Initial Thoughts and Impressions Regarding iPhone 5[S/C]

Throughout this, I'm going to use the term 5S and 5C, not Apple's designated qualifiers, 5s and 5c.

Why? Why the hell do you think?

In no particular order.

  1. "Remember When"

The nostalgia in the keynote was overwhelming. Every one of the iPhone 5S's tentpoles was preceded with a glance at what life "used to be like", not before the iPhone 5S, but seemingly before the iPhone ever existed. The A7 chip was compared to the A6 for mere seconds before the graph showed its delta from the chip in the original iPhone (laughably outshining it by a factor of 40 for CPU and more than that for GPU).

I don't know whether or not this was to increase the percieved "bump" given to the 5S. It only needed it if you were a spec hungry tech journalist, because any developer or programmer was whetted by the 64-bit processor architecture, the M7 motion coprocessor and the CoreMotion API, and because the design, fingerprint scanning and the camera are substantial enough areas of improvement for consumers to justify a price increase from $99.

I've been rewatching The Sopranos with my girlfriend, and we're in the middle of Season 6B. Tony and Paulie are in Florida hiding out a potential 30 year old murder rap and they're at dinner with Beansie and a couple of skanks, and Paulie and Beansie are reminiscing about the old days much to Tony's chagrin. They ask Tony if something's wrong, and he says this:

True? I don't know. Appropriate? Definitely.  We can marvel ourselves at how far we've come, but it's their job to point us at where we should be going.  We could do better than nostalgia.

    2. 4S: S stands for Seagal, Because You're Hard to Kill

How the hell does this thing still exist.  The main justification for the iPhone 5C was that, if it eliminated the 4S, it removed all non-4-inch, non-Lightning phones from the lineup in one fell swoop.  Instead, the iPhone 5 is gone.  Weird.

The main argument is margins - it's undoubtedly cheaper to make 5C's than 5's, and this makes up for whatever margins they lost on the iPad mini that infuriated the market (or, it makes up for whatever margins they're going) to lose on the retina mini that comes out this Oct/Nov).  They must have a ton of 4S lying around, too - remember, that was a global phone, so that exact phone model was sold everywhere for 2 years (unlike the 4 and 5, which have laughably ridiculous cellular compatibility charts and model designations, problems the 5C and 5S inherit).  

Tons of overstock on 4S explains some of it, but Apple's notorious for keeping very very shallow channel inventory, so I doubt there's enough inventory hanging out to justify full sales realignment.  If it's margins, it's margins.

Still, I would have loved to see the 5C for free, the 5 at $99, and the 5S for $199 and above.  But, then you get to this question: is the 5S justifiably $100 more expensive than the iPhone 5 to a new buyer (assuming of course that it's definitely not worth the money for a current iPhone 5 user due to upgrade fees, etc)?  Another argument could be made that the iPhone 5C is $99 in order to avoid that debate.

So, the 4S survives.  That 30-pin sporting, 3.5-inch screen-having, stubby, hefty little weirdo survives another year.  

3. The M7 

M7 knows when you’re walking, running, or even driving. For example, Maps switches from driving to walking turn-by-turn navigation if, say, you park and continue on foot. Since M7 can tell when you’re in a moving vehicle, iPhone 5s won’t ask you to join Wi-Fi networks you pass by. And if your phone hasn’t moved for a while, like when you’re asleep, M7 reduces network pinging to spare your battery.

That's a sentence in the online promos for the iPhone 5S, and it should have been in the keynote, because that's the first step in really showing people what this is all about - developers have all sorts of new information for use beyond simple subjects like fitness and health.   

Other phones have been advertising things like this for a bit, but they've either only been accessible to the phone maker's apps (in an effort to establish brand loyalty) or come with an amateur API that no one really used.  This blows that out of the water, and puts in the hands of every developer information that can be used in tons of innovative ways to make the experience of using an iPhone better. It's a perfect example of what Apple's done with a few features over the last few years - technically, they're bringing in a feature other phones have had before, but practically  they're bringing a set of functionality to the world that has never been implemented as well before, taking the concept mainstream and setting the standard for how it's done.  

I've been using iOS 7 exclusively on my iPhone since about beta 2, and I'm looking forward to writing up a review, but I don't want to do a feature recap or a screenshot heavy diagram of the OS, because enough people are going to try and do that on the 17th or so. What i'll try and do is tell you what I think their biggest decisions were, whether I think they were good choices, and what I think they mean.

Something to keep in mind when you read those reviews, though, is that iOS 7's biggest piece is still missing, and is going to come in in waves over the next three weeks or so - third party developers, interpereting the design and functionality decisions of iOS 7 to their own apps. So far, the only updated app I've received is the Reeder 2.0 update, but I spend so much time in that app that it's already made me think even more about what's really going on.