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What’s special about the iPhone 5?

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When Apple finally gets around to launching the iPhone 5, sadly one thing will be very different; no longer will it be Steve Jobs announcing the company’s latest gadget to the world. Until his recent death Jobs has been an important driving force behind Apple and he has guided its philosophies, often taking unexpected directions and confounding his critics, but it seems that in the end he was always correct; he understood what his customers really wanted, despite them often protesting otherwise, and he delivered it. And they bought it in big numbers. When the last iPhone was released thousands of people queued overnight and many queued for several days to sign up their new iPhone 4 deals.  

That is not to say that under Jobs Apple got everything right. In fact the iPhone 4 is a perfect example of how things could and did go wrong. It also demonstrated how eager critics of Apple were to make the best of the situation by viciously attacking both Apple and its chief executive.

The problem with the iPhone 4 was twofold, one hardware and one software, though for a time it was thought to be just a hardware problem. The software that measured and displayed signal strength was incorrectly reporting the real signal strength; it would indicate a much stronger signal than there really was. The hardware problem involved the design of the antenna. Two antenna were incorporated into the outer edge of the phone, and when it was held in a certain manner the hand would create a short circuit between them, causing the signal to drop out. In reality this would happen only when the signal was quite low, but as the software reported a higher signal than was being received this was not apparent to users.

It did not go down well with customers who had paid a lot of money for their new iPhone when Jobs suggested that the solution was to not hold the phone in such a manner. The actual advice was to avoid holding the phone in the bottom left corner so that both sides of the black strip in the metal band are covered. Also Apple had produced rubber surrounds, called bumpers, that fitted round the phone and prevented the problem from occurring, but these were on sale at around £25 each. Eventually Jobs relented and provided free bumpers to all iPhone 4 customers who wanted one.

So what will be special about the iPhone 5? It will probably be bigger, brighter and faster. In terms of technology the iPhone 4 has now fallen behind the latest Android phones and no doubt the next iPhone will play catch up and bridge this gap. The latest Android phones have quad 1.5 GHz processors, while the iPhone 4 still has what appears to be (as Apple have refused to say) a twin core 800 MHz processor, so we can expect the new iPhone to have similar technology. Still, despite the technology gap people queued up outside stores worldwide to try grab a deal on the iPhone 4S.

Regardless of seemingly lesser technology, one thing that the iPhone does have in abundance, and which every version of it has shared, is style. In terms of pure style it has no competitors, and that is why the iPhone 5 will be special too.

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