Once again Samsung have managed to make a mockery of Apple’s current smartphone offerings, with a jape that pokes fun at the iPhone 5S’ inferior battery life. We enjoyed the ‘Wall Huggers’ video and have laughed long and hard at a well crafted piece of marketing that hits Apple hard – but just how far behind is Apple right now? Mobile Geeks take a look at the current smartphone status quo, and Apple’s place in an increasingly competitive market.
One has to wonder where Apple would be today had Steve Jobs not passed away in late 2011. With Jobs at the helm, Apple were a juggernaut of innovation, a creative influence that surpassed the competition at every turn. The iPhone, iPod and iPad are three of the most disruptive and game-changing products that will ever be released. The company literally led from the front for at least half a decade, showing all other players what a smartphone should look like, what an mp3 player could become, and proving that the tablet PC could indeed become a crucial device category for everyday content consumption.
I am no Apple fan boy. In fact, I admit to having never purchased or owned an Apple product ever in my life. But respect where respect is due. Looking back to the release of the first iPhone back in 2007, Apple has almost single-highhandedly dragged the PC world kicking and screaming in to today’s mobile technology revolution – and we owe a great deal of that to Steve Jobs.
Fast forward to today and we see Samsung as the current global leader in the smartphone space. The Android platform from Google has matured in to a really solid, slick and secure mobile OS, one that has a more open structure and infinitely better customization options than Apple’s iOS. With Android L we will begin to see even more sophisticated aesthetics with an updated ‘Material’ look and feel that I think will continue to win over iPhone users and put further pressure on Apple.
In the last few years as Android as an OS has really progressed, we have also seen a wicked transformation in handset design. In the last six months alone we have flagship after flagship launch, with really strong design and innovation from all leading brands including Samsung, Sony and HTC. Plus we have seen other major brands like Nokia, Motorola, LG and ASUS fight for a space at various segment spaces with superb offerings. We have also seen the rise of aggressive Chinese vendors like Xioami and OnePlus who have released some incredible devices, at ruthlessly rock bottom price points.
There is real disruption happening at all tiers of the mobile handset market; the entry-level now has fantastic value offerings which are squeezing the mid-range and even upper tier device segment which now sees flagship specced phones available for a just a few hundred dollars. There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone than right now.
My local carrier here in Taiwan is Far Eastone. Every few weeks I pop into the Far Eastone store to pay a bill, or ask a question, and while I’m there I cannot stop myself from getting hands on with a broad range of devices they offer their customers. All the big names are offered, including a comprehensive range of Samsung, Sony and HTC devices at several price points and screen sizes. There are cheaper devices from Xiaomi too (in fact my own Xiaomi is a contract phone from Far Eastone), plus a few Android phones that they have branded themselves.
I was browsing through the handsets available at the store just a few days ago, and while I was waiting to be seen, I could not help but notice that a larger group of teenagers where roaming the sales stands getting hands on with a bunch of devices – but as I noticed this, it occurred to me that none of these kids seemed remotely interested in the iPhones on display. There was clear enthusiasm for the HTC One M8, and many other flagships on display, but the iPhone 5S and 5C devices remained untouched and largely ignored.
None of this really surprised me, but it did reinforce the idea that Apple really have fallen away in recent years. The iPhone 5 simply looks too small by today’s standards. Consumers have clearly become accustomed to the idea of having a 1080p 5 inch device. This has become a sweet spot for almost all brands, one which is quickly evolving further as brands like LG and OnePlus demonstrate how small a 5.5 inch device can be. The LG G3 also sports a qHD resolution display – another pointer in the continuing trend towards bigger, better quality screens.
When we reviewed the iPhone 5S clone a few weeks ago, I admit that I was astonished at how small the device actually felt. Having moved from a Galaxy Note 2 to my Xiaomi Mi3 in the last few months, I suddenly realized that I had very easily navigated my initial misgivings with larger devices. The Note 2 initially felt massive, but having just used the OnePlus One for a week or so, I am now of the opinion that 5 to 5.5 inches is fine with me. I think now that 5 inches would be a minimum screen-size.
Getting hands on with the 4 inch iPhone 5S just felt sickeningly inferior. I mean, like is this really a phone that adults use? It felt like a little toy compare to my regular gig. Did Apple seriously think this was good enough, or big enough to compete with current flagship Android devices? Seriously? And this is still around $650-700? I think the teenagers in the Far Eastone store shared these same misgivings as myself.
The ads that Samsung have released in recent months highlight how Samsung’s Android smartphones are ahead in several areas, and the hit the nail squarely on the head. Let’s enjoy the Galaxy S3 ad again here. Using humor to convey really important messages that kicks Apple right in the nuts:
The most recent attack on Apple of course is the hilarious ‘Wall Huggers’ ad from Samsung. Again it uses humor to really make a strong case. The idea that Apple devices are still not offering a solid all day battery life experience is actually pretty pathetic at this stage. The iPhone 5S uses a non-removable 1560mAh battery that does not stack up well to competing larger devices that now have battery sizes of double what the iPhone 5S offers. The OnePlus One crams in a 3,100mAh battery, the Sony Xperia Z2 beats that with 3,200mAh a battery, while Samsung’s Galaxy S5 hits only 2,800mAh, it is removable and is also backed by an Ultra Power Saving mode that is way ahead of most competitors, Apple included.
Against these devices Apple is lost and far, far out to sea. In our recent head to head video comparing the Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8 and the Xperia Z2, Sascha, Nicole and myself all concede that in mid 2014, battery life is almost a non-issue for these top tier devices. You are getting all day battery life now. The technology has matured, the processor reaches very low idle power states, the batteries are better. Increasingly we find in our reviews that the story is the same – all day battery life for the vast majority of devices is expected. Anything less is not acceptable in mid-2014.
In the ad below, Apple customers are made to look like idiots once again, becoming the butt of a carefully crafted joke that points out a very salient and depressing fact that iPhone 5 users must face every day of their lives. We are made to genuinely feel sorry for Apple users, an unlikely thought just a few years ago:
Will the iPhone 6 remedy all of Apple’s woes? I really needs to… Apple is so far behind right now that the iPhone 6 needs to be a real departure from their current offerings. I think these Samsung Ads will be the kick in the nuts that Apple needs. I believe they got the message.