Apple is billing the new iPhone 5 as “the thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone ever,” but let me ask you a question: Do you really need a slightly thinner, slightly lighter, and possibly faster iPhone when the iPhone 4 or even 3 is already in your pocket or purse? Your answer to that question will probably answer the question “is the iPhone 5 worth it?” but just in case, let’s cover what the iPhone 5 does compared against its predecessors.
What the iPhone 5 Brings to the Table
The iPhone 5 has a taller screen than previous iPhone iterations, gaining half an inch to stand at 4 inches. This is convenient for web browsing, but disastrous for many applications since 3.5 inches has become somewhat standard for mobile web and application use; users will be frustrated when apps won’t load to the phone correctly.
The larger screen size naturally means that the iPhone 5 is larger than its predecessors. It may be thinner and lighter, but it will take up more space. However, the iPhone 5 does have a new processor, allowing it to compute more quickly than earlier iPhones can, though Apple claims that the new iPhone will have comparable battery life all the same.
For most users, the differences end there. The iPhone 5 has the same internal storage capacities and essentially the same camera. The operating system on the iPhone 5 will be Apple’s new iOS 6, which is feature loaded – but I am willing to guess that most users will not even begin to make use of the over 200 new applications on the new system, and instead will stick with what works (assuming it works, given the screen size problem noted above).
I have to confess that I find myself baffled by the rabidity of the Apple clients who pre-order incremental versions of each iDevice every time is announced, and I have questioned the sanity of those who would stand in line outside of Apple stores for days to buy a device that gives them a 15% gain in processing speed or a 25% reduction in weight on a device already small enough to lose easily.
Could the iPhone 5 be a Financial Mistake?
In the interest of full disclosure on why my answer to “is the new iPhone worth buying” is biased, I must say I find myself in what feels like an exponentially decreasing segment of the US population, as I own no iDevice whatsoever. I do not have an iPod, iPad, iPhone, Mac, nor even iTunes, because for my budget and usage rates, Apple’s competitors usually provide less expensive products that better suit my needs.
At the same time, I can see some reason behind the Apple madness. Its products are sleek and well designed and serve useful functions. For those constantly on the go, an iPhone makes perfect sense; I have used iPhones and found them serviceable, if fragile. Yet the iPhone 5 does not deliver much beyond its predecessors, or even a few competitor products, like the Droid Razr M. A few reasons why I feel this way:
- Early reports that the new iOS has issues with wifi connectivity.
- Reports that the camera has extreme purple lens flare in bright lighting conditions.
- Most purchasers will be buying the phone off contract (since many users already have an iPhone on contract).
- If I were to spend the equivalent of two months’ utility bills on a product, I would expect that product to work flawlessly and last a very long time, neither of which parameters are met by the iPhone 5.
Given these factors, the iPhone 5 looks like less and less of a good deal. So is the iPhone 5 worth waiting for, and is the iPhone 5 worth it?
For my money, I would rather invest in something with a bigger payoff, or even save up for a day when I actually need a new phone. In that light, the iPhone 5 is a financial mistake. However, if you need a new phone and are buying on contract, the iPhone 5 might be a good deal if you think you’ll use the features it offers.