Bored now.

That the iPhone looks pretty much the same this year as it did last. Of course, this meme is unburied, reanimated, and set to lurch following every new device announcement. Never mind that the iPhone 5 has been completely rebuilt at almost the atomic level, it's still a rounded rectangle. Apple's not designing by dice roll. They're relentlessly working towards something they've had in mind since 2005. Something inevitable. Something unmolested by the whims, vagaries, and expectations of kitsch and chaos. But before anyone utters "bored now"...

Let's look at how much Nokia has changed their design every year, from the N9 to the Lumia 900 and Lumia 920.

Samsung from the Galaxy S to Galaxy S II and Galaxy S III.

HTC from the EVO 4G and Thunderbolt to the One X.

And, of course, Lamborghini's from the Murciélago to Gallardo and Aventador.

Calling the iPhone 5 boring is easy. It's a talking point. A tag line. It's the first ten words. What are the next ten? Tell me those. Tell me how the new manufacturing process with metal back and chamfered edges is in any way the same and I'll admit to being "bored now" as well.

Chances are nobody can. And that's the real "bored now".

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

128 Comments
  • I you recall, the Lumia design imitates one of the discarded Apple designs (other than colors) that came out during the Samsung trial.
  • Don't you feel like Don Quixote charging up against windmills? Or like Bill Murray trying figure what set of actions would get him out of the time loop in Groundhog day? Hopefully this boring meme will burn out in another couple of days. If the sales are really good, Apple could just say "Scoreboard!" and call it a day.
  • "If the sales are really good".... Stock for the pre-orders was allocated to customers in a matter of a few hours... how's that for "if"? :)
  • Why revolutionize something that isn't broken? The iPhone updates aren't going to be as "dramatic" as they used to be, unless Apple decides that the iPhone design isn't good anymore. But the design is fine, so why go out and totally change it?
  • In fairness, RIM used to say the same thing. There is some danger of being left behind if you do nothing but iterate rather than innovate, but I don't really see anyone completely overtaking Apple in the next year or so.
  • Give it a few more years, Apple could very well trail in the footsteps of RIM. Besides, it will take that long (at the least) for Apple to wake up and realize that they can't go on brand or reputation alone. They need to be innovative, but of course, they say they are to all the blue shirted geniuses who work for them.
  • I'm not sure RIM is the best analogy. The difference was that RIM really was broken, as evidenced by how many people stopped buying their product, due to their refusal to innovate. And if you listen to the rhetoric of Lazaridis and other RIM peeps during the time, thats exactly what the goal was: avoiding innovation and keeping BlackBerries as much the same as possible-this even after the future of smartphone trends were clearly evident. I mean, you can find apple saying weird self aggrandizing stuff etc., but there is no comparison between that and the stuff coming out of RIM all the way up through 2010. When RIM's 2010 market strategy is to build the best speaker-phone in the world, because "that is what consumers truly want in a phone," you can't compare that to Apple at this point. Apple isn't avoiding innovation. They are just not worried about reinventing their phone every release cycle. Their game is consistant iteration and progression, with a magical new feature every twice in a while. The demand for their phones is evidence that their system is not broken but is actually serving the needs of customers better and better. Will somebody else develop and execute a better strategy? Perhaps. But the Apple-RIM analogy doesn't really hold water at this point in time.
  • Yeah we all know about the tick-tock release cycle. The thing is, where was the tock when everyone was looking for one this round? The way I see it, the 5S better be made out of rainbows and unicorns.
  • @darrenlowq, Amen, bro. But let's talk with one another this time next year. ;-)
  • I'm not saying they'll never revolutionize the iPhone ever again. I just meant that for now, it works. The iMac/Macbook lineup hasn't changed that much over the years lately, just the necessary tweaks and upgrades here and there, and that's kind of how I see the iPhone at this point. I hope when the time comes to revolutionize, Apple will do just that. But for now, the iPhone is just fine. At least, that's how I see it.
  • I, for one, love the new design. I hope that the next iPad shares the same beautiful design. I'd even go as far as to say the Macs should come in Slate or Silver (I'm not sure if the silver = aluminum), but that's just my opinion.
  • In other words, you love the design from 7 years ago! Lol. Why is that the iPhone is like that pair of Levis 501 jeans that are quite durable but offer no cosmetic or wow factor any more?
  • Do you really need a renewed wow factor for your jeans every year?
  • I don't get people. I want my smart phone fast, small and capable. Take race cars, jets, guns and DeWalt 18v drill. A smart phone is a tool to get things done. Great it entertains you too and keeps you connected. The iPhone has gone thru amazing iterations to get where it is at. Visually I think the Gallaxy III is very apealing. But people, thats not why you buy a phone. As quoted by someone else, what form factor factor do you want? An octagon, ninja start, circle phone? Toasters are boring too but the damn things does what I need it to do, MAKE TOAST!
  • I want a Sabre Pyramid http://www.sabre-corp.com/products.shtml
  • Yes, but Apple is supposed to be different from those other companies. They are supposed to lead by amazing design. They have a long history of wowing, and inspiring its fans. They always unveiled at least one major surprise at almost every event. This event had no surprised. Not one. The iPhone 5 looks like a nice upgrade, but it isn't exciting. iOS 6 was a retread. The iPod nano was beyond bizarre. I hate to bring up the "Steve Jobs" red herring, but I just felt better hen he was at Apple. Like I KNEW surprises were in store. I'm not sure I feel that way anymore. I hope I'm wrong.
  • Did RIM ever have lines around the block at each launch? Did they sell out in less than an hour? I am baffled at this. What was the iPhone missing? A gargantuan screen? Very few people who still have an iPhone after all this time are wishing the screen was huge. NFC? Why. It's not an adopted technology. What else? What else should be done? They're perfecting a design that works and that people love. Increasing the screen size, changing the details, improving the screen, the back, the weight, the thickness, they're perfecting and moving toward what they originally set out for. The only thing I see Apple needing to really innovate is their OS. There is a lot they can do with it now, but no one thinks that Apple is focused on supporting as much as they can, going crazy with their OS will alienate people using older devices, and apple has always stood behind doing that as much as possible, clearly, with the 3GS getting iOS 6. They're getting there. But at their own pace. They Don't allow crazy customization with their devices because it then makes them unstable. I have seen what happens when jailbreak tweaks get out of hand, the device bogs down and it no longer operates perfectly. Apple prides themselves on never giving out something that could sloggishly perform, something that's easy to happen with Widgets, I've seen it. Lots of people are happy with how apple is taking it. Like the old saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. No sense innovating just to say "ooh we innovated!" When that happens, we get Ping...
  • Ask your partner or spouse if increasing your length by 0.5 inches is really considered an increase and if it feels any different or functions differently? It's pretty obvious the supporters of the latest iPhone are praising it on a very granular level which is completely ridiculous. In fact you probably wouldn't even notice the difference between the 4S and 5 as youtube video on Jimmy KIMMEL's show has proven. You can't keep pressing your luck and not become innovative. Don't be surprised if this is the beginning of slow and low sales for Apple, especially how everyone else is moving at almost light speed with innovation.
  • BS - th gets of this thing include a new SOC that no one has managed to produce yet that's faster and more power efficient on a new CPU process node. New screen tech, single chip to handle LTE, HSPA, GSM, CDMA. The new unibody design is impressive. This isn't coasting, this is iterating.
  • Also bonus points for Willow and Eillow-quotage!
  • Finally got it. I was trying to remember that scene from Buffy. That was the quote.
  • What innovation? People keep tossing this word around with Android devices and I have no clue what that is in reference to. I can't think of any innovations. Surely a large screen isn't the innovation...
  • @Andsoitgoes, quite true about Android widgets -- for the most part they are incredible resource hogs. You have only to run a test, nuke your widgets and run it again. But Apple needs SOMETHING beyond their admittedly nice folder scheme to make their home screen more useable. As is, I've go row after row of folders that can't be read at a glance. What's the answer? Over to you, Sir Jonny.
  • The answer is have Siri open apps for you. In iOS 6 Siri opens all apps and she does it quickly. Make sure also that you organize your apps better so you have a sense of what app is in which folder.
  • I totally agree. I've had Androids with all of the customizing and it was not stable I'd call it simply crash-tastic. I've also jailbroken an iPhone and the tweaks cause the phone to slowdown and do things that it was not programmed to do. The beauty of apple is that it just works. The only think I want is a better notification system where you can see at a glance what notifications are awaiting your response I.e. android with the icons at top of menu bar. Other than that I love my iPhone to pieces. So glad to be back and off the droid!
  • Took the words right of my mouth .....could not agree with you more!!!
  • Take the Lumia 920's screen though. Incredibly fast refresh rate and the ability to use it with a glove on. That's a useful innovation that actually provides a benefit to users, versus the new screen tech the i5 offers.
  • Apparently, this was the last design of the iPhone Jobs worked on. So you can say the success or failure of the iPhone 5 is his doing. In Job's mind, he probably felt from now on, the iPhone just needs slight tweeking. People will flock no matter what Apple produces. Clearly, bigger is not better to him. One could say his thought process and even logic was impaired in the final few years due to his illness. Nonetheless, even the leaks or rumours of the 5 were spot on. This is genuinely unprecedented in the Apple world. Apple's empire will soon start to crack. Whether or not those cracks are visible to others, make no mistake, they will occur. And when the empire crumbles, it shall all be recorded in history.
  • Were you surprised when Samsung went from S2 to S3? Every other android phone that comes out has a new name but looks exactly the same as the previous one. Go to Best buy and take a look and see if you can point out which android phone is which by just looking at them. If Apple could throw in a toaster for your bragging right then they would.
  • I think you need some glasses. They don't look the same. Plus they have better cameras, faster processors, new features, and the Android OS is improving, however it's still not their yet in it's efficiency, simplicity, and how everything works together compared to the iPhone. However, when people upgrade many people don't want something to look virtually identical to what they had before. They expect significant differences and improvements especially from an inventor who has had a history of wowing consumers for several years up until the last few. then again, if you have low or no expectations then any change is a big change.
  • Apple just did the same thing my friend, better camera, faster processor, better OS and still very easy to use. Why call one phone changed and other virtually the same?
    So going from square corners to round corners on S2 to S3 is different but having a bigger screen from 4S to 5 is virtually the same. Apple doesn't have to come up with something totally new because they have a phone that works and works well. They keep improving the user experience.
  • +1 for Vampire Willow!
  • Um, hell yes!!!!!!!
  • Can somebody PLEASE explain where the Willow reference is hidden? Maybe I didn't watch enough episodes?
  • Evil Willow would say "bored now" before swatting away, or flaying, annoyances.
  • AH! Thanks, get it now and photo too. Buffy dabbler but not buff.
  • I guess the way to be surprised next year is to stop reading sites like these :) But thats not something I plan on doing.
  • For this device being referred to as "Steve Job's last project" this device doesn't seem to have the wow factor that Apple products have brought in the past. But whatever. They will sell millions of these things so it doesn't matter.
  • You may not believe this, but Apple is a leader. They don't even march to the orders of their customers. They trust that their customer can appreciate quality and refinement. They will dramatically change the design when they believe that have something worthy of the change. The competitors approach is "Oh crap! Apple may come up with something new, so let's pump out as many designs as possible and cover all bases before the next new iPhone comes out". The great news is you have a choice. If you're bored, move on. I will choose top quality over popularity or trendiness anytime.
  • All leaders eventually fail and become followers. Apple may still be the leader, but they are just catching up in most but not all areas compared to the competition. This strategy may p