Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Sep 13, 2012 10:44 AM EDT

iPhone

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook takes the stage after the introduction of the iPhone 5 during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco, California September 12, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)

With all the gushing from research analysts, tech-heads, and Apple devotees alike, even Android owners might see some value in the new iPhone 5. However, quantifying the value the iPhone 5 delivers is a little more difficult. The handset will offer a host of improvements over its predecessor, including 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service, a bigger display, and much more.

But, there's just one major problem: most of the new features coming to the iPhone 5 are already available in competing devices. In fact, the iPhone 5 is somewhat of a catch-up device designed to deliver all of the features Android users have already been enjoying, an interesting shift. And it's something that shouldn't be overlooked as we consider the iPhone 5's value. Here are nine major iPhone 5 features that can already be found in many of its competitors' smartphones.  

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1. The long-awaited quad-core processor

When Apple's new iPad launched, many had hoped that the company would announce a quad-core processor. It didn't. Instead, it delivered a higher-end dual-core chip. In the iPhone 5, hopes for a quad-core processor are back. There's just one problem: a slew of Android-based devices, including several from Samsung and LG's Spectrum, have a quad-core chip.

The iPhone 5's brand new A6 chip is reportedly two times faster at CPU and chip graphics, as well as 22 percent smaller. There's also up to 150Mbps on Wi-Fi. This chip has been shown as bringing on launches of apps at nearly 2x the speed as the previous iPhone on the whole.

With a launch of your "Pages" app, you'll be going 2.1x the speed, with an opening of a "Keynote" app, 1.7x the speed. This device's chip is also tuned to bring on the best gaming experience the iPhone has ever seen, EA coming to the stage this week to show off its graphics prowess. EA's Rob Murray showed off Real Racing 3 with "full console quality" and "for the first time, rear view mirrors!"

2. 4G LTE

Looking around the mobile space nowadays, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find smartphones that don't come with 4G LTE service. The iPhone 4S is perhaps the most notable exception. However, Apple the iPhone 5 will offer high-speed 4G LTE: single chip, single radi, and dynamic antenna.

Apple claims its LTE will reportedly allow really fast downloads over the cell network and can be faster than the average Wi-Fi network.

3. The latest and greatest software

Apple's iPhone 5 is the only flagship device to come with iOS 6. However, Apple isn't the only company to be bundling the latest and greatest software in devices this year. The latest Android distribution, Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), has already made its way to some new devices, including most notably, the Nexus 7. Simply put, Apple's best firepower is going up against Google's best firepower; Apple isn't taking on the obsolete alternatives.

4. A 4-inch display

Apple will offer a 4-inch display in the next iPhone. Yawn. A host of devices already offer bigger screens than that, and let's not forget that calls for Apple to bump its 3.5-inch display have been made for years.

5. An improved camera

Since it's a guarantee that Apple will have dual cameras in the iPhone 5, it's also quite likely that the company will offer some improvements to the rear camera. But can anything it offers match the 41-megapixel PureView found in Nokia's 808?

With iSight's eight megapixel sensor, and f/2.4 aperture, it definitely matches up with the Galaxy S III.

6. Thinner body

Apple has been serious about mobility for a long time. And nearly every chance it gets, it offers up a device that comes in much thinner than those that came before it. But that's nothing new. Every company in the mobile space is trying to make their products thinner. And in many cases, they're succeeding.

7. Rounded corners and other design ideas

Nothing terribly groundbreaking here - the iPhone 5 will come with the standard look you've come to exact from Apple's products. The device will be thin, it'll have rounded corners, and its 4-inch display on the front will be big enough to handle your inputs. In other words, it's just like every other product on store shelves. And the phone actually has even less personality than its competitors' models - Nokia's Lumia 920 offers a wide selction of colors for its smartphone. Maybe Apple is banking on looking like the sophisticated sibling in the market, the Alex to Nokia's Mallory Keaton perhaps?

8. A better battery

We all knew there was little chance of Apple not updating its iPhone 5 batteries. Unfortunately, device batteries have become commoditized. And not even Apple is doing something so special with the iPhone's battery to beat its competitors. However, the A6 chip does increases performance and battery life. Whether it's on a whole other level than its competitors though remains to be seen.

Toss-Up : Apple's "Passbook" Vs. Near-field communication

This is an easy one, isn't it? Apparently not. Near-field communication has seemed like an absolute necessity in every smartphone going forward, and yet, it hasn't been available in Apple's iPhone, and won't appear on the new iPhone 5. Several companies, including Apple's arch-nemesis Samsung, have already bundled NFC into their products.

Apple decided against including NFC technology in its new iPhone in favor of its own "Passbook" app, which the company claims "does the kinds of things customers need today." The app can tie together all your airline boarding passes, loyalty programs, game tickets, and coupons together, and puts them in one place.

Apple's senior vice president, Phil Schiller, offered a few digs at wireless charging systems at the San Francisco event, questioning the amount of convenience they offer users. "Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated," Schiller said.

While NFC technology has been around for a while and works fine, its use as a payment technology requires a broad ecosystem. "But any devices need to be equipped with tiny NFC chips," CNET's Maggie Reardon pointed out. "And terminals at the point of sale must also be equipped to read the information from the NFC chips installed in devices. The second big problem is that there are still business issues centering around who controls the customer via the NFC technology that's embedded in the device."

This presents an opportunity for Apple to pull ahead of Google in the race to turn phones into digital wallets, one of the holy grails of the last few years.


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