The New iPhone: Not Worth It

OPINION

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By Stephen Laming

Customers waiting outside an Apple store. Photo credit: Sofia Vida.

Every year, many people await the release of the new iPhone. Rumors about new features and a new design begin to circulate over the summer, with projections and even fake models being made. Leaks from Apple factories in China fuel even more speculation. When the phone is finally made available, a mad scramble ensues. With a limited amount of phones available, people are willing to go to extremes to get a phone on the first day they’re available. People have been known to line up for hours outside of Apple stores, with the most dedicated fans creating tent cities to line up overnight, just to be the first inside on the day of release. If you do not want to wait outside of the nearest Apple store, you must try to pre-order online. Apple makes the iPhone available on their website at midnight Western time, 3:00 a.m. here on the East Coast. If you want to get the limited amount of iPhones online, you must be on your computer at 3:00 because the new phones sell out in minutes.

Although the mass excitement seen with the new iPhone was common in past years; this year was a little different. Apple released two new iPhones this year, and both were disappointing.

First, the iPhone 8. The 8 was a slight upgrade from the iPhone 7; it was built on the same chassis and looks almost identical. Internally, the only differences between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 are a newer, faster processor, a slightly better camera, and wireless charging. Of these upgrades, wireless charging is the most exciting advancement, but there is a major catch. Apple does not make a wireless charging pad yet. Consumers either have to buy a third party charging station, or wait until next year and buy an additional product from Apple. Another downside with wireless charging is the need for a glass-paned back.

iPhone X (left) iPhone 8 (right). Image credit: Apple.

The only difference from the iPhones 7’s exterior, the glass-covered back is needed to allow the wireless charging’s electromagnetic field into the phone. Adding a glass back does also makes the phone look sleek, but it adds a new problem: glass breaks. Everyone knows the heart-stopping feeling of dropping your phone. Did the screen break? Is my phone going to be okay? Having a phone screen break is already frustrating and expensive, and adding another piece of glass to shatter does not help. Apple claims the glass back is made of the “Most durable glass ever in a smartphone,” but real-world tests show after only a drop from waist height the iPhone 8’s glass back shatters. Also, glass covering the whole phone makes it slick and harder to hold, only increasing the risk of a drop.

Finally, the iPhone 8 is $150 more than an iPhone 7. 150 dollars extra for a phone that is more likely to break and only has marginal upgrades is not a worthwhile use of money.

Pronounced “ten,” not “x,” the iPhone X was Apple’s second phone released this year and garnered the majority of Apple fan excitement. Ten years ago, the original iPhone was announced, and the iPhone X is the ten-year anniversary model billed as the “iPhone’s Future.” But even with all of the excitement leading up to the release, the iPhone X was still lackluster.

Apple tried to do too much in one phone. With the screen, Apple wanted a beautiful edge-to-edge display, and they almost got it. The screen is great, with an impressive color range, but it is not quite edge-to-edge. There is a notch cut into the top of the phone screen, and it looks horrendous.

The notch in the top of the iPhone X display. Image credit: Apple.

This notch in the top of the screen takes away a small part of a full-screen image. This means if you want to use your entire phone screen, you will be missing a small part of your photo, movie, video game, etc.

Next, the iPhone X lost Touch ID, the way to unlock your phone with your fingerprint—arguably one of the most convenient features of the iPhone. In its place is Face ID, a program that scans your face with infrared light to verify your identity. Apple dropped Touch ID because the iPhone X no longer has a home button; therefore, there was no place to put the fingerprint sensor. But Face ID is not nearly as good as Touch ID. First, it takes longer. You have to be looking directly at your phone for it to get a scan of your face. With Touch ID, you could unlock your phone with your thumb before it got out of your pocket. Also, your face cannot be covered. Apple has promised it works with normal reading glasses, but there is no guarantee Face ID will work if you are wearing sunglasses.

Finally, the most glaring problem: the price tag. For the entry-model iPhone X, you will need to give Apple one thousand dollars. For that price, you can buy Apple’s MacBook Air computer. Apple’s competitors make very similar devices for much less, too. Their primary competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S8, is almost $300 cheaper, while still offering a very similar edge-to-edge screen and impressive camera. This price difference is unacceptable.

Although Apple has been known to push the limit of what is possible with technology while also revolutionizing the market, this year has been very disappointing. Apple has not lived up to their reputation.

Feature image courtesy of Apple.

About the author

Stephen Laming is a Junior at Collegiate