26 October 2012

iPhone 5 is a beautiful ornament

Ah, smart phones. How we love to gaze into your shining face. To hold you. To stroke your buttons. To fondle your every crevice. And there is none more beautiful than the iPhone 5. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of technology ever made. A telephonic Mona Lisa. An aluminum Scarlett Johansson. We lust for this black (or white) slab that is being purchased primarily as a piece of cellular jewelry. It accurately screams to the world that you will accept nothing but the best. And, ultimately, that is the reason I had to send mine back.

Nearly everyone today carries a smart phone, and those that do not have crafted a life enjoying tweets from real birds. (Envy them.) These miniature personal mainframes are morphing from practical and entertaining ways to pass the time into a true fashion accessory. When you wait for your table and stare blindly into a four inch glowing bar, you are advertising an extension of who you are.

Manufacturers fully recognize this new role. Now these devices come in a variety of colors and form factors, within rectangular limitations, so your phone can match the imagery you wish to present to the world around you. You may think covers, cases and bands are there to protect the device, but often that is a ruse. It is defining the device to match who they are personally with many collecting multiple to change their device to match the season or just the mood they are embracing on any given day.

When it comes to perfection in mobile technology, Apple is second to none. The iPhone 5 is so perfectly designed and difficult to construct that the craftsman in China actually walked off the job because the demands were too high. Apple, rightly, chose to build their precious-es in a country with lax labor laws so they would not complain about workload, yet they had to take a break from building Cupertino's crown jewel because it was too difficult to craft perfection. Note to Apple's marketing wing: That is an iPhone commercial waiting to happen.

When it comes to practicality - the original purpose of carrying a smart phone (BlackBerry, how we miss you) - the iPhone 5 is a step backwards, even from previous iPhones. It was always so-so at making phone calls, but their new maps program cannot determine intersections or default to key locations in a city based on your current location. The new connectors makes all of your existing iPhone gadgets useless without buying expensive converters and gives little appreciable improvement. The camera turns photos into a Purple Rain poster. It scratches more than a cat living in a carpet factory. The small screen size is justified only to one handed individuals with all fingers turned to stone except the thumb. I could go on, but you get my point. If your primary reason to buy a smart phone is to get "work" done, this is the wrong device.

Still, according to nearly everyone, the iPhone 5 is the greatest smart phone ever made because of the hardware design. It feels like a precious ornament stolen from Westminster Abbey. Talking to Siri on that slab of aluminum is a communication portal to a goddess. Sure, sometimes the channel gets garbled and she sends you on a false crusade, but what does it matter when you are able to hold a conversation with the heavens?

For this reason, no matter the faults, the iPhone 5 is a device that nearly no one will complain about owning. Unless, of course, you only carry a smart phone because you are forced to by modern communication needs. Which is where I come in.

This silly device is in my pocket because it needs to be. So work can contact me on the phone, so I can work through support tickets, so the family can call me, so I can load a game and hand the sucker to my son. Were it not a requirement to look good at the office, I would probably wear jeans and a Jack the Pumpkin King t-shirt every day and there is no requirement for my mobile talk toy to meet a corporate dress code. In fact, given what I put this thing through, it is a blessing to have something that already looks ready for an abusive relationship. But, perhaps most important of all: I am cheap.

When you carry the Rolex of cells you pay for that spinning hand that rolls smoothly across the surface rather than the cheap imitation that stutters for each second. The iPhone 5 is a few hundred dollars up-front with a two year contracts at a hundred bucks a month. A comparable Android on a pre-paid plan will cost you the same initial cost with zero contract and less than half the monthly cost. Yes, there are variations to this comparison, but the bottom line is you can get a device that is functionally as good or better than the iPhone for less than half the total cost of ownership. However, everyone will know you are carrying the fake Rolex.

In this new era of fashion phoneia, your device should reflect who you are. For me, I carry grocery store branded re-usable bags, not the artistic embellishments splattered on Trader Joe's tote. I truly embrace my imperfection and fashion inadequacy. And, yes, I am a cheap bastard that refuses to pay more than I have to. That is my reality. So, with a small pang of sadness I slapped the return label on the box. Back to Apple went my sleek black beauty of an iPhone for someone who needs a perfect jewel in their pocket while I happily soldier on with my practical imperfect piece of plastic.