The more expensive version is $849 for the top model without a contract. Android smartphones start at $100 or so for a no-contract phone.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 30 years


Apple's new iPhones are disappointing

September 15, 2013

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, The Post-Standard

Apple made its much-expected iPhone announcement on Tuesday, showing off little more than phones with new colors and lower prices.

The company continued to ignore Android smartphones, which have been outselling the iPhone in many markets. Android phones come in larger sizes, with removable storage and customizable displays. The new iPhones have the same size displays as before (4 inches), are missing the microSD card slots that most Android phones have for up to 64GB of swappable storage, and continue to prevent users from adding features not approved by Apple.

Two models were shown. The more expensive version, at $849 for the top model without a contract, is the iPhone 5S, which comes in black, tan and gray. The cheaper version, with a plastic shell instead of the usual metal, comes in gumball-like shades of blue, green, pink, yellow and white. It costs $649 for the top model without a contract.

Prices with contracts can be checked from the Apple Store online, at www.apple.com. (No-contract prices seem high, but usually end up being cheaper because cell-phone carriers lock customers into mandatory pricing per month over long periods.)

I was disappointed in the screen size. Android phones with 5-inch and even 6-inch screens are becoming popular, most at lower prices -- sometimes dramatically lower prices -- than the iPhone. Smartphones are increasingly used as tablets, but this is difficult with small screens.

Apple's refusal to put expandable memory cards into its iPhone also seems strange, given the easy expandability of its rivals' phones. Apple's rationale is that iPhone users who need more storage can always buy a larger-capacity iPhone, but this locks users into continual purchases from Apple.

Another sore spot: iOS 7, the phone's new operating system, looks sleek but still prevents iPhone users from installing apps from any other source than Apple's official App Store. This prevents the typical customization possible in rival phones.

Apple says its flagship phone, the 5S, has a 64-bit processor, which should give a speed boost for game playing but not for phone calls and messaging. The 5S also reads fingerprints for logon security and has a better camera lens, although the camera resolution remains at 8 megapixels.

Apple made no announcement of new iPad models. They are expected later this fall.