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Summary:

Now that the dust has settled from the formal announcement of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, it’s time to start thinking about whether or not the time is right to upgrade.

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photo: Om Malik

Recently, I got into the FX series Sons of Anarchy. Unfortunately, a friend spoiled a character’s death. It kind of ruined the suspense, since I knew he or she wasn’t long for the series. Apple events are like that now. Between manufacturing leaks and the rumor mill, we pretty much know everything Apple is going to announce long before the keynote.

If there’s one thing you can expect from Apple, be it during a keynote or in conversations with their PR people, is that its employees stay on message. Tuesday’s message was that the 5s is “Apple’s most forward thinking phone,” but I think that applies to the 5c as well.

The iPhone 5c

Apple used to make last year’s iPhone the “cheap” iPhone (usually about $100 less than the current offering). This was the technological equivalent to getting your older brother’s school clothes: Your new phone was anything but. This year, Apple prettied up the iPhone 5, tossed in a plastic shell, and called it new. You can get your iPhone 5c in 5 colors, most of which seem determined to shout out “I’ve got a new phone.” (Also, Apple, people like me are color blind. At least have a mouse-over on the color swatch so we can tell what color we are ordering, I thought the pink one was red)

This is why I think the 5c is also “forward thinking.” This is Apple’s way of making sure the phones you buy (as opposed to “free” with contract) are in fact new, and not your older brother’s pants.

I think the 5c is going to be wildly popular. Even I’m tempted by the red, err, pink; never mind, the blue. What I’m curious about is if next year, the colors will stay the same, and will next year’s “c” go to the larger size. My prediction: it’ll be the 5s, but with different colors.

Now, Apple, can we talk about the cases? I like that you’re offering cases. The colors are kind of nice, too (I think), but the design is horrid. What’s with the circles? It looks like the after-effects of cutting out the pieces for a board game.

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The iPhone 5s

Once again, the rumors were true, and we got a fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. I unlock my iPhone probably a hundred times a day. If I want to get my work email on my phone, I need to have a passcode lock on it (and, frankly, having one is just a good idea). Unlocking the phone at work isn’t a big deal. When I need to unlock it while I’m in the car because I want to switch between music apps it’s a problem. I also use Siri to read and respond to texts, and being able to give the phone the finger (sorry, couldn’t resist) to unlock it would really help me out.

Also interesting is the 64-bit chip architecture. I don’t really need that much power in my phone, since I’ve never thought my iPhone 5 was at all sluggish. Put that chip in an iPad, well, now we’re talking. That said, I’ve been thinking of getting a Fitbit (see disclosure), and clearly the A7/M7 (the mobility chip) is laying the ground for Apple do something in the wearable devices market.

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iWork

I got a little excited when Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned iWork. Then all he said was “free with new iOS device.” If you blinked, you missed it. At this point I’m curious what Apple’s plans are for iWork. During his iWork demo at WWDC 13, Apple iWork VP Roger Rosner said “and later this year, we’re gonna have awesome new releases of both our Mac and iOS (iWork) suites.”

I use still use Pages quite a bit these days. Pages on the iPhone is still a tough slog. I can’t seem to get a view where I see the whole width of a page while editing it. I primarily work in text, and Pages’ horizontal scrolling is why I’ve started thinking of using Apps like Byword for my writing.

I really hope the “awesome new update” this year makes Pages useable on the iPhone.

So, how will all this affect my purchases this year?

iPhones

After all this buildup of the new iPhones, my answer will be anticlimatic: None of them. This for a variety of reasons. The immediate is after being out of work for 1/3 of this year, I simply can’t afford it, even if I can write it off my taxes. I’m also on AT&T and want to move to Verizon. Andy Ihnatko once mentioned during an episode of the Ihnatko Almanac that “AT&T is good except if you live in an area with 8 cows per square mile.” That’s actually a pretty apt description for where I live: There are two cow farms within a 2 minute drive of my house. My AT&T contract runs out during next years iPhone release, so I’ll move then.

The other reason is, I’m really holding out for a larger screen iPhone. I don’t really want a 6-inch iPhone (although, I’ll admit given how infrequently I use the phone app, it’s not without temptation), but something in the 5-inch range would be wonderful.

iPads

I’m assuming that 64-bit chip will make its way to the iPad. If that’s the case, I’ll get one of those and hand down my current iPad to my significant other. She’s got an old iPad 2 and could use the cellular modem and retina display in my 3rd generation iPad. Again, my iPad has never really felt sluggish, but I feel I’ll notice the speed increase there more, especially on games.

Where things get murky for me is the iPad mini. I have a Nexus 7 that I use quite frequently. I like being able to toss it in my back pocket when I go to lunch. I’ve got a fiver on a retina mini this year, but I’m not putting any money on a retina mini AND the A7. I think the retina mini will got the A6 processor instead.

Final thoughts

As much as I’d like Apple to blow my socks away with a “one more thing,” I’m more than happy when they release product updates I can use. I really haven’t had any negative thoughts about any of Apple’s iPhone’s releases. The closest is I think Apple should have increased the iPhone 5 size in both directions last year.

This year continues that. I never expected a larger iPhone this year, since Apple seems content to keep major form-factor changes in sync with a two-year contract cycle. While I think the iPhone 5s is nice upgrade, I’d only recommend it for people who are still on the 4S.

  1. But when will the SIZE of the iPhone display exceed the meager 4 inches? I would be interested if that were the size of my current HTC (4.3″) or larger, up to 5 inches. And I agree that the coverage area needs to be expanded. My T-Mobile coverage is good most of the time, but places where the reception drops to zero or even 2G are ridiculous.

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  2. Hey if you live in NYC avoid Verizon. They network is the worst in NY. Seems like what happened to AT&T after the iPhone 3G came out has happened to verizon. I had to switch and AT&T gives me a good stedy 20mb in midtown, where Verizon gave me 33KB. Slower than a 56k modem!!

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  3. a year and a half ago, when I was looking to get a new Verizon phone to replace my Windows Mobile phone, I didn’t even consider the iPhone since its screen is just tiny for me.

    I love my Galaxy Nexus and will hold on to it as long as I can. I will most likely get a Note or S for my next phone.

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  4. I was using a pal’s Samsung the other day, and I have to admit that a 5″ screen on my iPhone would be nicer.

    Maybe next year?

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  5. I don’t get it, why would you want a larger iPhone screen if you already have an iPad mini, an iPad, or a Nexus 7? The iPhone 5 screen size is perfect for me. I wear normal clothes and there is no place to shove a device with a 5 inch screen without looking like a dork. When I want a larger screen, I change devices. When I want a really slick mobile device that slides into my pocket, I grab my iPhone 5, with its excellent build quality, and slide it into any of my pockets. How do I carry a phone with a 5 inch screen? Do I need to start carrying a purse? No thanks.

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    1. Frequently in meetings I’ll need too look something up, and I might not have my iPad or Nexus with me (I still take notes faster on a piece of paper). The iPhone 5 screen still makes it hard to view some of my notes, especially if I’ve used Outline format for my notes.

      A 5″ screen isn’t that big, compared to the 7″ screen of the Mini. It will fit fine in just abut every pocket.

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  6. Hi
    Mark I think this iphone release is intended for the third world where price is a huge factor and Samsung has covered much more ground. You can expect a price cut also with this one. This was a long time rumor and Apple is confirming them.
    Would love to have a larger form factor but still there is no news on that coming. Are they at all thinking on this line?

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  7. Wait, this is not for you. This is for Samsung and the market gain they have done in the third world. Mr. Cook is trying to counter that with C/S. If they increase screen then they will inch towards Samsung more and lose identity. I think Apple is in a catch 22 now. Thanks Mark for intiating discussion.

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  8. Apple has clarified that a severed or mutilated finger will not be able to unlock your iPhone 5s. So your fingers are safe. Some were worried about NSA and Apple storing data in the clouds. It is all so interesting in the wake of all these security issues.

    I mean how connected do we really want to be ? The more connected we are, the more we open ourselves to security hacks.

    http://www.takeaclick.com/2013/09/16/severed-finger-will-unlock-stolen-iphone-5s/1274/

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  9. Salentro Technology Thursday, September 19, 2013

    I agree with Don on this. Apple has to increase the quality and size of the iPhone to compete with the other larger screen mobile phones in the market.

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