Apple’s iPhone 5 Has to Be Dramatic to Succeed

iPhone 4SThe iPhone 4S is a lackluster product in the eyes of many Apple fans and industry watchers. Before its launch, the rumor mill buzzed over the possibility that it would offer drastic improvements over its predecessor, including a major redesign, LTE connectivity, a larger screen and a new home button.

Despite not living up to the hype, Apple managed to sell 4 million of the phones in its first three days. Considering that the 4S wasn’t much of an upgrade — sporting a faster chip and a better camera — it was an incredible feat.

Of course, there was also the personal assistant Siri, the main differentiator between the 4S and the previous two generations of iPhones. (The death of Steve Jobs could have been a factor in the initial response, too, as emotional Apple fans flocked to buy the last device unveiled during his life.)

But to me, all of those were simply contributing factors. I think the main driver in the buying spree was the gap between the release of the iPhone 4 and the 4S — it was way too long. Despite the incremental upgrade, the 4S was still one of the best options consumers had at the time.

Now, a year later, Android devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S III and the HTC One X are setting the smartphone bar higher than it’s ever been. And they’re putting pressure on Apple.

Getting Closer and Closer

For example, iPhone users long for a larger screen of the sort offered by Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus. Then there’s the Galaxy S III, also by Samsung. It’s not just another smartphone running on an old uninspiring version of Android. It includes a host of small, thoughtful features that truly enhance user experience. Also, popular apps that used to be available only on iOS are now in Google Play as well, including Instagram, Flipboard and Nike+Running.

Since the iPhone doesn’t have as much advantage anymore, Apple has to step up. If it’s going to, iOS 5 doesn’t show it. While it offers a number of useful new things, most of them are simply things that make sense, not drastic, innovative features.

The wildcard now is the hardware. Among others things, fans expect the iPhone 5 to include NFC, LTE, a larger screen and a smaller dock connector. But all of these are already available on Android devices. They’re hardly impressive, just logical hardware upgrades.

With so many companies competing to make exceptional mobile devices, we’re spoiled with choices and have begun to take great mobile technologies for granted. In other words, it’s harder than ever to impress consumers.

For the iPhone 5 to grab us, it will have to bring new, useful, disrupting and enerally unexpected features to the market. The original iPhone and Retina display are both good examples of the impact it could have. Today, it takes innovations like Senseg’s Feel technology, incredibly long battery life or a super-rugged chassis that doesn’t sacrifice aesthetic and increase size to truly stand out.

What will the iPhone 5 need to offer take to impress you? Tell me in the comments below.

Image: Julia Lu

Comments

  1. BY Lee Crites says:

    I’m not sure it can. The last group of tech-savvy folks I had lunch with all had macbooks that were either exclusive or dual-boot to Ubuntu. Why? I asked them. Hardware stability, size, battery power, speed — all good reasons. As the article stated, the iPhone will have to make a significant technological leap to overcome the price point.

  2. BY FATIMA LASSOCET says:

    little bit iphone 5 slated for release around October, it is likely that iphone sales worldwide have taken a hit because customer are holding out for a chance to purchase the iphone#5, Apple it innovation, Thank you to Steven Job, I thinking personal Sunsung it is crab, just copy for Big Apple.

  3. BY Paul says:

    Price – less than $150

    Durability – can be dropped and not crack the screen

    Speed – never can have enough memory / CPU

    SIRI to the max – no more need for keyboard

    Best GPS – combined with motion sensors to keep perfect track of location

    Crime Free – combine find-my-phone with total remote shutdown to make it worthless to non-owner

    Apple-data plans killer – cut network cost by compression to eliminate exorbitant data plan charges

    Nationwide 4GLTE network – cut out ATT/Verizon/TMobile entirely – @$15/device/month unlimited voice/msg/data for everyone – from Apple

    • BY maccrazylady says:

      I agree with your very sensible suggestions. I would love to see a flash added to the camera and the ability to add multiple attachments within all of mail applications on the iOS and free fun ringtones– I actually switched from the iPhone 3gs to the Samsung sky rocket and find it works quite well with my MacBook pro quite well.

  4. BY ianj0 says:

    “Long[ing] for a larger screen?” Hardly. Phones like the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III are oversized to the point of awkwardness, and the iPhone’s more sensible proportions had much to do with me choosing one over Android-based offerings. Apple has long indicated that it prefers to gradually evolve products rather than come out with a new design every year, and there was nothing disappointing about the iPhone 4S except perhaps to people who wanted it to be obvious to passersby that they had the newest model.

    As an iPhone user, all I expect or want out of the next model are speed and memory improvements, as well as whatever other small refinements are in the works like the rumored smaller dock connector. Hold the new look and larger screen – the former would be pointless, and the latter would be impractical. LTE would be nice, but it will come when it is possible for Apple to offer it in an appropriate package, rather than as soon as possible despite impact on device size and battery life like in the Android world.

  5. BY john says:

    Okay I have lost interest in iPhone. Boring. Looking old. Compared to android it is a very simple device very basic. Sure it looks pretty but I want something that works and gives me options. I like customizations. IPhone does not give you that. I’ve gotten tired of this device. It’s almost embarrassing to have the same looking device that’s been around for years. That’s it, I am moving to android. Jellybean here I come. Goodbye boring iPhone.

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