iPhone 5: Why we Didn’t Get What we Didn’t Get

| Analysis

The assault has started, and it was fully expected: the list of features missing from the iPhone 5. Oh, the agony. Here’s why Apple didn’t include some things that a few tech writers fantasized about.

1 NFC. It’s clear that the mobile payments market is still in its infancy. Even using NFC to do some other things is on a very restricted basis. Today, Phil Schiller told AllThingsD:

It’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem.... Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today.”

2. No 128 GB storage. It’s clear that with WiFi Syncing, iCloud, and the advent of the iPad, people are not hoarding movies and apps on their iPhones. Moreover, twice the memory raises the price and zaps precious milliamp-hours needed for LTE. It’s an engineering trade-off, space and battery. Plus, Apple knows that we don’t have a demonstrated need for a 128 GB iPhone today.

3. No increase in battery life. That’s a pipe dream. Given the increased demands of LTE, it’s a bloddy miracle Apple was able to retain indeed slightly improve upon the 4S battery life. See item # 2.

4. No fingerprint login/security. The current touch screen technology is responsive to movement, that is, gestures: swiping, pinching, etc. There is no imaging possible of the full finger on that display. The camera can’t do it either. One would need an imaging pad that’s big enough to read a thumbprint, and clearly there’s no room on the iPhone’s face for that. It’s a technology that’ll have to wait.

5. No Inductive Charging. Phil Schiller said it best: “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated.” And that doesn’t even take into account the design changes, physical and electromagnetic that might be compromised for Apple's unique design.

Nonsense Squared

These lists of "missing features" are nonsense because they all involve engineering trades and an assessment of customer utility. It’s easy to throw out a list; it’s not so easy to juggle the engineering in order to create a balanced architecture of mature, practical and optimized components. I like Apple’s lists better than pundit lists.



The only thing I’m disappointed in is that they made the size/battery trade-off again. I’d rather have the extra battery capacity than a slightly slimmer phone, myself.


No 128GB is also a financial decision for Apple. Assuming Apple likes to keep SKUs limited, then a move to 128GB would imply a doubling of memory across the board (16/32/64 to 32/64/128). If, as you say, there is not a huge demonstrated need for 128GB, then many buyers who are OK with the current high-end phone with 64GB would now purchase the mid-level phone. Assuming constant pricing, this would simply push more buyers down the price curve from the $399 phone to the $299 phone, and Apple will lose $100 on every one. They’re not going to go to 128GB until they’re sure that the distribution of purchasers will remain the same across the three memory capacities (or that more will move up).

John Martellaro

Apicius: Exactly.



John, agreed with everything you’ve said, but to all of it, I’ll ask a question: What will the effect of creating iOS devices (iPhone 5, new iPod Touch) with 16:9 screen aspect ratios do to the iOS ecosystem? Related: Might the rumored iPad mini also be 16:9? Regardless, will fragmentation become an issue for developers?


I’m with jfbiii….  Need more battery life!  Battery life on my 4S sucks.  Would easily suffered with a few extra grams for better battery life.


But…..! You’ve got A B G and N all together! It’s one of the highlighted new features of the iPhone 5! No more shall you languish with pitiful B G and N! Now you shall have all of the most advanced WiFi radios ever imagined in 1998…. Oh, and it works in the 5 ghz spectrum…. not that I own a single router that operates in anything other than 2.4 ghz, nor do you even know what I’m talking about… but I’m just saying…. this is big news. Cause it’ll work in 2.4 ghz too…


i agree with previous posters: they could have kept the weight same as iPhone 4, but increased battery capacity.


Re battery life: I read in today’s Times that “Apple filed a patent application in 2010 for a miniature fuel-cell power supply that could power an iPhone or iPad for days or weeks without recharging. It’s the same hydrogen fuel-cell technology now used in some hybrid electric buses, especially in Europe, said Bob Stembridge, an analyst for Thomson Reuters.”



“What will the effect of creating iOS devices (iPhone 5, new iPod Touch) with 16:9 screen aspect ratios do to the iOS ecosystem? Related: Might the rumored iPad mini also be 16:9?”

I think you are aware that some of us think so.  grin


At this point in time there is not much more that can be done to make the “smart phone” revolutionary The market has matured. there is only so far you can go with a slab of metal & glass. the rest will be about iOS and again what else is left to do but find a way to add constant advertising to smart phones so people can get them for free. I am glad i waited 2 years to upgrade, which will be my pattern from now on or maybe I’ll hold on to the iPhone 5 for 3 or more years. All i care about is getting it unlocked so i can get local sim cards in Europe. When i travel for extended visits. At least now I can unlock my iPhone 4 for that.


Apple has a huge resources - manpower and money. How much are they spending on Product Development? if this is the best they can do then I’m disappointed. The format and spec seem better suited to the new Touch. I can’t see why the phone needs a bigger screen. Better battery - yes.


I’m going to finally get an iPhone 4S, now that the iPhone 5 is out, and Apple has dropped the price on the 4S. Before now the price was just a little too high for my wallet. And seeing how the 4S is barely a year old (?) it should be supported for a couple more years before Apple consigns it to the too old bin.

The 4S seems to have all the features I need, unless someone can convince me otherwise ?

As a general rule I hate mobile phones. (I hate the idea that I have to give out my mobile number to all & sundry) Can’t they just call my landline and leave a message if I’m not there or even send an email ?
Don’t get me wrong there are times when a mobile is useful, but do I really need to be ‘available’ 24 hours a day ?


There’s a lot that can be done with smart phones yet… Holographic displays, open space gesture support, better speakers….


Great overview John. In agreement on every point. I think what is generally overlooked is the difficulty in managing expectations while being the current standard in overall design integration and user experience. More than anyone, Apple has developed “killer apps” that have changed the way we use technology forever. The 5 is a more-than-worthy addition to this legacy. It is boring to the point of being disingenuous to ignore the overall balance of features and quality without taking into account the engineering tradeoffs (and a laundry list of others so apparent when trying to use any other phone). As a happy 4S owner, the choice for me is clear.


“2. No 128 GB storage. It’s clear that with WiFi Syncing, iCloud, and the advent of the iPad, people are not hoarding movies and apps on their iPhones.”

The simple reason we need 128GB is that the retina display has made many apps significantly larger, and many of them were large to begin with!  Forget movies (that’s what netflix + “unlimited” data is for) - I can easily fill a 64GB iPhone or iPad with music and apps, and it’s frustrating to have to pick and choose and load/unload various apps and games, many of which weigh in at hundreds of megabytes.

Apple’s GarageBand wins the prize on my iPhone today at 1.1 GB.

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