Category: Mobile

A bigger iPhone? More probable than most might think

Sources in China seem to think that Apple will release a bigger iPhone that will have a 4.8 inch screen. I don’t know if these rumors are true, but they have a higher degree of probability since there’s a logical reason for Apple to go for a 4.8 inch screen size. So it’s either someone pushing bullshit rumors that accidentally got it right in terms of size, or there’s indeed some truth from these rumors.

I personally think that Apple could do a larger iPhone, if they think that they need to — their previous hardware decisions indicate that they are well aware when they need to release a significantly different (from a hardware point of view) device to capture the market: Apple didn’t stay with only the original iPod “classic” form-factor — they made the mini, nano and the shuffle, nor did Apple stay with the original 9.7 inch iPad — they released the iPad mini. Considering this, why should the iPhone be any different?
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Just like the iPod mini

The rumors of 7 inch “iPad mini” began surfacing all over the web more than half year ago, with different sources claiming slightly different screen sizes, price points and shipping dates. As time went on, the rumors became more and more consistent, eventually settling on the 7.85 inch screen size and the 2012 fall release schedule. The recent reports from the WSJ and Bloomberg seem to confirm this rumors, so the probability of Apple releasing the product is now higher than it ever was.

John Gruber wrote an excellent post compiling many of different ideas, viewpoints and analysis on this subject, with which I agree almost word for word. The exception being the price point. While it’s probably achievable for Apple to make an iPad mini for $199, I’m more than certain that it won’t happen, at least in the first year of the iPad mini.
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$399 is significant enough

While commenting on the recent story at MacRumors about the possibility of iPad 2 being offered alongside the new iPad 3, Marco Arment makes an interesting and generally right conclusion — offering the iPad 2 at a lower price point as the low-end model does makes more than enough sense from a business standpoint. However, I strongly disagree with his remark at the end:

How far down can Apple push the price of the iPad 2’s basic design, maybe with only 8 GB of flash? $199 probably isn’t possible and $399 probably isn’t a significant enough reduction to change anything, but if they can get it down to $299, that would take a lot of wind out of the 7” tablets’ half-assed sails.

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Why wouldn’t Apple make an iPad mini?

While I already talked about a possible “iPad mini” in early 2012, a recent post at 9to5Mac pushes the topic a little bit further. This time the story is based on a rumor of LG Display becoming Apple’s supplier of 7.35 inch displays for the said iPad mini. While I’m not absolutely convinced that the said report is true, it boggles the mind why so many people automatically just disregard even the slightest possibility of Apple releasing an “iPad mini”.
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The Schmidt Bullshit

It certainly isn’t news that corporate people often lie or bend the truth their way, but it still strikes me how people put up with high-caliber bullshit from them. A recent example of this is Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive Chairman (and former CEO), answering a question about Android being a “stolen product” at a press conference in South Korea:

I would also point out that the Android efforts started before the iPhone efforts. And that’s all I have to say.

While Google did purchase Android (a project stared in 2003 by Andy Rubin, Apple’s former engineer) back in 2005, two years before Apple’s announcement of the original iPhone, back then it was nothing like the iPhone (and nobody then claimed that it was a stolen product) — it was developed for a blackberry-styled non-touchscreen smartphones with hardware keyboards, hence the early hardware prototypes.

Smartphones, that Android was initially developed for

Smartphones, that Android was initially developed for

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Why Android Hardware-Buttons Are “Broken”

Early Android prototype hardware

Early Android prototype hardware

In his recent post, Christoffer Du Rietz makes a great point on why hardware-buttons (as a part of the user-interface) in Android smartphones are fundamentally “broken”. The conclusion is mostly right:

The sad thing is about all this is that having made the decision to use these buttons from the start, Google has locked itself in a mess of a UI-model. All Android apps would have to be redesigned should they want to change it around and fix this. In short, they’re stuck with a UI that sucks and they can’t fix it because they didn’t think it through thoroughly before the first launch.

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Google’s control over Android

When discussing problems with Android devices, you can often find people who claim, that most (if not all) problems with Android devices are caused by the manufacturers of said devices and Google isn’t to blame. Geeks like to justify this by saying that Google has no control over Android and devices that are made with it, i.e. manufacturers have the freedom to do anything with it. While this does sound plausible with all the “open” bullshit that’s coming from Google, the reality is very different.
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Android update problems

The problem with updates in Android isn’t news, but usually geeks (or should I say “google fanboys”?) will try to defend Google by shifting the responsibility onto hardware manufacturers. They also like to make a point that if you really want to buy an Android smartphone that has zero problems with updates, than you should buy a “Nexus” device. Well, today is the day, when this Nexus crap is officially bullshit. As mentioned in a recent TechCrunch post by Jordan Crook:

Unfortunately for owners of the original Google phone, Google has confirmed that the Nexus One is just “too old” for the new software.

Now, consider that the Nexus One was first released in US on January 5, 2010 — less than two years ago, other countries got in even later. This situation is typical for Google’s products — they have no support what so ever, either it’s software, hardware or web-services. And while this may be suitable for free web-services or software, it’s absolutely unacceptable for consumer products. What’s worse, by doing this Google sets an example for other manufacturers, saying that they should not care about updates either (not that they particularly care now).

Meanwhile, the iPhone 3GS, that was released more than two years ago, is still alive and kicking getting updated to the newest version of iOS.

Siri’s iPhone 4S exclusivity

The talk about Siri’s iPhone 4S exclusivity being nothing more that marketing started right after the announcement of Apple’s new flagship smartphone. And while this is a very “convenient” explanation for various random tech blogs, in reality important products decisions are rarely made with such simple reasoning, especially at Apple or any other company, that is focused on quality of their products and the user-experience that they create.
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“iPad mini” in early 2012

Recently, some news sites ran a story about a possible new entry-level “iPad mini” tablet, that Apple allegedly plans to launch in early 2012 to counter the new low-priced Kindle Fire tablet from Amazon. While most of the rumors concerning Apple turn out to be complete non-sense, this story indeed has some sense.

As with the iPhone (and previously the iPod), it’s not a question of “will Apple do it”, but rather when Apple will considers it necessary to expand the product line, creating a more affordable option. Another question is what will this more affordable option be. The problem with this story lies in semantics and timing:

  • - the whole “mini” part is too reminiscent of the device’s smaller size (which is indeed unlikely), even when the story has a remark, that the “mini” moniker not necessarily refers to a smaller screen size of the tablet, but it’s lower price;
  • - the “countering Amazon” part also sounds bullshit too far-fetched, because releasing the “iPad mini” in early 2012 would require Apple to start it’s development a good year or more early, when there was no sign of Kindle Fire or any other viable competition;

Still, even considering all this, Apple could release a new entry-level iPad device. But, as shown us by the iPhone 4S announcement, Apple most probably would just lower the price of iPad 2 and keep producing it side by side with a new iPad 3, if it’s possible to differentiate the two product enough (e.g. iPad 3 will have a quad-core Apple A6 SoC and the new 2048 x 1536 “Retina” display).

Thoughts on tech