The Ceiling

Tomorrow, if everything works out fine, I will be picking up the new iPhone 5. Am I an iPhone fanboy? Am I someone who needs the latest phone? As discussed before, not really. I got the iPhone 3G after it had been out for a while and only upgraded to the iPhone 4 on launch day because I’d smashed my iPhone 3G pretty much to shit not a week before, a hilariously annoying thing to have done. I am upgrading to the iPhone 5 for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I want to. I’ve had my iPhone 4 for over 2 years, the longest I’ve ever had a phone (look here to see my entire Phone history, which needs to be updated of course) and it still works perfectly fine. But there are a few things the iPhone 5 does that I want and that O2 will upgrade me to it is another major factor.

But looking at the specifications side by side to not only the 4, but the minimal upgrade, the iPhone 4S, the difference between the handset is little much more than can be excpected. I mean… when you think about it, what more do you want from your phone? We are finally hitting the ceiling of the technology in many areas, and I’ll detail them below… and then posit a problem; the management of expectations.

The only way an iPhone screen could get better is that it used less power. The resolution is amazing, the colours and the darks are fantastic and the size is perfect. I don’t want a phone that I need two hands to use. It’s mental. Even the iPhone’s current 3.5 inch screen is a bit too big, and the only main worry I have with my upgrade is that the 5’s screen is taller. Not wider, thankfully, but slightly taller. Which is fine. But… where next? Non-glasses 3D tech like the 3DS? I’m not sure… we are pretty much there.

This area is the place where the most advancement is needed as phones become more popular and people start pushing what they can do even more, just like computers. But we are getting to the point where they don’t need to be faster – the 4, a phone that’s over two years old, is fast enough right now – how many computers can still say the same? It’s obvious advancements can be made, but this is less obvious.

How much better can a camera get on a phone? I have a DSLR for actual photos, and a 5MP or 8MP camera for point and shoot is perfect; and the cameras are pretty much the best that they need to be.

Memory is always brought up when talking about iPhones, as they are smaller and non-expandable… but with the cloud, I don’t need any space. Since updating my iPhone last week, I’ve only uploaded a few albums to it, because with Spotify I have most of the music I listen to available anyway. I am only aware of the space running out when I am taking a video or photos… but even then, Dropbox syncs them straight away. So that’s the future… and I understand that more and more with each day passing.

The above is selective; there is a lot of things for and against the phone, sure. Some people want more space, bigger screens, faster processors – and that’s fine. But… that’s not the point of this post.

See, the iPhone 5’s name is a mistake. The problem is that it’s firstly not the fifth iPhone, it’s the sixth, and it’s not even the fifth generation; the first three iPhones were only two generations of design, the five being the fourth major redesign. And then there’s the iPad naming scheme – the new one is called the “iPad”, just like the “Macbook” ranges. No need for letters or numbers… because there is only incremental updates. Calling the new iPhone the “5” suggests that is going to be followed by a 5S, or a 6… and a 5S is far enough… but then what? The problem is that people are now going to expect changes. Massive changes. Maybe not revolutionary, but certainly big leaps, and until Apple (and others) realise this, there will be a back lash each time a new phone or device is released.

Apple appear to already be doing something about this; the 5 had been leaked more than anything else Apple have ever released, and in a few weeks it’s expected a smaller iPad will be revealed as there have been similar leaks regarding that. That is one way. But that leads people down two paths; making their mind up before, and also further speculation – there was a lot of things about the 5 that people wanted and guessed, and when they didn’t appear it always makes a big difference to their opinion of the device.

I think that it would be refreshing for a manufacturer to just put their hands up and say “this is perfect. No need to make it any different. It’s the right size, shape, build and design, and we are just going to modify it a little each year with new stuff. Hope you like it.” it’d be an honesty never before seen from an industry built on inflation and hyperbolae, but for me it’d be one that would be very worthwhile.

I honestly, very seriously, considered not upgrading my phone at all. This is a reluctance I’ve never had before. And, like my Macbook and iPad, I expect that the iPhone 5 will feel like the perfect device, one that I won’t need to update. Hopefully, anyway.