Apple Is Inspired By The Hongbao

iPhone 7 and iphone 7 PlusWhy did we not see this coming? A hongbao red of an iPhone. If only Apple released it earlier, parents who dote on their children would be able to give them this during Chinese New Year in place of the traditional red packet. That would make some kid’s CNY a very happy one indeed.

But this is no ordinary red. Or Valentino Red! This is a red with metals in it. Apple has partnered with the (Product)RED campaign, to offer this colour, presumably for a limited time and in limited quantity. For those of you who can’t remember this, (RED) is an AIDS awareness initiative started in 2006 to engage the private sector to raise funds for the battle against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Apart from Apple, some of the initial partners included Nike, Gap, Penguin Classics, and Armani. For Apple, this is the tenth year of their partnership with (RED) and the right time to release a red iPhone.

Red themed App StoreThe red App Store for World AIDS Day last December

In fact, this could be seen as a continuation of sorts for Apple since they did team up with (RED) for a red App Store last year. It was conceived for World AIDS day on the first of December. Could that be a test to see how users would react to a red interface over which red-themed apps were available? With the red iPhone now a reality, it is conceivable that was well received. What Apple product or service won’t be?

This could be one of the boldest colour offerings by Apple, but, to be sure, they’re not the first to adopt the colour of, well, (ripe) apple. Like much of what Apple avails, other brands were ahead, such as succumbing to scarlet: HTC and Nokia Lumia, just to name a couple.

Apple’s last colour choice was the jet black finish for iPhone 7 after the wildly successful rose gold option for iPhone 6S, which itself came after the oddly un-hip candy colours of the 5C. With changes in each version of the iPhone so undramatic (underwhelming even), chromatic leaps are probably the only area where Apple can offer a bold, visible change. Apple’s products are still so covetable, so would this new shade attract, rather than deter, would-be thieves?

The (Product)RED iPhone 7, SGD1,218 or iPhone 7 Plus, SGD1,418, will be available at Apple resellers such as Nubox from 24 March. Photo: Apple

This Pink’s The Thing

Pink PowerFrom top left: Samsung Fast Charge Batter Pack 5200mAh, Apple Watch Edition 38mm 18-karat rose gold case with rose gray modern buckle, Garmin Vivofit 2 with rose gold band, iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, Ray-Ban Round Metal Flash Lenses, and Adam Elements 256GB iKlips Lightning USB3.0 dual-interface flash drive

By Low Teck Mee

Please don’t say pink is the new black. It isn’t. I’ll take orange for my black; just don’t make me think pink. Well, not the pink Apple is trying to pass off as ‘Rose Gold’. A pink in any other name is still pink even in a hue that’s not quite easy on the eye at first glance. Thanks to the Cupertino company, much of the tech world is now enamoured with this shade of diluted air bandung. Even fashion accessories cannot escape the grip of this weak colour. And men are taking a shine to it as if life will be rosier with it.

I really don’t get iPhone 6S and the Plus version that are stained in that misleading, if not trying, ‘Rose Gold’. I was, frankly quite shocked when I first saw it at Nubox months ago. I asked the eager-to-sell-me-this-pink (!) sales guy what he thought of it and he smugly answered with a question: “Do you know it is the most popular colour now?” Or course I did not know. Who would have guessed that the chromatic love child of gold ingot and png kueh could find so many admirers?

Know I came to when I started seeing USB drives, USB data/charging cables, USB car chargers, portable hard drives, mini speakers and so many more I cannot now remember in that colour that makes me weep. And then there’s Ray-Ban’s Round Metal—a style I truly like—looking at me as if it had emerged from the wrong vat of dye. Poor thing. Ray-Ban’s eyewear has always been associated with a certain machismo. You can’t get manlier than a pair of aviator. Yet, here we have a pair of sunglasses eager to be part of Apple’s epicene ecosystem!

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t subscribe to colours as determinant of gender identity. I don’t dislike pink; I equate it with a shade of subtle pleasure: strawberry milkshake, cotton candy, cherry blossoms, and albino dolphins. I don’t connect it to the back of what’s considered the world’s best-selling smartphone. Pink is a nice colour for clothes—Chanel does some pleasing pinks, so does Raf Simons. Pink’s good for sneakers, too—even Nike’s Air Max 90, a hunk of a shoe, comes in pink (regrettably, Asics Gel Lyte 3 has released, gasp, a ‘Rose Gold Pack’!). But this pink, the metallic pink that’s oddly on the cloying side, this pink that’s neither Champagne nor Zinfadel; this is, to me, a poor pink.

‘Tis the season of giving: some hapless chap is going to be stuck with a thing in this pink.

New Gold, Old Gold

iPhone & Casio

Now that, like everyone else (or the rest of Asia), you’ve splurged on the gold iPhone 5S, ignoring the milk-in-the-blend of the colourful 5C, there may not be much in the wallet left to buy something else, such as a watch that can match the gleam of your new handset. In fact, it is not likely that you may have a timepiece that goes with gold since most of our wrists are averse to the colour of our parents’ wedding bands.

This is when the Casio A158WEA-9 comes in. It’s not a gold-coloured watch, only the face is (allowing it to be as bi-coloured as Apple’s flagship smartphone). The retro vibe is a perfect counterpoint to the iPhone’s sleek minimalism. And the best part… it can be bought at some retailers with the change you got from the purchase of the 5S: S$20!

The Casio A158WEA-9 is available at select dealers

S And C, Which Will It Be?

iPhone 5S & 5C

As the Chinese often say, good things come in pairs. Apple’s latest iPhone hopes to drive up the goodness quotient with two kindred versions: the 5S and the 5C. Pre-reveal rumours suggested that the former is the premium phone, while the latter is the cheaper one. In fashion-speak, the 5C could be the diffusion line, but Apple has not touted it as a budget buy. According to the US pricing, the difference between the two is about USD100. That does not make the 5C a cheap or entry-level phone, as some pundits had predicted. The 5S does not distance itself from the 5C by considerably more dollars. Both are not like Calvin Klein and cK. To me, they are more Prada and Miu Miu.

The iPhone 5S, like Prada, eschews re-defining the main line’s aesthetic DNA, opting, instead, to preserve its minimalist looks, adding to the selection only an extra colour—something precious no less: gold—to the silver (don’t we know it as white?) and the curiously named ‘space gray’ (don’t we know it as black?). The iPhone pedigree thus remains undiminished.

More intriguing is the 5C. Just as Miu Miu is Prada’s bold, defiant and louder sister, the 5C is 5S’s daring sibling with a valiantly teen spirit. As they are of kin, they are, naturally, identifiable, but they’re outfitted in different skins, or as Apple enthusiastically stated, “beautifully, unapologetically plastic”. The iPhone 5C takes to colour like the Sony Xperia Z1 takes to water. The five shades, apart from the white, do not look like they will be out of place in Toys R Us: green, blue, yellow, and pink, and they’re the green, blue, yellow, and pink of Fisher-Price toys rather than Candy Crush Saga!

iPhone 5C cases

It is clear to see that Apple wasn’t planning to make a bold design statement with these phones. The lack of newness may suggest a certain smugness: they know they’ve created something iconic, hence change is not required. If that is so, why offer cases for the iPhone 5C to create decorative interest for its rear? Equally colourful as the handsets that go with them, these silicon snap-ons look like soap dishes! The over-large perforation not only allows you to reveal the contrast colour (if you choose to) of the 5C, it brings about a cuter form factor, in a Yayoi Kusami sort of way.

Who’s going dotty over the 5C? It’ll be interesting to see.

Apple iPhone 5S and 5C will be available in Singapore on 20 September at authorised Apple dealers