Is Apple still innovating, or just trying to maintain relevance?

I’m not the world’s biggest Apple fan.

Believe me, I was definitely impressed by the iPhone when it first came out, as it truly was the revolutionary piece of technology that every techie had hitherto been dreaming would someday exist. The idea of an iPod, mobile internet browser and phone all rolled into one shiny chimera had me salivating, so much so that I ended up buying the first iTouch just to sate me. It truly was impressive, and I also can’t denigrate its effect on how people view technology since its introduction.

But then, with each successive iteration, the love I felt towards the original iPhone eventually soured, before turning into outright disgust. Why? The innovation was gone. Updated models would posssess minor aesthetic changes, or tiny tweaks under the hood that in the grand scheme of things never amounted to much. But even worse, the parts themselves became increasingly shoddy and prone to eventual failure, as Apple began to adopt the same business model of planned obsolesce that tanked the American car industry: make a product that doesn’t last as long so the consumer keeps buying.

People began to notice, and the rise of Android began to show the cracks in Apple’s armor. As an open-source OS, Android allowed users to tweak their phones and develop apps that never were possible, or allowed, with the iPhone, and the wave of increasingly competitive Android phones released in staggering succession began to make the iPhone’s hardware look paltry in comparison. As a result, this year Android phones have become dominate in the smartphone market, maintaining 68% of all smartphone sales. Judging by Apple’s continued litigation against the competition, most notably the “rounded edges” lawsuit against Samsung, it’s clear that Apple isn’t particularly happy about this fact.

Which leads us to the iPhone 5. It decidedly boasts some of the biggest changes that the product has seen in years, and is definitely a solid phone. But only just. When compared to the Galaxy S3, the iPhone 5 definitely lags in certain areas: the processor isn’t as fast, the battery isn’t removable or particularly long-lasting, and features like an expandable memory slot, near-field communication (which allows users to transfer data to one another when in close range) are conspicuously missing. Even the much-touted new size of the iPhone 5 doesn’t compare to the S3′s wonderfully large screen.

Other features, such as the iPhone’s new camera, screen clarity, new version of iOS, and move to 4G LTE do show that Apple’s engineers are at least, and at long-last, trying again, but it no longer truly feels like they’re leading the market at all: they’re just trying to catch up. While the price tag is the most competitive it’s ever been, you’re still not truly getting as much as you could for the money you’re spending.

As a result, the only real reason to buy this iPhone is really if you already own one, as your unlikely going to want to start your app collection over again with an Android or Windows phone. Then again, those people likely put in their pre-order minutes after the announcement. To you guys, here’s all I can say: