Friday, July 8, 2011

Next iPhone: Features That Compel Upgrades

It's no secret that the next iPhone is coming in months.  Since we did not get a new iPhone back at the WWDC in June, we did get a preview of iOS 5.  And where is there a new iOS version, there has always been a new iPhone.

That much is certain.  What is not certain at this time is what features will be included in the new iPhone and whether they are enough to compel upgrades and cause defections from other mobile camps.  What would feature or features will you need to compel you to trade in your old trusted mobile friend that has been a constant company for the last year or more.

  • NFC - this is probably a very good feature to have - and it should future proof the next iPhone.  However, future is the future and Apple has not said if they will be offering a broad plan to make mobile payment available to iPhone users.  NFC obviously isn't just for mobile payment.  A Mac with NFC can allow users to use their iPhones as logins or to exchange files.  And if you think NFC terminals are going to be rare, PCs, specifically Macs with NFC, are going to be even more rare.  Nice feature to have to will no compel me to upgrade.
  • 4" Screen - hmmm...this is a hard one.  The 3.5" screen that currently sits atop my iPhone 4 and iPod touch are very nice.  The retina display is simply awesome and unmatched in the industry.  The likely step up next is going to be 720p.  Maybe.  even at 4" with the same resolution as the 3.5", such a new screen on the next iPhone would still be consider one of the best screens on the market - besting anything available on Android devices.  But as far as PPI goes with the same resolution as the 3.5" at 960 x 640, it would be a step down.  Naturally, something closer to 720p would make sense.  
  • A5 chip - over the weekend, I processed some video on using the iPhone version of the iMovie and e-mailed them to my relatives and friends.  The A4 ship inside the current iPhone is plenty fast but, boy, could I have used the A5.  Watching the progress bar advance felt slower and slower with each e-mail sent.  We only limited to 1 minute of video per e-mail so 30 minutes of video equals 30 e-mails.  And the cutting and adjusting and then processing it clip for e-mailing got tired really fast.  The A5 could have potentially move that progress bar twice as fast and let me go quicker to the next video.  A compelling reason to upgrade.
  • Battery Life - I find the iPhone 4 battery life to be very good.  But I want more.  You really can't get enough battery life if you're a true mobile warrior.  I've heard reviews of the iPhone 4, a whole host of other Android devices, and a few others like Blackberries and WP7 devices.  And for those reviews that said they can get through the day without charging, I think they need to be more honest.  Most of the time, they mentioned the battery life they tested is under "moderate" use.  You cannot say that anymore.  Just as mobile uses and habits have changed since the iPhone was first introduced in 2007, testing of these mobile devices have to reflect that how mobile warriors use their devices today.  I've been going through the day with on the lighter side of moderate use.  But I think most users are on the heavier side of mobile use these days.  If the next iPhone can me through heavier than moderate use, it is definitely a major plus.  I like to see if the next iPhone can have similar battery life as the iPad.  It's probably too much to ask but anything close to that would really have me lining up the day before the debut.
  • Form factor - I came from an iPod touch for most of the year.  Boy, is that device light.  The iPhone 4 is no brick but for such a thin mobile device, it can feel deceptively heavier.  You get used to it.  Lighter would be nice but I wouldn't want to go there if it sacrifices power or battery life.  It's likely Apple will doing everything it can, short of being the laws of physics to get the next iPhone even lighter and thinner.  I've seem some of the mock-ups for the iPhone.  There are a couple that I am partial too.  I don't see form factor as anyone's deciding factor whether to upgrade to the next iPhone or pay the full price for it.  It would really depend on how much thinner and lighter the next iPhone is over the iPhone 4.  If I can feel the difference in weight between iPhone 4 and the next version, yeah, I might be interested.
Those are currently the five main features that I can think of that might give current iPhone users, particular those who are not on the iPhone 4, and those who bought something else because the iPhone was not on any other network other than ATT.  

How about you? What would new iPhone feature would give reason to upgrade?  

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