After being defeated in an epic sword battle, Inigo Montoya begged to know the identity of his black-clad conqueror. Replied the masked and mysterious Man in Black, "Get used to disappointment."
Last October, all expected the iPhone 4S to have a larger screen and 4G LTE connectivity. Instead, it grew in stature and capability as much as any four-year-old turning five.
And now, expectations have been similar raised for the iPhone 5, which will be unveiled Wednesday (September 12) and is supposed to be everything the iPhone 4S was supposed to be a year ago.
And knowing what I think I know about what the iPhone 5 will be - well, I'm now used to disappointment.
iPhone 5 spec update
Here's what I know about what the iPhone 5 will be, at least according to most reports:
- It'll look like the iPhone 4/4S.
- It'll have the same dense Retina 4.065-inch screen - no wider than the screen on the 4/4S, but longer (1136 x 640 vs. current iPhone's 960 x 640) to accommodate an extra horizontal row of app icons and create a true unletterboxed 16:9 image.
- It'll have 4G LTE connectivity.
- It'll be around 15-20 percent thinner, thanks to an in-cell technology touchscreen - figure, maybe, 8mm, 8.1mm.
- And the space savings in-cell creates will mean more battery life, perhaps more than 40 percent more juice. This may not provide much more than 4/4S's 8-hour talk time since LTE tends to be a power-hog.
- There have been some reports iPhone 5's brain will be a quad-core A6 chip, but I've been told no one makes a quad core LTE chip. If iPhone 5 has a quad core chip, it'll be a first for an LTE phone in the U.S.
- It'll have a smaller 9-pin connector that may or may not accommodate a standard microUSB jack.
- And, it'll likely sell for the same $199 for the 16 GB version as the current iPhone 4S.
All well and good, except...
Entry level cutting edge
Last week, Motorola, itself fighting to stay current in the smartphone guy, unwrapped three new Droid RAZRs. After a lot of speechifyin', the company proudly unveiled the Motorola HD and Motorola HD Maxx, each with a 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 pixel screen and with stout batteries able to enable chatting for 16 and 21.5 hours, respectively, packed in packages 8.3mm and 8.9mm thin, respectively.
Maxx HD with 32 GB of memory built-in and a microSD card slot to add more storage space is priced at $199.99; presumably the lesser endowed HD with 16 GB of memory and a card slot to add more will cost less.
And bringing up the rear of the new RAZR line? The baby Droid RAZR M - with a 4.3-inch screen and 20 hours of standby battery life. Thanks to its bezel-to-bezel screen, RAZR M is packed into a tight package just around the same size as iPhone 5 and its theoretic 4.065-inch display.
The new Droids are comparable in specs (other than the super-long battery life) to the Samsung Galaxy III, the HTC One X and many other new phones. Smartphones with 4.5+-inch screens, dual core 1.2+ GHz processors and less than 9mm thin are the new normal.
iPhone 5 will barely reach these tech spec markers.
No, I'm not looking forward to a phone that, compared to its faster-growing Android classmates, will look as if it's been left back a grade.
For Apple these days, pure hardware specs take a back seat to iPhone's real advantage in OS, apps, and both content and software ecosystem.
Android, for instance, lacks a desktop OS parallel, integrated content purchase and management alternatives, security issues, and has suffered continual set-backs in tablet alternatives save for Amazon's Kindle Fire. Microsoft's Windows Phone is starting so far back in the OS race that both Android and iOS has practically lapped it.
But there's half the non-smartphone-owning population yet to conquer (okay, a little less than half and shrinking fast) and neither Google nor Microsoft is going to cede any of these iOS advantages.
Windows Phone 8 advantages
I got to play with Windows Phone 8 a bit at Nokia's Lumia introductory event last week. Microsoft has not been rewarded in sales for creating a wholly reconceived mobile OS gestalt with Windows Phone (not an iOS copycat like Android), and Windows Phone 8 offers some marvelous improvements (although slicing previous Windows Phone 7/7.5 handsets, what few there are, from the Windows Phone 8 upgrade path is really a major slip-up).
For instance, I love that you can now resize Start screen tiles to emphasize or de-emphasize their importance. I love that there are more and more "live" tiles that make your home screen appear as filled with life as Broadway at theater time compared to the lifeless iOS/Android app mall peopled only by bored security guards.
I especially like the Windows Phone 8 camera software lenses. Remove unwanted objects - like someone wandering in front of the scene just as you snap the photo - with Smart Shoot. Bing Vision is not only a code scanner, it's also a scanner/translator that turns a page filled with one of 36 languages into English, nearly instantly. And Cinemagraphic creates animated GIFs, with one part of a photo moving while the rest remains still - the effect doesn't look as creepy as it sounds.
And the Lumias, like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the new Sony Xperia phones, has NFC with tap-to-pair capabilities - touch the phone to a number of pending NFC-enabled Bluetooth devices such as head/earphones and speakers to instantly pair them. And, of course, NFC means virtual wallet capabilities.
Recent reports indicate Apple will skip on NFC in this iPhone go-round. Unfortunate.
Online and/or on line
But along with the rest of the drooling horde, as soon as Apple says "when," I'll queue up on the interwebs to reserve an iPhone 5 then perhaps stand on line to pick it up. I'm trapped. I've bought too much music, movies and apps from iTunes, and my massive music library can't be moved to another smartphone OS.
So, unless every single hardware report about iPhone 5 is ridiculously wrong, Apple is about to proudly announce a phone that might have been cutting edge technologically a year ago.
But since it didn't, and I expect iPhone 5 to be nearly as technically advanced as some now entry-level Android phones - well, I'm used to disappointment.
But, boy, I hope I'm wrong and instead pleasantly surprised.