Illustration by Jamie Brown. The iPhone is brought into a big Apple castle by a group of Apple logoes.
IT WAS not that I didn't want to buy an iPhone 5 - I did - but even before the first-adopter queues at the Apple Stores had dispersed, I was under family pressure to get a move on with my upgrade.
We have an iPhone food chain in our family. My wife wanted my iPhone 4S so she could pass her iPhone 4 on to our daughter, whose iPhone 3GS was to go to her daughter, who is three and enjoys the kiddy apps it carries.
That hand-me-down pattern is pretty general throughout Australia, which is either the first- or second-best market in the world - per capita - for what is in my view the most desirable mobile phone there is. I hold this view not only for the iPhone 5 itself, but because it is part of what is, again in my view, the best and safest consumer digital environment on the planet.
That environment is Apple's huge advantage. TheiPad's popularity encourages purchases of iPhones and boosts sales of MacBooks and iMacs. To quote the late Steve Jobs, ''it all just works'', and despite hiccups such as the undercooked Apple Maps, it does.
But the map problem is easily solved. Just install the Google Maps app while a seriously galvanised Apple gets up to speed with its maps.
To get Google Maps on to your iPad or iPhone, launch Safari and then go to maps.google.com.au. As the website loads, a small panel will appear that asks you to ''install this web app on your phone'' by tapping an arrow to get what looks like an app icon on your screen. Tapping this will launch Google Maps and, provided you have Location Services turned on, it will show you immediately where you are.
The real genius of Apple mobile devices is the software, the operating system, iOS 6, the apps, and the closed, curated, environment - the App Store, iTunes, and the integration of all your stuff through iCloud.
I love iCloud; everything just works. Emails arrive simultaneously on my iPhone5, iPad, MacBook Pro and iMac. My data, pictures and so on are held safely up there in 25GB of free storage, a service that has been extended by another 12 months for me.com subscribers. Items can be retrieved on any device, regardless of where it was created, and it will talk to a PC.
MobileMe, the previous cloud-style system, could be flaky, but iCloud is solid gold, doing things like instantly synchronising changes in documents across all my devices and, via Photo Stream, also instantly distributing the pictures you take to all your iCloud-linked devices.
In the photographic department, take a look at Panorama. It is a feature of iOS 6 and works on the iPhone 5 and 4S. Select panorama mode on the camera and, guided by an arrow moving on the screen, swing the phone across the scene you wish to photograph. I did it inside a cafe in North Melbourne and flabbergasted the owner, to whom I emailed the result straight from the phone.
You need an iPhone 5 or 4S to run some of the newest features, but they may be installed on models 4 and 3GS.
■And where would we be without a ''confirmed'' Apple rumour? AllThingsD, one of the most reliable technology web watchdogs, says the iPad mini will be out this month or early November. It is likely to be a basic device, about $250, with a 17.7-centimetre screen (diagonally), access to iPad apps, with wi-fi and maybe a SIM card, to take on the Samsung and Google Nexus, Amazon's Kindle Fire, the Nook and the Kobo.