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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.

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