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Is The New iPhone Worth The Upgrade?


And now about that new iPhone. Techies have long been speculating about what the device will look like and what it will do. Guessing right along with everybody else was Mario Armstrong. He's a digital lifestyle expert and a frequent guest on this program.



MARTIN: Welcome back.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Michel. Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: Tell us what you know. Are you in iPhone heaven?

ARMSTRONG: I'm not necessarily in iPhone heaven. I try to keep a, you know, a certain levelheadedness about this all. And actually, I wonder if I'm dealing with a little iPhone fatigue, and I don't know if I'm the only one. It's like watching, you know, just coming off of the football interview you had there, you make me think of that as if the same team wins the Super Bowl over and over, you actually want to see another team actually win and compete.

MARTIN: An interesting point. Well, tell us, though. Tell us about this team, as it were. Tell us about the new iPhone. What's it got?

ARMSTRONG: So with that said, it does have some advancements and some features that absolutely iPhone fans will love and should be excited about. I mean for one, a larger screen, four inch screen, 16 by 9 aspect ratio, it's going to look great. It's a little bit thinner in the hand as well, and you're going to see broadband really brought to this, LG - I mean I'm sorry, 4G LTE technology, which essentially enables you to faster downloads and faster uploads. And that could be for everything from music, but I think we'll start seeing these devices do more, much more, with video. Now that you have a faster connection and a larger screen, I really see people using it more for video devices than just music devices.

MARTIN: I hear, though - do I have this right - that some people are annoyed because apparently the plug or the cord is different...


MARTIN: ...so it's not compatible with - what? If you bought speakers, right, a speaker dock or something like that, you can use it?

ARMSTRONG: That's right, alarm clocks, all of these different things that you can use things for. I mean I have something that connects to a blood pressure reader so that you can actually use your iPhone and connect to that and it sits in the dock so you can check your health. So all of these things that have these docks where you would sit your device into your iPhone or iPod Touch into before or even iPad, those connections have changed on this phone. It's a different type of connection altogether, so...

MARTIN: Why would they do that? I mean people have those in their cars. I mean so why would they do that?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah. You know, I still don't know the answer to this, but I would assume that you make a good amount of money on accessories, and that's a very hefty line item. But there's also the change in the actual design of the phone itself, and in order to do things for thinner and in order to make the phone thinner, that port was going to have to go through a change. And I guess they assumed, look, come out with an adapter, people will still be able to use their old cables, they'll just have to buy this $29 adapter to do that.

MARTIN: Hmm. Now what about members who are not, people who are not members of the Apple fan club? Are there other phones that are just as exciting and perhaps a little bit more affordable, perhaps?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah. Definitely more affordable, and I think that's where a large opening has been before, but still, you know, affordability and beauty sometimes doesn't seem to come together with some of these other companies, they just don't seem to get it right. But with that being said, Motorola last week or so recently announced three new phones that will have the latest Google operating system in there, so that's really exciting, and it will come with a chrome browser, which is Google's browser. So in other words, a really smartly designed phone, Motorola is now with Google, so it's going to be a phone that really you could say Google actually is making to some degree. And then Nokia. Nokia has also come out with two new devices that run the Windows phone operating system, which is a big deal for Microsoft. So you have these three different operating systems - basically Apple, you have Android, and then you have Windows. And then there are different devices on those operating systems, and right now you're seeing lesser priced phones on the Android as well as the Windows phone models.

MARTIN: I'm speaking with Mario Armstrong. We're talking about what's new and interesting in tech gadgets. So Mario, I know that you're past - not long past -let's say, just a little bit past college, OK?


MARTIN: Just a couple of months past.

ARMSTRONG: Please. Please.

MARTIN: But if you were going back to school.

ARMSTRONG: What do you mean? I'm still a junior.

MARTIN: Exactly.


MARTIN: What would you want for your dorm room? Is there anything new that you think that college students will really be interested in, or students in general?

ARMSTRONG: You know, that's a really interesting question because when I think about that answer, I'd rather move away from consumption and more into creation. What I would really want in students' rooms are the ability to have tools that give them access to create phenomenal things, that get them to really think different about maybe education. Like, for example, there's an awesome new company that I found out about called Inkling - I -N- K- L- I-N-G. They are transforming how e-books will be experienced on tablets - everything from really full, full big video to being able to take advantage of the retina display and do great things with graphics, but also being able to have surveys and questions and other interactive content that goes in with the text so that young minds can absorb more information. So I, to me it's creation. I would love to see students, parents, if you're out there, and I know it's a tough economy, but get your kids a laptop. Don't get them, you know, these fancy gizmo gadgets no matter how much pressure they put on you. If they don't have a laptop first, they don't have a productivity tool that they can actually be used...

MARTIN: What about tablets then? In fact, there's a new tablet even being directed at younger kids. I think, you know, they...


MARTIN: ...already I mean you can see that some of the tablets are being marketed toward kids, or marketed to parents for their children, but there's a new even more affordable one being targeted specifically for kids. It'll come preloaded with certain apps that are...

ARMSTRONG: That's right.

MARTIN: ...games and so forth like that. What's your take on that?

ARMSTRONG: No, I think it's a good thing in moderation. It's funny, though, because I have a friend of mine who has a three-year-old kid. He touches the phone because he wants to see dad because he's used to use face time, which is the way to video conference on the phone. So - and everything that he thinks is a control, it has - anything that has a display, he thinks it's touch. So they're already there just by being exposed to what we're doing, and so it kind of makes sense. Again, I just don't want kids, I don't want people using these technologies to pacify their kids. I don't want it to replace parenting. I don't want it to get in the way of giving what our kids actually need to be fully rounded. But I do want them to be up-to-date with the technology and understand how to solve problems using it, more importantly.

MARTIN: Well, finally, before we let you go, this phantom phone buzz that a lot of people say that they are experiencing...


MARTIN: Do you have that? Do you experience that? What is that?

ARMSTRONG: The little jitters?


ARMSTRONG: The little jitters of - is my phone beeping or is it vibrating or is it doing something?

MARTIN: And it always happens when my hands are full of cookie dough...


MARTIN: ...or, you know I mean what? What, you know...

ARMSTRONG: I know...

MARTIN: It's like the people proselytizing at the door. Like why are you always here when I'm about to do my, put my, you know, rolls in the oven or whatever?


ARMSTRONG: That's right. It's always the wrong time. It's always the wrong time.

MARTIN: But...

ARMSTRONG: No, I, you know, I don't know what much to say about that other than it has to happened to me. It still happens to me. I don't like it when it happens, and it's a weird feeling of being connected to your device in that sense. And I don't, you know, it would be interesting to see what people say on your Web page about this, like if they're experiencing it and what they go through, because to me it's also a distraction of attention. You know what I mean?


ARMSTRONG: It's just like, if I'm focused on doing something and I feel this urge or this itch or this vibration, that's a distraction of my attention. So I'm still not one to buy multitasking anyway, so you won't win that argument with me.

MARTIN: Well, I'm relieved to hear that I have your full attention, Mario.


ARMSTRONG: You do have my full attention. And this week iPhone had everyone else's full attention. But it was a big announcement, a lot of big things are happening there. And I would say that if you're on the 4S phone, that maybe you might just want to double check looking - is it really worth the upgrade? But any older iPhone, I certainly think it's a good upgrade because really, Michel, the key is in the software. A lot of it, the key is in the software.

MARTIN: All right. Mario Armstrong is a frequent guest on our program to tell us about the latest in technology. He's our digital lifestyle expert and he was with us from our bureau in New York.

Mario, thank you.

ARMSTRONG: Thanks, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.