The iPhone X was revealed last month but launch isn’t slated to happen until November 3rd. Since the reveal of Apple’s most ambitious iPhone ever, we have had a lot to discuss. Of course there is the powerful A11 Bionic chip that has been blowing competitors out of the water in benchmarking tests. There is FaceID which was a popular feature that got a lot of time on stage during Apple’s big reveal event. And don’t forget about that amazing new bezel-less design, either. Yes, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the iPhone X but the discussion always seems to loop back around to the price.
At $999, the iPhone X is a pretty expensive little device. Tim Cook says it’s a bargain but Tim Cook makes $8.7 million dollars in a bad year and I make… Well, I make less – let’s leave it there. Tim Cook and I likely have a different idea of what a bargain is.
Chances are that your income is closer to mine than it is to Tim Cook’s annual take home. If you have money to put a roof over your head, pay your bills on time, put food on the table, and indulge yourself every now and then with a family vacation or even just a nice dinner out then you are doing pretty good for yourself, all things considered. So when Tim Cook says a $999 smartphone that will be surpassed by another smartphone one year from now is a bargain: it rings a little hollow.
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Granted, smartphone technology is moving forward with every release and it’s crazy to think we will never see price increases. Just this year Apple has introduced an OLED display in the iPhone X. They have also added wireless charging and the necessary sensors to make FaceID possible. But is all of that worth just shy of $1000?
Obviously, no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy an iPhone X unless you accidentally walked into the sketchiest Apple store ever. There is an iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus available with the new A11 Bionic processor found in the iPhone X. However, buying an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus means you don’t get the fun FaceID feature that the iPhone X has. You also don’t get that new, sexy bezel-less design. Instead, you’re stuck with the same Apple design that been largely unchanged since the original iPhone. Do you settle, pay up, or look elsewhere?
That’s the discussion that came up on the Apple subreddit this weekend. Users were asked whether the price was affecting their decision to buy an iPhone X. Keep in mind that this subreddit is a friendly forum for Apple. Most people that frequent this subreddit (other than a few Android fanboys with too much time on their hands) are fans of Apple. This makes the responses so interesting.
Of course, there were several users who said they will pay whatever the cost is to get an iPhone X. Fair enough. These are fans of Apple and they will be early adopters of whatever Apple releases. Scroll through some more comments and you begin to see the same discussion you have likely had with your friends and family. In summary: the iPhone X is nice but it’s too much money.
Some users pointed out that they were able to buy an iPhone 8 Plus and an Apple Watch Series 3 for the same prices as a 256GB iPhone X. That’s a brand new smartphone and a brand new Apple watch for the same price as Apple’s high-end smartphone. Have we reached a point where it’s hard to find enough value in the iPhone X when other options are available?
A few users did mention they were looking at or had already purchased Samsung Galaxy S8 devices. The chipset may not quite keep up with the A11 chip in the iPhone X but, realistically, most users won’t be using these chips to their fullest potential anyway. Plus, with the Galaxy S8 you get a sleek, bezel-less design like the iPhone X and a great overall device for much less money.
What if the iPhone X just isn’t meant for people like me? I have made the argument in past articles that we have reached a point where there is a new tier of smartphone. We have always referred to devices (unofficially) as budget, mid-range, and flagship. Now, I think we are at a point where we need to add a new tier. Call it what you want but I’m putting my vote in for “super premium.” This super premium tier of devices is not meant to appeal to everyone. It’s not meant to make you say, “Wow! What a deal!” These are devices that are designed for those among us who want to be brand ambassadors. These people want to own the latest devices, the latest technology, on day one, and they don’t care a whole lot about price. Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer guilty of this. Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 is only about $50 less than the iPhone X. Of course, you get a bigger, better display and a built-in stylus but price-wise; these devices are in the same tier.
Finally, there is the always looming fear that the next release will make your smartphone feel obsolete. That has never changed in the smartphone world and that feeling largely comes from how you look at your own device. Yes, sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, Apple will release a better iPhone next October. If you’re always waiting for the next best device then you will be waiting forever. Perhaps people don’t want to spend $999 on a device that won’t be the best in 12 months or less? Maybe this is the price wall where consumers finally draw the line and say, “Nah, I’m good.”
I want to believe that we will see smartphone prices come back to a more reasonable level but I just don’t think that will happen. The Galaxy Note 8 is reportedly the best selling Galaxy Note smartphone ever and many analysts are expecting the iPhone X to smash sales records and bring in more profit for Apple than any other iPhone. If this proves to be true then we, as consumers, have signal led to these manufacturers that $999 is not the limit we are willing to pay. It may not be ideal for your wallet but the super premium smartphone tier is here to stay. It’s up to you if you want to pay the admission fee.