Apple wants to change the rules of the game on the smartphone market again
Apple is heading towards cheaper smartphones, and other market players are following it. What does this mean for consumers?
D For many users, especially in Ukraine, Apple iPhone smartphones have a privileged status. Say, these are gadgets with too high a price tag that are not available to ordinary mortals.
Against this background, interest in the new budget model of Apple is heating up, which is likely to be called the iPhone 9 and will be the iPhone 11 version in the iPhone 8 shell.
Returning to the cost of Apple’s smartphones, other manufacturers, including Apple’s main competitors, Samsung, also have flagship models with sky-high (and it’s not even about the experimental Galaxy Fold). But at the same time, in the same lineup of Samsung you can find budget smartphones that can afford most users, which can not be said about the iPhone.
Well, instead of buying previous versions “apples, ”the pragmatic Ukrainian would better choose the flagship model of one of the Chinese Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus and their many analogues, because these smartphones include modern “features ”have good performance and, it seems, not the worst quality.
Such a picture of the world distorts reality a little, since in our country the distribution of Apple devices has some features. Firstly, the cost of the iPhone in Ukraine will always be slightly higher than their original price tag, which is announced during the presentation of the Apple Event. For other manufacturers, this is not always the case, as they may have official points of sale from manufacturers.
Secondly, the difference of $ 300-400 is not particularly important for buyers, say, in the United States, who choose between a new iPhone or the Chinese flagship. Well, and thirdly, the over-distribution of Xiaomi and all its compatriots is rather a purely Ukrainian story, because in the USA the gadgets from China are not so popular both in terms of marketing and in terms of retail.
But this does not mean that Ukrainians are doomed to go with mediocre Chinese smartphones: in recent years, Apple has changed its pricing policy several times and greatly influenced the market, since all other brands are somehow equal to Cupertino representatives. In 2020, the iPhone should become even closer to users, as the company plans to return to the budget segment and capture with its devices the widest possible audience.
What is wrong with pricing for the Apple iPhone?
The other day, Apple has suddenly lowered the maximum cost of an iPhone through a smartphone return program. Now users will be given less money for returning old iPhones. Moreover, those who bought a new smartphone and want to return the money for it will lose most.
For example, for iPhone Xs Max they can now get you a maximum of $ 500, although a couple of weeks ago a used model of this smartphone in perfect condition could be leased for $ 600. For iPhone Xs, the cost of returning decreased from $ 500 to $ 420, for Xr – from $ 370 to $ 300, for X – from $ 400 to $ 320, and so on in decreasing order to iPhone 6s, for which they can now return as little as $ 80.
At Apple, this is explained by the fact that users often hand in smartphones with replaced original parts, and stores that exchange used iPhones do not want to pay a lot of money for them. For the most demanding users, this may seem arrogance: not only are they asking for new iPhones “huge “money, and now they will also return less for them.
Nevertheless, there is some truth in the logic of the Apple leadership, and, as practice shows, decisions on the distribution of iPhone costs in different segments have always been adopted by other manufacturers. Let’s try to analyze how the price tags for Apple smartphones have changed in recent years.
The initial cost of the first iPhone and iPhone 3G models varied in the range of $ 500- $ 600, which was an acceptable amount for a device of this segment in this range. For example, for the rival flagship HTC Touch Pro then they even asked for $ 700.
$ 600- $ 700 price tag on all new Apple smartphones (with the exception of models with an enlarged screen and Plus index) lasted until the release of the iPhone X in 2017, for which the company initially requested $ 1000.
This was a turning point in the history of Apple, because for the iPhone 8, which was a class lower, but which was released in the same year, they asked for $ 300 less. And the initial version of the iPhone 8 Plus with a 5.5-inch display cost $ 800, which is still much cheaper than the notorious “X ”, which subsequently became a model for all iPhones until today, and its “monobrow ”was copied by all manufacturers in a row.
True, in 2017, Apple had all the arguments in favor of a sharp “jump “to a new price level: a year and a half before, in March 2016, the company introduced the first budget model – iPhone SE, which received most of the components from the iPhone 6s, but was almost indistinguishable from the iPhone 5s.
At the same time, SE set a record low price of $ 400, while for new models of the fifth and sixth generation they asked for $ 650. It is expected that the budget model has become a bestseller and, along with the iPhone X, Apple representatives were no longer ashamed to ask at least $ 1,000 for their smartphones.
Recent years have been controversial for the iPhone in a California company: the company lost the second place in the total number of global smartphone sales to Chinese Huawei and even lagged behind the leader of the mass market – South Korean Samsung. In addition, total revenue from smartphone sales often fell compared to the peak performance of previous years.
Although, in general, Apple’s business continues to grow due to the development of branded services and accessories like AirPods, which have become the best-selling wireless headphones in the world. So the heir to Steve Jobs Tim Cook more than copes with his task.
As for the cost – yes, after the 2017th, the prices for the iPhone significantly crawled up, and for the new flagship models of 2018 and 2019 (Xs Max and 11 Pro Max, respectively) were already asking for a record high of $ 1,100. Due to the discontinuation of the SE model, the function “state employees ”performs the new Xr, the cost of which was initially set at around $ 750, and at a presentation in September 2019, it was reduced to $ 600.
That is why now the media is hotly discussing the upcoming release of the so-called SE 2 – a full-fledged budget smartphone from Apple, which should appear in the spring of 2020. Most likely, the model will be called iPhone 9, because marketers missed this figure in the gradation of the generations of their smartphones, either due to superstition, or for some other reason (Apple’s naming issue is a completely different story).
It is expected that the proposed SE 2 will receive the filling from the iPhone 11, will look like the iPhone 8 and, most importantly, cost only $ 400.
It may seem to some that Apple is starting to copy the business model of other manufacturers and sell smartphones in different price segments in order to increase revenue from iPhone sales in all possible ways. Do not rush to conclusions.
Who is following whom?
The price tag for the flagship iPhone X for good reason came close to the $ 1000 mark: at the same time, in the fall of 2017, sales of its main competitors, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro, for which they requested from $ 930 and from $ 940, respectively, started.
The subsequent flagships, including the Samsung Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 Pro also initially approached the cost of $ 1000, which set a certain trend for top models from three key manufacturers.
But the most important thing is not even that – the Apple chip with segmentation of the same iPhone model into different categories eventually became a winner and served as the basis for “hardcore rivals from Samsung.
One of the most obvious examples is the release of the Samsung S10e version, which was a direct response from the South Korean company to Apple’s budget flagship option, the iPhone Xr.
Now Samsung continues to do this with its other flagships, because they, unlike Apple, have several of them. This is a very good option, which recently appeared on the market and already visited the test at HB – Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite.
Do you want the flagship Note with the signature S Pen stylus, but you don’t have more than 30 thousand hryvnias on it? It doesn’t matter, here is the Note Plus, which costs 16 thousand and which has the same S Pen, a huge 6.7-inch display, slightly worse performance indicators, but almost all the functions of the original Galaxy Note and, in addition, an excellent camera with a square design of the main module for three lenses, like the iPhone 11. Well, why not the Xr version, in the analogy of the iPhone line?
It is unlikely that Apple, as in the good old days, will be able to sue Samsung for stealing the idea of pumping out as much money as possible from users through different versions of flagship smartphones, but it seems that it really works.
Now, when the buyer comes to the store and he does not have enough money for the very top model – he will not go to competitors who offer the flagship cheaper, but will buy the same flagship in a modern shell, but with slightly dull characteristics.
If Samsung was a little late with the release of Note 10 Lite, then Apple ideally implemented this concept during the presentation of the iPhone 2019 line a few months ago. The difference in price between the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro / Pro Max turned out to be quite noticeable, but sales of the basic version of the iPhone 11 exceeded experts’ expectations even at the pre-order stage.
And it’s nothing that the empty space for the third camera in the main module there looks like a stub for an extra button in a car with a basic configuration – users want a new and cheap point.
Ultimately, both consumers and manufacturers benefit from such a distribution of flagships: the former receive a denser market and even more model options in steps of $ 100 up or down, and the latter can experiment with trim levels, design etc.
What awaits us in future flagships?
The iPhone SE 2 mentioned above may well fill the niche of the budget smartphone from Apple, and the company, like its competitors from Samsung and Huawei, will be able to present new versions of the iPhone twice a year – in spring and autumn. Although, Apple’s presentations are one of the most unpredictable things, so let’s better understand what is known about the new flagship models of key manufacturers.
Traditionally, Samsung representatives will be the first to shoot back in the new year, from whom the next generation of Galaxy S is expected. Versions of this eleventh generation line should be presented at the beginning of next month and, contrary to logic, the new smartphones can be called the Samsung Galaxy S20.
Samsung probably decided to commit “intergalactic ”jump and skip immediately 10 digits in the name of the model in order to switch the attention of the audience from the still hot iPhone 11 in all ways. It is assumed that in February 2020 the company will show three models – the 6.2-inch Galaxy S20, 6.7- inch Galaxy S20 Plus and, attention, 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra.
All versions should be equipped with a 7-nm Exynos 990 chipset and branded Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED displays with an image frequency of 120 Hz. Analysts suggest that the top version of Ultra can install the main wide-angle camera at 108 megapixels and a hybrid 100x zoom, which will be a serious blow to Huawei’s camera phones. Although, even in the base, the new Samsung Galaxy S20 will be able to record 8K video at a frequency of 30 frames per second.
Smartphones will support 5G and internal storage variations from 128 GB to 1 TB, and the amount of RAM in the flagship can be selected between 12 GB and 16 GB. Instead of the Apple Face ID, an analogue of which Samsung developers still cannot make, the Galaxy S20 should add a huge fingerprint scanner built into the screen for two fingers at once.
Cost models are expected in the region of $ 1100- $ 1400, depending on the version and configuration.
The new flagship Huawei P40 Pro is projected to cost at least $ 1,300. There is so far less information on this model, since it will appear no earlier than March 2020, and in general there were not so many leaks from Huawei.
The release of the P40 Pro is one of the most interesting events in the industry in 2020 due to the scandal surrounding Huawei and the US government. The new Chinese flagship will appear on the market without applications from Google, including the Android OS. The mysterious Harmony platform, which is designed to replace Android, can be a huge failure or, on the contrary, prove that Huawei is able to live without the help of the American tech giant. Although, of course, few people believe in this.
Experts expect improved lenses with the main lens at 52 megapixels or 64 megapixels, as well as an optical 10x zoom. They do not rule out the possibility of a new QuadHD display or even 4K, if someone is interested. Again, the key issue remains the user interface and changes to the new Huawei operating system. Without this, all talk of hardware automatically fades into the background.
In the case of the iPhone 12, they are waiting for the repetition of the previous presentation and three new models – the basic 6.1-inch (iPhone 11), 5.4-inch Pro and 6.7-inch Pro Max 5G. Like the Samsung Galaxy S20, they expect a display with a frequency of 120 Hz and exotic new items in the form of a 3D camera, which will expand the capabilities of applications with augmented reality.
In the new generation of smartphones, Apple, finally, must add a fingerprint scanner built into the screen to unlock the screen, but it’s not worth waiting for the phone version without any connectors. Most likely, the developers are preparing to remove all ports from the iPhone already in 2021, and only then completely switch to wireless devices. In the meantime, the iPhone 12 promises to change Lightning ports to the more common USB-C.
The revolution is also promised by the new bionic 5nm processor A14, in which “there’s a 15-inch MacBook Pro processor performance potential. ” It remains only to figure out what to do with this performance.
It’s too early to talk about the prices of the new iPhone, but judging by the predicted cost of the Galaxy S20, it’s possible that the flagship “apple ”in a top-end configuration may even exceed $ 1,500.
With regard to the new Huawei Mate 40, which is due out later this year, it will be more logical to speak after the presentation of the P40 Pro. Yes, and Ukrainian users do not really need this information, because for the last couple of years the Mate series has not been taken to us.