So, following another fairly hype-laden Apple keynote presentation, it turns out that most of the products introduced were actually pretty decent. For the first time I am sort of interested in the Apple Watch, and I will definitely be upgrading my Apple TV at some stage in the near future. Pricing for each of those items was pretty much in line with expectations really - i.e. £400 and £200 respectively.
I found the introduction of the new iPhone 8 versions a little disappointing - that phone is materially fairly minimally changed from my 6 Plus - which is still my main phone. I was for a long time waiting for Apple to catch up with some of Samsung’s innovations, and I’m never that keen on tiny iterations. The wireless charging is a nice to have rather than essential, and I worry that they have re-introduced the fragility of the previous glass versions which were always somewhat materially flawed. While the iPhone 8 presentation was going on I was definitely thinking that there was no way I would want to upgrade to that version.
Then we finally received the big announcement we were all expecting about the iPhone X. I had caught most of the earlier rumours, so I was already expecting a ticket price of around £1K, and face-recognition functionality. The animated avatars were kind of cute, but the most marginal of nice-to-haves really. Apple still haven’t truly cracked the main issue with all their smaller mobile devices - which is battery life. There are some small increments here and there, but the battery aspect is still the weakest part of the mix.
We knew the iPhone X would be expensive - its screen for instance costs somewhere in the region of $150 - it’s obvious that there are even tighter assembly tolerances at play here, and manufacturing output and yield poses some significant challenges - I expect this phone to be in high demand and relatively short supply (lengthy waiting lists). As reported by several first-time testers, there is still some refinement to be done with the facial recognition technology - as was aptly demonstrated during the keynote address when that failed on the first attempt.
So the 64GB iPhone X will retail for £999 in the UK, and the one I need - the 256GB will be circa £1149. It will be competing with the best of the Android phones - the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 - also pretty pricey at £869, and the forthcoming LG LV30 which is expected to retail at around £699.
The big question here is whether the iPhone X is really worth that super premium price-tag? I think you need to weigh up the pros and cons of your own situation and act accordingly. It will be beyond the practical means of many a consumer, and depending on your dependencies and general outgoings may not be a suitable or the best choice. For me personally, I don’t change phones very often, I try to get the most value out of their use, and I am most definitely a power-user of my phone - I don’t tend to use tablets or other mobile devices much - it’s usually either my desktop or my iPhone, so on balance - this new phone should be reasonably good value by the end of its natural lifespan. It is a significant investment, but as a tool or instrument that you are going to make use of several times each hour, it makes sense to have something that will work for you in every sense.
Form-factor-wise and aesthetic-wise I find it the prettiest of the 3 phones featured above - I don’t mind the black sensor aperture / gap at the top of the screen at all - in fact I quite like that really - it’s distinctive and practical. Having the screen fully properly edge-to-edge and no physical home button has shaved off a good centimetre+ top-and-tail. I’m already a big fan of the iPhone format, and my current 6 Plus is several generations behind now and is still serving me well. When I upgrade though it has to be for a pretty significant change, and the iPhone X seems pretty significant enough to me - of course I would have liked to pay less, but do realise that I am paying for a lot of manufacturing innovation and intricacies here, and not just the raw components.
From my own perspective, and discounting the iPhone 8’s and some of the cheesy marketing patter / videos - this was one of the most satisfactory Apple product launches to date. It’s the first time I’ve added all the announced products to my shopping list. However, and what with my focus on all matters relating to guitar at the moment, and with Christmas present season soon upon us, these Apple trinkets will likely have to wait to be acquired in the first quarter of next year rather than the final months of this one...