Leave it to Apple to figure out the ways to extract more revenue and profit from the customer base in an era where hardware has become something of a commodity. The original iPhone in 2007 was $599.
iPhone Xs Max tips the monetary scales at $1 less than $1,450. $850 more than the original. Apple’s least expensive new iPhone is the so-called bargain of the trio; iPhone XR. It’s the value proposition. $749. $150 more than the original. Is the value iPhone a bargain?
Eye Of The Beholder
The generalized trend for the past few decades has been a steady decline in technology gadget prices while each new model comes with improvements. The original Mac sold for $2,495 with a single floppy disk, a 9-inch black and white display, and two software titles not quite ready for prime time.
34 years later you can get an iMac with a Retina 5K display, a 512GB SSD storage, 16GB RAM, 4GB video RAM, and a vast array of software. For $200 less. Which one is the value Mac? The original in 1984? Or, an iMac in 2018? More value, more capability, lower prices.
That’s not the case with iPhone so to call iPhone XR the value iPhone seems misleading, but since everything is relative, XR is a bargain compared to iPhone Xs and Xs Max. Does that make it a value?
Killian Bell explains the difference this year:
The iPhone XR might be considerably cheaper than the iPhone XS, but unlike Apple’s more affordable options in previous years, it doesn’t pack aging components into a new shell. The iPhone XR carries exactly the same A12 Bionic chip at its pricier counterparts.
In other words, iPhone XR is just as fast as the more expensive counterparts; iPhone Xs and Xs Max. The display is LCD vs. OLED, but most people will not be able to tell the difference. iPhone LCD displays have been rated as “indistinguishable from perfect” for a few years. The display itself fits between the smaller Xs and larger Xs Max and is rated higher than Google’s own Pixel 3 XL display.
Camera? XR has a single backside wide-angle camera but it’s the same camera in the more expensive models with the same quality photos and videos. The micro-bezels on the side are thicker than the other two iPhones but not by much. Because it’s a larger phone with an LCD display, battery life will be higher than on the more expensive iPhone models.
Apple chose to stick with a single rear-facing camera lens for the iPhone XR — another sacrifice to cut costs — but for the vast majority, it won’t matter one bit. If you can live without digital zoom, you’re probably going to be very happy with camera performance.
Digital zoom sucks anyway.
The only issue I see is the term ‘value.’ Apple has increased iPhone prices for years and continues to sell the premium line in numbers Samsung dreams about and Google will never dream about. How is it that Apple can get away with raising iPhone prices when so many competitors have to cut prices just to move inventory? Somehow XR is a value phone but it’s a better phone than the original, better than last year’s iPhone 8 Plus, almost as good as the iPhone Xs for $250 more, and still it gets rated as a value.
Only Apple can do that.