Why the iPhone 4 Lacks Innovation

, posted: 24-Jun-2010 16:51

Well, we all know what the iPhone 4 is about.  There's video calling, multi-tasking, faster processor and more RAM.  There's also the better 5mp camera with flash, 720p video recording and the new higher resolution screen.  Being an iPhone 3GS owner - and an iPhone user for the first time - it's disappointing to see the lack of innovations.  Apple is famous for being innovative, yet, with this launch, it highlights one thing - not innovation, but arrogance.  There, I've said it.

You have got to be kidding me Steve Jobs; "Facetime" (aka video calling) is revolutionary?  Multi-tasking is now possible?  I cannot remember the rest, but it clearly tells me this: Apple knows their customers are "locked-in" by their services (iTunes, Apps, etc) and so they believe it's Ok to pretend not to realise or acknowledge what other mobile phone manufactures have achieved over the past few years.  Video calling is very much 2005, Steve.

Disappointingly, I have decided to look elsewhere for my next mobile phone.  It appears I will be looking at my good friend Nokia.  Given up on them after the Nokia N97 - the phone that had so much potential but failed thanks to poor hardware and quality.  Why Nokia?  I would admit, they haven't been that much better.  They had a large market-share on the smartphones market for years and lacked innovation to move to the next level until the iPhone took away many of their customer base.  Now Nokia appears to have "woken up" with the announcement of the Nokia N8.

The Nokia N8 to me, looks to be a revolutionary step.  They appear to have finally learnt their lesson - users want a faster, cleaner and more user-friendly interface; website flash support; and better camera with flash... they get it all with the N8.

This is what I call innovation.  Nokia could've easily put in another 8MP camera, same old web browser, continued with the slow, outdated Symbian OS etc.  However, they didn't.

Apple used to "wow" me with their product announcements.  In my opinion, they've failed this time.  I am happy to swap the user-friendliness of the iPhone and iOS for the freedom (as in, non-restrictiveness) of Symbian ^3 and N8's 2010 functionalities.  Welcome to 2010 Nokia. 

Comment by lotech, on 24-Jun-2010 17:52

I think a word other than Innovation would be better - maybe 'Why the iPhone lacks Revolution'. Lots on the iphone4 is pretty innovative - the screen probably being the big one. I don't think you realise how amazing the points per inch is until you see one in person.

Also,  No one said FaceTime was a new thing - more like alot of Apple shit it might be video chat finally done right. Although Skype has already nearly done that, I feel its looking a bit like but like Flash - where the single company in control of the standard is just choking on moving the platform forward.
A good thing is that Facetalk is mostly open so Apple doesn't have to be the only one using it and defining it.

Author's note by heavenlywild, on 24-Jun-2010 17:58

Yes, what I meant was Apple's marketing touting how Facetime is a brand new technology, which we all know it isn't.

I realise Apple has come up with some innovative things but this new iPhone isn't innovative like the first iPhone was on day one.

Comment by timmyh, on 24-Jun-2010 20:57

But the iPhone isn't about being the leading edge in all areas for the geek crowd (new word I think) any more - they want the mass market. 

So absolutely they might be dialling back on the innovation, but that is in order to appeal to a much larger market. They don't want to repeat the PC/Mac disaster of the 80's and 90's. 

And as for Nokia, well you have to admire their sense of tragic PR. "Here's our new N8 flagship Symbian device - oh and it will be the last of the 'N' series, and the last of our high-end phones with Symbian - but don't let that put you off..."


So why aren't you looking at Android?

Comment by David Cole, on 25-Jun-2010 07:45

Interesting that most of the people that don't like the iPhone 4 are current 3gs users.

As a possible new conversion the iPhone 4 interests me greatly. Currently tossing up between that or some of the cheaper Androids. Currently on Symbian, and am sick of all my friends showing off the new cool to have app. Knowing that it's unlikely ever to be written for any other platform.

So all other things being equal (as seems to be the case with the hardware, and to some level the OS) it's a availability of new and interesting apps that is the deciders - well ok and cost. If I assume a new iPhone is in the $1100 - $1400 mark, there are androids from $400 to $1400 to choose from.

Comment by ockel, on 25-Jun-2010 09:48

Agree in many respects.

This is the phone that Apple should have released in 2007.  Finally it catches up with many smartphone features that have been around for years.  Video calling is a good case in point but there are many Americans that didnt even know video calling was possible.  Is that a reflection on the phone manufacturers or the mobile operators?  Personally I think the latter as Europe, Asia and Australasia have had video calling for years so its hardly a manufacturers fault that consumers havent had the capability.

So the sad and tragic aspect is that Apple have sold 50 million phones globally that many users would have considered deficient in their capabilities (but oh so pretty!).  Magpies, magpies, magpies.

Now they have to rush out and buy the latest version (after already upgrading to the 3GS last year).  Its a rort.  But if Apple can resell year after year to suckers then hats off.  A fool and his money and all that.

However its a phone that I'd now seriously consider in terms of an upgrade.  But not without considering Android phones (as kindly pointed out by timmyh).

Comment by womprat, on 25-Jun-2010 12:37

I for one, welcome our Droid overlords. I gave up with Apple products and never looked back.

It was too much money to participate in a wallet emptying walled garden to do the same things I could do with any other vendor, just in a kind of shiny restrticted way.

I still love the design and philosophy and the good times, and wish other companies would take more notes from Apple, but Apple are Evil and getting it wrong again.

Android is the future, like it or not, and has long since hit critical mass for explosive growth. It's had multitasking from the begining and has won the geek fanbase over - there's a huge and utterly awesome modding community.

Make no mistake Apple is a design house, an excellent one, they are not a innovator themselves. There are very few true innovations that Apple can be credited to, and so many they have blatantly borrowed. What they excel at is making things seem 'new', but excellent re-desing, packaging and marketting.

Remember what history has shown repeatedly. The most open platform will always win. It is the only thing that can be all things to all people, even if it doesn't please some as well as something more closed and focused.

Indeed this Mac vs Windows all over again. To start with the Apple I & II had a market almost all to themeselves. But Apple was too selfish, while Microsoft was getting into bed with everyone it could. The rest is history.

Google seems to be following almost exactly with what Microsoft did to marginalise Apple back in the day. Almost every mistake Apple made is happening again.

Technically speaking, Android is so far ahead of the iOS it's not funny, almost scary - security being the reason. Android 2.1 2.2 are so impressively slick I don't see any asthetic disadvantage to iPhones. Apple cannot match Google's deep pockets and the brute force army of the Open Source community, they've always gone a long way on great design.

Comment by qwerty, on 25-Jun-2010 14:27

I would definitely not go the Symbian route at this stage. Looks dated and clunky http://www.mobile-review.com/review/symbian-3-en.shtml

Comment by BigBadFun, on 27-Jun-2010 14:49

"There's video calling, multi-tasking, faster processor and more RAM. There's also the better 5mp camera with flash, 720p video recording and the new higher resolution screen..... it's disappointing to see the lack of innovations." - Not the easiest person to please are you?

Author's note by heavenlywild, on 27-Jun-2010 14:58

Not that at all BigBadFun.

It's the fact that Apple makes it out to be 2010 technology when it's not.

Comment by siyuan, on 27-Jun-2010 16:39

I haven't actually seen iPhone 4's display, but I have seen many others at a resolution of ~800x480. Really, to me, I could not see a single pixel at all with my naked eye. Unless iPhone 4 look more vibrant and brighter than other phones, I really don't understand what the fuss is about its new display.

I've seen comparison of Samsung's Super AMOLED vs ordinary AMOLED side by side. That, I could see the colour on Super AMOLED looked much nicer. A Super AMOLED display also produces a lot less reflection.

I know that iPhone 4's display has a higher resolution, but if my naked eyes can't see the pixels at 800x480, then the competition between iPhone 4's display and Super AMOLED comes down to the colours. However, I've not seen any comparison of these two displays thus far.

Comment by NzBeagle, on 27-Jun-2010 17:44

It's definitely a good point here, I too get sick of hearing about revolutionary new features, like cut copy paste (old news I know), video calling and multi tasking. My '07 Nokia N80 did all of these things, and I didnt need to install specific software on my pc just to use it as I wanted. Agreed the Iphone did bring a usable touch screen to mobile devices, cred to them there, but Windows Mobile and Symbian have been App friendly for years, although Apple has made the process alot simpler.
Where will Apple sit in 6 months, when there are countless new Android devices, Windows Phone 7 and SS^3 hit the market, can they expect to continue taking 12 months between hardware releases?
I have no complaints about resolution on a mobile device, although some claim that the Retina display will make you see a difference. But other than that theres not alot pushing me to wait the 4th iPhone.
As to whether the Samsung S AMOLED display will show up the LCD in the iPhone, i think it's something you'll have to experience for yourself.

Comment by ChrnoXIII, on 11-Jul-2010 00:35

having said that tho, symbian is a dying OS. Nokia N8 is the last device they are making which will feature it im told. isnt Meego the big new thing with nokia?

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