Saturday, October 23, 2021

Apple phones are not that good anymore. Here’s why

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Has Apple been unfairly critical of its consumer products in recent years? Maybe, maybe not, but the company clearly hasn’t made a move to improve the way it does business for a while.

What’s the case for a new iPhone? It certainly has a lot to offer for features that Apple called “years” ago. You still get that Touch ID security protection and the latest processor. Yes, the screen is bigger and can display the time in an ultra-sharp resolution, and there’s new wireless charging — which actually has a wider design than previous versions.

But at the end of the day, this is the iPhone with a few very minor upgrades. You get new colors. A Face ID function, which hasn’t been used much and could use work (it just didn’t work very well in my testing), and a display that’s slightly less reflective.

If you bought the previous generation, you’re not going to be left high and dry. Apple has improved the upgraded model with the same camera, processor and memory.

But there’s one more feature that you don’t really get. You get the latest version of iOS, but Apple is leaving the LCD screen behind, so you’ll be given a OLED display — a nice look, but not the same efficient form.

What we don’t get — and haven’t gotten — are any extras. We don’t get iPhone headphones (these cases could do an admirable job of keeping a cord off of your phone), because Apple told us that future iPhones won’t have them. There’s no Love, Inc. Bluetooth headphones, despite that always having been a logical accessory for the iPhone. Bluetooth speakers are not on Apple’s agenda, and that means we’re stuck with yet another set of Bluetooth headphones that don’t have the same controls and song skip functionality as the ones that come with a conventional phone. Apple discontinued its purchase of Beats, and it’s never saying why (it’s not a problem Apple wants to talk about). No fast charging. The MacBook Air is still pretty good for the money, but you’re still $100 or more out of luck for a version with 4GB of RAM. And why does Apple continue to add biometric fingerprint unlocking technology without removing the physical button, either?

If you’re not a longtime customer, there are alternatives, particularly from LG, which has some outstanding OLED screens.

But if you’re an existing customer, now might be a good time to bail on your iPhone. If you can use the iPad at home, you’ll have plenty of options as well. You can stick with the iPhone 7 and keep the same perks and features. And if you do have a pricey device, you should at least seriously consider Android phones — not all, but enough to have a choice. Apple’s priorities have been on strengthening the ecosystem for its pricey product rather than improving its product in general.

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