Tsk, tsk, Apple, serves you right! I’ve mentioned before what an Apple fan I’ve been since way back in the Macintosh Plus days. For the past two decades, my workdesks have accommodated three different iMac models and a MacBook Pro. After years of using Palm products, I cheated on my Palm Centro with an iPhone 3G and never looked back. However, eventually you either “hurt the ones you love” or they end up hurting you.
I’ve been a bit disappointed with Apple lately. Their share value has faltered in recent years and they’ve failed to meet their iPhone sales forecasts. Like a caring best friend or family member, I feel obliged to tell Tim Cook and his gang a painful, difficult truth.
Sorry, Apple guys, you brought this on yourselves.
Please indulge me while I vent my frustrations with one of my long time favorite tech companies in listicle format. The following are five things Apple has done recently that I feel have hurt the iPhone brand. Hopefully this will help us both heal and bring our relationship to a healthier place.
5. Apple Discontinued the iPhone X, iPhone XS and XS Max After Only a Year
The last time I wrote about Apple was to praise their iPhone X, unveiled back in September 2017. I was excited for this “near-indestructible, waterproof, wireless-charging piece of technology” that “restored my faith” in the company. Flash-forward to 2018’s Apple Special Event and the big innovation was … they discontinued the iPhone X. After more than a decade of products with two-year-plus life cycles, Apple essentially tarnished their brand by killing their flagship product after only a year.
Granted, the iPhone X didn’t as much die as experience mitosis. In its wake it left two orphan product lines: the top-of-the-line iPhone XS and XS Max, as well as the more approachable iPhone XR. Cut to last year’s event, when the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max sealed the fate of the iPhone XS line. Early adopters can now get in on the action with the iPhone 11 starting at 700 dollars and the iPhone 11 Pro starting at a thousand bucks.
But here’s the thing: like many other consumers, I’m a late adopter. Although I have made purchases on impulse, I usually wait for prices to go down and for manufacturers to iron out the kinks before I invest in anything. Apple’s logical next step should’ve been to price the iPhone X somewhere between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone XR. I would’ve upgraded my iPhone SE at that opportunity.
To be fair, I did like the XR and I do like the 11 Pro. Still, after the iPhone X debacle, I decided to stick with my SE for a little while. Something I won’t be able to maintain for much longer, however, since …
4. They Also Discontinued the First Generation iPhone SE
Evne though iPhones still remain popular, Android smartphones have become ubiquitous. The main reason is variety. Within the Android ecosystem, there exists a phone for every budget.
Apple items are pricey. This is no secret. Yet something funny happened when the company switched their product line over to larger screens with the iPhone 6. In an unlikely move, they took the popular design of their iPhone 5S and packed iPhone 6S technology within that small framework. As a result, in 2016 the First Generation iPhone SE became their first budget offering and an overnight sales success.
Two years later Apple stopped production on the First Generation iPhone SE. The unit apparently became a victim of its own popularity, outselling Apple’s pricier offerings. The company still supports the First Generation iPhone SE with available updates to iOS 13, the latest version of its operating system. With iOS 14 expected to arrive on Fall 2020, Apple will surely not support it for much longer.
This is a shame, not just because the First Generation iPhone SE is the last iPhone that can fit in virtually any pants pocket. Obviously Apple should keep creating innovating smart designs with great new features, but it’s in its best interest to keep a budget entry-level option available. Rather than dilute the brand, such a move would open it up to new customers.
If rumors are true, Apple agrees with this idea. An iPhone SE2 is supposedly in the works, featuring the iPhone 8 formfactor with a version of the A13 chip introduced in the iPhone 11 line. UPDATE: Apple launched a Second Generation iPhone SE on April 15, starting at 400 dollars.
Although bigger than the First Generation SE, the Second Generation SE is a welcome addition. Still, music and podcast lovers who hate buying new headphones will still be pissed considering …
3. Apple Killed the Stereo Jack as Well
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus were Apple’s last smartphones to feature a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack. Starting with the iPhone 7, the company removed the most common and well-proven audio connection standard in the world.
Apple championed the change citing the need to make their devices thinner or cramp more technology into them. However, critics suspected the real reason behind the switch is to bolster revenue with third-party audio accessory providers by licensing the use of their propietary Lightning connection tech.
In short, you won’t be able to use your favorite wired headphones on your iPhone anymore, for the same reason you can hardly find cheap working charger cables. To be fair, Apple lets you use your old headphones for an extra 10 bucks with their Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter. But if users can easily lose their expensive AirPods, how long do you think that flimsy little thing will last before it breaks or gets misplaced?
While we’re on the subject …
2. Their AirPods are Expensive, Disposeable and Lack a Button
The headphone jack debacle did have a silver lining. During the same event that intoduced the iPhone 7, Apple released the first iteration of their wireless headphones, called AirPods.
The new product seemed an elegant solution to the problem. AirPods featured the same in-ear shape as EarPods, the versatile headphones bundled with every new non-computer Apple device since late 2012. In addition, they could charge within their own portable carrying case.
Of course AirPods would turn out too good to be true. Their worst feature was the lack of a button. Whatever advantage you gain from not having wires gets lost when you need to pull out your phone to answer a call, control music volume or pause your audio content. “What about Siri?,” you may ask. Of course you can use Siri to control your phone through you AirPods. However, putting privacy concerns aside, anyone used to control their phone through the integrated remote buttons know how much effective this is compared to telling Siri to play the next song or whatever.
Oh, did I mention that they can easily fall off your ears, get lost, then get replaced for a fee with Apple’s AirPods Service and Repair program? That you can buy accessories to keep them tied together around your neck, which somewhat defeats their purpose? Also, with a price tag starting at 160 dollars, that you can buy at least FIVE EarPods for the price of one?
Again, to be fair, Apple did fix many of the product’s shortcomings with their AirPods Pro. These feature an adjustable fit, active noise cancellation and a force sensor that shares functions with the remote button. All for 90 dollars more than entry level AirPods, or slightly more than the cost of EIGHT replacement EarPods.
But let’s face it, paying more for Apple products is almost part of the point. Your extra investment brings with it ease of use and peace of mind. You know what you’re getting into when you go the Apple route. Except you actually don’t in some cases as …
1. Their iPhones Vary by Region
The reliability of the iOS ecosystem means that, in theory, whatever iPhone app you buy will run on all devices sharing the same operating system version. TikTok, Spotify, iMovie, Minecraft, Netflix, WhatsApp, Discord, Tinder, Fortnite and all your favorite apps work on any current iPhone. Except when they don’t.
Recently I traveled to Dubai as part of the travel news project I share with my wife. While there, I decided to finally splurge and update out iPhones. After all, an iPhone 11 Pro only costs about 70 dollars more in Dubai after taxes, compared to current pricing in the United States.
The Genius at the Apple Store happily introduced himself and, after hearing what we wanted, politely asked us if we used FaceTime. “Why?,” we wondered. Because, he replied, our new iPhones would have FaceTime permanently disabled. (We thanked him for his candor and went our merry way.)
As it turns out, Apple agreed to disable FaceTime, Skype Video and other internet video-chat services in order to sell their products within the United Arab Emirates. The reason? Apple’s encrypted video communications technology goes against local telecommunications laws, which favor fee-based terrestrial video chat services. Reportedly Apple is in talks to revert this, but the fact remains that they caved in.
Obviously, not all iPhone features are available in all markets, but if you move to another country you expect your unlocked iPhone to have these missing features available. But no, current iPhones sold in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan supposedly won’t enable some of these services even when activated in different regions. Even some non-video VoIP services like MagicJack are affected.
Forgive and Forget?
So Apple basically sold their soul for the chance to enter a lucrative market. Remember back when they had a conscience and wouldn’t let the FBI decrypt their phones out of privacy violation concerns? If the company would sell out once, what guarantee do we have that powerful interests aren’t spying on us through our iPhones right now? You know, besides Facebook?
Yet, despite all this, I still love iPhones regardless and will probably buy a new one in the near future. If you’re going to have a toxic relationship in your life, it might as well be with your smartphone provider.
Find more Apple products and news at their official website. You know you want to!