My thoughts on the new iPhone 5 and iPod line revamp

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Flickr Creative Commons photo by Mark Hillary (CC BY)

Today’s big tech news is Apple announcing its latest new iPhone model, the “iPhone 5.” The folks from Cupertino also announced new iPod revisions, plus a revamp of iTunes. As seen below, this year’s iPod theme might well be “the Wonderful World of Color (MP3 Players).”

TechCrunch summarizes everything from today here. My initial thoughts on each news item are outlined below; all pricing is in US dollars, of course. The new iPhones and iPod Touches will include iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS.

iPhone 5

Apparently Apple didn’t want to keep with the generic (and confusing) naming scheme now given to the iPad models (it isn’t “the new iPhone”). The new iPhone 5’s most striking new feature is Apple’s finally upping the screen size to 4 inches, the better to go up against other smartphone makers (such as the recently-sued-by-Apple Samsung and its Galaxy S III), no doubt. LTE compatibility is now included.

The iPhone 5 will go for the same price ranges as the recent 4S. The 4S has now been demoted to being the “cheap” model, and is being sold for $99 (on a two-year contract). The iPhone 4 will be offered for free with a two-year contract, while the 3GS is being retired from the Apple lineup.

In my opinion, those with a iPhone 4 or earlier model would probably find moving to the iPhone 5 worthwhile. I don’t think it’d be worth moving up from the 4S, however.

iPod Touch

The iPod Touch has been revised, and now resembles the iPhone even stronger than before, including Siri and a 4-inch screen. The Touch now also comes in multiple colors.

While the iPod as a whole seems to be losing ground to smartphones these days, there’s still plenty of people who just want an MP3 player, or want the smartphone aspects (apps, etc.) but not the cellular side. I expect the Touch will still be popular, especially with its choice of colors.

iPod Nano

The Nano’s being revised as well. Along with coming in the same multiple colors as the Touch, it’s now lost its “glorified wristwatch” look and gone back to the previous “stick” model, albeit touchscreen based. Once again, one can watch video on the Nano, though at less than 3 inches, it might be too small for some.

While I wonder if the Nano has less place in the iPod lineup (with the Shuffle being cheaper and the Touch only another $50-$100 more), its FM tuner and cheaper price than the Touch might make it appealing for joggers, going to the gym, or the like.

iPod Shuffle

The Shuffle stays virtually the same as it has for years now, though now comes in multiple colors as well.

iPod Classic

Ignored as usual in Apple’s roll-out, the iPod Classic still exists in its sole 160GB configuration, and as usual unchanged. I’d have figured it’d be a goner, per Apple’s emphasis on the “cloud,” etc., but I suppose they must figure there’s still a market for a high-capacity traditional iPod.

Lightning

Another change for all of Apple’s new mobile devices is a new, thinner connector they call “Lightning.” While this change renders all existing iPod docks, etc. obsolete, Apple is offering for sale converter plugs to accommodate users with such older hardware.

Long overdue revamps

Besides the iPhone/iPod revisions, Apple’s also taken the time to revise two of its long-criticized elements, iTunes and its earbuds:

  • iTunes has been given a revamp, integrating Apple’s “iCloud” cloud service, and mercy-killing Ping (a service nobody used, as webcomic “The Oatmeal” noted). For years, people have been wanting to see a revamp for iTunes. Hopefully, the new version addresses some of their concerns regarding speed and functionality.
  • Apple’s earbuds have also been long criticized, but those have now revamped from the ground up, producing Apple’s new “earpods.” TechCrunch tried them out and gave them a favorable review. The new earphones will be included with all new/future iPhones and iPods, or one can purchase a pair for the not-cheap price of $29.

Conclusion

Overall, Apple should satisfy iPhone/iPod fans with this year’s revisions. Moreso, I’d expect the revised earbuds to be a big hit (compared to the last ones), and hopefully, the new iTunes will also be an improvement.

Still, there’s no announcement, as many had hoped, of a new 7 inch “iPad Mini.” I suppose either Apple doesn’t see a need for such (despite how competitive that area currently is, especially with the new Kindles announced last week), or they feel their existing hardware covers things nicely, between the now-4 inch iPhone / iPod Touch and their offering the previous generation iPad for $399.


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