Apple's New iPhones Have A Nasty, Expensive Surprise
This week Apple AAPL -1.18% launched its new iPhones to much fanfare and looking closely at the iPhone XS (details), iPhone XS Max (details) and particularly the iPhone XR, this is deserved. That said, Apple also made a second, quieter announcement shortly after the launch and it will be greeted with a lot less enthusiasm…
‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.
What Apple announced was its updated Service Pricing to cover the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and the user response has been hostile. While the iPhone XS retains the same extortionate costs for screen repair ($279) and “Other damage” ($549) as the iPhone X, these have been pushed up to an astonishing $329 and $599 respectively for the iPhone XS Max.
How do I know the user response has been hostile?
Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see feedback that just 34% of people found this information useful. Enlist the help of the Wayback Machine and you will find that prior to the new iPhone launch, satisfaction with the Support Page stood at 52% and it was 60% in 2016 after the launch of the iPhone 7. Yes, customers are making their feelings known through a wonderfully elegant protest.
And you can’t blame them.
$599 is the same cost Apple now charges for an iPhone 8, and $150 more than Apple charges for an iPhone 7. In fact, teardown specialist IHS Markit last year priced the entire bill of materials (BOM) for building an iPhone X at $370.25.
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IHS Markit has yet to tear down the iPhone XS Max, but with supply constraints (and therefore pricing) on OLED displays and falling since then, I’d be surprised if the iPhone XS Max cost much more. By contrast, noted YouTube teardown specialist JerryRigEverything reveals you can repair premium Galaxy displays for as little as $20 with Samsung making them easy to swap out yourself.
Of course, the solution Apple offers to its own repair price problem is for you to buy AppleCare+ but you’ll also find this is more expensive for iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max owners as well. At $269 it is $40 more than other iPhones, and you still need to pay the first $99 for “Other damage” resulting in a total outlay of $368 - aka $82 less than an iPhone 7.
That’s not the end of it either.
iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max owners will pay more for new batteries compared to all other iPhones as well. Yes, this includes the iPhone X which is structurally identical to the iPhone XS and has a virtually identical battery capacity.
None of which is to say Apple’s new iPhones aren’t impressive. They are. But with the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max costing as much as $1,500 with sales tax and pushing $2,000 with AppleCare+ and one bad drop, you’d have thought Apple could’ve found it in its heart to include a $9 headphone dongle and fast charger in the box