A slick, new iPhone 5 concept video harkens back to one of the first iPhone 5 mock-ups, which featured a clear, see-through display. While the feature has no practical purpose, it reflects users’ desire for a revolutionary, new iPhone iteration.
New, viral iPhone 5 mock-ups and concept videos make their way around the tech blogosphere quickly these days, as the enduring desire for the elusive sixth-generation continues to mount among smartphone users. iPhone concepts rarely hit the mark of what the finished product turns out to be, but they are fun and interesting in that they further fuel the excitement and give us a peek into which smartphone features users are hearing for.
The most recent iPhone 5 concept video features an innovative “iClear Retina Display,” which is depicted as a clear, holographic display that still manages to present full-color images and graphics to the user.
Mark Chubb at Phones Review is incredibly magnanimous in his review:
“Of course, as this particular iPhone 5 is a concept the possibilities of it ever becoming a reality is probably pure fantasy, but one does have to say that if Apple did ever deliver an iPhone such as this then it would obviously take the mobile space by storm.”
Perhaps it would, but I’m not quite sure why, aside from this concept being aesthetically interesting, all a Tom Cruise’s iconic holographic, clear tablet computer in the now ubiquitous film, The Minority Report. Cruise’s clear, touchable display made quite an impact on tech users — so much so that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an iPhone 5 concept like this.
One of the first concept photos I came across when beginning this blog in August of 2010 was this photo, which still ranks high in Google’s Image Search when you type “iPhone 5:”
This older concept is not nearly as developed in that it only depicts white icons. However, it suffers from the same problem as the “iClear” — aside from giving your iPhone a lifelike palm wallpaper, it would do very little to improve the user experience.
Sure, one could imagine holding the display up and looking through it to take pictures, or holding it up to barcodes and other visual cues for improved interactions. But we’re already moving in that direction by way of the iPhone’s ever-improving rear-facing camera, anyway. Clear plexiglass isn’t going to give us any practical features — other than a really cool feature to show off to friends.
But for as much as this new clear concept is pure fluff, it does do one thing: it reinforces once again how badly iPhone users want the iPhone 5 to be a revolutionary mobile device.
In response to my article yesterday, iPhone 5 News Blog commenter Justin had some interesting insights on the topic of Apple creating revolutionary products:
“. . . revolutionary products were not their goal, which is another way to say what I said above, so people shouldn’t expect revolutionary products. Their goal is to create the best user experience and beautiful products. Meeting those goals has resulted in revolutionary products when the technology and opportunity allows, but revolutionary products are not their goal.”
It’s a nuanced point that Justin is making — that Apple simply seeks to make high quality, aesthetically pleasing products, which sometimes results in revolutionary advancements, and sometimes not. I don’t know if I fully agree with that conclusion — wasn’t it Apple who used the tag line “Resolutionary” to describe the Retina Display on the iPad 3? Whether or not being revolutionary is a goal at Cupertino R&D facilities– but he does raise a good argument about whether the iPhone 5 will indeed be “revolutionary” or not.
A lot of commenters yesterday made the point that the iPhone itself is the revolutionary product, and all of the iterations of it will never be more than “evolutionary.” That very well be the case, but when you add up the iPhone 5 concept photos and all of the rumored features that get packed into the iPhone 5 discussion, it’s clear that users have high expectations for the iPhone 5 that Apple may be destined to undershoot.
What’s also interesting is that this “revolutionary” expectation doesn’t really exist with any other Apple product (or any other tech product, for that matter. The iPad 3 never had the level of expectations ascribed to it as the iPhone 5, and for the most part, users have been satisfied with the incremental upgrades to the new iPad versus the iPad 2. Similarly, Apple never seems to be in a position for failing to hit the mark with its new MacBooks or iMacs (though the hefty price tag of the new MacBooks is a little bit disconcerting). Only Apple’s rumored “iTV” comes close to the “revolutionary” moniker of the iPhone 5 — but what the iTV will actually be all about is still anomalous, since there is no previous iTV to work from.
In the end, the iPhone 5 isn’t going to have a clear screen, and most likely will not have tactical touch screens, removable camera lenses, or any other late-breaking patent features. It may not even have NFC technology. And while some of these features may eventually come to subsequent iPhone iterations, the 2012 iPhone — no matter how interesting it turns out to be — might already be in an impossible position of living up to the expectations of being a truly revolutionary mobile device.
By Michael Nace