iPhone 5S

Two reasons* to upgrade from an iPhone 5:

  1. The camera, is better in low light, has 10fps burst mode and slow-mo video.
  2. Fingerprint reader, for those who hate passcodes as much as leaving their iPhones unlocked.

One reason not to buy: The two reasons mentioned above don’t mean much.

*There are more reasons, but will be invisible for most of us most of the time.

London Fashion Week: iPhone 5S at Burberry

YouTube: According to Pocket-lint Burberry used the new iPhone 5s, 14 of them, to shoot its spring and summer 2014 collection during London Fashion Week. Chief Creative Officer at Burberry, Christopher Bailey:

Apple has made technology very effortless and very natural. We often talk about the trench coat as effortless elegance. You can throw it over an evening dress or pair of jeans. I think that the iPhone has the same type of philosophy as this. It is beautifully designed, but you take it everywhere, you carry it everywhere. But it also creates the most beautiful imagery and you can use that on a variety of different platforms like we have today.

That’s the first time I’ve heard the iPhone compared to a trench coat, but it’s interestingly apt. Bailey’s favorite feature on the iPhone 5s? Slow-mo.

iPhone 5C

Financial analysts and investors were hoping Apple would release a cheap iPhone to compete against cheap smartphones from other companies targeting markets like China and India where cheap smartphones sell well. The unsubsidized cost of the iPhone 5c is US$550, which isn’t cheap at all and far more expensive than what financial analysts and investors expected. (What’s cheap? The $249 16GB Nexus 4.) What happens when a company does not meet expectations, even if those expectations are based more on hope than reality? Stock prices fall, and fall it did: AAPL fell $26.93, or 5.4 percent, to $467.71 today.

Apple doesn’t need a cheap iPhone to succeed in China. (Full disclosure: I own two shares of AAPL.) Why do analysts think Apple needs a really cheap iPhone to succeed in China? Consider this: China has a population of more than 1.3 billion. Let’s assume the top five percent are rich, meaning they can afford an Audi A6, a TAG Heuer watch, and a Valentino suit. Five percent of 1.3 billion is 65 million, and that’s about one fifth of the entire population of the U.S. Apple announced it sold 31 million iPhones for the June quarter. If Apple can capture just one fifth of the top five percent in China the company can sell 13 million iPhones. The top five percent in China do not need or want a cheap iPhone; they will buy the iPhone 5s. For the rest of the country who can afford a smartphone and the monthly bills the iPhone of choice will be the iPhone 5c. And that’s a lot of people. Apple believes it doesn’t need a cheap iPhone to succeed in China and the lack of a new cheap iPhone is proof. Apple could be wrong, but I’m not willing to bet against Apple.

IPHONE 5C ≈ IPHONE 5

The iPhone 5c is effectively the iPhone 5, but with a plastic shell in five colors. Both have the same A6 CPU, camera, and almost everything else. The $99 iPhone 5c slots below the $199 iPhone 5s and above the free iPhone 4s, exactly where the iPhone 5 would have been had it not been discontinued. Apple’s pricing strategy for the iPhone is exactly the same. But the iPhone 5c heralds a new chapter for Apple’s iPhone: The iPhone is now a family, a family of two. The iPhone 5s is the older, more refined, and more expensive sibling while the iPhone 5c is the younger, more playful, and more affordable one.

I’m glad Apple didn’t mess around with the size of the display and I hope it doesn’t for quite some time. Apple instead focused on software by color coordinating the default wallpapers to the hardware color of the iPhone 5c, and the visual experience is enhanced even more by the translucent UI and parallax effect in iOS 7.

Folks who were looking to purchase the $99 iPhone 5 will purchase the $99 iPhone 5c. And because the iPhone 5c is new and feels new compared to a year old iPhone 5, folks who were looking to purchase the free iPhone 4s might consider spending $99 more to get the iPhone 5c, too. Although I’m not the target market—I would upgrade to the iPhone 5s instead, if I could—I think the iPhone 5c will sell well in the U.S. as well as in China.

PlayStation Vita TV

The Verge:

Sony has just announced PlayStation Vita TV, a 6 x 10 cm console and set-top box that connects to a TV. It’s based on PS Vita hardware, and besides playing Vita, PSP, and PS1 games […]

Stop right there; just PS1 games? No thanks.

Yahoo’s New Logo

Yahoo News: Bland. Yahoo ripped out all the spice from its 18-year old logo and made it utterly bland.

Marissa Mayer:

We wanted there to be a mathematical consistency to the logo, really pulling it together into one coherent mark.

I like mathematically consistent fonts. Courier Prime is my default font for writing emails and notes on my Mac. I prefer monotype fonts because they perform exactly as expected. But Yahoo’s new logo is anything but mathematically consistent.

I’m not a typographer; I’m just a regular guy who knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like. And I don’t like Yahoo’s new logo. For a logo that is purported to be mathematically consistent, there seems to be way too many font sizes. In my unprofessional eyes, the letters are both too close to another and inconsistently kerned. For example, the exclamation mark seems to be off to the right a bit too much, but the first ‘O’ seems to be too close to the ‘H’. Again, I’m no typography expert and these are just my opinions, but what’s more important is the guttural response from looking at a logo. Unfortunately, my gut tells me its like drinking a cup of lukewarm, bland, day-old coffee.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Vlad Savov:

There are a couple of significant downsides that temper my enthusiasm for the new Gear. First and foremost is the speed and intuitiveness of the user interface — or rather, the lack thereof. There’s a tangible lag to anything you do with the Gear, while the swipe gestures are hard to figure out and do different things depending on where you are in the menus. […]

Also important will be the Galaxy Gear’s battery life. It does use the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard to communicate, but at 315mAh its battery is decidedly small. Samsung promises “about a day” of endurance from the Gear, but by the end of our briefing with the company, the cameras on most of its demo units were refusing to turn on due to the watches running low on power.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is a smartwatch sporting a 1.63-inch OLED display with a 320×320 pixel format. I’m not sure whether those pixels are RGB or PenTile, but assuming it is RGB the resolution is about 278 ppi, which is good but not terrific. The distance to my iPhone, about 10 to 12 inches when I’m using it, is about the same distance to a wristwatch if I were checking the time. Resolution should not be less than 300 ppi; it should be a lot more.

Although this is Samsung’s first foray into building and selling a smartphone, there is no excuse for significant UI/UX failures such as lag. There should be zero lag. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn later the Galaxy Gear’s operating system crashes, too. Inconsistent UX gestures? For a watch gestures need to be even simpler and more consistent than smartphones and tablets. “About a day” battery life? On a watch? Not acceptable. Samsung should have taken advantage of the OLED display’s potential power savings and copied the UI on the LG Prada. With the UI mostly black the OLED display would hardly consume much power at all and would have resulted in better battery life.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is merely what most were expecting: A smaller, stripped down smartphone you wear on your wrist. When and if Apple comes out with its iWatch, the next Galaxy Gear after it will definitely be better.