When Apple announced the iPhone 7 last year, I was dismayed. Disappointed. Upset, even.
Apple had removed the headphone jack, and offered little to nothing by way of new features or even design to offset it. And then Apple had the chutzpah to commend itself on its “courage.”
I had just bought an iPhone 6s, but for the first time ever, I strongly considered making my next upgrade an Android.
“Frankly, it’s making me look at my inevitable next phone purchase with dread,” I wrote at the time.
Today, though, I’m sitting here following the grand reveal of Apple’s newest iPhones. And the only questions in my mind: When can I get the new iPhones? And do I want the iPhone 8, the 8 Plus, or the super-luxe $US999 iPhone X?
My change of heart stems from the fact that Apple has actually started to really come through on providing a meaningfully better smartphone experience. Last year, Apple was a lot of talk. Now, it’s walking the walk.
The courage fiasco
Take, for example, the headphone jack fiasco. The whole “courage” thing was silly, and not having a headphone jack is still mad inconvenient.
But Apple’s AirPods provide an actually meaningful upgrade to the listening experience — the AirPods are wireless, but they’re easier to sync with your iPhone than most alternatives, and provide better battery life to boot. People were grumpy when Apple killed the headphone jack, but AirPods are dominating the market.
I myself have been using a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones for the last year. The Solo3 sport the same Apple custom wireless chip as the AirPods, conferring many of the same benefits.
I figured that if I ever switched to Android, I’d just use them as normal Bluetooth headphones, foregoing the easy syncing and battery life. The experience of using the Solo3 with the iPhone is so good, though, that I can’t imagine any other way to listen to music on the go.
The next iPhone
This brings me to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the two newest entries in the line. These new phones, too, show that Apple is willing to continue killing some sacred cows in the service of building a better phone.
Take, for example, the fact that both new phones support the Qi standard for wireless charging. Some Android phones have been using Qi for years — making this the first time you can use the same charger for an Android and an iPhone. For a company so famously closed to outside standards, it’s a promising sign of user-friendly change. As Apple pointed out during its product keynote, wireless audio plus wireless charging is just a better way to be.
You could also look at how the iPhone X ditches the home button, which has been a mainstay of the iPhone design since the original back in 2007. It’s a big change, but one that seems to have paid off with a slick new screen that covers the entire front of the device (almost, anyway).
And in the longer-term, Apple’s focus on augmented reality — all the new iPhones have cameras that Apple claims are fine-tuned for augmented reality, which is said to be the next big thing in computing — gives some comfort that Apple is thinking about the bigger picture, too.
All of which is to say that Apple has made a believer of me: Some of what it’s doing may be counterintuitive or seem strange. And yeah, some of it kind of stinks, like the removal of the headphone jack. But Apple has proven that it has a plan, and these weird things it does are for some kind of reason.
So with the success of its wireless audio strategy pointing the way, I’m staying on this ride with Apple, wherever it goes next.