The new iPhone 5 is already flying off the shelves, making the rest of us wonder whether we should go out and buy it too. While early adopters and Apple fans will probably be lining up, I'm going to recommend holding off on your pre-order for one important reason.
And it's not Apple's fault. They're doing what they do best: producing phones people love and buy in droves. However, this phone is unusual in that it changes very little about the the traditional iPhone form but is very different in terms of compatibility and design.
Interestingly, the two new iPods launched, the Nano and the Touch, may be far more recommended for folks who just want a simple media player for the road. Here's what's up with all of Apple's new babies.
The iPhone 5 is really a thing of beauty. It's made almost entirely of aluminum and glass, and butterfingers (myself included) will be pleased to know that the back panel is now made of metal instead of glass. That means there's only one side to shatter when the iPhone hits the granite.
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The new iPhone is also slightly taller than the old model. That offers a bit more room for gaming and media consumption but adds borders on the edges of apps not optimized for the new screen. Not a big deal, but something to consider that will probably be ironed out if you wait a little to upgrade.
The most important change, however, is Apple's new Lightning port. This port looks about as big as the ubiquitous microUSB parts found on most phones, but it's not compatible. Apple performed a bit of trickery, and now you can insert the jack in either direction so you don't have to fuss with which side is the front and which side is the back. This was problematic with the old 30-pin solution.
However, this also makes the new iPhone incompatible with quite a few popular accessories. Forget the dock in your home -- think about the thousands of pre-installed car stereos and in-room clocks in hotels around the world. Apple is offering a $30 adapter for the iPhone that most people will use, but the jury is still out on whether the adapter will work on every accessory. Hint: you can be fairly certain it won't.
Again, I don't want to be Chicken Little here, but just keep this in mind if the house is chock full of iPod docks. And this isn't Apple trying to rake in the cash -- this is Apple updating the iPod for another decade. After all, they introduced the 30-pin solution in 2003, and it is far too large and clunky to be of much use for much longer.
The new iPod Nano (with bigger screen and built-in wireless Bluetooth) and the Touch (with 4-inch screen and the same operating system used by the iPhone 5) are potentially good ways to test the waters. The iPod Touch is essentially an iPhone without the phone -- it's quite nice-looking with a round aluminum back. Both are less expensive than the iPhone and are a good way to work your way into the Lightning infrastructure.
Dock aside, I'm actually very excited about the new phone and I'll be upgrading in the next few weeks. But I'm a dork like that.
Have you rushed out to buy the new iPhone or do you think it's a waste of money?