I am a long time Apple fan but that yearly high I used to when Apple releases the next iPhone has worn off. I have purchased every iPhone on release day since the first version. At one point, I owned both the iPhone 5S and 5C. This last year I had both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. I have also owned every version of the iPad, including the minis.
Six months ago, I sold my iPad Mini. I found that I was not using it. I had the iPhone 6 Plus, which had a large enough screen that the difference between it and an iPad Mini was not worth carrying around two devices. About three months later, I sold my iPhone 6 Plus. You see, I have also had a love affair with Android. I have owned over 50 Android devices. That’s right, 50! My path to being a full-time Android user has not been as comfortable as it was using an iPhone full-time. I will save that for another story. I had decided to sell my iPhone 6 Plus because I was really enjoying my Nexus 6. It did everything I wanted it to do and having user profiles allowed me to manage multiple Instagram accounts for my various websites. A month or two later and I found myself loving the LG G4 phone. After that, it was the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S6 Active and then the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. All of those devices, despite the poor battery life of the Samsung phones, were fantastic and provided a much more complete experience for me.
The iPhone simply is not progressing with the times. As far as I know, NFC is still locked down to Apple Pay. I use Sony cameras which have NFC and WiFi built-in. I copy many of the photos I take over to my phone so I can post them to social media. This is a cumbersome process on the iPhone which involves manually switching between WiFi networks to get the phone to connect to the camera. I find myself using the phone’s camera less and using my Sony RX100IV more often. Even though the cameras on most of the phones produced over the last few years are great, they lack common features I am used to having on a typical camera, like aperture control.
Apple unveiled their new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus and at first I was a little excited. Nothing was revolutionary as they would lead you to believe, but some of the new features initially intrigued me. That intrigue wore off fast as I quickly realized that all of those features already exist on my Android. Let’s take a look at some of those features.
- 3D Touch (Force Touch) – The actions that were demonstrated for us during the keynote have been around for ages on Android. Though the actions triggered on Android phones are not triggered due to pressure, they are triggered by holding longer than a typical tap. All I saw when it was being demoed is features I was using years ago in Action Launcher. Huawei’s Force Touch offered a similar concept to what Apple is calling their 3D touch, though I feel like they rushed Force Touch to market just to say they had it first. I don’t actually know anybody with a Huawei phone. I am sure it will be the iOS app developers that will find cool new ways to use this technology but does it matter right now?
- Quicker Selfies – Now I know that the average iPhone user probably takes 5-6 times more selfies than the average Android user, but Android users have almost always had quick ways to get to that camera. Many Android phones have hardware buttons that launch the camera right away. The LG G4 lets you audibly capture a photo. They call it their “Cheese Shutter”. The Samsung Galaxy phones can even detect your selfy face and take the photo without having to tap any buttons at all.
- Hey Siri – I still have my original Google GLASS and have been able to ask my device to do things for years. “Ok Google” has been around for a few years now and it is fantastic. Google Now has given us relevant information for quite some time now. It’s always reminding me of where I parked my truck and giving me directions back to my house when it’s that time of the day.
- Improved Camera – The camera might be 12MP but the camera on my LG G4 is 13MP and has a similar autofocus system that actual cameras have. Most Android phones also have a “Pro” mode that allows you to manually control your camera settings. As a photographer, this is important to me. I don’t believe in auto. Ditch Auto!
- Storage: The iPhone gives you 16GB, 64GB or 128GB at a premium price. Though the recent release of Samsung Galaxy phones do not, most Android phones give you expandable memory in which you can add as much as 256GB of storage using a Micro SD card.
Apple has also made it easier than ever to get you into a new iPhone every year with their own financing program. AT&T did it first with their NEXT plan. Well, to be honest, I think T-Mobile did it first. I remember being to pay monthly for a phone with T-Mobile 5 years ago. I do not want another almost $50/month payment. Service for our phones is expensive enough as it is. Please America, do not buy into the “it’s only another $30-50 per month” mentality. In my opinion, you should purchase a phone on a two-year contract if you want a new phone and plan on keeping it for at least two years. If not, pay cash for it. I think Dave Ramsey would agree.
For about an hour, I was going to own that iPad Pro. I have wanted a larger device that provided a good stylus experience for a while. I even purchased a Surface Pro 3 because I wanted to use a stylus with Adobe Lightroom (See my review here). However, it was not the experience I was hoping for. The novelty of having a giant iPad with a pencil wore off fast as I remembered all the stylus devices I have owned as well as the Galaxy Note 5, which I only pulled the stylus out to show people how neat it is. It seems that Apple is trying to get people onto their ecosystem where you are only able to buy apps through their stores. Being able to run two apps side-by-side is not revolutionary. We have been able to do that on laptops and desktop computers for decades now. The iPad seems to be moving toward becoming a mobile experience that will one day replace the laptop. People are just not ready for that yet. Imagine what would happen if Apple decided not to allow apps to be installed on OS X outside of the App Store? People would freak! But are we really that far from it becoming a reality?
Maybe it is just my age, but I am starting to realize that I do not need little features that are crammed down my throat each year. Features that I didn’t know I needed before the keynote started. Features that don’t really matter that much when I consider how and what I use my phone to accomplish. My phone has become a catalyst for connecting with the world. As far as its “phone” features, I take calls and reply to text messages, but that’s about it. I use apps to connect with the rest of the world and occasionally read some news or play a game. The most important features for me are:
- Battery life – A phone should be able to last 10 hours of continuous use. Not just browsing the web.
- NFC Connectivity – So I can connect other devices quickly such as a camera.
- Camera – Even though I use actual cameras, having a good phone camera is still important to me.
With that said, I think I am going to skip this year’s release of the iPhone and iPad. The new features of the device and operating system are not enough to get me on board. It would take a developer doing something pretty awesome to sway me to spend the money on an iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus. I will most likely hold out for the iPhone 7 should Apple decide to innovate beyond our imaginations again.
What about you? Are you buying this year’s iPhone? If so, what are you upgrading from?