The moment the iPad 2 was released back on March 11th, rumours about the next-gen iPhone began.
They started slow and conservative, gradually bubbling to the boil that we experienced in September—everybody and their dog's third cousin insisted that they knew what the new iPhone (or iPhones) would look like and perform like. It's going to get a teardrop design like the MacBook Air, some said (that would be hideous). It's going to have a cheaper counterpart, many insisted (yeah, that's called the iPhone 4 or 3GS). It's going to get an enlarged screen, others argued (that would complicate things for app developers, among other problems; Apple already solved this via the Retina Display, which does simple math by doubling the standard resolution, thereby maximizing the functionality and beauty of a 3.5-inch screen without burdening devs).
These are just some of the myriad rumours surrounding the fabled device—and for every rumour, I could link to myriad variations of it. In a nutshell, nobody really knew what the fuck the next-gen iPhone would be but everyone took a stab at guessing anyway. This led to a consumer hype-up, a frenzy in which all that became relevant was that something—something!—would be dramatic about this update.
Then Apple didn't announce an iPhone during its summer WWDC for the first time since 2007 and the world went mad. Surely this unexpected delay meant that Apple had something revolutionary in the works? …Months later, Apple finally announced an October media event. Instantly, consumers and media outlets alike cried out: at this point, anything less than an iPhone 5 is a disappointment! An iPhone 4S just won't cut it, they said.
The only problem with that concept is that neither the iPhone 5 nor the 4S existed, and the difference between a "major" and a "minor" update had never been defined. Does the case design need to change? Does iOS 5 contribute to the substance of the update or is it excluded? Is any upgraded processor enough to be considered major, or does it need to be a dual-core A5, with anything less being classified as minor? No one even tried to figure this stuff out. It was simply, "Apple has to launch an iPhone 5." I may as well have said, "A flibberstog needs a gwombulator in order to schwango around the tillidud." Mounds of shit were spewed from the mouths of rabid fanatics and overly eager "insiders." And every mound was as hollow and meanginless as the last. A company has to launch a product that can technically be anything, but actually has to be really specific, or maybe it doesn't? What the crap was everyone talking about?
So yesterday, this media event unfolded at long last. With virtually every major tech blog and newsite covering the event in some way, Techvibes included, people were going absolutely berserk. Trending topics on Twitter were dominated by Apple-related keywords and phrases, with #LetsTalkiPhone leading the way (since replaced with #iPhone4S).
Apple enhanced the suspense (to the point of being dicks, almost) by talking about all sorts of old news for nearly an hour—iTunes sells music, iPad is popular, Apple is amazing, blah blah blah. No shit, everyone basically said. We're only here for one thing. Then they updated the iPod Nano somewhat… big deal. Hurry it up. Then they updated the iPod Touch (barely)… that was disappointing for some, which only served to amplify the need for Apple to blow people out of the water with… with… Finally, finally, finally, the iPhone, somebody's gonna talk about the iPhone! The world held its breath for one elongated moment.
And they announce a fucking 4S.
The 4S looks exactly the same as the iPhone 4. Sure, the camera is incredible, the dual-core A5 processor is top-notch, and Siri is absolutely magnificent. But shit, it LOOKS the same! And the name, damn it, the name! It's just a 4S!
Somehow, consumers got lost in the dream of an iPhone 5 that never existed and was, in essence, each individual human's idealogy of the device. They expected this thorough makeover even though it didn't make sense. Hardly anyone complained about how the iPhone 4 looked, so why would Apple update it needlessly? The update was only one generation old anyway, while the original iPhone design lasted three gens. Aside from a larger screen, which is a logically ridiculous idea given the circumstances, tweaking the device aesthetically would have served no purpose—and Apple always designs and alters with pronounced purpose.
So in terms of functional, necessary, practical updates, what does the new iPhone "4S" deliver? Everything. The iOS 5 platform delivers numerous software improvements; Siri paves the way in mobile innovation; the gadget has been intensely souped up in terms of hardware specs without sacrificing an ounce of its remarkable battery life; it supports 4G; and the camera is substantially updated for both picture taking and video recording.
Fact is, this was as major an update as Apple could do—and considering how much of a leap in technology the iPhone 4 was to the 3GS, this level of improvement was really impressive, all things considered.
Expected not all things were considered, at least not carefully enough. Unfortunately, Apple did make one major mistake. They called the iPhone 5 an iPhone 4S. Maybe they haven't been keeping up with the public sentiment. Maybe they underestimate the sheer stupidity of the overwhelming majority of consumers. Either way, in doing so they tricked their own consumers into thinking the 4S is a "minor" update (whatever the fuck that means). Twitterati, for one, went crazy—"NO IPHONE 5?!" I witnessed thousands shriek. "Apple is doomed!" (I've heard that one before, by the way.) One dude dubbed the announcement "underwhelming"—would you like it to shoot out fireworks on command as well? "Those are all specs that we've seen before," he says. Specs don't sell, FYI. Small screen? Not really, but regardless, resolution is the key—the Retina Display is a richer viewing experience than half the tablets on market (and off the market, *cough* TouchPad). So what did this fella actually want from Apple? He doesn't really say. Huh. I sense a theme, a thread, a pattern. It reeks of nonsense.
I ask, in all Siri-ousness, what more could the iPhone 5 have been? The wheel and sliced bread have already been invented, let me remind you.
As fast as virtually any other mobile device? Check. Screen is beautiful and high-res? Check. Camera is fabulously high-end, even compared to other 8 megapixel competitors? Check. Exterior is fashioned in aluminum and glass, not cheap plastics? Check. Software is smooth, intuitive, and efficient? Check. Siri is bleeding edge? Check. Everything has been maintained where appropriate and upgraded where feasible? Check.
Sounds like a major update, ladies and gentlemen. That sneaky bastard of an iPhone 5 can't hide in its 4S disguise anymore—I've caught him red-handed. Now come out and confess your true identity so consumers can get on with their lives.
(The iPhone 5 is available for pre-order on October 7th and in-store on October 14th.)