back to article Apple leaks rekindle some hope for iPhone 'supercycle' this year

Leaks of a forthcoming budget iPhone have boosted predictions that Apple will sell more smartphones in 2019. In 2017, the launch of the iPhone X marked the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone. It was predicted to spark a "supercycle" of demand – a term coined by Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi – given that Apple received …

  1. djstardust Silver badge

    Apple will end up like Nokia

    Expensive not very good phones that people will get tired of. An operating system that has only incremental updates and is old and tired just like S60.

    Not to mention the absolute rip-off prices of their accessories and their very poor handling of design flaws.

    Nokia had a massive pile of cash as well at one point but it can disappear quick enough.

    Once sales start to drop investors will move on and that will be it.

    Tick tock tick tock ......

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

      Nah; Nokia-Symbian's issue was complete panic at the first sign of competition ― Symbian is a separate company building a manufacturer-agnostic platform! Well, okay, it's not any more, but the Symbian Foundation will remain the steward of all development, as an independent and community-oriented body, and it'll all be open source! Well, okay, not really, but it'll still do the licensing! No, it won't even do that, and it's not open source any more! But it doesn't matter because we're transitioning via Qt to Maemo! By which, of course, we meant to the Maemo-Moblin MeeGo merge!

      Apple is far more persistent/stubborn (delete as per your prejudice) in its endeavours.

    2. Ian Joyner

      Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

      That is such garbage it does not even deserve a response, except to say it is garbage.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

      An operating system that has only incremental updates and is old and tired just like S60.

      Symbian was the OS, S60 was a UI that reached 5th Edition and then disappeared into Anna, Belle and was road mapped for Carla and Donna. It was then reclassified as a "Software Platform". But Nokia was a company that also had Meego/Maemo then.

      But I agree that iOS is looking a bit old and tired, but I don't think Apple have too much incentive to change it much given the dreadful offering of the alternative competition.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

        - Symbian couldn't easily evolve to support things like GPUs and lots of RAM. iOS, now 64bit only, has so far managed everything that has been asked of it, including running high resolution displays very quickly.

        - Nokia might have had some solid models towards their end, but they also produced a huge range of weird phones.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

          Well it couldn't easily evolve to support things like GPUs and lots of RAM (happily Symbian is very memory efficient) because the new CEO was busy burning the platform. The fact that Belle got released at all under that regime is testament to the developers Nokia had.

          And speaking of releases, Google still can't roll out a release like Nokia did for Belle. They even managed it for operators which refused to sign off the new firmware by that time because Nokia's operator relationships had been trashed by updating everything above the part of the stack which required operator approval.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

          Symbian couldn't easily evolve to support things like GPUs and lots of RAM.

          This is complete bollocks. Symbian's problems with hardware were basically limited to dealing with chips wtih bugs (TI, ST, etc.). The software-side was riven by the desire to be all things to all people, particularly letting the manufacturers control the GUI. As demonstrated once Nokia owned the platform and settled on QT for the GUI things moved along quite quickly. It was not technical restricitons but just too little resources, too late.

          IOS was released without 3G support and HTML widgets only. It took years to get multitasking and things like support for copy & paste, because Apple simply understood consumer demand better (Symbian as all about selling to manufacturers and networks) and then went all in with the resources.

          All water under the bridge now but Symbian's failing was, as is often the case, not about the technology.

          1. Doctor Huh?

            Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

            Symbian's problems with hardware were basically limited to dealing with chips wtih bugs (TI, ST, etc.).

            Huh? For those of us who have been involved in porting/adapting an OS to new hardware, "chips with bugs" == "chips". They all have bugs.

    4. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

      It really depends... since the only real alternative on the market is Android, and the latest instalment of their "blatant disregard for privacy" saga is beginning to drive home the message that Google are not to be trusted, it is entirely possible that it could go the other way - unless we finally do see some healthy competition arrive in the mobile OS market.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple will end up like Nokia

      I had shockingly bad experiences with smartphones going obsolete virtually as soon as I bought them. First with Motorola/Android, they didn't bother with OS updates, new apps wouldn't install. Then Nokia/Windows. The Windows phone UI with the tiles was great, but too late to gain traction in the app market. Two phones went the way of eBay in quick succession. We also wasted money on a beautiful Nokia tablet... battery died through lack of use, stuck on Windows 8 while the rest of the world was hastily dumping that.

      Our iOS devices (and some are a few years old now) still work perfectly and are fully supported. Ditto for my 2012 model Mac. iCloud keeps everything in sync. No surprise Apple have the highest customer retention and in my experience the lowest total cost of ownership if you take into account the longevity of the devices and the general lack of hassle. I sincerely hope they do NOT do anything radical!

  2. SuccessCase

    The iPhone X pricing strategy was due to Apple finding themselves in a corner with regard to the introduction of new technology. Since they sell more handsets of any given single model than any other vendor, it has become harder for them to introduce new technology because they have to do so at greater scale than anyone else. Samsung May sell more handsets over all but they have many separate models and each sells in lower volume.

    With the iPhone X, Apple were oled display supply constrained. The logical solution for them was then to use price to regulate demand. Overall it worked out pretty well for them in terms of profit. However, despite what people think, they probably don’t want to be at quite such a high price point as they have been at for the iPhone X. They actually have a preferred philosophy of keeping a relatively small number of models. Steve Jobs liked what Andy Warhol said about coke and wanted people to think of the iPhone the same way:

    “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

    1. DougS Silver badge

      It was actually the 3D scanners

      Yeah they were probably OLED constrained to some extent, but all rumors said it was the 3D scanners for Face ID that caused the late launch and limited initial quantity, because of the defect rate of the 3D scanners. They (or rather ST) got that licked around the end of 2017, then it was smooth sailing.

      The OLED screens still cost a LOT more, but Samsung is happy to make as many as Apple is willing to buy as they make a lot of money off them. I think it was the 3D scanners that caused Apple to price it like they did, which is why I expect the "X+1" to sell for $100 less this year. It also makes room for the "X+1 plus" to take over the $999 slot this time around.

      Obviously I'm just guessing about the 2018 pricing strategy, but I've thought this since before the iPhone X launched last year...

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: It was actually the 3D scanners

        They were 3D scanner constrained, but the price point and multi phone strategy was driven by the OLED display. The 3D scanner production was ramped up quickly. Not so the OLED display and they had known for a long time there was excessive risk a second supplier would not be available. LG, were struggling to make the cut with quality and yield issues and it was known for a long time previously that they were unlikely to make it. Samsung had been producing displays at the required quality for some time though - but Apple was not intending to give all the business to Samsung - plus Samsung knew LG wouldn’t make it so had assigned a disproportionately high price tag for the part. There was no way of ramping up the volume because of the sophistication of the production of each OLED display part and essentially at that point Samsung were the only supplier who could meet spec.

        These reports of iPhone X sales dropping off. Apple is likely ambivalent about that. I’m not sure if LG are even ready this year. Their two supplier strategy for components has failed for the display because it has become a premium part, could not be pushed to being a commodity through supplier competition, and only Samsung have been able to make them. Hence Apple now investing in their own OLED production facilities. Like with chip production, they see now see an advantage in owning that part of the supply chain because the issue won’t be going away any time soon.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: It was actually the 3D scanners

          iPhone X was always the version one of that class of phone and is really a beta in a way. Much like the origonal iPhone was technically inferior to its competition (2G only for example).

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The iPhone X pricing strategy was due to Apple finding themselves in a corner with regard to the introduction of new technology.

      What was this new technology? The Apple Galaxy X is basically just a copy of a Samsung. With a notch.

    3. David 164 Bronze badge

      The reason it is becoming harder for Apple to integrate new technologies is simply because Samsung an co have cotton on to the simple fact that they are the ones that are inventing the technology in the first place not apple. An they don't actually have to sale their hardware to apple, they can keep it in house for it own phones, like Samsung has largely done for its infinity screens.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        In what way is an iPhone X a "copy of Samsung"? Because it uses OLED? The facial recognition it uses is far better and more secure than Samsung's face recognition, so they can hardly be claimed to be copying that from Samsung. Where's Samsung's phone screen running to all edges, including the bottom?

        The iPhone X had a pretty distinctive look when it came out (or months before when leaked info told about the notch etc.) It would be impossible to confuse it with a Galaxy. Certain Chinese Androids on the other hand would be pretty hard to tell apart - some even went so far as to copy the standard iPhone wallpaper.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Facepalm

          In what way is an iPhone X a "copy of Samsung"?

          OLED screen, Qi charging, waterproof…

          Where's Samsung's phone screen running to all edges, including the bottom?

          You mean how come the Apple phone doesn't have a screen that curves to form the edges? Prettier and more useful thatn a fucking notch, which is a design and usability fail.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            If you want to be ridiculous, Samsung copied waterproofing and wireless charging too. They weren't the first with either. They weren't even first with 'phablet' sized phones, that trend originated in China a couple years before Samsung got on board (and continues today, there are phones sold there that would be well over 8" if they were all screen)

            So Samsung copied everything on your list, except maybe OLED. Since Samsung makes OLED screens they might have been the first to use it in a phone, but I'm not sure about that - they might have sold screens to someone else for a low volume botique type model first until they got the volume up enough to use on a Galaxy. I guess we give them the dubious credit for folding the edges of the screen around the phone. Much stupider than the notch, IMHO, since that part of the screen is useless and makes it easier to break. Pretty much everything else Samsung "copied" as well by your logic, since they weren't the first. I imagine Samsung will sell a phone that supports 5G before Apple, and you'll claim Apple "copied" Samsung when they add 5G?

            IMHO, making a phone bigger, normal technological progress like LTE/5G, more RAM, more flash, faster CPU, or the addition of minor features like waterproofing, wireless charging, second/third/etc. cameras and so forth aren't things that are really "copied" anyway. The technology already exists, and the idea is already out there - it isn't like when the first waterproof phone came out all the phone designers were like "wow, what a great idea, I never ever would have thought of that if I hadn't seen someone else do it first!" The first phone to support 5G will be kind of a matter of happenstance - it would have to be released after Qualcomm is shipping the chips (assuming Qualcomm is the first to ship 5G chips in volume) be a higher end phone able to absorb the higher cost of that more expensive chip, etc. It isn't an important enough feature in 2018 that I could see an OEM holding the release of a flagship to add 5G. The first generation chips always suck power like nobody's business and run hot anyway.

            Even less obvious stuff like that all screen phone that has a pop up selfie camera isn't an original idea. There's been a guy who comments on eetimes.com who's been banging away about that for years now, telling everyone it will be the Next Big Thing. I'm very skeptical, I think an unprotected moving part like that is gonna be trouble - I think the long term failure on it would be unacceptably high. But I guess we'll see if eventually Samsung and Apple "copy" that or not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >The reason it is becoming harder for Apple to integrate new technologies is simply because Samsung an co have cotton on to the simple fact that they are the ones that are inventing the technology in the first place not apple.

        I believe a more important reason is that Apple has brutalised its suppliers and sub contractors, and done so repeatedly. An Apple socket provides prestige but that does not translate into much earning, especially the way these have been documented to operate as. Thus potential tech suppliers are now wary of Apple contracts. Nobody wants to end up as the next MIPS or next Dialog or next sapphire glass supplier or next, well you get the idea.

        >An they don't actually have to sale their hardware to apple, they can keep it in house for it own phones, like Samsung has largely done for its infinity screens.

        Samsung is too big for Apple to threaten. And both parties know this. That is the difference.

        I worked in the built to print business years ago and know pretty well how ugly these things truly are behind the glossy facade.

  3. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Can I be an analyst?

    I predict there won't be a supercycle and that outside the usual circles, Daring Fireball I'm looking at you, there won't be any particular excitement over the next batch of iPhone models, certainly none that translates into actual sales.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Can I be an analyst?

      I think the next big round of iPhone sales will be whenever an edge-to-edge display makes it into the budget models given the proportion of those surveyed who claimed that the increased cost of the X was what left them where they were. It's also a couple of years or so since the first few edgeless phones arrived, making any with bezels look a little old-fashioned regardless of manufacturer.

      I say these things thinking about what average consumers seem to want; I'm not averse to a bezel myself.

  4. DougS Silver badge

    I predicted 2018 would be the 'supercycle' before the iPhone X launched

    It was pretty obvious that a 'regular size only' phone, selling at a much higher price and with a late launch, was never going to be the supercycle some analysts hoped for a year ago.

    The "X+1" will drop to $899 - which is why it is going away instead of sticking around for an extra year's sales as typically happens - and the "X+1 plus" will take the $999 slot. Both obviously more if you want the high end storage option. The "X-1" i.e. iPhone 9 that's the all screen LCD w/notch will be $699 just like the 8 for people who want the all screen look but aren't willing to pony up for OLED.

    Last year there was no plus sized alternative, no 'cheap all screen' alternative, so its obvious this is the year with the supercycle. Not sure how "super" it will be, but the iPhone unit sales will easily outpace last year's. Not so sure the iPhone revenue will since the existence of the less expensive LCD alternative may cause the ASP to fall versus FY 2017.

  5. Mayday Silver badge
    Gimp

    I've said this before

    and I "generally" like Apple things (you don't have to, buy whatever you like).

    But I dont want to pay $1579 (Aussie) for the "entry" iPhone X or similar. I'm positive it and Androids in the same price segment have a better screen, better camera, better everything than whatever other phone there is but really what I want is to do news/email/social media and the odd happy snap. I don't need to spend nearly $1600 on something just because I happen to have the money. I also want the battery to last all day too if you don't mind.

    1. vir

      Re: I've said this before

      I just got a 2850mAh battery case for my 6 and haven't looked back (or forward, for that matter). I can't go on about this battery case enough; my phone's internal battery hasn't dropped below 90% - even when I forget my charger on overnight trips. And when the case battery finally dies, I'll just...buy a new case for $40.

      I believe that many people on here are similar - once performance hits a certain level, there's really no need to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Decently bright and crisp screen? Acceptable camera? A fair amount of storage space? Checks email and opens websites? Great, let me know when they release a phone that interfaces directly with my visual cortex.

      1. Mayday Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: I've said this before

        "I just got a 2850mAh battery case for my 6"

        My view is the fact that we need such items, as well as USB power bricks for on-the-go recharging purposes is a sad indictment that the initial products themselves are fundamentally flawed.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I've said this before

          > My view is the fact that we need such items, as well as USB power bricks for on-the-go recharging purposes is a sad indictment that the initial products themselves are fundamentally flawed.

          Everything is flawed, all design and engineering is the process of compromising between flaws. The lifestyles of some users will highlight some flaws over others.

          Fit a bigger battery? Phone becomes uncomfortable to hold for longer periods, especially if the user has more delicate arms. And if you fit a battery pack, the end result is much the same.

          Underclock the CPU? An option.

          Make the screen smaller or duller? Makes some tasks harder.

          As it is, the flaw - the compromise - of "top up battery during day if near desk or car, else use battery pack" is one that a lot of people find preferable to the alternative compromises.

          1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: I've said this before

            "As it is, the flaw - the compromise - of "top up battery during day if near desk or car, else use battery pack" is one that a lot of people find preferable to the alternative compromises."

            Is that right?

            My Xperia Z1 lasted 1.5 days no problem, in a time when most other phones barely made it a day. I got nearly 2 days out of my Honor 8 and I get 2 days out of my P20 pro. I don't sit at my desk with it on charge, I don't get in my car and immediately plug it in... and I definitely don't plug it in when I'm at home because it's hardly a "mobile phone" if it has to be tethered to a charger at every opportunity.

            I do all the things with my phone that others do... web, mail, take pictures, make calls. I don't compromise my usage in anyway. It's entirely possible.

          2. Ballast

            Re: I've said this before

            Just give me my wind-up iPhone dammit.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: I've said this before

              But I dont want to pay $1579 (Aussie) for the "entry" iPhone X or similar.

              Neither do I, but mine and your personal shopping preferences are very irrelevant.

              In fact the vast majority of iPhone X users won't pay out AU$1579. They will pay some nominal monthly amount that includes calls, text and data and they won't notice it among all the other subscriptions. Or they will be employer supplied.

    2. trevorde

      Re: I've said this before

      Please don't forget the microsd slot

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: I've said this before

        Once your phone storage is big enough you don't need an SD card. I can't say I've missed mine in the past year since getting a phone with 128gb storage.

  6. aaaa
    Thumb Up

    A lot of SE's

    I like the smaller phones - and have an SE, and am eagerly awaiting the SE update.

    Whilst it's not got a high price tag - I think there are a LOT of people waiting for that upgrade.

    A 'cheaper' iPhone X plus a 'new' SE could lead to a supercycle.. it's not beyond reason.

  7. nohatjim

    My 6s will keep being my phone

    Until either

    1 lighting headphones drop to £20 mark

    Or

    2 headphone socket comes back

    Or

    3 it dies completely

    I tried android and found it difficult - 7 years of iPhone and iPad use is probably to blame

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: My 6s will keep being my phone

      Checking Amazon, Apple's lightning earphones are now hovering around £13; cheap Bluetooth sets are below £20; replacement dongles to give you an ordinary headphone input, which you could glue to an existing pair of headphones to avoid one-more-thing-to-lose syndrome, are there for around a tenner.

      So all the less convenient than just having a headphone socket options are at least cheap. I'm also still on my 6s, where the lightning socket is now a bit dodgy but the headphone socket carries on like a champ.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      Not forgetting ...

      Vocal chords and .... hey just put the SoC inside my head - plenty of space there. In fact I volunteer to be the first bionic cellphone.

      [Whisper : I’m only half joking]

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Is China that big a market for dual-SIMs?

    I've always understood other parts of the world such as India and Africa to be the real drivers for this feature.

    1. Rainer

      Re: Is China that big a market for dual-SIMs?

      Probably less iPhone users in the whole of Africa than in NYC alone.

      They mostly have other problems.

  10. David 164 Bronze badge

    It always amazes me what ifans are willing to buy from apple.

  11. deltamind

    lol

    Just make the SE 2, keep the touch ID, headphone jack, same screen size. Change the internals and camera. Good to go!

  12. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

    Smart phone

    Smart

    Phone

    Bwaahahaha

    Pull the other one

    Junk phone more like it, with added crAppstore

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no desire to upgrade... the 3.5 jack is a deal killer for me. the day my current phone (6+) dies I may well revert to a dumb phone. when I travel I DONT want to have to remember to charge stupid bluetooth earbuds (which I also find very uncomfortable.) my folding Skullcandys do me just fine for what I use them for, and they dont run out of power, and no - I dont want a f*(£ing Dongle to convert the only remaining port to accpet a 3.5 jack.

    This pointless quest for ever thinner profiles really annoys me, as at some point the damn things will become too fragile to put in your pocket incase they bend - I seem to recall some mention of that while back. I dont need a display that goes round corners or to the edge of a screen, the fact that my phone has lived this long is down to the rugged case it lives in and would be incompatible with an edge to edge screen. All I want really is something along the 6+ form factor lines - with all the ports intact, but with new upto date internals how hard is that?

    When people ask me why im not interested in upgrading - I tell them that the truth of it is there isnt a phone out there that I want. I wouldnt look at a Samsung - had too many issues with Sammy electronics (not just phones) I Dont trust the Chinese stuff either for warranty support or personal security, and Apple no longer make a phone that appeals to me, an Apple user.

    Such a shame modern tech firms lost sight of the Customer always being right, there are enough of us saying we DO want a 3.5 " jack to support wired headphones, In their arrogance the designers of today seem so far up themselves they think we dont matter - but we do... They (and the marketing droids) would do well to remember that. I know people who have replaced a damaged 6 or 6+ with a used unit because they DONT like the direction Apple has gone in. It may not match the fad, but we are paying customers - the lifeblood of ANY company, and much ink seems to be being devoted to the way we are voting with our wallets, and many seem to be downvoting the current direction.

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