What new parents want in the iPhone 5

Apple is set to unveil the new iPhone today, and smartphone geeks are champing at the bit to hear more about what many are calling the “iPhone 5.” Rumors of a larger screen, 4G/LTE connectivity and redesigned earbuds may stoke the fanboys, but being full-time dad to a one-year-old has given me some different concerns.

First baby photo taken with iPhone 3GS camera.
This iPhone 3GS shot is the first photo anyone ever took of Champ with his eyes open. It would have looked much better on the iPhone 4S.

When our son was born, my wife and I had iPhone 3GSes we got on launch day more than two years earlier. I had to take his first pictures with that phone’s aging camera because Apple wouldn’t release the 4S for another 24 days.

We had packed a new DSLR camera that we bought just for photographing the baby, but nothing tops a smartphone camera for quickness and convenience. The fact is, the iPhone has become an indispensable tool for documenting and sharing the story of this new person’s life.

Here’s how to make it better.

More storage: In June 2009, the lowest-price iPhone 3GS came with 16 gigabytes of storage — double the storage of its predecessor. Since then, 16 gigabytes has been the baseline for two more generations of phones and all three generations of iPad. When I upgraded to the iPhone 4S, I ponied up an extra $100 to double my storage to 32 gigabytes. I could have plunked down another hundo to get the top-end, 64-gigabyte model.

Maybe I should have. The 4S takes beautiful photos, and they take up 2.1 megabytes apiece. As a result, I’ve had to delete high-end video games like Infinity Blade and Dead Space to make room for all the photos I take.

iCloud moves every photo to a folder on my computer, but it doesn’t delete old pics off the phone. And I can’t just delete them all — people are always asking me to show them photos of the baby. If I want to keep playing games and storing music, I’m going to have to spend hours deleting all but the cutest of the 2,852 photos I’ve taken since Champ was born. Don’t even get me started on video.

But I don’t have a full-time job, and I can’t justify doubling the price of my phone just so I can turn around and buy the biggest, fanciest apps. If Apple doesn’t stop gouging its customers on storage, it’s going to hurt its top app developers.

HD front camera: My parents live in the St. Louis area. My wife, son and I live in Phoenix. Aside from the occasional too-short visit, the only way they get to see their only grandson is through FaceTime video chats.

Sadly, the front-facing cameras on our iPhones and iPads don’t even utilize the devices’ full screen resolution. Champ is a good sport about it, playing peek-a-boo with Grandma when he’s not trying to eat the phone, but I’d still like him to see my family more clearly.

Also, have you seen my baby? He’s adorable! A baby that cute deserves the sharpest resolution, and I won’t be satisfied until his chompy mug is filling every last pixel of Grandma’s iPad.

Extras: Those two things are the biggies, but I’d also love a slightly longer cord on the headphones, plus earbuds my baby can’t yank out so easily. A more durable phone chassis would help in those moments when Champ grabs the phone, but I think drool-proofing is too much to ask for.

We’ll see in a few hours whether Apple addresses any of my concerns. Until then, what smartphone features are essential to your parenting?

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