Apple launched the new iPhone 5 superphone today. Strategy Analytics' Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service was at the event. What are our first impressions of the flagship model?
1. Hardware: Formfactor of the phone is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It is a 4.0-inch Retina screen with an 8MP camera and low-light mode. The device is made of sleek glass and aluminum in a slate design. It has a smaller connector, as expected. The iPhone 5 is thinner (8mm) and lighter (112g), roughly a one-fifth improvement on the prior version. The display will look modest in size when placed against Samsung's 4.8-inch Galaxy S3. Sharpness, thinness and pixelation of the screen are a main selling-point for the iPhone 5. We anticipate the wholesale (trade) price of the iPhone 5 has increased slightly, but this will be offset by heavy subsidies from megaoperators in several countries (e.g. AT&T in US).
2. Software: The phone has added more camera-friendly software, such as smart filtering and better low-light performance. This is not dissimilar to what Nokia and others are doing already. The new iOS6 platform has improved maps, also not dissimilar to Nokia's existing strategy. Facebook is integrated into Siri, so the user can "talk to Facebook". The iTunes service have been enhanced for iOS users (e.g. integrated iCloud, sharing photos).
3. Components: LTE (single chip, single radio, single antenna) has been added, as predicted by Strategy Analytics several months ago. It has an Apple A6 chip for faster graphics, upgraded from the A5.
4. Services: There are now 700k apps available in the Apple App Store, more than any other online store. Console-quality graphics from gaming companies like Electronic Arts, using the A6 chip, look relatively slick. Gaming, imaging and maps are clearly important for Apple.
5. Operators: Distribution is assured, of course, with multiple major global and US carriers onboard, such as AT&T, VZW and KDDI. The iPhone 5 will launch commercially in the second half of September. Apple says it got a huge 1 million visitors per day at its own Apple stores worldwide in Q3 2012.
6. Competitors: Samsung, Nokia, LG, RIM, Kyocera, Sony, ZTE, Huawei, Pantech and Fujitsu will be among the main rivals for the new Apple iPhone 5. It will compete head-on with the Nokia Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S3.
* Our First Impression: Apple iPhone 5 will almost certainly become the world's best-selling LTE phone in Q4 2012. However, the 4-inch screen is not as large as some other models, like Samsung's Galaxy S3, and that will be one chink in Apple's armor that competitors will try to exploit. Apple iPhone 5 marks the start of the 4G boom.
We will follow shortly this blog with a subsequent blog and report.