When it comes to quality control, I would argue that Apple is conservative. On the other hand, it’s easy to argue that Samsung is, at times for sure, reckless. Witness the demise of Samsung’s mother of all flagship smartphones, the 2016 Galaxy Note 7. Batteries exploded and caught on fire in sufficient numbers to recall millions of devices. That’s what separates the good from the bad.
Too Many Customers
Have your noticed that you don’t hear much about quality control issues with LG smartphones, or HTC smartphones, or any Windows phones, or other lesser brands? Why not? Are they perfect? Of course not. They just don’t sell in sufficient numbers to be competitive with iPhone or Samsung phones to garner much public attention for their shortcomings.
What does being conservative about quality control gain Apple? What does being conservative about specific internal components do for Apple? Almost every manufacturer of a competing product– whether smartphone, tablet, or personal computer– has devices with hardware specifications that are better than whatever Apple is selling at the moment. One notable difference has to do with component scale. Apple sells over 200-million iPhones a year. Not even Samsung can manufacture that many OLED displays at a quality level Apple demands. Besides, the LCD screens in today’s iPhones are, as testers have noted, “indistinguishable from perfect.”
Most makers of Android-based devices have many of the same hardware components and mostly the same version of Android. So, how are those devices differentiated from one another, and Apple’s products?
The first casualty is price. Those devices compete on price, and lower price means lower profit margins, and often lesser components; or, put another way, internal components of lesser quality. Comparatively speaking, Apple’s devices have higher quality components, thanks to Apple’s famed quality control efforts, and used iPhones and iPads often command prices equal to or exceeding that of new products from competitors.
The second casualty is usability. Because Apple designs and builds the hardware and the integrated software, Macs, iPhones, and iPads are differentiated in many ways from Android or Windows devices. That differentiation includes usability, the services and support ecosystem, along with hardware quality and software capability.
Yes, Android devices can do more than an iPhone user can with iOS, but that extra capability is well beyond the point of diminishing returns. It just doesn’t matter to the average iPhone or Android smartphone user. iPhone users have more than enough app selection to do almost anything a customer requires. Plus, Apple’s quality control efforts extends to the App Store itself, an integral part of the walled garden, curated ecosystem.
Apple may be conservative here and there, especially with hardware components (Apple designs the CPUs in iPhone, iPad, and Watch), yet the company takes risks with new products mostly unlike those of competitors. You see that in Watch, in AirPods, and other components. It was visible even with the 2013 Mac Pro, which Apple has admitted was a mistake (without using the word mistake; typical Apple).
If you want the absolute latest and greatest features and functions, you’ll probably find most of them on a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus, but note a recent review’s pros and cons. Amazing screen, fast camera, smaller device with bigger screen, waterproof, but some software doesn’t make sense, Siri-like Bixby isn’t ready, and there are no stereo speakers. See? Another recent review touted the S8 Pro features: microSD expansion card, iris scanner, new Gorilla glass on front and back, but difficult to touch fingerprint sensor on back. See?
Apple’s approach to some components and designs are conservative, but for reasons which benefit the user. That provides an opening for competitors to use bullet point feature comparisons against iPhone, iPad, and Mac, yet in the end, which company sells more premium products?