The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect


Why it makes sense to delay the iPhone 5

When stories first started to hit about the iPhone 5 being delayed, I was skeptical, particularly if the delay was going to last until 2012. Two years is an eternity in the mobile phone wars and the iPhone 4 is getting a bit dated even with all its great features. But it seems from some more precise reporting that the delay might only be until October, or about three or four months later than originally expected.

And then I saw on Ars Technica this rumored list of the iPhone 5 improvements. No way to know if it's accurate, obviously, but the three key points are the addition of a faster "LTE" broadband connection, voice control of many more features and much improved integration with cloud services, maybe even the long-rumored cloud locker for music and video stuff.

Those are three key areas where Android has a lead on Apple's iOS. And, I think most of all, the LTE issue really could not wait for the iPhone 6 coming out over year from now, as has been rumored off and on since the iPhone 4 for Verizon first hit in January.

Sure, sure, the original iPhone didn't have 3rd generation mobile broadband while others already did. But that phone's whole user interface was so amazing and unmatched at that point. Today, Android and WIndows 7 have closed the gap. And while the original iPhone sold well it wasn't anywhere near the competitive force that today's 3G-capable models have become.

Verizon is already marketing the heck out of its 4th generation LTE network. According to a leaked schedule, Verizon plans to release four more new 4G devices this month and five more after that in April and May.

In the same way that Apple's Steve Jobs grabs hold of a single feature or two to best embody and popularize a device -- the Macbook Air was the thinnest laptop made, the iPad's multitouch was magical -- Verizon and other mobile carriers are going hog wild with 4G to claim the title "fastest" smart phone.

So I don't think Apple could wait 18 months or more to add LTE to its product without taking a pretty big risk. If pushing out the iPhone 5 a couple of months allows Apple to add LTE, the delay will be quite worthwhile.

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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  1. Even mentioning the “cloud locker” thing is a red herring — it will be able to work just fine on an iPhone 3GS, never mind the iPhone 4 and thus is no reason to delay the iPhone 5 for even a minute.

    LTE is a slightly more valid argument, but barely so. Current 3G, properly implemented can do 7.2Mbps (as it does for instance in Italy), which is more than fast enough for anything you could ever want to do on a phone. LTE can easily wait until 2012 with no harm to iPhone customers.

    Voice commands? Likely all software — iOS 5 (or 5.x) can take care of that.

    The only conceivable reason for an iPhone 5 (as opposed to iOS 5) delay is a component shortage to the Japanese earthquake. My guess: there will be no delay.