Let’s start by saying that the iPhone was a genuinely innovative piece of technology. The advent of the first iPhone marked a huge change in the mobile market, bringing fully touch screen smart phones to the forefront of people’s minds, and changing the way manufacturers designed both the appearance and the technology of mobile phones. Probably no other model of mobile has affected the market as much as the iPhone has.
iPhones are hugely popular, and for the most part rightfully so. They’re easy to use and intuitive, appealing to the less technically inclined market segment, and yet powerful and fast enough to appeal to the tech wizards out there. The main problem is that the newest generation of iPhones are expensive, and frankly over hyped.
Take a look at the new flagship iPhone 5S to prove the point. Whilst the 5S is a great little phone, it does not live up to its price point. There is innovation, but just how do the specs on the 5S hold up against the competition? How much are you going to pay for this device? Is it really worth it? All of these are questions that we’re looking to answer today.
What You Get…
You get a dual core 1300 MHz processor (though with that much talked about A7 chip set that we’ll come to later). You get a 4 inch screen, an 8 MP camera, 1 GB of RAM and, depending on how much you’re willing to pay for 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage. From basic specs alone, the iPhone 5S is already placing itself firmly in mid-market territory, and yet it retails at high end prices. Don’t believe that? Then see how it compares to the competition.
Dual core 1300 MHz processing power doesn’t cut it, the Samsung Galaxy S4 gets a quad core 1900 MHz, the Sony Xperia Z1 gets a 2300 MHz quad core processor. The iPhone is slower and less powerful than both of these models. For the average user, who isn’t going to need to much CPU speed, that’s admittedly probably not going to be a hugely noticeable difference, but the next point will be.
Since the iPhone 5, Apple has been relying on a 4 inch screen. Top of the market phones these days are going more and more for the 5 inch screen. For those of us that like to read web pages without scrolling too much, or even books on our mobiles, for those of us that like to type comfortably on an on screen keyboard, 4 inches just isn’t enough screen space. One of the biggest faults in the iPhone has to be that small screen, though it does keep the device itself small and portable.
These are the two biggest factors in which the iPhone fails to compare with its competition. There are others though, that 8 MP camera for a start. 13 MP cameras are becoming the standard in top end phones right now. Then there’s the price…
SIM free the iPhone 5S is going to cost you a fair whack. The basic 16 GB model goes for £550, the 32 GB model for £630, and the 64 GB model for £710. Compared to a £520 Galaxy S4 or a £550 Xperia Z1 (both of which have better specs), that’s a ton of cash.
Of course, you can also sign an incentive contract and get your phone through a mobile operator. According to uswitch.com the cheapest deal you’re going to get is with Orange, where you’ll pay £10.50 a month, though you’ll only get 100 MB of data and you’ll need to pay a hefty £370 down payment on the phone.
Vodafone will give you the iPhone for no money down on a £38 a month calling plan with a big 6 GB data limit, whilst O2 will again charge you nothing up front on a £42 a month contract, this time with unlimited data. The best T-Mobile deal gets you unlimited data for no upfront payment, but you’ll be paying £43 a month. Any way you look at it, you’re going to be paying through the nose for your iPhone.
That is not to say that the 5S doesn’t have some great features. It really does. That A7 chip set on the 5S should perk it up and make up for most (though not all) of its missing processing power. The new motion sensing technology used in the 5S should make for some pretty intense gaming experience, though there aren’t many apps that take advantage of it yet.
Even the basic 8 MP camera has its strengths. An increased number of pixels should mean better low light photos and more finely detailed regular photos. The addition of a dual flash should give you more lifelike colours, particularly when it comes to skin tones.
Then there’s that much talked about fingerprint locking mechanism. Whoever you think might be stealing your fingerprints and storing them somewhere, there’s no denying that opening your mobile with your finger is infinitely more convenient than needing to remember a password or code.
The point isn’t that the latest generation iPhone doesn’t innovate; it does, to some extent. What it doesn’t do is compete well against the rest of the market. Whilst other manufacturers, most notably Samsung and Sony, are concentrating on making processors faster and screens larger, features that are both noticeable and important to consumers, Apple is tweaking software to give features that aren’t as important and aren’t as noticeable to consumers.
It is tough to say that Apple have lost their edge. In terms of tech speak, they really haven’t, but in terms of pleasing the public they’re beginning to. The iPhone 5S is a great, solid, mid-market phone. That top of the market price tag has to go though.
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