Apple has a batch of new iPhones. Three to be precise. The quite ordinary iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus which, to be honest, exist because they need to exist/Apple needs to cater to everyone and make money while at it and, the extraordinary iPhone X; the most interesting device that Apple announced and probably an industry game changer.
There is much being said about Apple’s new iPhones, the three of them. Personally, I love the iPhone X. That’s the rarest statement you can ever hear me make. It’s up there with “I love Android custom skins”, “I like being stuck on last year’s software” and such like stuff. Exciting as it may be, is the iPhone X, and its two lesser siblings, really as mind-blowing as we’re going to be hearing from analysts, fanboys and reviewers over the next couple of weeks as we had in the run up to their unveiling and moments after their big reveal?
Let’s look at some of their components and features to see if it’s really worth breaking the bank for the next iPhone or you’re just better off continuing to pray to the Android gods that you receive the next month’s security patch update before a yet-to-be-revealed malware strike dominates the homepages of your favourite technology blogs for a week or so.
1. You can still get comparatively big and small displays on Android, thank you very much
Want a 6-inch super premium smartphone that is just fresh from the kitchen? Samsung’s got one. It’s called the Galaxy Note 8 and it’s awesome. Like really awesome.
2. Android devices still have the brightest displays available
That new iPhone (X) has just 625 nits which is a lot but what is this, 2015? There are better options on the Android side if it’s a really bright display that you are after.
3. OLED panels? Totally not a new thing
Yes, the iPhone X has a swanky new OLED panel, the first time ever that Apple is including an OLED display on its smartphone but is that groundbreaking enough to make you leave the Android fold for the fruit side? Not really. Android smartphones from a wide range of manufacturers have had OLED displays for like forever. Samsung pioneered the trend with the AMOLED displays it has been putting on its high-end Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones over the years. Today, the Korean company even offers budget devices with AMOLED panels. Motorola and Google have also walked down that road.
Super Retina Display? Big words that are more important on a marketing booklet than in a technical specifications sheet, to be honest. The Samsung Galaxy S8, which came out in late February and has been on sale for half a year now, offers a mobile HDR premium display with 570 pixels per inch. The new Galaxy Note 8 has 522 pixels per inch and is certified for HDR video streaming by Netflix joining the likes of LG’s V30 and Sony’s Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Premium. The LG G6 even had HDR10 and Dolby Vision support at launch.
The 5.8-inch iPhone X, in comparison, has 458 pixels per inch and flaunts its TrueTone credentials for all to see.
So, go get the iPhone X if it tickles your fancy but not because you’re missing OLED options or the resolution is out of this world.
4. Even forgettable Lumia Windows Phones had wireless charging so what’s the fuss?
The beauty of Apple not rushing to market with new features is that it usually takes its time to refine them. So much that by the time a particular feature that the competition has had for a while hits Apple devices, it’s almost perfect. That’s what I felt watching the new AirPower wireless charging mat that won’t be available in the market until next year, get previewed on stage. It was epic and I loved it. I mean, being able to charge all your devices (AirPods, iPhone and Apple Watch) all at once? Perfect. Besides that? Not much else.
Android devices have had wireless charging for so long now. It has been a hallowed feature of any Android device worth its salt over the last 4-5 years. Heck, even a platform as dead as Windows Phone once played host to devices with wireless charging, like the Lumia 920. Do you remember when the Lumia 920 was launched? In such a month in 2012! I remember charging a review Lumia 920 unit on a JBL wireless charging plate in 2013.
Today, the wireless charging plate that Samsung is offering to buyers of the Galaxy Note 8 as an accompanying accessory even features fast charging wirelessly. No need waiting for ages and preferring to use a cable.
Apple finally making its 3 new iPhones chargeable wirelessly only serves to make the feature more mainstream since iPhones sell like hot cakes every year. Having over 60 million potential wireless charging users out there in a given year is a great leap in making any technology go mainstream, something that no Android device maker can do. Only Apple has that type of convincing power and we appreciate it for that.
5. Augmented Reality integration is some epic stuff but we’ve already seen it too
One of the main differences between the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and the outlier, the iPhone X, is the camera system in use on the latter. The iPhone X has a dual-camera system that allows it more depth that is suited for applications that will be exploiting Apple’s AR kit to place virtual objects on real world objects (that is basically what Augmented Reality is, btw). As demoed on stage at the Apple event, Augmented Reality will play a big role going forward in how we play games, learn online and the like. Pokémon Go is a good example from last year. We all went gaga over virtual objects placed in the real world in various parts of our localities.
So yeah, AR is pretty much a big deal but the new iPhones aren’t showing us anything we haven’t seen already. You can get an AR-capable smartphone on the cheap. Lenovo’s 6.4-inch Phab 2 smartphone does just that while the Phab2 Pro with its superior camera system and sensor array brings the best of AR on mobile to its users thanks to Google’s Project Tango. If the pioneer Lenovo phones are not your cup of tea, Taiwanese device maker Asus has a phone aptly named Zenfone AR which introduces an even interesting mix: Mixed Reality. The Zenfone AR supports both Augmented Reality thanks to Tango and Virtual Reality thanks to Google’s mobile VR on Android initiative, Daydream. So yeah, no biggie, Apple.
6. Artificial Intelligence is really cool i.e. the future of mobile but we can wait a little longer, thanks Apple!
The new iPhones pack a new processor, the A11 Bionic. The iPhone X, being the superior device that it is adds a dual-core neural engine chip to enhance the device’s Artificial Intelligence smarts. However, Apple is not the first to do this (add a specialized chipset for AI). At IFA 2017, Huawei unveiled its latest mobile application processor which is set to debut on its upcoming Mate 10 smartphone. The Kirin 970’s marketing material from Huawei touts it as “the world’s first AI chipset”. Honestly, it would be wise to see what Huawei does with it before deciding to give Apple your money.
7. Just an added 2 hours longer on battery juice? LOL
Apple iPhone users have for long had to endure the never-ending “wall-hugger” jokes attributed to their device’s not-so-impressive battery life. Apple even attempted to make things right by introducing an awkward-looking case. In the iPhone X, despite all the cutting-edge tech packed inside, Apple says that users will be able to get at least 2 more hours of battery. Well, we definitely know phones that can do better than that. And they run Android. Just saying.
8. No need to choose between fingerprint sensors and face unlock, we can have both
The iPhone X ditches Touch ID, the name Apple had given the fingerprint sensor on its iPhones since the 5s, in favour of the clean bezel-less edge-to-edge look. Users, as a result, will have to make do with Face ID, the name Apple is giving to the iPhone X’s facial recognition technology. What if you could have both? I loved the facial recognition on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and loathed the terrible placement of the fingerprint scanner at the back but hey, at least the device has both. The new Note 8 keeps both.
9. Android emojis have sucked for a long time and just when we’re getting over blobs, there’s Animoji. We want!
I totally dig the new animated emoji that Apple is calling Animoji. I want those in my messaging app.
As Android users, we are waiting for the Android 8.0 update to hit our devices so that we can get to enjoy the new Android emoji that are devoid of the blobs we had become accustomed to. And then Apple brings along Animoji. Time to go back to the drawing board, Google!
10. Dual-cameras with dual OIS? Been there, done that
Again, refer to the Galaxy Note 8.
11. We’ve essentially seen that kind of design already
Xiaomi already managed to wow us last year with a bezel-less design that saw all the necessary front-side components like the front camera, the ambient sensors and the like occupy a tiny space up top. So Apple trying to woo us with the X’s edge-to-edge bezel-less design? We’ve already seen that and the Mi Mix is an excellent device. Its successor, unveiled just hours before the iPhone X, builds on it and makes things better. The only disaster here is that for the longest time, Xiaomi has been blatantly copying Apple so we might be inclined to stand by the teacher even though the student can pretty much walk on their own and amaze the world. Tricky.
Oh, and edge-to-edge is something we’ve heard for a while now thanks to the Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 and the Note 8.
Normally, I’d bring up the Essential phone since its design kind of prepared us for the X’s arrival but according to reviews, that phone has troubles of its own so it’s not worth bringing up.
12. We dig the eSIM thing but Samsung walked down that aisle two years ago, sorry!
Android Wear 2.0 took forever to arrive but when it did, it guaranteed quite a number of things. Like Android-powered smartwatches truly being standalone, something the new Apple Watch unveiled yesterday now lists as one of its biggest selling points.
Fancy as some of the technology we’re always playing up can be, I have no words for how it will never be okay to make or answer calls from our wrists. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Enough said.
eSIM? Samsung, even though its Gear watches no longer run Android, was there before.
13. Sad to say but just go and buy any of the new iPhones if Snapchat is your thing
If there is one thing that should make an Android device user get any of the iPhones straightaway then it should be Snapchat. Snapchat has always been something like an afterthought and when the new iPhones start selling, it really will be an afterthought. Seeing what Apple was able to do by partnering with Snapchat, I am convinced there’s no otherwise.
14. Kshs 100,000 or more for a phone is now becoming the new normal and we can’t cope
The rest of the world may be hurting that the new iPhone costs $999 but Kenyans who opt for higher memory configuration iPhones have been buying them at over Kshs 100,000 for a while now. The Galaxy Note 8 will cost Kshs 105,000 when it starts selling in Kenya next month. By all means, Kshs 100,000 is the new Kshs 60,000 of old as far as premium smartphones go. And it hurts!
15. If you’re going to ask us for Kshs 100,000 for a high-end Android smartphone, then its camera must shoot 4K video at 60fps and 1080p at 240fps, otherwise, DIE!
The iPhone shoots 4K video at 60 frames per second and full HD video at 240 frames per second. Imagine that. Mindblowing stuff. I am very far from being a video buff but I want that on my phone’s camera, too. Is there an excuse why anyone should pony anything over Kshs 100,000 for a device that doesn’t do the same?
If you still want VR (virtual reality), you have no choice but to stick to Android
The new iPhones, all three of them, still lack support for virtual reality. VR enthusiast? Go grab Cardboard or Gear VR and be happy.