Half-truths and hot air: Reading between the lines on Apple’
Apple first talks about how many awards the iPhone has won. In particular, the focus is on the JD Power and Associates Award. “In eight straight studies by J.D. Power and Associates — that’s every study since the first iPhone was introduced — iPhone has been ranked ‘Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Consumer Smartphones’.” That’s all well and good, but how about some perspective, Apple?
Every year after the main events at the Mobile World Congress conclude, the GSM Association hands out the Global Mobile Award for the best handset of the year. The iPhone was beaten here by the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. So clearly, awards are no hard and fast measure of a phone’s worth and if they are, the iPhone is not the only top dog in the market.
Then Apple talks about the attention to detail on its handsets. “Every detail and every material — particularly the sleek aluminum (sic) enclosure — has been meticulously considered and refined. And it’s made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch, not a smartphone.” Is that a subtle hint about the upcoming iWatch?
Attention to detail in design
Well, maybe not, but we can’t argue a great deal with this point. But then, HTC has made a living out of delivering well-designed handsets that use premium material for the build too. The latest HTC One is a prime example and is also built using a unibody aluminium casing like the iPhone. So it’s not like Apple is the only phone maker with any intention of delivering a great design. Other manufacturers make considerations of a different nature. So Samsung uses a plastic body to allow users the freedom to swap out a scratched back panel and to access the battery, something iPhone lovers can only dream of.
This next point really drives us up the wall. Here’s what Apple had to say about the Retina display on the iPhone. “The Retina display on iPhone ushered in the era of super-high-resolution displays. Its pixel density is so high your eye can’t distinguish individual pixels. In fact, once you see a Retina display, you’re never satisfied with anything less. Yet it remains a feature found only on iPhone and other Apple products.” If there was an award for hogwash, Apple would get it hands down. Firstly, Retina is just a marketing buzzword. All it means is that the display has a pixel density of 326 ppi. That’s a very good number indeed, but is it the best out there?
Retina, a marketing buzzword (Image credit: Getty images)
As we know, there are displays with much higher pixel density, up to 30-40 percent more, in fact. The HTC Butterfly and the Sony Xperia Z have 1920 x 1080 pixel display on a 5-inch screen. That adds up to around 441 ppi. The HTC One has a ppi count of nearly 469, which is nearly 50 percent higher than the iPhone 5. The Sony Xperia S, which was released early last year, has a 4.3-inch display with a 1280 x 720 resolution, which at 342 ppi is still higher than Apple’s Retina display.
Battery, processor, LTE and iCloud
To be fair, some points made by Apple are true. “Great battery life. Without a great big battery.” That’s what Apple has to say about the iPhone’s battery and yes, the iPhone does give users more juice for their charge. The custom-made A6 chip used inside the iPhone is also quite speedy, but the competition isn’t far behind in terms of raw power and graphics performance. These are both valid points though, along with the fact that the iPhone has LTE readiness, something the LG-made Nexus 4 lacks. It also talks up the ultrafast wireless speeds thanks to the dual-band support, something more and more manufacturers are including in their connectivity package.
Apple's much-touted iCloud
We can’t have any complains about what Apple says about iCloud. Instantaneous sharing is a vital cog in the Apple experience considering it has a stake in PCs, smartphones and tablets alike. But Google Drive offers a similar facility for managing documents and pictures across devices and Google Instant Upload pushes your images to Google+ immediately after they are clicked.
Apple calls the iPhone’s camera “the world’s most popular”, citing statistics from image-sharing website Flickr, where the iPhone 4S is the phone most people used to upload pictures from, followed by the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. However, we feel this is no clear indication of the iPhones’ popularity in general. Maybe the iPhone is the most popular camera out there, but that doesn’t make it the best one. We’d like to point to the Nokia Lumia 920 and 808 PureView phones, which have much better cameras. It’s a pity that the platforms those phones run haven’t been able to shine as well as their cameras.
Apps and malware
Taking a shot at the Android malware problem, Apple says its iTunes Store and App Store are trusted sources, whereas “Other mobile platforms have a myriad of fragmented store options, resulting in availability issues, developer frustration, and security risks.” Can’t say Apple is not right. We have no doubts that Apple’s stores are much more secure when it comes to malware, however, there is a concerted effort within the Android development team to block malware through the in-built Bouncer and App Verification processes.
Capitalising on Android malware problems
Apple, can we just say that iOS is not the world’s most advanced mobile OS, no matter how many times you insist? It doesn't have the degree of customisation that an advanced OS should provide. Apple has routinely taken aspects from other OSes out there and used them for iOS, the notification bar from Android being just one example. According to the company, iOS is the most advanced because “Innovative features like Siri and FaceTime plus built-in apps make iPhone not just useful but fun. iOS updates download right on iPhone, so the latest iOS version is just a tap away. And because Apple makes both the hardware and the software, iOS features are designed to work perfectly with iPhone features like the Retina display, gyro, and accelerometer.” So just having OTA updates and a voice-based assistant makes iOS the most advanced mobile OS? We’d like to point Apple to the Nexus series and Google Now, not to mention Skype on Windows Phone 8.
Siri, the voice assistant with an answer for almost everything
Lastly, Apple talks about its Geniuses or customer support people who know everything about iPhones and iOS. “With other smartphones, you’re not sure where to go for help. Call the manufacturer, and they tell you to call your service provider. Call your service provider, and they tell you to contact the OS developer. Getting answers shouldn’t be that hard.” Ironically, in India, Apple lists a telephone number (with eligibility restrictions) and also tells users that they have the option of contacting their carriers. Isn’t that exactly what it thinks the problem with other manufacturers is?
Apple is stretching here the way it never has had to—thanks to renewed pressure from the competition. Samsung and Android’s domination of the market is worrying for Cupertino and the fact that the Galaxy S4, the iPhone’s biggest competition, improves on a majority of its predecessor's specs could be another reason for "Why iPhone". To most people who know and use iPhone, none of these features are new or something they weren't aware of. Sure, the iPhone 5 is a great product, we've said so ourselves. But there is a general feeling that iOS is getting a bit long in the tooth and is in need of a serious revamp. Perhaps, Apple will show off why iOS is the best in the business come the iPhone 5S. In Cupertino, iOS is being revamped as we speak, but till then, all Apple has as defence is slamming the competition.