Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone 4S Announcement Reaction

The latest iPhone 4S announcement leaves me feeling funny inside...not haha funny, but weird funny. Here's why:

iPhone 4S highlights
  • A5 dual-core processor - Faster app loading, web page rendering, handles higher graphic requirements in apps, allows 1080p video capture
  • 8MP still/1080p video camera - Will take amazing shots and video I'm sure, as the iPhone 4 already takes great pics/video (albeit 5MP/720p).
  • World phone - Has both GSM/CDMA radios built in. It will be released 10/14 on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Capable of double the download speed of iPhone 4.
  • 16GB, 32GB, 64GB - $199, $299, $399 respectively
  • AirPlay mirroring - Mirror anything on your screen to your AppleTV. You can mirror web pages, home screen, games, anything...not just videos and music anymore.
  • Assistant - The iPhone 4S killer feature. Ask it to "Reply to John, I'll be late," "Find Italian restaurants," or "How many steps does the Empire State Building have?" Uses your natural language to answer appropriately, and learns over time. It will also support dictation as an option to keyboard input (as Android users have gotten accustomed to for some time).

Victim of Hype
Part of me just wanted something crazy to happen today...an announcement of an iPhone 5, a rabbit to pop out of the phone...anything. I really wanted Apple to increase the display to the edge. They didn't even have to change the rest of the design, but make the display 3.7" to 4". Maybe throw in a touch sensitive button for some silly swipe gestures. SOMETHING! I like that this is still a nice upgrade, but part of me feels cheated. Google is coming out with their next Nexus phone in the coming months to go toe-to-toe with this iPhone. It's rumored to have a 720x1280 resolution display (iPhone 4/4S = 640x960).

Why I Stay an Apple fan:
  • Build quality - Apple makes some of the prettiest, solid phones. One year later, my phone still looks brand new.
  • Apple's ecosystem - The iPhone 4S works flawlessly streaming through AirPlay to AppleTV and iTunes. My entire music collection is on my home server, syncing every night to my phone updating playlists/counts/ratings and is playable throughout the house and wherever I go. If you don't like using iTunes, you can still drag/drop music/videos to the device with SharePod. I hate to say it, but everything in this environment "just works."
  • Backwards compatibility - The new phone is still compatible with my excellent Bose stereo dock and any iPhone accessories (e.g., workout armband, external backup battery, car charger).
  • Battery life - The battery management of iOS has been brain-off awesome. I don't have to mess with task killers or worry if my battery is going to last the whole day.
  • Apple customer service - Have an issue with your phone or accessories? Come in to the Apple Store, and leave in minutes with your problems solved quickly. The AppleCare+ is a great warranty; $99 one-time fee covers your phone's manufacturing and accessories for 2yrs. It also adds 2 occurrences of accidental damage coverage...drop your phone in the toilet, crack it by throwing it off a building, and you get it repaired/replaced for max $49. So, you would pay $197 total to replace your phone twice, plus still have your battery, screen, and accessories covered for 2yrs.
  • Resale value - Selling your old iDevice still gets you a pretty penny, and should at least net you enough coin to upgrade to the newest phone.
  • High App Quality - With over 40,000 apps in the App Store, you're bound to find something you like. And with Apple vetting each one before it's available for download, you know that it's malware free. I'm partial to Remote (control iTunes library and AppleTV from iPhone), Early Bird (game), ShopShop (grocery list), Evernote (notes), and Nike+ GPS (run mapper).
  • iCloud services - The brain-off simplicity (and free-ness) of Over-the-Air updates and daily syncing photos/music/documents with iCloud is huge. I'm going to specifically love iTunes Match; Having many 10yr old crummy CD rips, I can now get these in 256kbps AAC quality and access all 9,000 of them anywhere I go for just $25/yr.
  • Jailbreak - Freeing iOS gives me the ability to advance to my next song by holding my volume button (great when driving), theme my phone, double-tap the time on the lockscreen to go directly to the phone app, send a text by tapping the volume button, and many more customizations. Jailbreaking is the icing on the cake to the rest of the above.

All the above are things I really value about the iPhone experience. I think part of me writing the above is to remind me why I am happy with Apple's iPhone. They are things I would miss if I left to get an Android or Windows Phone. The iPhone is not just about software, display size, or hardware in general, it's about the services and ecosystem that really keep me an Apple fan. Is the 4S enough to make me upgrade? How much will you pay for my iPhone 4?

- If you don't own a smart phone, is the 4S your next phone?
- If you own an iPhone, is the 4S enough to make you upgrade?
- If you have an Android/Windows Phone, is the 4S enough to make you switch?

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