Thursday, 20 September 2012

Softbank trade-in campaign, aka Why I won't be getting a new iPhone 5, Part I

This is primarily an Android blog, so I haven't made much of the release of the new iPhone 5. However, today, I briefly considered - then rejected - the idea of seeing what the fascination was about for myself.

Today, Softbank announced that they would be offering trade-ins of old smart-phones for anyone signing up to a new contract or changing contract to "Any 4G/LTE smartphone". Funnily enough, Softbank currently only offers one "4G/LTE smartphone", and that is the iPhone 5. We can but hope that the floodgates are opened to the plethora of choice that is out there - but I digress.

Very few smartphones are eligible for the trade-in. Why? Basically, because what Softbank is going to do is SIM-unlock them, then sell them on overseas; most likely for more than what they paid you for it. Trust me, you can get more money for your old phone on Craigslist or Yahoo Auctions than you can from Softbank:

iPhone 4S: 20,000 (64GB), 18,000 (32GB), 16,000 (16GB)
iPhone 4: 12,000 (32GB), 10,000 (16GB), 8,000 (8GB)
iPhone 3GS: 5,000 iPhone 3G: 4,000
X06HT/X06HTII (HTC Desire), 001HT (HTC Desire HD): 3,000
001 DL (Dell Streak), 101DL (Dell Streak Pro): 2,000
(Source: Softbank Mobile)

Especially the HTC's are a joke. With the ease of unlocking them yourself, and the fact that once you do so, you can still upgrade them to the latest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean), they have a lot more aftermarket value than that.

Anyway, before I had gone on the website and found out how little Softbank were actually offering, for a brief moment I considered it. Trade in my old HTC Desire - which is currently sitting under the TV, running on WiFi and purely acting as a Google Play Music player connected to my stereo - for a sparkling, shiny new iPhone.

Then I thought: I already have a pretty new smartphone (HTC One S), which was released in April this year. OK, Apple has 6 months on it, but things can't have changed that much, can they?

So, the question was, what would the iPhone do for me (or other Android users), that my current Android phone wouldn't? I set off to do some more in-depth research on the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 to make sure there was nothing really cool that I was missing.

The new features, as I see them, are as follows:

iPhone 5 (hardware)

  1. Thinner and lighter: The iPhone 5 weighs in at 112g and 7.6mm thick. My HTC One S is a full 7 grams heavier at 119g, and 0.2mm thicker at 7.8mm. Definitely not a game changer here.
  2. Bigger Screen: Up from a mighty 3.5 inches to 4 inches, Apple have finally admitted that people might want a little more screen real estate. On the other hand, good luck finding an Android phone with such a tiny screen. I chose mine because of the relatively small screen size, and it is 4.3 inches. Even then, Apple only got this by stretching lengthways, and the screen didn't get any wider before. Plus, apps that haven't been optimized yet will have ugly black bars top and bottom until the developer gets round to updating them. Win for Android.
  3. 4G (LTE): From a crippled HSPA+ speed in the iPhone 4S (see my last blog), the iPhone 5 becomes capable of super high speeds on Softbank or au's fledgling 4G networks. OK, this I am a little jealous of. My phone reaches up to 14Mbps on HSPA+, but gets smoked on speed by LTE. On the other hand, LTE connectivity is still fairly sparse, especially outside Tokyo. And LTE phones have been out on Docomo for the best part of a year now, so Apple is really only playing catchup. Still, I'll score this one to Apple.
  4. New "Lightning" connector: Every other smartphone in the world charges and transfers data over standard micro-USB cables. Of course, Apple had to be different. They always have been different, but this time they have screwed over their own customers by forcing people already in the ecosystem to either buy all new accessories for their phone, or buy an expensive adaptor. And still not be able to share everyone else's charger when in a bind. Major fail for Apple here.
  5. Camera: I'm concentrating on hardware only here, as well as features that can actually be compared. So "quality" is out of the equation here (although the HTC One S is consistently reviewed as having one of the best cameras of any smartphone). Thus, the main hardware improvement to the iPhone 5's camera is that is is faster than its predecessor. However, it is still nothing compared to the HTC, or Samsung's Galaxy S III. Not only do the latest Droids also have "zero shutter lag", the HTC can take up to 100 pictures in "Burst Mode" simply by holding down the camera button at a rate of around 4 exposures/second. Eat your heart out, Apple.
  6. New Processor: The iPhone 5 uses a new A6 processor. Details on this are scarce, but it is probably the fastest mobile processor out there right now. Win for Apple; but the HTC One S has the second fastest mobile processor out there (Snapdragon S4 "Krait", faster than Nvidia Tegra 3 in most benchmarks), so I'm not crying into my jelly beans just yet.

As far as big new hardware features go, I think that's it. Nothing here to really convince me so far. LTE is tempting, but I spend most of my time on WiFi anyway, so I hope I won't miss it too much. Hopefully by the time I get my next phone, LTE will have improved to the point where LTE roaming abroad is possible.

This post ended up a lot longer than expected, so I'll deal with iOS 6 vs Jelly Bean in Part 2 tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sven,

    The information posted in your blog is very useful for people like me who are very new to the japanese iphone, android circle.
    I have a small problem I am facing>
    I recently bought an Iphone 4S Sim-free phone from Amazon japan which is imported from Hongkong. I already have a 3G Softbank USIM that I use with my regular phone.
    I was wondering If i could use this sim with the iphone just for text and voice.
    Any advice would be much appreciated!