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End Of The Rainbow

I'm certainly no "Apple insider" and I don't have any sources to confirm or deny my theories, but that hasn't ever stopped me from taking a few stabs in the dark a few days before an Apple announcement. I have read about the proposed "gold" or "champagne" iPhone 5S color option. I have heard it mentioned on several podcasts and I got curious enough to even go look at some of the "leaked" photos of supposed components. Based on nothing more than my gut feelings and trying to think about how Apple has operated in the past few years when it comes to supply chain management, here are my predictions when it comes to the iPhone 5S (should it carry this name).

The iPhone 5S will come in two color choices. Those choices will be "White & Gold" and "Black & Graphite". Currently, the iPhone 5 comes in "White & Silver" and "Black & Slate". All the articles I've read agree that the gold option would be paired with white components that mirror the existing "White & Silver" iPhone 5. I do not believe that Apple would offer both a "White & Silver" and a "White & Gold" option for the 5S. The majority of the articles that discuss a gold iPhone 5S propose the primary motivations are to offer customers more choices and appeal to a more global style or cultures. While I don't disagree that the latter might be a valid benefit, I think it is more about differentiation than it is about an additional SKU for the 5S. The colors we'll likely see with the iPhone 5C will provide enough choice for those that hold it above other core design elements.

Slightly altering the shade of the metal body and backing for the 5S makes sense for so many reasons. When the iPhone 4S launched, there was an overwhelming tone in the reviews from major media outlets that it was not different enough. This was based solely on the looks of the device. If you look at an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 4S, there is virtually no difference. The iPhone 5 launched with a larger screen that stretched the device's overall height. The metal frame expanded to wrap around the back of the device. While many people said the design was still too similar, the iPhone 5 was a natural and beautiful progression in the industrial design that the iPhone 4/4S made famous.

When a smart and mature company has an iconic design that is as popular and striking as the iPhone has become starting with the 4, there is no reason to scrap it completely in an effort to reinvent itself. Ferrari and Lamborghini both have striking designs that are almost immediately distinguishable to even a novice car enthusiast. As new models have come and old models retired, there is a common design language that spans the brand dating back decades. Even with all badges removed, I'd be willing to bet that most people would be able to identify either of these brands from a line-up. Apple has accomplished the same thing with the iPhone. The color of the metal being different on the 5S vs. the 5 would, at a minimum, give reviewers a reason to pause and think twice about saying it looked too similar to its predecessor. By also adjusting the "slate" to a different tone and calling it "graphite", the same occurs for both the black and white iPhone 5S options.

Lastly, Apple likes being a step ahead of the competition, especially when it comes to the design of their hardware. The iPhone 4 was the first phone to introduce a full glass front and back. A couple of years later, it was a design element that was "borrowed" by the Nexus 4 by LG. The iPhone 5 incorporated more metal into the unibody frame. HTC took notice of this trend and the HTC One was released with a full-body aluminum enclosure design. Apple will continue to push the envelope when it comes to industrial design of its products. They are running an ad in movie theaters that shows off nothing except the design of the new Mac Pro. I'd argue that the design of Apple products, and the constant refinement vs. redesign of those designs, is what makes the hardware sexy to the millions that choose it over the competition.

A Little iEnvy

I <3 Android

I really do enjoy Android as a mobile OS. Android offers a world of choice and customization that is painful to implement (at best) on the iOS platform. I started my affair with Android almost two years ago with the Nexus One, and have recently upgraded to a Nexus S. I had an iPod Touch (2nd Gen) when I used a BlackBerry Bold as my phone, but have since gone to just my Android phone and gave the Touch to my son. I am running Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) on my Nexus S, and think that it is a great upgrade from Gingerbread. I also picked up a HP TouchPad during the "fire sale" and have it running ICS as well. ICS made that $150 tablet feel as nice to me as my wife's 1st generation iPad.

I respect iOS

I enjoyed iOS when I used it on the iPod Touch and when I borrow my wife's iPad. The app ecosystem that Apple offers is truly unmatched. Not only are the apps on iOS more plentiful for the types of use cases I am concerned with, but they are certainly more beautiful as well. Reeder on the iPad is probably the app I miss most when using my Android tablet, but there are several examples on the phone. I should mention here that I run an iMac as my primary home computer and am in no way an exclusive "fanboy" for any one company or platform. I use what I feel best fits my situation and my preferences. Several factors can play into those criteria. Cost (I wouldn't have an iPad of my own if I hadn't gotten the TouchPad for such a steal), workplace restrictions (I am not able to place my work issues SIM card into an iPhone due to carrier billing differences) and variety all play into my choices. My wife uses an iPhone 4 and the 1st generation iPad, so anytime I'd like to play around with a new app or sync my Jawbone UP band, I borrow her devices.

My Current iEnvy

My current "iEnvy" is fueled by two primary factors. First, my wife never worries about her phone's battery life. I constantly worry about mine. This is the same case with our tablets, however, I don't use my TouchPad nearly as much as I do my phone. Battery life should be Android's number one focus with it's next Nexus device and future operating system decisions. I haven't talked to any Android lovers who are not taking steps to conserve battery life with apps like Tasker or JuiceDefender. My wife is not as heavy a user of her phone as I am, but she leaves Wifi on always, and her screen timeout is set to some ridiculous value on the high end. I'd have to actually carry an iPhone 4 or 4S for a few days to know if I would be in a better position with it vs. my Nexus S, but I'm 99% sure that I would be based on talking to others that use those devices.

The second driver of my iEnvy is that both the iPhone and iPad now sport Retina displays. Simply put, no one has better mobile device displays than Apple. I read a lot of text on my phone and tablet and know just from helping my wife with things on her iPhone 4 that the experience of a Retina display is unmatched to anything else. I'm in a position now where I question whether I need to have two Android mobile devices, or if I would be getting the best of both worlds by having either an iPhone and my TouchPad or my Nexus S and an iPad. This brings back the criteria limitations I brought up above, but I'm working to determine if either move would be feasible. I think it would change my use patterns a bit. I'd read less on my phone and more on my tablet if I had an iPad. I'd still enjoy the customization and freedom that comes with Android on my more heavily used device... but I'd still have shitty battery life.

Envy is a Deadly Sin

I'm not really thinking along the lines of Ten Commandments... but more the "geek law" variety. So many people are in one camp or the other when it comes to Android vs. iOS (both hardware and software). I find myself looking over the fence and saying, "I should really tear down this fence and eat any colored grass I like."