Are premium phones worth the premium anymore?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Farrgazer, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. Farrgazer macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    #1
    While this post was inspired by the four-digit prices of some of the latest XS models, I’m touching on all phones with four-digit prices, be it the XS Max or the Galaxy Note 9.

    On the one hand, I understand that these phones are not expensive for no reason whatsoever. Tech miniaturization is not cheap for one, and for two, you’re also paying for customer service - both in the forms of repairs and in the forms of software updates and security patches. Security patches definitely cannot be discounted because digital threats are no longer an afterthought.

    On the other hand, however, there really is only so much you can do with a six(ish)-inch screen. This reason here is why I’m not solely focusing on the iPhone here. Sure, you can have a high-quality screen that’s very readable in daylight and has excellent viewing angles and touch responses. But no matter how you slice it, a six-inch screen is a six-inch screen. It doesn’t matter if the phone in question has the equivalent of a desktop-class CPU while achieving 24 hours of screen-on time solely on battery power, you won’t be writing a dissertation or coding your apps from start to finish on a six-inch screen.

    So having said all that, is the worth in a premium phone at this point found in support? That’s the only justification I can think of at this point.
     
  2. InuNacho macrumors 65816

    InuNacho

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Location:
    In that one place
    #2
    Can I hook a keyboard and mouse up to an iPhone and have a Mac? No? Not worth $1,500.
     
  3. Farrgazer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    #3
    What’s your upgrade plan going forward at least in the short term? Or more importantly, what’s your plan if your current phone goes bust for one reason or another?

    I ask because I’m somewhat torn with what to do. I can’t afford not getting a phone, obviously, because my job relies on it. I’m not anti-Android, but after-sales services of just about every Android phone manufacturer is pretty questionable; I can point out all kinds of issues I have about Apple, but cost aside, ease of getting service is definitely a good thing.
     
  4. sonicrobby macrumors 68020

    sonicrobby

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #4
    I reluctantly bought the X last year. With that price point, this became the first iPhone Ive actually put a case and screen protector on. A few months ago I dropped by X and cracked the back, $500+ to fix... I appreciate the use of the better materials, but I much prefer buying and replacing my iPhone SEs. My upgrade cycle for my phones is growing longer and longer.
     
  5. Farrgazer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    #5
    I’ll ask you more or less the same question I asked @InuNacho - what’s your short term plan regarding future damages? Are you looking at other manufacturers, will you bite the bullet and get a new iPhone, or just seek repairs again?
     
  6. sonicrobby macrumors 68020

    sonicrobby

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #6
    Nothing, Im just going to use it as is and avoid water :p That was my biggest problem really with the incident. But Im going to use my X as long as I can; if it breaks, Ill pull out my iPhone SE and use it. As long as Apple continues supporting the SE, I will replace mine if something happens with used/refurb SE models. But I really dont have an interest in switching from Apple. They just lost my business in buying new models.
     
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #7
    What do you need the phone for? It seems to me that the selling point of the high-end phones now is nothing to do with making calls, sending texts, checking email or basic web, casual gaming, watching videos, listening to music, maps, taking snapshots etc. What you're paying for is the ability to play 3D games, do augmented reality and maybe leave your DSLR camera at home. Oh, and turn yourself into an animated talking 'chocolate swirl' emoji.

    I don't need those features - I've currently got a < £200 Huawei and while it would be stupid to try and compare it to an iPhone XS feature-wise, it covers all the basics very nicely (including fingerprint unlock). It's got a decent-sized, bright, colourful screen, pretty good battery life, is reasonably slim and light and feels like a quality product. Oh - plus its got little features like a headphone jack, a slot for the 32GB SD card that I already had and a notable absence of a silly notch. OK, its not iOS, it doesn't interwork with the Mac so neatly but it does the job at hand and does it well, looks good and doesn't feel like a penance to use.

    If I wanted iOS then my current option - without taking a downgrade in screen size or storage - is £670 for a two year old design iPhone 7+ (I bought my Huawei a year ago - if I was buying today there are new models at similar price points). Basically, I can afford to chuck a couple of Huaweis in the trash if they prove to be unreliable.

    I'm not trying to claim that the Huawei is as good as or better than the iPhone 7 (and there's no point even mentioning the £1000+ iPhone XS) but the difference is not like the difference (say) between a £300 no-brand PC Laptop and a £1000 MacBook Air. Nor is it like the difference between the original iPhone and anything else competing with it back when it launched.

    Essentially, Apple don't really have a viable product for people who just need a smartphone and aren't inclined to use £50 notes as firelighters. Want a Games/AR console or DLSR replacement then, maybe.
     
  8. InuNacho macrumors 65816

    InuNacho

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Location:
    In that one place
    #8
    I presently have an SE. I used to use Android for my phones until I got an iPhone 5 in 2013 and as you've said the updates you'll possibly get in Android land are dependent on the manufacturer. I'm holding out on my SE for a while as I can't see myself plunking down over $500 on a device I use primarily as a communication device with all the other fun stuff as an added extra.
    When it finally does decide to break, I'll see what other manufacturers have to offer.
     
  9. Farrgazer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    #9
    I need something that can last me throughout the day while I stand by for work-related calls, read material on the go and make quick edits to documents without making me wonder whether I need to activate battery saver mode or not. This lack of battery anxiety is what made me really love my iPad 4 when I had it, though I gave it to a family member after I stopped using it full time (I may consider it again now that I’m reading more reports again).

    At the same time, I also need the peace of mind knowing that if the worst (short of complete pulverization) happens, I can walk into a service center, pay up whatever cost needs to be paid, and walk out with a fully functioning device within the same day.

    I know that there are Android manufacturers that have come out with phones that have massive batteries. However, how many of those manufacturers can claim to provide the kind of after-sales service Apple provides? Sure, I can order another well-equipped, well-reviewed, more affordable phone if one breaks, but that brings about downtime anxiety because I have to not only set up the new phone again, but also wait for the shipment to be made.

    In the pre-LTE and early LTE days (iPhones up to the 5 or even 6), I felt that the prices charged for an iPhone were well worth it. While I know that inflation affects prices, there’s still a big difference between the $750 charged for an iPhone 6 shortly after launch a few years back and the $1000+ for today’s iPhones. I just don’t know whether the extra $100-$200 justifies the newer features (going back to the limited screen size) and the kind of service I’ve been getting.

    You know what? Having written out my thoughts, maybe a new iPad is the better fit for me after all.
     
  10. willentrekin macrumors regular

    willentrekin

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    Location:
    US
    #10
    Is it really even "premium"? The original iPhone launched in 2007 for $599 -- about $730 now.

    You can buy an iPhone 7 outright for $449. No inflation adjustment necessary. That iPhone 7 is better than the original iPhone in every conceivable, measurable, objective way.

    Meanwhile, for $300 more, you've got an iPhone Xs, which is, again, better in every conceivable, measurable, objective way.
     
  11. decafjava macrumors 68030

    decafjava

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Geneva
    #11
    My issue is I strongly dislike Android's (Google's) business model and the poorer security and lack of updates. I will hang on to my 7 plus as long as possible and then see, maybe buy the older models of whatever is available at the time.
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #12
    One issue as I see it is this.
    We're at a point in the smart phone life cycle where each generation is getting less updates. The major changes we used to see are long gone, and the phones are going through a refinement now. With that said, each generation seems to be getting more and more expensive.

    What does the Xs do that the X cannot? Adjust the bokah on images on the fly? This still can be achieved by other software. There's not much else that the Xs has that the X doesn't.

    I'm not familiar with other phones, but from what I see on the outside looking in, camera improvements and facial recognition are the features we're seeing nothing much. The prices are high and the reason to upgrade is diminished.
     
  13. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #13
    ...but pretty much any half-decent phone will give you a "typical" day's use on one charge now - that's what they're designed for - and virtually nothing will give you more than one day of usage. I don't think the iPhone has ever been spectacularly better than the competition when it comes to battery life. The main factor is the screen size (which determines the battery volume) which is why the XS Max is getting good battery scores (and why your iPad is good).

    I suspect that your mileage may vary there, even with Apple. I find that most companies give reasonable service if, and only if, there's a button for your problem on their computer screen.

    I have the confidence that I can walk into any decent shopping mall, buy pretty much any cheap Android phone from stock, transfer my SIM and MicroSD and walk out. That's exactly how I got my current phone last year when my Galaxy Note II started playing up (after 5 years of trouble-free use) - and I was in and out inside half an hour let alone a day. They even swapped my micro-SIM for a nano-SIM.

    Not if you don't want a 3D Games/AR console, DSLR-replacement camera and pocket media editing suite.
     
  14. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #14
    I'd still define premium....It would mean different to all users... Some could classify $4,000 premium, and $2,000 "relatively cheap"based on an income, compare that to someone who doesn't work.... or limits funds, anything over $1,000 would be expensive to them. They would be premium to me, but not to others necessarily.
     
  15. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #15
    ...and nowadays there are cheap Android phones that are also better than the original iPhone.

    When the original iPhone was launched, there was nothing remotely like it when it came to the smartphone basics of text, email, web browsing, personal organiser, music player etc. Maybe iOS is still better than Android - but Android didn't even exist in its current form when the iPhone was launched, and it has gone a long, long way towards closing the gap, and anybody who doesn't acknowledge it as a viable competitor is really in denial. You can now get a modern smartphone with a large multi-touch screen for a third of the price of the cheapest comparable iPhone.

    Also, your "every conceivable, measurable, objective way" is an unnecessarily narrow standard. Choosing a phone is not a game of where the biggest total score wins - it depends on what various features are worth to you. If, for example, you thought "bokeh" was an Eastern European dish made from cabbage stalks and just want something that can take a snapshot of an accident scene if someone rear-ends you, then having the best camera in the business is of no value to you. On the other hand, being able to plug in a 3.5mm jack, or slot in an SD card is of value to some people.

    Effectively, Apple have abandoned the straight "personal communications terminal" segment of the market - if you just want a modern version of the original iPhone offering you're forced to buy a notch-positive DSLR-replacement camera with augmented reality capability (or, the same iPhone 7 that you decided against two years ago).
     
  16. willentrekin macrumors regular

    willentrekin

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    Location:
    US
    #16
    I'm not sure why Android even comes up in a conversation about "premium." Android is the opposite of premium. It's a disjointed, fragmented mess that is nearly always out of date on every handset that uses it.

    "but Android didn't even exist in its current form when the iPhone was launched."

    Sure. Because it didn't have anything to copy before then.

    If I recall correctly, Android was in fairly advanced stages of development when Jobs announced the iPhone -- at which point the Android team scrapped most of their interface and scrambled to produce what was ultimately shipped on the G1. Which was Android's first effort to copy everything iOS. And that's not even to mention Samsung and TouchWiz, which even still pops up in terms of news regarding those settlements and lawsuits.
     
  17. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #17
    I whole heartedly disagree, There are plenty of premium android phones and many of the features we enjoy on the iPhone existed on android phones before the iPhone.
    cut and paste, multitasking, Notification Center - all were on android phones before the iPhone.

    Yes, there are fragmentation issues on android, but that doesn't detract from the fact that there are phones that equal or surpass the iPhone on features and even experience.
     
  18. C DM, Sep 28, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018

    C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #18
    Is there a lack of updates on Google's part, or is that more of a device manufacturer type of thing?
     
  19. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #19
    So what? I completely and absolutely agree that Android would not be what it is today if it hadn't copied ideas from the original iPhone - only a rabid fandroid would try and deny it. But copy they did whether or not they infringed any IP rights in doing so is another argument entirely. However, as @maflynn says, since roundabout the iPhone 5, that has been a two-way street, with features pioneered by Android and variants turning up in iOS.

    I use a Mac, I'm on my third iPad, I've had an iPod and an iPod touch - so I'm neither an Apple-hater or ignorant about iOS. However, I'm on my third Android phone (the first two of which were "premium" by Android standards at the time). For most of that time I've been assuming that the next iPhone will bring me back to the fold but, somehow, Apple have failed to float my boat every time. So, no, I don't agree that iOS vs. Android is some sort of end-of-argument, slam-dunk win for iOS. They both have good points and bad points which can easily be outweighed when one offers hardware that better fits your requirements - and Android offers a vastly wider choice of hardware.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 28, 2018 ---
    Its usually because the device manufacturer has shipped a custom version of Android and needs to repackage the Google update for your phone. Google-branded phones have a better reputation for long-term support but, sadly, after launching a few really solid but reasonably-priced phones, Google have decided to go for pricetag-parity with Apple.

    The flip side of that is that I've been really disappointed with the number of iOS apps I've bought for my iPad which disappear in a puff of smoke after a year or two because they've been broken by an update and the creator has moved on. There's something to be said for "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" when it comes to OS updates.
     
  20. willentrekin macrumors regular

    willentrekin

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    Location:
    US
    #20
    You're right. What I should have said was that I'm not sure why the word "cheap" would come up in a conversation about premium. The question posed is "are premium phones worth the premium." My question is are they really that much more "premium" than they ever were?

    The originally iPhone launched at what would today be about $750. Which is about where the XR is launching, isn't it? In terms of manufacturing, the OLED screen is more expensive to make than the LCD, so the fact that the XS costs more than the XR makes sense. Is it a more "premium" phone, though? They seem to be fairly similar in terms of features, with differentiation in screen, battery, and camera.

    To people who prioritize those features, the XS will be the more attractive purchase.

    People have been talking about features and experiences, and I think that's where the premium idea is for me. I'm solidly in the Apple ecosystem, with laptop, tablet, phone, even earbuds. I'd argue that with the meticulously thought out design and choreography of everything from the retail to the packaging to the service, Apple does provide a "premium" experience.

    It's really nothing at all to do with iOS vs Android or anything. My first smartphone was a Vibrant, which I thought highly of until it stopped getting updates in a timely fashion.
     
  21. 960design macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Location:
    Destin, FL
    #21
    Soon, very soon.
     
  22. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #22
    Probably both.. updates may not be available for that model anymore

    - haven't got around to implementing an update yet.
    - Mobile carrier chooses not to push it yet. (possible updating newer devices first)

    However, Apple's the only one who controls updates, so they are the only ones who decide. Google doesn't make the phone. so they don't control when updates can occur..
     
  23. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    The Peninsula
    #23
    FWIW, my Galaxy S7 (Verizon) was updated on 2 Aug and 19 Sept. That's hardly a "lack of updates" - it gets them rather often.
     
  24. InuNacho macrumors 65816

    InuNacho

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Location:
    In that one place
    #24
    When iOS gets an real file system that I can access on the fly and copy a file to an external drive, I'll believe it.
     

Share This Page

23 September 27, 2018