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About Those Anti-iPhone and Anti-iPad Lists

No doubt any list of the five or ten worst or best of something-or-other is apt to attract attention. It’s not just on the David Letterman show; tech writers have eagerly embraced this gimmick. There are the ten worst or best apps, smartphones — you get the picture.

But since Apple is almost always in the crosshairs, the chatter will be about what the iPhone, the iPad, or the iOS lacks to make it as complete or as good as, say, an Android gadget. Sometimes you can get bored over hearing the same old thing, but maybe it’s time to just put a few things in perspective. But not to bore you, I’ll just list five alleged iPhone shortcomings.

1. The Lack of Certain Features on the iOS, iPad, and iPhone

On the surface, this argument would appear to have merit. If you examine the feature set for the OS and the hardware, the Android-based competition seems to deliver a whole lot more. Part of the disparity is the fact that the gee-whiz features other companies tout often do not work as advertised, and sometimes don’t work at all. Consider, for example, that notorious Tilt to Scroll feature on the Samsung Galaxy S4. It sort of works for some, doesn’t work for others, and never for me. It’s largely a waste of time.

Now Apple doesn’t play the feature bloat game, never has. Apple VP Philip Schiller said the hardest part in designing a product is not to decide what features to add, but what to take out. But it is fair to say that some object to Apple’s choices, while others feel that Apple is losing out on sales because there’s no, for example, NFC on an iPhone or iPad. But there are arguments to be made over why a feature isn’t there. Sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting until it’s perfected before Apple embraces a technology.

2. The 64-bit A7 Processor is a Gimmick

The theory goes that you need at least 4GB of RAM for 64-bit bit to make a difference. But Apple has switched to a modern 64-bit ARM architecture that simply processes data in greater chunks. Apple claims performance on the iPhone 5s is up to twice as fast as the iPhone 5. Many tests confirm that claim and then some. As apps are updated, and Apple’s integrated approach simplifies the process, iPhone 5s users will seem more real world gains. In 2014, Android handset makers will be boasting about 64-bit, and the media won’t complain one bit.

3. The Four-Inch Screen is Too Small

This is a fair argument, but I agree with Apple that there are still trade-offs in larger sized. The AMOLED display used on the 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, is seriously flawed. It washes out totally in sunlight, even at the highest brightness level. The Auto feature merely dims the screen, and, during my time with a Galaxy S3 and a Galaxy S4, I had to set a separate brightness level for indoor and in-car use. With current iPhones, Apple’s Auto-Brightness control actually works for me. Since setting up an iPhone 5c last Friday, I have seen no need to touch the setting even though I’ve taken the device with me to a number of different locations with different lighting levels. No, not perfect, but far better.

In saying that, I agree there is a demand for a larger iPhone display, and I expect Apple will probably meet that need before long, when they feel they can do it properly.

4. Fix the Poor Battery Life

Every time Apple releases a new iOS version, there are complaints that battery life has suffered. There are usually early maintenance updates to fix such issues. But the benchmarks published recently by Macworld, comparing several generations of iPhones and some Android smartphones, demonstrate that the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s do deliver battery life that’s equal or superior to Apple’s own claims. Your mileage may vary, and it’s always possible a badly-programmed app may consume too many resources. But that doesn’t mean battery life is inherently bad. What’s more, you may boost battery life by turning off services you may not need, such as Bluetooth. The “Background App Refresh” feature in iOS 7 (see Setting>General) might cause reduced battery life, and there’s no harm switching it off as a test.

My experience with the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 indicated that battery life was really all over the place, but neither were as good as the experiences I had with any recent iPhone. I even used apps that allowed me to kill all open apps with a tap or two in order to keep the system from bogging down. You can’t do that on an iPhone, but you shouldn’t have to under most circumstances. I also expect the improved multitasking management of iOS 7 will improve with use as it becomes accustomed to your work routine, and decides how and when app updates should be done to maximize battery life. Such a feature clearly has to be adaptive to work properly, and iOS 7 only arrived on September 18. We’re already at 7.0.2. with the latest bug fix release.

5. Touch ID Isn’t Perfect

But it’s better than nothing, which is what most people did to protect their iPhones before this easily-configured feature appeared. When you set up Apple’s fingerprint sensor, you also establish a four digit passcode as a backup. Yes, there are reports that hackers have already broken into an iPhone 5s with Touch ID enabled. The process isn’t casual, and requires time and dedication. No security measure can ever be considered foolproof, and that includes security software, but these methods make it that much harder for criminals to gain control of your device. As fingerprint sensors go, Touch ID raises the bar.

All right, that’s just five, but I think you get the picture. No mobile gadget is perfect, but Apple continues to get a bum rap.