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Opinion: iMeh – why i’m disappointed with the iPhone 5

Before we start, I’d like to insert the disclaimer that I’m not a fanboy. I love gadgets regardless of their manufacturer or operating system as long as they’re good. I’ve owned an iPhone, iPad, HP veer, HP Touchpad, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, Nokia Lumia 900,  HTC HD2, and the list goes on.  Apple has been a trail blazer in the tech industry for years now. They continually set the bar and then everyone else tries to catchup. This is true with their laptops, desktops, and tablets… however, its no longer true with their smartphones. Before you flame me let me tell you why.

With the iPhone 1st gen through the iPhone 4, Apple wowed us with incredible new features in a Wonka-like fashion. We would all spend months trying to guess and speculate what they would come up with next, only to have our theories and conceptions completely knocked out of the park. There was the famous “one more thing” at the end of every event… that curve ball… that extra mile that made the general public drool with excitement.  It was often imitated by Samsung and others, but never was that magic replicated.

The iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 lack this quality in my opinion. Are they stellar devices? Absolutely and I’m sure Apple will sell a record number of iPhone 5 units and rake in a ton of cash.  Ultimately though… they are resting on their laurels and rather than everyone trying to catch up to Apple, it now seems to be the other way around.

Let me show you what I’m talking about. We’ll start with the hardware upgrades and compare them other devices on the market.

The iPhone 5 features a 4 inch screen which is something we’ve seen before and is certainly nothing to write home about. The Samsung Galaxy S was released mid 2010 and featured a 4 inch screen. The Iphone 5 display resolution has been upgraded to 1136 x 640, which isn’t even high defintion. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus (released in October of last year) features a display larger by a half inch at a resolution of 1280 x 720. The camera is improved in terms of capture speed and quality, but still sports the same 8 megapixel resolution. HTC’s Titan 2 was released Q1 of this year and sports a whopping 16 mega-pixel sensor. The iPhone 5 now has LTE, which is certainly a great upgrade, but when you consider that the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon came with LTE onboard in March of 2011 (over a year ago), you find yourself again slightly underwhelmed.

The iPhone 5 is also missing a few things that many users were hoping for. Most noteabley is the absence of NFC (near field communications). This allows you to quickly and securely share info between wireless devices. For instance, with an NFC enabled Android device, you can use Google Wallet to make purchases at many businesses. This is a very cool, useful, and hip feature, yet Apple chose not to include it.

The other thing folks were hoping to see was a larger storage option. Data isn’t getting any smaller these days and while 64gb of max storage is certainly enough for most folks, there are others who would like to use more. My entire music library is 90gb in size and it would be awesome to be able to store all of it on my mobile device. Tim Cook stated that we are in a “post pc era”… I’m inclined to disagree if I still need to keep my PC around to store my music.

Now we’ll move on to the software department.

iOS is a very solid mobile OS, but it doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done already. The inclusion of turn by turn navigation is no longer impressive, in fact its laughable that it wasn’t included a long time ago. Turn by turn navigation is available on every major smartphone OS on the planet as has been available on Android since 2009. The native ability to take panorama photos is certainly a great addition, but again lacks the “wow” factor since its been done before and it isn’t “new” to mobile.

Again, I like Apple. I think they make quality products and their contributions to our current tech world cannot be understated. They blaze a trail with every product they release except for their smartphones as it stands now. What people were expecting today was some magic, some showmanship, that “One more thing”, and what we got was what I feel the iPhone 4s should have been. Apple did not define the state of the art today… they simply caught up to the state of the art. They did not set the bar, but only met it.

Maybe I’m crazy, maybe this is the best smartphone on the planet and I’m really off base here. Sound off in the comments and let me know how you feel. Were you disappointed by the iPhone 5 or do you think it lived up to the hype?