Apple has announced its latest smartphone – the iPhone X. Brimming with new features, Apple hopes you’ll be so enamoured by the phone’s good looks that you’ll pay £1,000 for it. Would you?
One of the best-selling mobile phones in history, the Nokia 3210 was feverishly lapped up by over 160 million customers around the world. When it was released in 1999 it cost £150 and instantly set the standard for what a mobile phone should be.
Eight-and-a-half years later the first Apple iPhone hit UK stores and, just like the 3210 before it, completely redefined what you should expect from the little brick in your pocket. It cost £270 off-contract… you can probably begin to see where this is going.
To mark its 10th anniversary Apple this week announced the iPhone X. The most advanced smartphone the company has ever produced. It seems like a genuine improvement over its predecessor, the iPhone 7, and the as-yet unreleased iPhone 8. But the iPhone X will cost £999 when it hits stores on 3 November this year.
The iPhone X costs how much?!
The iPhone X is undeniably a very desirable handset. Looking past the inevitable brand-envy that every Apple product seems to garner, the iPhone X is clearly a telephonic force to be reckoned with. The display looks glorious and the technology contained within it would have seemed like a sci-fi flight of fancy only 15 years ago. Of course, you’ll have to wait and see how the iPhone X performs in our tests in the near future.
The iPhone X is metaphorically the Nokia 3210 of its age, and literally the iPhone of it. But can it possibly justify a £1,000 price tag? When my colleague Oli McKean wrote about the price of the Galaxy Note 8 being £869, 90% of you voted that you wouldn’t spend more than £900 for a smartphone. So what about £1,000?
Adjusted for inflation the Nokia 3210 would cost roughly £240 if it were released today, and the original iPhone would cost £345. These devices were more revolutionary than the iPhone X is, or ever will be. The technology was newer and had never been seen before – these devices reshaped the landscape around them. The prices at the time seemed steep, but the price was justifiable.
Is the iPhone X ground-breaking?
The average consumer is already jaded enough by Apple’s annual release cycle. Could most people tell the nuanced differences between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7? Could you, even? When the iPhone 7 launched it was priced at £600. That was only 12 months ago. Is the iPhone X really 66% better? Because that’s what its unprecedented pricing has to justify.
It makes calls. It browses the internet. It stores apps, and music, and photos, and video. It has a lovely camera, it packs a powerful processor and the screen is edge-to-edge. Perhaps the manufacturing costs and physical components really are that much more expensive?
The trouble is, the consumer doesn’t care – and nor should they. You don’t price a product based around what it’s worth to the manufacturer, you base it around what it’s worth to yourself. Looking back through the groundbreaking phones of the past, and then looking at the iPhone X, I’m just not sure it can substantiate a £1,000 asking price all on its own. What do you think?