Apple unveiled their new line of iPhones today, and there were absolutely no surprises. Both the iPhone 5S and 5C each have their own merits and new features. But many of those features seemed all too familiar to us Android users. Did Apple source all their inspiration from other companies?
Before I begin, I’d like to mention that “sourcing inspiration from others” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually common practice; companies take ideas from each other and improve upon them, hopefully creating awesome new ones in the process. But was Apple’s unveiling today purely based on what has been done many times before?
Let’s start with the new “budget” iPhone, the iPhone 5C. It’s not so budget in reality with a $549 price tag off-contract, but it has some new design choices. The design departs from traditional Apple aesthetics in favor of a glossy plastic back. Now, I won’t insult Apple for using plastics. I myself have defended plastics for a long time and will continue to do so. Plastic has a lot of merits, including durability (something the aluminum iPhones don’t have). However, this is probably the biggest thing Apple fans hate on Samsung for.
Yes, Samsung is known worldwide as the biggest user (abuser?) of plastics. All of their phones are glossy plastic, and many say it feels cheap even when it’s sturdy. I agree it doesn’t quite feel premium. But now that an iPhone is plastic and Apple is proud of it, what will people say about Samsung? Will those same Apple fans denounce the 5C? Doubtful. But the plastic, especially with the high gloss, is definitely reminiscent of the very company they’ve been suing for ages.
And what about the new iPhone 5S camera? Apple kept it at 8 megapixels, claiming that bigger pixels will equate to better photos. This is true, to an extent. Bigger pixels absorb more light, giving you lower shutter speeds and better low light performance. Do you know how I know that? HTC of course.
A huge selling point of the HTC One is the Ultrapixel camera. It’s a 4 megapixel sensor with big individual pixels, sacrificing resolution for better low light performance. The iPhone 5S camera may have bigger pixels than its predecessor at 1.5 microns, but the HTC One took it further, with a sensor that has massive 2 micron pixels. Apple tried to play HTC’s game, but to a lesser extent. Knowing Apple, it will end up being an amazing camera.
Then there’s the new M7 co-processor Apple announced. This chip is basically its own processor dedicated to movement tracking. It uses GPS, the gyroscope and the accelerometer to know what you’re doing with the device. Whether you’re walking, driving or sleeping, it will perform certain actions without a massive drain on battery by reducing the load on the CPU.
That’s a huge selling point of the new Motorola devices, namely the Moto X and the new DROID line. They all use the X8 chip, which has eight cores. Two are custom processors that serve specific purposes. There is a contextual processor and a language processor. Like the Apple M7, they stay on and collect data in a low power state to provide extra functions (like waking the device with your speech). It’s eerily similar, is it not?
You can even say that Apple gained inspiration from the old Motorola Atrix smartphone, which also had a fingerprint scanner. Apple’s implementation is awesome, hiding the scanner under the home button without an ugly sensor on the body. But it’s still something that the Android world has experienced, so it’s nothing “new” or exciting.
All of these new features and designs are good for Apple. There is nothing wrong with any of these decisions, even if they draw inspiration from other places. Again, it’s more than acceptable to do so and I won’t look down on Apple for it. But it’s interesting to see Apple gaining inspiration from everyone else, because it was a whole different situation years ago.
Before, Apple was the one with big innovations. Did it invent the smartphone, the touch screen or any of the basic functions of the iPhone? No, but it implemented them in a truly innovative fashion. Everyone drew inspiration from it, be it Samsung, HTC or even Google (and Android). In fact, Apple sued Samsung for drawing a little too much inspiration from their products. Now things are a bit different, aren’t they? Do you think Apple is done innovating or do you think they have some big things ahead?