The latest Apple rumors suggest the company will launch the iPhone 5S in June, but iPhone users deserve more than a minor hardware update or two. While the iPhone 5 is one of the most sought-after devices in the world, the competition is tempting, even for long-time iPhone users. Apple should introduce an entirely new device, rather than morphing the iPhone 5 into the iPhone 5S. Would it kill Apple to go the extra mile and skip right to the iPhone 6 when it introduces iOS 7 next summer?
Back in 2007, the original iPhone didn’t just stand out from the competition, it didn’t have any competition. Early adopters gobbled up the expensive iPhone, trading in their Windows Mobile, Palm Treos and BlackBerry smartphones. Android phones weren’t even available back then and normal people carried dumb phones.
As Steve Jobs described the iPhone in 2007, it was a “leapfrog product” that was “at least five years ahead of any other phone.” Well, guess what? It’s been five years and many would argue that the competition’s caught up or is at least right on Apple’s heels. Tapping, scrolling, pinching and zooming isn’t cutting edge any more.
Apple introduced the iPhone 3G and opened up the App Store in 2008. The 3G speeds greatly improved the mobile experience and the third-party apps changed the game completely. The iPhone 3G was significantly better than the original by every measure.
In 2009 Apple released the iPhone 3GS, a relatively minor upgrade that looked identical to the iPhone 3G. Sure the iPhone 3GS had some nice new features like an improved camera, but many iPhone 3G users didn’t see a reason to upgrade. The iPhone 3GS was the first ‘tock’ in what would become Apple’s tick-tock release schedule.
The iPhone 4 was the next ‘tick’ and it was a huge improvement over the iPhone 3GS, complete with a Retina display. Apple released the iPhone 4S 18 months later, without bothering to changing its outward design one bit.
Apple finally introduced the iPhone 5 a full 27 months after the iPhone 4.
The ridiculously long wait between design refreshes may have flown in years past, but Apple’s going to have to do more to keep people from switching to alternatives in 2013. As much as some of us love our iPhones, smartphone users need to look to Android and Windows Phone devices for the latest and greatest hardware features. Features like Near Field Communication (NFC), humongous batteries, big displays and haptic feedback are all missing on the iPhone 5.
The iPhone experience is good enough that many people are willing to pay the premium, but how long will that last? The original iPhone models sold for $499 (4GB) to $599 (8GB) until AT&T began subsidizing them. Today, the iPhone 5 costs up to $399 on contract and $849 unlocked, keeping up the tradition of being far more expensive than the competition.
Apple simply can’t afford to stand idle while Samsung launches the Galaxy S4, Google launches the next iteration of Android and Microsoft pours resources into Windows Phone. Apple needs to go back to the drawing board and announce the iPhone 6 at WWDC 2013. Sure, the iPhone 5 is still fresh in everyone’s minds, but if Apple wants to leapfrog the competition, it needs to pick up the tempo and release something that will make the Nexus 4 and Galaxy S4 look like the Treo 700 of 2013.