Today is the big day. Apple is expected to launch its next iPhone, much like the company does every September. It’s rumoured to be releasing three new devices — an incremental “S-like” update to the 7 and 7 Plus alongside a brand new design. The rumour mill is running wild, and we expect to see technologies such as biometric face scanning, improved augmented reality features, a bezel-less display, improved cameras — the whole gambit. But, that’s not the real story. The real story is the rumoured price.
If the “premium” iPhone is released with the expected $1000 USD price tag, it’s going to signal an end to the current smartphone era. Consumers will have to start prioritizing which devices they buy moving forward. Here is a price list of recent flagship phones in US dollars.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 - $929
- LG V30 - $700 (rumoured)
- Samsung Galaxy S 8 and 8+ - $720 and $840
- HTC U11 - $649.99
- Google Pixel and Pixel XL - $649 and $769 (These are estimates. Some of these prices have changed since launch)
A $649 dollar Pixel doesn’t look so bad compared to the $1000 iPhone does it?
This “phone inflation” is justified to some extent, as these devices are our primary computers. And, as Wired predicted, it might be our only computer in the future. Samsung is trying to make this a reality with its Dex phone dock which turn the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 into desktop computers.
But, while that future may be coming, a smartphone is not currently an effective PC replacement. And while smartphones (especially iPhones) last a long time, the increased cost is going to have an effect.
Do you want a new laptop or a new phone? Do you want a new tablet or a new phone? Unlike the other two devices, smartphones carry the additional ongoing costs of carrier rates. The phone isn’t the only device to see cost increases. Premium tablets like the iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab have long since hit notebook prices. But a phone? Is something that takes as much abuse as your phone - something that sits next to your keys, change, and food - really worth $1000? How robust does a smartphone have to be, and how many CPU cores does it require, before it’s worth such a high cost of entry?
These are questions normal people are going to have to ask themselves. I don’t believe most people can afford to have one of each device category anymore, and the $1000 smartphone is going to show us where people’s priorities really are.