Most of us will begin to suffer from device exhaustion as hordes of new devices make it to the market. The maturity of both smartphones and tablets (phablets) will continue to make them more viable business tools. While I’m still concerned about lack of security and mobile device management, businesses will continue to adopt these technologies since the cost of acquistion is so low. The cost of ownership is higher than most admit, but if people want something it doesn’t matter.

Top phones for the fall of 2012 include the Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, Droid Razr HD and the Nokia Lumia 920. The only way to know a phone is to use the phone, and after using the iPhone 5 on Verizon for a week or so, here’s a summary:

  1. This version of the iPhone is notably better than the predecessor 4 or 4s models. However at the lower price for each of the “4” models, they are a viable option for many.
  2. The new thinness and lightness of the iPhone 5 is great.
  3. The extra row of icons is appreciated, and so are the jokes about the iPhone 10 with 10 rows of icons.
  4. The email upgrade with iOS 6 is good. There are notable new usability features for people who do a lot of email. Also of note is that the original iPad is no longer supported with iOS 6. Hardware obsolence is showing up as expected.
  5. Changing to the lightning connector is understood and since it plugs in with either orientation, it is nicer than the old Apple device plugs. As of today, the only optional accessory for the lightning connector is a converter to the old connector so you can use the old VGA, HDMI and other special cables.
  6. The 3D maps are interesting. GPS navigation is a big deal to some, but frankly, the battery life is drained so much by phone GPS, you are probably better off with a real GPS.
  7. Camera quality is good, and the panoramic capbility is a nice addition. I would like to see the infinite focus capability similar to Lytro implemented.
  8. Battery life – not so good. Even with conservative configuration, the unit pretty much drains the battery in 24-36 hours. If you use it heavily, the power can be gone in 3-4 hours. Most prior units have done this as well. Charging a phone every day is not my favorite thing, and it is worse on units that don’t have removable batteries when work actually has to be done.
  9. There are limited accessories because of the new format, but that will fix itself ad nauseum in due course.
  10. Security holes continue to exist that would allow lucky and smart hackers to get into the phone even with pass codes or swipe codes in place. These holes have existed since the earliest iOS and continue to remain even though reported to Apple.
  11. Apps are being updated at an alarming rate. Since release of iOS6, creators of the apps seem to have many updates. I’ve received 100+ updates and have had 5 more today alone. I appreciate the fixes, but sure hate the download time. Most iPhone applications are still running in letterbox, not really taking advantage of the new improved screen size.
  12. Siri continues to be highly inaccurate with my voice even with the three microphone design. But then again, people in fast food drive throughs can’t hear me either. I wouldn’t expect this since you learn to project your voice well as a public speaker, musician and actor . Just not well enough for Siri to work reliably. Siri was a key reason to acquire an iPhone 5…an additional trial of this technology was really needed. I’m glad Siri is still marked beta. The results were often inaccurate, quite good at other times, but in general it was a waste of time to use Siri, even in a quiet setting. Android seems to be doing a better job on this for me.
  13. The ability to configure the product to make it more efficient to use just isn’t there. Most items on the iPhone under iOS take more steps than a well configured Android.
  14. The iPhone 5 is better for speed, and the reliability is good. The lookup performance on contacts that made prior versions of the iPhone almost unusable seem to be largely gone.
  15. The iPhone 5 interferes with traditional radios and TVs when in close proximity. I tested the Droid Max in the same position as the iPhone 5 and there was no problem. The issue was very reproducible. I’ve not had the chance to go back and try the iPhone 4s on the same test.
  16. Verizon specific – I thought it was particularly horrible to give up an unlimited data plan to be forced onto a 2GB or 4GB plan, paying for all excess data used. Part of the reason to go to 4G is to move more data to the phone. Verizon (and others, but not Sprint for example) have given us reason not to use as much data. BTW, no streaming of movies or music here, just work files…

The other versions of the phones mentioned above also deserve a written summary like this as well and hopefully will be written up in due course.


About rpjohnston

Randy is a nationally recognized technology consultant and speaker.

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