Photo by Apple
Apple Focuses on X Appeal with the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max
It’s official, the three new iPhones are the (relatively) inexpensive iPhone XR, the mid-level iPhone XS, and the big-screen iPhone XS Max. All three feature numerous bits of enhanced technology—Apple’s presenters kept saying that whatever subsystem they were talking about was the best/fastest/largest ever to ship in an iPhone. That’s reflected in the prices, which are also the Apple has ever charged for an iPhone.
- iPhone XR: 64 GB for $749, 128 GB for $799, 256 GB for $899
- iPhone XS: 64 GB for $999, 256 GB for $1149, 512 GB for $1349
- iPhone XS Max: 64 GB for $1099, 256 GB for $1249, 512 GB for $1449
(Despite those prices, Apple no longer includes a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack adapter, though they cost only $9.)
Pre-orders for the iPhone XS and XS Max opened on 14 September 2018 and they’ll ship on 21 September 2018. Those looking for an iPhone XR will have to wait a month—you can pre-order on 19 October 2018 for a ship date of 26 October 2018.
The names, which leaked ahead of the announcement, have been widely mocked. Apple does indeed say “iPhone Ten Ess,” not “iPhone Excess.” Don’t say it too fast, or you’ll be playing “iPhone Tennis.” And “Max” instead of “Plus”? It’s going to be all too easy to write “iPhone XS Mac” accidentally. Also, as alliteratively awkward as it is, the S at least makes sense for an alternate year model, which Apple has done since the iPhone 3GS, when Phil Schiller said it stood for “Speed.” Who knows where the R in iPhone XR comes from or stands for? Both the S and R are technically small caps, and Apple seems to have switched back to full capital letters when it can’t write the names using small caps. The company jumped from iPhone 4S to iPhone 5s and iPhone 6s before coming back around to iPhone XS and iPhone XR. At least the change will make possessives and plurals easier (see “Ruminating about Apple’s Lowercase Letters,” 11 September 2013).
Nomenclature aside, all three follow in the footsteps of last year’s iPhone X, dropping the Home button and Touch ID in favor of Face ID and the ubiquitous notch. If you really want Touch ID, or just want to save some money, Apple is keeping the iPhone 7 (starting at $449) and iPhone 8 (starting at $599) in the lineup. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, is the small-screen iPhone SE. It will be much missed by those with smaller hands and smaller or nonexistent pockets.
What the new iPhones all have in common
Apple made much of the fact that all three phones are powered by the company’s new A12 Bionic chip, which boasts up to 15% faster performance, 50% less power consumption, and 50% faster graphics performance than last year’s A11 Bionic. It also features a next-generation Neural Engine that can run machine learning operations up to nine times faster than the A11 Bionic. Apart from generally improved performance, the A12 Bionic enables new computational photography capabilities, such as depth of field editing after the fact and Smart HDR photos that combine even more images into a single perfectly exposed shot.
Speaking of cameras, the iPhone XS and XS Max feature identical dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras, and all three models share the same 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera. While the iPhone XR has only a single 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, it can still take photos in Portrait mode thanks to the A12 Bionic’s Neural Engine. However, the iPhone XR cannot do 2x optical zoom because that requires the second lens.
All three iPhones capture up to 4K video at 60 frames per second with the rear-facing camera or 1080p at 60 fps with the front-facing camera. In an improvement over previous models, all three can capture stereo sound while recording video. Although we’ll have to wait until photographers and videographers get their hands on these iPhones, it seems safe to say that, as Apple would like to emphasize, they’ll take the best photos and videos of any iPhone yet.
Another new feature common to all three models is support for dual SIMs, which lets you use two phone numbers at once, each with its own plan. Those who currently have to carry work and personal phones will appreciate this, as will those who travel frequently and need different plans when abroad. iPhone XS Max models sold in China will have two physical SIM slots, whereas models elsewhere in the world will have only one nano-SIM slot and for the second SIM will use Apple’s eSIM technology, currently used in the cellular-capable iPad and Apple Watch.
Ways in which the new iPhones differ from one another
That’s pretty much where the similarities end. As you’d expect from the prices, there are quite a few differences as well—check out Apple’s comparison page for full details.
The most obvious differences are with the screens. Although all three are True Tone displays and feature a P3 wide color gamut, the sizes and resolutions vary widely:
- The iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch LCD display that Apple is calling Liquid Retina, with a resolution of 1792-by-828 at 326 ppi.
- The iPhone XS features a 5.8-inch OLED HDR display with a resolution of 2436-by-1125 at 458 ppi.
- The iPhone XS Max boasts an enormous 6.5-inch OLED HDR display with a resolution of 2688-by-1242 at 458 ppi.
The screen sizes drive the overall physical dimensions of each iPhone as well. You might think the iPhone XR would be the smallest, but in fact, it’s slightly taller and wider than the iPhone XS. The iPhone XS Max is the largest, of course, but it’s actually about a millimeter smaller than the old iPhone 8 Plus in height and width.
The iPhone XS models both have a water resistance rating of IP68, which means that they should be able to withstand being immersed to a depth of 2 meters for up to 30 minutes. The XR is rated at IP67, so it can only go down to 1 meter for 30 minutes. We still don’t recommend testing Apple’s claims.
Another big difference between the iPhone XS models and the iPhone XR comes in the case material. The iPhone XS models have glass backs and are edged in stainless steel that comes in last year’s silver and space gray, with gold joining the color choices this year. In contrast, the iPhone XR features aluminum casings in red, yellow, white, coral, black, and blue. We’ll be interested to see how the feel changes between the two lines—we’ve been uncomfortable with leaving the iPhone X out of a case, which eliminates much of the value of Apple’s vaunted design.
One final technology that Apple cut to lower the price of the iPhone XR is 3D Touch. Instead, the iPhone XR features a replacement called Haptic Touch, which reportedly offers similar haptic feedback minus the press and pop interface elements. We’ll have to see if this makes a difference or not—since 3D Touch hasn’t become ubiquitous across all iOS devices, iOS itself hasn’t been able to rely on it for common user interface interactions.
Should you buy one of these new iPhones?
That’s the $64,000 question, though happily, iPhones don’t cost quite that much yet. Needless to say, the iPhone XS and XS Max are indeed the most impressive iPhones that Apple has ever developed. We would expect nothing less—Apple will never come out with an iPhone that’s notably less capable than previous models just to cut costs. And the iPhone XR seems like a solid attempt to provide most of today’s technology in a lower-cost package—it’s cheaper than last year’s iPhone 8 Plus was at launch.
That said, if it seems like you’re paying more than ever for new Apple products, it’s because you are. That iPhone XR is still $100 more than the iPhone’s traditional $649 starting price, and while we choked a little at the $1149 price of a 256 GB iPhone X last year, you can now pay up to $1449 for a 512 GB iPhone XS Max.
Don’t be surprised—we predicted this in “Apple’s Q3 2018 Results Break Records Again” (31 July 2018), saying, “You’ll likely end up paying more for Apple products, since the success of the iPhone X has allowed Apple to continue breaking records while unit sales stagnate,” and “Don’t look for significant Apple investment in less expensive products like the iPhone SE and Mac mini.”
Is all the new technology in these iPhones worth the price? Only you can answer that, but as exciting as it is, we think an upgrade decision falls more into the “want, not need” category if you have a perfectly functional iPhone from the last few years. Apple even said during the keynote that it was trying hard to help customers use their iPhones for as long as possible, which is one reason for the focus in iOS 12 on performance for older devices as far back as the iPhone 5s.
Of course, if your current phone is on its last legs or you need to hand your current one down to another family member, you’re unlikely to go wrong with any of these three iPhones. We almost wonder if the iPhone XR and iPhone XS Max won’t be more popular than the mid-level iPhone XS thanks to the low prices of the iPhone XR and the huge screen of the iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS just doesn’t stand out in any dimension.
Regardless, we’re seeing these iPhones today because of the massive popularity of the iPhone X design. Several of us here at TidBITS bought the iPhone X last year because it was such a technological leap, and we felt that we needed to use it to understand where Apple was going. In retrospect, we guessed right.
They did it. They really did it. The SE is gone. The smallest form factor is now the 4.7".
I’m quite unsure what to do. I don’t want to keep my 6 because it’s just too big (I never got over the 4->6 transition). I think I can still get an SE right now (in store? it’s not online). But pay Apple top $ for a phone with three-year old internals and essentially rewarding them for telling users like me to suck on it? Doesn’t feel right either. I might be able to get an SE later through some third party or Apple might introduce a 4" successor next spring, but the latter seems rather unlikely (as Josh points out) and the former isn’t a very probable (or reliable) scenario either. I guess I have 9 days to smarten up.
I’m sorry, all these phones are huge There are people with small hands and pockets (literally pockets to put the phone in)
How can you call such a monstrosity XS? XS is extra small!
Steve Jobs must be turning in his grave over what could be among the most pathetic, dumbest product names of all time. In addition to being terrible and easy to ridicule, it’s plain old bad strategy to draw attention to Xtemely Xcessive overpricing. Samsung, LG, etc. can have a field day with ads about this. Probably Saturday Night Live, etc. too.
But I do love the new phones and wish I could justify the upgrade.
AT&T and Consumer Cellular are selling them new, but only with a 6 month prepaid plan. Best Buy is selling AT&T prepaid SEs too. You might find other resellers, but beware of any but the bigger, respected names. I’ve known people who got stuck with overly long contracts and badly refurbished phones that were sold as new from less than reputable places.
Good coverage. Thanks. Why did you end with question about Touch Bar?
Yeah, I’d be getting a SIM-free version and paying for it up front. Buying locked to a carrier and/or on installments is like getting involved the mob. There’s of course tons of offers on Amazon, but after reading just some of those you feel like you’d need to take a shower. I’d really like to get it from Apple, but at this point it’s not clear to me how that would work.
IIUC, the least expensive iPhone is now $450 plus tax (a 7 with 32 GB, ugh) whereas before that was $350. I recall a lot of articles pointed out the price hike when the X was introduced, but I get the impression not so much has now been said about Apple declaring that from here on all things iPhone happen north of $500. To think that $500 was once considered an outrageous price for Apple to charge for “a phone”.
Because, like Face ID last year, it seemed like it might be a technology that would make sense to extend throughout the line. Unfortunately, Apple has done nothing more with it, which means that it doesn’t get broad support in apps and users can’t assume a single experience with it across multiple Macs.
Somewhat similar to 3D Touch I guess. Unless it’s deployed across the platform, devs can’t rely on its availability, that slows adoption, etc. I wonder if seeing it now gone on the R means it’s done once the X series sees a more significant hardware update.
Precisely! I’ll be curious to see what the iPhone XR’s haptic feedback is like, but user interface things like 3D Touch need to be ubiquitous if they’re to survive and thrive.
And haven’t even released a version of the bluetooth keyboard with it in place…
Was able to buy and use the prepaid AT&T SE from Best Buy on my postpaid AT&T account, with the same phone number, about 8 months ago. They go on sale from time to time. (I paid $149, including taxes/fees/on sale). Was not on a contract and my previous iPhone 5 phone was completely paid off.
Don’t know about the future availability. If interested, I would say “get it while you can.”
I have also heard you can do something similar with the Verizon prepaid SE from BestBuy.
Used the tips in the user reviews for this prepaid phone on Best Buy site and from the SlickDeals site on how to set the phone for postpaid with AT&T. A friend who did the same thing got great help at the Best Buy to transfer his account to the phone, but I just followed the tips I found online.
Supposedly, AT&T will unlock after six months of postpaid continuous use, but I haven’t tried to unlock mine. Phone was in great condition , suspect it was new.
No major setup problems by following directions from user reviews. But, I did have to go through AT&T online chat to get wi-fi calling working, and had to turn off “Enable LTE” on the cellular settings on the SE to keep from missing text messages sent to me when the phone turned was off.
AT&T also next day FedExed to me a new SIM card (with the same phone number), but not sure this was needed. Also had to remember to deregister the old phone from my Apple account.
Steve Jobs must be turning in his grave over what could be among the most pathetic, dumbest product names of all time
Steve Jobs sold iPod Socks and a product named ROKR. I’m pretty sure he’s quiet at the moment.
They did it. They really did it. The SE is gone. The smallest form factor is now the 4.7"
We could spend a lot of time complaining, or we could look at the interesting thing, which is that Tim Cook’s Apple, which is quite heavily demand driven, sees no future for a smaller than ~6 inch phone.
(And no, it’s not just Apple. Is there a major phone company selling one that’s substantially smaller? It’s the consumers.)
I do find this general lack of small phones interesting, since I hear a LOT of demand for them, but as you point out, there’s very little supply. (In fact, I know a number of people who eschew smartphones entirely in part for this reason.) It surprises me that we’ve never gotten a public statement about this lack of demand, or real stats on it.
I wonder if the lack of demand might be because the iPhone SE was old technology when it shipped. If it hadn’t been a compromise between size and capabilities, it might have been more popular. It could also then be more expensive, which Apple definitely wants.
Finally, Apple (Jony Ive) usually has a bit of a fetish for making things as small as possible, even when it’s not helpful, such as making the iMac really thin. But perhaps that’s all going into the Apple Watch these days.
Last night after saying I would go elsewhere, I took a look and sadly the SE was about the smallest thing out there. I still want to find a nice comprehensive chart instead of the “each phone on a page thing” .
Because I use mine for music and GPS I’d hate to go back to a non-smart phone (also rare) but sheesh these sizes are nuts.
Since I came from the 4s, I found the SE to be a wonderful upgrade and 3 years later I’m still more than happy with it.
ps - about the Watch - yes it’s nice and small but I do not wear anything on my fingers or wrists because I tend to catch them on things in day to day activities. I’m sure I’m not the only out there in this predicament.
Ever since the AW came out, I’ve been wondering how long it will take for Apple to come out with a cellular version completely independent of any other device, a “wrist iPhone”. I don’t think I’d want one, but it would certainly solve the size problem. They could even reverse the current situation and sell iPod Touch like devices with iPhone size screens that use the watch as the communications hub for those that wanted larger screens.
I think, though, that if the demand was there, there would be some company building small smart phones, and I don’t think there are.
Yeah but once phones got small (i.e. flip phones) whoever thought they’d be huge again a-la 1990s
I’m not sure the “old when shipped” is correct. When it shipped it had the 6s internals which at the time was half a year old. The SE was considered very good value for the moderate price when it shipped. The camera was a compromise clearly. OTOH battery life was great and the price point was attractive no doubt.
Now of course it’s a totally different matter. Now it is old tech. After much neglect it’s no surprise demand dropped. In that sense…
Lesson Apple should have taken: Keep the SE updated.
Lesson Apple took: People don’t want the SE anymore.
My worry is this will repeat with the Mac mini.
Of course I could imagine there is a business issue with the SE. These days with smartphone shipments slowing or expected to slow as products mature and saturation approaches, Apple needs to increase revenue per shipped unit (eg. the more expensive X) to keep their revenues high and their shareholders happy . The SE would need to sell extremely well to make up for limited revenue per unit to still make it “worth their while”. Personally, I’d be willing to pay just as much if not more for a smaller device (assuming it’s top notch internally), but I realize that can’t be generalized.
I think you’re right about Ive though. He seems to be very focused on Watch these days. It does irk me that on the iMac edges where it serves no purpose Apple goes for super thin, but when it comes to phones they don’t believe there should be something I can use single-handedly.
I seriously doubt that if the SE was selling well from the beginning that Apple would have followed this path of neglecting it. I think it just didn’t sell well.
Again, is there some phone company that is selling a small phone like it and doing well? I don’t think there is.
That’s certainly the logical conclusion, but the question is if it was doomed from the start by being aimed at the low end of the market and being somewhat behind in tech (yes, @Simon, only 6 months, but with a much worse front-facing camera, no 3D touch, no Taptic Engine, and slower wireless). I’ve heard similar criticisms of the iPhone 5c. Arguably, Apple is trying to avoid this situation again by making a different set of compromises with the iPhone XR.
As far as other manufacturers go, this article suggests that there are a fair number, though with plenty of compromises.
I also found this very odd site, which seems to claim that there are lots (some old, to be sure), mostly from off-brand manufacturers and largely aimed at the low-cost international market, where Apple has relatively little interest in competing.
Ben Thompson has an interesting post about the new models at Stratechery.
It’s questionable whether the market for smaller smartphones is more than negligible. But even if there is, smaller phones are much less profitable than larger phones. That’s why Android manufacturers are making fewer smaller models as well.
In the case of Apple, their revenue stream from services has been growing by leaps and bounds. People with larger phones tend to buy more things online, subscribe to streaming and other services. Apple earns a significant cut of all of this action.
This is a good point, and if they are going up the specs on the SE, they would have to charge more, significantly more + promotion. If the potential market was there, they would spend it. But I don’t think there’s enough of a market at the current price, let alone with a big increase.
Amusingly, just before the smartphone revolution, the most expensive cell phones were the smallest. It’s all about the screen, so if we can offload some things to the wrist and others to smart glasses, one day we may not carry phones at all.
Simon, take a trip over to Swappa or Glyde or some of the other resale sites; additionally I see pay as you go, unlocked carrier offerings for the big iPhone SE for well under $200 regularly, with warranty or transferable AppleCare. Sometimes they are used, refurbished, sometimes new in box. You can sign up for alerts at DealNews.com and see them weekly.
I, too, was scoping out a new or used SE because I am unsatisfied with the large size of the iPhone X; but the technology of the iPhone X is simply stunning and has changed the way I use iPhone.
If they do re-introduce a 4 inch class iPhone, it had better have most of the technology of the iPhone X, or it just isn’t going to sail. I think they made the XR as small as they could and are otherwise constrained by battery size/life.
Once everyone buys and start using the iPhone XR, assuming they have not already bought the iPhone X, and just can’t stomach the cost of the iPhone XS series, from Face ID to every other improvement and that killer A12 processor, The SE is just going to seem so quaint and ancient — even more ancient than three year old tech.
Also forgot to mention that Apple says the iPhone SE is still available through authorized resellers. Obviously meaning carriers or Best Buy and the like
Just curious – could you elaborate a little on how you use it?
I made the transition from 5s to 6s and I got used to the bigger form even tho I didn’t like it up front. However, I’m going to be sticking with my 6s just like I did when the 7 and 8 were released because of the lack of a headphone socket built into the phone. I have also bought 3 SEs for the wife and kids because they were great budget priced phones with all the features you could want, and for kids they were extra great as they survived rough treatment and they didn’t get broken or stolen when they went to University. I can’t see those being replaced with Apple products in the future. Same with my MacBook Pro. The mag safe connector is great, so I will be sticking with that as there is absolutely nothing compelling about the more recent MacBooks
I’d forgo battery life for a reasonably sized and priced phone. The SE battery has been fine.
SE battery life was actually always considered very good. Its display used much less power than the 4.7" displays and at the same time Apple had more device thickness to exploit for battery.
I never really got my 6’s thinness. It limited battery volume (capacity) and made it difficult to pick the device up. It’s slippery like a bar of soap. Sure, you could get a case but that defeats the thinness and design esthetics effort.
The hard boundary constraint you indeed cannot get around is weight. Although thicker cases mean more volume for batteries, big batteries are always heavy. If your max battery volume ends up being determined by your weight spec, you could just go for thinness (bar its usability issues). I wonder if that’s what Apple’s situation was. Maybe that was where they set the limit. I have no recollection of how 6/6s weight compared to earlier or later models.
Did anybody else notice that the audio adapter is not just missing from the new XR and XS, but actually also from the 7 and 8? Apparently, the 7 and 8 you buy now are not the same 7 or 8 you bought a few days ago. Apple clearly states no audio adapter included in the 7 or 8 box.
Maybe this was obvious to everybody else, but all my reading so far indicated Apple had only dropped the adapter from the XR/XS as compared to the X where it was still included.
When the iPhone 7 came out, a significant reason why I got it instead of the SE to replace my 5s was the SE had the same first gen. fingerprint sensor as the 5s. My wife had the 6s so I had experienced what a difference the speed and accuracy of the newer sensor made.
I’ve never really gotten used to the 7’s screen size. Yes, it can be nicer to look at but there’s a lot more I can’t do one-handed because my thumb can’t reach across.
That’s my issue with my 6. I just can’t reach across so I can’t use it single-handedly.
(And the silly Samsung-esque position of the on/off button but that’s probably just a corollary of the overall device size.)
It wasn’t clear to us on announcement day, so it’s good to know. If you need one, it’s $9 from Apple.
I’m actually using one now, not because I care in the slightest about the headphone jack, but because I think Tristan absconded with my Lightning EarPods. He uses them vastly more than I do, so I haven’t harassed him into giving them back. The adapter seems to work fine.
I wrote something more extensive about dictation on another thread here somewhere; but, in short, the vastly faster processing power over my 5 and SE, and even my iPad Air 2, is very noticeable in generating faster and more accurate application of text to a document. This can be true whether or not I’m using the same headset or just the native microphones. I understood the dictation to be taking place online, rather than off-line, as is possible on the Mac, so I’m not entirely sure why the local native processor makes such a difference, but it does.
Face ID is a game changer. I find I’m willing to pull my phone out of my pocket and use it more often, because I don’t have to worry about a faulty Touch ID, a gloved or damp finger, or being asked to enter a six digit or longer passcode just to perform a simple operation. Additionally, Face ID for everyday operations on secure websites and native applications that I have enabled additional face ID security on, is leaps and bounds faster and more convenient than Touch ID, especially when on the move trying to safely use one hand. I love being able to just look at the screen and be logged in to whatever I’m trying to do.
The 120hz (touch input) OLED screen is also a game changer for these aging eyes; and the accuracy of touch input is night and day over the SE. Yes, the retina displays are pretty damn good, but you don’t know what good is until you experience a Super Retina Display. It’s not the size, as much as it is the crispness of typefaces and the pure pure black and incredible contrast and gamut that it provides. I don’t care if the screen won’t last as long and will experience burn-in eventually; it’s just that good.
Relatedly, the many apps that have created true Dark Mode themes for iPhone X, as opposed to the simulated dark grays that were made to look best on IPS LED, Have also given me a great amount of relief from eyestrain, and not only at night; I find these dark mode themes considerably easier to read even in daylight. And I’m not opposed to the battery savings they provide either.
I find myself willing to do more communication and more task work using only the iPhone X, as compared to my older iPhones, where I would quickly get frustrated (especially now that my manual dexterity is rapidly succumbing to Parkinson’s) and reach for my iPad or go back to my Mac.
Haptic feedback and 3D Touch functionality, along with additional Accessibility features not available on previous iPhones are already helping me begin to prepare for the coming worse.
I also spoke at greater length on another thread here recently about how Apple Watch and Siri have changed my game with adding events, appointments, reminders, tasks and more; this of course is in tandem with the iPhone itself; further, as a long time automation geek, using URL callbacks and Workflow.app, now the new Shortcuts.app, it is amazing to see the workflows one can create and execute via Apple Watch or iPhone where previously a Mac and a keyboard was required.
Still, I truly miss and adore the size and weight of the iPhone SE, and especially my beloved iPhone 4. I thought the latter was the most gorgeous piece of iOS technology-as-art Jonny Ive ever created. I still pull it off its charger dock now and then just to fondle it while using it as an iPod and to triage mail.
There’s plenty more tech in the iPhone X that make the entire experience better (e.g., the camera is so great I rarely use my flatbed scanner anymore; true all day battery life; vastly superior LTE radios and data speeds; stereo sound; 256GB filled with much more lossless music; never running out of space for videos and images; more) and plenty of it, if not most of it can of course be found in this year‘s iPhone XR, and of course plenty more in the iPhone XS and terribly named Excess Max. I’m sure plenty of it was able to be experienced in the hideously large and awkward 7 and 8 and Plus series of the past two years and the 6 before it, but I just hated the sizes and the feel of the rounded edges. If I want to hold a waffle next to my face, I’ll go to iHOP.
As for the bad, as said, the iPhone X is heavier and larger than I would like, and the Control Center is just too far out of reach for even my very large hands (yes I know how to activate the short reach feature or whatever it’s called; it’s still inconvenient); I hate the camera bump, but I got the Apple leather case on sale for 25 bucks and it solves that problem neatly, even though I generally dislike all cases and prefer the naked device. I take a dozen accidental screenshots a day trying to silence my ringer, so I was sad the S and R keep the same lousy button orientation.
Mostly though, my decision was based on that my SE was mysteriously absconded with in Summer of ‘17, and my 5 would not run iOS 11 in the Fall, so I had to buy something a year earlier than I wanted to. I had given much thought to holding out till April May June hoping for an iPhone SE update, but my (now proven) sense told me it was likely not coming, and even if it did, it was most likely to have one or two or three-year-old technology again.
I almost bought a used SE to see me through, but I just decided to take advantage of the liberal 14 day return policy and try the iPhone X to get a taste of the future. By the time day seven rolled around, despite the size and other annoying issues, I knew I wasn’t going to send it back. I was just incredibly nervous that I was going to regret buying the first generation of its technology; but other than a vastly more powerful A12 processor, and some other unimportant-to-me camera improvements, I don’t feel like this S track year has made me feel like I should’ve waited, I’m like in previous generations.
If Apple does revive a 4 inch class iPhone sometime next year, my expectation is that it will have at least some of the technology of the X series; namely I expect that we will be soon seeing the end of touch ID in almost everything not Mac; Face ID is definitely the future, and I embrace it.
If what they produce ends up not being too much a second-class citizen, or worse a third class citizen, I will consider buying it and whatever loss I take on this iPhone X to be a worthwhile rental. Otherwise I intend to shoot for four years out of this crazy-expensive, but worth it, landmark iPhone.
Holy cow, I’ve dictated a novel. Sorry. I’m not even sure I’ve begun to enumerate all the little things that have me using it more. There’s nothing at all wrong with my iPad Air 2, but I can’t wait to replace it with a 120hz/120hz OLED screen with Face ID.
It says something about human nature that we keep being impressed by the “fastest Mac/iPhone ever”. If the new device was not faster and better, what’s the point of making it? Every new device is the fastest ever.
The title of the article only makes sense if you call them x’s. But they are tens. Tim and everyone else clearly said ten, not x, ten-S, ten-S Max and ten-R. Perhaps they changed Plus to Max to indicate that’s the maximum size they’ll ever make an iPhone? (One can hope.)
Fully agree. To me that tired old phrase has by now exactly zero meaning. It’s devoid of any meaningful content. Pure marketing fluff. As you point out, there would be no purpose in replacing an Mac/iPhone with something slower. Obviously the new model has to be faster than the old one. Nobody is expecting anything less.
IIRC, ROKR was a Motorola name, so Steve can’t be blamed for it.
Ah, it is that same “demand driven” concept that resulted in the SE, so the DEMAND is there.
You mean like in this old IBM commercial back in 2000 with the guy sitting in St.Mark’s Square yelling “Buy it! Buy it!” and scaring the pigeons?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z3INHcM_Tg
ROKR was a Motorola name, so Steve can’t be blamed for it
Jobs endorsed it and announced it, so I think he can.
Ah, it is that same “demand driven” concept that resulted in the SE, so the DEMAND is there.
I suspect demand for the SE is at its peak in Internet forums, not the real world.
Yes, the article talks about this at length—the title was intentionally “wrong” for the benefit of the wordplay.
And in terms of the small flip phones, check out this one from 2007:
I wish that were true. Nearly every conversation I’ve had in person here in Ithaca about the new iPhones has focused on the size and the lack of something the size of the iPhone SE. I think a lot of these people are also concerned about price, so if Apple came out with a small iPhone for $999, they’d still complain (and probably wouldn’t buy it).
Ithaca’s not the real world, either.
(as a native Ithacan, I’m allowed to say that)
Re: “That iPhone XR is still $100 more than the iPhone’s traditional $649 starting price”
In April 2015, I paid $749 for my 64GB iPhone 6, which I’m still using. Today, almost 3½ years later, the 64GB iPhone XR costs $749.
IMHO that’s a bunch of nonsense. If there had not been demand for the SE Apple wouldn’t have sold it for almost 3 years. If there had been no demand buyers wouldn’t immediately have snatched up any remaining stock in Apple stores throughout the entire Bay Area. If there had been no demand we wouldn’t be seeing so many of them still in the wild. If there had been no demand we wouldn’t be constantly hearing about people who want a compact iPhone.
No, the fact of the matter is that SE is a difficult product. It was supposed to be both inexpensive and small. The latter usually makes engineering/manufacturing more difficult which tends to drive up price, an immediate contradiction with the former. And because of the former, Apple makes only limited revenue of off every unit sold. That simply doesn’t make it a very attractive product to invest in, let alone re-engineer to ensure that top notch components still fit in a svelte case.
Apple is gambling that nobody will miss an iPhone south of $500 or that anybody who wants a small iPhone will find the 4.7" 7 good enough. We will likely never know if they were right, it’s not as if they won’t sell a lot of iPhones. And we lack the parallel universe to see how may more they would have sold had they launched an “Xs mini” or introduced a new low-cost “Xc”.
But what we do know for certain is that there are people who no longer find an iPhone that suits their needs. Who will end up buying either nothing, an Android (unlikely), or maybe indeed another iPhone even if they know they won’t find the same joy in it. Now we can of course assume that Apple can happily live with that fact, and we can simply ignore that bunch too. But let’s not engage in some kind of group brainwash where we try to convince each other that that group of people doesn’t exist.
… and the iPhone 8 starting price was $699. I guess you can say that the starting price has increased by $50 each of the last two years.
In May 2015 I paid $50 for my SE. I don’t care if I’m locked into a contract, Verizon is the best provider for my area and travels anyway.
Phone prices are insane these days, especially if they are expecting us to upgrade frequently.
Diane, to provide a basis for comparison, combining the (upfront) cost of my iPhone 6 and the monthly cost of cell service from Cricket Wireless (using the AT&T network), over the 41 months that I’ve had my phone, my average monthly cost has been $53.66. That number includes the phone, the cell service, and taxes.
I would bet that people will routinely pronounce them ex-R, ex-S, and Max, ignoring any admonitions from Apple.
Now think of how much less it would be if your upfront cost was only $50
But seriously, I look into other providers now and then and Verizon still works best for me. My monthly plan is $51 or so with taxes. Last time I looked, doing their payment plan adds another $20 to the monthly cost and that was pricing out another SE.
Shelling out $600+ for what’s now a consumable item is quite a bit. I’ve never paid more than $50 for a phone.
Diane, it was my impression that regardless of whether one pays full price up front for a phone or whether it is paid for on a monthly basis, it’s basically the same. To compare with my numbers, you have to add up everything your phone has cost you and divide by the number of months you’ve had it.
I should also say that I have very low data needs. I routinely use less than 1GB per month. My plan with Cricket has changed from time to time. At one point they bumped up my data to 5GB without charging me more. I dropped to the (newly) lowest 2GB plan to save $5 per month.
I currently pay a flat $30 per month for cell service.
You mean, presumably, “I’ve never paid more up front than $50 for a phone.” You have paid the full price that Apple charges for your phone, but it was split up into monthly payments and (possibly) hidden in your bill. Hopefully, once the full cost of the phone was actually paid, they reduced your monthly bill accordingly.
If there had not been demand for the SE Apple wouldn’t have sold it for almost 3 years
Why not? They offered it, had some reasonable initial sales and then, my guess is, sales trailed off to very little, and now they’re cancelling it. It’s not like that pattern – reasonable sales, followed by a drop off – isn’t insanely common in the business world.
Again, this is not just Apple. There’s not a high end phone from any manufacturer that’s as small as the SE. The market doesn’t seem to like them, no matter how much we do.
No, the fact of the matter is that SE is a difficult product. It was supposed to be both inexpensive and small.
Actually, that’s almost completely opposite the truth. The SE form factor was essentially that of the iPhone 5/5s, which means its cost had already been amortized by sales of those phones. Its internals were a couple of years out of date, meaning they were cheap to manufacture. The SE, rather than being difficult and expensive to make, was remarkably cheap and easy.
And, because of the low cost of manufacture, I would bet the margins they made on it were really high.
But let’s not engage in some kind of group brainwash where we try to convince each other that that group of people doesn’t exist.
Nobody’s trying to say that there aren’t people who would like an updated SE (I’m one of them, as a matter of fact). We’re in a small minority, however.
Are you really arguing that if the iPhone SE was selling at the level of the iPhone X, that Apple would blithely cancel it?
I am not sure that was the case prior to 2015 or so. I’ve been with Verizon for years. I got my first iPhone in 2011 with a $50 credit because once your contract ended, you got a credit for a new phone based on the value of your current phone (it was usually $50 or $100 - mine were always $50 because I didn’t get super expensive phones). I had that phone until 2015 when I got the SE and my monthly price never dropped.
When I got the SE, there was some sort of thing when it was first announced where I was able to buy it for $50 flat out. I did have to commit to a 2 year contract. I changed my plan a couple of times, once when my job pushed me over 2 gigs/month. By the time I left that job in 2016, Verizon had some new plans and I was able to go to a 2gb plan for even less.
Unless the rest of the phone fee was very well hidden, I don’t think it was there. There was the pay in full no contract price as well.
I know not long after that, I looked at pricing and the $50 SE was gone. I’ve stepped through the process and have always seen a pay in full price and a pay monthly price with contract. There doesn’t seem to be a “reasonable” with contract price anymore.
I apologize for thinking $900 is not reasonable price. (I don’t know why I thought you could still get an iPhone for $600 like I posted before)
I am apparently no longer in Apple’s target market.
This is simply not true. When it was released the SE had the internals of the only 6-month old high-end iPhone (6s). It was considered very good value since you were getting high-end performance at a substantially lower price.
Don’t apologize. You can still get an iPhone for less than the price of the newest phones. You can get an iPhone 7 for $449 and you can get an iPhone 8 for $599, and you can spread the cost out over 24 months if you choose. These are phones that many people have been happy with.
There probably was demand when they started developing the phone 4-5 years ago, but demand probably petered down the last few years. And smaller phones aren’t as profitable as larger phones. That’s why Android manufacturers aren’t making phones either.
People are willing to spend lots more money on bigger phones because they want to stream videos and music, take pictures with a better camera, shop online, play games, read books, surf the web, etc. All this stuff adds to the bottom line of Apple’s growing services revenues as well as hardware profits. (My kudos to Apple for developing Screen Time.)
They also expect new features, and not just faster and slimmer. Better cameras, better displays and edge to edge ratio, more storage, etc. The SE is at the at the end of elasticity it has stretched to, and buyers any sized phone will not pay more for the exact same model or one that’s even close.
They’d also have to keep upgrading chips, etc. to run the latest and greatest iOS.
They’re not gambling on this. Costs to manufacture SEs have most probably gone up, and people who do love their current SEs and are willing to spend $500 probably will not want to spend $600+ for the same thing that might not be able to run the latest and greatest software.
This is simply not true. When it was released the SE had the internals of the only 6-month old high-end iPhone (6s). It was considered very good value since you were getting high-end performance at a substantially lower price.
I was speaking about the current SE, whose internals, as I noted, are years out of date, and thus cheap to manufacture. Even at the time of introduction, the cost of the internals were spread out over multiple product lines, meaning the SE was cheaper to make than if they’d introduced a new chip to put in it. It was never true that the SE was particularly expensive to manufacture, as you asserted.
Sort of. It had the SoC of the 6s and the rear facing camera of the 6s, but the cheaper Touch ID and front facing camera of the 5s. Plus, of course, the casing, battery, lightning port, speakers, and headphone jack of the 5s (though of course most of those are negligible costs.)
And iirc the 6s sold in nowhere near the volume of the 6, and it’s possible that Apple may have over-committed to a higher number of A9 chips than they actually used, so this was a way of selling another device to increase the production.
That was not my point. The point was that if Apple were to make a new SE (as in a new small device), they would have to find a way to engineer XS internals into a much smaller enclosure -> space constraints, heat management, power requirements, etc. That is difficult and hence most likely costs money. Now if Apple is faced with something that is likely expensive to do, but promises only limited revenue you could start to understand why they might not be particularly interested.
I note that people here aren’t even in agreement regarding the premise. No wonder we don’t agree on the consequences.
That is certainly more reasonable cost wise but doesn’t address the HUGE factor
(not your fault of course)
It certainly read that way, but I’ll take your word for it.
And it might not even be possible to reduce XS internals at this point. They probably would have to invest a lot of money and human resources to shrink them down.
I can tell you personally, and I have a number of friends who are also a fan of smaller form factors, we’d all be more than happy to pay over $1000 for a 4 inch class phone. We happily paid top dollar for the biggest storage possible on the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S, and we reluctantly accepted the older internals and compromises of the SE after our shock and abhorrence of the HUGE iPhone 6 and iPhone 7.
I paid a crazy amount of money for the iPhone X 256GB because my SE was lost/stolen, and I’m in love with the tech, just not the size. I would pay that price and more for a 4 inch version. My friends have said the same (but they still had SEs to skate by with, and are now debating between XS and XR, and might even just see how iOS 12 runs on the SE for another six months in hopes of an SE-class revival in the Spring.
No, Apple is simply not serving a large part of their market, many of whom are clinging to SEs, others who reluctantly buy the smallest version with the least memory they can buy of the current phones, or buy used.
If they had updated the SE each year with newer internals and features, it would have continued to sell in good quantiles, and it would have effectively cannibalized sales from the larger phones. I will stand by that opinion, full stop.
Side anecdote: my local grocery store only had shelf space for about a dozen of a particular product I buy; I was rarely able to find even one, let alone the quantity I wanted to purchase each week or two (when I would buy double to make up for the missed week). I complained again and again; finally the store manager told me they didn’t stock more because there wasn’t enough demand. I replied, how can you possibly know what demand truly is if you don’t have any on the shelf to offer? I have to drive across town to your competitor to fill your demand, each and every week!
It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough: Apple killed much of the demand for the SE through sheer neglect; the exact same demand they are killing with multiple Mac lines; Mac Pro (five years without an update); Mac mini (four years without an update; even more without substantive update); MacBook Air; etc.
No, what Apple lacks is time, focus, engineers, and manufacturing capacity for multiple lines. There is a sweet, fat, profitable market for small phones that no one is taking advantage of, because it is simply not as big as that of big phones. And, I guarantee you if Apple offered a best-of-class 4 inch phone, Samsung, Huawei, et al, would chase the same market.
The same is true for Mac; Apple believes the Mac market is shrinking (in part) because they are not devoting enough resources to making each and every mac line the best it can be, as well as offering affordable versions in the same or related lines; I am convinced YoY Mac sales would go up, overall, if they hadn’t neglected them all (and hadn’t made terrible missteps like the 2013 Mac Pro).
Don’t even get me started on the market for expandable mid-tower Macs; I am/was a consultant who dealt with businesses buying in the hundreds and thousands of units who want Macs, but can’t work with the mini, the iMac, or a MacBook; and for whom even a full tower Mac Pro, were it still sold, is overkill; they want Core i5 (now Core i7) mid-towers with 2-3 slots and user-expandable drives/memory. Apple’s “Sweet Solution” of adding everything externally quite simply does not fly. Externals are more expensive, more complicated, easier to lose/steal, and become buggy and unreliable. See? You got me started, and it’s taking extreme will power to end this rant.
I agree wholeheartedly with this.
Lackluster Mac sales are the direct result of deliberate neglect on Apple’s behalf. During 3Q18 Apple sold fewer Macs than in any quarter since 2010 . The poorest Mac sales quarter in almost a decade! Well, that was the same quarter Apple was selling an almost entirely outdated lineup. Except for the iMac Pro all Macs were held over 2017 models still selling for the same prices they debuted many months ago. Meanwhile newer components had become available, the older components they were using had dropped in price, and the rest of the computer world had moved on.
If Apple is selling fewer Macs it’s because of their own choice to let the platform wither (why bother with Mac when you’re making $300 of pure profit off of every single phone you sell?). Despite what Apple says, their actions and their conduct strongly indicate they don’t really care about Mac as a platform anymore.
Lesson Apple should take: Keep the Macs updated.
Lesson Apple will take: People don’t want Macs anymore.
Hah! Yes, you do get to say that as a fellow native (I was born here), but I was merely trying to make the point that it’s not just an online phenomenon. The people I’m thinking span the gamut from locals from the outlying rural areas to graduate students and professors at Cornell.
I should also clarify what I mean by a 4 inch class phone: I need a phone that is roughly the size of the iPhone SE frame; the screen could presumably take up most or all of that surface area. It could even be somewhat wider or taller, just not by much. I’d even be more than fine with it being thicker, if that meant better battery life or camera or whatever; I absolutely loved the weight, size and thickness of my iPhone 4.
There are just a ton of people, those with small hands, those with dexterity issues, and those with smaller pockets (yes, I’m directing this towards women, as well), who both want and need a smaller phone than is offered.
It’s exactly the same for me.
To keep beating this horse, give me a mostly bezel-less iPhone 6 or an absolutely bezel-less iPhone 6 Plus.
Well the SE has an overall diagonal of 5.4" (4.87"x2.31") so you’d think you should be able to integrate a 4.7" display if there were only very slim bezels (different aspect ratios though).
Groups of friends are not representative of the global smartphone market, or even the the US market. Although Apple sold fewer iPhones in 2017 than 2018, their profits were significantly higher, primarily because 2017 new models soared through the roof globally. The average selling price for an iPhone, as of July 31, as of $724, and larger iPhones were responsible for this increase.
Apple has been growing its profits in a market that, except for a few countries, is pretty much saturated. Though people do upgrade their phones more frequently then their PCs or Macs, not as many people are upgrading their phones as they used to, which makes iPhone profit growth even more astounding. If they want to continue to grow revenue and become the first two trillion dollar company, they need to maximize profits.
If it was even a minimally significant portion of the market, Xiamo, Samsung, LG, Huawai, etc. would have jumped in with a slew of 5 inch models at lower than the SE, but they haven’t. And I haven’t heard they intend to.
People aren’t upgrading their smartphones or computers as quickly as they were, and I think Apple is stressing the longevity of its hardware as well as the years of regular software and security upgrades it offers to convince people to buy into the whole ecosystem, not just a piece of hardware. Samsung, etc. aren’t in any kind of position to do this. Google hasn’t been terribly successful with hardware and can’t risk getting overly competitive with companies that provide devices their advertising business is dependent upon.
Even if this were true, they couldn’t rake in enough profits on the hardware. And people with the smallest sizes tend not to shop much online, subscribe to streaming services, play games online, make in-game purchases. Last quarter Apple’s services revenue grew 31% from the previous year to $9.55 billion when analysts predicted revenues would be even with the previous year at best:
Larger phones play a bigger part in the a-z shopping process more and more. People are using phones for work more and more, and not just for phone calls and email. They’re using phones more and more for entertainment. They are taking more photos and videos and want more physical and cloud storage space.
On top of its current services, Apple will be launching a streaming video service. They bought the paid, all you can read magazine service Texture to improve News and bulk up its subscription revenues. This is on top of the App Store, iTunes, Apple Pay, etc., and there are more services on the horizon. R&D spending on larger phones leads to more profits from Services.
It’s strategy, not neglect. Desktop and Laptop PC and Mac sales show significant sales declines year over year.
Apple would, at best, not turn a profit on a high end four inch phone, and the few people who would buy it are not likely to buy or stream much.
Individuals and businesses are doing more and more on their mobile devices and using PCs and Macs less; they are upgrading less often. And people who buy iMacs, MacBooks and Pros, pay more money for them because of the quality of the screens, internals and externals. They get regular security and software updates and in major software versions are released every year. They give away free photo, productivity and business software. Excellent repair, support and fun stuff are offered in Stores across the globe. Most important, you get beautifully designed, user friendly and high quality products and services that all work beautifully together. And Apple stuff just looks great.
Steve Jobs got fired after he fought against cutting corners and lowering prices of Macs and look what happened.
Oh, my, word, I feel like I’m in a political discussion of the current climate in this country. And you’re not doing your argument any favors by quoting CNBC and Bloomberg.
No, but again my consultancy and interface to large successful businesses, as well as my peers, and their respective relations with even more businesses, and all the forums that we all read, and the numerous articles by pundits who have also been in contact with businesses and consumers alike around the world, all say the same thing: there is a market, however small, however unproven, for what we have been calling 4 inch class phones, but are really potentially 5 inch, bezel-less phones. Apple didn’t sell them until last week because they weren’t selling.
Do you not remember the articles quoting Apple press releases and Tim Cook himself, touting the surprise and delight of the very strong demand and success of iPhone SE sales? And that was just the pent-up demand for what was essentially a barely updated iPhone 5s. Can you really not imagine what kind of sales and demand there would have been if it had all the latest technology available in the iPhone 6 at the time, or features and tech that came to the next year’s iPhone 7?
Sure it was an inexpensive option at the time, and rightly so, because it had an older processor, built on an older chassis, with older and lesser components, such as first generation touch ID instead of second generation touch ID which was available if they have desired to boost the sales price, but instead they went after the low-end market, and didn’t give the high-end market a chance.
No, sorry, all that proves is the ASP was higher because the phones were more expensive; that they happen to be bigger is no proof at all that a more expensive 5 inch class phone could not sell at or drive the same ASP, or even at a higher ASP, or even a lower ASP that has a an even higher profit margin just because Apple wants to gouge that market a little more for its trouble.
Just more evidence to support my point: build a 5 inch phone with the best possible technology you can put in it, and charge us out the ass for it. It will sell, and it will drive profits.
If it doesn’t sell, you will prove that it was a failure, but you Still will have sold all of its inventory and all of its production, and I can’t begin to believe that it wouldn’t at least give you a full ROI and plenty more, even if ultimately it isn’t worth continuing.
Sorry, I’m not going to take the examples of perpetual followers to indicate that they know the market better than Apple; Apple invented the market, and Apple has always led the market, with the one exception of releasing big ass phablet phones like LG, Samsung and Hauwei did while they were throwing literally every size and class of phone at the wall to see what would stick in a desperate bid to catch up with Apple. It was sheer dumb blind luck that Samsung captured the big phone market before Apple got around to it.
And what happened when Apple finally did release the iPhone 6? They got a massive number of big phone android users to jump ship (as touted each and every quarter by Tim or Luca) padding the numbers far more in my opinion, then the “pent-up demand of Apple users“ who were waiting for the big phone.
Yes plenty of Apple users were indeed waiting, but not entirely because of the size; tons and tons of people were absolutely content to sit on their 4 and 4S and 5 and 5S phones because there weren’t gigantic leaps in features and technology — especially cameras; and your other point that people are not upgrading as rapidly had at that time definitely become to take effect, because people had realized how much they were spending on these very expensive phones, and Apple was doing a great job of updating the software each year so that they remained completely functional and useful, until the batteries were wearing thin.
People then made choices to either buy new, or take advantage of one of the now incredibly common and inexpensive third-party battery replacement services, which prior to 2015 weren’t nearly as common or inexpensive; and are now found in vans on every fourth street corner and big box parking lot.
Yup. And SE (and even 5S!!) owners are being allowed to cling to them via iOS 12 precisely because Apple has recognized their value.
And, as stated, aren’t natural leaders in the first place. They will tailgate wherever Apple leads them. Don’t forget Samsung knows exactly what size iPhones Apple will make at least 18 months before we ever see a leaked case blueprint.
Why? Again, why? The 5S sold for $650 and as high as $850; just like the 5 before it. The 6, 7 and 8 had bigger screens and bigger batteries, thus bigger costs, and went up, accordingly. The iPhone X introduced a barrage of very expensive new tech and production costs, and the price shot up again. Inflation, politics and tariffs are hitting this year, and even previous models have not dropped as low as we might’ve expected.
So where is your proof that a smaller phone, packed with current tech, and priced accordingly, won’t sell?
Prove it. Apple has never released numbers showing iPhones 4-SE owners are cheapskates or don’t consume. And don’t point to baloney reports by Canalysis and the like. Spotify and Tidal and (one other I cant recall) used to tout subscribers by device, and small iPhones always made up a substantial portion; you don’t need a big phone for streaming music; you need a good data connection. If big phones increased streaming, it’s because they had better radios.
Big time gamers definitely drove big phones; but gaming did just fine on small phones before them. Crashes like Pokémon and AR games and GPU intensive games are what really drive new sales; if you want to play awesome games, you need a chip newer than offered in the SE, not necessarily a bigger screen.
TV and movies? Sure, bigger might be better; but that doesn’t stop users from balancing other needs, and smaller hands and smaller pockets and smaller tastes still exist; you can’t assess the demand until you line up two devices with identical or at least very comparable features and speeds except screen size.
And you can guarantee this is entirely because Apple sells bigger, more expensive iPhones? Nothing to do with an existing user base, adjusting to a new paradigm of cloud services and subscriptions being, better, more convenient, and even necessary? And said services becoming better, richer, and more cost-attractive? And Mac (and PC) users have nothing to do with it, either?
Yup. And small phone users do a hell of a lot more than calls and emails, too, just like they did starting with the original iPhone. And still do with SE and older.
Yuppers, again; and small phone users want to do all of this, too, and are pretty chuffed they are stuck with a three year old A9 and even older camera and at best 64GB of storage.
Again, all you can prove is that people are spending more on services; you have zero breakdowns that can prove any more (proportionately) is coming from one phone over another, or from a Mac or an iPad. Are there more iPhones than other devices? Yes; without question; but the mere fact they own an iPhone is the only proveable driver of paying for iCloud, Apple Music, AppleCare, etc.; those same iPhone owners may well own an iPad and a MacBook and a Mac; which device gets credit for the services sales? The iPhone? Why? Because it’s bigger than an SE?
It’s a strategy, I will give you that much. But you are talking out of your other orifices if you are trying to seriously tell me that the Mac Pro debacle is a strategy; they didn’t hold an apology press circle last year to brag about their “strategy” regarding the Mac Pro.
The Mac Mini is yet another example of what is can only be called neglect, or if you must, a failed strategy. We can throw a lot of blame on Intel you want, but it’s still a failure.
Um, yeah, recently; but it wasn’t very many quarters ago that Apple kept bragging year after year about year-over-year increases in Mac sales that was outpacing, or even acting against the decline in PC sales. I will proffer the position once again that Mac sales would absolutely be better if Apple had been offering new and up-to-date technologies and best in class features and performance.
Gigantic missteps like taking away too many ports and beloved features like MagSafe; failing to drive and really support USB-C; offering hated keyboards and ill-received features like Touchbar; repeatedly refusing to offer better GPUs and limiting max RAM in favor of thinness and narrow edges (thus less battery to support said features) kept people who were desperate to upgrade clinging to two and three and even five and eight year old MacBooks and MacBook Pros; doing almost nothing but drop the price on the MacBook Air drove sales early on, but is anyone knowingly, happily buying that model in large numbers today? If they are, they are desperate, foolish, or being sadly misled by Apple Salespeople.
How many years have we been begging for retina displays on the lesser models? We’ve proven we’ll pay more on the high end, but Apple can’t be bothered to update to what has to be cost effective by now.
Can you prove this? I can’t either. Only Apple can prove this by building a 5 inch powerhouse with at least a great, if not best in class camera, and Face ID; or a 4 inch class phone with Touch ID. OLED is an optional gamble. I maintain an LED could compete with the XR, and an OLED could compete with the XS. I’d bet Apple could even sell them at the same price, claiming that smaller costs more to produce (because of expected ROI, of course, not materials or line production).
Baloney, on multiple fronts; especially given an equal or nearly equal sales price; you are basing all these assumptions — assumptions — on a $379, three year old CPU in a five year old frame.
The iPhone 5C didn’t bomb because it came in colors; it bombed because it was quickly a three year old, storage-limited design in a cheap plastic case; it succeeded as much as it did not so much on cost as it did colors. I can introduce you personally to two dozen people, mostly women, who downgraded and bought it for the colors, period; and clung to it for the size until it wouldn’t upgrade to iOS 11. They can afford any phone they want, but want things Apple isn’t offering on the top end. They’ve all said they’re buying XRs, because the XS, though admittedly way nicer, doesn’t come in yellow or red or choral.
And, guess what, not only do they generally buy mid tier storage or the largest, they also buy Apple cases, and, to your assumption above, pay for extra iCloud storage to easily back it up, and some subscribe to Apple Music and all buy (and use numerous times paying deductibles) AppleCare.
Yes, of course they are doing more on mobile; everyone is doing more on mobile as software apps mature and become closer to desktop replacements, and hardware becomes fast enough to support them; but they still have laptops and desktops. Those businesses I talked about? They buy MacBooks and MacBook Pros, but they won’t buy Macs for the aforementioned reasons. They buy MacBooks less often because of the lack of compelling features and improvements; indeed, even loss of features and “improvements.”
You want to talk about pent up demand? It’s there, believe me. These companies buy Dell and HP every 24 months on average, 36, tops; and would rather buy Macs if they were as flexible as fast; cost isn’t the primary issue, at all; they know they’ll get 36 -48 months out of a Mac, and they’ll still do 24-36 and instead reap the resale value to keep their employees happy and productive.
Now you’re getting it! And all you have to add is current, best in class CPU/GPU and flexible expansion, and lots of ports, and less Courage, and you’re back in with a huge PC buying market.
If anyone is arguing Apple is supposed to cut costs, prices and corners here, it’s you, not me. I’m 100% for Apple maintaining its traditional 36%-42% margins, but they need to apply them to products that deserve to cost more than the competitors can offer using the same chips from the same vendors built by the same assemblers and suppliers. If Dell, et al, can design and produce a new mobo every year that fits in the same case, and operate on less than 15% margins, so can Apple, and I’m sure do it better. Other vendors just use Intel reference boards, and they stay in business, too, on sub-10% margins.
Apple could stuff an Intel Nuk board in an existing Mac mini case with two 2.5” drive bays and sell them for 50% more, and people would eat them up because of no other reason than it runs macOS and is supported by Apple.
Apple could’ve kept the cheese grater form factor through till today, if they just kept stuffing it with faster internals and busses; a 2014 Mac Pro full tower with even the speed-hampered Xeon available, but with SATA III, PCI 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Bluetooth 3, and WiFi g/n would’ve sold five times or more what the trash can did. A 2016/17 with NVMe, TB3, USB 3.1 and BT4 and terabit Ethernet would cycle yet again. And 2018? With the Xeons Intel finally delivered, along with the Samsung Polaris controller in the iMac Pro? And an nvidia 1080 Ti option?
Apple has been leaving massive margins and increased profits on the table for most of eight years; six, for sure. Longer if you add in that midtower market we all know exists that would barely cannibalize the Pro market, but would more than make up for it with PC and hackintosh switchers.
Respectfully, and Cheers
I think we should wind down this discussion of the iPhone SE and smaller form factors—it’s veering into the weeds.
but I was merely trying to make the point that it’s not just an online phenomenon
I did understand your point, although I do at times think that Ithaca is a VR representation of an Internet forum.
Apple didn’t sell them until last week because they weren’t selling
Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying. Anecdotal or “they’re telling me in email” is not really evidence of anything else. The bottom line is – thousands of words aside – if there was a substantial market for sub 4.5 inch phones, SOME manufacturer would be aiming for it with a frontline model.
They will now.
Apple was the only company who got it to work. They had shoved everybody else out of the market for small quality phones. They totally owned it.
And now they gave that up. Watch others gladly try to gobble up that slice of the pie.
OK, no more posts about the iPhone SE. If anyone wants to talk about what’s actually new, that’s fine, but I’m going to delete all future iPhone SE posts in this thread.
What I think got lost in the kerfluffle is that Apple no longer thinks of screen size as going along with price. The XR – the new budget model – is larger than the XS. They think the vast majority want a larger screen, and they’re differentiating on other things now.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the XR do very well and the XS disappearing next iteration after comparably poor sales. I would imagine most people looking for better than the XR will go straight for the XS Max.
I agree that the iPhone XS is in sort of a no-man’s land in the middle—the iPhone XR is so much cheaper and the iPhone XS Max will take everyone who wants the larger screen.
As far as the next iteration (iPhone 11) goes, I think Apple will want a fairly significant update that will move the flagship model into new territory. And it feels to me as though they’ll always want the flagship model to come in two sizes. So to my mind, the real question is what happens to the iPhone XR. Will Apple keep it moving forward, or just maintain it in the lineup at a new, lower cost? It seems likely that how well it sells this year will determine that, although I do wonder if the necessary planning has already been locked down because it takes too long to change directions.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the XR do very well and the XS disappearing next iteration after comparably poor sales
Note of course that the XR costs what the top end model iPhone did only a few years ago. Apple’s really trying to push the average selling price up.
I liked Jason Snell’s “boiling the frog” analogy with the prices going up.
Careful! James Fallows will be on your case.
I hear complaints about the rising prices with comparison to prices from several years ago, but no one mentions inflation. That’s got to be a contributing factor. That and today’s phones include a lot more cutting edge tech. Prices on the low-end aren’t that much higher.
I hear complaints about the rising prices with comparison to prices from several years ago, but no one mentions inflation. That’s got to be a contributing factor.
The base model iPhone 4 debuted at $499 in 2010, which would be $561 in today’s dollars. A base model XS is going to cost $999.
I think it’s rather clear that Apple is increasing prices to make sure they can increase revenue despite stagnating number of units shipped. A lot of markets are saturated, devices have matured, and some buyers will update less frequently.
I wonder what their longer term plan is. Assuming shipment numbers do not go up, are they willing to accept stagnating revenue or will ASPs have to go up even more? How high can that be? Can you get people to spend $2k on a phone? How do you do that?
Expanding on that thought, personally I like some of the stuff they’re doing at the high end, but it’s by far not important enough for me to justify spending $500 or so more. Apart from its size, an iPhone 7 or 8 would likely do just fine for me. Not that the Xs Max doesn’t do a whole lot more, that’s just of no real value to me. In that sense, I must be a really bad customer. I exploit the longevity of their devices and since I use the iPhone mostly as a tool for work (email, messaging, web), I’m not going to buy into any of their services or content (the exception being an occasional iTunes song/movie/book purchase).
I suppose teenagers or young adults who replace their iPhones every year and also consume a lot of subscription services (and Apple content) are to them much more interesting. I guess I wonder how far you can push prices in that segment. It would be interesting to see if Apple can pull it off, and of course how.
I think they hinted at this during Lisa Jackson’s presentation at the keynote. Long term they expect people to keep phones longer, and be willing to pay more if they know they’ll be keeping them longer. Buying an Xs for $1000 and keeping it for three years isn’t much different from spending $650 for a 6s three years ago and having kept it for two years.
You can get people to spend $2k on a phone if it has enough features and you make it easy for them. I just spent $1k+ twice, ordering a XS for both me and my daughter last Friday at 3:01 am. I would have had to order for her anyway, but the one for me is a luxury (I’m using an 8, acquired last year, now). The reason it wasn’t painful is the iPhone upgrade program, where the cost is divided over 24 months, and you can effortlessly get a new phone every year if you want. I’m usually a “use it until it stops working” person, but not for the iPhone now. (If Apple had a similar program for the Apple Watch, I might have replaced my 3 with a 4.)
I’m looking forward to Face ID and the new camera. I’m not particularly looking forward to learning a new UI, but my daughter seemed to pick it up easily last year. It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow.
They actually shipped and sold fewer iPhone models 2017 than in 2016 and profits skyrocketed through the roof.
iPhone revenue is very far from stagnating, at least to date. But also consider that most people who but iPhones also buy in to one or more of Apple’s multiple revenue streams: App Store, in-app purchases, Music, iTunes, iCloud, etc. Here’s what Apple earned from in-app purchases in just the week after Christmas 2017:
“App Store customers around the world made apps and games a bigger part of their holiday season in 2017 than ever before, culminating in $300 million in purchases made on New Year’s Day 2018. During the week starting on Christmas Eve, a record number of customers made purchases or downloaded apps from the App Store, spending over $890 million in that seven-day period.”
And that’s just App Store. Apple is currently burning through the $3 billion dollars they allocated for their yet to be announced streaming video service, and are spending probably even more on AR/VR and are testing robo vehicles on the road. People who like iPhones tend to get drawn into other parts of the Apple ecosystem of hardware and services.
I can’t predict future economic patterns, but if Apple suspected it could be possible to turn enough of a profit on it, they would. And I do not doubt that one day they will.
---- Simon [email protected]bits.com wrote:
If you are Talking on this list you cannot be a bad Apple customer; you are part of the Apple ecosystem by actively demonstrates loyalty and sticking to a particular product. You haven’t mentioned anything about buying a Windows PC or a Surface tablet. As far as I remember, you haven’t mentioned abandoning iPhone for another manufacturer. And if you use Maps or Apple News, they do sell limited ads on them. You’re one of the reasons Google is paying Apple $3 billion a year to be the default iOS Safari search engine, and this doesn’t include what Google recently started paying to be the default in Siri.
Apple wouldn’t have made such a big deal about encouraging people to hang on to their iPhones if they didn’t think this was a big and unique selling proposition?I doubt that Samsung, LG or other smartphone manufacturers who don’t have significant, if any, services streams will be doing likewise.
Warning about eSIM. If you are planning to travel overseas with an XS, as far as I can tell, major overseas telecom vendors, such as Orange, are not yet supporting eSIM. I am delaying purchase of XS for this reason. If anyone has better info, please share.
From what I heard, major cellular companies in the US are supporting it — so couldn’t you use the eSim with them and the physical SIM with Orange or whoever in Europe?
Hah! I always assumed it was just a metaphor, not something based in fact—nice to know frogs aren’t that stupid. The question is, what’s a better shorthand way of expressing this scenario, where something is getting bad slowly such that the people suffering it don’t take any action (perhaps until it’s too late).
In the automotive business, we called it lot rot, but that’s probably too obscure. Around my house, things left undone are referred to as ‘in the back of the freezer’, or ‘it got freezer burn.’
Probably not good enough for her universal metaphor.
Oh, and I forgot, my grandmother used to say, “napping in the sun light”.
eSIM has not been enabled yet, it will need a software update.
Other major vendors of telecoms like Vodafone & EE will be supporting eSIM when it is available, they already support eSIM on other platforms. OrangeUK is now part of EE, I haven’t kept track of the other Orange countries. When Three suppports eSIM that will be very interesting.
I thought of death by a thousand cuts, but that doesn’t place quite the same emphasis. Then a quick Wikipedia search led me to this metaphor that I don’t think I’ve ever come across before.
I thought this was interesting. This is how the San Francisco Chronicle kicks off a piece about the sales launch of the new iPhone.
Emphasis mine. Not sure that’s exactly what Apple marketing was hoping to see.
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