On A Cheaper iPhone

January 8, 2013

Yeah I dunno about the prospect of a cheaper iPhone. I don’t see anything wrong with offering old iPhones for less. Right now one can get an iPhone 4 – which is still, a perfectly decent iPhone for many – for free (well, with a two year contract which you’d be paying for anyway).

The price of the newest iPhone has long been established at $199 (with contract), which is not unlike the $999 price point for a MacBook. For years people begged Apple to release a sub-$1000 notebook and they steadfastly refused, and with good reason as the netbook wars proved expensive and all for naught with the resurgence of tablets. Now you can get a totally cool MacBook Air at exactly that price, so nobody’s complaining. Plus once Apple offers an iPhone for less than $199, they’ll never be able to raise the price.

But what really bothers me about the prospect of a cheaper iPhone is it would be an admission that Apple hasn’t made the latest iPhone attractive enough – through the latest features – to justify its already pretty darned low price. They’ve got to push the envelope every year with a brand new $199 model that’s better than any other smartphone out there. And I honestly don’t know if the extra row of icons and a meh voice assistant was enough.

I really fear Apple is having trouble creating a killer iPhone 6 (if we get a 5S I’ll die) or aren’t doing a good enough job at convincing buyers that iPhone 5 is worth the price.

We basically need to see some new magic coming from Apple this year. Mini this and that won’t cut it.


  1. JC says:

    Americans have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that the “free” iPhone isn’t free. In the rest of the world, where subsidies are not common, the “free” iPhone is still $400. There are Android phones out there that are $100 or less. Without a contract. Without the obligation of a minimum $70 a month bill. This is where Android is picking up the most steam. A truly less expensive iPhone would open up a huge new market of customers that are currently completely unable to afford one. Not saying this rumor is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Even if Android is making headway in the cheaper smartphone area, Apple historically hasn’t wanted to sacrifice margins and get into the bargain basement territory with any of its products. So an iPhone Mini would be a significant break in this strategy. Maybe the first clue was the iPad Mini.

      I guess another way of summing up this post: I’d rather see more features in the current iPhone or a futuristic iPhone Pro than an iPhone Mini.

  2. Rob O. says:

    I’m really torn on this. My iPhone does everything I need it to do. It’s peppy, utterly capable, light, and easy enough for anyone to use. So, what is it that the iPhone 6 needs to do?

    The iPad Mini feels like an admission that the Kindle Fire et al are a legit threat. Maybe there is a valid niche for the thing, but it feel more like they’re watering down the product line, not strengthening it.

    So, I hate the idea of them pushing an iPhone 6 out the door just to release something – anything – new for the the sake of keeping up with the Joneses.

    If they wanna blow my skirt up, lemme use Siri to toggle Bluetooth connectivity! And beef up the responsiveness of Siri in general. It’s a terrific concept, but execution is spotty at best. It can be so much better. (Just look at Google’s voice input for an example of how much better Siri could be!)

    • iPhone 6 – yeah, I would like a new case design, it’s been essentially same for 4 / 4S / 5.

      How about some new features – motion detection so you could wave your hand in front of the existing camera in addition to the touch screen? One of those infra-red keyboards? A projector? An iWatch that you wear on your wrist that interfaces with an iPhone in your pocket?

      Then there’s iOS. Could seriously use a lot of features lifted from Android. One big one would be pushing iOS and OS X to work together.

      One thing hinted at in a past Apple patent was storing all your personal settings on an iDevice, and all those settings would load onto a Mac once you got close enough to it. Or someday … just give me an iPad that when plugged into a dock / monitor, turns into a Mac.

      Basically one big strength Apple has is all its expertise with OS X on Macs. iDevices essentially run OS X. They could keep adding desktop strength features to the iDevices as they inevitably become more capable. The only hitch is the huge UI difference, which Apple should be best able to tackle.

  3. Rob O. says:

    Slightly off-topic, I’ve gotta say that I’m still incredibly disappointed that they screwed with the Nano’s form factor. There was a feverish grassroots community all about using that device as a wristwatch – and that niche was gaining momentum thanks to a number of cool new watchband designs coming from Kickstarter, Etsy, and even mainstream vendors.

    I’m stunned and disheartened that Apple turned its back on such a creative, enthusiastic segment of users – and for no apparent valid reason. It would’ve cost them nothing to simply, well… do nothing, stepping aside to let that community thrive.

    • Yeah I noticed the Pebble Watch finally shipped… I can see a place for that sort of device, as one wouldn’t have to pull out the iPhone just to check the time or basic stats. Would also be a cool exercise trainer.

      I can only hope that Apple altered the iPod Nano because they have a “smart watch” device in the works. Otherwise… guess the Pebble is on my tech wish/drool list.

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