4G is the killer feature of iPhone5, but NFC should have been


Yesterday’s unveiling of the iPhone5 has been met with a fairly flat response outside those dedicated ‘by anything with an Apple logo’ fanboys. As the announcement rolled out there were key features all of us were looking for to make this release revolutionary and not just evolutionary. Sadly that moment never came.

The single biggest feature for the iPhone5 is 4G compatibility. Apparently Apple learnt from the controversy around the iPad 4G branding and decided they’d actually support Australian 4G frequencies. The reason I believe 4G coming to the iPhone5 is so important is two fold.

The first is that Apple’s devices, particularly the phone are sold on the fact that ‘there’s an app for that’. In most circumstances, that’s true. The issue arises when that app attempts to connect to the network and download data. In Australia there’s a huge variance of network availability and tower congestion. Some areas are fine, but the nature of the time 3G has been available means that most are overwhelmed. The point here is that you can have all the apps in the world, but if they need data and you can’t get it, you’re carrying around a very expensive brick.

The second issue is the work Apple has done with battery life. While its not the dramatic improvement we’d hoped for, being able to power a bigger screen and run at 4G speeds with the same battery life is impressive. Again there’d be little point in adding faster network speeds if your battery only lasts 4 hours.

The most disappointing part of iPhone 5 is the lack of Near Field Communication or NFC. Last week we posted about David Lindberg’s comments around the end of money as we know it. NFC is a critical component of that future becoming a reality. Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller was quote yesterday as saying “it’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem.” Sorry Phil, but it absolutely is.

Retail transactions are the source of massive time delays, cues and frustrations. Take the examples of PayWave or PayPass, the time required to complete a transaction with a customer using one of these technologies is 3-5 seconds. The time required to search through a wallet for correct change can be up to 30 second. In peak times this 10x increase of time becomes critical.

iPhone sell in large volumes and including or excluding features can have dramatic effects on society and change human behaviours. This is one time where Apple have disappointingly missed the boat as competitors like Android and WP8 add NFC support. Developers and consumers will now endure another 12 months without NFC.. that or look at the alternatives.

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn't seeking credit.

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