You might have expected this. Apple’s habitual critics were tripping over themselves attempting to paint the iPhone X — even when it was referred to mistakenly as the iPhone 8 — as a huge failure in the making.
At first it was about the problems Apple allegedly encountered in designing the thing, and the critics used the Samsung Galaxy S8 as the model for those complaints. So Samsung put the fingerprint sensor at the rear because it evidently couldn’t embed the sensor beneath the edge-to-edge OLED display. Thus, Apple couldn’t do it either, and would follow the same tact, assuming there was a fingerprint sensor.
But there had to be, since Touch ID is a significant factor in Apple’s ecosystem used for unlocking the phone, Apple Pay and for apps and services that also require similar levels of security. How could Apple build an iPhone without a fingerprint sensor?
Unless, of course, it was facial recognition. Here Apple supposedly rushed this feature into production due to the alleged Touch ID dilemma, implying it would be deeply flawed. But how would that explain Apple’s purchase of an Israeli 3D-sensor company, PrimeSense, in 2013? That technology helped pave the way for Face ID. Did Apple know that there would be such a feature some day?
How can it be otherwise? It’s not that Apple threw a system of this sophistication together at the last minute due to a design flaw.
Now that the iPhone X has been available to customers for over a month, it’s clear that Face ID, while not perfect, doesn’t have any serious flaws. More and more apps are becoming compatible with the “notch,” and minor product glitches have reportedly been fixed with an iOS update.
Then there was all that fear mongering that Apple couldn’t sell as many as it wanted, because it would not be able to begin to catch up with serious production bottlenecks until 2018. For the critical holiday season, cross your fingers and hope you’ll get one in a month or two.
The reality has been something else. After initial delays of five to six weeks once the initial preorder allotment was sold out, delivery times have improved substantially. As of December 4th, when this column was written, Apple was quoting deliveries of online orders by December 12th in the U.S. You may be able to locate one at a dealer, but you have to call around.
According to published reports, forecasts from IHS Markit indicate a pretty high adoption rate based on the first three weeks of availability. The stories indicate that the iPhone X has already exceeded 2% of the installed base in eight countries. This is reportedly in keeping with the usual adoption levels of previous iPhone models.
But don’t forget that Apple is also selling the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and older models, including the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE.
For various reasons, including saving money, people will obviously choose different models.
Add it all together, and IHS Markit is predicting that Apple will ship 88.8 million iPhone X units this quarter, which will, of course, be a record. Average selling price (ASP) is expected to rise above $700 based on selling at least 31 million of them.
It would add up to potentially record revenues, and that doesn’t include Macs, iPads, the Apple Watch, AirPods and other products and services. That the HomePod won’t arrive until next year may upset people who imagine it’s in the same product category as an Amazon Echo, but it’s not that a smart speaker market, or whatever you wish to call it, has been saturated. I’ve read estimates of Echo sales of 15 million or less since it was released in 2014. If Apple sold that few of anything in three years, you’d never hear the end of it. But with the Echo, it’s a big deal, a goal Apple will have difficulty reaching.
In the meantime, here’s another estimate of note about the iPhone X, though it’s not confirmed. It may well be that the $1,149 model with 256GB storage has been outselling the controversial $999 entry-level model, with 64GB storage.
Compare that to the racket made by some that Apple dared to sell a thousand dollar iPhone, and how it clearly meant the company’s greed knew no bounds. All this came at the same time that Samsung was selling the Galaxy Note 8 for “only” $949. On deals with monthly payments, the price difference is insignificant, and I suspect most anyone who regards the Samsung’s price as affordable isn’t going to complain much about paying $50 more for a competing product.
Well, there is the fact that the Galaxy Note 8 is being widely discounted, sometimes heavily. Does that mean that demand isn’t so great? Comparing it with the iPhone X is perfectly legitimate, though. In fact, in camera comparisons, the Samsung acquits itself well.
In any case, if an iPhone X is on your holiday shopping list, you will probably not have much difficulty finding one. But it does seem that the best approach is to order yours as soon as possible if you must take delivery before December 25th. Apple appears to be exceeding expectations one more time.