I wish I never sold my original iPhone. Being seen around town using an iPhone with a brushed aluminum back would make others jealous of my uniqueness. The iPhone 4? Dude, that was so 2010. My original iPhone can’t even create folders or multitask, but no one else has one so it makes me like fifty times more awesome than anyone using an iPhone 3GS. You’re probably snickering at this ridiculous idea that a unique design completely trumps functionality. I don’t blame you. However, a lot of Apple fans are falling into the trap of this same ideology that claims the looks of the new iPhone are more important than the functionality it will bring with it. Many claim that if Apple “only” releases an iPhone 4S it will be a huge disappointment to fans. “We’ve waited 16 months for a new iPhone and all they’re giving us is a minor spec bump? This is crap!” What some Apple fanboys don’t understand is the iPhone 4S isn’t “just a spec bump.” The new iPhone, regardless of its physical appearance, will be a significant improvement to the greatest phone ever made. Of course no one wants to be stuck with an ugly phone that looks five years behind the curve, but before rising up in revolt against the iPhone 4S, let’s consider the current state of technology and where the iPhone 4 currently ranks.  

Software, just as important as hardware

One thing to consider regarding the delay of the next iPhone is whether Apple has been waiting 16 months for the hardware to be perfected or whether they’re trying to get iOS 5 right. Clearly the delay has been software related and not about hardware. The absence of an upgrade to the iPhone’s exterior looks doesn’t matter because the software upgrades from iOS 5 are huge. iOS 5 is the most significant iOS update since the release of iOS 2. Over 200 new features have been packed inside the new update: iCloud, iTunes Match, iMessage, Notification Center, Wireless syncing, Photo editing, Reminders, Voice Assistant and many more. Combining all the upcoming features with the most successful phone ever, makes the experience of using an iPhone better than we could have dreamed of six years ago. Adding more functionality to the iPhone, regardless of design, is going to take the iPhone even further into the future. Apple designs the most beautiful hardware in the world. Yet, people forget that they also create the best software in the world to go with it. This combination of great software wrapped in gorgeous hardware is a rarity the world still isn’t accustomed to. Apple products are like a cosmically proportioned Victoria Secret model, whose body alone has the power to stop wars, yet she’s more than just looks because she’s endowed with the amazingly fun and down to earth personality of someone  doesn’t depend on their physical looks alone. Not only is your Victoria’s Secret model smoking hot, but now she’s totally not gonna be a bitch anymore. She’s going smother you with love and cookies and do whatever you want without complaint. Your iPhone 4S is going to keep track of all your documents, emails, and pictures. Make sure data is in-sync across all of your devices. Download any song from your iTunes library straight to your phone. It will even understand commands you shout at it when you’re too tired to caress it with your fingers.

Form Factor Doesn’t Change Performance

All these great software upgrades don’t mean the hardware upgrades coming to the new iPhone are insignificant though. Plausibility states that the new iPhone (regardless of whether it’s an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5) will upgrade its processor from the single core 1GHz A4, to a dual-core 1GHz A5. RAM will be upgraded from 512MB to 1GB. The camera will now be 8MP, and it will be dual-band GSM/CDMA. These upgrades combine to double the performance capabilities of the iPhone. Whatever form factor the new iPhone takes on, it will be a speedy beast. When did an iPhone on steroids, accompanied by new mind melting software become a disappointment? For some reason we have developed a mentality that the body of a device completely changes the performance of its internals. This is completely wrong. Changing the form factor of the iPhone does not change how extraordinary the device performs with the same internal hardware. Continuing the design of the iPhone 4 to the next iPhone is a testament of how perfect the iPhone 4 already is. Glass and metal have never combined so elegantly in consumer electronics before the invention of the iPhone 4. Some will claim that companies should continually seek to refine their designs. I agree. Except when there’s not much to improve upon, why rush? iMacs haven’t seen a design update since 2008 but they still look great and provide the best desktop computing experience available today. I have full confidence that Apple will release a spectacular new design for the iMac line in the future, but it’s release is predicated on whether the new design makes sense. The same holds true for the iPhone. A completely redesigned iPhone will come at some point in the near future, but Apple is not under any pressure to hurry up and release a product that is still in beta.

Perils of Overdesign

Apple understands the importance of design better than any company on the planet. They also understand that it is possible to “overdesign” a product. Remember when Apple felt the need to improve the iPod Shuffle’s design and released that tiny stick without any buttons? Or how the first generation MacBook Air was an overpriced, feature deprived novelty item? Will efforts to make the next iPhone thinner decrease its performance? Will a bigger screen make the device more cumbersome? What are the true benefits of a captive touch home-button? These are things that deserve careful consideration before supplanting a design that has proven to be successful. Getting caught up in design can sometimes force a company back a few steps. There’s nothing major to complain about with the iPhone 4?s design, so there is no need for Apple to push out a new design solely for the sake of redesigning without giving thoughtful time and consideration to the changes being made, when competition still hasn’t caught up.  

Lack of Competition

Despite being on the market for nearly 16 months the iPhone 4 has yet to face any competition. It’s shocking another company hasn’t figured it out yet. Name one phone that looks as good as the iPhone 4. Name one phone that performs as well as the iPhone 4. You can’t. The Droid Bionic? The Galaxy S II? Please. Neither of those phones is designed as well as the iPhone 4, nor do they perform as well as an iPhone 4, or have an ecosystem as meticulously built as Apple’s. If you think Apple is going to be left in the dust by these other companies you don’t have a pulse on technology today. When Apple released the original iPhone, Steve Jobs claimed that it was five years ahead of its time. Almost five years have passed since the iPhone was unveiled in January of 2007 and not a single company has combined the right pieces to compete with Apple’s revolutionary device. Detractors would have people believe that Apple fans are oblivious to the true state of affairs. Honestly, most of us hope that a worthy adversary will finally step up to the plate. Dominating a bunch of second-rate challengers gets boring without some true competition – just ask Manny Pacquiao. Blackberry tried their best to take on Apple but their products are out of touch with what consumers need today. Samsung has tried to copy Apple unsuccessfully. Palm made a valiant stand but died a slow and painful death. Google can’t seem to defragment their ecosystem and make great hardware. Last time I checked, Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft has yet to yield significant results. Emerging from the dust of these would-be competitors, Amazon has some scary weapons that look worthy of competing against the fruit company, but they don’t have a phone, yet. The iPhone 4 sits on a perch alone. Yet Apple is going to make it even better, and people are complaining because they wish it had more “newness” to it.

Why is a New Form Factor Important?

After everything we’ve considered, we still don’t have an answer as to why everyone cares so much about a new iPhone form factor if it doesn’t change how great the iPhone performs. If it’s not about internal hardware, and it’s not about software, what reason do we have to be disappointed in a phone that has a superior design, superior software, and superior hardware to that of any phone available? Have we been exposed to planned obsolescence so much that any product deviating from that path is met with pitchforks and torches? The only answer I can find to this question, is that if you’re upset the design of the iPhone hasn’t changed within 16 months, then you’re more concerned about what your phone says about you, rather than what it can do for you. Like cars, clothes, and watches, cellphones have now become a status symbol. Technology is now a means by which our society gauges each other’s inherent worth and intelligence. It’s not completely your fault for succumbing to this view. In fact, Apple has led the marketing charge, convincing us we are more desirable and cool if we have the newest iPhone or iPad. We’ve all bought into their system that forces us to wait in line on launch day so we can be the first of our friends to buy the new device. A new form factor makes it easier for us to distinguish who has the latest and greatest iDevice. Parading through our social circles, we use our new iPhones’ form factor as a designator to show how hip and up to date we are. We want Apple to come out with a redesigned iPhone 5, not because we care so much about the improved processors, memory, and camera, but because we will feel better about ourselves for having the newest gadget on the market while other people are still playing Angry Birds on their “boring,” “old” iPhone 4. Tomorrow Apple will unveil the iPhone 4S with beefed specs wrapped in the same old iPhone 4 body. People will take the internet and deride Apple for the move. Some will even threaten to switch to Android, but in then end, we’ll all be waiting infront of the Apple Store on Launch Day hoping we will be one of the blessed ones to get a new device. I’ll probably be there with. And just like everyone else, I’ll probably correct people that call my new phone an iPhone 4, and say, “no, it’s the iPhone 4S.” Because that S stands for “Special.”  

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