Apple announced some new phones on September 12 with the Apple iPhone Xs. They also shared their new super iPhone, the iPhone Xs Max and a colorful iPhone Xr. None of these new devices inspired me to open up my wallet or reach for my credit card to pre-order this week. And I will likely skip this round altogether.
iPhone Xs Not Revolutionary Enough for Me
Last year the iPhone X came out and it looked kind of cool, except for the stupid notch. It still left out the headphone jack, which surprised no one. This time around we get the same design with minor changes. Another notched design without a stereo jack. Rounded corners and no fingerprint reader.
I waited to buy one till my youngest son broke his Samsun Galaxy S7 and decided he wanted to jump back on the Apple bandwagon. I didn’t plan to buy the X at all, at least not the first generation. But, he needed a phone and we do the tech hand-me-down thing where dad gets the cool new tech and mom or the younguns get last year’s tech. So Daniel got my iPhone 7 Plus and I bought a black 256GB iPhone X.
Here’s what I didn’t like and do like about the new design…
Notches are stupid – why is this a thing? It doesn’t really add much screen real estate. One developer I spoke to said the usable space for his app is actually slightly less on the iPhone X. It’s a minor thing, but I still don’t like it.
Lightning to stereo dongles – Uggh!! I really hate dongles. I bought five of these so far because I need one for my car, one for my backup ear buds and one for a device I use that plugs into the headphone jack, or used to. Plus I lost two, so that makes 5. That’s over $50 of dongles when you add tax. I could use the ear buds that came with the phone, but I hate those too.
Design – the phone just looks cool! That doesn’t matter as much to me as function, but I like how it feels and looks in my hand.
FaceID v. Fingerprint Reader – I like how fast I can open my phone and don’t mind the new gestures, which did take getting used to. However, I miss the fingerprint when I’m in the car waiting for my wife to get out of a store. I tap the screen and have to enter my password because my dock sits at an angle where the camera can’t see my face. We get the same problem when it’s laying on a table or desk next to my computer.
It’s an iPhone – I love Android, but I also love iOS. I’m a weird one. It’s like cheering for the Packers and the Bears. I don’t do that, but some people see my Android and iOS fandom as the same way.
Great camera – the iPhone camera’s great. I quit carrying a Sony Nex6 and eventually sold it. I gave my DSLR to my son who’s now a photography student in college. Besides my DJI Spark drone, the only camera I own is on my phone.
AirPods – These are the best thing Apple shipped in the last ten years. They’re not the most comfortable, but I got used to them. They generally stay in my ears, unless I’m moving around a lot. They sound very good and last long enough to get through my morning. I plug them back into the battery carrying case and get enough to get through half the afternoon while I’m eating lunch. The case is awesome. They magnetically snap into the case so they won’t fall out even if I accidentally open them. The lid snaps into place with magnets too. The case charges with the same lightning connector that charges he iPhone or iPad. Did I say I love my AirPods? At $159 they’re expensive, but the design, sound quality and battery makes them worth it.
Apple Watch – I used to carry a Samsung Galaxy phone and wore a Gear S3 watch. I love that watch, but I equally love the Apple Watch. I wish it showed the time all the time, but I like the way I can tap or draw to respond to text messages. It has pretty accurate movement tracking. Plus it looks better than the Samsung watch.
Apps – While Android app developers nearly caught up, the same apps in iOS usually run better with more stability. And I beta test a number of Bible apps and the iOS beta testing works better with Testflight, an app you can use to install beta apps instead of always installing the latest beta from the App Store, which you have to do with Android.
The iPhone Xs or Xs Max comes with some new features. We get a better screen, upgraded camera that’s also faster, a new 6.5-inch model on the Max, a cool new gold color that looks amazing, and of course faster stuff. The processor and wireless runs faster and so does the video processor. The dumbed down the iPhone to come with a cheaper iPhone Xr with lower quality screen and colorful options.
Unfortunately, none of these new features makes this a compelling upgrade. I’d love the larger display for running Bible study apps, but I can wait till I need a new phone in a year to 18 months when my phone hits the 2 to 2.5 year-old mark.
A new Apple Watch looks compelling, but not enough to jump from my Series 3 Apple Watch. I like the idea of a ECG built-in. What if my heart starts acting up? Maybe the watch would save my life some day? But not yet since I’m not going to pay $400-$500 for a new heart monitoring feature plus a new slightly larger display and rounder design. Again, maybe in a year and half I’ll jump.
They are stills selling the iPhone 8, but who wants to go backwards? I don’t hate the notch and lightning only audio that much.
What Apple Could Do to Take My Cash?
Here’s what it would take for Apple to take my cash before fall 2019 or later?
An iPad mini with Apple Pencil Support – I’d love a small 8.9-inch iPad that works like the new iPads. The $329 iPad supports the Apple Pencil. It doesn’t come with the same pressure sensitivity. We also don’t get the magnetic connector that snaps into the Apple Smart Keyboard cover. That’s okay. I’d love for a smaller $329 iPad that has all the same specs as that iPad but smaller.
iPhone with Apple Pencil Support – Can you tell I like the Apple Pencil. I wish the iPhone Xs Max had support for the Apple Pencil too. If they did that in addition to the new stuff in the Xs and Xs Max, then I’d sell my current phone and buy the new one.
iPhone with TouchID and headphone jack – It’s not going to happen, but if it did…
Great new revolutionary design that I can’t imagine but wish Apple could – I’m not sure what this would be, but I also couldn’t imagine they’d come up with the iPad and they did. That design changed tablets forever in a very positive way. So, wow me Johnny Ive!
Mac mini update – I would love a new Mac mini with a 500+ GB SSD and faster current processor that’s smaller and has USB C all for about $700.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.