I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Apple. On the one hand some of its devices I’ve owned, such as a couple of iPods and the iPhone 4S, I’ve absolutely loved, but then there’s something about its sometimes smug demeanour, or its enraptured acolytes, that just leaves me cold.
I probably would have been buried with my iPhone 4S still clasped in my cold, dead hand, had not the data port given up the ghost, suspiciously almost two years to the day after I first got it, and just as my contract was coming to an end.
I’ve since switched to Android, but I’ve always been open to the idea of coming back to the turtle-necked Apple fold, so I watched yesterday’s big event in San Francisco, where the Cupertino company announced the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, hoping to see something that will make me ditch Android.
Sadly it never happened. It didn’t help that I had to sit through what felt like hours of Apple-happy back slapping, as various people came on stage and with straight faces tried to tell me that Apple had invented the Surface Pro (in the guise of the iPad Pro), the Wii (Apple TV’s motion controls) and the Xbox One with Kinect (new Apple TV and Siri’s voice commands and live TV integration).
Showing the goods
When they finally got around to showing off the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus I thought they looked like perfectly fine phones, but it didn’t seem that Apple was interested in getting me to dump my Android handset for them.
It doesn’t help that Apple makes the live event stream feel inclusive to Apple users anyway, forcing you to watch on a Mac, iPhone, or using Apple’s awful Safari browser. At least this year I could watch on Windows 10 with the only-slightly-less-awful-than-Safari browser, Edge, but I still felt a bit like I was intruding on someone else’s party.
Sure, Apple announced a new app that would make it easy for Android users to port their files, contacts and more over to the iPhone, but it didn’t really tell me why I would want to.
3D Touch is a nice idea, but it’s yet to be seen how widely supported the feature will be with third party app developers. Apple keeping the same design as last year’s models isn’t surprising either, but it’s still disappointing, especially when HTC got it in the neck from some quarters when it kept similar designs for the HTC One M8 and One M9.
4K video shooting was a new feature as well.... for Apple owners. However I've had a few Android phones already with 4K filming capabilities, and apart from keeping my hands warm on a cold winter's morning, I didn't see the point then, and Apple showed me no reason to care now.
Oh yeah, and the iPhone 6S can shoot Live Photos, which are essentially small video clips recorded automatically when you take a photo. Even though Apple tried to tell me they weren't video clips, let's face it: they were video clips.
Apple’s frustrating insistence on sticking with a 16GB version as the cheapest option also shows that despite how much it says it puts users first, it doesn’t mind trying to squeeze some more cash out of you in the long run, and if you're keen to shoot 4K video or make use of the admittedly lovely new camera, well you're going to need to either shell out for the 64GB version, or get yourself an iCloud subscription. Either way, Apple wants you to pay up.
That’s not to say that Android is perfect, or that I didn’t like anything I saw yesterday – far from it on both counts. However, no matter how good the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are, they’re not big enough leaps from the iPhone 6 to convince many people who bought one last year to upgrade.
Instead they should be pitched at owners of older iPhones and those tired of Android. If you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem and have been holding off upgrading your iPhone 5S, there was a lot to love about yesterday’s announcements.
For Android owners though? Maybe I’ll just wait and see what Apple has in store with the inevitable iPhone 7, and hope that it brings a few more of the innovations it was once famous for.