It’s stunning. It’s elaborate. It’s got fancy features. The iPhone X is a truly amazing piece of technology. But should you shell out $999 for it? That’s a tougher question than you might think.
The elephant in the room is the iPhone 8. In terms of internal features, like processors, memory, and so on, namely the guts you’ll use every day, they’re the same phone. The only difference is the RAM, but since the iPhone 8 is driving a smaller screen, in practice they’ll function the same. They even share features like wireless charging. But the iPhone 8 starts at only (OK, “only”) $699. One of the core differences, the dual-lens camera on the back, also disappears if you get the iPhone 8 Plus, which is $799. Still not cheap, but $200 is a lot of money.
And if you’re not particularly concerned with a processor upgrade and just want iOS 11, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be available and have had their price cut to $550 for lower memory models. Early reports are finding that the iOS curse, where older phones suddenly become slow, laggy messes, isn’t nearly as bad this time around, once iOS 11 installs itself and gets fully up and running.
Finally, there’s the fact that the iPhone is updated yearly, so today’s $999 iPhone X is likely to see a price cut next September. Remember, it’s the nature of technology, over time, to get cheaper as it spreads. What’s expensive for Apple to cram into the iPhone now is going to drop rapidly in price, especially as many smartphone companies will likely follow Apple’s lead. By next year, the iPhone X 2 could be cheaper than the iPhone X.
Still, you do get some neat stuff for your extra $300. The core differences between the phones are found on the front. The iPhone X has an edge-to-edge screen with a “notch” taken out of it for the Face ID, really the phone’s key selling point. The screen is definitely a selling point, easily the best display Apple has ever put into the iPhone, and it’s going to be noticeably better than even the iPhone 8. And, of course, there’s Face ID. Sure, animating emoji with your mug and paying for things with selfies aren’t crucial, necessary technologies, but they are neat. And let’s face it, half of the reason many of us buy smartphones is to goof around with them.
Similarly, Apple likely has more to show. Its fascination with augmented reality has yet to yield anything more than gimmicks, but the company is heavily invested in the idea, and the iPhone X will likely be its showcase. Apple fans and cutting edge tech users can’t ignore that, when weighing the costs.
So, should you buy the iPhone X? Unless you’re a tech geek with money to burn, probably not. While the technology is undeniably fascinating, Apple hasn’t yet really explained what day to day problem your phone knowing your face really solves. It’s hard to see how enhanced selfies and chatty unicorns really justify the price. Consider it a preview of the cool stuff you’ll have next September, when the iPhone X steps aside for its upgrade.