I love Apple. I love Apple products. They have great design, beautiful, functional, and have details and aesthetics that are commonly absent on other consumer electronics products. However, I am getting more and more frustrated with Apple’s recent products and their decisions to take control from the user. The main product I am going to talk about is the iPhone, mainly the iPhone 5.
Let’s start with pricing. Apple has been pricing their flagship iPhone to start at $649 unlocked since the iPhone 4. Same thing today with the iPhone 5 16GB, $649. Now this would be okay if the market remained static for the last 2 years. But fact is the market is not static, and the way technology progresses is to be better and cheaper. Let’s focus on the iPhone 5, 16GB, priced at $649. Now you would think “Oh come on, it’s an iPhone. Don’t compare it to the iPad.” Yeah, I AM going to compare it to the iPad, where the 16GB LTE iPad 4 with the large retina display is CHEAPER ($629) than the 16GB iPhone 5. You can argue about miniaturization, but let’s face it, $649 price point of the iPhone 5 is overly inflated at this point. Why does this annoy me? Because Apple actually provides good value for the money on their other products. The Macbook Air is a great example, where it is better quality than most Windows ultrabooks, yet without too much premium. I can say the same thing for the iMac and the Mac mini. If you look at the margins of the iPhone, it’s huge. The iPhone is now Apple’s main cash cow.
Now, I can tolerate that if everything else is fine with the product. Heck, I bought my iPhone 4 unsubsidized. But look around various forums, even the ones on Mac-focused sites, and you will find that the iPhone 5 has a serious build quality issue out of the box. Scratches, scuffs, even now bendgate (where some users finding that their iPhone 5 are bent) stories are continually shared by people. Some fans are spinning this as wear and tear. Sorry, but I’m not going to accept that a $649 device can be scuffed so easily. I have the Nexus One, well used, but it still looks pristine. Same thing with my other phones, Xperia Arc, the Galaxy Nexus, and even the iPhone 4, which is my daily driver. All still look great. I’m not going to pay $649 for a phone that can get scuffs right before I even open the box. That’s ridiculous.
Next major annoyance is the way Apple restrict the cellular wireless settings on iOS. On any other phones (eg. Android), when you switch carriers, you can simply update the APN settings on the phone to get going. Not on the iPhone. The APN settings for certain carriers (eg. AT&T) are locked out from the user, EVEN ON AN UNLOCKED IPHONE!! Why? For example, I use my factory unlocked iPhone 4 on straight Talk. On Android, I can simply add Straight Talk’s APN settings myself to get data to work. Not on the iPhone. By default, data won’t work, and since the Straight Talk SIM I have is for AT&T tower, the settings are not accessible. WHY? This is supremely stupid. It is basically Apple bowing down to AT&T, and screwing users on AT&T MVNOs. There are workarounds. Somebody made a website specifically to change the iPhone’s APN. Yeah, isn’t it ridiculous? You have to rely on a third party website to set-up your phone, something that is not an issue on ANY OTHER phones out there. Oh, and you think by going to that website, everything’s fine, right? NO! You still don’t have access to MMS. Yeah, Apple is BLOCKING you from enabling the feature of their own product. Makes no sense at all. To actually enable MMS, you have to either jailbreak your iPhone, or do a SIM swap. I did the later and finally got MMS working on my iPhone 4. Again, if you have an Android phone, all you need to do is update the settings straight, and you’re done without having to deal with these ridiculous workarounds.
Oh, and Apple doesn’t stop there. To make it even more difficult, the iPhone 5 uses a nano SIM. Yeah, the micro SIM is not small enough, and just when other manufactures start using micro SIM (ie. Nexus 4, Nokia Lumias), Apple just went ahead making their phone “special” by using the nano SIM. You may not think it’s a big deal, but considering only the major carriers carry nano SIM (the only MVNO that carries a nano SIM is Red Pocket at this time), it just makes your life more difficult to simple use your own freaking expensive phone. Yeah, cut your own SIM? Good luck. This is basically Apple telling you to stick with its partner carriers, where Apple themselves are getting a percentage of your monthly payments. The fact that the nano SIM is still fairly rare makes the SIM swap trick above even more difficult. Why of why Apple. Why do you make it so hard for people to use your own products?
To add an even more confusion, that LTE iPhone 5 you buy may not work with LTE where you are. Yeah, Apple makes two versions of the iPhone 5. Based on Apple’s own website, the two versions of the iPhone 5 are one for AT&T/Canadian LTE, and one for CDMA/international LTE. In the past, to get a universal “world” phone, you get a GSM (most of the time it means AT&T) version of the phone. Not with the iPhone 5. The CDMA version actually supports more LTE bands that many carriers outside the US uses. The GSM/AT&T version only supports LTE on AT&T and Canadian carriers. So much for choice! Worse, if you buy the unlocked iPhone 5 in the US, it’s highly likely that you will get the AT&T version instead of the international version that everybody else around the world got, limiting your choice if you travel (ironically, none of the so-called tech “journalists” tried to verify this with Apple). Luckily Verizon is selling their iPhone 5 unlocked (unlike AT&T). This is a reason why I hate LTE. I’ll take penta-band HSDPA anytime.
So, let’s recap. For $649, you get a 16GB iPhone 5 that can get scuffs before you even open the box, that uses the uncommon nano SIM, and Apple makes you do workarounds to simply access the APN settings on your own phone. Meanwhile, Google is selling a 16GB unlocked penta-band HSDPA Nexus 4 for $349. Seems like an easy choice. The only thing is I have invested heavily in the iOS ecosystem and accessories. In the end, I would still be sticking with iOS. My iPhone 4 is still doing its best. At this rate though, I would be more likely to get the iPhone 4S instead of the 5. Sure, the A6 processor is fast, but the 4S still uses a micro SIM and still has the 30-pin dock connector (instead of the lightning connector used on the iPhone 5).
Or, I would just get the iPhone 5 anyway in the end. It’s futile. I am so dependent on the ecosystem that I cannot just use Android as my main phone. >_<