back to article iPhone 5S: Apple, you're BORING us to DEATH (And you too, Samsung)

Apple's keynotes seem to command more mainstream front-page press attention than ever before – but each time, there's less and less to report. Is the modern smartphone era limping to a close? Apple's announcements on Tuesday about the iPhone 5S and 5C were wearily predictable. Cupertino just doesn't seem to be where the action …

COMMENTS

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  1. Jon Green

    Should have called it iPhone5TDS

    ...because retreads of the iPhone4 with little tweaks (fingerprints; My Little Pony-inspired UI) are getting seriously TDS. (Say it out loud!)

    Apple - you used to be innovators! You used to be exciting! I used to respect your market-leading engineering and ideas generation, but now you're just monetising what you've got, without adding much in the refreshes.

    C'mon Apple, you can do better - far better - than this. Even the die-hard fans are getting bored. No queues around the block this time for the iPhone5, I suspect.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Used to be innovators?

      It only seemed that way.

      They always did the GUI that bit more slickly than anyone else. Even back to Mac vs Windows 2.x

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Used to be innovators?

        "They always did the GUI that bit more slickly than anyone else. Even back to Mac vs Windows 2.x"

        Remembers Mac OS9

        /me runs screaming from the building

    2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

      The Onion hit it on the head:

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/apple-unveils-panicked-ideafree-man-at-launch-even,33814/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

        I beg to differ on the UI point. I like MLP, not the iOS interface.

    3. Jerky Jerk face

      Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

      Apple no longer need to prove themselves.

      They are making too much money to really care any more.

    4. Jon Green
      Coat

      One little typo fix, by the way.

      I meant to type "My Little Jony", but Ive no way to fix the original post.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

      Where Apple goes Samsung will follow?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YciM_54HzZk

      Could backfire on Samsung - people will not think these finger print sensors and 64bit CPUs are even better / must have items which only makes Apple look better.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

      Reckon people are being a bit unfair - let's see they come out with 2 new phones, more 4G bands, an all new and faster A7 processor and M7 co-pro, iOS 7 (because of course Apple develop the lot not just installing Android), finger print scanner, better camera and what £20-30 more than the '5' - doesn't sound such a bad deal.

      What do people actually expect from a phone - serious what else could you cram in that would be genuinely useful (without whinging about non-removeable batteries or micro SD slots)?

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

        More to the point, what were these 'revolutionary' features in the previous releases?

        iPhone 1 had a touch interface that didn't remind you of windows 3.1 (hi WP6!)

        3G had apps, that was pretty revolutionary.

        3GS had a compass. Err…

        4 had a 'retina' screen. Err…

        4S had Siri. Err…

        5 had 'slightly higher resolution'. Err…

        5C has a plastic back. Err…

        5S has a fingerprint scanner for identification. Err…

        Each newer model is significantly faster than its predecessor, has better network connectivity, and is usually a little thinner. I think it's pretty amazing how much computing power you can walk around with in your pocket these days to be honest, where as you think its 'meh' and tedious.

        TBH the people most upset that phones are now just getting faster and smaller without anything 'magic' are the journos, who now have to make a story out of it..

        1. Soruk

          Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

          In what way could apps in 2008 be considered revolutionary? J2ME had apps running on mobiles (alright, they couldn't multitask, but the point of apps were allowing third-party programs to run on your phone, using the keyboard, screen and cellular connection) several years previously - even my not-the-top-of-the-range Motorola V500 in 2004 was capable of this.

          The Nokia 6310i (which I had in 2003) was capable but severely restricted in that apps could only weigh in at <32K however this still indicated the capability of third-party apps running on a phone - TEN YEARS ago, and five years before Apple "invented" it.

    7. Flashy Red

      Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

      Die-hard fan. Very bored.

    8. Flashy Red

      Re: Should have called it iPhone5TDS

      /me nods head.

      Die-hard fan. Very bored.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    premium priced phones.

    Thing of the past...

    https://play.google.com/store/devices/details/Nexus_4_8_GB?id=nexus_4_8gb

    Nuff said.

    1. Midnight

      Re: premium priced phones.

      https://play.google.com/store/devices/details/Nexus_4_8_GB?id=nexus_4_8gb

      "We are out of inventory. Please check back soon."

      Clearing out last year's inventory at fire-sale prices is nothing new either.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they want to innovate try making the battery last a week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed!

      Also:

      1. Try making the cell phone reception not SUCK ASS inside 70% of all building structures (you know - where we spend 90% of our time?)

      2. If the battery can't last a week, try at least making an interchangeable battery that lasts a few days

      3. Try adding MicroSD cards to all the shiny devices so we can expand the memory capacity

      4. If we can roam from cell-tower to cell-tower on the same call, why the hell can't we roam from cell to wifi and back on the same call?? Why the hell don't nearly all cell phones natively make calls on wifi??

      5. STOP trying to notify the hell out of me. I DON'T want to know I just got a spam email from AT&T at 3:30 in the morning. If I want to know if someone is trying to contact me, I can look down at the stupid phone

      1. Bullseyed

        "Agreed!

        Also:

        1. 2. 3. 4. 5."

        @Andy

        You know that Android phones do all those things essentially, right? I figured you were making a joke, but in an Apple thread one never can tell.

      2. Martin 77

        Andy,

        Moving from cell tower to tower takes place within the control of one network operator, or in the case of international roaming, two operators who will have signed a roaming agreement and had their legal teams make sure all the “i”s and “t”s are dotted and crossed.

        Moving from mobile to wifi network gets messy especially when the wifi hotspot might be owned by a coffee shop, shopping mall, hotel or private individual – in the event of a fault who do you complain to: network operator, ISP, barista? Furthermore, when you do complain, all the relevant parties need to have a mechanism in place to resolve that fault between them.

        Technically, it's do-able, managing it all is harder.

  4. Big_Ted
    Thumb Up

    I have just bought a teenage girl a Motorola Razr i as it was different from the rest and did all she wanted in a nice form factor.

    The iPhone was concidered overpriced and old tech even with a new OS, the basic comment was "Pastel with Android stuff added". Samsung too much their own stuff added so it felt wrong.

    The most important things were in order, easy to text, clear phone calls, does a small number of games and apps that are part of life.

    1. OvAl

      The use of the indefinite article could land you in trouble there in these nutty times.

      Still things have moved on since I was little, used to be a bag of sweets

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      big Ted

      Do you often buy teenage girls, mobile phones?

      It's called grooming! ha ha

  5. M Gale

    For example, the iTunes Music Store gave the major labels the long overdue kick up the bum they needed

    Wasn't that Napster?

    1. JeevesMkII

      Actually, I'm pretty sure it was the Amazon MP3 store that gave the labels the requisite kick up the bum. Until that point, all digital music was either piracy-based or somebody's attempt to cash in on their proprietary media player sales.

      Now, if only somebody gave the video industry a similar kick in the pants.

      1. naw

        mp3.com

        Nope - you're all wrong ;-) - mp3.com around 1998 - 1999 really started the digital music revolution, because not only was it before Amazon, iTunes and napster and everyone else, but it also put unsigned bands alongside (a few *name bands*) and a generation realised that unknown bands could produce better music with equal recording quality to the homogenised manufactured bands that the recording industry were (still are) turning out

  6. ItsNotMe
    Happy

    Hey...there's PLENTY more to come.

    "Surely nobody – not even the most avid fanboi – now believes that Jobs left "four years of new products" in the pipeline, as his biographer Walter Isaacson reported in 2011. Assuming Isaacson was inspecting Apple's lab in 2010, the first "three years" will soon be up. Which raises the question: is anything left?"

    What about the iWatch? iTV anyone? Surely to be announced VERY soon...won't they? We're all on the collective edge of our seats waiting. I know Steve wants it that way. Why else would he have left 4 years worth of new products for his successors? He did do that...didn't he?

    And as for "...most people look no further than some model of iPhone or some model of Galaxy S when choosing a phone." It's been Motorola and/or LG since 1994 for me. Never...ever...considered Apple or Samsung.

    1. Christopher Rogers

      Re: Hey...there's PLENTY more to come.

      iWatch? iTV anyone? No. These are not innovations, these are already in the market from other providers/manufacturers. Its the quality and performance that could be improved upon, but this still isn't innovation.

      As for your Phone choice - LG or Google from now on really isn't it?

    2. Mark .

      Re: Hey...there's PLENTY more to come.

      Indeed - and it's surely Nokia who are in second place for phones, Apple are third place. (Or soon to be MS - it will amuse me that at least for a while, Microsoft will be selling more phones than Apple, albeit most of them non-WP.)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same old same old.....

    iPhone blah blah blah, Samsung blah blah bloatware blah. Meanwhile HTC launched a stunning, refined, and positively brilliant phone. HTC are snapping back to how they used to be - innovative, stylish and functionally unsurpassed.

    1. Christopher Rogers

      Re: Same old same old.....

      Betamax vs VHS eh?

    2. bored intern

      Re: Same old same old.....

      Just a shame that nobody is buying it and HTC are burning through cash in a Nokia-eque fashion by providing retailers with incentives.

      As you say, a great phone but not getting any traction (in the UK at least)

    3. h3

      Re: Same old same old.....

      Not true. Any overlays are unnecessary now - anything with them will obviously not work as well.

      If they wanted to sell me anything they would have to sell it like a Nexus. (Or offer a supported firmware that removes their junk).

      HTC were never that good. (They were like Huawei/ZTE are now for most of the time now maybe slightly better).

      Incidently the Sense original design was done by Motorola who dropped out of a partnership with MS who gave the design to HTC.

      Never actually been at the cutting edge like Motorola and Nokia were at various times.

      1. Vector
        WTF?

        @h3 Re: Same old same old.....

        "If they wanted to sell me anything they would have to sell it like a Nexus"

        Ummm... Google-Play Edition? You can get an HTC One like that.

        The stoppers for me were no mSD slot and no removable battery. With those features, I would have replaced my HTC Sensation with a One.

    4. Circadian
      Trollface

      Re: Same old same old.....

      Supported. What about supported with updates? Anyone? Bueller?

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Same old same old.....

        "Supported. What about supported with updates? Anyone? Bueller?"

        Precisely - the HTC One may be hallowed and made from Unicorn Farts but HTC are reaping what they sowed over the last three years in terms of dropping support for handsets soon after release (because the next batch were ready), not fixing bugs, not to mention shoddy support. If you want updates and bug fixes then you had to buy a new handset with the latest Android on it (old bugs still there with fresh new bugs added).

        Yes I know about Cyanogen Mod, but I shouldn't have to do that for it to work as advertised!

        I had two HTC handsets and they would have acquired a dedicated customer since I really like Android but they crapped on me from a great height with both. I'll never touch another HTC handset ever.

        1. Lunatik

          Re: Same old same old.....

          Absolutely. My Legend was a beautiful device for its time but I swore off HTC due to the lack of support mere months after it dropped off their 'latest & greatest' roster.

          Similarly, Sony lost my business when they started playing silly buggers with OS updates, reneging on promises previously made.

          Both companies would have to work hard to convince me they've changed their spots, but I have to say Sony's rehabilitation is proceeding much better than HTC's.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Same old same old.....

          Bit like Samsung, then. (Galaxy S3 still on Android 4.1.2).

      2. NinjasFTW

        Re: Same old same old.....

        Agreed, my last phone was a Desire Z. Loved the phone but never received an update and there were a number of very annoying bugs that were never patched.

        Good hardware, woeful support.

  8. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Quite a feat?

    "From 2008 to 2010, Apple made stunning additions to the iPhone with each iteration – quite a feat considering that when it set out, it didn't really know how to make phones, and was learning along the way."

    Forgive me, but "learning along the way" is exactly why Apple were able to change so quickly. They were playing catch-up with loads of proven ideas to copy. Now they've caught up and, like everyone else, they are slightly stumped for what to do next. My guess is that the excitement of smartphones is now past (and MS missed the entire thing) and the Stephen Fry's of this world will be getting over-excited about a completely different class of product in the next year or two. Put another way, Google Glass is a much safer bet as "the next hypegasm" than anybody's phone.

    1. Mark .

      Re: Quite a feat?

      I agree - and let's have a closer look at those 2008 to 2010 additions:

      2008: 3G and apps - both things available even in low cost feature phones from 2004-2005. (Whilst they got a lot more people writing software for their devices than anyone else, it's not clear that's due to any innovation - rather it was due to them getting far more hype, and the competition ignored by the media.)

      2009: um? I think they might have added MMS and copy/paste at some point around then.

      2010: finally with some form of multitasking, the first version that reasonably qualifies as a smartphone. The resolution was high for its time, and these days it's barely improved, and way behind the competition, so that reasonably qualifies as something that used to be good, that now isn't. But it's also worth noting that the resolution was terrible pre-2010 also (only 480x320 IIRC, compared to say Symbian's 640x360).

      I guess these are still important additions, but as you say it was nonetheless a case of playing catchup.

  9. Piro

    Sony is making the best kit now

    In my opinion, Sony Xperia Z1 out soon is the absolute flagship.

    I wouldn't buy a Samsung Galaxy phone right now, simply because the build is ultra-cheap feeling (and looking).

    But I wouldn't say they were as bad as Apple - at least Samsung have actually been TRYING to shoe-horn gimmicks in, mostly useless ones, but at least those toes have been dipped in the water - Apple on the other hand is a yawn-fest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sony is making the best kit now

      In my opinion, Sony Xperia Z1 out soon is the absolute flagship.

      Hopefully they've learned their lesson with the charger port being on the side.... Oh a quick Google image search shows they haven't. I don't own one but I know a lot of angry people who have bought one only to regret it..

      http://tinyurl.com/XperiaZPetition

      1. PaulR79

        Re: Sony is making the best kit now

        As much as that may be a problem I highly doubt that petition warrants much attention from Sony due to it looking like it was written by an illiterate 5-year-old.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sony is making the best kit now

      Sony haven't made good kit in about 10 years. That's how come Samsung have become so dominant.

      For example, on a sojourn in PC World looking for a new laptop for a customer I saw a fugly piece of plastic rubbish selling for £1400. Yes, it was a Sony. Why would you buy that alongside Apple's fare? (and I'm not advocating Apple, just because it's Apple). At least the Apples LOOK like they might be worth that money.

      Sony : FOAD.

  10. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Competition

    With the likes of THL bringing full HD phones with 32GB for under £230 (inc VAT), prices from the big players (Apple, Samsung, HTC) will be forced to come down over the next few years.

    About the only significent useful improvements that Apple (or Samsung) could make to their phones are ones that their competitors have had for years - user replaceable batteries and SD card memory expansion.

    (THL W8S is under £230 new on ebay and includes 8 and 13 MP cameras, GPS, FM radio, dual SIM, 2GB RAM, 32GB ROM, full HD IPS screen etc .)

    1. Spearchucker Jones

      Re: Competition

      SD cards. It's one of those eternally-bitched-about things.

      What is it about them that makes them so critical? Do SD-card advocates change their phone so frequently that data portability becomes important to the point that cloud storage just isn't fast enough?

      Or do they need so many movies and music on their phones that 16Gb doesn't cut it anymore?

      My phone doesn't have an SD card slot, and even though previous phones did, I've never had a need for it. And yet I've always got 3 or 4 movies on my phone, and more music than I have time to listen to in a weeks' commute.

      1. davemcwish

        Re: Competition

        "SD cards. It's one of those eternally-bitched-about things.

        What is it about them that makes them so critical? Do SD-card advocates change their phone so frequently that data portability becomes important to the point that cloud storage just isn't fast enough?"

        IMHO it's not the portability is the fact that some people, me included, object to the price hike that manufacturer have just to include additional storage capacity as standard. Having a reasonable amount of storage initially, of at least 32Gb, allows with an SD card the capacity to add extra storage relatively cheaply.

        For me, if I was going on a long trip and wanted to late a lot of hires pics/videos I'd want the capability to have multiple cards to I can switch them when one is full, just like a propera camera.

      2. firefly

        Re: Competition

        Maybe, just maybe it's because smart people like to buy a 16GB phone and pay an extra £12 for a 32GB SD card rather than shell out an extra £100 for the higher memory model.

        With Apple you have no choice but to get bled dry if you want extra memory in your phone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Competition

          I'll add that those of us who don't like/trust cloud storage, without an SD card, dead phone = lost data. New phone = copying loads of data. SD card = remove, place in new phone.

      3. Daniel B.
        Boffin

        Re: Competition

        SD cards. It's one of those eternally-bitched-about things.

        What is it about them that makes them so critical?

        Either getting more storage for less $$$, or having upgreadability during the phone's lifetime. And no, cloud storage isn't going to be "fast enough" especially on smartphones; most of the time we're using 3G and it's either going to be slow or expensive. Or both. Lack of an SD card slot makes it a no-go; though lack of keyboard is also a no-go for me.

      4. Michael Thibault

        Re: Competition

        >SD cards.

        Bugger that; I want a phone that has modular processors. In fact, I want the whole thing to be modular, so that I can keep it current for as long as I can remember my own phone number. Innovate that, FFS!

        1. Michael Thibault

          Re: Competition

          Entirely coincidentally (really, three adverbs reasonably in a sequence):

          http://www.phonebloks.com/

          1. M Gale

            Re: Competition

            So long as that base has some kind of ZIF-type mechanism to keep the bits attached, that looks like it could be a truly awesome platform. And, actually innovative.

    2. thesykes

      Re: Competition

      Wow... Apple complain Samsung copied their designs.. have Samsung not seen that THL?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Competition

        Personally I can't wait for the Galaxy S5. The first Android smartphone with a 64 bit processor and a bigger home button to include that finger print scanner...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Competition

          >Personally I can't wait for the Galaxy S5. The first Android smartphone with a 64 bit processor and a bigger home button to include that finger print scanner...

          Yup. Sadly if the sheeple get excited enough about the iShiny's bits being TWICE AS BIG as all the lesser phones then every other manufacturer will have to big up their bits too... just like phone cameras have to have gazeeeeeeeeeeeelions of infinitesimally tiny pixels, even though anyone who knows anything about photography KNOWS that pixel quality always trumps quantity and even a CHEAP compact with "ONLY" eighteen million pixels or so will capture MUCH better images... and that a proper camera with ~8.64cm² of sensor "ONLY" fits ~20-30m pixels onto it!.. Can you guess which produces the finest images of all?

          M.u.s.t... h.a.v.e... m.o.r.e... p.i.x.e.l.s...... M.u.s.t... h.a.v.e... m.o.r.e... b.i.t.s... U.r.g.g.g.h.h.h.h.h.... You understand how marketing in the "smart"-toy industry works then.

          Anyone else amused at the irony/contempt with which they market them as "smart" while they so obviously market them to the stoopid? Reminds me of Intel/M$/NSA branding treacherous computing as "trusted."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "From 2008 to 2010, Apple made stunning additions to the iPhone with each iteration – quite a feat considering that when it set out, it didn't really know how to make phones..."

    Erm, not really. The very first Jesusphone (announced to breathless baristas in summer '07?) was a featureless piece of crap with a nice design. For the next couple of years Apple kept the fanboise content by innovating features that proper phones had had all along into its product. Stuff like video capture, 3G, radio, GPS, flash slot... and even now that barrel is still not exhausted - I can spot room for future innovation right there!

    I suppose the faithful might find that hard to believe!... so here's a comparison with a phone from 2006...

    http://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=1827&idPhone2=1764

    Let the downvoting commence.

    1. Steve Knox
      Happy

      Technically Correct (which is the best kind of correct)

      "From 2008 to 2010, Apple made stunning additions to the iPhone with each iteration – quite a feat considering that when it set out, it didn't really know how to make phones..."

      This statement is technically correct. Apple's additions to the iPhone from 2008 to 2010 were stunning, for two reasons:

      1. Apple fans were stunned by the new shiny as usual, and

      2. Non-fanatics were stunned by the fact that Apple hadn't included those basic features in v.1.

      1. Arctic fox

        @Steve Knox It is not often that I would admit......

        " Non-fanatics were stunned by the fact that Apple hadn't included those basic features in v.1."

        .............to agreeing with a certain famous chair-throwing former CEO but his comments on the first iPhone were (IMHO) right on the money. What was innovative about v.1 was that Jobs persuaded so many to buy it even at the price Apple were asking for it! :-)

    2. Paul 135

      Exactly. Fanboi logic is extremely warped. Ironically, I disagree entirely that Apple aren't innovating. Incorporation of a fingerprint sensor that actually works is about the ONLY bit of hardware that I have ever seen them having innovated on that hasn't been in another phone already.

      (Not that I'm ever going to buy one or anything)

      1. Vince

        Really? Because it was seamlessly integrated into the power button on my Motorola Atrix some years back.

        It's better than the apple setup because it is positioned so you can swipe and still hold easily with one hand.

        Apple are at least a couple years behind.

        1. Paul 135

          Sorry Vince, but while I was initially enthused by the notion of a fingerprint sensor on the Atrix a couple of years ago, upon viewing review videos of it, it did not seem to be very instantaneous and required an awkward and unreliable swipe (as have fingerprint sensors I have seen on other devices).

          From watching hands-on videos to date, the new Apple sensor is the first one I have seen on a phone which seems both instantaneous and reliable.

      2. anatak

        I had a feature phone in 2004 with a fingerprint scanner.

  12. Rob

    Nail on the head Andrew

    This is the writing on the wall that's been there for awhile.

    It's also the one thing that Apple can take solace in as well. If we truly are at the point were the phones have reached peak development, then the companies making the phones now need to shift focus to their eco-systems that they have developed. Apple obviously are ahead of their competitors Samsung, in that their iTunes eco-system is far more developed than Samsung's 'Hubs'. The hardware is pretty much done now, move onto the services and software.

    1. Darryl

      Re: Nail on the head Andrew

      But iTunes still sucks. Talk about bloatware.

      I think the only things to innovate now are better battery life (and not measured in a couple extra hours, but in multiple days) and lowering prices.

      1. ARP2

        Re: Nail on the head Andrew

        It sure is, but it's value is that it's a single place to buy and manage all the content on my phone in a single place. The UI isn't the greatest, but its ultimate functionality is more efficient than Android or WP.

        1. Arctic fox
          Headmaster

          @ARP2 As it so happens I can understand why you (and clearly many others).....

          ...........take this view. However, I would argue that being willing to poke up with an OS is not exactly a reccomendation. If we, pro techies and enthusiastic amateurs alike, cannot be bothered to regard change as, potentially positive and interesting, what hope is there for the "great unwashed"? If we of all people react by whining "why doesn't it just work" what hope is there with regard to persauding the aforementioned that "RTFM" might be something worth doing?

      2. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Nail on the head Andrew (@Darryl)

        I think Apple has solved the iTunes problem by just cutting it out — we're beyond people being grateful it's no longer needed and well into people not specifically remembering the last time they used it.

        Here's what worries me: having taught us to ensure charging our phones pretty much every day, the market now thinks it can sell us things like watches that need to be charged every single day.

      3. Rob

        Re: Nail on the head Andrew

        I agree Darryl, it's not the best, but it's still a lot further down the road than Samsung's offering. I'd say Google's Play is further along than Samsung's but still not as mature at iTunes. I can't stand iTunes personally and I'm not a consumer of Apple products but it's still easy to see which is leading in that particular market segment, bloatware or not.

      4. pod

        Re: Nail on the head Andrew

        'I think the only things to innovate now are better battery life (and not measured in a couple extra hours, but in multiple days) and lowering prices.'

        Lowering prices... that can be a result of improved manufacturing processes and efficiency, or it can be a result of exploiting the work-force of 3rd world nations, possibly other ways...

        It feels to me like we're running out of 3rd world nations though.

    2. ARP2

      Re: Nail on the head Andrew

      Exactly- I think the ecosystem is much of the reason that Apple has been able to maintain market share (though it's slowly eroding). I know its a major reason why I stay with Apple- "good enough" hardware, a huge catalog of music and consistent apps, a consolidated store to buy all my content, and another "good enough" desktop application to manage it all. I like technology, but I'm not much of a tinker-er. I just want my stuff to work and the prospect of needing multiple applications and processes to get and manage content doesn't seem worth it (even if it ultimately offers more flexibility).

      I wish that Google would step up and create a better systems to manage content on Android phones and I'd seriously consider switching.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not going anywhere

    "Is the modern smartphone era limping to a close?"

    Not the 'era', no.

    "The stark truth is that smartphones, like computers, were only ever a means to an end – and once the services and apps markets matured, the smartphone itself became less ... important. It didn't really matter what access device you were carrying. The PC reached a point where the devices became beige boxes competing on price, and the smartphone era is drawing to the point where it doesn't really matter what black rectangle you're carrying – provided it accesses the services and apps you want."

    IMHO I believe you are looking at the wrong business paradigm to explain this. Smartphones - like PC's before them, and cordless phones before that, and TV's even before that - are a technology. And technologies mature. Once the initial gross (as in large) curve of innovation is over the technology develops at a far, far slower pace.

    Just as everyone always ran out to buy the newest cordless phone in hopes of gaining a clearer connection and, when the technology matured enough that model changes only created inconsequential improvements in voice quality, sales declined, smartphones are that the point in their development. Rectangular boxes with a mostly touchscreen-interface surfaces and similar functionality - as there are only 2 major market app infrastructures (and 2 minor ones) - limits exactly how far you can go with the design.

    Again, IMHO, until someone creates the folding-screen smartphone or a *true* smartphone/desktop hybrid, that can run true desktop apps when docked with full business or creative functionality, the smartphone's physical design has indeed hit 'peak'. It is not just about the apps it is about the physical design...and that is not going anywhere for a while as the hand itself, in association with the current technology to implement functionality, is the limiting factor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not going anywhere

      Well said. Unfortunately something has turned us all into whiny little gits with an overblown sense of entitlement: "Samsung didn't add a rocket engine! Apple failed to include real-time holographics! Google should have added a whizzwangerlizer! Boo-hoo boo-boo!"

      In the end, are any of these phones as good as sex or better than an exquisite meal?

      Just had to get that one off my chest.

    2. Cesar _

      Re: Not going anywhere

      "Until someone creates the folding-screen smartphone or a *true* smartphone/desktop hybrid, that can run true desktop apps when docked with full business or creative functionality"

      --- I think this is where Apple are moving next; the hint is in the 64bit development *and* giving away the productivity Apps for free. Shouldn't be too long before you can wirelessly drive a large monitor directly from your phone and, with the appropriate peripherals, et voila: true mobility.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not going anywhere

      Full Desktop? Well, my phone plugs into a USB hub and gives me use of a full size keyboard, mouse and storage. There's an HDMI adaptor kicking around somewhere too, and I can't imagine a USB Ethernet adaptor would be hard to add.

      So... Android is there- plug in 1 USB hub et voila you have a pocket-sized desktop replacement. And has been for a year or so. For 99% of the people at work, this is all that they need- and I have a Win7 VM that I use to run any 'extra' software required of me.

  14. vmistery

    But no one has hit the sweet spot yet and are just chasing the next flash bang whiz which most of us don't care about. There for me are a few glaring problems with mainstream phones that they could focus on:

    1: The battery life

    2: The robustness (my ip5 is terribly scratched even though its in a pocket all day!)

    3: Signal strength - my N73 gets signal in places on the same network my iPhone doesnt. Why?

    Boring I know but it is what I want

    1. Andrew_b65

      :rolleyes:

      But all Apple's products are so great, don't you just love them?

    2. cambsukguy

      Your iPhone 5, like the few previous models, uses an elegant metal case in order to be lighter and slimmer.

      However, since it is a cellphone (there is a clue is in the name), it requires a full-duplex radio to work.

      Since Mr Ive is not a RF engineer and is far, far more important in Apple than the RF engineers, their no-doubt-continuous whining about the impact the case would have on reception was ignored.

      Hence Antenna-gate and the ongoing crapness of iPhone reception. even Jon Stewart, a no tech knowledge whatsoever American TV show host wondered aloud "Why don't phones work as phones?". he has an iPhone obviously as a rather large proportion of our cousins across the pond do apparently - no judgement.

      OTOH, Nokia, that company that failed because the phones were not pretty enough until too late, made RF systems that worked (and still work) beautifully.

      Their cases are almost all made of monoblock polycarbonate, RF transparent and tough as hell. But, not as pretty (perhaps, I like them and it does allow more colours etc.).

      When Nokia decided to introduce the (very nice looking indeed) 925, I was distinctly worried by the all-metal-case aspect of he design. Silly me, Nokia's RF engineers incorporated the metal shell into the antenna design and improved the reception if anything.

      This is all a result of R&D spending, while often wasted (I saw some of it), it produces staggering things like a 41MP camera unit with OIS in a stupidly small 10MM package and makes a Xenon flash work in a slimmer phone but defies physics (or something).

      And yes, without even checking, I know the 1020 will make phone calls well. I also know that when I tell people I am in a train station or noisy pub, they will say "I can't hear anything else" because the noise cancelling hardware (and software perhaps) is also brilliant.

      Then I can take a picture of the pub (or train station) without a flash using that OIS to prove I am where I say I am, phew!

  15. JDX Gold badge

    Maybe smartphones now do everything we need from them. In which case companies can seek to differentiate based on price, build quality, style, etc rather than some sort of feature arms race. A bit like most other things you buy in fact. Look at a small car - you have loads of choices but they are broadly similar. Some models target low price, some are way more expensive and focus on being a premium model, the rest sit somewhere in the middle.

    Nothing wrong with Apple focusing on the premium end - the Fiat 500 - while other focus on attracting more techy users wanting to tweak their phone, or capturing the poorer end of the market.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      This

      Smartphones have quickly become a mature consumer product. It's incremental change from here on in. If you want excitement from technology, you'll need to look elsewhere.

  16. SuccessCase

    Peak Register

    Apple sales have not been declining. The rate of growth has declined.

    It does seem The Register don't really understand this. Though to be fair, many don't. The simple point is that in a growth market, market share can decline while sales continue to grow. Android sales have been growing on an S curve, shot past Apple but are now slowing down. Apple sales have continued to grow at a slower but more consistent rate, though they too are now slowing (less of a curve at the top of the S). Interestingly, they are not slowing at the same rate as Android, which is attributable too the high customer satisfaction rates leading to fewer customers being prepared to switch away, whereas more Android customers are prepared to switch too Apple. This has lead to iOS starting to take market share off Android in two developed markets, the US and the UK, with the trends indicating the same will start to happen in other developed markets soon.

  17. Stefing

    From the X Labs

    The Moto X (not available in the UK, ever) is crammed with genuine innovation - and produced (mainly) in the USA - so surely there's some glimmer of hope - if only gullible Joe Brandname can be tempted away from iThings...

    1. Frank Bough

      Re: From the X Labs

      innovation like...

    2. ARP2

      Re: From the X Labs

      I'm an iPhone users and am ready to upgrade. If you can convince me why I should get a moto X over a iphone, I'll happily switch. Here's what I want:

      1) Good enough hardware with interesting design.

      2) Availability of the latest updates to the OS. No, I will not root my phone for this feature, I shouldn't have to.

      3) Large music catalog.

      4) The ability to buy and manage my content in an easy to use way I don't like technology that causes me to waste time for the benefit of flexibility I wouldn't use and I don't like tinkering- I want my technology to just work.

      So, since I'm just a slave to a brand-name, tell me what phone/ecosystem suits this set of needs?

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: From the X Labs

        Battery life measured in days, not hours, is the MotoX's greatest feature - latest android, owned by Google, blah blah, blah, blah blah blah.

        Battery life is where it's at..

        Sent via my Verizon Motorola Droid 4.1.2 Razr (original, only 1 day battery ;(

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: From the X Labs

          Why the hell should anyone care about battery life longer than a day? Is it that hard to charge your phone nightly? Yes, battery life of 2 days or a week or whatever is nice to have, but way way way down the list of what I'd be looking for when choosing a phone. I could list dozens of things I'd rather have in a smartphone than battery life longer than a day.

          And really, even the iPhone's 8 hours of talk time or whatever it is (which I'm sure is not really a day for people who are seriously heavy phone users) has been fine for me, I've only run out of battery before the end of the day a couple times, due to use of the LED as a flashlight for convenience reasons when doing some home improvement type tasks, which I wouldn't have done if I hadn't had my charger readily available.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: From the X Labs

            @DougS Why the hell should anyone care about battery life longer than a day?

            Why the hell should anybody have to remember to charge their phone every day?

            More seriously, poor battery life can be a real inconvenience. I just got back from a trip to Italy where we used a phone for navigating. Even a fairly new phone ran out of power after about an hour, and the USB socket in the car didn't deliver enough current to recharge it while it's navigating. (I should add that an old Nokia Symbian phone had no such problems a few years ago, and the maps were better.)

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: From the X Labs

        hmm...

        1. Nokia make good enough hardware, their designs are beautiful and often interesting, as least subjectively to me.

        2. WP is updated very well, from MS and from Nokia. A pretty consistent system I think. For an IOS user, the system is similar for apps and is considerably less fragmented than Android. There are almost no apps that will not run on a WP8 phone and these are not presented in any case.

        3. Xbox music is very good apparently, even ha a new-fangled radio station thingy now. Personally, I buy almost nothing as I own a lot of music from when one had to and Nokia supply free music online from a ridiculous number of personalised radio stations in any case. Since they also allow you to download the music for offline use, I haven't worked out the purpose of purchase yet.

        4. Not an expert on this, I use a computer with folders (called directories by some) and dropped all the music I wanted onto the phone via the file system. My phone presents this to me as Songs, Artists, Genre and some other categorisations such as favourites and a Playlist concept - none of which I use because I select play all with shuffle since I just skip one if it is not quite right at that moment.

        There is a way to listen to small sections of songs and then buy that music on the phone. I don't know where it goes but I presume it happily is mingled into the music one has (note to self, must buy a track and see what happens). I presume, like apps, the knowledge that you own it is kept in the cloud so that it is never lost.

        1. Ben Holmes
          Thumb Up

          Re: @cambsukguy

          I don't know why you're being downvoted. As someone who has just reached the end of his contract with an iPhone 4S, I'm seriously considering a jump to WP8 (Lumia 925). I found your write up really useful to read, and if anything, cemented for me that in that general if I made the jump, I wouldn't really be losing out on any of the functionality I take for granted with iPhone and iOS.

          So thanks for that. I appreciate it, even if no-one else seems to!

      3. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: From the X Labs

        Writing this on an iPad Mini, my first foray into the fruity ecosystem.

        "Good enough hardware with interesting design." - I quite like the design of the Mini, though I find its so-called multitasking to be rather odd. Some stuff can be left to work in the background, other stuff just pauses if its display isn't active and on-screen. Having said that, the hardware in the Mini is not that much different to that which is in my (Android) phone, yet it feels a fair bit faster and copes with 1080P recording without problems; more than could be said for my phone.

        "Availability of the latest updates to the OS. No, I will not root my phone for this feature, I shouldn't have to." - well, yeah. This is Android's biggest pile of fail. Granted, it is easier for Apple given that they make the OS and the hardware it runs on, but shame on Google for not building in, from the outset, a way to patch/update the OS itself without requiring all the intervention necessary. Yeah, some stuff might need vendor support code, but bug fixes and the like ought to be possible on the fly. You know, there are phones still selling "new" with Android 2.3.x onboard.

        "Large music catalog." - got that, it is called Amazon.

        "The ability to buy and manage my content in an easy to use way" - funny, I would say the Android drive-letter-flash-drive or MTP approach is easier. I prefer the drive letter option as it means I can plug my phone into just about anything and it will appear as a removable drive. Can I hook my iPad to RISC OS? Nope. To Linux? Maybe (libimobiledevice). To my PVR? To the NAS? Etc... No, at the moment I pretty much have to use that god-awful concoction that is iTunes. It would be okay if Apple offered a utility to put files on the device, and one to mangle CDs and such into something best suited for the device, and one to deal with the music downloading and... But no, it is everything all rolled in together. It takes an age to get itself going and it is slow and clumsy and all I expect it to do is to move files to and from the iPad. Oh, and I'll also add that if I drop a video into a video player app's space and the player doesn't like the file, I cannot just move the file to a different player app, nor can I store my videos in one place and point both players at it. It is best to imagine that the iPad has NO filesystem, but rather a "pool of space" which apps can claim for themselves.

        "I want my technology to just work." - agreed, and my rant isn't over yet. Photos. Plug in the iPad, they are NOT available through iTunes but instead the thing appears as a sort of digital camera media device. Going to it in Explorer will give simple draggy-droppy access to your photos. Um, sometimes. At least as often it'll tell you that there aren't any files. Oh, no worries, I'll just Bluetooth the photo across. Oh, wait, it's an iPad. It has super-sexy Bluetooth baked in, yet it is singularly incapable of the simple act of pushing a file out. Instead, I am in the ridiculous situation of either having to reboot everything (simplest way of getting the photos back) OR to email the photos to myself and pick up the email on a different device. Like an Android phone, which will Bluetooth them to the PC without any trouble (sounds a hassle but it is quicker than starting Thunderbird).

        There are many things I like about the iPad Mini, and I am surprised that I can write entire messages (such as this one) fluidly and easily by poking a piece of glass; but I think you will have to agree that Apple kit talking to anything that isn't Apple is more difficult than it should be. I wonder if, in the future years, this will come and bite Apple in the ass. As the article states, it is going to be come less important which smartphone you have, so long as it is capable of doing the things you want to get done at a price you're willing to pay. If this comes to be, the watchword will surely be interoperability, in that a device you can plug into other stuff will be more useful than one that talks a specific protocol.

        This is not to say that life is rosy in the Android world. Hardware varies from pisspoor to excellent. OS update/support likewise. Music catalogue is irrelevant, your catalogue should not need to be tied to any specific device. As for file support, the Apple way might be great for people who don't really like or understand what a file system is so "this file belongs to this app" will do. For those who grew up with filing systems and directories and all that nerdy stuff, the Apple method seems....somewhat restrictive. It might be lessened somewhat if iOS permitted you to view a list of files associated with an app and to copy/move/delete, but no, that requires iTunes. With Android, most of the root filesystem is locked off in an unrooted device, but you can access /sdcard and there are various file manager apps designed for the task. This, of course, means that an app that can access the SD card can access anything on it. Double-edged sword.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: From the X Labs

          Wa..... . .... what was that? Sorry I dozed off in the middle of that!

  18. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Yup

    Just upgraded. Biggest problem with the Galaxy S4 was the Galaxy S3. I suspect it's the same over on the dark side.

  19. JayBizzle

    What is left to do?

    I agree I'm not sure what is left to do in this space;

    When you look at the basics of what people want from a phone we have it all now;

    Phone

    SMS

    Photos

    E-mail

    Internet

    Video

    TV

    Apps

    Compass

    Motion control

    etc.

    So what does its leave, we can go faster and we can improve accuracy and size. Even if you put it in a watch you haven't really innovated greatly you have just stuck two things together because you can. It's a new form factor in essence.

    What more could we possibly need? That hasn't been thought of already with phones?

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: What is left to do?

      "What more could we possibly need?"

      You will know it when you see it.

    2. Jon Green

      Re: What is left to do?

      Well, how about:

      1. One-charge-a-week battery duration under normal workloads. I'll accept two charges at a pinch;

      2. Highly reliable signal reception - because modern smartphone makers seem to have forgotten that phones rather rely on getting a signal;

      3. A slimline pop-out keyboard, so that (a) you don't lose half your screen real estate when typing; (b) you can actually use your phone/phablet as a laptop replacement for a lot of the time;

      4. The return of the microSD slot.

      And, yes, some of these will mean the case will no longer be razor-thin. I can live with that. I never needed to slice cheese with my mobile anyway.

      When - and only when - manufacturers get these things right, it'll be worth returning to the added-gewgaws arguments.

    3. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: What is left to do?

      There are only two entertainment-oriented battery-powered handheld devices whose function is not covered by my mobile phone.

      One is the TV remote and I'm not too fussed about my phone replacing that, the other covers a function that I won't want performed in public so I can live without my phone replicating that (plus it would demand considerably different dimensions to my current Samsung).

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: What is left to do?

        Had to read that twice .. Keyboard please!

    4. JeevesMkII

      Re: What is left to do?

      Well, you've just perfectly illustrated why you can't innovate via focus groups.

      Ask people what they want from a phone and they'll rattle off a list of features that are present in any number of pre-existing devices. You have to show them something new before they know whether they want it or not, and even then you'll probably get resistance from a lot of people who are set in their ways.

      Innovation is by definition unpredictable.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is left to do?

      "What more could we possibly need? That hasn't been thought of already with phones?"

      Well lots of things that are available but aren't brought together in any single package, so water proof, wireless charging, decent speakers, metal chassis, with removable battery and SD slot for expansion. Now add in the stuff we want that isn't on offer, so one week to one month battery life in a package the same size, a capacitive touch screen that doesn't shatter when dropped, high def voice calls. And what about really simple stuff like enabling the phone to mute during selected sleep hours, so that I don't need to turn it off or on (and indeed a much simpler alarm/clock interface). On the software side, way better DLNA software, ideally with a decent remote control app for the phone. What about making bonk to pay actually work, and secure? Really easy integration of wireless screens, keyboards, mice and trackballs, so that when I've got the space and inclination I can flip display content to a bigger screen, and use a keyboard to type.

      And that's all basic, already obvious or already patchily available stuff. Seems to me that there's plenty of things to go at without being revolutionary.

      1. kycigni

        Re: What is left to do?

        What JayBizzle said is reasonable and balanced. Most of us don't really need more than what he mentioned. As for the additions you mentioned such as water proof, wireless charging, decent speakers, metal chassis, it's not innovation. We know it can be done, but they are obviously not doing it as the cost of the phone would be significantly higher. Also, I think people are sometimes like children who want their desert before dinner not considering the deeper reasons. They don't see why they can't have their desert before dinner, because they don't understand that they will spoil their dinner if they have the desert, and so on. Same with people who are discontent no matter what they have. Our devices already do so much to the point that people are constantly glued to their devices no matter where they are. It's people who haven't learned to be content with their lot in life who always want better things. I'm sure decent speakers would be great, but cost of the phone will be significantly more expensive. So if there are two of the same phone with the difference of the other phone being better speakers, who would spend hundreds of dollars more on that when they can just plug in to a dock stereo speaker and have better sound? And if they want to do it outside?... How many people walk around with their speakers on in public?... In the end, It's like wanting your bmw to transform into a boat. It would certainly be nice but it would probably cost you more than a Ferrari. One would rather buy an actual boat wouldn't he? Don't you think Apple, a multi billion dollar corporation can't brainstorm such simple ideas as that? That's why they don't hire just any Joe out there who has "great" ideas but fails to consider such factors in depth.

        Again, I'd like to emphasize that people who keep crying innovation need to realize it's themselves that need to learn to be content with what they have. The smartphone device has reached it's peak. There's really nothing more we so desperately need in our lives that we need a freaking SMARTPHONE to fill that need.

        Tim Cook is said to have been "panicking" because Apple can't innovate. I'd panic too realizing that I couldn't live up to people's warped expectations. The problem here is that companies like Apple and Samsung know the smartphone device has reached it's peak but they are so afraid to lose profit they are trying desperately to fulfill the warped expectations of people's wants. Wants that they THINK they need but realize they don't or don't realize what they are asking.

        Enabling the phone to mute during sleep hours... do you actually have an iphone? They have a no disturb feature that does that...

    6. Javapapa

      Re: What is left to do?

      Encrypted communication so strong that even NSA/GCHQ will be frustrated? No wait, that will simply generate a homing signal for the drone. Never mind.

  20. G 14

    this is why i'm upgrading to the 5s - i'm actually fairly comfortable with the platform and its integration into the other products i use, in this case a windows desktop and an apple tv. i will admit that i'm underwhelmed but i'm still rocking the 4 (which has been a pretty solid phone in the end.. but i got one of the later revisions) and can afford to go back onto a 2 year plan. what i would have loved to have seen is USB 3.

    I don't think the next big phone innovation will come from apple, they've become the mercedes of phones. somewhat limited in selection, priced to the bejesus but if you treat it with care you'll either keep it in great nick or be able to get it fixed with limited hassle.

    i look forward to a snappier phone with a better camera, annoyed that i'll have to get an adaptor for my alarm clock dock though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "this is why i'm upgrading to the 5s - i'm actually fairly comfortable with the platform and its integration into the other products i use, in this case a windows desktop and an apple tv. i will admit that i'm underwhelmed but i'm still rocking the 4 (which has been a pretty solid phone in the end.. but i got one of the later revisions) and can afford to go back onto a 2 year plan. what i would have loved to have seen is USB 3."

      This is the reason for all of the law suits. Attracting and keeping pleb on your eco system because most wont be bothered to change to something better. True to the word here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      this is why i'm upgrading to the 5s

      and then I stopped reading

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: this is why i'm upgrading to the 5s

        "and then I stopped reading":

        which is why you should not bother to comment. So closed minded that you can have no idea of the alternatives to your preconceptions and biases.

  21. ForthIsNotDead

    Meh.

    Look at windows: There is no *real* reason to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Windows 7 is perfectly fine, thank you very much. It's reached a natural level of maturity whereby it fulfills 99% of people's requirements just fine.

    Same with phones. They now do everything one could conceivably want to do with a hand-held phone. So why would want to replace my S3 with an S4 that does, er, exactly the same?

    Slightly faster processor? Who cares. 80 gazillion mega pixel camera? Meh. That just fills up my SD card. I don't even print my photo's any more, FFS, so the current camera and screen resolution is just fine.

    No. Windows 7 is the nail in the coffin of Windows 8. And it's the same with smart phones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh.

      "Look at windows: There is no *real* reason to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Windows 7 is perfectly fine, thank you very much. It's reached a natural level of maturity whereby it fulfills 99% of people's requirements just fine.

      Same with phones. They now do everything one could conceivably want to do with a hand-held phone. So why would want to replace my S3 with an S4 that does, er, exactly the same?

      Slightly faster processor? Who cares. 80 gazillion mega pixel camera? Meh. That just fills up my SD card. I don't even print my photo's any more, FFS, so the current camera and screen resolution is just fine.

      No. Windows 7 is the nail in the coffin of Windows 8. And it's the same with smart phones"

      Sorry, but if you actually use windows 8 on touch you'll find the old windows GUI so 1980's!

      I like windows 8, but touch is what brings it to life. The interface makes other point and click GUIs aged.

      As usual tho, it's programs (hate "apps", they are programs, not apps) you use on an OS not the OS that makes your computer useful. We're waiting for the programmers (or devs) to stop crawling up Apple's ass and make something decent for an OS which has to walk the line between last century UI and the next.

      1. Daniel B.

        Re: Meh.

        Sorry, but if you actually use windows 8 on touch you'll find the old windows GUI so 1980's!

        I found the MS shill! Where do I collect my prize!

        Really, while there are few (veeery few!) people who actually like Windows 8's kiddy toy UI, someone saying they're in awe of that interface are surely paid to say that. I still remember when John Connor enters a store in Sarah Connor Chronicles and goes all "oooh awesome systems" when playing with Windows Vista. The consensus was "pleez Microsoft, tone down that product placement!".

        Anyway ... Win7 is indeed good enough, but I'm pretty sure that the kiddy toy UI has more to do with lackluster Win8 sales than Win7 being good enough...

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Meh.

        "I like windows 8, but touch is what brings it to life. The interface makes other point and click GUIs aged." - that may be so, but somehow I don't see myself jacking in my LCD monitor for a new one just to support touch controls, neither do I see people spending long with a touch-based UI on a DESKTOP machine. Maybe you're too young? Us old farts have been there, seen it, built it, used it, and suffered arm ache. Hint - light sensor and a BBC Micro; plus a number of bespoke solutions for pricier kit because using a pen or stylus on the screen was all the rage for a short period of time. It came back a little bit later when somebody realised you could mount the monitor into the desk and use the pen/stylus in a more natural position, only it kinda failed when the big keyboard was required. Touch UIs are suited to touch devices, tablets and phones, process controllers on industrial machines, and print-your-own-porn booths in supermarkets. Touch UIs don't belong on desktop PCs unless you are planning on reinventing those as tablets, but that's a fail as people will just buy a tablet if that is what they want...

        For the record, I'm still on XP. Never saw a convincing enough reason to ditch that which works perfectly well. My non-Internet-connected boxes will probably remain on XP until the day they die.

    2. Mr Spigot

      Re: Meh.

      XP was the nail in the coffin - I'm still looking for a reason to change and lack of updates next year will probably be it.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Meh.

      Yes re: Win7 vs Win 8

      If you subtract Win 8 that was pre-installed and kept and add XP, you indeed ought to rethink strategy if you are MS.

  22. Ian 62

    Video/Movie Industry still needs a

    Kicking...

    Regional distribution models, regional pricing, format/quality variations, streaming/buffering.

    All the things that drive people to torrents, because quite frankly the quality of the product on a torrent site is often quicker/better than trying to do it legally.

    An iTV has been talked about for sometime, it's probably in a lab somewere, but likely its tied up in Hollywood negotiations.

    At the very least I could see a market for a device that wraps all the various online video services behind one front end/account. So the user doesnt have to care which service has licenced which series of the show, or which sequal to the movie franchise.

    Connect, search, select, play. All the billing etc handled invisibly.

    Now THAT I could see being an apple product. Its nothing new or clever, but the integration would be where they succeed.

    1. Frank Bough

      Re: Video/Movie Industry still needs a

      You just described the AppleTV - Netflix accound is paid via iTunes billing, YouTube and Vimeo both work beautifully, iTMS will sell/rent you the latest at hefty prices. Works well, but much more expensive than Torrenting.

    2. Mark .

      Re: Video/Movie Industry still needs a

      "At the very least I could see a market for a device that wraps all the various online video services behind one front end/account. So the user doesnt have to care which service has licenced which series of the show, or which sequal to the movie franchise."

      You mean TV Catchup? Already done, in the UK.

      Plus Smart TVs already offer various online video services behind one front end, as well as other devices. Plus I'm not sure how what you suggest solves anything - if I find that a TV series is available for Apple, but not other service, then that's still no better than the situation of today, you've just added yet another company to the mix, except worse, one that historically results in other services getting locked out - consider how in 2005, I could get apps that work with any phone, now it's still a struggle to get support for anything but the minority of iphone users.

      The big problem I find is how it's all DRMed to only work with any device or OS that I want (or might want in future). Despite physical media supposedly dying out, buying a DVD and ripping it still seems to be the best solution. If the TV/film industry start giving unDRMed stuff to sell through one company, then I'm not going to praise that company, I'm going to wonder why they are showing favouritism, and didn't do this before for all companies.

      1. Ian 62

        Re: Video/Movie Industry still needs a

        Maybe didnt explain myself correctly.

        Rather than having to know to search in Netflix, or Hulu, or Catchup TV, or iPlayer, or 4OD, or LoveFilm or..or.. or..

        I have one front end app, call it AppleFLIXodPlayer or whatever. So I have one bill to pay (to Apple) and when I log into that I can search without knowing or caring what service ACTUALLY has the broadcast rights.

        Apple gathers the metric on what I watch, then automatically pay through a fee to whichever service was actually hosting it (invsibily to me).

  23. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Windows

    Watches ?

    There is not a snowball's proverbial that I replace my watch with anything, ever.

    I like my watch. It gives me the time, precisely, every day of the year, and it looks nice enough to me.

    That's all I ask of it, and it does it to perfection.

    I am NOT going to start faffing about with effing buttons and whatnots on my wrist.

    Now get off my lawn !

  24. Steve Todd
    FAIL

    Can we down vote an article please

    Markets mature. You can't keep making huge improvements every year. Moores law says you can have double the number of transistors on a chip every 18 months, but says nothing about how fast or efficient they will be. Despite that Apple have managed to double performance again, on the same battery power, while adding new hardware that looks like it might actually be useful (RFID? Meh).

    What else were you expecting from a phone?

  25. Byz

    Unfortunately being a phone...

    Limits what you can do with it.

    Also as there is a back catalogue of existing apps that still have to work, this means existing phones even thought they are only 6 years old have to be backwardly compatible (same issue PC's have had).

    What need to happen is new devices with new formats.

    Google glass is a step (a step where we still have to see) and that gives designers new opportunities.

    iPods until recently could have different formats as they are just played music (their primary function), however once one of their models could run apps that model has had to be backwardly compatible and hence has hardly any evolution since then.

    So backward compatibility for interfaces limits evolution of a product, thus things get boring, new devices needed, but what should they be?

  26. Khaptain Silver badge

    Peak Smartphone

    I think the problem lies in the fact that we really do not need smartphones. They are esentially gadgets which have come from a Geeks Only status to a General Public status. SmartPhones are becoming passé.

    We have essentially learned what they are usefull for and also what they are not usefull for. Their evolution is reaching it end.

    Ones phone/smartphone was once a "symbolic icon" for who er are/who we pretend or aspire to be, today it's just another gadget in our pockets. It's all become very bling bling.....( talking mass market here, not professional usage)

    We now need something radically different,....

    We need a new form of entertainment, clothes that can talk, or bicycles that can sing, personal hologram devices( 3d Tamagotchis) . etc etc etc .

    Now that we are at the end of the wave a new one will come along, for the life of me though I cannot imagine what it will be.

    1. Joey

      Re: Peak Smartphone

      Personal TriCorder?

  27. Dan Paul
    Devil

    No one understands "It's Good Enough" syndrome

    The electronics business has had us hoodwinked for many years, hyping the "Next Big Thing" and conning big money out of early adopters that want to have the latest toys.

    However a new sherriff has come to town called common sense. Too bad that the latest phone processor can do XYZ gigaflops or has a fingerprint reader or is 64 bit or is colored champagne gold, if there is not a TRULY compelling reason other than specsmanship, regular people have no "NEED" to change or buy new products. Last years cell phone still works too well to bother to change.

    Once the dual core processor for PC's became standard and ram became cheap, Intel/AMD/Microsoft had no compelling story to tell, in fact quad core and hex core processors really don't do much more than squeeze a few more frames out in games or video encoding. New chipsets add some more features but not enough for many to bother changing equipment or software.

    For the vast majority of users, adding ram and an ssd is a more compelling improvement to their PC user experience than a motherboard/processor/chipset upgrade.

    Just because an electronics manufacturer makes something new does not mean we all have to mortgage our house and starve our children just so we have the latest shiny object of adoration. Don't get me started on OS software, there is even LESS compelling reason to change in that market.

    This is the REAL reason why PC sales are down...people just don't need new stuff right now. Sales is all about need, "create a need and fill it" is the old mantra which leads to "if it's good enough, there's no need, so why buy it".

  28. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    RE: iPhone 5S: Apple, you're BORING us to DEATH (And you too, Samsung)

    Get some perspective Reg. What on Earth did you expect - it's a phone. I don't think the problem is with either Apple or Samsung either - but more with you fevered media types for whom ANY update will never be enough, and certainly never enough to sate your lust for tittle tattle. That's probably why you don't get invited to their events anymore.

    I know that sounds patronising and obvious but I'm not sure what on Earth it is you are expecting over and above the limitations of form and basic functions of improved camera, more memory, better battery, screen etc or the lastest network comms gimmick.

    "You're BORING us to DEATH" : If you are bored to death as you say, I don't think ANY phone will help. Perhaps you should try a sport of some sort perhaps?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The difference between a quality watch (like a Tag, Citizen, etc..) and a (i)smart watch is counted in taste/class/style, which a smart watch can NEVER achieve! Apple or not.

    1. Daniel B.

      And...

      Praising form over factor will usually mark stupidity. I'm currently wearing a 1996 Timex DataLink watch. Back when I had it given to me (it was a gift) everyone would see it and think "meh, el cheapo digital watch." However it was worth something like $80? $100? because it could have your Outlook address book, calendar, To-Do list and reminders all downloaded to the clock, making it a watch-sized PDA. Much like the Casio Calculator/Phonebook watches (remember those?) which I also had previously, but this one was fed by the PC. Far more useful than $1000 bling-bling watches which only serve as mugger magnets.

      Interestingly, this effect is also seen in phones, and isn't even something exclusively from the smartphone era. Anyone remember the $600 feature phones circa 2005? Some of them more expensive than even functional smartphones, but they were shiny!

  30. That Awful Puppy

    I don't care that much for INNOVATION and REVOLUTIONARY

    I would very much like it if Apple concentrated on what got me hooked into their ecosystem - building somewhat overpriced computers that work really bloody well and which run an OS that for a reasonably small subset of users is fantastic.

    I'm utterly dependent on QuickView*, for instance, to sort through mounds of PDFs and DOCs with cryptic names I get from my clients. A well thought-out user interface on a solid, if perhaps somewhat middling and in some cases definitely overpriced hardware - I can earn money with that.

    64-bit mobile processors, fingerprint readers? Not so much.

    Disclaimer: I do love my iPhone, but it's a gadget, not a tool.

    *yes, yes, I'm sure Ubuntu has something that is vastly superior and works really well, provided you only use it on three filetypes and spend a few days configuring it just right.

  31. Amorous Cowherder
    Pint

    "The stark truth is that smartphones, like computers, were only ever a means to an end – and once the services and apps markets matured, the smartphone itself became less ... important. It didn't really matter what access device you were carrying. "

    That's the money shot! The novelty has worn off, so long as we can get a browser, Faceslap, Twatter, mapping, MP3 and MP4 apps on our smartphones it's completely irrelevant who makes it these days.

  32. Mage Silver badge

    It didn't really know how to make phones,

    By then you didn't need to. The original was commodity parts. The GUI and case was custom. It was 90% marketing and 10% GUI software for development.

    I had a Samsung SC6400 development kit back then too.

  33. JeevesMkII

    Backed themselves in to a corner

    The thing is, how are going to innovate? All the Android adopters have backed themselves firmly in to a corner. They've fired all their competent software engineers because all the hard work is done by Google and their silicon vendors, and they're stuck with what Google tells them a phone should look like because Android isn't anywhere near flexible enough support anything but the one form factor. You can do as Nokia have done and innovate in the peripheral devices, but you're basically stuck churning out phones that look and feel identical to one another.

    Apple, controlling most of the hardware and the software themselves might be able to do something, but they won't because it isn't a business they're any good at. As strange as it sounds, we might have to look to small upstart players who are prepared to chuck Google Play, Google Apps and indeed most of Android out of the window in order to produce something other than the same ol, same ol'.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Backed themselves in to a corner

      because Android isn't anywhere near flexible enough support anything but the one form factor.

      Phones, tablets, smart TVs, dongles to turn a TV into a smart TV, media players, SoC/SoB development platforms, games consoles, and convertible laptops?

      Sure seems like a single form-factor to me.

  34. samster
    Stop

    People keep on going on about hardware on this forum. There are already phones with 3 day battery life (Razr MAXX) and phones that are not fragile. The real innovation comes from software however. On this, I agree that iOS7 is fairly yawn-worthy.... Still the same old grid of icons, including one that say 23 degrees and sunny regardless of the weather.... shoite.

    Software is where it's at. No one seems to have mentioned Google Now - that is real innovation. Context.

    I was at a bus stop today and someone with a iPhone 4s (i think) still went to a website to PULL the 'next bus' info.... that's crazy. Then again, in fairness I know some Android users do the same thing when all they need to do is 'swipe up' and the phone knows where you are and presents the bus timetable.... Software is where it's at.

    1. Mike Richards

      Or they could turn round and look at the printed timetable.

    2. Zack Mollusc

      I would have gone to the bus company website, too. It would have been quicker than navigating to the gps menu and switching it on and waiting for a fix. The few seconds it takes for mobile data to establish a connection after switching that on is annoying enough. (Crappy battery life mens I switch as many things off as possible).

      Mind you, if you can afford a smart phone, you can afford a 'ped and not be stood at a piss-smelling bus stop at all.

  35. returnmyjedi

    This is hardly going to get you back into Stephen Fry's good books, Andy.

  36. Christopher Cowan

    The dual flash is innovative, effectively it is an auto-iso flash, something Nikon or Canon had never thought of doing. It is also something actually useful that people will appreciate.

    I also read an article on the iBeacon technology which looks interesting and a useful alternative to NFC.

  37. Rupert Stubbs

    Lazy, thoughtless article...

    I just love how lazy writers demand that Apple do something new, just to give them something to write about.

    Apple innovates in the new product lines it comes out with - the iPhone, the iPad, the iMac, the MacBook Air, Apple TV, etc., etc. After that it iterates, as it should.

    There don't need to be huge innovations to the iPhone - just incremental improvements that add up to a better experience at each iteration. You can still use the original iPhone 1 in much the same way as you do the 5S - however, each new version has a tick-tock of improvements to the form factor or the processor, with camera improvements and added sensors/chips as the technology allows.

    Also missed out in these rants is that the operating system is always improving and iterating as well, and the hardware and software are designed to work together.

    Yes, at some stage it will make sense to have an even bigger screen size iPhone, and new technology like the fingerprint sensor (which works in an utterly different way to the older versions) will be brought in when it's mature enough. If only we could say the same about the writer...

  38. Dick Emery

    Meh!

    Android still has not prevented the screen from coming on and reacting to touch on an incoming call when on headset/bluetooth yet (REALLY annoying if you have your phone in your pocket with screen turned inwards to prevent bumping, close to your leg/chest. Creating situations when you answer/decline/hangup a call etc). No not even in 4.3

    Innovation you say? They can't even fix the existing features.

  39. Peter Black

    Just a phone...

    It's just a phone. It's also a very nice phone, and I'll probably buy one, but I don't feel a need to justify my choice by criticising the choices other people make.

  40. davemcwish

    Where Next?

    I think @Dan Paul amongst others has got it right. As a 4s owner I don't have a compelling reason to upgrate to anything at the moment for a variety of reasons:-

    1. My current offering, although perfect is good enough

    2. To upgrade, they'd need to have features that I'd value. Biometric scanner that's only restricted to unlocking and iTunes purchases isn't it. The camera might as I think that's the way to go rather than have pixel wars, but I'd like to see real world usage first. The techies may drool over 64 bit but for the majority of users it's irrelevant. having said that the PC Mag article points at a rationale (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2424300,00.asp). I do run Win 7 64 bit but as I'm not using more that 4Gb RAM it's been irrelevant except for the 32 bit apps that don't work. As Dan Paul indicated, extra storage would, imho, be more appealing to those that have lauge music collections on variants of iPod Classics (mines an 80Gb 5th Gen video) which are not likely to be replaced.

    3. Cost - I got my 64gb for £300 off eBay, there's not enough to compel me to drop £700 on the 5s or £400 - 500 on an Android version. My tariff from Virgin is really good and cheap even if the coverage in cernain areas isn't the best so upgrading to a contract is just a waste of money.

    So for my use cases the upgrades I'd be looking for are better camera, especially at night, more that 64Gb storage and a better GPS chip. I'd probably get 2 of the 3 eventually but there's nothing there at the moment.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Where Next?

      Unless all you do is write letters and other not-very-demandingt stuff, 64 bit CPUs do provide more of an advantage than just accessing more RAM. Being generally faster for the same clock speed would be the main one.

    2. Rupert Stubbs

      Re: Where Next?

      Plus upgrading to a 5 series from a 4S means changing all the charging connectors you have dotted around your house, work and car... It will have to happen eventually, but at the moment all the people in my house can charge their devices on one 30 pin cable...

  41. Goldmember

    No. Just no.

    "From 2008 to 2010, Apple made stunning additions to the iPhone with each iteration"

    What a load of bollocks. It's true that the original iPhone was a game changer (I actually thought that all touch would just be a gimmick - oh, how wrong I was about that.), and was miles ahead of the competition. But every "new" iPhone since then has been nothing more than a slight improvement on the previous incarnation, often showing Apple as not only failing to innovate, but hardly being bothered to put any new features in their phone at all. As such, every other manufacturer caught up and surpassed them several generations ago.

    1. davemcwish

      Re: No. Just no.

      Maybe but those 'slight improvements' have been more than enough to make their products desirable and profitable with not just the sheeple fanbois being enticed to upgrade.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All right

    It's easy to point fingers and be snarky about everything — I'm guilty of that. It's just that I have the feeling we've all lost our minds. If you really think about it, our smart phones are pretty brilliant as they are — yet we keep wanting more of that gadget-crack.

    I mean look at us, tapping away at our keyboards, arguing back and forth about a goddamned mobile device. F*ck me. I'm gone for today.

    See ya.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: All right

      "I mean look at us, tapping away at our keyboards, arguing back and forth about a goddamned mobile device. F*ck me."

      Uhhhh... It's a forum. On the Internet. Isn't this what is supposed to happen?

  43. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ignored opportunities

    The next opportunity is: Internet service. Telcos claim that everybody is bathing in 100+ Mbps Internet connections but the truth is that availability is poor, prices are high, shady deals interfere with connectivity, contracts screw customers, and there are EXTREME usage restrictions. Incredible amounts of money are being sucked up by telcos to provide virtually nothing, just like with smart phones before Apple and Google started kicking some telco ass. Google knows what's coming and have started providing internet services of their own but, as big as they are, they're not big enough. Apple should have jumped in too but they're still stuck on the old iPhone, and even dumbing down their other products to be more like iPhones.

  44. albaleo

    Boring you all to death (and you too El Reg)

    It's all about the apps . Do you El Reg guys really fondle hardware. I thought you were jesting.

  45. Chuck Roast

    iphone today vs. 2 year old phones

    apple just has to impress people with 2+ year old phones - not tech bloggers that stare at specs all day long and have zero intent to purchase and consider 2011 to be nothing but a memory, when in fact it is the current reality for a lot of smartphone users.

    what most reviewers don't realize is that a lot of markets are on 2yr subsidized plans - ok i get it: a bunch of asia doesn't work that way. fine. but most of Apple's markets do and eventually asia will move towards subsidies as they become more service-oriented, but that's a different story altogether - in any case, regardless of subsidies, there just isn't a huge market for people that want to purchase a smartphone every 3 or 6 or even 12 months. people with 2 or 3 year old phones is likely the target market....think back, this time 2 years ago....the iphone 4 8gb was $99 subsidized...with your subsidy up for renewal/getting antsy regardless, today your $99 gets you the iphone 5C at 16gb...that is a quantum leap ahead of the iphone 4 and 2x more storage -- for the same $99. that differential is obviously worth the $99. So the 2yr+ is whom apple is trying to impress...

    Apple needs to keep this strategy - it is very repeatable and profitable. But of course, if bloggers and wallstreet were the ones running apple they would put it in an under-pricing, over-serving death spiral like every other tech company that lacked imagination when it came time to properly serve the user.

  46. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Has anyone else noticed that with each improvement to iPhones and Galaxys the IQ level of their owners seem to drop? Concentrating all your energies into your gadget will probably result in near-sighted stylus-like fingered primate with the IQ of Chimpanzees.....

  47. stim

    I use a Nokia 925.

  48. mrfill
    Devil

    A curse on your houses

    Downvoted everybody for everything as I fell asleep halfway down the first page

  49. magos

    Smartphone era definitely coming to a close

    The problem space for smartphones is pretty much filled now. I just can't see what else you can do with the form factor, and I think we've seen indications of this with the increasing device sizes and phablets.

    We're into the era of the interesting outliers (c.f. Lumia 1020). But the awesome thing is, this means we're due another technology revolution!

    Not sure if that was sarcastic or not...

  50. Belardi

    Because Samsung and Apple make quality standard products.

    There are no more surprises for phones... for now. Apple wasted a lot of time and energy suing Samsung over "rectangle with rounded corners"... now, years later... who gives a crap? They both spent hundreds of millions of dollars over a GENERIC Shape of a phone. All past flip-phones were pretty much the same - but they had more style, especially SONY. You wouldn't mistake a Sony phone for a Samsung.

    But with a huge-screen slab on todays phones, there is not much you can do for "style" other than the back.

    iPhone 5 is a stretched iPhone4, none of them bad. Still a nice looking product. It works.

    Galaxy S4 looks 95% the same as the S3... I think with a simple glance, nobody could tell the difference.

    I don't care for Samsung with its cheap plastic and generic look since the GS2. (They made about 10 different looking GS1 phones). Hence, I went with Motorola since it has better quality materials that FEEL better in the hand and don't look as boring (to me).

    So today, with have HTC with a great looking phone... which hopefully will save their company. LG's phones are quality QUITE good with their own feature sets. I'm still looking at getting a next gen Moto-X phone as I still have a year left on my AtrixHD which is a fine phone to me, even thou its not quite as good as the HTC OneX.

    In the USA, I am hearing and seeing ads for the GS4 going for $100 already... holy smokes!!! Carriers were selling the GS3 for $200 until 30 days before the GS4 announcement & release.

    I recommend HTC One over any other phone for the most part. It has stereo speakers, great metal body. But I personally prefer how the Motos feel, so I am going that route. It'll be a long time before I'll think about getting a Samsung phone. (PS: When it comes to Monitors, Samsung is top on my list)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Because Samsung and Apple make quality standard products.

      "I recommend HTC One over any other phone for the most part. It has stereo speakers"

      Ironically this is the very reason I think the HTC One should be consigned to the deepest pits of hell.

      The only application for speakers on a phone should be for conference calls. All music playback should be restricted to headphones or require a docking station, so we don't have to be subjected to the crap that passes for music these days blaring from all directions during the morning commute or when trying to enjoy a bite of lunch.

      The knowledge of Justin Bieber's existence is bad enough without being forced to listen to (him/her/it) every time a random group of teenagers passes within 100 feet!

      1. Belardi

        Re: Because Samsung and Apple make quality standard products.

        Agreed on many points. Headphones are best for music.

        But speakers Facing the user is very helpful for the phone in speakphone mode. My previous SONY Slider has stereo speakers. It has strong base and better sound quality that most of todays smart phones.

  51. Sander van der Wal
    Facepalm

    If you want pretty, buy a mirror

    This is silly. Apple isn't in the business to make shiny shiny or specgasms for people who would buy Android on principle. How good are these devices as mobile computers, and how good are they as phones? Are they getting better (more miles to the gallon, booth space, service intervals), instead of prettier (new bonnet shape, same as the old bonnet shape)?

  52. Tim Almond

    Peak Phone

    Simple fact is that the smartphone has hit the point where nothing is revolutionary now. Nothing really warrants a global presentation and wall-to-wall coverage. You can't go blaming Apple for that any more than you can blame bicycle makers for adopting the same fundamental bike designs that have been around for over 30 years now.

    Science leads to technology. The early versions of technology are often a bit useless, or horribly expensive. They get improved, become more and more popular and continue to evolve, but at a certain point, they get "done" or the improvement delivers very few benefits (e.g. cameras with more than 10mp, cars adding 0.5mpg per new version).

  53. Nameless Faceless Computer User
    Megaphone

    It's just a phone

    Here are features we would like to see: make a phone call. It's a phone. I certainly don't need all these bells and whistles nor look forward to more battery-draining features in every annual update of the same thing. Back in "the day" we were happy to upgrade our phones once every 3-4 years. In exchange, we received smaller phones, better battery life, perhaps a 2-line LCD display rather than 1.

    What more can you cram into this thing? Samsung had the right idea - if you can't make it better, make it bigger and easier to read. Offer a model with a real keyboard. Install a microSD card for expandable memory, rather than paying hundreds of dollars for pennies worth of memory. Release the death grip over the OS to install apps from third parties.

    But, they give us a fingerprint reader. Yippee.

  54. Fletchulence

    The writing has been on the wall for years

    There is currently little to no margin in selling hardware, and in the near future there will be none at all.

    The only option to make money for technology vendors will be through control of the users digital purchases. Google know this, as do Amazon. Apple need to realise this if they expect to survive. I'm betting they won't.

  55. 080

    The truth is that phones, like TV's and PC's are now "Good enough", that is they do all the average punter wants so unless the manufacturers can come up with some new must have use then they will be consigned to the replacement of broken devices market.

    Like 3D, 4G 4K is not going to part many people from their money, so if you want to survive get up off your arse and invent something new and exciting like phones that work without you having to fumble with a crappy keyboard or talk to them, TV's with a decent frame rate with the same telepathic interface that dumps the boring bits of films and adverts and doesn't hog half the living room space or a laptop that you can actually read the screen in the sun and lasts as long on two AA's as a Psion.

  56. imaginarynumber

    Stunning innovations?

    What like 3G, GPS, video recording?

    Multitouch is the only major "gift" that I can think of.

    Or by innovations do you mean that they once had the ability to make grown journalists wet their seats at keynote speeches?

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingerprint scanner = commodity laptop part?

    "Apple's user-facing innovation ... entails building in a fingerprint scanner - a commodity laptop part for the past 10 years."

    Really? Show me the commodity laptop part that scans your entire fingerprint, instantly, from any angle, with no swiping... I'll be here, waiting.

    It pains me to see people who are supposedly good at technology completely fail to understand (or just recognize) a fairly significant advance in said technology, greatly improving its usability and usefulness. That's like a car enthusiast not being able to tell the difference between a Geo Metro and a Ferrari.

  58. the-it-slayer

    Surely an industry problem? Not Apple/Samsung

    The writer of this article complains about the lack of improvements, but ignored the very improvement which could have major implications on the whole industry. Easy fingerprint authentication. Another tech most have poorly implement with the rolling fingerprint bar (that's always unreliable).

    Apart from that, what do customers expect? Hardware innovations are limited in 12 months because of cost of bringing forward new tech to mass-market solutions and then it's all down to software. That's where Apple and Google made big strides. More so to Apple's sake for simplifying the most complex of tasks.

    You're all demanding too much for what is essentially a phone, iPod and internet communications device (on par with the first iPhone announcement). The rest of the stuff is bolt on to appease the greedy. Battery and screen-tech are the next bits that need improving in all smartphones.

    Come on colour eInk!

  59. Simon Rockman

    So who's next?

    This week's announcements are not the end of Apple dominance: they are the signal of the end. We won't see queues in the streets or the 5S or 5C. We won't seen the consumer pull which is the only reason the operators stock the kit.

    The operators will pounce on the reduced demand to re-negotiate terms with Apple. We'll see some operators (Telefonica perhaps) de-list Apple from their portfolio or at least make it "special order" and expensive. Perhaps they will demand a revenue share from the 30% Apple makes on App sales, Apple will rue not following the principal of being nice to people on the way up.

    As an aside I'm amused to read the NFC sites which all say "Apple may not have put NCF in the new phones but they are just bucking the industry trend and will do so next time".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely an industry problem? Not Apple/Samsung

      Color e-ink would be nice but other than that I don't see how you can improve the screen over the iPhone 5... excellent brightness/contrast, EXCELLENT color calibration (check the AnandTech review, it's almost dead on with sRGB), great viewing angles... really, really nice screen. Leaps and bounds better than any of the competition except HTC which seems to have started doing some rudimentary color calibration at the factory for its high end devices.

  60. Charles Manning

    Where's the opportunity to innovate? Just more meh.

    A hundred years ago, leccy streetlights were amazing and advancing rapidly and country folk would go to town to see them. Now a switch to LED or whatever modern technology brings goes unnoticed by Joe Punter.

    Same deal for smart phones. When the market is young and technology is advancing rapidly it is easy to innovate. After a while, that curve flattens out, people get used to what was once amazing and there is just no room to innovate any more. People don't respond to the "ooh shiny" stimulus any more and the market saturates.

  61. PghMike

    Apple's had two things going for it all of these years. First, a much cleaner user interface, which makes using their systems much more fun (and the systems are cleaner internally, which makes it harder to write viruses).

    More importantly, they've had various unique services that are increasingly less unique. Their iTunes music store was pretty cool when it was the only legal way to buy music downloads. And it no doubt is still going strong, even now that DRM is gone, since it is much simpler to keep buying music from one place.

    But they've been unable to do anything really innovative with music or video downloads or streaming, thanks to the copyright holders. And of course, there are lots of video and music streaming services today, and Apple controls relatively few.

    The author has it pretty much right--they're just one more purveyor of glass rectangles through which to view the Cloud.

  62. HippyFreetard

    Smartphones are dead

    Not like, dead dead, but they're ubiquitous now, so the revolution's over for them.

    For another wow-factor keynote address, they really need a new actual gadget, rather than just another iPhone with something else crammed into it.

    I's probably wearables next, either watches or specs. So if the Jobs years are a template for today, Apple will wait until a couple of companies have made the market ready for it, then they'll jump in with their more-features version.

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