WHEN I FIRST started writing these 'morning after the night before' reviews of Apple launches from my cynical Android user perspective, there was a lot more venom in my view of the Big A.
To me, they represented a homogenising, lowest common denominator way of marketing products at inflated prices, and as someone who, despite doing this job, loathes a flashy launch, found Apple the worst of the lot.
Times change and going into Tuesday's event, my overriding curiosity was how on earth the team could possibly break this weird plateau that we've had in the smartphone business recently.
The answer is, it didn't. It was three slabs of screen and gubbins, though admittedly very pretty gubbins. But we'll come to that in a moment.
If you thought this year's Apple event was a bit muted, you weren't alone. There was no "just one more thing", no surprise guest, no unwelcome invasion of U2 albums. It felt at times less like a launch and more like a mission to get in, get it launched and get out. Nevertheless, it was under two hours, a proud boast compared to some of its rivals, and a huge relief, lest it overrun and clash with Bake Off. Who knows, maybe Tim is a fan and has a VPN?
Just as with OnePlus and Huawei before them, my annoyance at the idea of a phone that's essentially a model above the flagship, in this case the iPhone 11 Pro, leaves a bitter taste. Surely your flagship is your flagship, isn't it?
Still, it's a lovely phone, and although having three camera lenses doesn't particularly impress me, particularly as Google has one of the highest DxOMark scores right now for a single-lens camera, the results, even to this little Droid devotee, look mind-blowingly good.
Another petty irritant is wireless charging. Just this week, Xiaomi announced a 40W QI charging system, yet a phone that will cost you a grand still charges with a measly 5W. Even the wired connection is only 18W. Thank goodness for the promises of better battery life.
Apple Arcade seems like a good wheeze, so much so that Google is preparing to follow suit. The low price for a subscription ($5/m) is certainly going to lure people in. I was a little surprised that the games being offered are exclusives - it makes me uncomfortable because if this trend continues, we're going to end up with a two-tier gaming market where non-subscribers miss out on key titles. But hey ho, I'm still stuck on 2048 anyway.
The giddy thrill on show by Apple fans delirious at the prospect of an always-on display is beyond reproach, given Apple's absolute dominance in the smartwatch market. But it did remind me that this has all happened before. If you've watched The Rockford Files or anything of that era, you'll note that those early digital watches sat on the wrist like a monolithic black slab. The time was only displayed when you pressed a button, saving precious battery. They also cost about the same as a small car. Sound familiar? History repeats.
But here's the rub. All of this, for me, pales into insignificance compared to one detail. Pricing. And specifically British pricing. Because for me, this launch gave us an unwelcome glimpse into a post-Brexit world. Now, I'm not banging the drum for leave or remain here, just observing that all this uncertainty is hitting the tech world.
Now, to be absolutely fair, Steve Jobs was never one for exchange rate compensations. Under his reign, Apple regularly released products with dollar and pound prices the same. So we've always had a bit of a raw deal. But this time, those figures have been adjusted. The base-level iPhone 11 is $699 - a drop from last time. But in the UK, that price is £729, which means in new Boris Bucks, based on today's wobbly exchange rate, we're paying £110 more than our American cousins.
The only thing that I can think is that these are prices allowing for a no-deal Brexit. And given that there was a time, in my adult life where the exchange rate was $2=£1, that's more than a little scary.
Usually, I'd try to find a witty or uplifting way to end a column like this. But after that bombshell, I'm struggling. All I'd add is I'd check what the trade-in value of your phone is, not just with Apple but with etailers and phone recyclers too, as they might be affected too.
Erm. LOL. μ
Put a Ring-Con on it
We know. We're as surprised as you are
It's available across all major UK networks