iPhone 5 has enterprise potential, but disappointing overall

iPhone 5 has enterprise potential, but disappointing overall

Summary: Apple's latest gadget offers features suitable for work, making it a worthy contender in the enterprise space, but isn't revolutionary enough and adds inconvenience to consumers.

A clarification was made to this story. Read below for details.

New features in Apple's iPhone 5 have strong potential for enterprise usage but, overall, the device is a disappointment because it merely matches up to its competitors and showcases nothing revolutionary.

iPhone 5 (Image source: Apple)
iPhone 5 (Image source: Apple)

The new smartphone is a "strong" contender for business adoption, offering more seamless e-mail integration and the ability to organize contact folders in Microsoft Outlook, noted Jake Saunders, Asia-Pacific vice president of forecasting at ABI Research. He explained that the iPhone, for instance, allows sub-folders to be created within the user's contacts list such as a folder for "Work" to categorize business contacts and another for "Main" to group general contacts. Users can also make a specific sub-folder as the default contact category. 

The ability to create sub-folders makes it easier for users to manage their contacts, Saunders said, noting that the ability the organize sub-folders within the contacts list are not available on Windows Phone or Google Android devices, although users can create and access e-mail sub-folders on these mobile OSes. 

Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 early Thursday, featuring a device that is about 18 percent slimmer and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor. The smartphone will be available from Sep. 21 in the first wave of nine markets worldwide which will include Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

Phil Hassey, owner of Australia-based CapioIT, added that FaceTime features were also improved in the new iPhone, allowing employees to conduct videoconferencing calls over a cellular connection other than Wi-Fi.

Coupled with its 4G and LTE features, Hassey said the phone will make it both more convenient and seamless for users to make video calls.

After Apple "ditched" Google's map technology to develop its own, Saunders said the former's mapping functions have also improved tremendously, with features such as turn-by-turn navigation support which may be useful for employees who travel frequently for work.

He added that while Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry device still leads the enterprise mobility space, providing encryption and security for corporate data, many of its customers today no longer require this level of integration.

"BlackBerry initially had been designed for banks and government entities, but as its adoption is spread out to a wider community of business executives, these consumers deemed these features rigid and demanded for greater personalization and customization of the operating system," explained the ABI Research analysts.

Pranabesh Nath, Asia-Pacific ICT practice research manager at Frost & Sullivan, expects the iPhone 5 to be widely adopted by employees worldwide.

Because the iPhone has a large market share and many brand-loyal customers, users will continue to purchase it on a personal basis and eventually use it in an enterprise environment, Nath explained.

Disappointing for consumers
For consumers, though, the iPhone 5 will not be evolutionary like the iPhone 3 and iPhone 4 was in terms of form factor, user experience and software, Nath said, adding that the latest release is not very different in terms of the way it looks and behaves.

The new smartphone also had been "highly hyped" with many carrying high expectations, especially since they had expected the iPhone 5 to be unveiled last year but got iPhone 4S instead, he noted.

iPhone 5's new features merely brought Apple on par with Android devices, particularly the Samsung S3, the market leader in terms of smartphone, Nath remarked.

Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at Ovum, added that with many Android and Windows Phone devices now significantly larger than the iPhone 4S, and gaining popularity, the pressure was on Apple to release a larger device but it did not.

"By only increasing the vertical height, it's created a device that's notably taller and thinner in aspect ratio than most of those Android devices, and as a result it will stand out, which may not be a good thing.

"While keeping the device small enough for some hands is important, many customers would have wanted something bigger and they'll be disappointed," Dawson said in a statement.

Consumers find iPhone 5 disappointing, inconvenient
Consumers in Asia had mixed reactions.

Shawn Lee, an engineer, said the iPhone 5 was supposed to be "huge" but turned out to be a "disappointment".

"Even though many things were leaked about the phone, I usually expect the CEO to announce 'one more new thing' on top of the leaked information, but this time there was nothing," Lee told ZDNet Asia. "The leaked information was it."

Others expressed worry over the nano SIM card which the iPhone 5 uses and issues over convenience.

Civil servant Lin Surong, for instance, noted if the Apple smartphone ran out of battery and she "desperately needed" to find contacts stored on her SIM card, she would not be able to do so on another phone. "This will deter me from getting the phone," Lin said.

Peace Chiu, a broadcast reporter, added if she wanted to keep a spare phone at home which did not support the nano SIM card, this could pose potential inconvenience to her.

However, Chiu was "excited" about the improved camera quality in iPhone 5, as well as its "thinner [frame], bigger screen and faster speed".

Ang Jin Yan, a student, described the new device design as "sexy", despite the lack of additional new features.

"I'm glad it is elongated because I like my phone compact and able to fit in my hand," Ang said.

Clarification: Jake Saunders from ABI Research clarified he was referring to the ability to create and organize sub-folders within contact lists on iOS devices, which is not available on Windows Phone or Android devices.

Topics: iPhone, Apple, Smartphones

Ellyne Phneah

About Ellyne Phneah

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

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  • Honest info

    Well done Ellyne! It is very refreshing to read an honest review.
    One thing you forgot to say is that NO iPhone's work with flash.
    This is a deal breaker for Smart phone Users and I believe one of the
    reasons Samsung has garnered more market share than Apple's

    • no flash on android

      You must have forgotten that flash is no longer downloadable on android... mobile flash is dead.
      • Flash only critically injured...not dead yet

        Some of the alternate browsers available still support Flash (e.g. Dolphin, Firefox, etc.). They won't after Jelly Bean, but since over 97% of Android devices run ICS or older, this means most will still run Flash. I run in "desktop" mode, so I get all my web pages with Flash.
        • But Ellyne Phneah is wrong anyway

          There is nothing that competitors could match about:
          1) iPhone 5 being the thinnest full-featured smartphone now: even Motorola Razr now is 8.4mm thick;

          2) iPhone 5 is the lightest ever among full-featured smarphones,

          3) iPhone 5 is made of metal, not (cheapo) (creaky) plastic,

          4) iPhone 5 is twice as fast in graphics comparing to any competition (which catched up to iPhone 4S only three months ago);

          5) no competitor could match ease of use of iOS, and the quality and breadth of applications and media library.
          • So...

            1. Who cares, thinner == more fragile. Phone thickness hasn't been a problem since the bricks of the 80's

            2. By half a gram, so who cares? This is a weak argument

            3. So, see #3, and besides Nokia's aren't plastic and have better features

            4. You are reading from a slide from yesterday and have zero data or facts

            5. Windows phone blows away iOS in ease of use, and many, many other ways as well.
          • DDERSSS is Wrong?

            By ease of use, do you mean stilted and inflexible? Please name a critical app available in the Apple Store that is not available to the Android community.

            I'm disappointed in Apple only because they didnt raise the bar in any significant way, so Microsoft and Android based platform vendors will be less likley to do so.
          • @DDERSSS - Lets Try That

            My take on your "points":
            1) iPhone 5 being the thinnest full-featured smartphone now: even Motorola Razr now is 8.4mm thick; - NOT - the Oppo Finder is thinner @ 6.6m-7.1

            2) iPhone 5 is the lightest ever among full-featured smarphones, - NOT - Panasonic Eluga at 103g

            3) iPhone 5 is made of metal, not (cheapo) (creaky) plastic, - HMMM - is Polycarb considered a cheap plastic - more durable than Al

            4) iPhone 5 is twice as fast in graphics comparing to any competition (which catched up to iPhone 4S only three months ago); - HMMM - love to see the specs to confirm that.....

            5) no competitor could match ease of use of iOS, and the quality and breadth of applications and media library. - NOT - at first glance iOS looks simple, till you want to do something with it (opinion) then it becomes a pain. As for apps and media, I'll stack the GPlay and Amazon up against iTunes any day - except for the number of apps, the Android side comes out in front - especially media... unless iTunes found a new function to Amazon...?

            Not saying you are wrong, just a bit "narrow" focused.
          • Or maybe you are wrong

            Some facts to support those fanbiased claims? Try reading the whole article before raging.
            Then go back to working at the "genius" counter.
          • -

            So what, who cares what it looks like or how much it weighs, what difference does it make on operation?

            It's just shallow sheep, i'm sure if apple released a pot of urine people would flock to buy it, so sad.
            Tom Simeone
    • Rhetoric

      Here's what the iPhone 5 gives:
      - a larger and better quality screen (full sRGB gamut)
      - a better camera. If Nokia would publish actual photos and not fake ones, we could compare, but the ones Apple published are better than I've seen from any camera phone.
      - faster
      - thinner
      - lighter

      I'm not sure why she thinks it is disappointing. Note that she, and those she talked to, failed to say what they were expecting it to have?

      This certainly sounds like Ellyne wrote her headline first, and tried to fill it in later. She failed.
      • That's flat out not true, hayesk

        My Samsung Epic (Galaxy S I) damn near put out better pictures than the later built iPhone 4S. And my Samsung Galaxy S II mops your iPhone 4S in nearly EVERY significant category. Name 2 things and we'll go side by side. Do your homework because Samsung is straight bussin' that a## right now!
      • hayesk

        i own an iphone 4s, and am continually disappointed by the quality of the pictures. a digital camera from 2006 offers better quality... beyond that, I am severely disappointed in iOS 6. I upgraded (stupid) and lost google maps, functionality of "music" app (only listen to podcasts.... need "podcasts" app... terribly designed) but I'm still stuck with NewsStand, the most useless widget I've ever seen on a phone. I can't wait till i can successfully jailbreak this thing. the hardware is passable, but the software is disgusting
        Jeremiah Wood
  • Error about Android device support

    My Samsung Galaxy S3 has great Microsoft Outlook/Exchange connectivity. Using the supplied Email application, I have my T-mobile device configured to connect to my work account and can see all my server-based folders, my calendar, my tasks, and other Outlook items (each kind can be enabled at will).

    Based on what I've read so far, the iPhone 5 sounds like a snooze, and I'm not sorry I stayed with Android... I had my G1 the day it was released and haven't looked back! :-) I have tiny hands but have no trouble using my G3 and love the big screen.
    • Samsung has 40/40 MS Exchange Server Active Sync policies

      Generic Android and iOS have support for less than half of those.

      Add to that FIPS 140-2 certification, Level 3 VPN support on Cisco, AES 256-bit encryption, Citrix & VMWare support, a slew of MDM partners, etc. and I don't think you should have any complaints about Samsung in an enterprise environment.

      Check out www.samsungmobileb2b.com
    • G1 was revolutionary

      I agree! I loved my G1, my Samsung Epic and now my Samsung Galaxy S II.
  • No Outlook folders?

    Perhaps there is some mix up on terminology, but I can access Exchange folders just fine from my android devices as well as my existing iPad.
    • No Outlook folders?

      Gee, I can access all of my Outlook folders with my Lumia 900 4G LTE Windows based phone no problem! The best thing the phone only cost me $10. Let's see you buy an iPhone for that.
      • Free iPhone

        4 is now free, 4s $99.
        • free but...

          The 4 might be free but it's outmoded, it's 2 years old! The 900 is less than 1 year and is better than the 4! The comparison is between the 900 and 4s!
          • and...

            The 900 has LTE in the States but the 4s does not have anywhere in the world!