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

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.