So, another iPhone event is over. The iPhone 13 has been officially unveiled and it’s hard to get too excited about anything contained within the 78-minute presentation from Cook & Co. More speed, better cameras, a better screen (on the Pro models) and a 20% smaller notch is hardly the kind of thing to get (normal) people queuing round the block on launch day.
“iPhone 13 has a new look for the advanced dual camera system, with the lenses arranged diagonally,” Kaiann Drance, vice president of iPhone product marketing, pointed out, ably demonstrating her world class ‘Spot the Difference’ credentials by noticing one of the few physical changes to the handset. It’s hardly the kind of stuff to get pulses racing.
In fact, you could probably stick your iPhone 12 in an iPhone 13 case and just pretend you’d spent between NZ$1,249 and $2,999 (the price of the Pro model with a loopy 1TB of storage) if you really wanted.
There wasn’t even room for any mention of the rumoured satellite communications. To say it was like watching paint dry would be an insult to Dulux — at least you see something demonstrably different at the end of an eight-hour painting and drying process, after all.
But anyone loudly proclaiming the death of iPhone as the market leader is just plain deluded. The truth of the matter is that the iPhone 12 didn’t need to be taken apart and reinvented — it just needed minor revisions, which is exactly what Apple has delivered. I expect that when reviews come in, the scores will reflect just that and the handset will quickly head to the top of publications’ best phones lists (including ours.)
Buy an iPhone 13 on release day, and you’ll get a polished, faster iPhone experience — and that’s what the majority of Apple’s buyers want.
The upgrades that people actually want
That may sound patronising, but it’s largely the tech press clamouring for wholesale changes. Day to day iPhone users are quite happy with the product as is, as proven by their legendary brand loyalty, and aren’t looking for out-and-out change.
Ahead of the launch, the British price comparison site USwitch carried out a survey of 2,000 UK adults asking the features they most wanted in the iPhone 13. The lowest registered response — just 14% of people — were craving a “different general design”. Maybe they’ll be satisfied by the revolutionary diagonal camera arrangement.
The most common request? Better battery life, longed for by 35% of respondents. Hardly surprising given the pretty abysmal battery life of the iPhone 12 family. Good news, stamina fans! Apple says you’ll be getting between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours’ more battery from the iPhone 13 compared to the previous generation, depending on which model you buy.
While the company didn’t talk about the actual capacities during the show, a leak ahead of the event promised increases of between 8- and 18% in battery capacity between the models. Combine that with the general promised efficiency improvements of the A15 chip, and 35% of the British public are likely to be very happy bunnies. Well, as happy as we Brits ever get, anyway.
The same can be said for those wanting an upgrade to the camera (22%), a faster processor (another 22%), and an edition with 1TB storage (17%). Tick, tick, tick. What these potential buyers lack in imagination, they easily make up for in terms of being remarkably easy to please.
And while the 34% of respondents who wanted a lower price will be disappointed, it is at least no more expensive than last year — and the entry-level model (presumably the one of interest to these ‘price conscious consumers’) comes with double the storage of the iPhone 12, too. In terms of Apple’s slightly skewed sense of value, that constitutes a bargain.
Never bet against iPhone
If you’re still sceptical that this is an iPhone that will sell, ask yourself this: when was the last time Apple showed something truly revolutionary when unveiling a new iPhone — something never seen before in the world of Android? I think I’m reaching for Face ID, introduced with the iPhone X back in 2017 (and even that’s a refined version of something familiar).
Despite this, the iPhone continues to grow in popularity, and as of January this year, there are over a billion active iPhones. Given there are close to eight billion people in the world, that’s really quite something.
If you want something new and truly different, maybe Samsung’s new foldables are for you. For others, iPhone’s continued refinement will be more than enough. Boring can be brilliant, as we’ll no doubt see as the first iPhone 13 reviews begin to roll in next week. No doubt that will be proven with the sales figures too… unless 13 proves unlucky for Apple.