iPhone 5 - how exciting is that?

Picture of iPhone 5Apple has released the iPhone 5, and a week from now many Apple enthusiasts will be clutching their very own brand new superphone. So, look, why did Apple's share price stay static rather than leap on the announcement - and what, if anything, was missing?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The first thing to say about the new model is that it's slimmer, lighter and slightly taller than the older models. The graphics will be better which is great for gamers and processing just about everything will be faster. So why was Wall Street so, well, underwhelmed?

Apple fans


My guess is that there are a few reasons. First, the market is maturing. Although there exists a handful of people who will indeed just go and buy anything new because it has the word "Apple" inscribed upon it, these aren't the mass buyers. Increasingly the market is looking at what a new phone might have to offer.
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And in this instance it looks a lot like a few tweaks. These are good tweaks which are worth having. Better performance, larger screen area, it's all good stuff - but is it worth hundreds and committing to a new phone contract? My guess is that for many people it isn't. I have an iPhone 4. I'm entitled to an upgrade if I wish and I honestly don't feel inclined to rush at it.

This is to say nothing of the another factor: the competition has caught up quite dramatically. It is no criticism of Apple - quite the reverse - that other phones now look as good as iPhones. In some countries Samsung has been found guilty of copying the technology, although not in all; what's certain is that Apple set the bar high for looks and function with the original iPhone and others are now reaching a similar standard.

Gaps


Critics argue that the big gap in the new model is the absence of NFC - that's Near Field Communication, a technology that allows payments and other transactions to happen without (for example) getting a card out of your bag or wallet. This was predicted quite widely; the only thing is, very few retailers are accepting NFC payments yet. Should Apple have jumped the gun and issued a 'wow' technology that nobody's actually using and which could end up as the Betamax of payment technology? There's a good argument that says "no thanks".

For me, the disappointment is the absence of a physical zoom on the camera. If it's going to substitute for a pocket camera proper then it needs to start acting like one - and that doesn't mean losing resolution immediately once you start zooming. The lack of this isn't a surprise, though, from a company that delights in its clean lines. Having an ungainly zoom built in would detract from these and add to the weight.

There's a very real question to ask about whether we're running out of useful things to add to phones - or indeed whether the app markets already allow us to make a phone work differently every week if we wish. Granted it was the Victorians who first said that everything that could be invented had been invented, but in terms of what you can cram into a relatively small phone, we must be reaching saturation point.

My guess is that phone announcements are going to become less and less full of razmatazz as they go. Earlier this year Panasonic released new TVs, no doubt LG released new white goods, and nobody kicked up a fuss because that's just what they do. Now Apple, a phone manufacturer, has released a new phone. The remarkable thing isn't that the share price didn't move, or that people didn't think it would revolutionise their lives; the odd thing is that some people expected it to have those effects.

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iPhone 5 - how exciting is that?

Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.

To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.

At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.

It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.

With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.

No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.

Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.

Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.

While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.

Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.

However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
To avoid paying over the odds, it is also worth checking the price per kilo to ensure that larger 'economy' packs really are cheaper than the smaller versions.

Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.

However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.

Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.

Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.
Before signing up, it is therefore essential to check that you will make use of enough of the benefits, and that you cannot get them for less elsewhere.

Overseas money transfers or travel money purchases attract the same high rate of interest as credit card cash withdrawals.

Worse still, most credit cards – and debit cards – also charge you a foreign loading fee if you use them to make purchases while abroad.
You can, however, avoid these charges by using a Saga Platinum or Nationwide Building Society credit card.

Numbers starting 0871 cost 10p or more from a landline, while those starting 09 can cost more than £1 a minute from a mobile phone.

And the operators of these high-cost phone lines, some of which are banks, often get a cut of the call charges.
Most 09 numbers are linked to scams and should therefore be avoided at all costs, while 0871 numbers can often be bypassed by searching for an alternative local rate numbers on the saynoto0870.com.
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