Apple’s New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too

Apple's faithful are oozing praise for the big iPhone 6 and bigger 6 Plus, natch, while Android fans predictably are giving them a bruising. Analysts seem on the verge of snoozing. Steve Jobs, however, may be in the throes of unearthly fury. Jobs famously thought Apple had gotten the iPhone's size just right, as in not too big and not too small. And now that perfect iPhone is gone.

It seems no one’s quite sure what to think of Apple’s newly launched iPhone 6 family.

Apple’s share price shot up when CEO Tim Cook announced Apple Pay, then spiraled down when he announced the Apple Watch, and reportedly continued to fall after the band U2 performed, closing down $1.05 Tuesday at $99.95. By Wednesday’s market close, the stock had risen slightly to 100.41, and it rebounded Thursday to $101.43.

Some reviewers gushed about the new iPhones’ tech specs, but others were more restrained.

Upgrades to the processors, wireless systems, battery and cameras were slight compared to the iPhone 5s, said The Wirecutter, for example. Most of the changes will be in iOS 8.

A war of words erupted between Apple and Android device fans in response to a CNET review.

Just Another Smartphone

“The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself,” Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld. “Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads.”

Apple is “at least 18 months late with a large screen device,” Spencer pointed out. Further, its Apple Pay mobile payment feature, which has analysts salivating, is “not exactly new, although Apple may perform the characteristic trick of perfecting it so the consumer actually adopts it — not a trivial achievement.”

Still, the devices look good, said Spencer, who described them as slim, sleek and consistent with the Air range, with the components packed in as usual.

“The most interesting things about the new iPhones are the fact that they were announced and they are new Apple products,” remarked Todd Day, a senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “After that would be the larger screens and Apple Pay.”

Does Size Matter?

The size of the iPhone 6 Plus has drawn some controversy.

“What did Jobs say, ‘You don’t need a phone bigger than iPhone!'” a commenter with the handle “calexaka” said in response to CNET’s review of the new iDevices. “Who’s copying who now? Sammy would have had a real good case vs. Apple if they had ‘Patented’ a phablet.”

Nonetheless, Apple may be on to a good thing. Phablets have almost quadrupled their share of app activity over the past 12 months, Flurry reported.

“The primary thing that Apple got right is the larger size phones,” Frost’s Day told TechNewsWorld. “Samsung had a lead in 2013 sales largely because of the success of the Galaxy S4 with its 5-inch screen, and the Galaxy Note 3, with its 5.7-inch screen.”

The most impressive feature of the iPhone 6 family is the enhanced fingerprint (Touch) technology, which will “truly provide faster and more secure access to iTunes purchases and mobile payments,” Day said. He also likes the new family’s advanced design.

Taking Care of Business

Pretty much everyone is raving over the Apple Pay feature, for various reasons.

“Although there has been growth in mobile payments over recent years, 2015 will likely see [their] highest adoption and growth in history, thanks to Apple,” Day said. “Apple Pay will be a big plus, specifically with the Touch technology.”

Mention of Apple Pay brings to mind the specter of iCloud accounts being hacked, as happened recently.

iCloud “is full of interesting information from an attacker’s point of view and … is accessible by millions of people with little more than a password,” Richard Moulds, a vice president at Thales e-Security, told TechNewsWorld.

However, Apple Pay is “not a user-accessible system other than in the very limited context of making an individual transaction,” he explained, and all credit card numbers are replaced by useless tokens that have no value outside the system.

The Touch ID “is a huge improvement over user IDs and passwords,” Moulds said, “and there’s no comparison to the security risks of handing your credit card to a stranger in a restaurant.”

Ultimately, the iPhone 6 family “will sell like hotcakes to new customers, because it is Apple, and brand matters,” ABI’s Spencer predicted.

Existing customers will buy it “because they are locked into Apple’s ecosystem and subservient to the great green Apple in the sky.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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