Jean-Louis Gassée contrasts what was expected and what was delivered:
On 4 October, after months of speculation, Apple finally launched the iPhone 5. The commentariat were ecstatic and approvingly listed the new smartphone’s strongest points: twice the processor speed; seven times the graphics oomph; a new camera with an Apple-designed lens, 8MP and improved image processing; the power of the new iOS 5; iCloud integration and synchronisation with iDevices; a new smart antenna; Siri, the innovative intelligent assistant. And, courageously resisting the temptation of capricious cosmetic changes, the iPhone 5 stayed with Jonathan Ive’s elegant, timeless design.
The preternaturally modest Apple execs cringe at the gushing praise, but what can they do? It’s their cross to bear.
That’s what we expected. Now let’s consider the reality: Same phone, same features, same design, but it’s now called 4S instead of 5. This changes everything. The pundits are indignant: The iPhone 4S is a lame, evolutionary product; the bosses’ presentation (video here) is flat, uninspiring. This dog won’t sell. Apple has lost its mojo.
(Regarding the “flat” presentation, Apple executives knew Steve Jobs was just a few breaths away from his last, but they got on stage and delivered anyway. When news of Jobs’s demise came out the following day, many critics, such as blogger Robert Scobble, had the good grace to apologise to Cook & Co for railing about their subdued performance.)