Apple’s new iPhone isn’t so new

A crowd outside of the Shanghai Apple store.
A crowd outside of the Shanghai Apple store.
A crowd outside of the Shanghai Apple store

Slightly before daybreak on 20 September 2013, hordes of crusading consumers gathered around the world with a common purpose. Valiant in their goal, they remained steadfast in the face of monstrous crowds, the dark early morning, and seemingly endless waiting. For the Holy Grail of this trek was none other than Apple’s newest invention: the illustrious and long awaited iPhones 5C and 5S.

And just as history’s quest for the Holy Grail revealed an idealised waste of resources, the new iPhone itself is just that.

It’s no secret that the new iPhone models differ minimally from their predecessors. These particular versions offer a more advanced chip, faster wireless, and a larger camera. The 5S model additionally boasts a fingerprint identity sensor.

Of course Apple goes through the motions of advertising their new product, but the truth is, proven time and time again, people will purchase the new iPhone models regardless of their updates. And that’s not because consumers suddenly develop the need for a fingerprint sensor or A7 internal chip. It’s because at this point, Apple does not sell based on product – they sell based on brand name.

Someone won’t pay £549 for a phone that he essentially already owns. Someone will, however, pay for the sleek Apple logo and for a tangible certificate that he’s up to date with the times, moving forward with the rest of the world. That’s what Apple is selling us; and people are buying it. In fact, just in the weekend following its release, Apple sold nine million new iPhones.

This iPhone release is coupled with the unveiling of Apple’s new software, iOS7. However, the public reaction to the new operating system has hardly been comparable with that of the phone. While the biggest complaint about the iPhone 5S has been its limited quantity, this is certainly not the case for iOS7. Twitter, the online mecca for the technologically conscious, has provided a venue for numerous iOS7 complaints. Most describe the difficulty of using the system, the shortened battery life and the problems it causes with several basic apps (Gmail, calendar, Twitter, etc.).

The striking characteristic of iOS7 is its inherent difference from previous operating systems, both visually and internally. Unlike the slow evolution of iPhones, which are identical at a glance, iOS7 bears surprisingly little resemblance to its predecessor, iOS6. This is undoubtedly at the root of its overwhelmingly negative reception.

Perhaps consumers flock to purchase the new iPhone because it provides the façade of advance without the inconvenience of actual change. Yet when we’re faced with the legitimate technological evolution of iOS7, we must confront the reality that we may be a more neo-phobic generation than we suppose.


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