What would have made the iPhone 5 less disappointing?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| September 13, 2012

It doesn't take a lot of digging to find that yesterday's iPhone 5 announcement yesterday was overall accepted as "disappointing" or a "letdown". In my post-announcement piece which I published before the press event was over, there were several hundred comments – on-site and on Facebook – where readers shared their indifferent reactions to the much-awaited iPhone 5.

This morning, Cam Bunton of our iOS lovin' network site, Today's iPhone, reported the findings of a survey performed by CouponCodes4U. When asked "whether or not they were impressed with last night’s release event" (a very poor choice of words), 57 percent of the 1,135 respondents said they were disappointed. Only 12 percent felt "indifferent". And that leaves a grand total of 31 percent of respondents satisfied.

But we need no reminder that this isn't the first time people have felt unmoved by an iPhone announcement. My post-iPhone announcement reaction piece from last year was titled, Was Apple's iPhone 4S announcement disappointing? My reaction to the iPhone announcement before that was to the degree: Is the Verizon iPhone 4 disappointing? This morning, Cam briefly revisited the disappointment following the iPhone 4S and iPhone 3GS announcements, both of which were minuscule improvements over their predecessors. The iPhone 5 is the same, a notable yet minor improvement over the iPhone 4S.

Its specifications include: a trim 7.6mm profile, a 4-inch Retina Display (326ppi, 1136 by 640 pixels), touch sensors integrated directly into the display, 4G LTE and HSPA+ with a single radio chip for voice and data, an A6 chip for snappier processing and graphics, an undisclosed, improved battery and an improved 8-megapixel camera. With the thinner chassis, Apple had to squeeze a smaller image sensor in the phone itself, but they improved its low-light capabilities to actually improve the overall image quality. (We'll see how well that works in person.) Apple also dumped the 30-pin dock connector for a reversible Lightning connector.

As far as iOS 6 improvements go, you get: Passbook, more parlor tricks for Siri, built-in panorama mode for the camera and FaceTime over cellular data (with carrier fees where applicable).

Many of the changes – with the exception of 4G LTE and a larger display – will never make a difference to consumers.

That, however, doesn't make the iPhone 5 any less impressive of a smartphone. Excluding NFC (which is a very useful yet debatable feature anyway), the iPhone 5 has just about everything anyone could want in a phone and it will definitely hold its own against competitors. No doubt about it.

Is it the best smartphone ever? No. Is it what I was hoping for? Not at all. I'm not fond of the 16:9 aspect ratio in a phone and think the iPhone 5 more closely resembles my TV remote than a smartphone. But none of that is terribly disappointing. The fact that we knew virtually every detail before the iPhone 5 was official makes the announcement the most dissatisfying news to ever come from Apple in recent memory.

I legitimately wanted to believe that all the leaks and rumors were controlled, straight from Apple to keep us off their trail. Never in the past has so much information on the final iPhone ever leaked. Aside from the iPhone 4 prototype that was lost by an Apple worker, we have never had this much information on a phone prior to its announcement. And that's what makes the iPhone 5 so unmoving.

Tim Cook said Apple was doubling down on product secrecy, yet every single detail of the phone – something that has never happened in years past – made it to the press months before Apple announced it?

I have seen some arguments stating that it's impossible to keep anything under wraps when dealing such a large company that works with so many partners. That's a valid point; some information is bound to leak at some point or another. I get that. But take last year as an example. The iPhone 4S was a complete surprise. We had heard some details about it, but knew virtually nothing about what it would entail. And we weren't even worried about it. We were only interested in what the iPhone 5 would bring, and it wasn't even announced.

In the same respect that the iPhone 4S was a disappointment, so is the iPhone 5. It didn't exceed any of our expectations. But the more upsetting part of it all was that virtually no aspect of it was a surprise. It was like getting a birthday present that you already knew you were getting and still trying to act surprised … except worse.

There is a missing link, an X factor that separates last year from this year. There were leaks in 2011, but nothing to the degree of the ones we saw this year. Here's to hoping Apple can track down and eliminate the source so there can be some form of a surprise factor in the future. Or maybe next year they will get clever and actually throw us off their trail.

Either way, I gave Apple the benefit of a doubt I gave Apple entirely too much credit when it came to the leaks, and now I'm eating my words.

The question I've been asked countless times since the announcement yesterday, though is: "Will you buy an iPhone 5?" My immediate answer is yes. I probably will, that's what I do. I like to try new phones. But the more I think about it, the more unsure I am. At this point, I would much rather purchase a Lumia 920 or Galaxy Note II. Like I said at the beginning of the month, though, it's tough to wait when you don't know when the phones you want will be available.

What say you, folks? Is it the specs that you find disappointing? Or more so the fact that Apple couldn't keep everything anything under wraps? Will you pick up an iPhone 5 come release day? Or will you be first in line to place your pre-order tomorrow?

Image via AnandTech

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