Hang on, all you Apple-loving, eager upgraders of the iPhone

By Alvin R. Cabral

As I write, I’m still jetlagged from two almost 16-hour flights in six days, fresh from meeting 10- and 82-year-old app developers who made me question my existence, still in shock after seeing Tim Cook within arm’s reach after he made a surprise appearance at a private event, and everything Apple at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California.

Well, actually, not everything.

One thing absent from the event was the iPhone—but it’s not exactly MIA. For those really in the know, Apple doesn’t discuss anything about its flagship product at the event; the last time the iPhone graced the WWDC was at its 2010 edition, and it was the legendary Steve Jobs still calling the shots when he unveiled the iPhone 4, which, at that time, was flaunted as the world’s thinnest smartphone. (Just for fun, the 32GB model sold for a really cheap Dh1,100 back then.)

Yesterday, we marked the 10th anniversary of the launch of the very first iPhone. Today, we’re less than three months away from finding out how further we’ve gone with the device that’s both loved and hated for varying reasons.

The next iPhone—being dubbed ‘iPhone 8’, ‘iPhone 7s,’ ‘iPhone Edition’ or, what I’m betting on, ‘iPhone X,’ owing to obvious reasons—is slated to be announced, as usual, in September— just some more excruciating weeks left before we find out what Apple is set to feed us again.

And it’s during these months that the ‘Should I buy an iPhone now or wait for the new one,’ floats around.

Let’s get the facts out the way first:

  • Apple typically doesn’t lower prices for the iPhone immediately preceding the new one. Go to their online site and you’ll see that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus still start at Dh2,599 and Dh3,099, respectively.
  • If you, however, really want to save but are also willing to go back one step further, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’ starting prices—launched almost two years ago—are now Dh400 lower at Dh2,199 and Dh2,599, respectively. (During a recent Dubai mega sale, however, one major retailer doled out a really handsome, almost Dh1,000 discount for the latter.)
  • The other remaining iPhone option online, the iPhone SE—launched over a year ago—still starts at Dh1,649.
  • Since iPhone prices are standard, you really won’t get much of a difference even if you look elsewhere, save for, say, some stores rarely offering either a token Dh50 or Dh100 discount during certain promotion periods, or some freebies. (Historically, Apple doesn’t give anything extra on their own turf—not even with pre-orders.)

Now, let’s take a look into the Apple crystal ball, also known as rumours and speculations, which we can essentially break down into two points:

  • Multiple outlets, sources and seers have it that the next iPhone is up for some radical changes, including an all-glass display (which we had reported last year); a curved OLED screen (possibly 5.8 inches) with a wraparound display (Samsung, you’re on notice); an 18:5:9 aspect ratio display (ditto for Samsung, plus LG), an augmented reality camera (just like ARKit featured on iOS 11); embedded features, which entail ditching the iconic home button and fingerprint sensor (is this getting personal with Samsung by any chance?); wireless charging (though not a new tech, Apple’s finally giving it a shot); a new ‘function area’, apparently being modelled on the new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar; and iris, facial and/or gesture recognition (okay, let’s slip in Microsoft here since they also have something similar to this).
  • Word has it that — thanks to everything above — the next iPhone could start at a whopping four-figure dollar level.

That second point is telling, because if that indeed is the starting price, that’s almost the same cost for the most expensive iPhone 7 Plus (Dh3,899). And apparently evidence is gathering steam: it’s obvious that the components being used aren’t exactly cheap, and at least four major sources — including Apple tipstus maximus Ming Chi-Kuo — have already given credence to this.

Specifically, the next iPhone’s 128GB and 256GB variants are expected to be priced at $999 (Dh3,670) and $1,099 (Dh4,037), respectively. That’s over Dh1,000 more than what you paid for a base iPhone 7.

So, is it really, really worth it? Let’s answer that in two ways.

First, is it worth the cost? If you had the power to spend on the highest-end iPhone 7 Plus, then a few more hundreds may not harm, right? If history is to be relied on, all the leaks we’ve seen should be accurate and are what we’ll see when the wraps on the next iPhone are off.

Second, is it worth the wait? Given the above, three months isn’t really an eternity, right? (Although it may be for the impatient Apple ‘faniacs’—fans and maniacs.)

The short answer to all of these is, yes.

It doesn’t exactly make sense if you splurge on that (crazy?) amount right now, which is practically the same you would for the next iPhone—unless you’re short on cash, that is, or if you’re happy carrying around a smartphone with that logo on it that didn’t make you consider taking a loan.

Meanwhile, going back to those ‘special offers’ we mentioned earlier, keep an eye out on retailers: it’s entirely possible they’d offer something rather nice for the older iPhones now that its new king is coming.

They say ignorance of the law excuses no one. For the Apple Law, it pays to know everything about it.

Alvin is into—you name it—tech, basketball, shoes, food, cooking, trash-talk, laughter…



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