My wife said it to me this way: "So Apple never said there was an iPhone 5? So this is something you guys came up with all on your own?"
Yeah, pretty much.
As you no doubt know, the iPhone 5 didn't happen. But much of what we expected in the iPhone 5 actually wound up in the iPhone 4S.
What we completely missed
We completely missed three things: the name, the form-factor, and the Siri voice recognition stuff. There is no new iPhone 5 name. There is no new teardrop design. I didn't predict the new design, but I did predict the iPhone 5 name (in fairness, along with everyone else in the media).
What I didn't predict was Apple's seemingly impressive new voice technology, Siri. We won't know how that plays out until we can play with it, but it's a feature that could be both very cool, and very helpful from a safety point of view.
The wish list
In March, and then again last week, I ran my Wish list: 27 features we want on the iPhone 5 article, which detailed some of the predictions.
Let's go down the list and see where we got what we wanted and where we were left holding the bag.
4G or LTE: This didn't happen, although Apple claims that the 4S downloads data twice as fast, and that's kinda like a 4G or LTE phone, isn't it? Nope, these phones will still be far slower than real Verizon LTE.
Unlimited data: This might happen, in that Apple added Sprint to its carriers and Sprint still offers unlimited data. Could be a win.
Native Google Voice integration: No more or less than before. Slight bummer.
An antenna that doesn't suck: The iPhone 4S has a new antenna design with dual antennas. There was no acknowledgement of the 4G's suckage, but a redesign means the problem may have been fixed. This is a stay-tuned item.
iPad-like dual-core CPU: Done, and done. Also faster gaming graphics. If you were waiting for the iPhone 5 for a faster CPU, you got your wish. Just a different name.
Screen rotation lock on a switch: Done, available in an iOS update that came since the article first appeared in March.
Ability to set icons on folders: Still looks to be missing in action.
Wireless iTunes sync: In iOS 5 and iCloud. Done.
Better battery life: Apple claims 8 hours talk time in the iPhone 4S. Only testing will tell for sure. But you wanted it, you got it (maybe).
Proximity charging: Not really expected and didn't happen.
Removable, replaceable battery: Also not expected and didn't happen.
Bigger screen: This was one of the big iPhone 5 expectations. Didn't happen.
Less non-screen real estate: Since there was no form-factor redesign, this didn't happen. On the other hand, the Siri voice technology may make the system more available despite no new real estate.
Physical, slide-out keyboard: This was my own, personal wish. Never was going to happen. Never did. They are available through add-ons and the same form-factor for the iPhone 4S means those add-on devices should still work.
Integrated AM/FM radio: Nope, didn't happen. Although the new iPod nano variant now adds pedometer features. Go figure.
Integrated HDTV tuner: Nope, no OTA broadcasts. Also no HDMI out.
Ear thingies that don't suck: No mention of a new earbud design.
Biometric security: Nope.
Card slot(SD or otherwise): No, I was not high. And no, it didn't happen. We didn't really expect it, either.
Integrated, flip-out stand: Nope.
Tripod-mount screw-hole: Nope.
Integrated IR transmitter: Nope.
Laser detection: Nope.
Full, 1080p HD video: I only gave this a 50% chance, but it turned out to be a full-on yes. Cool.
More colors: Still black. Maybe white. Nothing else.
Steve to introduce it: Sigh, no. And I gotta tell you, his absence was felt. Sigh (again).
So, there you go. Faster processor, faster video, better camera, better video resolution, pretty slick voice tools. It's almost the iPhone 5. Not bad. Not revolutionary. Not unexpected.
Now go buy one. You know you want to.