The disappointing iPhone 5: Is Apple falling behind the competition?

The latest addition to Apple's handset family was finally revealed Wednesday after months of hysterical second-guessing. The verdict so far? A collective "meh"

The iPhone 5
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Is the iPhone still king? More than a few critics were let down Wednesday when Apple revealed a slightly thinner, slightly faster device that wasn't quite as groundbreaking as many hoped. (Read a full rundown of the iPhone 5's new features here.) Some observers saw Apple's biggest change — a screen-size bump from 3.5 inches to 4 inches — as a begrudging concession to the Android ethos that bigger really is better, at a time when phones like Samsung's Galaxy S III are pushing screens nearly 5 inches. Is the once-pioneering iPhone, currently lagging behind Android in terms of sales, now playing catch-up to the competition?

The iPhone 5 was certainly a letdown: The iPhone 5 is "disappointing" for consumers because it merely matches rival phones' specs and "showcases nothing revolutionary," says Ellyne Phneah at ZDNet. The look and behavior of the new phone isn't very different from its predecessors and, since most Apple watchers "expected the iPhone 5 to be unveiled last year but got iPhone 4S instead," many critics had "high expectations." That said, the iPhone already owns a large chunk of the market and has notoriously loyal customers, plenty of whom will still buy it.

"iPhone 5 has enterprise potential, but disappointing overall"

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Apple should have used the opportunity to make a statement: The iPhone's hardware is "nothing to really write home about," says Ryan Whitwam at ExtremeTech. Lots of phones on the market currently have dual-core processors, 4G LTE, and a 4-inch screen. Apple seems to think it's figured out smartphones, "so it isn't anxious to rock the boat." That's why Android is outselling the iPhone at the moment and Microsoft is pushing innovation with Windows Phone 8. "This isn't the time for Apple to just play catch up — the iPhone 5 should have leapfrogged the competition, not duplicated old innovations."

"The iPhone 5: Less innovation than Android and WP8 in a bigger package"

It's utterly boring but still completely amazing: "The iPhone 5 is the greatest phone in the world," says Mat Honan at Wired. "And yet it is also so, so cruelly boring." Yes, it's better than the iPhone 4S and every other phone out there. The tech world's collective sigh has "almost nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with our expectations." With the iPhone, things have basically gotten so good that Apple doesn't need to change much — for the foreseeable future, the changes will be incremental. "It's not bad, it's just the march of time and technology. Revolution becomes evolution."

"The iPhone 5 is completely amazing and utterly boring."

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