Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5
The thing is an insult in phone form
Comment Here we are again on iPhone day, and once more the world waits on the edge of its seat to see what the fruitchomp masterminds of Cupertino have in store.
We'll tell you what they've got in store - and none of it's good. Without further ado, here are ten points you should ponder before you even think of buying a new iPhone 5.
1. No Swappable Battery
If you actually use a smartphone's capabilities to any large extent - if you use its data connections much, keep its display lit up a lot, watch much video, ever use the GPS - you can easily run flat any battery of reasonable size quite fast. Frequently it will simply not be convenient or even possible to plug your phone in for a lengthy recharge. That's why the ability to quickly and easily swap in a fresh, charged-up battery is a must for a serious smartphone user (or just someone who forgets to plug their phone in at night and then finds it almost flat when they need to leave the house the next day).
One can see the commercial reasons why Apple doesn't like letting people change batteries in its devices easily, but it's a trivially easy facility to provide and in a product this expensive its absence is a standing insult. This alone should be a deal-breaker for the savvy purchaser.
2. No Memory Card Slot
Another vicious slap in the face for the loyal fanboi or girl here. As flash memory prices keep plunging, microSD cards of greater and greater capacity become more and more affordable. In a proper smartphone, if you need more storage you can buy it and slot it in yourself. You can easily slot that storage into and out of myriads of other devices, copying and migrating data with ease.
With an iPhone, if you want more space you'll have to buy a whole new phone - and the price differential will be a lot more than the price difference between two SD cards of the same capacities, even though some added flash silicon is the only extra thing Apple is providing. If you ever want to get stuff on or off that phone, you'll be doing it strictly via a more or less time-consuming and fiddly data channel.
The sale of different iPhones with differing amounts of memory is simply the old trick of selling the same thing at different prices: which as any economics student learns, means you make more money than selling it at one price only. Car firms and many others do it too - adding frills to what's basically the same product and bumping up the price by a lot more than the cost of the extras. But at least with a top-end car you get some proper things, better stereo, fancier controls, heated seats or whatever. The markup may not really be justified, but at least it's not as outrageous as charging hundreds of dollars for a quite-literally-cheap-as-chips SD card - and actually removing functionality to achieve this vicious gouging.
3. Buying iPhones Encourages The Walled-Garden Business Model
It used to be, before Apple came on the scene, that if you had a small pocket computer then you or anyone else could write programs for it and you could run them on your machine that you owned without asking the people who had made it.
Purely in order to enrich itself, Apple has gone a long way towards killing that idea. Much of the rest of the industry is rushing to follow suit. Nowadays, app developers have to accept that they'll pay a lot of their money to Cupertino or miss out on a huge number of smartphone users. In future, they may also have to pay Redmond, as Microsoft - gobsmacked at the way people actually accepted the brutal lockdown imposed on iOS - is following suit.
Who permitted that seismically negative development to happen? People who bought iPhones did. You shouldn't buy one, it only encourages more of this sort of thing.
4. Not Actually That Great As A Phone
It's not, and never has been. Ever since the beginning, iPhones have scored unimpressively on actually being phones. That's pretty poor work for something this costly.
5. Scarcely Marks You Out As One Of The Cognoscenti
Perhaps one of the strongest selling points the iPhone had was that it was new and interesting. Nowadays everyone and his dog has one. Having an iPhone marks you out as a follower rather than a leader of fashion, these days.
As for technical discernment, iPhones have frequently lagged on actual features. They've more or less caught up with other smartphones now, but if you remember how long it took the iPhone to get basics like 3G and GPS, you can look forward and expect that it won't be long before some new feature comes out - and the iPhone won't have it. At that point, should you buy one now, you'll get geekslapped by an early-adopter pal with a demonstrably better gadget: and to crown this infamy, his will probably have cost a lot less than yours.
6. Stephen Fry Likes It
Here at the Reg we venerate Stephen Fry - as a comedian. His performances in Blackadder, Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster etc have brought many rays of sunshine into our lives. For these and many other thespian and comedic efforts, Mr Fry has earned his status as an official national treasure.
As a commentator on the sci/tech/biz scene, unfortunately, he doesn't do so well. In particular his love for Apple and all its works usually appears to go well beyond mere enthusiasm or even passionate romantic love into a place which is, frankly, embarrassing.
Even if the iPhone really was a lovely shiny thing from a lovely shiny company rather than - as it actually is - a sinister and cynically exploitative thing from a rapacious and manipulative company, Mr Fry's overly emotional adulation for it would surely put most right-thinking people off.
7. Very, Very Expensive For What It Is
If you compare an iPhone to another machine which contains similar hardware, it is hugely more expensive. As discussed, above and below, the differences between the iPhone and the competitor are all such as to make it worse, not better, and such as to mean you will pay more on top to network operators and to replace it down the road.
That's a damned bad bargain - paying a hefty premium for the same stuff, but selectively crippled.
8. Antenna is Badly Designed
Actual proper boffins have confirmed that the antenna of the iPhone 4 is just badly designed: the 'Death Grip' effect is real and cannot be avoided by use of cases. This is bad engineering - another case of form beating function (and not very nice form, unless you like hard corners for some reason).
A company which would do that is unlikely to have raised its game much today, and it can't have done much about it in the case of the 4S.
9. You Don't Get Much Screen Considering How Big It Is
On a proper modern touchscreen smartphone, almost all the front of the case is screen, giving you the most possible viewing and control area for the size of the gadget.
On the iPhone, two quite large areas above and below the screen are empty and useless, without even buttons on them thanks to Apple's poncey one-button fetish.
Other designers don't need this luxury - they give you the whole face of their devices. Once again we see that the idea of the iPhone being a good piece of engineering, somehow actually superior in design to other smartphones, is a mistaken one. In this respect as in others, it delivers less for the same resources. If your ideas of beauty in technology have anything to do with form following function you would never buy any of the iPhones so far: and we're unlikely to see any improvement later today.
10. If You Must Buy One, For Pity's Sake Not Now
Wait: Wait. Wait some more, until the hypegasm dies down. If you buy an iPhone 5 in the near future you will pay an even more outrageously inflated price than normal for an iPhone and you'll probably be locked into some horrifying multi-year devil's bargain under which the operator has locked out half the thing's capabilities to spare its network and gets to keep your children to boot. ®