I ended up not having the time or inclination to share my thoughts on Wednesday’s iPhone event due to a rather time-consuming (and somewhat depressing) engagement, but now that I’ve regained some zest and vim here is a quick summary.
First off, and just to get that out of the way quickly, the Series 4 watch turned out to be the most significant device for me. Even though I have a perfectly good Series 3, I will probably buy one as soon as I figure out whether the ECG functionality will be enabled outside the US (medical regulations being what they are, and conveniently glossed over until now–there are a lot of subtleties involved).
I still wish they’d made a round, more watch-like device, but Apple doesn’t seem to be going that path anyway soon, and there is a degree of continuity implied by having bands be compatible across generations (which may well be completely irrelevant in the long run, but still makes sense).
And form factors are as good a topic as any to begin addressing the new iPhones. The apparent death of the SE form factor is particularly annoying to me given that I prefer small devices with just enough screen real estate for messaging, but the overarching trend to do everything on a phone has clearly driven Apple towards bigger form factors, something that I’m not keen on at all.
I also deeply regret the death of Touch ID, which was in my opinion far more practical (and, from a perspective of intent, maybe even more secure) than Face ID. I don’t want to have to pick up my phone from a desk or charging cradle to unlock it or to authenticate in apps—that is highly inconvenient in many situations, and enough people have written at length about the differences (and frustrations) entailed in both approaches.
Having said that, I’m relatively satisfied that the new “low-end” model shares the same CPU and overall internals as the other ones—that alone is enough for me to discard the iPhone 8 as an option, even though, to be honest, it still is the device I like the most.
Still on the CPU topic, I can’t even begin to address the fact that Apple is shipping millions of extremely powerful A12 chips with a 7nm process right now. Even though they’re not fabbing them directly, they are effectively handling Intel their metaphorical posterior in many regards, and further cementing the notion that whenever Apple decides to ship a desktop CPU, it will outclass (and likely outperform) whatever Intel manages to squeeze out in the meantime.
I could not care less about OLED or case framing (although I still dislike the idea of a glass back), and with the XS camera being the only significant difference for me, I will have to figure out whether it’s worth the premium.
Horace Dediu has an absolutely spot on piece on another aspect of this, which is the “lasts longer” statement buried amidst the sustainability section of the keynote (he also took the opportunity to update his pricing chart, which I’m adding below). Hardware lifecycle and value are fundamentally different for Apple devices (witness my continued use of an iPhone 6 until today), and it is worth considering upgrades as continued investment spaced out over the years rather than yearly gadget binges.
My guess is that the XS won’t be worth the expense for me, and that a 64 or 128GB XR will be my next iPhone. I am going to dislike it being significantly larger than my iPhone 6, but happy to put the savings towards the Series 4 or a new iPad down the road.
Oh, and I find the naming to be less than inspiring, but at least we’re finally out of the numbers game.