crashes. It saves RAM.

You are talking about the app launcher only. What has evolved considerably is the apps. That is where people spend their time, and that is what they care about.

My most-used iPhone app is GarageBand, which uses CoreAudio and CoreMIDI features that were Mac-only in the iOS 3 and 4 days. And GarageBand's user interface is absolutely better and more innovative than some useless gewgaw that might have been added to the home screen.

My second-most used app is Pages, the only phone-based word processor with desktop class features.

FaceTime is the only real video calling, where you make a video call by dialing a phone number and it just works.

I barely see the home screen. It is lit up less than 1% of the time. Can it be improved? Maybe. If and when Apple can dramatically improve it such that the inconvenience to the user is dramatically outweighed by new functionality, history suggests they will do that. But it is just not that important. Doing iPad was more important. No other phone maker has a companion PC like that, where you can run full-size versions of the phone apps and interface you already know. What few Android tablets exist have stretched phone apps and radically different interfaces than the phones.

Android users are complaining about lack of native C/C++ apps, lack of security, lack of stability, lack of usability, lack of app compatibility on whatever device they have, even if the apps they want are available on other Android phones. Real complaints. Not the-app-launcher-doesn't-thrill-me. BlackBerry users are complaining that they went gray waiting for an answer to the 2007 iPhone. Nokia users are complaining that neither Symbian (75% of their smartphone sales) nor Windows Phone (the other 25%) have apps.

yeah... double tapping the home button is ridiculous.... i want to be able to just swipe up from the bottom.....

i want to also be able to close all apps, not just one by one duhhh

Rene, you should edit your writing. This piece, like many others before it, is just too long and repeats itself throughout. In writing, editing is more important than typing; and the fewer words you can use the better. Always.

If Apple introduced even one Lumia-grade innovation in the next iPhone, most people would be happy. You see, no-one expects a lot from Apple any more, so the bar is not set very high. Indeed, consumers in North America buy Apple owing to its brand and artificially-low price point (subsidized prices), not owing to its quality. Talk to people and they tell you they bough an iP5 because their previous phone was also iP.

Rene, you should edit your writing. This piece, like many others before it, is just too long and repeats itself throughout. In writing, editing is more important than typing; and the fewer words you can use the better. Always.

If Apple introduced even one Lumia-grade innovation in the next iPhone, most people would be happy. You see, no-one expects a lot from Apple any more, so the bar is not set very high. Indeed, consumers in North America buy Apple owing to its brand and artificially-low price point (subsidized prices), not owing to its quality. Talk to people and they tell you they bough an iP5 because their previous phone was also iP. So long as it is Apple, it is cool.

Mophie Juice Pack increases your battery size by 100% and costs only slightly more than a typical iPhone case.

Before you complain about iPhone, check for an app (there are 1 million) or hardware accessory (there are 100,000) that solves your particular need. There are not just 3 iPhone models, there are about 1 billion. You're expected to create your own custom iPhone by attaching at least 1 hardware accessory and at least 10 native C/C++ apps. It is plug and play and 1-tap easy in both cases. And remarkably cheap in both cases compared to other platforms, which mostly don't even offer native C/C++ or hardware accessories.

Boredom comes from the fact that in general the "smartphone problem" is essentially solved. Sure, you can put a faster CPU/GPU, a long lasting battery, NFC, hi density screens, Bluetooth 7.0 or whatever. The point is there won't be anything disruptive as the announcement of the iPhone in 2007. We all have the internet in our pockets now. That's why some company is investigating on something different like watches or glasses: because the "smartphone problems is solved".

The action is on iPad now. If you are complaining about smartphones not being fresh and you don't have an iPad, I have no sympathy. Running a Windows system today is like running a BlackBerry in 2010. You end up using a different set of apps on iPad than on iPhone, and the 2 together are outrageously powerful.

Also, once you have an iPad in your jacket pocket or purse or book bag or briefcase, you stop asking for a larger iPhone screen and start asking for an even thinner, even lighter iPhone for your pocket. And you probably stop buying an iPhone every year and move to every 2–3 years.

Next up is probably a Mac with a touchscreen. If you look closely, it is remarkable how many Mac apps only use the keyboard for key shortcuts. If you run Final Cut or Logic or Photoshop on an iMac, you can push the keyboard aside and put an iPad in its place and be much more productive. There are companion iPad apps for those Mac apps that for example provide transport controls and jog wheel and mixer faders and piano/guitar/drums for Logic.

You´re right, the "smartphone problem" is solved...but not the "user problem". And it will persist as long as their minds are not evoluating in concordance with the real use of an smart device. Almost all of the younger (hippies?) buyers / users of the so called smartphones are not really smart enough to use the whole potential of the owned device. Most of them just wants the coolness factor to show up, to be in the business. And when Apple begun to be an mass media device, despite it´s high price, they wanted something different, something with more bells and whistles to show up. SO they got the SAMSUNGs and HTCs or even all other Droids on the planet. Do they use them proper? NO. Do the know how to use them proper? Well...maybe 5% of all buyers...If SAMSUNG pushes the S5 out than the recently dropped N3 will be obsolete for the most owner...not because they need what S5 will bring, the just want to get, own, and show up a new an high priced toy.
Just my humble opinion.

When will people realize Apple isn't an innovator, it's an improver? As a family that had a 3gS and multiple Android phones before going to the five, I can say it has been worth it. Much of Android is better thought out, but like Windows, much depends on how well your phone works, and Samsung has yet to make a phone that can last me two years. HTC is a little better, but their last Evo on Sprint was unusable on 3G indoors. It's worth noting the iPhone has ALWAYS been behind the curve. But when the others are doing a lousy job with quality control and are downright terrible in speed of pushing and fixing OS problems, I'll stick with my somewhat antiquated iPhone.

No, totally wrong. They are serial innovators. You are expecting innovation to mean the Mac or iPhone hardware has to radically change every year. You're ignoring the giant hardware innovations that began each product. You're ignoring the giant software innovations that follow each hardware innovation.

The Apple II, Mac, NeXT, Mac OS X, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad are all outrageous innovations. So innovative that they obsoleted ALL competing systems. So innovative that it took 5 years or more after each shipped for a competitor to even provide something that was good enough to fool users into thinking it was the same, but even then, the copycat product had only 1% of the functionality. Compare the 1977 Apple II to a 1982 IBM PC. Compare the 1992 Windows 3.0 to the 1984 Mac. Compare the 1995 Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 to the 1988 NeXT workstation. Compare Mac OS X to Windows Vista, compare iTunes to everything else, compare the Zune to the iPod, Galaxy to iPhone, Kindle Fire to iPad.

Once an innovative product is launched, a whole new generation of software innovations is made possible. Apple relentlessly iterates on the hardware and improves it dramatically, leading to even further innovations in software. Aperture is very innovative, with a total Raw workflow that relies on innovative CoreImage processing, a fairly new subsystem of OS X. Innovations in Logic and other music and audio apps rely on innovations in CoreAudio and CoreMIDI as well as hardware innovations like FireWire and Thunderbolt. GarageBand for iOS just plain shouldn't exist, but somehow innovations in Logic, CoreAudio, CoreMIDI, iOS 5+, and A-series SoC's make it possible.

The dirty secret in PC's and 21st century consumer electronics is that Apple is almost the only innovator.

bingo.

im shocked that so many saplings equate "innovation" to "holy sh1t thats crazy!!" every year...

Huh? Take a look at the Android prototypes before the iPhone and tell me again what your definition of innovation is. Adding off the shelf technology is not innovation. Changing the game is innovation. Everything in the mobile market now is essentially an iPhone knock off with slightly different features. Adding NFC for example to your phone isn't innovation. It's simply adding a feature. Apple has prided itself by it's minimalist approach. The interface isn't cluttered. You don't have a million buttons or ports, etc. It's very easy to turn on and is very intuitive to use. As easy as that sounds, it's actually quite difficult to build a product like that and not fall into the feature / spec trap.

Also, as you mentioned, it's rather pathetic these days that no other platform is rolling out OS upgrades as smoothly and consistently as Apple. The blue print is there to copy, but each OEM adds their crapware on top of Android and they don't want to update / test with each new release. The carriers couldn't care less about their customers. Likewise, I'm glad Apple has taken ownership for this process for their customers.

Rene, your spot on! Your article size is perfect! You put my thoughts into words that i know Apple is reading! You are the voice of Apple future. Write On!!!
Here is a crazy thought, Apple releases a blah phone, their stock tumbles and Apple buys up all their stock, and then introduces the iCar, which changes the world once again!
My vote is 5S S for Security, but I love the idea that S might be for screen size! What I hope the S does not stand for is Stagnate!

iPhone 5S ..the 'S' this time would stand for 'sucks'. Sadly this is becoming more & more truthful.

Just curious what exactly you recommend they do Rene? Put out a 5" phone in a new casing just so it's different than the 5 and can't be called boring? Even though everyone that wants to hate Apple will still hate them and the new meme will be that Samsung is eating their lunch so they decided to copy Samsung with a larger sized iPhone. Seems to me you just want Apple to do something to get the media to like them again. I think that's futile. The best way to shut up the media is through sales and record profits and Apple knows how to do that.

I don't think it matters that Apple doesn't overhaul the iPhone every year. Most consumers stick to their carrier's two-year upgrade cycle, and they get the newest one available when they renew their contract. Some don't even do that. Many of the people I work with are still trading in Blackberries for iPhone 4 and 4Ss.

Yes! I wish more tech journalists would get this... most consumers aren't trying out/testing every single new phone that comes out.

Not only that, but one of Apple's advantages has always been the third party economy they support, and having the same outer design for two years greatly increases the number of peripherals that work with the iPhone, like cases.

Too many tech reviewers ignore the software and the hardware accessories that only exist on iPhone. You can get the Web and Web-like apps (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) on both iPhone and Android, but you can only get powerful native C/C++ apps (iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, Keynote) on iPhone and iPad. You can only choose from 100,000 hardware accessories with iPhone.

The problem is that iPhone is not a phone, it is a tiny Mac. It should be compared to Windows PC's that sell at the same price point, or even Macs in some cases. That is how most people use their iPhone. They have at least 1 app or hardware accessory that if iPhone did not exist, they would have to run a Windows PC or Mac instead. For me, that is GarageBand for iOS and an Apogee MiC, and also Pages for iOS. I work all day with GarageBand running on iPhone and Pages running on iPad (although I have to recharge the iPhone for 45 minutes with an iPad charger while eating lunch, but I could have added a Mophie Juice Pack if that was a problem.)

Other phones are almost always used for calls, texts, and Web apps. Android's “apps” are just Java, little more than a Web app.

What tech writers don't get is that they are not Apple's audience. Everyone other than Apple releases tech to impress the tech reviewer, who in turn is supposed to influence the consumer to buy. Apple releases tech to impress doctors, lawyers, movie makers, music makers, artists, home makers, gamers, managers, students, and they all influence each other to buy Apple products. This is dismissed as a fad or fashion by aggrieved tech reviewers who are mostly computer nerds and don't have domain knowledge to understand how much time, money, and effort that Apple has saved — for example — the average music producer year after year with CoreAudio, CoreMIDI, FireWire, App Store and Mac App Store, Logic, GarageBand, and the universe of 3rd party apps and hardware that somehow all just work. I have friends who never stop tweaking their Windows PC's and yet always make subpar quality recordings, and yet I plug my Apogee MiC and Duet into a stock Mac or iOS device, tap on GarageBand in App Store or Logic in Mac App Store, and I am working, making the highest-quality recordings.

Is a doctor going to view her high-res X-rays to look for malignant cancer on a Kindle Fire? Is a reporter or movie maker going to carry a Samsung phone instead of an iPhone with iMovie or iPad with Avid? Is a lawyer going to a carry 10,000 page brief in anything other than Retina iPad? Is a musician going to forgo the thousands of real musical instruments on iPhone for a Nokia? No. And all of that has NOTHING to do with want tech reviewers are writing about, which is why are there 25 Samsung phones with 14 different interfaces we can play with and only 3 iPhones with one interface?

A big problem is too many tech reviewers don't even know what native C/C++ is compared to Java, or CoreAudio and CoreMIDI is compared to tumbleweeds on other platforms. They just look at the external fascia and compare skin-deep features like screen size and home screens. And even there, they usually fail. Consider that even if you buy a high-res Android phone, you won't get high-res apps on there, the additional pixels just waste battery. Consider there are quad-core Android phones when Android apps only uses 2 cores, max — again just a battery hit. But instead of laughing at these poorly-designed phones, many reviewers drool over them, and even though they represent maybe 10% of iPhone sales (the rest of Android is basically feature phones) they actually complain that iPhone is “behind” in specs, when iPhone is well ahead in functionality. Add the Techmeme echo chamber and most tech reviewers are basically psychotic.

So if you are wondering what phone to buy, don't ask a tech reviewer, ask a bunch of colleagues. See what they are using to be productive. You will find that Apple will save you time and money almost every time, because they are the only ones making solutions for *you*, not tech reviewers.

If (and that's a big "if") I continue using iOS, they are going to have to provide huge improvements with battery life an I don't care how they do it. Make'em bigger, develop new tech, I don't care. I want my phone to at least go 12 hours before I reach 20%.

There is an iPhone 5B with slightly larger size than iPhone 5, yet more than double the battery life.

Go into an Apple Store and ask for this:

* iPhone 5 $199
* Mophie Juice Pack $79

… and snap them together.

The reality is that there isn't much in the way of innovation going on in the smartphone space. Even if Apple added NFC, is it a game changer? No. If they make a larger screen is that the revolutionary step people are looking for? No. The reality is that software is what sells the platform and is what sustains iOS. I think iOS is long overdue a rethink as far as usability and function, but at the end of the day they are still the kings of quality mobile software on their platform.

The latest most-significant innovation in smartphones is iPad mini. Before that, iPad with Retina Display. Before that, iPad. Before that, iPhone with Retina Display. Before that, iPhone.

How there are tech reviewers who don't see this is beyond me.

Putting a $329 iPad mini with full-size PC apps next to your 3 year old iPhone 4 is a much better improvement and also cheaper than replacing your iPhone 4 with an Android phone. Now you have 2 screens, 2 sizes of app, a bunch of only-on-iPad apps and features, and 15 hours of battery. For $329 with no contract and only 300 grams additional weight. Most women can put iPad mini in their purse and not really notice it is there. Men often have a jacket pocket where iPad mini can travel, if not a book bag or briefcase.

Two things: (1) "While the iPhone 5 was almost entirely new from a manufacturing standpoint, because it had the same general, flat, rounded rectangle design as its predecessor, it was criticized by some consumers, and more than its fair share of tech pundits, for being boring." Anyone can be a Critic; not Everyone can be smart.

(2) What if I said criticizing a product which does not exist was a sign of insanity?

It was not even criticized by most tech reviewers, let alone consumers. iPhone 5 is the best-selling smartphone EVER.

This is a very substandard post by Rene. Tech reviewers should above all else NOT READ OTHER TECH REVIEWERS. Awful, echo chamber posts will result. Instead, a tech reviewer should be stepping into the shoes of doctors, artists, musicians, anyone who works without a desk such as drivers and salespeople and personal trainers, and other regular people who are experiencing a revolution in their work thanks to iPhone and iPad and its unique features like C/C++ apps and hardware accessories that customize it to any task.

There is no outcry for a different-looking or larger-screened iPhone from actual consumers because a different-looking iPhone is one accessory away, and a larger-screened iPhone has been available for 3 years in iPad, which has both larger screen and larger apps to run on it.

There's no problem - instead of focusing on hardware design, Apple should focus on updating the stale OS. The hardware is near perfect.

so true. Hardware is really good. just as good as the competition. but the OS is stale and thats where the changes need to happen.

You may think the home screen is stale, but the OS is not. There have been radical changes throughout iOS' life that are reflected in the apps. To a developer, iOS 6 is not stale. In fact, it is challenging for developers to keep up with Apple's improvements.

Really. Is that why you can post a screenshot of an iPhone 4S beside the original iPhone the homescreens look exceedingly similar? Damn. Every single one of your posts in this thread are over the top fanboyism with dashes of bs thrown in for good measure.

Wow. Are you MG Siegler?

and by "just as good as the competition" you do mean "better than the competition", right? have you seen the iphone5 vs galaxy drop tests? i havent seen any better hardware than apple's.

Just re:Retina, I can't understand why people consider 400+ PPI a differentiator... is there a reason? If the resolution is high enough to not see the pixels at the standard viewing distance for a 4" screen, that should be good enough. Move on to other screen improvement and promote those. Make it unbreakable. Make it thinner. Make the colour reproduction and brightness redonkulous. Sometimes conservatism is the right path in seeking perfection.

Tech reviewers are used to reviewing 2 hardware devices that both run the same Windows software. In that case, a system with 400 dpi and 4 cores is obviously better than a system with 326 dpi and 2 cores for a similar price. However, that is almost brain dead when comparing devices that are running entirely different software platforms. The latter system can easily show you a better image (for example because it has high-res content and color management in the software, or because the 400 dpi screen is pen-tile, not RGB) and can also be faster (for example because it has much more advanced and optimized and better-designed software, or because the 4 core system's software only supports 2 cores.)

But most tech reviewers are gadget hounds with very little understanding of the 98% of a device that happens in software.

Agreeing with you on the software/OS factor. Hardware matters to a point, but the user experience is moreso dependent on the software on and driving the platform.

I'm not so much concerned about the hardware. I'm putting my hopes on a better, refined, iOS experience. Maps still suck, Siri stil sucks, and many features are just ok that could use improvements.

strange...ive been using maps exclusively and am pretty happy w/ it. i dont remember the last time i opened my Garmin app. it was pre-maps, but id only use it when i need to be aware of interstate exit services, which garmin offers.

i find siri quite useful for simple things -- sending short texts, setting reminders, setting appointments...about all i expect from it.

I think Apple's problem is going to be everyone's problem, true innovation is limited by available technology. NFC and wireless charging are simple niche features that will never be main stream. NFC may make it in the future but let's face it, bumping two phones together to share a picture or something is lame as hell... That implies that two people have to be in the same place at the same time which happens approximately: seldom. Not never but seldom. You still have to key the item you want to share up, you still have to hit a button to share it and pick how to share it, its just the mode of transportation that is different. Wireless charging is a bullshit, smoke and wires trick. "Just lay your phone down and it charges!!!! WOOOOO!!! No, wait, you have to lay it here on this special pad... Oh wait Mr. consumer, you have to plug the pad into the wall... Oh and uh, if you need to charge somewhere else you either have to take the pad with you or buy a new one...." Really??? Wireless charging could be something if you didn't have to have a special charger, blah, blah, blah. Its the same old method of charging a phone with a useless twist. I mean really, not having to take 3 seconds of your day to pick up a cord and stick it in your phone is innovation? Please! Now, you give me a phone that will truly charge wirelessly by soaking up power from any outlet within a certain range with no wires, special chargers, etc., that is innovation and that = magic! For now, it's going to come down to refining the OS and bringing more jailbreak features and making Siri do some real Iron Man or Star Trek stuff!

I think they should jack the price. There's no more exclusivity with the iPhone and people just complain and compare it to Android. They only mention the things the Android is better at than the things the iPhone is better at. Both products excel in different areas. I love Android products, I can run off a nice list of what's they do better than Apple but the quality stinks. They do not last as long and they do not feel premium for the same price. $650 for a plastic galaxy s3? Come on.

Uhm...I really wonder some times why we people who read and write on tech blogs are so disconnected.

Humans (which make 99% of Apple's market for phones) don't buy a new phone every year or six months...they get a new phone every 2 years, when their contract runs out. So...you either buy all the numbered models, getting the new design every time you sign a new contract or you get the S models, getting the faster model of the current-but-no-longer-new design with your new contracts.

My brother (a doctor) and my mother (retired) buy iPhones....every two years, she gets the numbered models and he gets the S models, and both are happy with their choices.

As far as the screen size...PFFFFTTTT!!!! If Apple could keep up with demand, then I'd believe that there's a problem of choice...but they can't....here in .mx people have to get into a waiting list to buy an iphone 5 *today*...this phone was released in December...almost 3 months ago...and you still can't go into a carrier's store and buy it.

So...try to talk with non-geeks and look around you...Apple is doing things just right (if they'd only build more of these damn phones...my wife's contract is going to be up in a couple of weeks and she wants a 5 which she'll probably have to wait for weeks to get).

Also the people who want a bigger iPhone screen all have iPads. The large Android phones came in after Android-based iPad clones failed. Android is controlled and sold by phone carriers so they would rather offer 3.5, 4, and 5 inch phones rather than 3.5, 4, 8, and 10 inch phones/tablets. The tablets compete with PC's in PC stores and 60% have no cell connection.

Before iPad mini, I had a little sympathy for the 5 inch phones, because iPad was 2-handed. But iPad mini works in one hand and has full-size apps, replacing a Windows PC, not replacing a phone. And an iPad mini and a beater phone is cheaper than a Galaxy Note.

I think they can get away with an S iPhone this year if they really did something special on the software side, if it is a mediocre software update then people are going to complain more than if they kept the same looks of the iPhone 5 but had awesome new software.

Who is going to complain? iPhone 5 is the best-selling smartphone ever. It sell at almost double the rate of 4S. Since about half the buyers have never owned an Apple product, it is hard to make the case that iPhone 5 is stale for them. Since the other half are upgraders, it is hard to make the case that they didn't see value in the improvements. Since the iPhone 5 has broken all sales records even while essentially competing with iPad mini that launched alongside, it is hard to make the case that Apple is losing sales. Since Apple takes over 75% of handset maker profits and has almost all the developer, producer, and accessory manufacturer support, it is hard to make the case that their unique strategy of shipping a limited number of every-phone-is-a-hero models is not working.

I ran an original iPhone, then 2 years later 3GS, then 2 years later 4S, and I'm looking forward to 5S because that is when I will dump AT&T. I am confident that 5S will be better in every possible way than my 4S, and make the apps I depend in daily even better, as well as enable entirely new kinds of apps, like 4S ran GarageBand and iMovie, and 3GS ran a camcorder and autofocus camera.

If Apple ships a 5S, it will likely set new records in consumer sales and new records in red-faced ranting from tech reviewers who don't understand that the treason they are being ignored is that their opinions don't matter.

Every iphone has sold more than the last so that comparison isn't really a good indicator of anything. Plus the previous iphones did not have near the competition that the iphone 5 had.

@premium - what! of COURSE its still a good indicator. the fact that EACH ONE is an amazing phone w/ record sales only serves to further illustrator that it's not a fluke -- apple knows what its doing better than anyone, year after year.

seriously.

That was a great post. I've been lamenting Apple's iPhone hardware to a greater extent lately. The new Samsung phones just look too good. It's hurting Apple. Apple needs to do something. And an iPhone 5S isn't going to cut it. I just did a rant on my blog in an effort to purge the frustration: http://www.maclive.net/bad-apple-the-iphone-no-longer-has-the-advantage/

The iOS is still the gold standard. But the phone's hardware has become lacking. Apple continues to worry about smaller, thinner, lighter. They need to get on larger screens and battery life. When every new device is thinner than the last they are painting themselves into a corner!

I don't care what Apple names the next iPhone or what features it holds. I'll buy it because I'm a loyal customer. Good thing we're on a family plan so I can borrow upgrades. :D

ya i do this too -- my SO and i have contracts on alternativing years in our family plan...so one of us is always due an upgrade each year.

We buy when the item offered outweighs what we have or in some way is more desirable. Why can't Apple have iPhones (or any other product) with different sizes or features at the same time? It will always be a buyer's market and Apple is only one seller.

iOS has 4 screen sizes, 2 sizes of apps, 1 million different powerful native C/C++ apps that cover every category of PC app, the best HTML5 Web app platform, the world-leading iPod+iTunes media platform, and 100,000 hardware accessories that just work. No other mobile offers nearly that much choice. Nobody else has 2 app sizes, nobody else has native C/C++, nobody else has iPod+iTunes, nobody else supports a universe of accessory hardware.

Way too much criticism is levied against Apple for the naming schemes, yet people practically worship each iteration of the Samsung Galaxy, which is named S2, S3, S4, etc etc etc.

Please. Let. It. Go.

I wouldnt be surprised if they have a few things up their sleeve hardware wise. For me persoinally, its more about the software and the whole ecosystem in general.

If I may add something to this, another way for Apple to steal the spotlight from Samsung and put them to some kind of shadow is to have a surprise announcement and all will look out for Apple. Samsung's new whatever phone will not matter as much, except for some curious minds and Samsung fans of course. Most media attention as well as our attention, etc, will be focused solely on Apple---fans and haters. But Apple also needs to bring it if it's going to do something like that. Otherwise, that will just be another thing for them to look down upon.

I have been saying for a while that Apple needs to start releasing more than one phone a year. Not only does it make the model "stale" by mid year, people stop buying the iPhone at about 8 months in or sooner waiting for the next model. That can't be good. Releasing at least two phones a year would keep people and competitors on their toes and be a good thing for sales.

iOS devices released in 2012:

- 12 iPad 3's
- 12 iPhone 5's
- 6 iPod touch
- 12 iPad 4's
- 12 iPad minis
- 2 new iPhone 4S with 8GB
- 2 existing iPhone 4's were renewed
- a few hundred thousand new 3rd party iOS apps
- about 10,000 new 3rd party hardware accessories
- plus about 12 Lightning/Bluetooth-equipped touch iPod nanos that are almost iOS devices
- plus new Macs — including Retina Macs — that provide the iOS developer/producer/publisher platform and which work more like iOS devices than ever

… so what is the problem, really? Does the mobile shopper really lack choices at Apple Store?

You can count those iPad 3 buyers as the burned ones. Apple screwed them by not releasing lightning on the iPad 3, its not like they couldn't, they just chose NOT to do it. They then did a port change and a minor spec bump and called it the new iPad Retina (iPad 4).

René, there is a relatively simple solution to the problem you outline:

Apple has to begin marketing it's phone as the only one in the world that renews itself even after you've bought it.

A possible slogan: iPhone -- the only mobile phone that isn't obsolete the minute you buy it; and is still up-to-date a year later.

Apple is the only company that completely controls hardware and OS development, and the only company that can worldwide update the OS without carrier delay or interference. It knows roughly what will be needed to cope with coming features (eg. from the past: another microphone to support Siri that is launching on the next phone). Apple does not make sufficient use of this unique competence in the fragmented mobile world.

What Apple could be doing is:

1. Building better-than-necessary specs plus hardware 'easter eggs' into the current release, with a view to software-enabling some of the new iPhone features as they come along.

2. Emphasizing that regular and free over-the-air automatic updates will rejuvenate your phone for at least two years after you buy it.

This would play to a unique Apple strength (for tablets as well) and have the added benefit of restoring mystery to jaded technology tear-down artists, while whetting the appetites of current owners.

This only works for a long game, but I suspect that's what Apple is playing.

Apple already does all that.

The iPhone 5 has a new generation of SoC that you won't really appreciate until 6–12 months after release when new apps show up to exploit it. The apps it has been running so far were all made for 4S. Same with Lightning.

iPhone 5 is so different in its construction that there is a chance we will see both 4S and 4 retired this year and replaced with a lineup of 5S, 5, and iPod touch with 3G as a low-end phone, all with Lightning, 4-inch screen, and A6 or better SoC. Then iPad goes to 5, 4, and iPad mini with A6, and everything has Lightning and A6 or better.

The fact that Apple doesn't arbitrarily change the user interfaces should not fool anyone into thinking the devices are not evolving. And because iOS devices take 75% or more of the profits in their markets, they will continue to evolve in a dependable way that consumers can grow along with and depend upon.

Please stop the firehose boosterism. I like Apple too, but when someone is making a point it is polite to address that point in your response. Stringing out a bunch of unrelated pro-Apple statements in response to a post is an insult to the dialogue and a cheapening of your own contribution. I know you can do better.

I would agree, but each iPhone does not necessarily get the full iOS features year over year and in fact iOS6 was a big hit to many iPhones that were 1-2 years back. I did get mine so the updates can keep on rolling, but if the GSM carriers in the US didn't suck so bad I would likely roll a Nexus device which DOES get the updates without carrier intrusion. Still I like my iPhone.

You point out a real difficulty. Apple would have to be careful not to oversell the extent of 'rejuvenation' possible through an OS update.

I seriously believe that apple has something in store for us all! They have been behind but at the same time why could they make so much money but not focus on design? i guess they want their apple products to be focus on the material and the differences from other android phones. Android doesn't have enough stability compared to the app store on ios. but i do agree that apple should focus on ios 7 because they have the hardware and internal chips to hold MANY WIDGETS AND APPS! So from my point of view apple is doing the right thing.

How are they behind? Explain.

Nobody else has native C/C++ apps, nobody else has accessories, nobody else has security, nobody else has zero viruses, nobody else has zero native malware, nobody else has iPod+iTunes media, nobody else has a matching successful tablet PC, nobody else has a matching developer/producer/publisher workstation, nobody else sells to 50% new customers with every model, nobody else takes 75% of profits everywhere they compete.

How are they behind?

Only Samsung is even still in the running — and they make 1/3rd of Apple's profits by cloning Apple and spending over 10x on marketing to lie to people that their phones are just like iPhones.

"And the fear facing some iPhone users is that, in the face of all this, an "iPhone 5S" simply won't be enough."

This comment from the article seems to not understand who the target audience for the "iPhone 5s" is. It's not existing iPhone 5 users. Rather, the target audience is iPhone 4s (and below - and of course other platforms). No matter what Apple brings with the iPhone 5s, it will be an improvement over the iPhone 5 and a very significant improvement over the iPhone 4s and below. In short, this is a non-issue.

But what you missed is that this fearful conversation is only going on amongst gadget nerds.

When you ask people where are they going to buy their next phone and next tablet, over 50% say Apple Store, where there are only Apple-branded devices. If you ask iPhone users what will be there next phone, 90% say another iPhone once their contract is up. The majority of iPhone users are not even aware there are other phones. You put that together and things are going so great for Apple that all the gadget blogs might as well shut down. What phone to get today is just a question of can you afford a real iPhone or only a Samsung iPhone clone. But the gadget blogs don't want to shut down, so they have gone into the soap opera business, ginning up melodrama about Apple being doomed because they only have 3.5/4, 8/10, 13/15, and 21/27 inch displays in their lineup.

Great points, Rene. Can't express how aggravating people mindlessly saying "Apple doesn't innovate any more"is to hear. I might just have to borrow a sentence or two to lend to my argument ;)

While I'd love to see the iPhone "5S" have NFC, larger display, etc...I can understand why they probably won't make any huge changes. Now I am looking forward to the iPhone 5 dropping in price :)

I don't get it. Why do Android users (switchers that won't look back) come to iMore?

Same reason iPhone users go to AndroidCentral. I have many device interests and that shouldn't stop me from expressing my views and reading those of others. Its not trolling if you are enjoying a lively conversation, it is if you are just saying stuff to spite someone. I see that no matter what forum I visit.

I have personally always seen this flaw is the "S" updates. Once the wow factor of Apple wore off it was a weak point for others to go after. Most people see right through the minor updates these days. With a smart phone and tablet almost everywhere you look, people are ready for that next major change. Not just with Apple either, most folks see them as all the same. The average phone user can't tell you much about why they have what phone they have spec wise, mainly because its the cool thing. Just my two cents. Give us better tech and we will give you better loyalty.

Personally, you can only do so much to battery life management before you need to start putting in bigger batteries in your phone. The iPhone has a bad track record with this department going down in the 3G compared to original and then barely increasing over the generations staying at 1440 in the iPhone 5.

You need an iPhone with at least 2000+ mAH. This would make this phone AMAZING and allow you to not only make calls for long periods of time, but also do everything else the iPhone TV ads advertise without destroying your battery. Perhaps if this is done, we could go over 50% in brightness and not worry about killing the battery.

The next issue is Widgets. You could easily go the route of SBSettings and NCSettings and put them in the lockscreen/notification center. Having to go to settings each time and thumb through your list to turn off a setting is beyond tedious.

not following you on the battery. iphones have always been considered leading battery length in class... i myself still get my routine 24-hours, i charge once a day at work and use it until the next day's recharge.

I don't know what iPhone you have but I have had the iP4, iP4S and iP5 and the battery life has gotten worse with every generation. You can claim what you want but the bottom line is a 200mAh bump year over year when you add say 3-5 new notification based settings that suck the battery dry and you can't swap it, well you lost me on how the battery is leading the way.

I had the GN2 and that battery was awesome and so was the display. The only reason its gone is the fact that US carriers will not bring the 32GB or 64GB version to the US. So I keep my ip5 plugged in at my desk at work, home, in the car since I don't feel I should have to carry a Mophie with me to use my phone.

Interesting to read that, as I have bought (and sold or returned) about 7 Note 2's now, and all of them had some form of issue with the screen. They just don't seem as clear as the iP5 and they all had red/pink casts to a lesser or greater extent.

Add to that they are simply not as bright (I run all devices 100% brightness 24/7, auto off) and I much prefer the iP5 display.

As for battery, my (Jailbroken) iP5 manages all day most days for me, but if I ever decide to give it a quick top off during the day, i am always struck by how quickly it charges compared with other phones.

Of course, the battery on the GN2 is completely brilliant, but it should be as it is physically much larger than the iP5 could possibly hold.

First of all, there is no way you are a power user if your phone at 100% brightness all day. That just kills your battery like no tomorrow. It charges incredibly fast because the battery size is the smallest in the phone industry. Phones now are about 2100-2300 as the normal. This iPhone 5 is 1440..a 10 mah increase over iPhone 4S 1400. Shitty Apple.

More like 10-20 bump a year. and it freaking went BACKWARDS from OG iPhone to iPhone 3G. Don't forget that.

I actually am hoping against any size increases. I think it's too big already. The 4/4s was perfect and the 5 is just a hair too big for a pocket (I am a female). I don't want a phablet, and for all intents, most droid phones to me are phablets. That's not practical for me. For a guy, perhaps.

I am hoping to see more advancements that are showing up on other phones though pop up on the iPhone. I don't care if they're "behind" a little bit as long as when they're implemented on the iPhone they work well right out of the gate.

I actually would like Apple to get moving on two different phone sizes the 4/4S is too small and so is the iP5. I miss my GS3 screen size it was easier for me to read, but I do adapt I just use my iPad 4 when I have to. Still not everyone wants a small phone just as not everyone wants a bigger phone. I bet Apple would do just fine if the screen went up to 4.5-5" in the next year. We don't need a GN2 sized screen.

I personally like it when apple stay with the same style for two years, it keeps the phone around for awhile at the cost you are paying. It's too expensive to try to keep up with the model style.

I would agree with you but Apple wants and many users do upgrade year over year regardless. Apple doesn't care about our wallets, they only care about theirs. Its not the change in the physical design that bothers me its the incremental upgrades year over year they seem to tout as the second coming when its just a "spec bump".

Do you seriously suggest Samsung or any other company cares about our wallets?

Seems to me Apple care rather more, as evidenced by regular updates to the OS for at least 2 years. And Samsung are the kings of "spec bumps" surely? (Not to mention "gimmick bumps")

"A few years ago Apple convinced the world that technology alone wasn't enough. That it was experience, not specs, that mattered. Now specs and feature lists are being hurled at Apple, and they're being accused of losing their sense of innovation, and failing to push the envelop(e)."

I went from the iPhone 3G (first smartphone I ever owned) to the HTC Hero, then the original Motorola Droid, HTC Thunderbolt (first LTE Android on Verizon), Droid Bionic (with the famous/infamous "future-proof" specs), to the iPhone 4, then 4S, Samsung Focus Flash, Nokia Lumia 820, and back once again to the iPhone 4S. Specs or no specs, it is the BEST user experience I've had out of all of them. Even with a little spec bump in a possible 5S, Apple will still sell them by the millions because people will come back for the ecosystem.

It might not have the flashiest specs with a 13mp camera or 8 core processor but the iphone is the best quality cell phone on the market hands down. That will continue to be true as Samsung keeps pumpin out the plastic.

So what is Samsung and virtually every other manufacturer uses plastics vs aluminum. Guess what it can take a hit and not shatter, and break apart like an iPhone does or will. The iP5 is known to be riddled with scratches from the factory so the "jewel like appearance" Apple touts is BS and everyone knows it. I actually bought a white iPhone for the first time and I did NOT want a white phone. I got it so it wouldn't look like crap in 3 months due to the black coating.

Samsung does and will continue to make great products, its not a specs race and when Apple puts out a 13MP camera this summer with no emphasis on low light control or improving the sensor then I will call you out on it.

@Rene

"While the iPhone 5 was almost entirely new from a manufacturing standpoint, because it had the same general, flat, rounded rectangle design as its predecessor, it was criticized by some consumers, and more than its fair share of tech pundits, for being boring"

"Boring" is NOT the issue. It's get's pundits and apple loyalists up in arms but as a consumer it's not about being bored. One problem is the design is simply dated. Another is it's fragile. But, As i've only had one iphone the 4s, i'm not bored but i wouldn't pay money, let alone the 64gb price for another phone that looks the same when my current one still works.

From my perspective i don't care that it was new "from a manufacturing standpoint." I'm not a manufacturer. I walk into a store and aside from the, yes welcome, spec bumps you mentioned, the phone is the same but slimmer. That is a problem. It's the same problem Palm had with it's Palm Plus and Palm 2. It looks the same. But unlike palm Apple has lots of good will where as Palm nobody but precentral wanted those phones.

So i think if again, it just looks the same, you're not gonna sell me. Especially when the 5 is perfectly adequate. Hell i'd likely simply stay with a 4S for another year as LTE is the big plus and it's barely active in my city and not at all in my neighborhood.

Very insightful and objective article. I'm an Apple fanboy and am anxiously await the 5S (currently rocking a iPhone 4), but I confess to being tempted to try Android or Windows. However, the ominous 2-year contract is a strong deterrent. I think Apple is still very innovative. It will be interesting to see when

I prefer consistency. This allows me and others to prepare upgrades for the next iPhone. But, your arguments definitely has valid reason behind it. We don't want Samsung to catch up to Apple do we now.

Rene, I don't typically agree with much of your writings, but in this case I agree with you 100% and I hope someone at Apple is reading, listening, getting their tea leaves read or what ever they do there. I happen to love Apple products, yet I feel Apple is arrogant and takes advantage of their customers loyalty by offering mediocre upgrades during the "S" year of the iPhone.

Apple shook the SMARTphone world in 2007 and 6 years later they are sitting on their collective arses acting as if no one will ever surpass them. Sorry Apple, but the competition has caught up, they are at your door and they are dating your daughter so get moving. Oh and lawsuits are NOT how you compete, you innovate, you challenge yourself to do better each year and incremental upgrades are not challenging yourself. Apple should be doing something each year that makes the competition and the consumer say "How the hell did they do that, or we didn't see that coming". No Apple takes the off year to make more money and a lot of it but they don't give the consumer any real value on the "S" year which is sad and pathetic.

Apple builds but one phone, and keeps the 2 older models going now for the lower price point, they have the cash, and the ability to do something new every year, the do it for their profits and not for the consumers benefits.

Oh come now, you can not be serious suggesting the iP5 is the same phone or OS as the original iPhone in 2007?

Why is it so hard to understand that the "S" upgrades are NOT aimed at the previous iteration? OK, some of us fanboys buy them, but normobs I work with just change every two years when the bloody contract ends.

Apple is company who needs to build iPhones to keep there loyal customers. Since Samsung is going to come out with their S4 soon, apple needs to step up their game and build the next iPhone with intelligence and things that Samsung or any other phone company has not come up with.

What I hope to see from apple with the next iPhone (whatever they decide to call it) is a iOS overhaul. I know there will have to be something more in the hardware that'll attract customers, other than the screen size and aluminum body. I think it's pretty safe to say you'll see an upgraded camera and processor, but they need something new. I love my iPhone, but with a lot of other phones out there doing some very interesting thing like bigger screens, bigger processor or even some phones like the new blackberry, which just offers a new and very intuitive experience to customers. I'd like Apple to take cues from Blackberry and Android on a few of the things they offer, mainly software wise.

I'm curious to see what the GS4 will be like and what the BBQ10 has going for it, but unless my iPhone 4S dies on or around October 14th, I am likely to sit the upgrade cycle out this year unless I see something really compelling that I can live with for two years (There are no more 1 year upgrade cycles with the big 4 carriers). But it's a good point to make that in this "Tock" year typically introducing an "S" model, Apple needs to rethink that strategy if it doesn't want to lose mind share and get hammered by Wall Street.

And I agree that something new and intuitive to the user experience needs to happen on the software side. I'd like to see significant improvements to the contacts list (categories, for example. Business. Personal. etc.) something new with notifications (a notification light is better than the one time screen light up that you won't see if you're not looking at the phone or it's on silent or not in the room with you) and while I don't care about widgets, it would be nice if the interface did more than just swipe to the left and right. Something different and revolutionary needs to happen to the OS.

I like to not think of myself as a fanboy but my purchase history seems to say different. With 5 years of iStuff purchased, I'm to invested in Apple gear that I feel like I couldn't even consider alternatives such as Android. Do I believe there are some cool things out there though? Yup. It's just not enough to make me jump ship.

It will be interesting to see 1. If they do a 5S model (I think it is likely) and 2. What they can do to make it better.
I remember the idea about NFC coming on the 5 - I was really hoping that would happen... but I bought the 5 anyway. I will want a 5S if that happens...

I think iPhone 5S will come out with added NFC feature for passbook, better camara, finger print detection (im pleased with this feature), A7chip(quad core), 2gig of ram, and many more stuff android phone already have. I doubt these features android phone already have will attract the customers, but I still believe that Apple will do something in order to recover their stock market loss, and brand price lost by the court 'thingy' with samsung.

And additionally, I would like to see some business phone features in iOS7 which is not that great in iOS6. I would also love to see some widget corner/features in the 'typical apple search bar' in the home screen which is useless to me. I'm really looking forward to see some design changes of 'boring iPhone UI' even through I'm still able to stick with it. I've also heard that Jonathan Ive (im not sure with the name but I think you will understand the name) had also participated developing iOS7 even through the Scott guy had left Apple.

Apple has to stay the Number 1 Smartphone on the market and while they may not come out with a 5S the next gen. iPhone will I am sure be a force in the market of Smartphone with what I predict to have spectacular new features to take it to the next level.

If you did a real poll scientific or not, 3rd party hired or iMore itself to see how many people that own any iPhonje right now no matter the generation or model and how many other Apple devices ( Hardware and such) it would be unlikely that any of those people would jump ship with another phone and keep all their other Apple products. I would not and doubt the reader would either.

Maybe the 5S as in phablet? ipad mini with phone capabilities. highly doubt it, but not sure what the 5S would bring to the table that isn't already there? NFC is not a big enough draw, another bump in screen size seems moot, faster processor/ software feature seems less of draw compared to prior generations....not sure where they will go from here. android makers are stepping up, is this the peak for iPhone?

Great article Rene. I have heard a lot of bad interpretations about the way Apple works over the years, but I like the light you shine on certain aspects of Apple's MO. They like to play, and they like to surprise.
Based on recent history, Apple will come out with a 5S, which won't contain any substantial upgrade (camera, chip, possibly screen). They will have one interesting software feature, which will probably be social in nature, and that's it. No real surprises. I wish it were different, but you can't redesign the wheel on a yearly basis. Apple has pulled some surprises before, and we can all hope that happens again.

I agree with the basis of the article. When you become predictable in the world of sales, then your competition is going to take advantage. That's what Samsung and BlackBerry is trying to do.

Of course, their devices aren't as good, but their commercials don't show that.

Thoughtful and interesting analysis.

I hope apple does 3 things this year: 1) release a larger screen iPhone, 2) take big steps forward with icloud and related services and 3) significantly refresh/enhance iOS. The sad part is that each of these is essentially playing catch up to the competition. Hopefully apple pulls out a great new feature in the process. Maybe Siri takes 5 steps forward, or finger print NFC changes mobile purchasing. Heck, maybe iWork actually gets updated.

I started this smart phone phase with android but am securely in the iOS camp for the foreseeable future. Apple doesn't need to do anything to keep me for now. But the competition is going to great lengths to lure me away. They have my attention.

what a load of horse poop, RR. sure, Apple's most recent iPhone can't always be the "latest and greatest" model of smartphone out there all 12 months a year. this is news? and there will always be some other demo product "buzz" in between too. wow, what insight.

you spend too much time inside the techie fever zone.

sure, Apple needs to keep up with the innovations of other companies, and keep adding important ones of its own to the iPhone each year, or it really will grow stale. i don't think that takes rocket science to figure out. so as always WWDC will be very important this year to see iOS 8 and iCloud improvements - some are definitely needed (but everyone has a different list) - and new features. hardware is mainly spec bumps from now on, and maybe we will see more models - but that is a market question, not a tech one.

what do i want to see? more than anything else in the world, a foolproof universal biometric password system of some kind. fingerprints, voice prints, facial recog, whatever. f'ing with passwords is by far the #1 pain in the butt in my digital life. they are everywhere and they often have to be different. i'm not alone. whatever company figures this out first will zoom to the top.

I am an iPhone 5r, I like the fact that things are so different, it allows me to read all of the differences between people while I drink my coffee. People are all different, and that makes life fun. (Sometimes). Keep up the the great posts, I learn many things, and have about 20 more minutes before I have to leave.
Bob, from the great state of ALASKA.

This is the situation I'm in right now. Bit of backdrop:

Personal phone is a Galaxy S2 that I've owned for about two years. I've been issued an iPhone 5 as a work phone that I'm REALLY liking, and might be pulling me back to iOS again (previous phone was a 3G). I'm currently forwarding calls from my personal to work phone so I can get all calls on the iPhone as a daily driver, but have to rely on SMS forwarding apps to get personal texts on my work iPhone, big pain.

I'm eligible for an upgrade now and thinking about maybe going back to iOS again (helps that pretty much all Google services work great on iOS now).

No point in buying my own iPhone 5, as I already have one through work, and just have to deal with text forwarding issues. Not sure I want to burn my two year upgrade on an incremental refresh, and then see an significantly improved iPhone 6 the next year...which I'll have to wait a full year till I'm maybe up for an upgrade for the iPhone 6S, thus repeating the cycle...

Also, I don't want to do anything until I see what the newest version of Android will feature, which won't be till Google's I/O conference in May.

So for now, I'm sitting on my hands until I see whether 1. this year's iPhone isn't an incremental 'off year' refresh that's not worth burning a 2 year upgrade on and 2. Android Key Lime Pie has any 'must have' features for me to stick with them. If neither is a compelling option, I'll just continue to sit on my hands until NEXT year, and see if 2014 is a more major upgrade cycle for Apple, and make my upgrade worth it.

Diversification and differentiation of their product line can help, so long as it's focused. An incremental iPhone 5S can be paired with a release of the an iPhone+, then the following year with a iPhone 6 and iPhone+S, so to speak. They can even introduce newer technologies in the "+" that aren't small enough to include in the smaller "5S".

I see where you're coming from Renee, but just because Samsung's S line doesn't distinguish between major revisions and small ones as Apple does doesn't mean they do not occur. For instance, from what I'm reading about what the SIV will look like and do, it appears it's a small step above the SIII. Nothing wrong with that, but it goes against your premise of Apple being outshined because they're using predictable iterative updates.

I don't really see a problem with the 5s. I only buy the s model anyway. To me this this is the F model for fixed. Every time a new iphone comes out there is some issue with antenna or the screen tracking.

All of a sudden i think the 5s actually still make sense. It will be a model that fixes many things, better production yield and generally much better availability world wide. Before Apple finally give in for the larger version screen size of iPhone 6. When those who left will be back for a larger screen iPhone, with hopefully better software ( no more stupid iTunes Please ? ) and iCloud working with iOS7.

Apple's biggest problem with the iPhone is that it has the word Phone in it's name. Lets face it, using it for telephony is one of the last things we do with them and the worlds hive mind will one day stop referring to these mobile devices as phones all together. The word Phone will one day become a relic term of the past.

Now that the Galaxy S4 has been shown but not shipped, it is clear that it is really Samsung's version of a "-S" model. To me, that means they have given Apple a real opportunity to break the pattern of the "-S" model year. Now, all these decisions as to the models Apple and Samsung were to ship this year were made 18 months ago. So the dye is already cast. But, if Apple had decided 18 months ago to really shake things up and ship a radically different flagship iPhone in 2013, they would be in a position to really make Samsung sweat. If it really is an "-S" year for Apple, that can still be OK for the company, but it is a missed opportunity.
Otherwise, I think Apple is going to proceed with their ongoing strategy to cut off some of Samsung's air supply. Greatly reducing parts purchased from Samsung is one way of doing this. Shipping a phone that can tap the most profitable part of the prepaid market would be another key aspect.
Now, if that low end phone looked a lot like a plastic iPhone 5 AND the iPhone 5s turned into a very different iPhone 6, then we would know that bold and visionary management still fills the offices in Cupertino.

I read posts like this and then I really have to scratch my head and wonder exactly what sort of expectations do people really have. It seems that some people won't be happy unless the next iPhone is shaped like a circle and happens to cure cancer. Honestly, when you look at the smart phone market, nothing has been really new or innovative since the original iPhone. Okay, so after a number of years, the competition is able to put out similar devices. What exactly do you expect Apple to do next? The last significant change was the Retina display which Apple had a head start with, but nothing that prevented others from following suit once manufacturing capabilities were widely available.

Like the Samsung S4, the next iPhone will be an iterative evolutionary bump. It's not going to be some new ground breaking device. Apple already has the best industrial design and build quality. They already have the best software and each iteration continues that trend. All Apple needs to do is to keep doing what they have been doing. Samsung is doing quite well, but it's coming at the expense of all the other Android OEMs rather than from Apple's expense.

Apple will go on to do other bold new things, but it will likely be with other product segments where they don't compete today. These bold changes don't come very often, even when Steve Jobs was alive. Likewise, people should temper their expectations accordingly.

iPhone 5S or not, I am looking for an entirely new design from apple. The new phone should not look a thing like its predecessor and if they continue the "S" class this year too, I'm sticking with my i5 no matter how much better technology the S would have. Now, apple should come up with a new design along with the techs & specs.

Renee, you've nailed it on the head. If you knew me, you would know how big of an Apple fanboy I've been for years (ATV 2 and 3, two iMacs, three iPads, two laptops, multiple iPhones, iPod classic, hundreds of videos and songs purchased through iTunes, and this is just in 4 years). I am tired of Apple... their products are boring, they are NOT pushing the envelope any longer... I feel they are trapped in analysis paralysis... they fret about millimeters here rather than focusing on real innovation. They leave out what is becoming expected features from top smartphones (NFC, wireless charging, 400+ PPI displays, etc etc etc). I'm also tired of being fed their marketing BS... I feel a bit like a mushroom, kept in the dark and fed s**t. I am planning on ditching my iPhone 5 for either an HTC One or a Galaxy S4. The Zen thing Apple has going on is giving me the willies and I'm ready for something new, even if a bit quirky... quirky is OK if it's because we're pushing the boundaries. It makes me a bit said to leave Apple... I've recently sold my 27" iMac and got a Windows 7 machine here that I love (will upgraded to Windows 8 once 8.1 is released). If Apple is reading: wow me, please.

A overhaul of iOS and bigger screen will keep me with my beloved iPhone. If not, Blackberry Z10 it is!

Ya know, I never understood the constant scrutiny Apple is under during the "S" year release. Personally, I prefer the S releases over the new ones. When I think about the 3G vs 3GS or 4 vs 4S, I liked the spec bumps and feature adds. Granted, what was added to each 'S' line over the past few years wasn't revolutionary by any means... it's almost a sense of comfort for me. Coming from Android, I was big into the latest and greatest, and being a spec nut, but never had a stable phone. So, I got into the whole rooting thing, and started overclocking my phone just to improve performance. Don't get me wrong, it was cool to be able to do these things, but I started to think, "is it really necessary to do all this to have a phone that performs to my liking?" It started to become somewhat of a chore, and when the iPhone 4S was released and Sprint finally got an iPhone on their network, I jumped the Android ship. The sense of comfort to of the 'S' model to me is I look at it as Apple is improving the last model and fixing issues as well. Overall, the S model ranks high in my book over the full updates (3G, 4, 5). I'm looking forward to the 5S :)