On October 4th 2011 Apple released the ‘new’ iPhone 4s, nothing ‘revolutionary’ nor ‘remarkable’ this time, not even to the fanboys, the hardcore fanboys could argue though.
A revolutionary iPhone is always good for the market, whether for the loyal Apple customer or not, because Apple is known to be a trend setter. If Apple makes a great revolutionary iPhone with a lot of new remarkable features the market will undoubtedly follow suite providing these features. So in the end of the day everyone should yearn for a revolutionary iPhone, whether he’s going to get one or not, because every other smartphone will evolve similarly.
Apple has successfully continued through its two extraordinary strategies, the first being very late in introducing technologies while showing them as being new and pioneered, and the other strategy being the power of deciding what is NOT necessary for its customers. In the last millennium, in the eighties of the last century, there was a new -at the time- invention called the “Mouse”, it was spreading, a tool that is essential to any personal computer or laptop nowadays.
The first Apple personal computer that had a mouse was called “Lisa” (named after the illegitimate child of one of Apples founders). What made me mention this story is the fact that after 23 years of “Lisa” being introduced, in the year 2005, Apple gives releases the “Mighty Mouse”, a mouse featuring a second button, instead of having just one…
Yes, in the early 90s of the last century there were a lot of “mice” with even 5 buttons, while Apple stayed with one until the year 2005, this is just one example showing what I mean by the “extraordinary Strategies” that I’ve mentioned earlier. Apple has influenced its customers into thinking that they don’t need a second mouse button, 23 years later they introduced the “mighty mouse” with its fanboys swarming to get it for the ‘remarkable new feature’ that it has, a second mouse button.
I can say with a large degree of certainty that Apple has never introduced a new product feature. What Apple excels in is creating new markets and trends. The personal computer is the most remarkable example, set by the “Apple II”, and nowadays, the tablet computer, set by the iPad.
Now, let’s forget every previous product and focus only on their latest flagship product, the iPhone 4s, what new features does it have? I will divide the common misconceptions about its non-existing new features into two categories, Hardware and Software.
- The Case is the most obvious observation for the lack of improvement; it’s exactly the same as the Verizon version of the iPhone 4, which thankfully doesn’t have the famous “death grip”. This means that no one can distinguish a Verizon iPhone 4 from an iPhone 4s from outside.
- The dual-core processor it contains is a mere under-clocked version of the one contained in the iPad 2, running at a clock-speed of 800 MHz (down from 1GHz in the iPad 2) which is way below the competitors average. The spartphone market nowadays is filled with products containing dual-core 1.2 GHz processors, some of them released as early as May 2011.
- It only has 512MB of RAM, while competitors contain 1GB, twice as much.
- The Camera’s resolution is 8 megapixels, which is arguably a 2010 spec. Q2 of 2011 is filled with 8MP phones, smartphones and non-smart-phones. The camera ‘upgrade’ was simply put to raise the iPhone’s camera to the market’s standards.
- The iPhone 4s has exactly the same screen as its predecessor.
- In terms of internet connectivity, it remains a 3G phone, nothing more. There has been a well spread misconception that the prior iPhone 4 is a 4G phone, the reason being some people calling it “iPhone 4G”, well, according to international standards, a 14Mbps network is still 3G, the iPhone 4S is bumped to 16Mbps, still 3G, HSDPA+ networks with downstream speeds of 21Mbps –arguably– start the 4G ladder. This is a big flaw, as 4G phones are wildly spread nowadays starting from Q2 2011; it’s a shame that a Q4 flagship smartphone lacks 4G connectivity.
- Compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4s removed 2G data connectivity, which consumes less battery, and has farther reach. In other words, you either connect to the internet via a 3G network or stay disconnected. This means that people can argue it’s worse than its predecessor in terms of data connectivity.
- The number one selling point for the iPhone 4s in the software department is Siri, a speech to text converter linking to several useful search APIs. Well guess what, nothing ‘new’ here either. Speech-to-text/text-to-speech software has existed for ages. Android and Symbian smartphones had them long ago, even the search APIs that Siri uses were usable in smartphones long ago, in fact, the most noteworthy API used in Siri providing remarkable results is the API of Wolfram Alpha, it’s a truly remarkable search engine, the people behind it call it a “computational knowledge engine”, and it’s by no means exclusive to Siri, it’s available to the masses, and has been available long before the iPhone 4s.
- All of Siri’s location assisted services are currently limited to the US.
- A lot of people are arguing why Siri is being exclusive to the iPhone 4s, especially because the actual computation happens in Apple servers, it should be provided at least to the iPad for having superior hardware, although hackers successfully ported it to the ‘inferior’ iPhone 4. Keeping it exclusive to the iPhone 4s only means one thing; they know that it lacks any new remarkable features, so they had to imitate one.
- What is most shocking is the fact that Siri itself as an app did exist in the Apple App Store before the release of the iPhone 4s! From the days of the iPhone 3gs! Check the video below.
Any other software feature other than Siri is not limited to the iPhone 4s, they’ll be available to every other iOS 5 compatible device, including the iPhone 4 and the newest iPod touch, but let’s discuss them anyway.
- The notification center is very familiar by Android users; it’s the exact equivalent of Android’s notification bar. So nothing new here either.
- iMessage as a name for an app is new as far as I can tell, but it provides no new functions, messaging via the internet is ancient, so nothing new here either, other than the limitation of having access to only iOS 5 users, which is unarguably a fault. Even the fact that it has voice to text conversion doesn’t make it remarkable either, nothing new here either; Android had it a long time ago.
- iCloud is basically a cloud storage service, with no new function perceived, one example of an equivalent service is Dropbox, providing 4GB of online storage, Google also provides free storage for their Android OS smartphones, it syncs items like calendar entries, documents, contacts, apps…etc. So nothing new here either, except the freedom from the iTunes prison for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad users, the ones compatible with iOS 5 at least.
- Twitter integration is also a late feature, Android users see the “Share” button wherever they may find it necessary, which gives you the ability to share any content with twitter through any twitter client, or any other sharing network.
Apple is the reason that we have such wonderful smartphones nowadays, not because it made one, but because it started a market trend with one product that lead the way of today’s smartphones. From their fist classic iPhone, to the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, and today’s iPhone 4s, none of them brought something new to the table of technologies, they took old innovations, and with the power of their brilliant marketing, product and UI design, and some magic, they’ve sold millions, gained millions, and set a track to better smartphones for everyone.
Lets wish that the upcoming iPhone would be truly revolutionary, not to buy it, although there’s nothing wrong with buying it, but to raise the bar, and to have better options for us consumers to pick from.
- Picture by double-h
- Article in GSMArena.com - Siri for iPhone 4S, the voice-controlled digital assistant, is not as new as you may think
- Article in GSMArena.com - Siri will never be available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or the iPod Touch, say Apple engineers
- Wikipedia Article on the iPhone 4s
- Wikipedia Article on Siri