What impact, if any, will the iPhone 5 have on the Android ecosystem?

September 13, 2012
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Yesterday Apple announced their sixth generation generation iPhone, the iPhone 5. It has a larger 4 inch screen, it has a new A6 chip, and it’s the first iPhone to come with 4G LTE support. What should the Android world think about this new device? Most people’s reactions will fit under one of three categories: apathy, optimism, and fear.

Starting with fear, the new iPhone is now incredibly competitive with today’s flagship Android devices. People who thought that the iPhone’s 3.5 inch screen was too small will now have one less excuse to ignore this new model. One of our favorite Android phones, the Samsung Nexus S, shipped in late 2010 with a 4 inch screen. We absolutely fell in love with the form factor. It wasn’t too difficult to use with one hand, it could slip in and out of our pockets with ease, and, because it was a “Google Phone” it got software updates faster than any other Android device on the market. The problem with the Nexus S is that in today’s world it’s incredibly underpowered. That and it doesn’t have 4G LTE, which is critical for many Americans. Sure, there are plenty of 4G LTE Android phones out there today, but they’re massive. The Verizon Galaxy Nexus has a 4.65 inch screen, the HTC One X has a 4.7 inch screen, and the Galaxy S3 has a 4.8 inch screen. The iPhone 5’s display, at 4 inches, is a lot more manageable. And unlike smaller 4.3 inch Android phones, this new iPhone has an incredibly high resolution display.

On the other side of the coin, some of you are probably happy that Apple launched the new iPhone because it shows your favorite Android handset maker that it’s definitely possible to come out with a flagship device that isn’t the size of your face. One device that was recently announced that springs to mind is the Sony Xperia V. It has a 4.3 inch 720p display, a 13 megapixel camera, and the same dual core 4G LTE enabled Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 that’s inside the American variants of the Galaxy S3. We haven’t reviewed the Xperia V yet, but we’re pretty confident that it’s quickly going to become our new favorite Android phones because of it’s svelte size and incredibly attractive design. Maybe Samsung will try making the Galaxy S4 smaller because of the iPhone 5, maybe HTC will make a new One X that uses the same 4.5 inch display that’s in Nokia’s new Lumia 920. We can only hope.

And finally there’s the apathetic folks. You guys probably aren’t even reading this article since you couldn’t care less about what Apple is doing. That’s an incredible shame, because as much as we don’t want to admit it, Google takes a lot of ideas from Apple. They also take ideas from Microsoft, the handset maker formerly known as Palm, and many other companies that we’ve probably never even heard of. Sir Isaac Newton once famously said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” What he means by that is that his work was possible because of everything that mathematicians and physicists did before his time. Oddly enough, there’s nothing really in the iPhone 5 that we see can inspire other handset makers, but like we said earlier, we wish they’d pay attention to Apple’s unwillingness to make gargantuan phones.

Forgetting about the iPhone 5 for a second, what’s really important here is that the iPhone 4 is now free with a two year contract in America, and it’s “only” 400 Euros in Europe. It’s a two year old phone, we know that, but it runs the latest version of iOS and it’s price competitive with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S2.

We’ll have more to say about the iPhone 5 once we get our hands on one. We’ll play with it, point out the good things, laugh at the bad things, and count the days until Google announces their next Nexus device.

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