Hyperbole fatigue: Is the iPhone 5 really 14% more magical?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Hyperbole fatigue: Is the iPhone 5 really 14% more magical?
Every year Apple’s events split the tech community. Some people love them, others not so much. By and large it seems to have to do with one’s preconceived notion of Apple more than what they actually do. But this year hyperbole fatigue may finally be setting in.

There have always been nay-sayers - last year after the iPhone 4S was announced many pundits were disappointed that there wasn’t a redesigned iPhone 5. But any predictions of doom and gloom for sales were quickly set aside when Apple shattered previous sales records with “their most magical iPhone yet”. Anyone predicting less than stellar sales for the iPhone 5 is just as likely to be wrong, and for those who love the current iPhone the new one will surely will be the best phone on the market. And yet, watching the event unfold this year felt incredibly anticlimactic – the device was slathered in superlatives yet it felt oddly…ordinary.

Perhaps part of this is due to the unprecedented number of leaks we’ve seen from the iPhone 5 – the basics of the phone were correctly outlined back in January, and we’ve been seeing parts and mock-ups of the device for months. So in that sense the iPhone 5 design was bound to not be surprising, but it seems like the issue may be deeper. The device really does carry on the same design notes as the previous couple of years, and the vast majority of the presentation was spent explaining that the device was incrementally better: It’s 18% thinner! 20% lighter! The screen is 44% more saturated!

Of course the iPhone 4S was already a top-notch piece of kit, and improving on it is certainly nice, but the reality of what was presented doesn’t quite mesh up with the sky-high praise that executives were lavishing on it. Below are a few examples:

"This is unlike anything we or anyone else in our industry has made before." - Phil Schiller

"I don't think the level of invention has been matched by anything we've ever done." - Bob Mansfield

"This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone." - Tim Cook

Really? A phone that’s almost identical in appearance to the last two models with an extra 8% or so more screen real-estate and a faster CPU is the biggest thing to happen since the original iPhone? Panoramic imaging, LTE, and a faster CPU are unlike anything else done in the mobile industry? We’re sure that Apple’s implementations of these technologies will be top notch, but there doesn’t seem to be any game-changers here on par with the industrial design and high resolution display of the iPhone 4, or even the promise of Siri in the iPhone 4S. The new handset will surely be excellent, but it just doesn’t seem to have the same wow factor as those on stage suggested.

Apple-bashers will say this sort of thing the company has been doing for years, but there may be a new dynamic at work – it may well be the reality of maturing mobile computing technology. Faster processors are nice, but without new use cases it’s similar to buying a new PC – it’s faster, but it still does most of the same things your previous computer did. The iPhone 5 has a redesigned camera, but a lot of that engineering seems to have been to allow them to shrink it into a smaller device. The images will probably be objectively better, but the camera on the iPhone 4S was already superb.

In other words, like in any other maturing technology it may be that the low-hanging fruit have mostly been picked already, and many of the upgrades we’ll be seeing in the future will be more incremental than ground-breaking. And if that’s the case it will probably affect the all phone makers, not just Apple. But if so Apple may need to tone down the arm-waving just a hair; it’s ok to claim you make the best products (and many users would happily agree with Apple), but if you claim every year that you’ve made the biggest jump forward yet and fail to deliver, eventually even the most ardent of supporters will tire of the disconnect.

After all, if something is already “magical” what does it mean to be 14% more magical?

Related phones

iPhone 5
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A6, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1440 mAh(8h 3G talk time)

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42 Comments

1. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

AAAAAAA apple is goin under and windows 8 and android will continue to rise......thats jus what i see right now......

6. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Why iPhone 5 looks like Goophone ? :)

18. moroninc

Posts: 193; Member since: Jul 14, 2012

LMAO it does look like a Goophone!! i see Lau-soot coming from China.

8. metalpoet unregistered

WTF!!! Apple you suck, looks like this company will sink soon! i hope! At least blackberry had some intereasting specs to them and Android continues to think outside the box and give carriers and manufacturers the freedom to basically do what the hell they want with them!

21. ScottSchneider

Posts: 336; Member since: Dec 06, 2011

This must be the Best Article I have read here for a long time... It simply says Apple is All Bark and No Bite... Nice one... Good Going PA... Hats off to Scott... :)

15. Jelly_Bean

Posts: 109; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

Apple:-----f**k Off

42. dr_fajardo12

Posts: 134; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

U r the best writter here SCOTT H. Damn!!

2. ekia007

Posts: 61; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

I agree with the author. "This is unlike anything we or anyone else in our industry has made before." - Phil Schiller "I don't think the level of invention has been matched by anything we've ever done." - Bob Mansfield What are Phil Schiller and Bob Mansfield talking about? Every industry make better product than your iPhone 5. It doesn't impress me at all. Hey Bob Mansfield, you call this invention? same design with taller screen? sigh... I want to say Apple is out of innovation.

7. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

I disagreed with Phil's quote, but agreed with Bob. Cause it's true that Apple's previous products can't match this. Really... no innovation at all. The only Apple device that impressed me at the time of introduction was the iPhone 4. Ever since then, everything else is just boring... Luckily Apple has a large loyalty fan base otherwise they would of been out of the game already.

17. jshan

Posts: 200; Member since: Dec 25, 2011

Hey u **** ... Don't you know that what they making ??? They aren't making mobile phones or smartphones... They are making just iPhone .... So how could it should be change like cheap plastic Samsung or other copied devices .?? they are just bout to make improvements on their only product that call "an iPhone " hope u will understand at least now.

31. wumberpeb

Posts: 453; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

Whaaaaaat?

22. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Just about every feature and spec has already been done. These 2 guys....need to step out of the Reality Distortion Field.....asap. Even if you do work for Apple.....try to live in reality.

28. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

"I don't think the level of invention has been matched by anything we've ever done." - Bob Mansfield yes, of course, they have not been inventing at all, so when they finally "invented" a bigger screen, that will not be matched by anything they've done before..

4. d_striders

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

Its more like a Iphone 4s 2. And considering the specs, i think this time it's late in the game.

5. melvineus

Posts: 17; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

An outdated specs

9. zackh121556

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 01, 2012

Buy Android...enough said!

27. ChiX017

Posts: 308; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Noooooo, buy Lumia 920 buh if can't afford that level of Innovation, get an Android or Lumia 610 or a Blackberry or Meego(aka Jolla) or Bada.

29. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

agreed, for Innovation in technology, that Lumia is great, but if you care more about horsepower and what you can do with your phone, Android is your bet.. I want that kind of innovation level to be implemented in android, not only raw power like quad cores and stuff, but like the design, camera, and other stuff.. However, i am not going to get the Lumia YET, because i feel that WP is still too restricted for my liking.. Waiting eagerly for Jolla..

11. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

There are some valid points in this piece. My wife is an avid iPhone user and the 4S didn't impress her much. The new one seems like something she will upgrade to but she did mention that it really didn't change that much. In reality maybe that is a good thing for developers. Maybe that is even better for consumers. However, on tech blogs and the rest of the mobile world where many of us are constantly talking about the fringes of mobile technology, its not ground breaking at all. Will it still sell? Oh yes. But I do not think it will convince more people to abandon the other major OS, android, for it. With that said, the tech is starting to reach it point where thin is great but its no longer a selling point. Camera tech is still evolving. Screen tech is starting to reach it point (our eyes simply cannot tell the difference). The internals will get smaller and more powerful but thats expected. Overall, it might be a few years before we can really expect to see something dramatically different from Apple or anyone else for that matter. There is little to blow our minds.

35. adamross55

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

I totally agree with @speckledapple. What exactly is Apple (or any manufacturer) going to do thats soooo groundbreaking and new? Nobody has really came out with anything that absolutely WOWS us. I think the last time was probably back when the Motorola Atrix & Galaxy S II came out because they had awesome specs. I dont remember this many people HATING on Samsung when they came out with the galaxy s3 though. Whats so special about it? Nothing really. It has a fast processor, 2gb ram, lte, samoled screen, etc. All of those things are purely evolutionary. None really revolutionary. Personally I dont even like the design of that device but thats purely my opinion, and TouchWiz just bogs it down and makes everything slower. But others may love it.

12. arsenaljimenez

Posts: 198; Member since: May 03, 2012

Can it be? Apple trolls coming to their senses??

14. devildlm1

Posts: 71; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

All of the "new" features shown were just incremental upgrades that were necessary and obvious. I do agree that apple did set the "siri standard" last year although voice search had been used prior to it. Other than that, there is literally nothing that has a wow factor; especially when compared to the iPhone 5's existing top competitors. Can someone please tell me what actual features set the iPhone 5 apart from its competitors?

16. adamross55

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

You all can say what you want but Apple will be laughing alllll the way to the bank. From a business standpoint, this thing is gonna sell. It's gonna outsell every single smartphone on the market today. Whether you like it or not, Apple is gonna be making loads and loads of cash off this thing.

20. Cha7520

Posts: 222; Member since: Oct 31, 2010

LOL....you must be on meth!

24. adamross55

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

Well all that meth im taking must be making me pretty damn smart. I guess you didnt read the article about how Apple's stock rose $9.20 today. Looks like I was right...

39. BSTManCMc

Posts: 16; Member since: Jul 28, 2012

I hate apple and everything they do, but you sir are 100% right, they sell last years tech at this years price to keep that vault overflowing. As a business no one can fault apple for being the best at business.

23. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I dont think any one is denying that. Its an iDevice....its destined to sell like hotcakes. But it isnt game changing in the least. Like a couple of their execs are claiming.

19. ncv144

Posts: 126; Member since: May 04, 2012

why didn't they just name it iPhone 4gs or 4sXL?

25. Jillxz

Posts: 149; Member since: Jun 04, 2012

Quote [ "You all can say what you want but Apple will be laughing alllll the way to the bank. From a business standpoint, this thing is gonna sell. It's gonna outsell every single smartphone on the market today. Whether you like it or not, Apple is gonna be making loads and loads of cash off this thing."] Maybe. But one day , Android will do to the iPhone what Microsoft did to the PC's . Apple is so very fearful of this very thing happening all over again. That's why they are suing Android manufacturers . They want to cripple Andrroid . But Apple's day will come and maybe sooner than anyone might think. Android is the way most are going. Seling fast.

34. adamross55

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

"Maybe. But one day , Android will do to the iPhone what Microsoft did to the PC's . Apple is so very fearful of this very thing happening all over again. That's why they are suing Android manufacturers . They want to cripple Andrroid . But Apple's day will come and maybe sooner than anyone might think. Android is the way most are going. Seling fast." Maybe. Google uses a completely different approach than Apple does. Anybody that wants android can have it. This is good and bad because you get decent devices like the GSIII, Droid Razr's, and One series. You also get a ton of cheap s**tty phones that are barely worth the price of the box they came in. Average consumers dont really know which devices are solid performers because the smartphone market is always changing. Personally I own an HTC one x and I dont like it. Ive owned quite a few android devices and iphones and i see the good and bad things that each platform has to offer. I made a personal vow to never buy another android device ever again unless its a Nexus. I mean come on, Jelly Bean is already out and only 16% of phones have ICS. Nobody wants to be stuck with outdated software...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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