By fall, many of you will have an iPhone (or perhaps an Android smartphone) that is at least three years old. That’s virtually forever in the mobile business, so you’ve just got to think about what to buy next.
That doesn’t mean you should, of course. It may well be that what you have is perfectly suited to your needs, and you really don’t care about the extra features and the snappier performance. After all, an iPhone 6, for example, has a camera that was state of the art just a few years ago. Touch ID, which might have been a tad laggy on the iPhone 5s, works pretty well. It will also run iOS 11 (but the same can be said for the previous model).
All right, if you have an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5c, iOS 11 will pass you buy. That may not make a difference either. Mrs. Steinberg only uses the latter for phone calls. Her mobile device of choice is an iPad, and it’ll be compatible with the next OS upgrade. But she really doesn’t care about those fineries. She focuses mostly on email and Facebook, plus an assortment of fashion-related sites. They’ll continue to work regardless of which iOS she uses.
But speculation has it that record numbers of potential customers are out there waiting to buy what Apple is going to offer next. If it all goes as rumored, it’s about the usual mid-term iPhone refresh, perhaps a better iPhone SE, plus the premium model still referred to as the iPhone 8.
For months, you’ve read stories, unconfirmed as usual, that Apple has run into serious trouble putting some new features on its flagship smartphone. Touch ID, essential for products and services from Apple and other companies, may not even work. Or it’ll be put in the rear because Apple, like Samsung, couldn’t figure out a way to embed it in the new OLED display. I won’t make a huge deal over the fact that Apple, having acquired fingerprint sensor technology in its purchase of AuthenTec, isn’t using the same IP as other companies. So don’t assume Apple is constrained by the same limitations.
Ignoring the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S8 has a flawed facial sensor, there are stories that the iPhone 8 will have a 3D facial recognition system, only it may not work right away. As with Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, it may require a future software update. If it’s not the primary biometric, that may not be a critical shortcoming. Or the rumor may not even be true. It’s out there to convey the illusion that Apple is poised to release a flawed product.
You mean like Samsung?
So the Galaxy S8 has facial recognition and iris sensors that can be defeated by photos. So much for bragging rights. Samsung’s Bixby digital assistant, reportedly developed by some of the people responsible for Siri, is presently limited to “early preview” access by a small number of customers. Or maybe Samsung’s servers can’t handle the load, so they are rolling it out incrementally.
Or maybe Samsung is hoping that you’ll forget about it, and it’s now busy working on next year’s Galaxy series, where it will be fully functional, take it to the bank. Or not.
And don’t forget that Siri debuted on the iPhone 4s in 2011. It was a beta, labeled as such. It was buggy, but it was made available to anyone who lived in a country in which Siri was conversant.
Long and short is that it is certainly possible that Apple may not have all of the features enabled on the alleged iPhone 8. But I suspect it won’t be near as bad as the critics claim, and it might be resolved well before the holiday buying season begins.
This comes before the stories that Apple won’t be able to keep up with initial demand. There’s even a report that Apple may only have five million iPhone 8 copies to ship at the start, but that pronouncement may also be meant to make customers doubt they can get what they want. So maybe they’ll buy something else from a different company? Dream on!
Then there’s the price. Initial reports put it above $1,000, which sounds like a lot, but it might fall $100 above an iPhone 7 Plus, which would probably make sense. But now there’s a published report claiming it’ll be closer to the mid-$900 range. Perhaps Apple plans to be more aggressive on pricing, and even lower the cost of the mainstream iPhones. It’s not that Apple can’t afford to cut prices yet still maintain high profit margins.
After all, Apple has been earning around 90% of the profits of the entire smartphone industry. Years and years of building hundreds of millions of units have surely shown Apple the way to reduce component and assembly costs. Considering that Apple got attacked for higher price points for the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, this would be a refreshing change.
True, a possible $100 price reduction might seem like a lot, but it’s only a few dollars a month on the usual smartphone purchase plan. But it’ll sound significant, and don’t forget Apple cut prices on the Apple Watch, and even the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display had its price reductions with the 2015 refresh.
By the time a real iPhone 8 comes out, I might just be too bored to care.