I write this article at a momentous time in my young life, one that any fellow technologically aware kid can excitedly understand: in just two weeks, I become eligible for a cell phone upgrade!!! Finally! After two long years, I no longer have to go around feeling like a toothless backwards hick with my lowly LG Optimus while my friends enjoy the benefits of new-fangled innovations like “Instagram”, “4G Speed”, and “Muploads”. After lengthy deliberation, I thought that I had landed on the perfect phone for me: the brand spankin’ new Samsung Galaxy S iii. This phone came out around a month ago so I thought that it would buy me at least another week or two of feeling on top of the mobile phone world before the next big thing comes out.
Wrong. Just when I thought I had made my choice, Apple had to complicate everything by releasing the iPhone 5. Having already formed a die-hard though still vernal allegiance to Samsung, I tried all the usual defenses against this new formidable competitor. I said to myself, “Who’s actually gonna buy this thing? They’ve just repackaged the same phone and changed a few random details. Only really stupid people would fall for this.” Just to be sure, though, I checked out the promotional video for the iPhone 5.
About a minute into the video, my skepticism remained. This clip has all the trademarks of a classic Apple promo video. The Senior Vice president, Jony Ive (note the edgy spelling) is just another bald guy with a British accent sitting in undefined white space, looking soulfully into the camera, and explaining how they’ve “completely redesigned” this new model. He starts by rattling off some stats about how this model has a marginally larger screen and is imperceptibly thinner than their last version. Cue the light-hearted inspirational lounge music and close up shots of the new phone and this video is looking pretty uninteresting. Nice one, Apple, but I’m not buying it. Next time try “completely redesigning” my apathy.
I keep watching, though. I figure at the very least it’ll be funny to see how long they’ll try to BS their way through this video. But then they start talking about LTE, the fastest new form of cell service. There are some shots of people apparently downloading stuff really fast, and I’m intrigued. Never mind the fact that I have Sprint so I can only get LTE in like 2 or 3 places in the whole country; the people in this video look like they’re downloading apps a million times faster than my Optimus could ever dream of.
Then they start using some terms that I don’t understand. An A6 chip? Retina display? I want to know what these things are, but not enough to do any actual research about it. Better go ahead and just take what the Apple people tell me about it at face value. The A6 chip is twice as fast as whatever they had going on in the iPhone 4S? Sounds good to me! They say that the Retina display is way better than their last version, but I’m watching it on a MacBook Pro that has exactly the inferior display that they’re hating on in this video so I guess I can’t really know for sure. The picture on the iPhone 5 does look pretty good though, I think.
At this point in the video Apple brings out the big guns. Probably the one biggest attraction that the promo video describes is the new GPS function on the iPhone 5. With the new “flyover” feature, you can find a satellite picture of your location AND manipulate the image down to a street level. It’s unbelievably sexy. I’ve been waiting to get rid of my pesky sense of direction for a long time now and this looks like the perfect opportunity to get that done.
Around 4 minutes in I’m practically salivating. The video cuts to this shot of the iPhone spinning around in Apple’s characteristic white void, and I’m completely captivated. It’s kind of like that one scene from American Beauty with the plastic bag; I don’t really know what I’m looking at, but I’m pretty sure it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. My boy Jony talks about the manufacturing process way more than I would normally be interested in, but again he knows exactly the buzz-words to keep the viewer into it. Apparently Apple uses crystalline-diamonds to cut the edges of this new iPhone, and that sounds pretty dope. Diamonds are classy, right? He also said that they measure each component of the phone in MICRONS before they assemble each unit to make sure that it is a completely perfect fit. I know that’s probably unnecessary and completely meaningless to the utility of the phone, but do you know how small a micron is??? Neither do I, but that has to mean it’s crazy small. Like scientific notation small. Or electron microscope small.
At the end of this brainwashing masterpiece they really start bumpin’ the inspirational music and just flat out telling me that they’ve gone “way beyond what they [and therefore, I] knew to be possible” and that this new model is “truly extraordinary”. Damn. I want this phone. How did they do that? I think that a real innovation that Apple consistently delivers is their ability to exploit our dependence on them so subtly. At the beginning of the video Jony mentions that for most people their iPhone is the single most vital tool that they use in their daily life. And he’s right. These products are so user friendly that they’ve made normal interaction with parts of our environment a nuisance rather than the necessities that they really are (and used to be). It is sad to realize that losing an iPhone is now such a catastrophic event for most people that it can render them more or less non-functional until it gets replaced. Understanding that we really are so dependent on these products, minor changes in the slimness of the phone or the size of the display seemingly all present the same attraction: the promise of faster and better. I’ll probably still buy an iPhone or a Galaxy S iii, but maybe the Amish were onto something when they decided to bail on electricity and modern technology. Rumspringa, here I come!