This Friday, Apple will release the iPhone 5s, and we couldn’t be more underwhelmed.

So what’s new? The iPhone 5s can be boiled down to this: a faster processor, improved iSight camera, and a new Touch ID that allows users to unlock their iPhone with just their fingerprint. It also comes in new colors like gold, silver, and what Apple calls “space gray.” It is marginally improved hardware at best. Even with the inclusion of iOS 7, which itself remains controversial among graphic designers and long-time fanboys, the iPhone 5s is disappointment masquerading as the next big thing.

Take, for instance, the phone’s new A7 chip with 64-bit architecture.

“I don’t think the other guys are even talking about this yet,” Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said at last week’s announcement.

Yeah, that’s because it goes without saying. The A7 chip — 64-bit or otherwise — should not constitute a new feature. A faster processor is assumed with each new iteration, just as consumers have also come to expect a better camera and longer battery life.
“We don’t just pack in feature after feature,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “Instead, we think deeply about the experience we want to create.”

What Cook fails to realize, however, is that users can create a nearly identical experience with their current device. Consider 2010’s iPhone 4, which included a brand new industrial design, gorgeous Retina display, and gyroscope. A drastic departure from its predecessors, the iPhone 4 was a true leapfrog product and one of Apple’s most successful to date.

Not coincidentally, Apple has since eschewed sweeping improvements in favor of more incremental ones. Last year’s iPhone 5 rocked a larger display, making it a serious contender against similarly sized Android devices, but not much else has changed otherwise. Simply put, if it works, why fix it?

If nothing else, the iPhone is a refresh á la the iPhone 3Gs or 4s. To be sure, we do not dispute the veracity of Cook’s statement. The iPhone 5s will offer an experience to the millions who will inevitably buy it. But it’s not necessarily a different one.

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