On Wednesday, Apple launched the iPhone 14 series. As with the past three years, the lineup is split, with two semi-affordable entries and two more expensive flagships. In this case, we have the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus on one side and the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max on the other.
But what’s different this time is the contrast between these two groups. This year, more than any other year, Apple is working to attract two distinct types of iPhone buyers: experts and mores.
For the iPhone 11, 12 and 13 series, there was a lot of overlap between feature phones and professional phones. For example, a person who uses his iPhone to perform CPU intensive tasks will give processing power, but may not care about cameras. This virtual buyer can get an iPhone 13 for just $799. They’ll get the same CPU and general features as the iPhone 13 Pro but for $200 less.
See also: Which iPhone is right for you?
However, the iPhone 14 series draws a line in the sand. On the one hand, you’ll have the power users — people who need one or more of the high-end features that iPhones are known for. On the flip side, you’ll have the mores – people who don’t know or don’t care about smartphone technology and just want to upgrade to a new iPhone every few years.
This line was not unique before. It could fundamentally change the way Apple manages its smartphone wallet. It could also be a change agent in the entire smartphone industry.
iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro Max: Two different phones
Samsung owns several lines of smartphones, each with its own identity. The Galaxy S line is considered the best among the best for consumers in general, while the Galaxy A line appeals to multiple levels of budget shoppers. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z foldable line is catching up with tech enthusiasts who want to be on the cutting edge. This creates multiple classes of phones, each with their own rigorous appeal to a particular demographic.
Apple just kind of does this. It has the iPhone SE, which neatly goes after consumers on a budget. Other than that, every other consumer needs to integrate into the iPhone flagship line. This sounds simpler than Samsung’s strategy, but it’s also more restrictive. With so much historical overlap between the four iPhones in the flagship series, Apple could only do so much to satisfy each phone for many different types of buyers.
iPhone buyers must now place themselves in one of two distinct camps: contradictory standards or enthusiastic experts.
With the iPhone 14 series, Apple is breaking those limitations. Now, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus could exist as phones for the average consumer who upgrades every few years. Meanwhile, Pro models can particularly appeal to the power user who upgrades frequently – even annually. Apple can organize and market these devices to these two distinct groups of buyers.
This creates an interesting situation. If you hold the iPhone 14 in one hand and the iPhone 14 Pro in the other, you will be looking at completely different devices for completely different people. The Pro model will have a better screen in full swing, a notch instead of a notch, a better camera system with an extra lens, and more premium build materials. Inside, it will have a more powerful chip and better memory management that will enable much-needed usability optimizations, including the always-on display.
The iPhone 14 and 14 Pro are completely different phones.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, you’ll have a phone that doesn’t do any of these things. You’ll be carrying, in a sense, two completely different phones — and each phone will land at very different price points.
Power users had better be prepared to spend
Let’s go back to the hypothetical buyer who wants all the processing power but doesn’t care about cameras. Previously, they could buy an iPhone for less than $800 and get what they wanted. Now, however, they’ll need to spend at least $1,000 to get the A16 Bionic, given that the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus came with last year’s A15 Bionic.
$1,000 is the entry price for a new Apple chip.
That $1,000 minimum price is now in place for the majority of new iPhone features announced this year. Want an always-on screen? 1000 dollars. Do you want a 48MP camera? 1000 dollars. Hate the slit? You can (mostly) get away with it for a cool $1000.
Related: iPhone history
During the launch event, Apple did a great job about not increasing the price of professional-grade iPhones. This may mitigate this new shift. However, Apple has conveniently left a large part of the world with this news, since the new iPhones be Actually higher prices in other countries.
In Europe, the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at a whopping €1,479 (~$1,480). In the UK, this same phone is priced at £1,199 (~US$1383). Apple seems to be using the rest of the world to subsidize and keep US prices the same as in previous years.
If you are not ready to spend a lot of money, you will not be able to get all the new features. This is especially true outside of the United States.
Once again, this proves that Apple is resolute about this new line of conventions and experts. If you are not ready to spend big on your phone to get all the cool new features, you simply can’t get them. In years past, you could have had some, but that is no longer true. Either you are big or you go home.
This is just bad news for iPhone users, isn’t it?
iPhone 14 series: Implications for the entire industry
Robert Treggs / Android Authority
Many of our readers are Android fanatics. They might be thinking to themselves, “This has nothing to do with me.” Ah, but how wrong you are.
History has proven time and time again that the Android industry follows the lead of Apple. Remember when Apple removed the headphone jack? What about when to remove the charger in the box? Android device manufacturers scoffed at first but now they’re on board.
History has proven time and time again that the Android industry follows the lead of Apple.
Apple’s moves this year could lead to very different separations within the Android ecosystem. Take the Pixel line. What are the big differences between Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro? The Pro has a slightly larger, slightly faster screen and an additional camera lens on the back. That’s pretty much it.
What we may see in the future is a greater separation between the pro and non-pro models. This, of course, means fewer new features for the non-professional sector. By default, one can imagine the Pixel 8 not offering as many upgrades over the Pixel 7, while the Pixel 8 Pro could offer a lot of cool new features for more money.
Expect a widening gap between ‘professional’ and ‘standard’ Android phones.
This would create a highly divergent market, moving the price needle up for what is considered the “leading”. If you are full of money, you can have all the fun stuff. If you’re not, you’ll get a little tidbit. Talk about wealth inequality.
Of course, that’s me pessimistic. This might be a good thing. Smartphones may have become advanced enough that most people would be fine with an affordable device that does only what is necessary and nothing more. People who want all the really cool and advanced perks will need to have it. On the surface, that seems reasonable.
The iPhone 14 series will serve as a real test for the rest of the industry.
The iPhone 14 series, in a way, will be a real test for the rest of the industry. Will buyers flock to the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus even though they’re barely an upgrade on the iPhone 13? Or will they scoff at “upgrading” to a phone that doesn’t even have a new processor? Will they then back off and spend $1000 to get the new features they really want, or won’t they bother at all? Time will tell. However, we should all pay attention, because how this happens will be the way the industry as a whole proceeds.
Continue reading: Now is the time to buy iPhone 13
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