But whether we’ll agree or disagree about most aspects of the iPhone, there’s one area where it’s been an undisputed champ for many years now – and that would be performance.
Late last year, the A15 Bionic chip in the then-new iPhone 13 series beat in performance every other phone, even dedicated gaming beasts like the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, which usually come with some ridiculous specs. That non-threatening, mainstream iPhone just kept crushing the Android competition by outperforming it, with much less RAM, less extravagant specs in general, and some Apple silicon.But hey, kings don’t last forever, especially if they stop trying hard enough. And recently, a challenger that I’m quite fond of, began proving its ambitions of dominating Apple in its own game. And no, it’s not Samsung…
- 1 The Xiaomi 12S Ultra recently beat the iPhone 13 Pro Max in a gaming test, and that’s a big deal
- 2 Apple is missing out on other smartphone trends too, seemingly not in a hurry to compete with Samsung and co.
- 3 What’s Apple going to do about the iPhone? It needs a new edge over Android
- 4 The iPhone doesn’t need to be the best, if Apple starts selling you a new product that offers what no smartphone can
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra recently beat the iPhone 13 Pro Max in a gaming test, and that’s a big deal
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra may have a huge camera bump; Xiaomi leaning onto what seems to be the trendiest trend for most consumers right now, but it’s not the phone’s ability to take good photos that we should be focusing on.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor inside this Xiaomi phone is what Apple should really worry about. With it, the phone was able to run the wildly popular, graphically-intensive game Genshin Impact at a higher framerate (57.7) than the iPhone SE 2022, which, like the iPhone 13 Pro Max, packs the A15 Bionic chip. Apple’s phone “only” averaged at 54 frames per second.
This might sound like a stretch, to compare a new Android flagship to an older, “mid-range” iPhone, just to get a conclusion that favors the Snapdragon chip over the A15 Bionic, but the fact of the matter is…
Qualcomm is catching up to Apple’s processors, and its upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 might actually be more powerful than the iPhone 14 and its A16 Bionic. And that’s not all…
Apple is missing out on other smartphone trends too, seemingly not in a hurry to compete with Samsung and co.
Aside from possibly losing its dominance in smartphone performance, leaks are suggesting that the upcoming iPhone 14 is going to miss out on a rather big new trend in flagship smartphones – having a periscope camera.Evidently that feature, which pretty much every big Android flagship comes with nowadays, has been shelved all the way for late next year, when the iPhone 15 rolls around.
Of course, by that time most of the competition (and its users) would have become more than used to having the option of perfectly clear, long-range camera zoom. Meanwhile Apple users will have to continue to settle for grainy digital zoom, if they too decide to take pics of objects and people from half a mile away. Oh well, right?
But Apple being late to catch up with trends is actually a trend on its own. Only this Fall will iOS 14 finally bring Apple users the ability to customize their lockscreens, while basic flagship features like always-on display are not even on the table yet, just mere, unfounded rumors.
Not to mention slightly more “power user” features like split-screen multitasking, which is my favorite thing about Android, still being absent on iPhones… Not because Apple can’t do it, but because it doesn’t want to do it.
Apple is quite comfortable not doing things that its users may want and request, because of its immense smartphone market dominance, even straight up monopoly, in some regions. Plus, keeping things simple is the company’s philosophy, and has been for decades, since back when its original co-founder and longest-standing CEO Steve Jobs was still the decision-maker behind the profitable fruit-logo company.
But with enough complaining from users and ever strong competition in the tablet market, Apple did finally give iPad users desktop-grade multitasking this year, something we were starting to think won’t happen ever. So now we have to ask ourselves…
What’s Apple going to do about the iPhone? It needs a new edge over Android
Before going to what Apple’s long-term ace in the hole might be, let’s look at what short-term plans the Cupertino giant is likely going to lean on to keep its users happy.
Apple’s short-term talking points, particularly with the upcoming iPhone 14, would probably revolve around security and privacy again, in addition to sustainability and regular software updates, because those are still areas it seemingly excels at over Android.
Unlike a scary number of Android phone makers, Apple has been fantastic at keeping even old iPhones up to date. For example, the original 2016 iPhone SE will be getting iOS 14 later this year – that’s six years of keeping it fully up to date, with major software updates, not just minor security ones! Impressive, especially since Apple hasn’t even been selling that particular phone for quite a while now.
Also, Apple often banks on sustainability and privacy to attract people. And sustainability doesn’t just mean selling you an iPhone charger separately, instead of giving it to you out of the box, as we’re all kind of accustomed to (but probably not for long).
People are increasingly getting interested in sustainability and reducing their own carbon footprint, so they are more likely than ever to choose a product that aligns with all that.
According to Apple’s iPhone 13 Product Environmental Report (yes, that’s a real thing you can read here), its late 2021 iPhone models saw a huge decrease in using rare earth elements to build them. Instead, Apple is looking into more environmentally-friendly options.
That includes relying on arsenic-free display glass for the iPhone 13 series, re-using recycled materials for its build, packaging it with less plastics and more fiber-based materials… And of course, the fact that smaller iPhone 13 boxes (because there’s no charger inside, or really much else except the iPhone itself) means more boxes can be transported around the globe at once, reducing emissions caused by transportation. And that’s actually a big one.
On top of all that, we have Apple’s trade-in program where your old iPhone can either get a new life, or be recycled responsibly.
Let’s face it – you don’t really know if your Google, Samsung, Nokia or Xiaomi phones are being built in the same environmentally-conscious fashion as Apple’s iPhone. And that’s not necessarily because those companies don’t take such steps, but because Apple is way better at making it known – super clearly – that it’s making an effort to “save the environment.” And people pay attention.
And of course – we have privacy. Another one of Apple’s favorite talking points, which has been a staple of every iPhone presentation for nearly a decade now. What constitutes an undesirable restriction in my eyes, Apple considers a privacy feature – not letting users sideload third-party apps on their iPhones. Meanwhile, Android users can, and with that, might potentially install malware on their phones by accident.
Also, something I’m more fond of would be Apple’s “App Tracking Transparency” feature, which sure won me over, and I presume countless other users. Basically, it lets you block apps from tracking you, giving you an option to say “No, thanks”, thus those apps will have to show you less relevant ads, because they’ll no longer have a profile on you. While that’s great from a user perspective, it has been pretty harsh on app developers and advertisers, not to mention the cynic in me sees all that as merely an opportunity for Apple to develop its own ad system and force developers to abide by it. But yeah, we won’t hear that particular angle in Apple’s presentation for sure.
In any case, there we have Apple’s short-term plans to keep people buying the iPhone over Android phones. But there might be a much bigger thing in the works, that Apple’s “real” focus goes into right now… Its ace in the hole, so to speak…
The iPhone doesn’t need to be the best, if Apple starts selling you a new product that offers what no smartphone can
We’ve talked about this before, and we’ll surely talk about it again in the future, because even if it’s not something most people are aware of today, it’s coming. And will likely change the way we live our lives, about as much as smartphones did. That would be augmented reality, or AR.
For years now Apple has secretly been working on AR products like its fabled Apple AR glasses, and the Cupertino company’s SEO hasn’t been able to hide its excitement about this potentially game-changing technology.
In my article from late last year, named “AR is the future of smartphones, starting with Apple’s AR glasses”, I used Meta’s (Facebook’s) Oculus Quest 2 consumer virtual reality headset to show you what AR might be like, so you’d have some idea of what to expect, before AR glasses start hitting the mainstream market.
It’s basically your smartphone apps floating around your real-world environment. You’ll put on a pair of slightly chunkier glasses than the average pair, and through the use of retina projection or dual displays, one in each lens of the glasses, you will see digital objects over what you’re seeing right now – the real world.
So YouTube videos, browser windows with articles like this one – you’ll be able to watch or read those without actually reaching for your smartphone and having to hold that small rectangle in your hand, no more being limited by its physical form.
At first, your iPhone will likely continue being useful, by providing most of the processing power for your Apple AR glasses, but a few years later, those alone might be capable enough to do it all standalone, rendering smartphones in general obsolete.
Now, consumer AR glasses could be a decade into the future, or just a few months away. Apple could announce its own, officially for the first time, as soon as this year, as certain rumors have suggested.
But the bottom line is this – Apple, Meta, and many other big tech companies, likely including your favorite smartphone brand, are all either working on AR products right now, or will start after Apple makes the big announcement.
So all this kind of puts the whole “the iPhone is slacking a bit behind other phones” thing in perspective, right? I’ve long suspected that Apple’s not putting its entire efforts into the iPhone anymore, but into perfecting AR technology. Waiting for the moment the technology is ready enough to be dropped onto Apple’s huge following, both Apple lovers and Apple haters – turning AR overnight from something only a few of us occasionally talk about with excitement, into the huge new thing that took over the consumer tech world by storm.
But hey, what do you think about all this? Do you think it’s a big deal that the iPhone might no longer be the most powerful smartphone? And do you also believe that Apple isn’t even trying too hard with it anymore, since it has its target set on something new and even bigger? Share your thoughts with your fellow tech enthusiasts in the comments below.