On Wednesday, Apple announced its latest updates to the iPhone and Apple Watch, adding three new iPhones and a new Apple Watch to its catalog of devices. The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR all share the iPhone X’s all-screen design and FaceID security features, and the Apple Watch Series 4 bundles a larger display with more advanced health-focused features. What Apple took away, however, was an inexpensive way to enter its smartphone ecosystem.
The iPhone has always been considered a premium product, and the latest versions are no different. Apple’s new iPhones start at $749 with the iPhone XR, regarded as the new standard-issue iPhone, and rise to a thousand dollars with the iPhone XS and $1099 with the XS Max. The new Apple Watch Series 4, starting at $399, is $70 more expensive than the previous Series 3 version, and the LTE version will run you an extra $100 if you’re into paying the premium (along with a data connection) for your wearable.
That’s not to say Apple doesn’t have cheaper offerings. They’re just offerings you’ve had in the past. As of today, the cheapest iPhone available on Apple’s site is the $449 iPhone 7 (or the $569 iPhone 7 Plus). Want a cheaper iPhone? You’re out of luck, at least if you want one straight from Apple.
Not only did Apple discontinue last year’s iPhone X, it also got rid of the older (and smaller) iPhone SE and iPhone 6s, two of Apple’s cheapest devices, and the last ones supporting the upcoming iOS 12 software update. They were also the last iPhones with a headphone jack.
Apple’s removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack has been considered a controversial and user-hostile decision beginning with the iPhone 7, so it’s no surprise the latest devices are also missing the port. But this time around, Apple’s also ditching the previously included Lightning to 3.5mm dongle, making it even harder to connect your iPhone to legacy accessories like headphones, speakers, or car stereos. Want audio? You can always purchase its $159 AirPods, or some Bluetooth headphones you’ll have to regularly charge.
In short, Apple’s latest announcement prices out consumers looking for a more affordable iPhone, even if it is a few years old. Consistent user-hostile behavior on Apple’s part does little to earn it any goodwill, and makes me wonder when the headphone jack on the rest of Apple’s devices will get the axe. It also makes me worried about Apple’s new pricing structure, which, in the case of the iPhone, uses a lower-priced smartphone neutered in some important ways to strongly suggest users buy the more expensive, more capable device. In the past, your option was either an iPhone or a larger version of that same iPhone. Now, with different price points, the addition and removal of certain features on certain devices, and the death of the headphone jack for good, it feels like Apple doesn’t care whether or not consumers actually like what’s happening to their smartphones. In Apple’s eyes, we’ll always be customers, at least until we decide enough is enough.