Apple's iPhone 5: Mixed industry reactions but consumers love it

September 13, 2012 8:49 AM EDT

Reactions to Apple’s [AAPL] iPhone 5 launch are pouring in, and while some critics dismiss the device for all manner of reasons, analysts and consumers seem to think it’s insanely great, though all is not good in the state of accessory developers

[ABOVE: Apple’s iPhone 5 keynote video in full. Also available here and for download via iTunes.]

The processor

First there’s been some revelations regarding Apple’s A6 processor. This has been billed as being twice as fast as the A5 shoved inside the iPhone 4S. Anandtech’s Anand LaShimpi claims the A6 is based on ARM’s dual-core Cortex-A15 chip. He claims these are being manufactured by Samsung in Austin, Texas, and that it used the same basic processor as that used inside the Galaxy S111, albeit custom-tweaked for Apple’s device and iOS. 

LaShimpi’s claims have been “confirmed” by an analyst from Nomura Securities who also claims the A6 to be a dual-core Cortex-A15 chip manufactured using Samsung’s 32nm process. We’ll learn more on this later when iFixIt and the others do their regular tear-down of the product once it ships.

Apple’s claims for the processor are modest: twice as fast, with graphics up to twice as fast and much faster app start-up and activity time. 

The company’s processor advantage here may be slight: more smartphones equipped with ARM’s basic Cortex-A15 reference design processors  are expected to appear before the end of the year. 

This reflects Apple’s continued problem in attempting to replace Samsung across its product supply chain. The company has been thought to be working with alternate foundry, TSMC, to deliver chips, but this hasn’t yet yielded any result. This changes in the latter half of 2013 when TSMC will begin supplying processors manufactured using its 20-nm process, according to Nomura

That will be an interesting moment as this is when Apple will be able to truly follow its own path in processor development. The hope is that it doesn’t end up hobbled by that decision, as it was during its years in the PowerPC processor wilderness.

The analysts

There’s a few advantages to working at CNN/Fortune, one being the ready availability of comment from the analyst community. What follows are a few highlights from an extensive list of analyst reaction statements curated by the Apple 2.0 blog:

Needham’s Charlie Wolf has been staunchly behind Apple for years. He was the first analyst to explain to me the impact of iPod sales on the Mac platform. He predicted -- correctly and well in advance of anyone else -- the emergence of the so-called ‘iPod halo’ which would drive Apple’s future success. He calls the iPhone 5 a “tour-de-force”, noting the company had upgraded almost every part of the device’s hardware, software and ecosystem. “In doing so, in our opinion the iPhone has enhanced its already elevated stature as the gold standard of the smartphone industry,” he said, though he continues to be concerned the company may miss the disruptive spirit of invention which characterized the leaderhship of Steve Jobs.

Then a trio of positive statements:

“We believe the iPhone 5 could be the biggest upgrade in the company’s history.RBC, Amit Daryanani.

"iPhone 5 highlights Apple's unique ability to deliver innovative products leveraging its software and hardware expertise, and app and media ecosystem.Morgan Stanley, Katy Huberty.

"We believe these changes will drive the biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history.Topeka Research, Brian White.

And a critical note:

"While we were impressed with the product improvements and the aggressive rollout schedule, the announcement did lack the "wow factor" we have seen in some of Apple's new product announcements.” William Blair's Anil Doradla.

Overall, response from the analyst community has been in the positive. They note that Apple has delivered on nearly all the expectations for its device, and that it is preparing to execute a global roll out at a rapid clip. They also note that while many of the improvements are incremental, the overall impact is to deliver a device which maintains its position within the fast-paced, deeply competitive industry.

That NFC thing

The NFC industry had hoped Apple would give it a shot in the arm on the release of last year’s iPhone 4S. Those hopes came to nothing, now they’ve once again been dashed by the non-appearance of such support within iPhone 5.

Speaking to All Things Digital, the company’s trim marketing chief, Phil Schiller, pointed to Apple’s Passbook system, saying, “Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today.”

In other words, Apple’s saying nothing at all on this, so here’s a few guesses to justify the non-appearance of support for the tech in iPhone 5:

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