Like it or not, the iPhone 5 will be the benchmark all other smartphones are compared to for the next year or so. Apple’s latest smartphone may not match all of the competitions’ features, but the overall ownership experience will be second to none.
The iPhone 5 isn’t going to please everyone, but that’s ok. Smartphone enthusiasts that want to install custom ROMs and side-load apps will be much happier with their high-end Android phones. Those looking for the best camera experience will be best served by Nokia phones with Pureview. If you simply must have an enormous display the Galaxy Note II should be your first stop.
iPhone 5 Built as a Flagship
The iPhone 5 might not have every single feature found in competitors’ smartphones, but one thing that’s often missing from comparison charts is overall build quality. Apple’s glass and aluminum construction is a formula that works. Many competitive flagship phones simply feel cheap and flimsy.
Like its predecessors, the iPhone 5 looks like it’s built to look like new for a long time. Too many Android phones look old and ragged after just a few months. For example, Samsung tried to save a buck by going with unbranded fortified glass rather than Gorilla Glass on the Galaxy Nexus. The result is my unlocked Galaxy Nexus’ display is scratched and scuffed after spending less than three months in my pocket, while my iPhone 4S display looks brand new after almost a year of heavy use.
Rather than offering a smattering of options like Samsung and Motorola, Apple focuses its efforts on building a single high-quality phone. The iPhone 5 is built as a flagship device that’s suited for everyone from the casual user all the way up to Apple CEO Tim Cook. The guy’s worth several hundred million dollars, but for a measly $199 you can carry the same phone as him. His buddy Jony Ive ensures that Apple’s hardware is fit for everyone from students to executives because he knows that there’s simply no other option.
Ive, Cook and the rest of Apple’s employees know they’ll have to eat their own dog food. On the other hand, Google employees are free to use just about any Android handset they choose. Former Google executive Marissa Mayer used an iPhone at the GooglePlex until recently leaving to head up Yahoo!, where she wants to give every employee an iPhone. Do you really think a single Motorola manager or executive will think twice about rocking a RAZR M?
Buying a phone that’s guaranteed to be supported for the next couple of years (and perhaps beyond) by guys that will actually be using the device is a smart move.
Service and Support
One of the primary reasons I recommend family and friends buy iPhones is because of Apple’s unparalleled support.
Here in San Francisco there are three Apple Stores, each of which comes with a Genius Bar that dishes out complimentary support. The downtown San Francisco store offers numerous classes for honing iOS skills. It’s truly refreshing to deal with support staff that know a device inside and out, can fix it on the fly and replace it on the spot if they can’t solve the problems in a reasonable amount of time.
For example, my iPhone 4S’ speaker started pumping out distorted sound early this summer. I brought it to the nearest Apple Store and explained that I’d left it blasting music for a few hours to entertain my one-year old son. I wasn’t sure if the speaker had quit on my or if my son did some damage to it somehow. I played a few seconds of music to demonstrate the issue and the Genius quickly offered to replace my iPhone 4S on the spot.
Apple’s Genius Bars aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than the alternative of walking busted phones into carriers’ stores.
Best App and Experience
Google’s Play store has come a long way, but developers often treat Android users like second-class citizens. How many times have you seen an iPhone app announcement or demo without an Android mate, or the dreaded ‘Android App Coming Soon’ disclaimer? Popular apps like Instagram take forever to make it into the Google Play store, by which time iPhone users have moved on to the next hot app.
Developers tell us that Android device fragmentation, piracy and many Android users’ refusal to pay for apps as reasons they develop first for the iPhone. Yes, there may be more Android devices out there than iPhones these days, but money matters to both independent developers and large companies.
Best Accessory Ecosystem
The iPhone 5 was announced exactly one day ago and we’ve already heard from dozens of companies that they have literally hundreds of iPhone 5 cases and accessories ready to go. Auto manufacturers will continue to put the iPhone ahead of all others, ensuring there are plenty of optional iPhone connectivity kits in new models.
We’re still pleasantly surprised when someone brings a Galaxy SIII case to our attention.
A walk through your local mall or big-box electronics retailer illustrates just how big the iPhone accessory ecosystem is and will continue to be.
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