The iPhone 5 is the Rolex of smartphones

By , Sep 14, 2012

Despite lack of NFC (here’s why) and wireless charging (you still need  to plug a wireless charging device somewhere), the manufacturing precision with which the iPhone 5 is made is seen as one of its biggest selling points. Piper Jaffray analst Gene Munster previously predicted “the biggest consumer launch in history”, calling the iPhone 5 arrival “the mother of all upgrades”. He’s back at it again, likening the iPhone 5 in today’s note to clients to “a Rolex among a sea of Timexes”

Compared to the exquisite build quality of the iPhone 5, competing phones, Munster writes, feel like plasticky Timexes.

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt relays the note:

We view the iPhone 5 as the Rolex of smartphones in terms of quality and build. While the majority of other phones are dominated by lesser quality plastic and feel more like Timexes. Why would someone buy a Timex when they can have a Rolex for the same price?

Hm, where have I heard this before?

Apple’s marketing collateral says that the iPhone 5 is “made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch, not a smartphone”.

He predicts 8-10 million iPhone 5 units in the first week and 49 million iPhones next quarter, adding:

We believe that pictures and video of the new iPhone 5 do not sufficiently convey the level of upgrade the product represents.

Damn right, Gene!


The iPhone 5 is eye candy, but wait ’till you hold it in your hand

He then explains:

We were able to see and hold the device following the launch and believe there are two aspects that will pleasantly surprise consumers.

First, we believe the actual feel and build of the phone is beyond that of any prior iPhone iteration.

Second, we believe the weight difference between the iPhone 5 and the 4S is meaningful and consumers will notice the difference in their pocket, despite the larger screen size.

Be that as it may, I certainly agree with Munster’s assessment concerning build quality.

As I wrote in my yesterday’s article, everything matters once you hold an iPhone 5 in your hand: the materials is being made with, the remarkable precision with which is being built.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou knew this in advance.


Crystalline diamonds are used to cut the chamfers for that expensive looking sheen.

His company is assembling the iPhone 5 in Chinese plants, using sophisticated equipment custom-designed specifically for iPhone production.

Gou told China Times back in June that Apple’s next phone “would put Samsung’s Galaxy III to shame” and we now know he was referring to build quality.

Apple’s souped up PR shots don’t do the justice.

Here’s what holding an iPhone 5 in your hand is like, courtesy of The Verge (click to enlarge)..

Check out how thin it is.

One more.

Journos who were given some hands-on time with the device following Wednesday’s announcement felt that it feels substantially lighter in your hand and noticeably thinner.

Combined with its lightly textured back and the  highly polished chamfered edge with a nice sheen to it, the iPhone 5 should by far remain the most precisely built smartphone on the market. I have an iPhone 4S and I still marvel at the manufacturing precision with which it is being made so I can only imagine that the iPhone 5 would knock my socks off in terms of build quality.

I think Apple’s design boss Jony Ive put it best in the iPhone 5 introduction video:

We don’t want to just make a new phone, we want to make a much better phone.

Making a much better phone doesn’t mean just making a bigger screen, a faster processor and putting LTE and ultrafast wireless chips inside. It means refining the familiar design (so that people can tell you upgraded) and improving on production processes so users feel like they’re holding a finely crafted object in their hand.

After all, it is a pricey phone and you’d expect top quality for that kind of money, especially from Apple.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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  • Johnathan Jennings

    Amazing phone. I’m so glad I preordered at 2:01 this morning.

  • thedarkknight80

    My brother has a Galaxy Note and that thing is full of bloatware and lags when switching tabs . The iphone operating ” experience ” in your hand ( not hands) is what makes the iphone an “iphone” . That iphone 5 is truly a work of art . I agree that pictures don’t do justice . Also, what i noticed with my 4S is that : the moment i ditched the covers and started carrying the phone without a cover, i stopped dropping it . It just feels right in your hand without anything else . And i’m pretty sure the Iphone 5 will add more perfection to that experience .

    and ….112 g ……wow…

    Can’t wait to upgrade !

    • http://www.facebook.com/felix.a.rod Felix Rodriguez

      Galaxy note is too much phone for iphone users I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is not familiar with putting custom roms on there phone to reduce bloat ware and increase features dramatically.

      • thedarkknight80

        I don’t think it’s too much phone, i think it’s too much generic software “mess” in TWO hands . What i don’t understand about Android fans is that they think that iphone users/fans don’t know crap about customizing . I’m a cydia freak and i have more than 30 cydia tweaks installed on my 4S , and i still prefer diving in the cydia store rather than suffocating in lags when i open a picture or play a game on an android device ….

      • http://www.facebook.com/frank9000 Francesco Suarez

        thank god i know both ways of the android and iphone :D and i still think that iphone is better when android has already a 1.5Ghz of RAM even thou iphone is less and not that compared to the android phones

      • http://www.facebook.com/SirTonyMedina Tony Medina

        1.5Ghz of RAM? what the hell is that?

      • iNfAMOUS70702

        1.5Ghz of RAM doesn’t exist…and in terms of the SGSIII we’re talking 2GB of RAM and a 1.5GHz dual core S4 processor

      • http://www.facebook.com/Jordys.O Jordys Oquendo

        besides android users doesnt know how to use 2 gb of ram.

    • lebboytech

      this is why i love this site because people here truly understand what i like in phone. i’ve gotten into so many arguments with people thinking that samsung is better then this iphone. So thank you for making my day lol

    • http://www.facebook.com/Jordys.O Jordys Oquendo

      the galaxy note is a toy , its just plastic.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Nazlyn101 Danielle Bounds

        Lolol xD

  • http://www.facebook.com/BikenNo.9 Biken Dangol

    Looks good. Really wish ,it to come with color selection like iPod touch. That will surely be RAD.

    • Miketyler

      It is apple they still like the control

    • http://youtube.com/MathiasVerden Mathias Lindberg

      If they could, they probably would. It’s pretty hard to change the color of the phone with the glass surface. It might be easier with the new back, but it’s still pretty hard.

  • Kok Hean

    Well, at least the back won’t shatter any more when dropped :D

    • thedarkknight80

      true to that ! i hope so !

  • TheAngryPenguin

    “As I wrote in my yesterday’s article…”

    What?

    “…the materials is being made with, the remarkable precision with which is being built.”

    Oh really now?

  • http://twitter.com/Woscoe_ Keith

    trying to pre order it right now but i cant get through! looks like im going to the store

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulfevo Paul Featherstone

    Top phone in my book and I’ve had the s3 now got the 4s now upgrading to the iPhone 5 can’t wait people

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    When I saw it in real life I realized how little apples video explains the quality of this device

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000254498753 Mark Seah

    iphone will still sell like hotcakes but it is nothing fantastic this time round, compared to time when 3GS to 4.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Nazlyn101 Danielle Bounds

      Not true. I think 4/4S to 5 is great. I mean, come on. Just because it’s still a square shape like the 4, it’s not a good enough change of look for the iphone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Chambers/1371602241 Nick Chambers

    I don’t know how much a low end Rolex costs, but lets say it’s $10,000. You can get a cheap watch for around ten bucks. That makes the Rolex 1000x as expensive. I also assume that a Rolex would hold a great deal of its value. I don’t think it’s an apt comparison. Just making some conversation here. I’m sure Philip Elmer-DeWitt owns a whole bunch of Apple stock, btw.

    • Kok Hean

      I got a digital watch for around 4 USD in China. Wore it for around a year before I stupidly lost it. Pretty sure it’ll still work fine.

    • http://twitter.com/Polyphonie Mike

      If Rolex were to be assembled in China- with the same precision but with cheaper hands putting them together and in loads instead of in limited supply- then it wouldn’t cost as much as $10K. With jewellery and watches, it’s partly the craftsmanship but mostly it’s scarcity that drives the price skyward. And unlike phone, a watch needn’t be practical. In relative term, the comparison is apt- not so much about the value than it is the mode in which the iPhone is made.

  • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

    Rolex my ass. Those high quality watches are made in Switzerland. Funny how Apple keeps showing sophisticated robotic machines cutting out the case, while in reality more than 80% of the work to build an iPhone is done by poorly paid slave workforce at Foxconn factories. Yeah, designed by Apple in California, but made by slaves in China. Stop falling to these advertisement and marketing ploys, and be real for crying out loud!
    Apple has more cash than the US government. Even though taxes are incredibly low in the US, they still keep vast amounts of that money overseas. If they really care, they’d give up a fraction of their profits and open manufacturing plants in US or Europe. But they don’t care. They’re just another corporation only in it for the money. Stop praising them for that!

    • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

      The case is cut out with machines, the workers put the parts together. And every corp. is in for the money, but some(eg. Apple) make better products than others.

      • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

        Then praise them for their products, but don’t compare them to products such as Rolex, which are the definition of high quality, but are NOT made by poorly paid slave workforce. Apple has a long way to go before becoming the Rolex of the tech industry.

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        I don’t care about who makes that, I care about the final product. And it seems to me that you didn’t understand the context of this article. They didn’t mean that the iPhone is the same quality like Rolex watches, but they said that the iPhone is like the Rolex when compared to other mobile phones.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        Really? You don’t care about the workers’ conditions? How they’re paid next to nothing? How China pulled students out of college and forced them to work in the FoxConn factories SPECIFICALLY for the iPhone 5? That’s pretty low. They are still people, afterall.

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        I care about them, and I am glad I am not them. There is nothing I can do about it and for this reason I don’t think about it. Caring about how they are treated is not going to help them. I’m glad that I can enjoy the technology I get and even though many people will think that’s pretty selfish, it is true. Everyone’s pretty selfish when you think about it. Send them gifts as a thank you for the iPhone if you care about them so much.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        You can do something about it, not much, but you CAN do something. Write Apple over and over, write to the BBB , the Consumer Bureau, investigative news agencies too look into it again. The iPhone 5 has seen these employees more abused than any other Apple product, so I will NOT be buying it. That’s another way to help: don’t support products that have conditions like this.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Nazlyn101 Danielle Bounds

        Calm down….Nobody is making you buy the iPhone 5 so don’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t buy. People will still love the iPhone regardless…..

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

        Besides the fact that was three months ago…No, I will not calm down when people say there’s nothing they can do, when clearly there is. And the fact that me offering valid ways to do something got nothing but downvotes, shows the clear amount of blind following Apple has instilled in their users.

    • Kok Hean

      Remove the spaces

      www . bloomberg . com/news/2012-09-05/samsung-china-workers-physically-verbally-abused-group-says . html

      Yes, it seems to be a trend in China.

      • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

        www idownloadblog com/2012/09/12/undercover-chinese-reporter/
        So two wrongs make a right? Simply because Samsung is doing it too, somehow makes Apple better? Hello? Reality check!
        P. S. Thanks for editing your comment after my reply. -_-

      • Kok Hean

        I didn’t say that it makes Apple better, don’t put words in my mouth.

      • Guest

        Then why did you bring up that article?

      • Kok Hean

        Like what I posted below the article, it’s a horrible trend in China, and even companies like Samsung are making a mistake like Apple, so I feel that they definitely need to have their products made somewhere other than China.

      • Kok Hean

        I didn’t edit my comment -_-

      • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

        You only linked that bloomberg article and edited your comment after my reply to add the other text. I wouldn’t reply the way I did if there was anything other than the article link.

      • Kok Hean

        I swear I didn’t see your reply while I was typing my comment.

      • http://twitter.com/tonkatuph Tonka Thor

        It’s nothing new. It’s only because Apple is #1 that this brings attention this kind of thing. We have to remember, it’s the Chinese government that allows this to happen not the Corps that go in. They’re just taking advantage of a good situation for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/felix.a.rod Felix Rodriguez

    Rolex of smartphones is a really high claim…I have yet to see a Rolex of smartphones…

    • David Villamizar

      You can say it is:
      -It’s the most beautiful.
      -Overpriced.
      -You are very limited to what you can do with it in comparison to other watches.
      -If you break it, you are in a trouble.
      -You don’t need some of its features.
      -You will still buy it against the other watches because it’s a Rolex.

  • Mike

    This phone was made in China under cheap labor. Quality? Absolutely not! I dont get what the hype is all about. I feel like it’s a marketing scheme

    • http://www.facebook.com/raza.chatha Raza Chatha

      really? u think its hand made? lol…

      • David Villamizar

        It’s obviously not entirely hand made, but they need workers to assemble it, and those workers, as some news have told lately, have got quite bad work conditions and low paying. Machines don’t do all the work, this people does.

  • OLIVER W

    The iPhone 5 is an ordinary smartphone which has got technology other smartphones already had for months. It’s a good phone. But it is no innovation at all.

  • http://twitter.com/randomprice Sol Estravís

    Ha, I read that line to a relative of mine “made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch, not a smartphone”. And she said “Like a rolex”.

  • sinnerofa10shun

    I’ve owned so many Android phones (OG, DROID 2, GALAXY NEXUS, GALAXY S3…) and I’ve also owned the iPhone 4. I love Android from an open source stand point, there’s just SO many different variations that it’s hard to stay satisfied when the next new phone comes out. Apple has begun to fine tune the iPhone design. Subtle changes are what keeps value. Unfortunately there’s so many Android phones that 1.) It’s hard to keep up with new phones coming out quarterly, if not sooner. 2.) Software updates are a nightmare because there’s so many variations. and 3.) There’s carrier phones and international phones and that opens up even more doors that specification issues (quad cores and dual cores, etc…). Apple, having one OS just keeps it simple and one thing I’ve learned, being in sales is that you can’t throw too many options at consumers because that’ll cause hesitance and/or resistance. Even though there were tons of leaks of the iPhone 5 and was seen to not be on par with the Galaxy S3’s or the One series of Android handsets, I think Apple went a different route by upgrading the necessary and tweaked the design based on simplicity. Begin the hate. LoL

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Nordstrom/1394053345 Brian Nordstrom

    Rolex?!???! I think thats an insult to the design team at Apple! If anything the iPhone 5 is more akin to a Patek Phillipe, or a Frank Mueller. Of course Rolex is the most knocked off watch in the industry… Hmm, maybe they have a point.

  • Ventus

    Rolex of smartphones made in china? What a joke…even Authentic Rolex is not made in China. Try producing iphone in USA just like Rolex in Switz…yes it’s gd quality built phone but poor comparison…

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.dente Anthony Dente

    Still think the 4S is more like a Rolex, being heavier and made out of stainless steel!

  • Guest

    Still think the 4S is more like a Rolex being heavier and made out of stainless steel!