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How exciting is the new iPhone 5?

Answered September 15, 2012

Here's the story on Apple's new iPhone 5 in a nutshell:

People who are already Apple or iPhone enthusiasts have good reason to be excited. The newest iPhone promised a faster operating system and a faster processor, which should make the computer inside the phone faster and more powerful.

It also has a better camera than previous iPhones, and a larger high-resolution screen. Apple claims it'll have much better battery life, too. Oh, and the upgrade to the 4G wireless networks is a big jump, too.

But most of the new features and technical specs in this iPhone are things that were available from competitors six months ago or even more. And, to be honest, none of them are really revolutionary. Revolutionary was going from plain old cell phones to smartphones, like the iPhone or its Android, BlackBerry, and Windows 8 phone competitors. If you're not using a smartphone yet and you make the switch, you'll probably be blown away.

But if you're already a smartphone user, you've already experienced the biggest revolution in phones that you'll see for at least several more years. The next *big* revolutions in phones will be integration with things like your clothes or with a pair of glasses, like the "Google Glasses" project being developed right now. But those technologies aren't really ready for prime time yet...and they're still strange enough that most people are going to need some time getting used to seeing the early-adopters using them before they'll ever think of buying them on their own.

So...the bottom line is that new iPhone 5 is pretty impressive. But it's not exceptional -- at least three or four other widely-available phones do most of what it does, or more. If the iPhone format appeals to you, it's definitely a welcome arrival. But if you're looking to be floored by something amazing in smartphone techology, it's going to be a long wait.

Objectively, we should all be in a perpetual state of astonishment at what today's cell phones can do -- after all, it was only 20 years ago that any kind of mobile phone was a rarity. Now, they record broadcast-quality video and access the Internet at broadband speeds right out of the sky. And, oh, by the way, they make some pretty decent telephone calls, too. But as far as great leaps forward go, we've already seen the biggest single leap we'll see for a while as the majority of users have upgraded from regular cell phones to smartphones. The next great evolution is going to take a while. But it'll also be here sooner than we think.