Last month, the world waited and watched as Apple CEO Tim Cook presented the new and improved versions of America’s favorite smartphone.
The usual hype surrounded the new iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. The innovative XS max boasts a 6.5‑inch, high definition screen, “the smartest, most powerful chip in a smartphone,” and the general aura of class that comes with every new iPhone.
The most notable difference between the phones is, as usual, the price tag. The iPhone XS starts at $999, the XS Max at $1099, and the XR at $799.
Apple advertises the lower end, budget-oriented iPhone XR as an entry-level smartphone that appeals to younger users, those looking to avoid the outrageous price tag of the XS and XS Max, and those seeking the user-friendly iOS operating system without the extra features that come with the higher end phones.
Upon closer examination, however, it is apparent that Apple purposefully held back the technological advancement of their lower-end iPhones so they can boost the price of the high-end models.
The iPhone 4, released in 2010, had a screen resolution of 326-pixels per square inch (PPI). The iPhone XR, released just weeks ago, has a screen resolution of — low and behold — 326-pixels per square inch, according to the Daily Dot. Apple has incorporated its high-end retina display into everything from their phones to their watches and computers. The multibillion dollar company should incorporate this higher-end screen into all of their phones to show some form of improvement from those released years ago.
Granted, the human eye can hardly recognize the difference between the 326-pixels and the 458-pixels per square inch resolutions offered in the high-end models. However, when we take into account that a 2016 iPhone 8 Plus, with a 401 pixels per square inch screen resolution had a starting price of $699 — $50 less than that of the new iPhone XR — it is clear that Apple is trying to pull a fast one on its loyal fan base.
Another feature separating the new round of iPhones is the highly sought-after camera built into each model. The XS and XS Max models each carry dual-lens, 12-megapixel cameras capable of shooting slow motion video in 4K and taking photos that rival DSLR cameras. The iPhone XR, however, has a single lens camera comparable to the cheapest iPhone 7, released in 2016, which had a starting price of $549.
The iPhone XR has no practical upgrades save a few system differences. It has a new and improved A12 Bionic Chip, wireless charging, and a larger screen compared to all previous models (except for the iPhone X released in 2017).
One benefit of the iPhone XR is its longer battery life, according to Apple statistics. Compared to the XS and XS Max, the battery in the XR outperforms in every statistical category. Talk time, audio and video playback time, and internet usage time are all substantially longer with the iPhone XR, all for $250 less than the baseline XS and $350 less than the XS Max. The longer battery life in the XR proves that either Apple is capable of creating a better phone for a lesser price, or the XS and XS Max are so incredibly powerful that the battery drains faster than that of the cheaper phone. Knowing Apple, it’s probably the former.
Apple was recently in hot-water with consumers regarding a claim that they “slowed down users’ phones without their knowledge or permission,” according to CNN. Once it was revealed that older models were slowing down, Apple admitted they purposefully slowed down older phones because the older models couldn’t handle newer software updates at a normal speed. It is true, however, that slowing down phones forces iPhone users to upgrade to the versions that actually work how they are supposed to. Apple is making its new phones more and more necessary.
Regardless, the simple fact of the matter is that Apple creates products that appeal to users’ brand loyalty and name popularity. I have been an iPhone user for years and don’t plan on switching to another brand any time soon. Although the company may hold back technology to jack up prices, they continue to create the most accessible, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and powerful products year after year.
Liam Bredberg is a sophomore studying the liberal arts.