iPhone 4S Disappoints? What the hell is wrong with you people?

I’ve had this rant percolating in my head for the last few days, and can’t let it carry into the weekend, so you all with have to bear with me.

First, the caveat: I’m a happy iPhone/iPad/MacBook user. These products are (for me) so clearly better than the products from other manufacturers that they replaced that they have become a part of my daily life. I always have my iPhone. I almost always am carrying my iPad. I do the bulk of my recreational programming on my Macbook. That being said, I’m not relentlessly tied to the upgrade cycle: my MacBook is an old white one (so old in fact the latest Mac OS X release can’t be installed on it). I have a first gen iPad, and will probably not upgrade until the next generation comes out. I have an iPhone 4, but partly upgraded so I could cycle my old one to my sibling.

And I recognize that other products might be preferred by other people. People have specific reasons for picking the products they like. Many people refused to buy iPhones when they were tied to AT&T, and AT&T customer service sucks. It wasn’t ever clear to me that any other cellular carrier had better service, but who am I to argue? Some people like the (quasi-) open source model of Android. Or the cost of phones. Or whatever features float your boat. If you bought an Android phone and are happy with it, who am I to argue? Enjoy.

But I’ve read an astonishingly large number of reviews about the iPhone 4S intro lately which make the claim that the phone is “disappointing”. And I simply don’t get it. Here is one to check out:

Why Apple’s iPhone 4S Disappoints.

I’ll quote:

The iPhone 4S is hugely disappointing.

Let me repeat: Apple’s new iPhone 4S — with the fastest processor in a smartphone by miles, perhaps the most advanced and smartest voice command assistant on a piece of consumer technology ever, and the basic design and feel of the most wildly popular and beloved cell phone of all time — is a big fat, tremendous letdown of a device, and the event where Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPhone was the Al Capone’s vault of product launches.

This boggles my mind: the author is conceding that it’s fast and pretty, with cool voice recognition and a great camera, but it’s disappointing?

What the hell is wrong with you people?

The phone delivers a bunch of cool features. The voice recognition technology seems very cool to me, integrated in a way we haven’t really seen in consumer applications. The camera is shoots 1080p video and has image stabilization. And of course it folds in all the features that my iPhone 4 will get next week as part of the iOS 5 upgrade,

It’s a terrific upgrade.

Am I going to pay the carrier-mandated extortion to go out and upgrade? No, to be honest, I probably am not. But to label this release as disappointing?

What the hell is wrong with you people?

Many commenters seem to ask “where is the pizzazz?” To me that seems like going into a restaurant, ordering a meal and then asking why they didn’t add more sugar. We all like sugar, after all. Or maybe we should put gold leaf on our food, just so we can crap out precious metals!

The implicit (or often explicit) claim that all this criticism seems to have is that the people who buy Apple products do so merely to show off their wealth. That the iPhone is bling, without any substance. That it doesn’t matter what actual features anything Apple has: the fanboys will dash out to buy them anyway.

The truth is actually exactly the reverse. People buy them because they love them. People love them because they are good. It is pure cynicism to presume that someone who chooses an Apple product does so purely on vanity.

The iPhone and iPad are great (but by no means perfect) products. In my opinion, they are simply take more care and provide better service for their products than alternatives. If that ever ceases to be the case, then I’ll take my business elsewhere. Thus far, I haven’t seen the better product.

5 thoughts on “iPhone 4S Disappoints? What the hell is wrong with you people?”

  1. There’s nothing wrong with us people, at least those of us over 35 and/or have pockets bigger than those in jeans. It’s simple: the feckin screen is too small! Many sites do not allow re-formatting for larger type, and this leads to inability to actually read stuff for very long. It’s vastly better on a 4 or better 4.3 inch screen. How difficult is this for you or Apple, to understand? Or was this done on purpose, to kick people up to the iPad? Forget the coolness. For me and I suspect many others, it’s about usability. So now we wait till next spring . . .

  2. I agree with John Gruber at DaringFireball.com – you will never see a 4 inch or 4.3 inch iPhone. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll just have to be happy with Android phones. A 4+ inch screen would mean that EVERY app would have to deal with two different screen resolutions for the iPhone – and that is exactly the kind of developer issue that Apple works hard to avoid. I have never come across a web site that you couldn’t zoom in to to read it better… the high pixel density of the iPhone display makes those sites quite readable, especially when you zoom in. And with the new iOS 5 “Reader” function in Safari, any web site can have its written content displayed as nicely formatted text without distracting images or ads… which pretty much answers your reading concern.

    I suspect that you will be disappointed with the next iPhone too.

  3. Most of the negative press is from the financial analysts, the stupidest group of people in the world. You know, the people that sold you mortgage derivatives?

  4. There are few complaints among those who use Android – I doubt they care about the new iPhone release. That means the whiners are the Apple customers – many who lust for a new form factor so that others can easily notice, probably while sipping something expensive in Starbucks, that they are carrying the latest and greatest shiny bauble from Cupertino.

    Let’s face it, many people are Apple fans because it gives them a smug feeling of self-importance and since the 4S looks identical to the 4, and that form factor is getting practically ancient as measured in cell phone years, the 4S was bound to draw some fire.

    Also, let’s not forget the endless acres of Apple pundits and bloggers who have themselves been declaring to know better than the rest of us what Apple planned to bring to market. For them to have all gotten this launch so horribly wrong must be terribly embarrassing for them – we now know that none of them have the first freaking clue what they’re talking about! I’ve noticed that it is the Apple bloggers who now seem to have turned on the company and it’s 4S decision the hardest…

    As for me, I got up at 3:00am and pre-ordered my iPhone 4S because I have no doubt it’s the best smartphone I can buy. But I don;t care about the pundits or what people think about me while I stand in line at Starbucks…

  5. Wow. Lots of good feedback.

    Geon: if the screen is too small for you, then by all means, pick a different phone. I would mention a few things though: the iPhone does have some accessibility features that might make it easier to deal with (voiceover, zoom, large text). I also think the pinch zooming on websites makes the iphone very usable for browsing. But if your mileage varies, pick something else.

    SlothropRedux and winc06: I agree with both of you. 🙂

    Jeff: I disagree with one major point. I don’t believe that many people are Apple fans because it gives them a “smug feeling of self-importance”. It’s just too damned easy and too damned cynical to attribute Apple’s success to that. Yes, there are fanboys (just as there are “fandroids”). But the success of the iPhone (and the success of Android) isn’t a function of these people: it’s the ability to convince people like you in the middle, and they do that by making cool products.

    Most analysts seem to have all sorts of ideas about how to “fix” Apple now that Steve Jobs is gone. WItness this collection of seven incredibly stupid ideas, designed to put a couple of extra bucks into some hedge fund manager, while (in the words of my friend Tom) “burning the awesome tree to the ground”.

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