back to article iPhone 5: Apple 4S, pundits 0

Hell hath no fury like a hack spurned. Don't agree? Then look at the huge numbers of column inches being devoted today to Apple's "failure" to come up to journalist expectations and announce the iPhone 5. Journalists being journalists, there's no hint of an apology that all their breathless prose devoted to iPhone 5 rumours …


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  1. Wang N Staines


    Fanboi got an excuse in early.

  2. Wind Farmer

    I say one thing....

    Remember MSX? It was a supposedly good idea, borne from a common platform and implemented by numerous suppliers. Did it last long - I don't recall that it did, partly because the ones that the electrical store stocked were usually the wrong make or model, or just plain out of date.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      The MSX was poorly implemented though

      Video contents had to be posted off via port IO (ie, a very costly form of data access) to the dedicated video chip, which didn't support a hardware scroll. As a result, the first specified version of the machine couldn't smoothly scroll in any general sense. Compare that to the hardware video abilities of a Commodore 64 or the stuff a machine like the Spectrum with the video contents right there in RAM could do and you had a machine consumers just didn't want. Specifications were improved in later versions of the standard but it was too little, too late for most of the world.

      Android has a few issues here and there but no huge roadblock of a problem like tying everyone to an uncompetitive hardware design.

      1. Ramazan

        nothing to do with "video through IO"

        "27 June 1983, the date considered the birthday of the MSX standard", while IBM PC was announced on 12 April 1981, and Japanese market was dominated by NEC then (so that MSX was a sort of asylum for 3rd league manufacturers).

      2. Ramazan

        @The MSX was poorly implemented

        Really? Go compare eBay prices on your shitty Commodore vs Japanese computers, though

      3. Daniel B.


        .. was pretty popular in Japan. In fact, the Metal Gear series was originally made for the MSX2.

    2. 1Rafayal

      actually, the MSX was insanely successful, just not in the UK.


    3. a_been


      Did very well in Japan and a few other markets, it sold around the same number as the ZX Spectrum and the Apple II series, all 3 of which were the second biggest selling 8-bit computer depending on who's doing the counting. The only 8-bit that clearly sold more was the C64.

  3. senti
    Thumb Down


    Do you think using meme "FAIL" will make you look edgy?

    I regret reading that wall of text, to be honest. Waste of time and brain cells.

  4. David Webb

    "We covered the iPhone 5 because readers want to read about it"

    You lie, you cover the iProducts simply so us commentards can start flame wars, it's El Reg thinking about us that gives this place a homely feel ;)

  5. DZ-Jay

    Failure... just like the iPad 2?

    Lets not forget that these are the same analysts, pundits, and journalists that in unison declared the iPad 2 a failure because it was "merely" a conservative upgrade in internals rather than the greatest technological marvel.


    1. Jedit

      There is a difference, though

      The iPad 2 was only really a refinement of the iPad, but it was refining what was already the leading product in the field. The iPhone 4S, on the other hand, is a product no better than - and in some ways, inferior to - top end phones released by other manufacturers months ago.

      I wouldn't say the 4S will fail, because it will appeal to the people who want to replace their 3G(S) and keep their apps. However, it remains to be seen if brand loyalty alone can support Apple's business model of releasing a premium phone at a premium price when the phone is only just keeping up with the best competitors on launch day, and will be easily surpassed within six months.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Each version of the iPhone has sold more than the last, Clearly it more than brand loyalty.

        1. Jedit

          It's not that simple

          Each version of the iPhone has indeed sold more than the last, but the total number of smartphones sold has increased at a faster rate. Despite increased sales the iPhone 4 didn't increase Apple's market share - Antennagate may not have been the reason, but it couldn't have helped - and now Apple are faced with the second problem that they're no longer ahead of the game, so people who want the best phone out there no longer automatically gravitate to them.

          When neither side has a significant technological edge, new users are left with a straight choice between iOS's simplicity and Android's freedom of choice. We're going to find out now if that is enough.

  6. Si 1

    I think the problem is that Apple didn't announce the 4S earlier in the year like they did with all the previous iPhone announcements. This led to the expectation that something special or game changing could be in the offing, because Apple were taking longer than usual. IOS 4 and the iPhone 4 were announced to be made for each other, so it was fairly natural to assume iOS 5 would result in an iPhone 5. Let's not forget also that the iPad had a facelift after just one iteration.

    I think the expectation was there for something that looked new, not just something that is apparently all-new on the inside, so the disappointment was understandable, especially since Apple made no move to try and quell expectations of new form factors and wider touch sensitive home buttons.

    I recall being disappointed when the iPad 2 failed to have the rumoured retina display (and I'll be even more disappointed if the iPad 3 doesn't have it)!

    1. Chris007

      With Si 1 on this one

      in the article you say "Really, that's all the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S argument is about: form-factor. Had Apple announced a skinnier, aluminium-backed, bigger-screened iPhone, it would still have had the same internals as the 4S. Performance would be the same. Network connectivity would be the same."

      Yes it would *but* all those now pissed-off journalists and analysts would be saying the most wonderful things about Apple because Apple would have stroked their ego's.

      They [Apple] didn't and they [Journo's] aren't

  7. JasonW

    Ignoring the subject for a moment

    Surely this is the risk one takes when one reports on speculation rather than news.

    Now back to the plot - not that a corporate press release (as the subject is) is actually news.

  8. lurker

    Of course Apple aren't doomed. And we all know they will sell because it has the magical fruit sticker on the back.

    However it is a pretty dull and insipid product refresh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Dull and Insipid product refresh?

      So what exactly should apple have done to this release?

      All your experience from running one of the biggest companies in the world must give you a great advantage with insight. Oh? You don't run apple yourself? Then how come you talk as if you do?

  9. jeremyjh

    I actually agree here

    The 4S is the right move right now.

    And I promise I'm not just saying that because I have the 4 on a 24-month contract. Although it does help - my phone isn't going to *look* obsolete for the next year. The 4S is a big step up and I would like it. I'd probably drop the £500 on getting it, but for two things:

    1) I don't do a lot of graphic-intensive gaming.

    2) Even if Siri is wonderful (and it does look cool), I can't see myself using it. I'd just get punched doing that on the Piccadilly line.

    But for a lot of people, and in particular the people Apple needs to be targeting (non 4 owners - whether they're on the 3G/3GS or not yet assimilated), this is a much slicker proposition than any Android phone I've used - an extra notch on the build quality, extra polish on the UI, easy to keep organised. I don't care how many GHz my phone has, as long as it doesn't keep me waiting.

    1. JaimieV

      Siri on the Piccadilly line

      wouldn't work anyway, since it needs an Internet connection to function, at least in the demonstrated cases.

      1. Geoff Campbell

        Plenty of 3G available on the Piccadilly line, west of about Barons Court

        Even some HSDPA, in my experience.

        Why so much fuss over a voice recognition system, though? Android has had exactly that system of back-end processing of sound samples for ages. Is this the best innovation Apple can manage these days?


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Because there is a difference between having a voice recognition system and a good voice recognition system. Next you will be saying who cares about the retina display, Nokia had a LCD display on it's 3110 and that was over a decade ago.

  10. Anthony Hulse

    Those of us who read (or write) tech blogs are a lot more immersed in this world than the general public, who generally don't care about specs as long as the thing works. Apple will advertise this on telly, it will sell by the bucketload, and the sky will steadfastly refuse to fall.

  11. dcd

    Hindsight eh?

    " So what else was Apple ever going to do but announce a phone that's faster and more functional..."

    It's a real fucker!

  12. GettinSadda

    "But we're not going to beat up on Apple..."

    "But we're not going to beat up on Apple..."

    Some current El-Reg articles:

    * Ten... Androids to outshine the iPhone 4S

    * What's not in the iPhone 4S ... and why

    * Samsung seeks bans on the iPhone 4S

    * Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5

    * Apple stuffs Intel desktop CPU into iPhone 4S ad

  13. davemcwish

    They're just bitching they didn't get the Jobsian 'one more thing' moment

    Doesn't matter anyway as Apple Inc got:-

    a) more publicity that they could pay for

    b) it'll still setll in vast quantities

    p.s. the Jobsian quote fanboi's like was ripped off from the TV show Colombo

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Bravo, Tony - one of the few sensible pieces that I've seen on this issue.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    S stickers for sale - very reasonable prices!

    So.. The new version -from the viewpoint of a non geek regular joe customer- is exactly the same as the old one. Siri useful or gimmick it might be, is not enough. Neither will the megapixel thing - iphone4 already has a decent camera (for a phone).

    The most published non-news story for some months: processor bump on a year-old device. Oh yes! Stop the press!

    People who don't have but want an iphone (or a iphone4) will buy it. iphone4 buyers won't want it (and some can't have it too, contracts!) .

    it will continue to sell.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all relative

    People say it's a dull upgrade, but hey oh it's a world phone, finally with global CDMA support so guess where Apple will sell them like hot cakes? China.

    No wonder Apple has been building stores like crazy there.

  17. uhuznaa


    Apple NOT going for the yearly (or half-yearly) "all new phone" has at least the advantage that people with older phones don't feel that much left behind. I mean, these things are expensive enough and if (as with certain other phones) you're guaranteed to find your phone a few months down the road for half the price at Amazon, people aren't happy with their purchase usually.

    I don't know how important this is in the big picture, but Apple has a quite evolutionary product philosophy and many people spending money on these products usually like that. How long do the MacBooks look the same now? My late 2008 MacBook looks and feels very much the same as the most current MBP and there's nothing wrong with that.

    I just hear too many people saying "this and that seems to be a nice phone, but I'll wait half a year longer, there are some interesting pre-announcements...". And then they buy the latest and greatest and again half a year later it's just outdated again.

    The iPhone 4 has a good reputation among normal people and the 4S being the same in faster and with a better camera surely won't change anything here.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody hell a reg post about the iPhone that doesnt include the word Jesus or isn't total clickbait.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone 5S

    I'm waiting for the iPhone 5S

  20. Michael Jennings

    Looks solid to me.

    All the Apple rumour sites got it totally right. On the morning of the announcement (and a few days before) they stated exactly what was going to be announced, and the presentation yesterday was thus very dull because it completely lacked surprises.

    Leading up to the announcement, there were some rumours that the iPhone 5 was the new model, and the 4S was going to be a cheaper, slightly lower spec verso of the 4 for the mass market. At this point the 5 was supposed to have a faster CPU, better camera, better graphics etc. As the announcement came closer it became clear that the 4S had all these things and there was not going to be any new lower end iPhone. (Apple have simply not discontinued the 4 and the 3GS and have cut their prices). There was no 5 announced yesterday, but the 4S had all the things it had been earlier rumoured to have. Anyone taken by surprise by this really hadn't been paying attention.

    Where Apple do perhaps deserve a little criticism is being a little slow with this update. The higher end Android phones (Galaxy SII etc) have been clearly superior to the iPhone 4 in hardware terms for a few months now. My understanding is that the iPhone 4 continued to sell well (most people don't care that much), but Apple have been a bit slow in catching up. I think the iPhone 4S is pretty much on a part with the top Android phones for the moment - it may be behind again in six months - but the truth is Apple's hardware usually lags a little. Apple's users are after the whole experience, and most people buy a new phone when their contract runs out. For most people, being a few months behind Samsung doesn't really matter.

  21. deains

    "[…] Chinese manufacturers of iPhone cases who gambled on a new form-factor and are now left with stacks of cheap plastic crap they can't sell"

    No change there then…

  22. adrianww

    A product launch that makes umpteen journalists, industry analysts and self-important tech bloggers look like a bunch of clueless arses who really don't know what they're talking about?

    Come on - even the most dedicated Apple-haters have got to raise a congratulatory pint to Cupertino for that one...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow an iphone that can make calls

    This extra antenna, is it one of those retro early ones that you had to pull out to make a call and was good for frothing up your coffee. If its like the one on the old Motorola Startac I will just have to buy one.

  24. Justin Clements


    The techies froth at the mouth that a phone should have a great camera, more proc, more memory, faster graphics.

    Which is exactly what they got. Yet, now they can't see past the products case??

  25. Mark 110

    What a lot of bollox anyway

    Its a phone ffs.

    How much better could it be than the last one? Just because theres some people that get all sticky over the possibility of a new phone doesn't mean that its something worth getting sticky about. What exactly is it that you are expecting from an iPhone 5 that will produce the stickiness?

    Its likely to have a faster processor, a bit more memory, a slightly better camera and a better display.. If this gets you excited then . . . well. . . . get a life.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I regret reading that wall of text, to be honest. Waste of time and brain cells."

    If you don't like the site or it's editorial stance feel free to f**k off and don't let the door hit you on the arse as you leave.

  27. boatman

    Why not just call it the iphone 5?

    Most non techy types could not give a damn whats inside it anyway

  28. Anonymous Coward


    So you are the daily star of the tech world then? Reporting sensationalist crap because that's what sells, rather than using some editorial responsibility to report news rather than gossip?

    The bottom line is this, any sites made to look a fool by this fiasco (and it is a fiasco, as a slightly revised iPhone4 IS a let-down) only have themselves to blame, they put their hit count (sensationalism factor) above everything else.

  29. Jeff 11
    Thumb Down

    There are several things that make the 4S an incredibly poor performance for Apple.

    a) Nothing functionally new. Siri was an app, before Apple decided to roll it into iOS5 and restrict it to the 4S.

    b) The new technology doesn't have a compelling use case. The two antennae? Should've worked properly on the iPhone 4. Better camera? I would've traded increased resolution from what was already an excellent camera for a physical 'take picture' button. Dual core? Great, what can use two cores? And even if new apps come out to make use of them, developers still have to make them work on the 4 and (although soon to be less so, the 3GS) or risk losing vast swathes of potential users.

    c) This is the biggest. Apple has never been richer, nor has it had more time to develop a new iPhone since bringing out the original. But it has failed to bring anything but marginally improved hardware to the table. To fans, that's pretty disappointing. To investors, that's pretty damning- indicative of a company that is reaching, or has reached its peak, in phone development. It may be that Apple have just run out of features to trickle out, now that there's nothing missing from it in comparison to other high-end phones.

    The single thing that might have otherwise persuaded me to finally cash in my 3GS and upgrade is increased battery life, but considering the likely colossal cost of the contracts and non-features, I'm more inclined to wait until next time, or buy a 4 when the price comes down. Android manufacturers have never had a better chance to snatch Apple customers.

    1. Goat Jam

      I Suspect That Apple

      has had themselves a "Vista" moment.

      This is 100% speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that apple have been working on the iphone 5 for some time now but have had some technical hurdles that they have yet to overcome.

      Sort of like when MS spent years working on "Longhorn" only to fail spectacularly, forcing them to push out a cobbled together mashup of Server2K3 and XP and call it Vista.

      Actually, it's probably a bit different in this case. I fully expect apple to eventually iron out the problems and launch the iphone 5, unlike MS who simply ditched almost everything about longhorn that was supposed to make it great in the first place.

      1. Monty Burns

        Wasn't there a story leaked a while ago...

        about Samsung being contracted to be manufacturing some uber new screen for the "iPhone 5" but then they said "feck it, we'll keep it for ourselves"? I believe it was supposed to be a SAMOLED, near retina res, HD screen.... you know, just like the one about to launch in the new Nexus and probably the SGS3 ;)

        This was rumoured to have put the 5 back many, many months... maybe thats why we've got an "interim" device?

  30. Alan Denman

    Cack screen says it all

    Considering the majority don't want a tiny screen it was just dead easy for gullible journalists to think bigger.

    Yep, the screen is the same small fry so they assumed there was a bigger one.

    Wishful thinking of course.

    Galaxy S2 envy certainly shines from beyond the court rooms.

  31. OrsonX

    The reason commentards are dissapointed

    Because Apple is supposed to lead!

    Not tech wise - they are often up to a year behind - but design wise.

    Instead this was a spec bump to an existing product, but w/o ANY design innovation.

    Yes the iPhone4 is a nice design, BUT it would be even nicer(er) with a bezel-less corner to corner screen => THAT is what was expected & THAT is why the 4S is a disappointment.

    1. Tankut Erinc

      bezel is necessary

      A bezel is necessary.

      Aside from technical issues, your hand inevitably infringes upon the edges of the front of the device. If there were no bezels, you'd be constantly registering touches on the capacitative screen.

      Therefore, a thin enough "dead zone" is necessary from a usability point.

      Since the iphone has a 3:2 screen ratio, enlarging it would make the phone wider. The iphone design already has enough blank (i.e. non-display) front estate as it is. A bigger screen would mean a "chunky" device.

      Most Android devices have screen ratios around the 16:9 mark, which is more conducive to having big screens while remaining ergonomic enough (longer but thinner, graspable by single hand etc). Android was also designed to be a lot more resolution agnostic (which makes ui design harder, but more flexible).

      On the other hand, if a new iphone were to support a new, non 3:2 ratio screen it would break compatibility with a lot of apps in its store. iphones support only two resolutions: hvga (320x480), and its quadruple "retina" sibling (640x960).

      Historically Apple has never been above breaking compatibility and/or dropping support. But I don't think they would risk their cash cow this time. Not without ample warning anyways (but that also goes against the secretive nature of the company).

      4S may not be the "groundbreaking next-gen device" a lot of people expected, but it's a good enough internal refresh for a very successful device. It also happens many people get their Apple fixes on two-year contracts, so many "pundits" already are in the middle of theirs. It makes business sense.

      Me? I'm holding out for the Nexus Prime.

  32. Annihilator Silver badge

    Couple of things

    1) Apple perpetuate the hype and milk it. Every company should be managing markets' expectations, if not for customers, then for shareholders. The could have easily sent out invites saying "Let's talk iPhone4s" and the new phone been hailed as brilliant instead of letting the rumour outrun the PR. The name doesn't really matter - they could just as easily have called it the iPhone 5 to keep the baying crowds happy.

    2) "Another big FAIL goes out to the Chinese manufacturers of iPhone cases who gambled on a new form-factor and are now left with stacks of cheap plastic crap" - yup, what on earth are they going to do with plastic cases. It's not like they can just melt them down or something and make different ones.. oh.. wait... ;-)

  33. Paul M 1

    Hang on a sec...

    "We covered the iPhone 5 because readers want to read about it."

    And yet, how many times do commentards fill these pages with complaints about Apple rumour non-stories?

    Truth is though, that it is Apple's MO to announce bigger and better each time. They have set these things up as Apple "Events" and they know that people expect big, new, magical devices. It is disingenuous to say that Apple are blameless in not meeting the punters' expectations when Apple know exactly what those expectations are. Otherwise why not just file a press release about the new products like everyone else does?

  34. mrweekender

    I don't care what the Journo's say..

    ..I've got a 3GS and I'll be upgrading. I've used an iPhone for 3 years and IMO it's the got the best smart phone OS to date. Android, while it appears to be more "open", still seems quite fragmented and the phones on offer in the UK do not appeal to me in the slightest. Windows would seem to be a high risk investment (very little app development taking place) with no apparent gain for switching to it.

    The specs offered on the 4S suit my needs perfectly, I just hope both the still pictures and the video capture are as good as they say, from the demos it's certainly looking pretty good. The A5 chip is going to allow for faster more complex 3D graphics capabilities and iOS 5 looks like a solid upgrade. Couple that with the iCloud offering and frankly (IMO) there's no other contender.

  35. Gadget Rage is BAD

    Oh sure, its a pointless boring upgrade..

    as opposed to the rafts of Droid phones coming out every 5 minutes which do NOTHING new whatsoever. They just have slightly different screen sizes, slightly different cameras etc etc. And as to the iPhone 4 not leading the pack. Name one SINGLE other phone which outsells it? I'll be very surprised if there is one. Sure the half dozen companies selling them have sold more of their 40+ droid phones but as to a single phone leading the pack, last I saw it was still the iPhone 4.

    Not sure exactly what folk were expecting, no doubt if it was bigger there'd be moaning, if it was smaller, there'd be moaning and so it goes on. They've taken their best selling phone and made it quite a bit better and it'll continue to lead the pack. Moan all you like but I'm betting their accountants won't be moaning any time soon.

  36. Robert Grant Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    A journalist dealing with the essential topic of how other journalists covered a product release. Pulitzer?

  37. Snot Nice


    So this is why Apple's attack dogs are so vociferously chasing Samsung around the globe.

    Apple *know* they have nothing better in the near term pipeline.

    Should Samsung score a victory in their any of their cases, this could be very interesting indeed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because Samsung copied

      It's really simple. The Galaxy is a blatant copy of the iPhone. Apple are pissed that Samsung did this. I notice they are only chaing the Galaxy - because surprise surprise, all the other smart phones DO NOT look like an iPhone.

      Amazing stuff.

      Most consumers are not geeks

      Non-geeks don't give a shit about OSs and chip clock speeds

      large numbers of people think the Galaxy and iPhone are the same thing.

      Where I CEO of Apple I would sue the fuck out of Samsung, and source subsequ products from other suppliers as an object lesson. Oh wait ...


  38. A 31

    re: Remember MSX

    it was a success in its targeted markets, the UK wasn't really it

    it worked in other european countries, to the surprise of the japanese cosortium that created the standard for the asian market.

    I for one, thought that we were finally going to be able to use the iphone for teleportation :(

    the journalists said so ! (well someone did, am sure !)

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