By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 6:00 am
“…really just a minor improvement…”
“Trust me, Apple won’t maintain its lead in the market if it continues making iterative updates.”
“But one thing didn’t happen today: We weren’t blown away. We weren’t surprised. We didn’t jump up and down, screaming. We don’t even know if we’ll rush right out and get one.”
Boy, people really aren’t all that giddy over the iPhone 4S, are they? It’s not like the old days, when every iPhone upgrade prompted hooting, stomping, and cheering by throngs of grateful Apple fans. Apple should be worried. Very worried.
I dug those sound bites up as I thought about some of the initial commentary that declared the iPhone 4S to be a snooze compared to earlier upgrades. I had a nagging suspicion that a fair number of people always say that about new iPhones. And in fact, they always do.
The first iPhone was–by almost anyone’s standards–a revolutionary device. The ones that have followed it have all been evolutionary. There have been a few high-profile improvements, like the iPhone 3G’s 3G data and the iPhone 4’s “retina” display, but mostly, Apple has made lots and lots of minor-but-worthwhile tweaks. And it’s devoted a tremendous amount of effort to improving iOS, which current iPhone owners don’t need to buy a new iPhone to get.
Now that the iPhone is almost five years old, it’s worth recapping the changes that each new version has brought. Which is what I try to do in the chart below. It’s not comprehensive–for instance, it doesn’t cover improved battery life, and I don’t dig down into the nitty-gritty of wireless standards. But putting it together refreshed my memory and confirmed my suspicion: There was never an unimaginably wonderful iPhone upgrade. Just four solid, evolutionary ones to date–including the 4S, which reviewers are saying nice things about.
Each of the feature lists below focuses on improvements and additions over the prior iPhone:
Got any additions or corrections to the above?