Embargoes for reviews of the iPhone XR were lifted this morning and John Voorhees of MacStories collected some of the more notable excerpts. Based on everything I’ve read, it sounds like you’re getting virtually all of the experience of an iPhone XS Max in a slightly smaller, far more colourful, and vastly less-expensive device with a not-as-spectacular-but-still-excellent display. All of that sounds great.
But there is one thing eating at me with this new iPhone lineup: the starting price for a current model year iPhone is now $50 more than last year, and $100 more than two years’ prior. It’s as though they’ve dropped the entry-level model and are starting at what was previously Plus model pricing. In Canada, the difference is even more pronounced — for the first time, you cannot get a current model year iPhone for under $1,000. The iPhone XR might be the least-expensive iPhone Apple launched this year, but it is by no means a budget device.
That’s not to say that it’s necessarily the wrong move from a unit sales perspective. Presales of the XR seem strong, and every indication — including the rapidly-rising average selling price — indicates that the iPhone X and XS models have sold very well indeed. It is arguably indicative of how much we value our smartphones compared to any other consumer electronics device. But it also means that getting into the iPhone ecosystem at the base model flagship level has become markedly more pricey.
There are two ways of looking at this: Apple has made more affordable the iPhone X design and features, and Apple has dramatically increased the base price of an iPhone.