Analysts are predicting that Apple will iterate on its popular smartphone in June, releasing the iPhone 5s that will have minor hardware and software upgrades to entice the bleeding edge Apple faithful. If the pattern seems familiar, it’s because Apple did the same thing with the iPhone 4s which followed its predecessor, the “4” in less than a year. It’s unclear whether the iPhone 5s launch will have the same impact as the 4s, which debuted with the popular but buggy “Siri” service. More importantly, Apple-watchers are predicting that the Cupertino company will debut a “lower cost” version of their iPhone in September, specifically to combat Android’s growing market share. An unlocked iPhone typically sells well north of $600 brand new, whereas Android devices can be bought off-contract for less than $300, which is where analysts expect the budget iPhone to land in the pricing wars.
What this means for you:
While most folks are usually more than satisfied with 2-3 year-old iPhones, if you’ve been waiting to upgrade, Apple’s pattern of hardware release usually means that the “s” version of an iPhone is a good investment. If you are still rocking an iPhone 3, the 5s will be a very nice upgrade with a noticeable improvement in speed and functionality. If you are one of the few that tries to avoid AT&T’s and Verizon’s financially-questionable 2-year contracts and you don’t want to plunk down six bills or more for an unlocked 5s, hold on to that older iPhone for a couple more months to see if Apple makes good on the low-cost iPhone in September of this year.
Since its release last month, Apple has been fielding numerous complaints about wifi issues on the new iPhone 5. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to sit tight during the first wave of complaints to see if there is any merit to them, or if they are just a combination of user-error and settling-in that always appears in new product launches. New customers were complaining of poor performance during the initial weeks of the iPhone 5’s arrival, and now that the first month’s bills are rolling in, these same customers have uncovered what looks to be a serious bug on the Verizon version of the the iPhone 5: instead of using an existing wifi connection to deliver data to the phone, iOS 6 (the operating system powering the iPhone 5) will instead continue to use the cellular connection, chewing up the monthly data allotment at an alarming rate.
Apple admitted the existence of the bug through a software update released on September 30, and Verizon has stated that no one will be charged for “unwarranted data usage” that might have occurred from this bug.
What this means for you:
If you’ve recently purchased an iPhone 5 or have upgraded your older iPhone 4 to iOS 6, and Verizon is your carrier, keep a close eye on your data usage and look for any unusual spikes in your monthly usage average. Reports are mixed as to whether this problem affects any other model other than the iPhone 5. Watch for the alert to patch your phone, and accept the update as soon as you see it. To check your cellular data usage on your iPhone: Settings->General->Usage->Cellular Usage.
Apple announced their much anticipated iPhone 5 smartphone today, confirming that it was indeed the same design as has been appearing in leaked photos throughout the run-up to today’s launch. It goes on pre-sale via the Apple store on September 15, 2012, starting at $199 for the 16GB model, up to $399 for the 64GB version, most likely with a 1 or 2 year contract. Pre-orders will ship the following Friday, September 22.
What This Means to You:
The new iPhone 5 is lighter, thinner and larger than the previous model, the iPhone 4s, (which will now be available for the discounted price of $99). It has a faster CPU, a larger screen (with numerous technical improvements), a better front and back camera, but most importantly, it has a new hardware connector, dubbed “Lightning” that is 80% smaller than the current 40-pin connector that has been in use for years.
It’s probable that the larger case manufacturers have had early access to prototypes of the new iPhone, so you can expect at least a handful of cases will be available for purchase around the time the iPhone 5 ships, but Apple doesn’t anticipate Lightning-compatible accessories to be available until Christmas 2012. Until then, an adapter is available that will allow you to connect iPhone 5’s to “legacy” 40-pin accessories. Keep in mind that the adapter by itself will probably render dock-style accessories unusable with an iPhone 5, as it looks rather large and flimsy.
(Image courtesy of www.gdgt.com)