Apple launch: catch-ups, evolution and revolutions

By | October 16, 2020

Moths navigates by transverse orientation. They keep the dominant light source at a certain position in relation to their body to guide them. When we turn on a light on our verandah, those same moths keep flying around the light until they finally meet their demise.

As much as they try and resist, the decoy of the light is too much.

In a similar way I was up at 4am on Wednesday this week. As much as I wanted to sleep and read about the event in the morning, the lure of yet another Apple launch was too much. Try as I may to resist it, I sat in front of the television watching the event and writing notes for this column.

Has Apple really done enough with this latest upgrade release?

I saw four new iPhones with two “pro” models and two “standard” models. In the Steve Jobs era, Apple events launched revolutionary products. Apple launches now are a mix of catch-up plus evolution with possibly a dash of revolution.

Firstly, Apple announced that all four of their new iPhones would be 5G. The way Apple talked about 5G you would think that, if they were not the ones that invented it, they were certainly the first to market with it. But 5G phones have been available since April last year.

This 5G would be better than the 5G on other handsets Apple continued. It covers the sub-6GHz frequencies in addition to some of the mmWave frequencies to make the phone able to be used in more locations around the world. Unfortunately, only the US version of the iPhone covers the 28GHz and 39GHz frequencies. The phones sold in Australia and other markets only support up to 4.7GHz.

The next major battleground is in cameras. Surprisingly, the size of the sensor and quality of the lens are not the only critical components in photography. The processing power is of utmost importance. The new A14 Bionic chip packs in 40 per cent more processors than the previous chip. This increase in power allows better photography, particularly with night mode.

The two standard model iPhones have two rear cameras and one front facing camera. The two pro models though, sharpen the focus for serious photographers. Three cameras including a telephoto lens with a 4x optical zoom range (5x for the Pro Max) and the introduction of Apple ProRAW letting the user manipulate the RAW images shows that Apple is serious about imagery.

Across the four iPhones, screen sizes went up and down. The iPhone 12 Mini has the smallest face ID iPhone ever at 5.4″.

The iPhone 12 and Pro both measure 6.1″ followed by the largest ever screen on an iPhone – the 6.7″ Pro Max. All that extra screen space sounds like a cracked screen waiting to happen but the new ceramic shield on the iPhone has four times the break resistance of the previous material.

There are many other evolutionary enhancements from MagSafe to squarer styling reminiscent of the iPhone 4.

Now for the revolution. This is not an addition but a removal. With two billion Apple charging bricks across the world and seven hundred million lightning port headphones, Apple has chosen to leave both out of the packaging to reduce e-waste.

While there is logic in this approach, and I expect others to follow, the charging cable included with the iPhone is lightning to USB-C. Unfortunately, the majority of those two billion charging bricks are USB-A. I can see this environmental step introducing additional revenue for Apple!

Let me know if Apple has done enough with this upgrade to entice you to upgrade at ask@techtalk.digital.

  • Mathew Dickerson is a technologist and futurist and the founder of several technology start-ups.

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