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The Phone That’s Failing Apple: iPhone XR (wsj.com)
114 points by robertgk on Jan 6, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 359 comments

I cannot help but think that an iPhone XR mini would have been a great seller if it hit the $450 range. I just don't understand Apple these days, its like they have reverted to the early 90's where they kept jacking the price until even the loyal customers had to exit the ship. I had so believed they would repeat the iPod strategy and start at the top end and slowly squeeze the market by introducing models that filled in the lower price bands.

Summary of the tweets of Steven Sinofsky(1):

1- Pricing not only says who can afford your product but also establishes a brand, determines channel, & more.

2- The first key to having low priced offerings is that you have to have a set of partners who are willing to compete on thin margins in order to bring the product to market.

3- When people say Apple needs a cheaper phone there are many questions to answer beyond the get over yourself luxury brand issue.

4- What is distribution constraint? What partner absorbs some cost to leave margin? What is the branding?

5-Easy question — would a cheap phone be sold and supported in Apple stores side by side? How would the rest of the customers feel about more crowds and tougher appointments competing with people who paid half as much? Sell one phone against another—how?

6- Anyone that thinks Apple is unaware of the challenge and has not sketched out ideas, tested them, and thought about them immensely is crazy.

7- What does all this mean? Apple may or may not have a “pricing” or “price point” or “structural” / secular challenge. For sure just releasing a cheap phone doesn’t make all better.

All takes place in context of lots of cheap/bad competitive phones.

(1): https://mobile.twitter.com/stevesi/status/108117488690147328...

Considering Sinofsky's record, I wouldn't necessarily consider him a credible authority on this.

There's an obvious difference between "a cheaper phone" and making the range as affordable as it was five years ago - instead of relying on so-called luxury branding while offering very little extra and annoying customers with product issues (missing headphone jack, BatteryGate, etc) and mediocre software updates.

Apple doesn't have an iPhone problem. Apple has an Apple problem.

It's at least possible (who knows for sure...?) that if Jobs were still alive Apple would have opened up at least a couple of innovative new product lines by now - not just gimmicks like Watch, but new "I didn't know I wanted that, but now I see it I obviously do" products, with supporting services and industry partners, all pitched at the affordable-at-a-push level that Apple products originally lived in.

This is where Cook has failed. There's nothing new on the table. Putting up prices is a short-term tactic. So is "a cheap phone".

What Apple needs is a coherent and impressive long-term strategy, and investors aren't seeing that.

You're saying that Apple needs a Steve Jobs like genius who figures out new world changing product categories and also turns them into real high quality products.

Well of course Apple, and every other company needs that. But hoping for a savior is not a plan.

I used to love going to the Apple Store and playing with the new iPhones, iPads and Macbooks, especially soon after a new product launch. Maybe its just me getting older but it doesn't have the same appeal anymore.

The iPad Pro is worth going to play with in person. But the Mac lineup hasn't been in years. First it was the Air, "Wow, look how small this laptop is. And it's made of aluminum!" Then it became, "Wow! Look at the Retina display! It's amazing!"

Now it's just like, "Why'd they take off the ports on this laptop? It's a weird brown color. And two of the keys don't work, already." To make it worse, everything is the same. You can't tell anything apart? Is this the Air? Wait, it's the old Pro? Which watch is this? Is this the XR or the XS? What's the difference?

I found it interesting that the last time I was in the mall with a friend, we were both more fascinated with the Microsoft store than the Apple store. The Apple store was just bigger, faster, better phones and computers. The Microsoft store had new things. Virtual reality, Surface Hub, Surface Book, etc.

Microsoft clearly took a page out of Apple's book for their stores, but I agree, their retail experience has been enjoyable. I miss the Windows Phone section, though.

Microsoft is sitting on such an amazing ecosystem and it feels like they just don't know how to tie it all together sometimes.

Same here. Everything in the Apple Store now seems designed to impress me rather than to help me get work done. Battery life gets shorter, keys and ports get removed, prices get higher. But boy do these things look amazing in the store!

I avoid apple stores at all costs. It’s crowded, long lines, and always located in a busy area or dense shopping mall.

I share your experience but I think that all of that shows that they are doing something right, having too many customers is hardly a bad problem to have.

Re #5: You can already walk into an Apple store and buy an iPhone that costs 3-4x as much as another iPhone they sell in the same store.

And similar for the MacBook (Pro) range. Without customisation: MacBook Air £1,199.00 Macbook Pro £2,699.00

2.25x multiple

With customisation you can easily reach 3x.

Regarding point 6, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple had a viable strategy for a lower-priced phones and Jobs just said "never" and Cook is honoring that. I don't know that they did, just that you can't underestimate the potential for powerful people to be irrational.

I vaguely remember from Jobs' biography by Isacson that if you are not willing to cannibalize your own market share with a cheaper product someone else will do that for you. I am not 100% if it was Jobs who said that though.

“One of Job's business rules was to never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself. " If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will," he said. So even though an Iphone might cannibalize sales of an IPod, or an IPad might cannibalize sales of a laptop, that did not deter him.”[0]

The idea being pushed is cannibalization by a better product, not lower prices.

[0] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/908575-one-of-job-s-busines...

But for many people the iPhone mini would be a better product than todays iPhone mega.

I don't understand why people are so confused on this.

Apple ships models that fill the lower price brands. It is the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 which are still supported and being sold.

Consider the iPod: the differentiation was about things people would care about, like size, capacity, portability, style, etc. You weren't made to feel cheap just because you entered at the lower price points. You wanted an iPod Mini, and it made sense that it cost less than the Classic: you were still getting "the best" version of the thing you desired.

Same story with the Mac: buying the iBook didn't make you feel like you were cheaping out, you were making a conscious choice for what you wanted, not buying "last year's PowerBook".

With the phones it's very different. Buying an old phone doesn't make you feel good, it just makes you think "I know this isn't the best, but it's all I could afford", and that's very un-Apple feeling -- especially when you still have to pay quite a lot.

Apple has apparently boxed itself into a corner, though: this is its second attempt to segment the line (the 5c being the first) and both have failed because they didn't feel like different things, they just felt like cheaper ones: the 5c was just a plastic 5S, and the XR is basically an XS with cheaper camera and screen.

So how else can they differentiate? Making a small phone won't really fly - while I'd love an SE-sized XS, the Chinese market they need to win back wants its phones big.

That only leaves the margin to cut, and that's a shibboleth. You can see why they'd much rather focus on services to escape this fix.

Yes! You hit the nail on the head!

The iPhone needs to be split between iPhone Mini, iPhone and iPhone Pro, instead of current model of “last year”, “this year medium” and “this year large”.

As much as I wanted to love the iPhone SE, it always felt like last year’s model. It wasn’t a differentiated product that had a proper update cycle. A lot of people in the community were hoping for a proper update to the SE.

I also wanted to love the 5C because I actually preferred the design over the metal iPhone, but they hindered it with last year’s specs. I was always hoping they would break out a proper model line from the 5C, but it died with the 6.

How often do people find in practice they have to think about specs at all? I'm typing this on an SE. It is, of course, literally last year's phone (two years) but both when I bought it and now, there's nothing except the camera that doesn't feel well above adequate (and the camera, while missing some neat low light features, is adequate) and there's a few things that feel optimal about it that simply aren't available in current models (form factor, headphone jack, and price).

I never think about specs/performance... much in the same way that I haven't thought of specs for the mid 2012 MBP I bought years ago. What are people doing with their phones that drives a sense that last year's specs aren't good enough?

I don’t think it is the specs or even the real world performance, but rather the unease/sense of compromise you feel spending $450 for an “outdated” phone regardless of the actual user experience.

On the other hand, people can spend $550 for OnePlus 6T, a current generation phone, and feel better about their decision.

Your question reminds me of a humorous quote - "I use Gentoo because I'm a speed freak - I can't stand the thought that some of my packages might not be running as fast as they could be.".

PS: The above quote is just one of the gems from https://funroll-loops.teurasporsaat.org/ - a humorous portal to a lost world from the 90s - 2000s (ie the gentoo subculture).

Fun page, I remember those times. Some of the quotes aren't so ridiculous, like:

>"I notice that my disk does a whole lot of thrashing when I boot up. I have a lot of stuff that gets loaded into memory every time I boot, like X11, ion2, Firefox, Eterm, Thunderbird, etc. It seems to me that putting all of the files necessary to those apps in a contiguous section on the disk and loading that into memory in one shot would be a whole lot faster. Is there a way to do this? Is it stupid?"

That's a good idea! It's kind of what Windows Prefetch feature does.

(And in case anybody's interested, the utility e4rat (ext4 read ahead... tool?) does exactly this)

> What are people doing with their phones that drives a sense that last year's specs aren't good enough?

Wanting to play the new game showcased in the announcement. and other news games that come out, that requires the latest phone to play smoothly and without utterly destroying my battery in under 2 hours.

EDIT: That said, I care less about performance specs and more about physical size, and so I too am still on an iPhone SE

Doing OS updates, taking pictures and storing stuff on limited storage.

> As much as I wanted to love the iPhone SE, it always felt like last year’s model. It wasn’t a differentiated product that had a proper update cycle. A lot of people in the community were hoping for a proper update to the SE.

I have an SE and appearance aside I disagree. It had the guts of the current model including touch id and performs quite well for me.

Now, sure, it feels a little bit left behind. Maybe. It's still fast enough to run the apps I want. But, let's face it, all of the updates that the 7/8/Xfoo have had are updates I don't want.

The problem I've got with Apple is that they don't have any new products I want. I just had them replace the battery on the SE (which was a clusterfuck in its own right) and I just bought a refurb 2015 MBP. Granted Apple probably made more money off the sale of a refurb than they would've off of a new unit... but if the lineup hasn't improved in another six years I'm off to Linux on the desktop.

> It had the guts of the current model including touch id

IIRC iPhone SE does not have the second generation Touch ID sensor that iPhone 6s does.

Yeah the SE doesn't have the updated reader, the haptic system or 3D touch. Having gone back and forth between my SE and a 7 for work, I really only miss the 3D touch.

It doesn't have a barometer, either.

Agreed. There should be three distinctive line, and updated each year accordingly.

iPhone S - 5.8" / 6.8" OLED, Face ID, Stainless Steel, Best Camera, 4x4 Antenna. Tri- Camera

iPhone R - LCD, Under Screen Touch ID? Or Face ID with a larger bezel at top or bottom to save cost. Aluminium, 2x2 Antenna. Double Camera

iPhone E - Basically the traditional iPhone design with Touch ID with slight update in Design. Single Camera

The three model will then just iterate on their own. May be the iPhone E could even be unapologetically Plastic!.

Although I think Apple will just continue its current model until things really break.

The 5C was much more like the 5 (same CPU, etc) than the 5S. Their previous strategy had been "sell the previous year's phone for cheaper". The 5C was basically the same strategy, except for that one year they put it in a new colorful enclosure.

It was a nice looking phone but a tough sell because the 5S was such a big leap (first 64-bit CPU) over everything else. The 5S is over 5 years old and still supported by the latest iOS.

>So how else can they differentiate? Making a small phone won't really fly - while I'd love an SE-sized XS, the Chinese market they need to win back wants its phones big.

Do you remember, back in the day, when the smallest IBM thinkpads were way more expensive than the less-small IBM thinkpads?

I understand big phones are king if you only have one device. If I wasn't carrying like five devices all the time, I'd also want a giant phone-tablet, and I guess these days, most people don't have computers, and if I didn't have a computer, I'd want a really giant phone. But I am carrying five devices all the time, and I do have desktops everywhere I spend significant time, so I want my phone to be small and easy to operate with one hand.

As far as I can tell, there's a pretty big correlation between having a good income and having multiple devices. What I'm saying is that giant phones can be seen as... kind of the low end of the market.

And it's not like apple needs to stop making giant phones; they just need to make a small phone for the high end. That, or they need to upgrade functionality on the watch to the point where I can just use the watch for everything, but as far as I can tell, app developers are moving in the other direction (Last time I dropped off my phone for repair, I found that lyft had disabled it's watch app, and the uber watch app doesn't work reliably without the phone nearby. I mean, I got the uber watch app working once I got my phone back, but it's just not designed to function as the backup for your transportation app that I wanted. It was kind of annoying; I ended up calling a friend on the watch, 'cause txt messages weren't working, either. Walking around shouting into my watch like I thought i was dick tracy)

Personally, I'm actually pretty happy paying apple prices for a new phone every two years or so, but you've gotta give me a reason. I mean, if you came out with a really nice small phone, I'd even be willing to pay big phone prices for it; I'm not really that price sensitive when it comes to things like my cellphone, but I really don't have a lot of desire to buy the new phones, just 'cause they are all so big, and as far as I can tell, they don't do anything I want any better than my iphone 7. (I don't hate face ID, but as far as I am concerned, it's not any better than the fingerprint)

If Apple came out with a 3d-touch capable iphone SE sized phone with lots of memory and really good cell reception/networking features? Yeah, I could see me paying a grand for it.

I agree totally. But this is partly Apple's bind: a phone like you're describing appeals to rich Westerners with multiple primary devices and that's just too small a market for them now. Their pressing corporate need is to make a device that will help them grow in China, maximising their take from the billions who don't have multiple devices.

In the olden days, when Apple was much smaller, they were ironically freer to just make the best device possible because success would be meaningful in very small markets. The OG iPod saved them despite selling relatively tiny numbers. Nowadays, markets that used to matter significantly to Apple -- education, media, creatives -- are allowed to wither and die because they are a blip on the bottom line.

I don't see what could change that, though. They now prioritise growth/financials/share price over pure products in a very calculating way, but what corporation doesn't? You need an exceptional mandate to do otherwise, and only the Bezos's and Jobs's of the world get those.

So the pity is that as a result we'll continue to see Apple pushing hard into services and (probably) media, because that's where it can smell growth. That might keep the numbers up, but I suspect it's going to transform what Apple is even further away from the "make great products" company we knew into ... something else. (Probably something less great, given their track record with services, tbh.)

too small a market? The US still has a staggering share of world GDP, and the per-capita GDP (remember, PPP doesn't matter from Apple's perspective) is much higher in the USA. I mean, the per-captita GDP in China is under $10K/yr. Not a lot of those people are gonna spend a grand on a phone.

I think this is one of those situations where you count dollars rather than heads.

My understanding is that the "next billion users" push that all the big companies are doing is a bit like putting macs in schools. It is a long-term plan 'cause yes, the developing world is poor right now. maybe those people who are poor now won't be poor in the future, and if they know how to use your ecosystem, that's great for you. It certainly seems like a good idea, but I don't think it's where you make your money today.

I really think if you were serious about that plan, you'd come out with a giant low-end phone; You remember the thinkpad W series? something like that. big and clunky and cheap. Apple needs an iphone 5c level cheap plastic reskin of last year's big phone for that.

It's the problem of subsitutes that matters in the US: what do rich people who want a small premium iPhone do when they can't get one? They likely don't go to Android, there isn't a small phone worth a damn there. They probably buy an iPhone, right? Likely an XS, since that's the smallest of the new phones. Apple isn't losing anything on them.

The market you're really talking about them capturing with a small premium phone is "rich people who have multiple devices and want a small phone and when they can't get one they buy an Android phone or make do with an SE". I'd wager that's small in most terms, certainly in Apple terms -- whether you're talking dollars or heads.

But what do the top-end Chinese consumers do when Apple doesn't have a phone that appeals to them? They buy one of the other flagships that run WeChat, and Apple loses them. That's big in Apple terms, missed-expectations-warning big.

Yeah, this is right. The interesting thing is that this problem doesn't seem to exist with the Macbook line, where there's clear differentiation: you can get the super blazingly fast monster, or you can get the really tiny one that actually needs to be less powerful in order to fit in the tiny case without having like 10 seconds of battery life. Though the Macbook/Macbook Air thing they just introduced muddies that a little bit...

Agreed, AFAIK the only difference between the Macbook "escape" and the Macbook Air is that the MBA has TouchID and the classic shape.

Probably means they'll discontinue the non-touchbar MBP in the next round.

> the only difference between the Macbook "escape" and the Macbook Air is that the MBA has TouchID and the classic shape

MacBook Air has newer processors.

Well put. Also when Jobs returned he drastically simplified the model offerings, one reason being that Apple is supposed to represent high-quality simplicity. Having a ton of model options for the iPhone is not in line with that.

The same went for the MacBook lineup. I don't want a Retina display, quad core, etc. I'll live with a lower spec for a $999 machine. And as a bonus my battery lasts longer!

By comparison I think the iBook was always a crippled version.

The iBook was fairly comparable to the PowerBook in specs but it weighed more, was larger, and the plastic was less durable than the magnesium case.

For $999 or $800 old/refurbished, it was the only small (5 lbs) laptop you could get with a decent GPU back then. The pentium 4 stuff of the day was huge and power hungry and the Centrino line didn’t support it for some reason.

A lot of people are locked into two year upgrade plans. When their upgrade is available they want the latest device, not one that's three years old. There are people who already have an iPhone 7 they got at their last contract renewal two years ago! It's pretty simple psychology, "I don't understand why people are confused by this".

What reason is there for the XR to exist other than to be a more affordable, new option compared to the XS? If it's failing at being a more affordable alternative, it's failing.

Buying iPhone 7 or 8, ie a one or two year old phone, practically guarantees that you'll hit the end of the road with iOS major version update availability one or two years earlier, which means you'll have to buy a new phone one or two years earlier. Not sure if the $100 or so that you save is worth losing a year of updates. In other words - adding $100 or so buys you a whole 'nother year or two of usage on your current purchase.

If they offered new phones for a lower price but with the software update support lifetime that matches the flagship phones, then they might have a killer product!

I’m running both a 5S and 6S with latest iOS. An iPhone 8 should be good for st least five years.

The fact that the 5s got iOS 12 is more of an exception than the rule. The 5 stopped at iOS 10, and the 4s stopped at iOS 9, so the general trend should have stopped the 5s at 11.

The 5s was the first 64-bit ARM CPU in a phone, I've got my fingers crossed it might recieve iOS 13.

Aren't Apple OS updates typically tied to actual hardware constraints (vs a x-year obsolescence cycle)? With the 5 and iOS10, Apple stopped supported 32-bit hardware, right? I don't recall a time where Apple just said "that phone is too old and slow" - it's always been "that phone doesn't have [hardware architecture X]".

Point being, the cycle isn't known. The iPhone 7 could be supported for many years. Or, hardware design could change in 2019 and even the XS and XR could be obsolete.

If that was true, the 3GS, 4 and 4S should also have gotten iOS 10.

The trend isn’t linear

Apple doesn’t phase out their old hardware that quickly. I’m currently using an iPhone 6 with the latest iOS and no complaints.

But if you had bought the 5 when the 6 was new, you'd be stuck at iOS 10, which is missing several security updates, two iterations of new emojis, and many apps refusing to install or update by now.

That's still 2+ years longer than a non-iOS phone would stay current.

Only when you solely rely on the vendor for updates. While this is the only option on iOS devices this is not the case for Android where several third-party distributions can be used to keep older devices up to date. Some of these offer OTA updates which makes them usable for 'normal' users, i.e. those who want to use the device but are not that keen (or knowledgeable enough) to tinker with them.

Public stats on android usage per version contradict your theory. In overwhelming huge majority, those phones never get updated, ever. Most people don’t search the web for third party distribution. That’s just what the data shows us.

It doesn't contradict the theory. People can update to a later OS if they want to by visiting XDA. Just because they don't doesn't mean it's not possible.

And people who would do that are a tiny rounding error in comparison to the general market.

For 99%+ of the general market, if the update is not available by clicking update in their phone, it doesn't exist and end of support is when the carrier/OEM stops releasing them.

I never said that those people were the majority, nor did I say that everyone does it. Neither did the original poster. all we said was that it is possible to do, and you made the assertion about how many people do it.

That depends on whether the user had enough foresight to check on XDA whether the phone they're going to purchase is supported on XDA. Not all devices are, and most cheaper ones definitely aren't.

Because that was before the switch to 64 bit, and isn’t representative.

I guess, but that phone is 2 years older. I don’t expect or desire to be using this phone in 2 years.

two iterations of new emojis

OMG, somebody find me a fainting couch fast!

I celebrated when I received the chile pepper and the taco.

Most people don't think or know about that though, it will just be 'oh I didn't get the update' at most when the time comes.

But I don't want an iPhone 7 or an 8. And it makes no sense that Apple sell both the 7 and the 8.

Apple should make a phone like the SE which is made for the low-mid market, not just discount its old models.

I’d take a high spec small phone. This is apparently an unusual thing to want.

i'd happily pay up to $1200 for a high spec 4" phone.

i'm on an SE. i got this phone fairly late into its life cycle and it was a deliberate choice. my biggest regret is probably not getting a second one before they discontinued it because when my current SE fails i have no idea where to get a replacement.

I'm shocked Apple doesn't fill this market. Many of my friends prefer SE-sized phones. I have friends who aren't upgrading from the SE specifically because they can't get a comparably-sized phone.

I bought my wife the XS, not because it has a fancier display, but purely because it was the smallest model available - and it's still too big for her.

Look on eBay; there are a lot of SE's available for a good price. It's a great time to buy one and save it for when you need it. At some point the supply will get low enough that the price for a new one will noticeably increase, but we aren't at that point yet.

Same. Refusing to upgrade my SE because it's the perfect size. I had a coworker ask, "What is that thing?" which is humorous to say the least.

I haven’t understood why Apple doesn’t simply do this. They know from the laptop market that people are more than willing to pay different prices for different t sizes.

Instead of differentiating their phones based on features, they should simply differentiate them based on screen size. That would allow them to meet several price points without making their customers feel like they’re cheap.

I think it's highly likely we'll see the SE return (or it's spritual successor).

Remember, the SE was released outside of the usual iPhone release cycle in March 2016, so I think intent for a longer cycle was clear.

Lots of people predicted between 2 and 3 years before the SE got an update, so if March 2019 passes without an announcement, then who knows what's next.

Also, I think there's a high probability they're trying to work out the kinks in an SE-sized phone that is all screen. I'd be surprised if they released the SE2 and it has a home button.

Phone screens had to get bigger to accommodate ads. With small screens, the content takes up all the space and there's no extra room for ads.

I would argue that the iPhone 8 should not exist, but neither should the most recent iPhones. Apple seems to be locked in a system of releasing a new phone(s) every year, but they can't actually deliver something that justifies a new model. This isn't a problem exclusive to Apple, it's just very clear with their product line up.

With the solve down in new features and design Apple could have skipped the iPhone 8, XS and XR. Except of cause "the market" and their stockholders expects new phones, regardless of the need.

The SE wasn’t made for the low-mid market.

It was a miniaturised iPhone 6s released while the 6s was ‘current’, and got to ‘low-mid market’ pricing by being discounted as it got older.

That’s not quite true. When it came out, a 6s was about $649 and an SE was $399.

I think The Rolling Stones put it best...

Why? What’s wrong with an iPhone 7 or 8? Why would you prefer an SE-like model?

The obvious answer is size. It's not that I can't carry an iPhone 7 in my hands or anything, but I just have no use for the bigger screen, so the extra bulk is literally useless. I still feel like the iPhone SE is the perfect phone form factor, and it's sad that there are basically no options for those of us who want one.

I’d want the XR type screen though (I’ve seen the OLES, didn’t care).

SE size, just go edge to edge.

Imagine SE screen size, but edge-to-edge. That thing would be gorgeous — it would almost be as small as the phones we used to have back before smartphones, when anything bigger than about 4" was derided as a 'brick'.

For me, it's the size and headphone jack. Android vs. iOS doesn't matter much, but Apple was the only company still offering a phone that fits my two criteria.

Now I have 3 SEs (one with a broken screen that I'll get fixed, one currently in use, one still in the box) that will hopefully last me a while - maybe the phone market returns to sensible sizes & features in a few years.

I don't want a 7 because it comes in either 32GB or 256GB, no 64GB or 128GB.

I don't want an 8 because I don't want a phone with a glass back.

iPhone SE was perfect. Metal all round, small, affordable, powerful.

That's not a problem with the 7 per se, that's a problem with Apple's exploitative pricing strategy blocking a trivial engineering/marketing option.

The glass back thing is a matter of taste, sure, but caring what material is inside the case is a bit silly.

> The glass back thing is a matter of taste, sure, but caring what material is inside the case is a bit silly.

What is this “case” you’re talking about?

Kind regards SE-owner

That may be so, but the fact is that I can't buy a new 64GB iPhone 7.

The trouble with a glass back is that it can still shatter when dropped even if it has a case on it.

Don’t drop it then.

I’m not being funny. I treat every phone I’ve ever owned as the expensive devices they are. I buy a protective case, don’t put it in my back pocket where it can be bent or broken. I don’t use it while standing over the toilet so it can’t be dropped in. When I drink with friends, I don’t lay my phone on the bar where some drunk can spill beer on it.

It’s more than being able to have the use of a fully functioning device, at trade-in time my phone is worth more because I take of it.

I treat my phones the same, and I thought "I'll never drop this", until you do.

Both times I've dropped the phone getting in or out of the car. First time it landed face first on the garage floor and shattered the screen and the second time it landed on its side and just scratched the case a little.

Hard to know what will happen when you drop your phone.

> Hard to know what will happen when you drop your phone.

I find this is the real problem. I've had phones that I've dropped many, many times, onto hard surfaces, that have come away without a scratch. Then I dropped a Nokia 3 and the screen just flew apart.

Spill all the beer you want - phones these days are mostly waterproof.


It must be nice to never make mistakes or have accidents happen.

I have a motor control disability.

I can't not drop things.

The iPhone 6 and beyond are too big for my tastes. I reluctantly upgraded to an iPhone 7 after destroying my SE. Even after owning the 7 for over a year, I find it uncomfortably large at times.

I really like the size of the SE - however I find the 6/7/8 to be a pretty great size too. I don't know how big the newer ones are in comparison.

Phone Arena has a good page for phone size comparisons: https://www.phonearena.com/phones/size#/phones/size/Apple-iP...

I’ve had an SE for almost 3 years and would prefer a similarly sized and priced model for my next phone. I don’t want a giant phone or to pay $1000 for it.

Some people like smaller phones. It’s not that hard to understand.

Yes, but first one has to know that that this difference exists. Then, there may be other differences that are considered more important by a specific individual. That’s why I asked.

It is not my first time hearing that some individuals may prefer a smaller phone, and you’re correct. I don’t find that difficult to understand.

Two words:

Headphone jack

What’s wrong with an iPhone 7 or 8?

Unfortunately even last years models do not support LTE band 71, so they are a poor choice for T-Mobile US customers. No dual SIM support is another reason for many.

I'm not confused, I just don't consider iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 anything other than clearance models. This is electronics, buying old models is just insane particularity since they aren't discounted enough over their original prices.

7 is discounted 15% and 8 is discounted 25%, and they aren't so old.

A two model year old phone is only discounted at 15%. I think that about sums up my problem with buying any of them. Even 25% for last years phone is too low a discount.

Who wants a 32gb iphone too, 16gb is barely usable nowadays. The typical app is 500+mb plus the extras it downloads afterwards. Which is a whole other story.

What common apps are over half a gig? Other than heavier mobile games, I don't know of any apps that touch the 0.5gb mark. Even the bloated social network apps are normally in the 100-300mb range...

"mini" meaning smaller form factor. I'm not upgrading from my SE until they release a mini.

I advise all relatives + family to never buy a generation back: you're one year closer to being out of support (either de jure or de facto because of speed) for the os, security updates, etc.

I think it's the more recent models that people want, and a new budget option would hit that market perfectly. Few people want a phone they know is old, even if only a year or two.

Because they're still the same price as they were at launch. It feels really bad paying 90% of the cost of current gen. In some cases Apple increased the price years later on the same product - MacBook Air 2013/2015. Combined with hitting a trillion dollar market cap it really makes the customer wonder.

iPhone 7 is a 2 1/2 year old phone and Apple still want to charge a premium price for it!

…unless you’re in Germany.

> still supported

How long, though? An Apple device is supported for a mere 5 years after release. The iPhone 7 came out in late 2016, so it has 3 years remaining. And unlike Android, once an iOS device goes out of support it stops being able to update apps or install up-to-date versions thereof, because these always require the latest release of iOS... With Android, even if you don't get that OTA update, the apps will still work and you can often install a modded version of the OS that's kept up to date. It's just so much better.

> Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of product marketing, told CNET in an interview Wednesday that the device has “been our most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available.”


Keep in mind that the iPhone XR launched on 10/26, a month after the iPhone XS on 9/21.

What Greg Joswiak says is likely true, but you have to account for the fact that peak demand for the XS has already passed by the time the XR is launched, so total XS sales to date could still be more.

Good point! I (perhaps baselessly) think the XR has been the most popular phone, but there's an iPhone-wide softening in demand.

And nearly 40% of XS in total were sold during the period where XR were not available. So XR being the most popular phone doesn't paint an accurate whole picture.

I'm wary of these type of claims by Apple. They seem carefully craft such claims to be factual in some twisted sense but not reflective of actual state of things. For example, at every announcement they have claimed that their customer satisfaction is 96%. This is very hard to believe despite of battery gate, headphone jack removal etc. Almost every release they say they broke record which is technically true but they don't mention that this was usual fanboy rush that quiets down within a week, sometime in just couple of days.

> at every announcement they have claimed that their customer satisfaction is 96%. This is very hard to believe despite of battery gate, headphone jack removal etc.

I think you’re failing to account for the fact that most people just use their phones and enjoy them as long as they work and do what they want it to do. The “gates” and outrage you mention comes from a small and vocal portion of Apple’s customers.

>I'm wary of these type of claims by Apple

Really? Typically it's all the claims by the press pundits (X not selling, Apple losing Y country, etc) that are proven invariably BS after each quarter results conference.

It may mean “we just sold one of each and two of the XR” and it would still be true...

Apple will sell you a new iPhone 7 32GB for $449 [1]

So they already have an offering in that price band. Sure, it's bigger than the iPhone SE, and naturally it doesn't have the prestige of something that costs twice as much, but if you want a new iPhone today and you've got $450, Apple has a product for you.

[1] https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone-7

It's also burned through roughly half it's support lifecycle already meaning it's about the same as buying an actually "new" $900 phone over time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_iOS_devices#iPhone

Still a hell of a lot better than an Android device!

Sure, unless you drop it and have to replace it before the support lifecycle ends.

But you’d only make that choice if you really, really want to be in the Apple ecosystem. Especially in China, there just doesn’t seem to be the same drive from consumers, even if it’s likely affected by Chinese government policies regarding cloud services.

Competing on price is not in Apple's DNA and that's a good thing for a company that obsesses on providing top end user experience. But eventually all products and innovations become commoditized and providing differentiation becomes harder every day. A primary thing that has kept Apple alive 'n kicking is establishing new product categories and exploit first mover advantage to the fullest. Mac > iPhone > iPad > Watch are things in right direction but they desperately need more arrows. I'm hopping Smart Home, VR and car would be the next product lines where they can change the game. To keep growth rate going they need one iPhone like major product every 15-20 years and new minor product every 3-5 years. Ability to continue creating new product lines seems to be the precondition for sustained growth rate for Apple's business model given the inevitable commoditization cycles and subsequent race to the bottom for margins.

> and that's a good thing for a company that obsesses on providing top end user experience

Do they actually do that though? Feels like BOM reduction exercises like removing the short power cable from their $3000 laptops and headphone dongles from their $1000 phone, laptops still shipping with painfully low space that triggers space warnings on their OS after you add just a few files to them (complete nightmare if you work at a company that cheaps out on laptops).

Feels like the user experience is actually secondary to maximizing ASP and minimizing BOM.

Agreed, GF has an iphone 8.

I have a Nokia 6.1 (the black copper one).

Side by side if I knew nothing about either I'd be hard pressed to tell which was the 800 quid phone and which was the 200 quid phone.

Throw in AndroidOne and recent Android and the experience is largely similar, I mean sure the processor in hers would murder mine in a benchmark but in real world use do I ever care about it, they feel equally fast on a human time scale (and I have a better adblocker).

There was a time that putting an iphone next to a 200 quid phone would have been a laughable comparison not so much anymore.

Someone made the point that Apples margins are quite consistent and have been for years. But a larger proportion of their revenue comes from services which are normally very high margin. Which implies that they are actually cutting their margins on hardware - in other words the phones are expensive because they cost more to build, not because Apple are getting greedy.

> because they cost more to build

Then they should offer models that are cheaper to manufacture, like the 5c. I'm surprised not to see a successor to the 5c. Maybe they are worried it would be too popular and gouge sales of flagship models negating some of their premium branding.

I'm currently on a 6s and see no update path for myself, I would happily sacrifice faceID and some of the higher-end phone materials for a modern paired down iPhone. I have about as much confidence in this appearing though as them fixing the state of the keyboards on the MBP's.

> I'm surprised not to see a successor to the 5c. Maybe they are worried it would be too popular...

The 5C was a sales flop. In Australia, the 5S was outselling the 5C by eleven times [1]. Even in China, people were buying the more expensive iPhone rather than the plastic 5C one [2].

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/technology/australian-telcos-struggle...

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2014/03/24/apples-iphone-5c-sales-sto...

Why people thought that the 5C was supposed to be a cheap phone for China is beyond me. Most people in China who can afford iPhones would not want to have "the cheap one".

The 5c was essentially an iPhone 5 (the previous years iPhone) in a plastic shell, with some other minor differences. Given that Apple are continuing to sell the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 you could say that the spirit of the 5c lives on (iPhone 7 is $450, vaguely the same price as the 5C).

The early 90's is right. They had that great GUI and plug-n-play to themselves for years, but still managed to almost go under.

Apple's problem is that their rate of innovation has slowed down. iPhone generates over a 100 Billion dollars in revenue. Per year. If any company has the resources to innovate it is Apple.

Apple, here are some free ideas. Some of these ideas go beyond the phone and into cell networks. If Google can do that ( https://fi.google.com ) why can't Apple?

- Improve cellular reception. We are now heavily reliant on our cell phones, yet half the time our cell phones don't work because we are inside a building or not close to a tower and so on. This needs to be fixed ASAP. Apple has the resources to do something about this. Here are some ideas: https://www.wired.com/2014/02/steve-perlman-pcell/ and https://www.artemis.com Quote: "pCell delivers 5G performance to standard LTE devices"

- Improve cell plans. Why are we paying for voice, text and data separately? The only thing we should be paying for is data. Voice and text should go over data. Apple needs to disrupt.

- Improve user experience. Here are some really cool ideas from Microsoft: https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/5/11595564/microsoft-3d-touc...

- Improve TV. There is a TV app on my iOS, but it doesn't seem to do anything interesting. This needs to be more like tv.youtube.com

- Fix design. Fire Jony Ive's a$$ and hire some real designers. Apple used to be insanely great at design. Now they are a nobody. Take a look at HomePod. It is an amorphous blob. Every single Bose speaker looks better than HomePod.

- Get rid of flat design, it is an unusable mess (see http://uxcritique.tumblr.com/ ). You don't need to bring back leather and stitches, but you absolutely need to bring physicality back into UI design in order to improve usability.

>Fix design. Fire Jony Ive's a$$ and hire some real designers.

I think that's almost certainly unfair on Ive. I do strongly suspect that Apple has a culture problem because of the secretive nature of their design lab. A very small team working in absolute secrecy enabled them to create disruptive new categories of product, but it carries a substantial risk of stagnation in the long term. It's difficult to sustain a culture of innovation when the flow of information is so strictly controlled. There's an inevitable risk of inadvertently fostering a yes-man culture, a risk well known to anyone who operates in a classified intelligence environment.

I'm not even sure Ive does that much design any more day to day. But there's definitely issues piling up in that regard. The most notable Apple design of the last few years is the notch, and that's very much in the "it's not a bug, it's a feature!" category. Apple got what people liked about the Macbook Air so completely, totally wrong I'm baffled.

Apple's design lab used to be amazing at balancing usability vs design. It feels like that has tipped far too hard towards "thinner at any cost" as a design philosophy, and that's come at a cost of clean lines and product quality. The design lab doesn't need reigning in as such - Apple needs someone who can challenge them at a senior level and call them out, which Jobs did and it feels increasingly like nobody else has ever replaced.

> Apple's design lab used to be amazing at balancing usability vs design

Agreed. There was a thoughtful pragmatism to Jobs-era Apple products. That pragmatism is gone.

Ive is a great product designer.

His weak points seems to be:

- UX and Software design

- Better integration with hardware/physical needs (see overly bendy hardware, cables that fall apart, etc)

- (Maybe) Delegating and accepting new ideas

Ive is a great visual / 'tactile' designer, but only a good functional one. This leads to things like beautiful cables (cables!) that exhibit the problem you highlight, the removal of headphone jacks, and an amazing mouse that you can't use whilst it's charging because the port is on the bottom. I'm not sure which software he's been responsible for, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same sorts of issues could be spotted — macOS certainly looks really, really nice and works easily and properly in many situations, but there are certain very basic flaws which just seem inexplicable.

I don't know anything about what's actually going on, but it seems to me that any contribution by Ive has been seriously diluted. How much time did he spend on Apple Park? That's years of non-focus on products, right? Lately, he's working on diamond rings[0]. I'm happy for him doing whatever he wants to do; he's earned that. But Apple does seem to have lost design mojo, and it looks like a lack of leadership is part of the problem.

[0] https://www.dezeen.com/2018/11/16/jony-ive-diamond-ring-marc...

In terms of design, those fat bezels around the MacBook displays feel very dated just a few weeks after I started using a Dell XPS 13 notebook (which was years ago).

I can't believe Apple is lagging behind in this area so badly.

Yep, apart from the latest iPhones having the best screens ever, the quickest most convenient and most secure unlock mechanism ever, the best computational photography ever, the fastest mobile CPUs ever released and overall being 2+ years ahead of their nearest competition, that was all a few months ago. Old news. What have Apple done for us just now?

Those are all incremental improvements. Nobody's saying Apple's phones are bad, just that they lack compelling differentiators to other phones, including older iPhones.

Of course it's arguable, my tongue was firmly in me cheek when writing that. It's just that the post I was replying to was so over the top, including half of it's points being entirely out of Apple's hands, it deserved an over the top retort.

For example, any improvements Apple made to wireless networking would by necessity be available to competitors - and they actually do it anyway! Apple are a major contributor to wireless standards, kickstarted Wifi in the first place and are major contributors on connector standards too including USB-C. But as I say, these are standards so not inherently differentiating features.

We're at the point with handsets that one person's differentiation is another person's feature bloat. Take the people replying to me saying they prefer touch ID. Fair enough, I can understand why, but the corollary to that isn't that therefore face ID is worthless and not an innovation. That's just crass and why I phrased my post in a 'what have you done for me recently' framework. When a company is dressing a market of billions, 'I don't like new feature X that's popular with hundreds of millions, therefore Apple isn't innovative' comes across as whiny self obsession.

Their SoCs are a massive differentiator. Unfortunately I don’t think the iPhone is in a good position to leverage that.

Having much better single core performance means the chips tend to be better at running (JS) websites. However most mobile websites are awful and full of “download our app” type popups/dark patterns that means “good at websites” isn’t really the advantage it ought to be. I suppose this also lets webview and JavaScript type “apps” work better.

There are very few workloads on mobile that can take advantage of more than a handful of cores.

Is it really a "massive" differentiator in 2019? Even an iPhone 5S is "fast enough" in most situations. Even a $250 Android phone bought today will not be so slow or incapable that it becomes an issue for 2 years.

One compelling differentiator is that they don't lag and stutter when you scroll the app menus directly in your mobile OS.

I think a lot of these superlatives are highly debatable, starting with the photography where Google and Huawei are currently leaders. For biometrics, for example, I prefer fingerprint readers over facial recognition and I'm not the only one. Newer Android phones are also coming with 3D facial recognition and sell for half the price, eg Xiaomi Mi 8. WRT CPUs, that's great that they're very fast but there's barely any software that uses that to the max, the same way practically every iPad Pro review complains that the A12X is held back by iOS.

On top of that, iPhones have suffered negative press about battery life and slowdowns from new OS updates -- iOS 12 fixes this but a lot of people may have been soured by the iOS 11 experience.

Android facial recognition implementations are a poor joke. There was an article on here a few weeks ago where someone tricked all(?) of them using a 3d-printed head: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18693738. Apparently the OnePlus implementation can still be fooled with a printed selfie.

The Pixel Night Mode begs to differ.

Oh wow, the best unlock mechanism. What a feature!

It's a major improvement over having to fingerprint unlock every time I pick up my phone. I can't speak for the comparative security of each, but as an ease-of-use feature it's a home run.

The unlock mechanism is probably the most-used feature on my phone :)

They skimped on RAM. No finger print scanner. Falling behind in photography. Poor OS.

> They skimped on RAM.

How so?

> No finger print scanner.

It’s not like they didn’t replace this with something else…

> Falling behind in photography.

By what metric? iPhone is still competitive with leading Android flagships, as it always has been.

> Poor OS.

“Poor” is not a very descriptive word.

> iPhone [photography] is still competitive with leading Android flagships

Nope, for the first time it is isn't even close to Huawei phones, let alone the Pixel 3 in both low-light performance and zoom performance.

How about some more sensors. No phone can tell me the temperature, without checking weather online. What if I want to know the room temperature. Could put humidity, atmospheric pressure sensors in there too, IR cameras, all kinds of cool stuff. Think of the software applications, right know my "smart" phone has no way of knowing if I'm outside or inside.

Then, voice mail. Why doesn't this still not work locally? There is no reason the phone shouldn't be able of answering and recording messages by itself.

> How about some more sensors. No phone can tell me the temperature

Electronics get hot when operating, and even more so when they are sitting in the pocket. Typical temp sensors are attached to 30cm long cables.

Nevertheless, I'm sure phones can do that already if you install a weather station in your house.

Someone figured out how to measure ambient temperature based on _battery temperature_ a long time ago, with high reliability!

How does it compensate for being in your pocket?

Locally recorded voicemail only makes sense for landlines; there’s a good reason it doesn’t exist in phones.

Visual voicemail is implemented if your carrier supports it.

I've felt that expensive (> $300) phones should have more than basic functionality for a while now.

In fact it does work the other way: for less than 300 euros, you can get a totally _normal, functional_ phone. See moto c plus, moto g line, moto e line, wileyfox spark x.

For more than 300 euros, you get essentially the same phone with a slightly better camera, which I suspect is mostly (custom) software doing the hard work. Or alternatively you get a finally FOSS device, which I understand pushes the price up.

Most phones already have a bunch of temperature sensors, air pressure sensor, magnetic field sensors, humidity sensors etc.

I'm pretty sure the iPhone has them too, but perhaps they don't make them available to app developers.

Off the top of my head, iPhone’s barometer and magnetometer are accessible via public API.

The Galaxy S4 had a temperature sensor. Believe me: It was very unreliable since the phone has a different temperature than the room.

What’s the benefit of local voicemail?

Well the obvious benefit is that you could access your voicemail recordings offline. Also for Android devices there would presumably be some way to access the raw audio files and transfer them to another computer for long-term storage.

Sure, but aren’t those extremely niche use cases? How is that innovation?

Well, I'm not sure exactly what OP meant when he said "innovation" I was just stating some practical use cases.

> Fix design. Fire Jony Ive's a$$ and hire some real designers. Apple used to be insanely great at design. Now they are a nobody. Take a look at HomePod. It is an amorphous blob. Every single Bose speaker looks better than HomePod.

I'm not a designer, but wasn't Jony Ive largely responsible for leading many of the great designs at Apple, including the iPhone? Or do you think he's stagnated, or perhaps is unfit in his current managerial role, or something else?

Not so much. Most of his iconic designs are actually pretty direct copies of the looks Dieter Rams of Braun created a decade or three earlier. That includes a fair selection of the original iPhone apps and icons. Surprising perhaps considering the brouhaha over rounded corners.

That doesn't make them bad, but Ive seems to take mostly the look not the design philosophy. Meanwhile he pursues the cult of thinness.

> Or do you think he's stagnated, or perhaps is unfit in his current managerial role, or something else?

Partially unsuited to his current role and surrounded by yes-men who play to his worse instincts, and partially in that he used to have several powerful counterweights that are no longer present on Apple's exec team to challenge him.

> wasn't Jony Ive largely responsible for leading many of the great designs at Apple, including the iPhone

Steve Jobs was the tastemaker. Without Steve's input Jony is apparently not able to produce insanely great designs.

AirPods prove this wrong.

I have two pairs of AirPods. Technically they are a marvel, but their design is quite ugly (large white bars).

I disagree, but I’m not sure where else we can go with this, since it’s a matter of taste :)

He was promoted to handle all design including software. He was best focusing intensely on industrial design for hero products, under Jobs

Hopefully does not end up being a case of Peter Principle


I agree with all your points. On the TV issue, put an SDR inside the phone. Let developers use it to decode the many signals around us, like digital broadcast television. The potential for interesting apps is enormous.

Are you listening China? Want an iPhone-killer?

Apple has descended into mediocrity at this point. Their devices are more about form than function because they have sacrificed functionality for thinness and style. They kill background processes to save battery so we can’t do anything cool.

Also, they need a company-wide press to fix the goddam bugs in the APIs. Bloody new network framework doesn’t work worth shit. I can almost forgive leaving broadcast out of IPV4, although it is crucial for many technical tasks, but leaving multicast out of IPV6? You absolute effing morons!

And geofencing is the stupidest non-functional horrendoma ever conceived by humans. You dipshits, we don’t want to know that we passed the geofence ten minutes and a mile-and-a-half ago, we want to know right-the-eff-now. What is wrong with you people?

Seriously, one of the major applications for geofencing is security. I want to draw a precise perimeter around my kid’s school and get notified the very actual moment my kid crosses that boundary. Not ten minutes later when they’ve already been picked up in a white van are are in the process of being disssembled.

And you changed the compass so that it is corrected by GPS, but you didn’t tell anyone? What is wrong with you, Apple? Are you insane? The way you do that is to create a new method, “NSHeadingWithGPSCorrection”. You don’t just change the way the existing compass heading works. You want planes to crash? Cos that’s how you get planes crashing, ya idiots.

So they need both hardware innovation and software innovation that works properly. And someone like Steve to yell at them and make them feel bad when they are being twits. RIP Steve.

>- Improve cellular reception. We are now heavily reliant on our cell phones, yet half the time our cell phones don't work because we are inside a building or not close to a tower and so on. This needs to be fixed ASAP.

Everyone wants to buy the cheapest cellphone plan, then they complain when it doesn't work in buildings. Your location matters here, but at least in the more enclosed bars in san jose, AT&T and T-mobile are super unreliable; Verizon works fine.

I mean, I understand, I also want things that are good and cheap. And when you can get it, that's great. But I don't think this one is apple's fault.

My biggest complaint about the reception on my own cell is that if I'm within range of a wifi network I've connected to in the past, but that network is broken at the router at this moment? My phone keeps trying to use wifi rather than connecting to my cellular network.

> Everyone wants to buy the cheapest cellphone plan, then they complain when it doesn't work in buildings. Your location matters here, but at least in the more enclosed bars in san jose, AT&T and T-mobile are super unreliable; Verizon works fine.

In the UK we have one set of physical lines, owned and run by BT. BT has to, by law, lease the lines out to sub providers at it's own "internal" costing rate so that there is competition in telephone providers.

It remains bemusing to me that Mobile Towers weren't treated in the same way, with every provider using the same network of towers and sharing. We do it for emergency calls (999 will route the nearest/strongest tower irrespective of owner), and frankly you'd have fewer towers over-saturating the high population areas for the 4-5 networks.

Here in Norway we have two mobile networks (Telenor and Netcom). Telenor is the old state company like BT, that used to be called Televerket. They also own most of the physical lines like in the UK. Netcom is the only privately started company that acquired a license in the 90s.

When Telenor were privatised the license required them to sell capacity at cost to other operators. The same license requirements hold for mobile towers so all the small operators can piggyback on their infrastructure at cost. The result is that we have over 50 operators competing on services and add-ons while having approximately the same base network quality.

This is largely the case for ISPs too and it works great I think.

>The result is that we have over 50 operators competing on services and add-ons while having approximately the same base network quality.

what kind of services or add ons would you possibly want with a cellphone? most of the "features" they offer around here are things I'd pay money to not get. I mean, I guess tethering, but I personally am a little bit offended I have to pay extra for that rather than just paying for the data (I do pay extra for tethering, because if you want the good network, that's another fee you have to pay if you are being honest and don't want to spend a bunch of extra time sysadmining your phone)

> My phone keeps trying to use wifi rather than connecting to my cellular network.

This already exists and it's called "Wi-Fi Assist". It's disabled by default but you can enable it by scrolling all the way down in the "Mobile Data" settings menu (after all the apps).

Yup, I turn that on. It doesn't seem to help much at all, which seems weird; I mean, most network-level mitigations only help if the error is on the immediate link, so it's unsurprising that it doesn't help when my home router is down but my home wifi is still strong... but I get a similar problem at work; the wifi at work is setup to be strong in the building and to cut off almost immediately when you get outside (no, I'm not sure how it's implemented, but they did a good job) and the transition from wifi to cellular is just not very smooth; I'm out of contact for a good 30 seconds, a lot of the time. Not what I expect from a cellphone and plan of this expense in this age.

Both Android and iPhone have put lots of effort into the 'broken WiFi network" problem. Apple has done MPTCP (allowing data to be split over WiFi and mobile), and Google has led on captive portal detection and disconnecting from non-working WiFi networks.

Despite that, results both sides of the fence are lackluster. User experience wandering through a city with WiFi hotspots is still terrible.

I want to be able to start a video call on Skype and go for a jog through the city and have it dynamically switch from WiFi to 4g every few paces while not dropping any frames. We're far from that world.

To achieve my proposed connectivity, platforms would need:

* Ability to connect to multiple WiFi networks at once (already possible with firmware mods).

* A worldwide shift to MPTCP or QUIC to handle IP address changes without disrupting user traffic.

* A VPN/gateway to tunnel legacy traffic which isn't QUIC or MPTCP. Google already does this for Project Fi

* Preferably the ability to subscribe to multiple phone networks/cells at once to avoid the few hundred millisecond gap in data connectivity when switching cells. Mediatek devices can already do this with firmware mods.

Facebook is launching their own satellites to beam down high-speed internet. (See https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/21/17598418/facebook-athena-... ) Why isn't Apple doing that? More than anyone else Apple needs it.

People have been talking about LEO internet for as long as I've been working; It didn't work in the '90s, mostly due to launch costs

(you see, for decent network performance, the satellites need to be low - that means you need a lot of satellites, because each one can't be seen from much of the earth's surface, and because they are so low, there is enough atmospheric drag that you have to replace the things every few years. If you use satellites at a regular orbit, you use fewer of them, sure, but you also then have the problem of really looong ping times.)

I mean, I'm sure someone will eventually get it, but we probably need to lower launch costs, and we need to do a lot of engineering on the rest of it. It's not an easy problem.

> If Google can do that ( https://fi.google.com ) why can't Apple?

I think Apple planned (still is?) to become a carrier as part of their eSIM rollout, but the carriers who sell a lot of their phones are not so welcoming to carrying a competing carriers products.

If Apple can move iDevice sales to their own stores to a higher degree this is more likely to happen.

I feel like Apple can just have a popup that says "Verizon has no service here. AppleNet has 4 bars service. Do you want to connect to AppleNet instead($35 per month)?".

Click 'Yes' and you're subscribed, billed to your Apple account just like any other in-app subscription, and only used when your main provider has no service or you have no SIM inserted.

Yep. But with that functionality it could also be: Turn iPhone on, get asked the same, never worry about a separate carrier, ever.

Carriers don't want that.

Apple has shown that they can dictate whatever terms they want to carriers before. Them not being able to do so in this particular instance doesn't make sense.

This presents wrong view of innovation: Apple has money and smart people, just throw more money and innovate more.

Major part of innovation for tech giants like Apple is buying out small companies with big innovations and developing them into products.

Big companies can usually develop true innovations faster than small companies but they rarely produce breakthroughs.

> Voice and text should go over data

That's what Facetime and Messages are, no? If you need to call non-Apple users, then Skype should work.

I figured he was suggesting a voice over IP solution more like Google Voice that can still communicate with the regular cell networks.

Skype can call out to standard phones.

That's true, although I was surprised to find a few weeks ago that Skype does not actually support porting phone numbers in, so you would need to get a brand new number.

I would have switched to android this year due to high iPhone XS price had it not been the “need” to stay in iMessages. When most of your friends are having a blue chat bubble, you don’t want to be “that guy”.

iMessages is apples secret weapon and I’m surprised android hasn’t done their own iMessages api where all android can interoperable. Or at the very least why hasnt Samsung done their own?

Finally, other secret sauces apple has that keeps their customers in place: iCloud Keychain (very handy when switching between multiple iPads, MacBook, iPhone) without the need to pay a third party password vendor (whose security is not backed by a one trillion dollar market cap).

iCloud sync: easy way for app devs to sync and for customers to have automated syncing between multiple devices that “just works”. I don’t know if android has such easy syncing between different android manufacturers (ie Samsung phone to asus tablet to chrome book, for example). I doubt it.

Finally really nice features like Handoff where my safari tabs are all synced automatically between multiple iPads, iPhone, and MacBook.

And final finally: part of the high price I pay for using apple evosystem is security: I know that safari (unlike chrome) isn’t bent in tracking my every move in order to sell me more ads; or that my cloud password manager is safe (even safety in numbers in terms of security by obsurity (one in many iOS users) backed by a trillion dollar company: pretty sure nobody wants to f with that); my os isn’t bent on tracking my every move or file to analyze later (chromeos, google calendar, google docs); apple has hard stops in place on apps from over snooping (android apps such as fb tracking your calls and sms data); you pay once for your apps and then you can reuse them on the next iphone (app devs are free to release new versions or discontinue support in some reasonable timeframe); and finally all of the above is in apples interest to do for you as long as you pay more for hardware.

Heck even windows 10 tracks your every move and tried to serve you ads. Office has become a yearly subscription model (ewww!). Google offers you free products but you know your every move is tracked and stored into some obscure database only to be analyzed and used some years down the line.

I have been tempted for a while now to switch to android due to cheaper phones but the above benefits are just too strong right now for me to give up over the worry of being labeled some kind of apple fan boy (I’m not; my first smartphone was a galaxy s1 and I prefers thinkpads).

At this point, apple is a service company which offers a lifetime subscription model with free upgrades in exchange for high hardware prices. I’ll take that over security issues, data tracking, and highly convenient features that all “just work”.

> I’m surprised android hasn’t done their own iMessages api where all android can interoperable

Google have tried this at too high a level (allo and duo). I guess the reason why it wasn't made for AOSP and instead put on the play store is because they want the masses to be using a Google product. A bit of a shame, since given android ownership rates a 'free' service like that over IP would be cool. Maybe the real problem with that is deciding who controls the servers handling this data or something.

interesting ! Google has strategists of all kinds in place, I wonder if they would make a stupid short term blunder of greed in owning an app over offering a free api for their business customers to compete against the apple juggernaut. The data ownership issue is real; seems to be a tough problem to solve given that not every manufacturer would play ball (why would Samsung want to yield their hard earned ecosystem to upstarts who plan to uproot them?). And also the security implications too, with so many smaller players in the android game (similar to fb issue with letting their other api users have access to user messages).

It does not seem possible for google to solve this problem for a long time, since they seem to rely on ad revenue to invest in their other businesses.

I don’t foresee apple going down any time soon due to that one issue that google has alone.

whatsapp has already replaced iMessage in most of the english speaking world. in fact i'd say anyone using iMessage outside the US is the anachronism. i had to explain the concept of how iMessage uses the internet to send messages to someone else with an iPhone instead of SMS to someone in the middle east for example

whatsapp has fast caught up in features too - you can send and receive files/music clips/gifs etc. animoji/blue checkbox isn't enough of a differentiating factor to matter

WhatsApp suffers from the same issue that android has: its owned by an ad revenue company, and one that already has built a dubious reputation (warranted or not) for privacy and security.

The thing is - the cultural inertia of the USA is huge. American culture has a thing about not giving a flying f what the rest of the world is doing. In that sense, if nobody can defeat iMessage on American cultural ground, it makes it hard for the other messaging guys to look cool or legit. IMHO all message networks and social networks is built solely on inertia and I don’t think the inertia of any one region of the world can overcome that of the USA. Maybe if WhatsApp can take over the entire rest of the world - but China is lost already and so the war is already over.

Why is Apple diluting their brand? What happened to the simple product line? iPhone X this and iPhone X that is simply bad marketing. Are there product driven people in Apple anymore?

I posted this in another thread, but one thing I think that is hurting the iPhone upgrade cycle is that there are now so many iPhone versions no one can remember which "generation" they all are. Since 2016 we've got iPhone SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, and XR. With so many versions, I think there is less social pressure (internalized or real) to upgrade because it's not like people even really know how old your phone is by looking at it.

Compare this with everything before, where Apple came out with at most 2 versions a year (a cheaper one and a more expensive one, e.g. the 5c/5s or the 6/6 Plus). In its attempts to grab at lots of different price points Apple is losing what differentiated it and made it special in the first place.

XS reminds of an extra small version..

So many people wish it was extra small!

I wonder if the same thing is happening to Apple as happened to Disney - the visionary founder died, and the company slowly lost its way and became a vehicle for corporate profiteering while resting on the laurels of the visionary's pre-existing ideas.

Relevant video, why xerox failed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1rXqD6M614

funny how at the end he says "but that's ancient history, it doesn't really matter any more". Something about history repeating...

I don't know about Apple, but you are wrong about Disney.

They may have been meandering for a while but over the last decade (and change), current leadership has made three multi-billion dollar visionary acquisitions that turned the company around and brought it back to its roots as a story teller and creator/curator of American pop culture. Financial results followed the vision not the other way around (https://www.boxofficemojo.com/studio/).

Walt Disney died in 1966. I'm assuming the parent poster meant the tougher times Disney faced between then and the start of the Disney Renaissance in the late 80s.

Parent said: “company slowly lost its way”.

They didn’t. They’ve been down, they’ve been up (so did Apple btw), down and up again, but as of 2019 Disney is as strong as ever (though we are in the “endgame” of this cycle).

The narrative of vision lost with founder’s death, just doesn’t work for Disney’s history.

Recently I gave up and decided not to watch anything coming from a Disney - no pixar, no starwars movies, nothing. There's simply no point to bother, Disney brand is virtually a guarantee mark of a soulless, meaningless, corporate product with only point of generating cash.

Yes, Disney is still strong, but I believe I'm not the only person that got tired of it.

look at where Disney was going with his futurism and technological/sociological ideas as well though. And they may have done well recently (though I don't really think buying innovation from other companies counts as the company finding direction) but for the longest time they were known for being rent-seekers and just milking the old cartoons and fairytales for everything they could get.

So much this - It's hard to get invested in a product when it's a nebulous cloud rather than a bright point. This is so much like the Performa SKU sprawl that almost killed Apple in the days of old. The problem now is there's no Prodigal Son to swoop back in and kick things into shape.

Worse, my iphone says it is an MG5W2LL/A whatever the hell that is.

It’s an iPhone 6. You’ll notice that Apple will market it that way, instead of by its model number.

Specifically, a 16 GB Space Gray model


Thanks! I find it peculiar that one has to go to the internet to translate the self-identification of the phone to what model Apple says it is.

I bought the XS recently, but what I really wanted was the SE form factor with the XS internals (sans Face ID). Indeed, ignoring the SE market is Apple’s biggest flaw.

Do you want no Face ID or are you just happy to forgo it?

My problem with Face ID is how close I have to be to it to work — when sitting in its cradle on the dashboard, I can't face-unlock.

Try resetting it or add an alternate face while it's in the cradle. Mine unlocks from pretty far away.

That's funny, because mine works flawlessly from the dash which is one reason I love Face ID.

Mine is sitting in bed, when the phone isn't able to isolate my face from the wall close behind me.

Also, recognizing me without glasses (again bed). I've got an alternate face configured, but bed also means low light, and current FaceID doesn't like thatat all.

> bed also means low light, and current FaceID doesn't like thatat all

The Face ID sensor is basically a tiny Kinect (infrared dot grid), so low light shouldn't be a problem. I have the most trouble with it in the morning when I first wake up, usually squinting at the light.

I don’t use it at all.

Or maybe the Asian market is not riding the display 's notch hype train? They might view the notch + the high price as opposing factors (I once heard a guy say "why would you pay so much for a phone with a screen that's cut on several places?"). Food for thought.

I bought the X because I wanted an OLED screen iPhone. And I was digging the less bezels. The notch however is irritating me to this day, 14 months in. And the non-rectangular screen (with unconventional aspect ratio) has been an annoyance when watching videos or when playing games.

It's even more absurd seeing how many Android OEMs followed suit with the notch. Seriously though: 3-4mm on the top and 2mm on the bottom is alright. There were phones with slightly larger top/bottom bezels than these and they still managed to even have dual front-facing speakers as well.

We need marketing people who have common sense, not those who try and imitate their way to success.

I agree. The notch simply does not look premium at all. It's the kind of design decision you would see in lower-end phones as a compromise.

The fact that so many Android OEMs followed suit surprised me. The usual chinese iPhone clones going along with it? Sure! But so many 'reputable' companies went for it, it's just incomprehensible.

Anecdotally I just can't imagine someone preferring a notch to no notch (as long as the bezels aren't massive on the alternative). What kind of data were the Android OEMs looking at when they made that decision? Or did they not look at any data at all and simply go with "we better follow Apple on this, just in case".

Anecdotally I prefer the notch to a bezel that would take up the same amount of space.

Vast majority of the time, I don't notice the notch. I like the way the 'done' button floats in the upper real estate when modifying apps (wiggle mode).

I would prefer a phone that's a pure wall-of-glass and manages somehow to also have FaceID, and I'm pretty sure Apple would as well but can't manufacture it.

Xiaomi's new phone is something like that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HCcP0YexTU&feature=youtu.be...

Neat, would you mind sharing the model name?

I lack the patience (and at the moment, bandwidth) for most video.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

It has a slide-out front camera. So when you are not using the selfie camera, there is no notch and no large bezel. (It does look like the bottom bezel is a bit larger than the top and side bezels, though)


The screen looks gorgeous, I personally will never again own a phone with moving parts of any sort so that's a deal-breaker for me. I'm glad there's still experimentation happening in the space, too many Androids just jump off the same bridge as Apple.

Then you might be interested in the Vivo Nex Dual Display. It has a smaller screen at the back which means that there is not need for a front camera. It comes with neat little features such as the people whose picture is being taken being able to see themselves (and pose) while someone is taking their picture:


> Or did they not look at any data at all and simply go with "we better follow Apple on this, just in case".

It looks that way and it looked that way for years. What a shame.

There are still devices with good designs out there -- Sony, Nokia and Xiaomi mostly come to mind -- but the general trend has been "let's all add a notch".


samsung? They have skipped the notch.

Yes but subjectively, I don't like their designs at all. Especially the screen that curves outward, that has been an endless frustration when I had my S7 Edge a few years ago.

I'll say LG's V10 and V20 phones had notches before notches. I still use my V20 myself, and it's interesting to see it how LG went about it. It's huge as a notch, and that allows them a bit more customization in it: it's pretty much an extra widget area, and has a separate backlight from the main screen allowing it to be always on.

And then after that they go with the standard notch everyone else has, and you lose the extra features. Still I do prefer my V40 which has a standard notch as the extra screen space is nice every time I switch back and forth between these phones. The V40 is even slightly smaller than the V20, but with the huge edge to edge screen, doesn't feel like it.

I was really dubious about the notch design when the X was released, just as I was with dropping the home button and TouchID. However, I got to the point recently of my old iPhone 6 constantly being out of storage, so I upgraded to an XR.

FaceID has blown me away with how good it is, I’d say the success rate for identifying me is better than TouchID was. Doesn’t matter if my phone is sitting at an awkward angle in a cradle, or I’m outside in the rain with wet hands, it’ll usually get me first time.

As for the notch, generally I don’t notice it. If anything it’s kind of nice getting a little extra vertical screen space and having the clock/status tucked away where the bezel used to be. Some people complain about it getting in the way when things are full screen, but by default video and the like doesn’t expand all the way out to the edges, at which point I have basically the same size display as I did with the iPhone 6. The notch is only going to take a chunk out of what you’re watching if you explicitly request that, or if the app you’re using has been built in a way which ignores guidance from the OS on the safe area for displaying UI.

btw, iPhone X useable 16:9 screen space is about 5.2" so it's definitely more than the usual 4.7" of the iPhone 5S / 6 / 7 / 8.

I don't disagree with your points. I eventually found out that the screen is just too small for my taste. I'll buy the XS Max when I am able; or I might wait for the next generation because I still hope Apple goes USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 finally.

There were phones with slightly larger top/bottom bezels than these and they still managed to even have dual front-facing speakers as well.

I'd say even 5-10mm of bezel is a good thing, because it helps those with large fingers to hold the phone without fouling the screen.

(Bezels used to be wide for technical reasons; but now that they don't need to be for that reason, it's necessary to consider whether there are other reasons they should remain.)

I've seen a few Nokia and Xiaomi devices in the local stores lately with very slick and small bezel designs. And they still manage to have everything needed (sadly no dual front-facing speakers).

I also looked at an XS Max yesterday for the first time. The notch is reduced compared to an X; not by much but it's definitely less.

I realize many people buy X / XS / XS Max for the bezel-less form factor but I wish us the others (who like rectangular screens and don't mind some bezels) actually had a choice of a high-end iPhone.

What notch?

I have an X too and seriously I never notice or think about the notch in normal use.

Apple obviously thinks about it because the default wallpaper of the new line renders it invisible on the home screen in ads and display models.

FWIW I prefer a notch to a large upper bezel because it's a tidy way to tuck away my notifications and clock, though I don't love the way iOS does it and I don't love when it when apps go full screen in that area.

is playing pubg/fortnite not part of your normal use? coz everyone in the world is playing those games and the notch cuts out SIGNIFICANT real estate

I don't understand the issue with the notch. You either have a notch or a full bezel....

That's exactly the issue with the notch, it serves no particular purpose other than allowing 'more screen.'

Does losing 5mm at the top the screen to bezel really affect user experience when the phones are huge anyway?

If not, why make it break the display uniformity and separate notification icons...

Have you ever tried reading the economist? Lots of sites have stupid amounts of banners.

Having more vertical space also makes it easier to scan my emails or akik an article. It is absolutely worth it.

Those are fixed via a small bookmarklet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookmarklet):

javascript:(function () { var i,elements=document.querySelectorAll('body *'); for (i=0;i<elements.length;i++) { if (getComputedStyle(elements[i]).position==='fixed' || getComputedStyle(ele elements[i].parentNode.removeChild(elements[i]); } } })();

Put that in a bookmark (it will be all one long line in the bookmark URL field), run it on the page with the banners, the banners disappear (at least in Firefox on Android). YMMV on iOS/Safari.

I mean yeah... you gain a solid 25px of screen real estate. The 2 corners on the notch can be used for notification center, etc.


Just because you come off strong with your counter-opinion doesn't mean you are right.

There is definitely credence to the thought that the notch is horrendous. I along with my entire household and most of my coworkers are, anecdotally, another example that won't come close to owning something that decides to cut into the screen. It's just so off-putting. There is no getting used to it.

For a phone and company that touts its self as a status symbol and the "pinnacle of design" they have made a couple of really bad design and usability decisions of late, the touchbar being the other egregious example.

"There is no getting used to it."

I used to think I'd never want anotched phone. Now I don't even notice it, really. It certainly doesn't put me off.

The counter-question is: is the consumption of that 1/20 viewing area actually of significant impact to the user?

With the screens on those models rather large anyway, what of the benefit is significant, given it cuts into speaker location and cuts into the display (so videos etc are restricted anyway)?

> It's even more absurd seeing how many Android OEMs followed suit with the notch.

Many Android OEMs let you hide it by painting the top bar black, though. It's even more ludicrous than that because Apple actually advertised the iPhone X by releasing a press photo where the notch was hidden due to showing a full-screen image with a mostly black background. Someone actually took Apple to court for deceptive advertising, because of that and other stuff they're quibbling about. But Apple won't allow us users the same freedom when using the device!

Apple doesn’t let you set a black background?

They do, but that's only useful in the home screen.

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