Hooray! Finally, after a few months of waiting, Apple’s iPhone 5 was “officially” launched in Kenya by Orange this past week on the 21st December 2012 as announced by Apple on their web site a couple of months ago. I say “officially” in quotes since the iPhone 5 has actually been available in Kenya the week after it launched in the US but at hugely inflated prices for well heeled Apple “FanBois” and “FanGurls”. Yes, I know people who paid as much as Kes. 150,000.00 for an iPhone 5 then although this now seems to have dropped to around Kes. 110,000.00 for the unlocked models in Kenya. Please bear in mind that these prices are roughly 2 times what you would pay for a Samsung Galaxy S3 which is probably the most wicked piece of high-end Android smartphone available in Kenya at the moment (barring the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which is an even nicer but more expensive smartphone owing to its “phablet” form factor, fast multi-tasking capabilities and super long battery life).
Anyway, getting back on track for this blog post, Orange launched the 32GB and 16GB Apple iPhone 5 models in Kenya last week. The 32GB iPhone 5 is retailing for Kes. 89,999.00 whilst the 16GB iPhone 5 is retailing for Kes. 79,999.00. The price may look cheaper than what you would pay for an unlocked “grey market” or “legit” dealer sold iPhone 5 available elsewhere in Kenya but do bear in mind that it is “locked” to the Orange mobile network in Kenya. In addition, in typical Apple unconventional fashion, the iPhone 5 comes with a Nano SIM which is an even smaller SIM compared to the Micro SIM that is used in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S which will set you back Kes. 150.00 when bought from Orange. However, most decent mobile phone dealers in Nairobi can “chop” a standard size SIM to Micro SIM or Nano SIM sizes quite easily for free.
Now, I do have a small confession to make. I am unashamedly an Apple FanBoi. I have been so for the better part of 4 years since I had my very first MacBook. I have been an iPhone user for the past 2+ years having started on the 3GS before upgrading to the iPhone 4 over a year ago. I never bothered to upgrade to the iPhone 4S since I thought it was just a stop-gap until the much better iPhone 5 was launched. I have played around with an iPhone 5 recently and the truth be said I was totally disappointed that the evolutionary “jump” seemed to be so marginal – even from an iPhone 4 and not an iPhone 4S. Do NOT get me wrong – the iPhone 5 is a great phone but for me I was not blown away as I was when I upgraded from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. If you have never owned an iPhone before then the iPhone 5 will probably be “interesting” for you but I am pretty sure that others will be disappointed if they make the switch to the iPhone 5 from the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.
Going forward, if you do choose to buy the iPhone 5 or are considering to do so in Kenya, the way I see it, these are the main reasons you would consider doing so, assuming you can afford to buy it:
- Speed – the iPhone 5 comes with the A6 chip which is really fast. It certainly makes using an iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 seem a fair bit slower when running various apps. This was impressive when I tested it out.
- Screen Size – the iPhone 5 comes with a 4 inch retina display compared to the smaller 3.5 inch screens that started with the very first iPhone in 2007. Its a longer screen and does not have the “phablet” look that most Android smartphones have when they go beyond 4 inches in size. It means more space to play on. But not that much more.
- Camera – the 8MP camera on the iPhone 5 has a few more capabilities like panorama and dynamic low-light mode compared to the older iPhone models. Its a step forward but to be honest panorama is something Android smartphones have had for awhile now.
- Battery Life – The battery life on the iPhone 5 is considerably better than that on the iPhone 4S and older models of the iPhone. This is welcome since older iPhones are not well-known for working all day long when your online constantly. The A6 chip uses less power.
- Form Factor – The iPhone 5 is actually thinner than previous iPhones even though it packs a hefty punch in how fast it works. In addition, its remarkably light and does not have the heft you would expect from an iPhone – this takes getting used to since you barely know its there when you have it in your pocket. Personally, I like a really solid feeling and “hefty” mobile phone which is “chunky” – call me old school but this is one of the things I have always loved about older iPhone models.
- LTE/4G – Kenya does not yet have a working 4G network in place with any of the mobile networks, Orange included. It looks likely that the earliest this would happen with limited coverage in Kenya could be later this year or in 2014. It means that even though the iPhone 5 could go faster than 3G it won’t work for awhile to come.
In concluding, I think that ALL iPhones are generally fantastic phones but the prices are just insanely expensive. The resale value for this reason is also very good since people want to be seen with an iPhone even when its battered and used as it is without a doubt a major status symbol in Kenya as well as many other African countries. As with all other Apple products, owning an iPhone earns you “instant coolness”. But, the massive strides being made by Samsung with the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 as well as the Google Nexus 4 with the latest Android OS showing more innovation than Apple’s iOS, it seems its only a matter of time before people may start to really wonder whether buying an iPhone makes any sense, at any price, unless Apple seriously ups the ante, all over again. That being said, I will probably still end up buying the iPhone 5 for no rational reason other than the fact I am hopelessly addicted to all things Apple and after all its time for an overdue upgrade. Nuff said.