The iPhone 5 is the Rolex of smartphones

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?