There is no question that Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones are giving Apple's iPhone a run for its money. In fact, some loyal iPhone fans, disappointed with the incremental updates in the iPhone 5, already are looking for something new.
Smartphone aficionados agree that when it comes to innovation, Samsung has surpassed Apple. The Samsung Galaxy S4 in particular is a real standout in the smartphone market. Its bigger screen, higher resolution camera, and lots of bells and whistles are likely to attract a lot of consumers who are fed up waiting for Apple to reset the standard in smartphones. In fact, some would say that the iPhone 5's 4-inch display is almost retro.
Truth be told, Apple has rarely been on the cutting edge of hardware. For example, the company was at least a year behind in adding 3G to the iPhone, and it took it's sweet time offering 4G LTE. It still doesn't offer NFC in its products, something that is becoming standard fair in many Android device. Instead, what has made the iPhone so appealing is the aesthetic design of the device and the easy-to-use user interface. It's all about how Apple puts the pieces together.
By contrast, Samsung and other device makers have pushed the envelope in terms of hardware, including the newest processors, expanding screen size, adding NFC, supporting the latest network speeds and more. But now, Samsung has upped the ante in software, thanks to advancements in Google's Android operating system and Samsung's device software.
There's no question that Samsung's devices are growing in popularity. And the Galaxy devices have established their iPhone-like cache among some users. In fact, a recent report from market researchers at Strategy Analytics suggests that Samsung's sales grew nine times faster than Apple's during the first quarter of 2013. Some of this growth was due to low-end devices, but Samsung is also mustering a following for its Galaxy brand of devices.
So is it finally time to ditch the iPhone?
That's precisely the question I answer in this edition of Ask Maggie. Also in this Ask Maggie, I explain to another reader why Apple may be developing the rumored low-cost iPhone made out of plastic.
Has the iPhone lost its edge?
I'm feeling very confused. I have been an iPhone user for several years. My contract with AT&T is over and I'm ready for an upgrade. I was hoping that Apple would come out with a new iPhone in June. But it looks like a new one won't be announced until at least September or October. What's more, I'm not convinced that a new iPhone will be much of an improvement over what's already available.
Meanwhile, I am awed by the reports of the Samsung Galaxy S4, including the camera and the inclusion of NFC (Near Field Communications). I also like the bigger screen on the Galaxy S4. I find Apple's secrecy about the iPhone 5S very annoying and, from what I have heard, there will be an improvement in the camera, but still no NFC. If the only major improvements are a camera that's on par with the Galaxy S4 and a faster processor, I'm not sure the next iPhone is really worth the wait.
Do you think the time has come to seriously consider changing from Apple to Samsung? I really do not know what to do. Can you give me some advice?
Let me start by saying that your assumptions regarding when a new iPhone will be released are probably correct. There had been some rumors that a new iPhone would be introduced this summer. But according to comments that Apple's CEO Tim Cook made during the company's recent first quarter conference call, that now seems unlikely.
Cook indicated that new products would not launch until the fall. That makes sense, given what analysts are hearing from Apple's iPhone supply chain providers. Several analysts have said that Apple's component suppliers are indicating a September or October device launch.
As usual, Apple has been extremely tight-lipped about what the next iPhone could look like or what features may be or may not be included. So it's difficult to say for certain that the device will have an improved camera or not come with NFC with any certainty.
During the call with analysts, Cook said that Apple would not release a larger-screen iPhone until it had resolved some of the "significant tradeoffs" that rivals had made in making their large-display smartphones. Some analysts have suggested that Apple might release at least three devices with different screen sizes. But we shall see. Apple doesn't typically release more than one iPhone design at a time. There is also a chance that the larger-screen iPhone might not be released until next year.
So what does that mean in terms of what a new iPhone might look like in the fall?
Well, my guess is that the hardware won't be much improved over the existing version of the iPhone 5. Like I said above, it's likely to be roughly the same size. The camera may be improved, which might be significant if you're looking for a better camera on a smartphone