The low-down on the new Apple releases

  • Rajiv Makhni, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 19, 2015 21:20 IST

Sirjee, tussi chabbi tarik nu aa janna dukan teh, jinne iPhone 6S teh 6S Plus chayide ne, leh lena.”

For those uninitiated in the Punjabi language (who are you?!), that was an invite from a mobile store owner for me to come over to his shop on 26th September, as he would have all the new iPhones I wanted.

Yes, that’s slated to happen exactly one day after the launch date in the USA and yes, an India launch date for the new Apples isn’t on the horizon.

No long lines this time?

This was just our typical Indian ingenuity and ‘jugaad’ at play. Much before anyone else on the planet sees the new iPhones, we would have them here in any quantity needed.

While I gloated with misplaced nationalistic pride, I also had a few moments of doubt for the enterprising young entrepreneur. Would he be able to sell all his stock of Apples at the same premium rates he’s always demanded for the past many years?

Would there even be that frenzied demand this time? Or would he be shocked that for the first time in years, the want-it-now Apple Army may just give these a miss. After all, nothing tells you more about a product’s future success than the awesome Indian grey market.

The reason I fear he may not be able to get super profits isn’t that the new iPhones for 2015 are terrible. They’re quite good, in fact. It’s because this time, the entire Apple build-up as well as the event went off very differently. And the ripple effect of that may have a bearing on the pre-hype and buzz for the product. Let me explain. When the Apple fell

Apple stocks tanked well before the event. That almost never happens. While some may dismiss it as the overall hit the markets took with the Chinese economic situation, Apple is very resilient just before an iPhone event. Then, there is the event itself. Somehow everything was muted and not over-the-top.

The biggest applause was for screen-savers on the new Apple TV, and the ridiculous double-strap Hermès Apple Watch. The event was devoid of typical tongue-in-cheek Apple humour; instead of U2, they had OneRepublic play this year: a ‘Daddy band’ with a few overweight dudes, wearing untucked shirts and folded cuffs - the same overall desperate need to look cool; the same stage and atmosphere since the time of Steve Jobs; the rush to introduce all the new things (and yet having overly long demos); and, the fact that Apple made less headlines this year than ever before.

Roll over

Then come the products. Two things stood out. A lot of it was Apple playing catch-up with the competition and the Book of Jobs was severely broken.

In 2007, Steve Jobs had said, "Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus!". Except, Tim Cook and all of Apple do seem to want one bad and also want to make it sound like the biggest innovation on the planet. That’s what they have added to the iPad Pro, and that is, in fact, its biggest feature.

The other features are also available in some other brands:

a folding keyboard-cover for the iPad Pro (like in the Microsoft Surface), Retina Flash where the screen illuminates for better selfies (many phones have that, as do multiple apps), 4K Video (just like in Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC and One Plus), Live Photos which snaps action before and after the picture is taken (similar features have been done before), and voice control for Apple TV (similar to Roku and Amazon Fire TV). So, let me give you a synopsis of each Apple product launched.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

From the outside, absolutely nothing has changed – design, size, screen and form factor are absolutely same. The only new thing is the new rose gold colour.

Thus, all you golden-phone fans and everyone living in Dubai can rejoice; you now have two gold iPhone options! The new 3D touch is actually a big move forward, but may have a steep learning curve. The optics department has got a major overhaul with a 12MP rear camera with optical image stabilisation plus 4K video capabilities.

iPad Pro

This is the big bad boy from Apple. A huge 12.9 inch display with a 2732x2048 resolution and serious hardware inside. Can be mated with the aforementioned stylus (Pencil, as Apple calls it) and attachable keyboard.

But a full spec iPad Pro with Pencil and keyboard will cost you more than a MacBook Pro Retina 13. The iPad Mini 4 was also announced at the event and is mainly all about better specs and processor, but the ripple effect is that the iPad Mini 2 price has dropped dramatically to US $269. That makes it the best iPad to buy right now.

Apple TV

Not much to report here, as there is no official service and content for India, but suffice to say the star of the new Apple Box is Siri. Almost everything in it is voice controlled.

If it ain’t broke
So, there you have it. Once again Apple does enough to keep the mantle of the most exciting tech company in the world. The problem is that it could actually backfire if done for too long.

Apple has the hottest selling smartphones in the world, thus not fiddling too much is a good business decision. But of late, the world of tech needs more passion in the heart and less business in the books. And that’s why the hype and buzz about these new Apples is a little low.

So, will my enterprising Punjabi friend sell all his stock of new iPhones? Yes, this year he just might. Apple is all about the magic of the experience and not so much about the actual specs and hardware.

Yet, Apple must now start living up to its own tagline of one time: ‘Think Different’. It’s not been doing too much of that for a while.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch,September 20
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