The iPhone 5 has been in the hands of consumers now for a week, for those lucky enough who were able to get one. For everyone else, new software – Apple’s iOS 6 – has been available to download for free, to update earlier models of iDevices.
But despite Apple’s popularity as a brand, the millions of units of mobile devices they sell and all the records they subsequently break, there are people still confused by the difference between what is software and what is hardware.
And that seems to be the case this week with a number of reports, complaints and claims from unsatisfied Apple customers who have recently purchased an iPhone 5.
Macworld Australia has been reporting on all things Apple since 1986, and yesterday received a call from Melbourne’s Channel 7 to see if we were available to be interviewed for a segment on Today Tonight – a national current affairs program that broadcasts a range of stories, with a particular focus on retailer disputes and consumer complaints.
A journalist from Today Tonight advised us that they were putting together a story on Apple’s iPhone 5 as they had received complaints from their viewers about the new smartphone, ranging from battery saps to Wi-Fi drop-outs. According to the employee, they had read numerous related articles on Macworld.com.au, reporting and informing readers of these alleged issues and asked if we could help explain the facts surrounding the recent claims.
We’re more than happy to speak to other media sources and outlets to comment, and so, in this instance, we did. Shortly after, an enthusiastic and friendly team from Channel 7 arrived at Macworld HQ to set up cameras in our corner office, in front of a wall of past Macworld Australia covers to discuss the topic of iPhone 5. The interview consisted of some general chatting, followed by five or so questions.
Those of you who tuned into Today Tonight yesterday evening may have seen my heavily edited comments and noticed that they unfairly represent my responses to the questions that were asked.
From memory, some of the questions asked of me were:
- Can you list the issues reported?
- Have you personally had any issues?
- When will Apple get it right?
- Is the iPhone everything it was hyped up to be?
- Have there been reports of other phones having similar issues?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a taping of the full interview to be able to share this footage with you to share, but in a nutshell from my own experience in using the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 for almost a week, this is what I have encountered.
There have been four issues reported: Maps, ‘Scuffgate’, Wi-Fi and battery-related Issues.
My assumption, based on what people have said about these four issues, is that there are a minority group of iPhone users who confuse the iPhone hardware itself from the mobile operating system – Apple’s iOS 6.
iOS 6 was available to download before the iPhone 5 was in the hands of consumers. Maps was a native application developed by Apple as part of this new operating system, whereas previous software iterations employed the Google Maps service as a pre-loaded app.
Earlier this year at WWDC Apple announced they would be dropping Google Maps and introducing their own navigation system, called Maps. TomTom licensed their Maps data as part of the development process, resulting in Maps – the app you now see on the homescreen of an iDevice running iOS 6.
After the software’s release on September 19, worldwide reports began emerging, claiming the maps on Apple’s new program were not accurate, with some calling it “wonky”. Apple has since acknowledged there is an issue, and are working to rectify this. Once this is fixed, it will be a simple upgrade to iOS 6, not an upgrade to the the iPhone 5 itself, or any other model of hardware. So, to reiterate, one point to goes to software issues, zero points to hardware.
It’s also fair to say when Google Maps, Whereis and other navigation software were littered with bugs and other teething problems in their first iterations.
Google has said a new version of its maps for iOS is in the works, but for those who still want to access the nuts and bolts of its service, you can do so by going to the website via your iPhone, and entering location data in its search fields. Yes, it’s a band-aid solution in the short term, but it won’t be long before Apple issues updates for its own application, and Google’s new app doesn’t seem to be too far off, either.
The term ‘scuffgate’ was born a few hours after some consumers started unboxing their new iPhones, only to discover that their handset had scratches and scuff marks on the back, and on the bottom of the device. Apple has acknowledged this with Apple’s marketing boss Phil Schiller admitting that the iPhone’s scuffing is normal, confirming “any aluminium product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver colour. That is normal”.
I agree that the majority of aluminium products may scratch or chip, and most of the Apple iOS devices I own have scratches from everyday use. If you’re not fitting a case onto your iPhone, thereby taking necessary precautions, then it’s unfair to complain.
However, I don’t agree with Schiller if the above comment referrers to a new iPhone 5 straight out of the box. Apple’s packaging is firm and secure, so unfortunately we’re not really sure how a number of these units came to be marked.
In a series of Lab Test Macworld conducted, the iPhone 5 battery was 6 percent less than the previous 4S model based on continuous movie playback performed on both devices. It’s fair to assume with the iPhone 5 running on LTE for the first time in Australia this could play a factor in battery life, and with a larger screen and subsequent increase in video browsing and gaming on the device, batteries will be more prone to quicker drainage.
The iPhone 5 has only been out for a week, and like any new toy you want to make the most of it in the first few days; take full advantage of all its new features and, ultimately, sap the battery a lot quicker than you would with normal usage.
For me personally, I’ve used my iPhone 5 for seven days, the same as I used my iPhone 4; to access twitter, check emails and make calls. Throughout all of this,I have actually seen an improvement in battery performance on the iPhone 5 compared to the 4S. At the end of the day, battery performance will vary on a per-use basis, depending on what you use your handset for.
Again, we’re not sure if any reported issues on the battery comes down to iOS 6 software or the iPhone hardware.
Out of all my comments from yesterday’s interview, my response to Wi-Fi was the only remark Today Tonight chose to air. Where I seemed to appear negative, anti-Apple and disappointed with my iPhone 5. This is simply not the case.
Yes, I personally am having Wi-Fi issues with my iPhone 5, but who’s to blame? Apple’s hardware.? Apple’s software? I’m hoping it’s the software and a fix will be released soon. But, no, this has not left me disappointed with my iPhone 5 overall; I’m a happy customer and it’s clear to say I’m not anti-Apple.
I also commented on another report that Today Tonight had failed to mention, and that is Nano SIM issues, and a shortage in stock. A huge number of consumers have reported that almost a week after having their iPhone 5, it remains sitting turned off in its box because they are unable to purchase the correct SIM from their telcos.
Let me paint a picture for you: From the Macworld Australia team three out of four of us bought an iPhone 5 directly through the Apple Store online. And two out of those three phones are still sitting in their boxes, unused. The reason? We’ve been unable to get a Nano SIM.
The telcos confirmed that Nano Sims were only allocated to those customers who bought the iPhone 5 from them directly, a policy that comes down to limited stock. Here at the office, we all have different carriers, none of which could tell us when more stock would become available.
If you’re wondering why I’m the ‘lucky’ one with a working iPhone 5, let me tell you it wasn’t as simple or as random as it sounds. I bought my iPhone 5 directly through Apple, and after ringing a dozen stores, I thought I would make the early journey into the Optus City Store to try my luck, but I could not get a Nano SIM on its own. However, I could buy a black-and-slate iPhone, which they still had stock and this would come with an allocated Nano SIM.
So, I purchased another iPhone 5 for my partner, who I had to convince was a justified spend because it would be inconvenient to both have different models of iPhones and, therefore, different docks!
So now I have the Nano SIM from the second iPhone 5 purchased, but my partner is still holding out for his, just like two other members of the Macworld Australia team.
We did consider attempting to do a chop job of a Micro SIM, however there were unconfirmed reports that it may put the iPhone 5 out of warranty.
In a nutshell, the rest of my unaired comments were that Apple did get the iPhone 5 right, as they have typically done in the past with most other models. It wouldn’t be your standard Apple announcement or launch without the backlash and complaints from a small number of disgruntled consumers.
The hype surrounding the iPhone 5 was unfortunately overshadowed by the long wait for its release, originally tipped to happen late last year, and the barrage of leaked images and videos that surfaced leading up to the big unveil.
It’s also fair to say that Samsung, Nokia and other phone manufacturers have had similar issues relating to battery life, Wi-Fi connections on certain models, but these are not reported as much, because the coverage they get – good or bad – is not even a fraction of the media interest Apple generates with Social Media as big as it is these days, these things are going to have a greater platform to announce, and can sometimes be blown out of proportion as a result.
What Today Tonight forgot to elaborate on was statistics on the iPhone 5 that I referenced in my interview.
- 2 million pre orders in the first hour
- 5 million units in the first 3 days
- Lines were 83% longer than the previous model
Following last night’s broadcast, we contacted the journalist at Today Tonight, asking him to explain why these comments had been taken out of context. We were told by the employee that he did not edit the footage himself, and was unaware that this type of editing had occurred. As we explained, the footage they used grossly misrepresented the entirety of the message we offered on record.
The response that was given covered more ground, and offered all of the background information relating to these issues occurring. It is disappointing to us that a news report such as this failed to show both sides of the debate, and that our opinion was distorted in the process.
We have asked Today Tonight to issue a written statement, explaining why this oversight occurred, and will make this available to the public as soon as we receive it.