Five reasons why I won't -- and will -- buy an iPhone 5

Posted by Randy Shulman
September 17, 2012 7:03 PM |

IPhone5

I have owned an iPhone since its second generation. I didn't purchase the inaugural model because I felt it needed time to develop into something genuinely useful, the way can openers did in the early part of the century.

I'd like to say that once I did get that second generation iPhone, it forever changed my life. But I can't say that. Because it didn't. For me, the iPhone was not the magical technological life-altering device it seemed to be for so many others. It was a tool -- a perfectly pleasant, uniquely functional tool that made phone calls in addition to playing games and music. It was, to my mind, a phone. A steroid-enhanced phone, but a phone nonetheless.

Now, before you get all "Apple-hater!" on me, please take note that I work on an iMac at my office, I own both an Air and a MacBook Pro, an iPad (albeit first generation), and a bushel full of Apple peripherals. I acknowledge that the iPhone revolutionized an entire industry, but I'm just trying to be honest here -- it didn't float my boat.

Then iPhone 4 came along. And my boat started to edge into the water. I think it was the Retina Display that opened my heart to it. Visual quality, it seems, is important to me.

But when I really sit down and think about it, what exactly do I do with my iPhone 4? I make calls. I text. I listen to music. I sometimes -- very infrequently -- browse the web. I download (and sometimes even pay for) apps that I deploy maybe once or twice and then abandon, and there they reside, lonely and neglected, on my iPhone screen, little orphaned icons.

Oh, and I take pictures. Tons and tons and tons of pictures. I have nearly 3,200 photos on the phone at this very moment. Apparently, the iPhone is my camera away from my camera.

I take pictures of everything and anything. I take pictures for myself, pictures to post on Instagram, pictures to remind me of books in stores I later want to buy on Amazon, pictures of what I eat, pictures of what other people eat, pictures of buildings, of flowers, of the sky, of cloud formations, of cracks in the sidewalk, of my shoes, of my pets. I show these pictures to friends, family, colleagues, strangers, anyone who will take a look at them. I even take pictures for a friend overseas, zipping them electronically 3,500 miles across the ocean in a blink of an eye. It astonishing me to no end that I can even do this. And, even better, not pay for it.

(Okay, so none of this is really new or worth getting all agog over. It's common to the younger set, who might as well be welded to their phones and tablets. If they're not verifiably Borg yet, they're well on their way. Meanwhile, I'm a 50-year-old dinosaur stomping around, often clumsily, in their path, desperate to be assimilated. But consider this: When I was in my teens, the most dazzling piece of tech we had was Pong, so can you blame me for wanting to be included?)

Which brings me to my point. Will I buy the new iPhone 5? Does it dazzle me enough to want to put aside my Siri-less iPhone 4 and leap headlong into the upgrade fray? Does it look like something that could, would, will change my life?

Is it The One?

No, I don't think it is. Still, I've thought about why I'd rush out and by one and why I'd sit back and be content with what I already have. So here, then, are 5 reasons why I have no interest in currently buying an iPhone 5.

Why I won't:

1) Siri. I don't need to talk to my phone. I don't need my phone to obey my spoken command. It feels, I don't know, pointless and vaguely esoteric.

2) Maps. I liked Google Maps well enough, I supposed, but I never used it. When I did, it was like a game of "Watch the blue dot move slowly down the street." Now Apple has its own maps with "turn-by-turn directions" and select flyover abilities. Turn-by-turn could prove useful. But when am I ever going to fly around a city? I mean, if I were Superman, sure, but…

3) It's slimmer! With a bigger screen! These are, I suppose, assets. The slightly bigger screen most certainly is. But I've seen the Samsung Note, and you want to talk screen size? Look, if I want to re-live the Harry Potter series in all its glory, I'll watch it on the iPad, or, better yet, my 55" Samsung TV, because why wouldn't I?

4) Speed. Sure, faster wireless would be nice, why not? But a faster chip? I suppose if I used it to play games, that would make sense. But I don't. I don't even bother with flinging irritated birds at grunting pigs. Everything I currently do with my iPhone happens fast enough for my purposes. Would the speed save a millisecond or two of my life here and there? I guess. But what does that mean? That over my lifetime, I cumulatively staved off death by 75 seconds. Barely enough time for a stick of gum.

5) Passbook. Really? C'mon. I'm content with manually fumbling around my wallet for credit and reward cards and boarding passes. The big fun in the game show of life arises in those moments when you can't find what you're looking for and the clock is rapidly ticking down.

Why I will:

1) The phone. Because I like ignoring calls.

2) Message. Because resistance to text messaging is futile.

3) The camera(s). Great news for Facetime addicts -- the front-facing camera has been given a boost to 720p. Meanwhile, the rear camera, while still 8MP, has been given an upgrade (Would it have killed Apple to leapfrog its competitors in this department, as the new standard is quickly becoming 13MP, putting Apple a solid 5MP behind the phone-tablet camera curve.) This is the phone's strongest lure for me.

4) Panaorama. No, actually this is. My overseas friend will go berserk once he sees Washington in vista-vision. How many monuments can I fit into one shot? Let's find out!

5) Siri. Because the girl deserves a chance to get to know me.

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