iPhone: Are Apple’s big screens really worth it?
Apple is betting bigger screens can persuade millions of iPhone owners to pay a lot more for an upgrade, said Tripp Mickle in The Wall Street Journal. The world’s most valuable company last week took the wraps off “its biggest and most expensive iPhone lineup.” Three new models were unveiled: the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Apple’s engineers touted photo-editing tools, new touch technology, and typical improvements in speed and battery life. But it was the size of Apple’s screens—an impressive 6.5 inches on the XS Max—and the nosebleed prices that really stood out. New iPhones have an average sticker price of $949, up 15 percent from last year’s models. And the numbers go way up from there. The iPhone is Apple’s flagship product, and the company sold 217 million of them last year. But with more people keeping their devices longer, Apple needs to figure out how to stay on its corporate perch.
In previous years, when Apple lacked a new iPhone design, “it still had a breakthrough new feature,” said Mark Gurman in Bloomberg.com. Not so this year. Instead, it showed off a myriad of storage, color, and screen-size options, all deftly designed to wring more dollars from its devotees. Overall, iPhone prices now stretch to $1,449 for the top-of-the-line model, up from $1,149 last year. Apple has also abandoned its cheapest iPhone, said Ben Thompson in Stratechery.com. Not so long ago the phone maker was criticized for ignoring the lower-end Android user. But the “Apple-needs-a-cheap-iPhone era” didn’t last long. Apple customers demanded the best iPhone, and those unable to afford the flagship model avoided the plastic one. Apple’s customers never wanted it to go down-market.
Indeed, the iPhone is increasingly positioned as a luxury item, said Vlad Savov in TheVerge.com. “But the process of buying an iPhone is, at the same time, becoming less luxurious.” Instead of getting a bunch of perks for parting with $1,000, iPhone buyers today are “confronted with both the inflated initial cost and a series of subsequent lacerations to their wallet.” Apple is even hitting up users for an extra $9 for audio dongles that were once free in the box. Google’s Pixel offers a complimentary fast charger and free photo and video storage, whereas Apple’s 5GB iCloud allowance “feels miserly.” Increases in repair and battery replacement costs are further insults. From a company that long “thrived on its ability to surprise and delight its customers,” that’s a signal Apple now “endeavors to squeeze every last bit of revenue from every user.” ■