in Apple, AT&T, commentary, general, tech

Thoughts on the upcoming Apple iPhone event


Apple is priced for an iPhone hit. What could go wrong?

“About 40% of Apple’s install base, based on our estimates, have not upgraded for three and a half years. If you combine that into a 5G, four phone release, we believe that really creates a perfect storm of demand,” Ives said, predicting that Apple could sell more iPhones this fiscal year than the 231 million it did in 2015.

It’s yet to be seen if consumers really care about 5G, too: A study from April found that “65.7% of consumers said they weren’t very excited,” while recent analysis has shown that 5G is in many cases slower than 4G. “5G coverage is still limited, and it’s unlikely consumers will pay extra for features they can’t use,” analyst Gene Munster recently said, adding that he expects 5G iPhone sales to quicken toward the end of next year once coverage has improved.

Watch Apple’s stock after the iPhone event on Tuesday. Facebook’s new Oculus ships on the same day.


I’m becoming a frequent reader of Protocol, if for no other reader than that they publish every day and the pressure of it flooding my RSS makes me scan it for interesting reading every day or so.

I’m one of those 40% install base that hasn’t upgraded in a few years. My family sometimes laugh at how old my phone is, since I’m on an iPhone 7 Plus, but when I buy a new phone this winter (because I’m not expecting to get it in the first run of phone sales, and because Apple screws up the first set of hardware anyways because of the sheer volume of hardware they put out), I’ll have a phone that’s newer than anyone in my family by at least a year and change, so that’s that.

But regarding 5G, I’m going to steer clear from those phones. First, I know that Apple will price them differently. But would you buy a phone with a network technology that’s not supported by a majority of the geographical area yet? Sure, in some places you’ll get faster-than-WiFi speeds, but those will be far and few between for at least two more years. Knowing USA’s shit record at rolling out new network technology (network vendors love spending on backend networking hardware that saves them money, but they’ve always been slow on customer-facing rollouts because those take a lot more money), I’d say 5G is still a good 5 years out.

This is the same as when we were buying a TV three years ago. The choice was between a Ultra-HD 65 inch behemoth that was moderately priced (this model’s price has fallen to CRT-TV rates now), or a 45 inch 4K TV that was grossly overpriced. I stayed away from the 4K even though my brother was trying hard to convince me otherwise. His ideas on 4K content being the norm are still not true, three years past. It’s just too much to expect from media and backbone tech companies to move too fast on expensive technology. Not their thing. Maybe with the coming 5G, 4K content will get a boost. But again, that’ll be 5 years from now, when South Korea will be swimming in a sea of 7G and 8K content.

Now, the fear is that Apple will introduce something radical in the 5G phones that will not be present in the 4G LTE phones. They’ve done this before with the larger phones getting an extra camera module, or OLED screens instead of LCD. They could very easily toss in a much better camera, making their 4G models less appealing, or add back the fingerprint scanner, which is infinitely more convenient than face scanning at night, or when you’re wearing a mask, or when you’re on the move, and so on.

But will they? They might have some ridiculous hardware thing up their sleeve – like a heart rate monitor (from Android phones of a few years ago), or a dedicated Siri button that you could customize to run shortcuts (again from Android phones a few years ago). Or maybe they’ll do something stupidly expensive, like throwing in a pair of airpods with the 5G phones (though this would fail if the airpods are not in the iPhone box, because them being a separate product will feel very un-Apple like, as in a small physical discount to get you to buy their product).

But most likely, they’ll toss in a year (or two) of their Apple One software subscription with the costlier phones. That would be perfect, because I couldn’t give two shits about their software subscription model. I’m not into Apple Arcade, or Apple TV+, or Apple Music, or News+, or extra iCloud storage, and certainly not their Fitness+ product.

I exclusively play one or two games on the iPhone – mostly sudoku and Call of Duty: Mobile. I have subs for Netflix and HBO and a good Plex Media Server. I prefer Spotify for their content and their high availability on Google Home devices. I find News+ to be a stupid, overpriced offering that everyone should run away from. I am impatiently waiting for Dropbox’s Family plan to drop, because that will forever solve all of my storage problems. And, well, have you seen the freely available catalogue of fitness videos on YouTube? Blows everything else out the water. Get lost Peloton, YouTube is the king of fitness videos!

So, yeah, if Apple sticks to only offering Apple One for free with their 5G phones, it’ll be very easy for me, and millions of others to stay away from those phones this cycle. Will this hurt Apple’s stock? Maybe.

I found it interesting that Protocol mentioned that Facebook’s Oculus ships the same day. Does it matter? No. Facebook took and effectively killed the Oculus. The latter was probably burning money like crazy and needed a sugar daddy, but Zuck isn’t the kind you want. Maybe, maybe, the next iteration of AR/VR will be propped up by 5G, ML-GPU chips, and Nvidia-ARM superchips. But as of right now, the more interesting thing Protocol could have pointed out is that Amazon’s Prime Day is on the same day as well! Amazon has granted me a $10 credit, which I’ll feel obligated to spend on something a lot more than ten dollars that day, as I ponder upon how much I’m going to enjoy my new iPhone, when I finally get it a few months later.

What do you think?

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18 Comments

  1. seriously good phone – solid build, my first waterproof one. I’ve washed it often in these pandemic times. Battery replaced once.

    Nothing beats the fingerprint sensor though!

  2. Interestingly, I’ve owned first-generation iPhone 4,5,6S,7 and I currently have an iPhone 11 Pro. I held off on the X and 8 because I wanted Apple to bring back the touch button. I learned to adapt and move on. I buy my phone outright, so I have my 4 and 5 in a box in the basement. My wife is using my 6S, and my daughter has my 7. I’ve never had issues with my phones.

    But would you buy a phone with a network technology that’s not supported by a majority of the geographical area yet?

    No. I would not. That’s an idiotic waste of money. I will wait until the network exists and then perhaps get a new device if I think 5G offers benefits. I am happy with LTE speeds. I bought a 4K TV after Netflix and Apple started offering content in 4K. All of my Marvel Universe, Star Trek and LOTR/Hobbit stuff is in 4K.

    … add back the fingerprint scanner, which is infinitely more convenient than face scanning at night, or when you’re wearing a mask, or when you’re on the move, and so on.

    What is face scanning at night? I’ve had no issues unlocking my iPhone 11 Pro in total darkness. The worst challenge, wearing a mask, with using Face ID, is caused by a global pandemic. One could argue that if you burn off your fingertips, you can’t use TouchID. Being able to type in a passcode is the “workaround”.

    Apple Arcade, or Apple TV+, or Apple Music, or News+, and extra iCloud storage (for app storage, not so much for backup) and Fitness+ are all services consumed by my family, my two sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law and many people I know with iPhones. People with kids who want to watch the same Marvel Movies or Star Wars or Universal Cartoons over and over and over and over again, love Apple TV. People with HBO love Apple TV+. My family tried Spotify and Apple Music and preferred Apple Music. Some extended family members have Spotify.

    For me, iCloud isn’t just about storage. It’s about sync. I use the same apps across multiple devices – iPhone, iPad and iMac. I also share files with my wife. iCloud is frictionless for her. Dropbox is not. The people who live inside my house don’t care about the things geeks want. They want what they want. And if it works and is easy to use, they use it.

    Don’t discount a feature just because you are not in the demographic or don’t understand the demographic. These services are viable because people use them. Apple would get rid of them if they were not viable. Follow the money, not your geekiness.

    if Apple sticks to only offering Apple One for free with their 5G phones, it’ll be very easy for me, and millions of others to stay away from those phones this cycle. Will this hurt Apple’s stock?

    No. It won’t. Apple won’t notice if you switch if you are never a customer.

    • I’ve heard a few tales of a few hardware screwups. But those are besides the point – iPhones, specially one the one I would want, will run out before I can buy the first batch. That’s the power of Apple.

      Awesome that you have all that 4K content. I don’t have it yet and I’m not there yet. Will get there in the next few years.

      My wife’s iPhone XS Max does NOT unlock in darkness, or low light. So maybe Apple fixed the software? Or made better hardware?

      I’m not discounting your software ecosystem. I’m just explaining mine. It works for me, so Apple One is not a pull for me. iCloud for sync doesn’t need more than 5 GB unless you’re sharing large video files, does it?

      Dropbox is not frictionless for anyone any more. They’re quite spectacularly ruined their service. It’s just convenient for me.

      It’s not about my geekiness, it’s about my ecosystem and my needs. Apple’s higher priced offerings don’t fit in them.

      And finally, yes it WILL hurt Apple’s stock, but not because I didn’t become a customer of their recurring bundle Apple One service, but because Wall Street is run by Institutional Investors and algorithms who only work towards short-term gains.

      • I have the 200GB iCloud Family plan which I thought I would need because we have 4 iPads and 4 iPhones. 61GB is being used. But it turns out that only 16GB of that is for backups. The rest is application data and file storage. 8GB for messages and 1GB for iPhoto. The family (in house and extended) loves creating photo albums for us to share and add to.

        One thing we’ve realised during the pandemic after we added a Hulu subscription on top of Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+ is how much we hate weekly episodic shows. We’d rather watch a whole season of a show all at once over several days that wait for a once a week release. We may never watch regular TV again. 😃

        You are right, …Wall Street is run by Institutional Investors and algorithms who only work towards short-term gains but I don’t know we can predict that Apple One have lacklustre appeal.

        • Oh god yes, I hate Hulu with the heat of a thousand suns! We paid for it for quite some time, but it’s a waste of a service (to me). May it die in favor of bingewatching fun all around!

          Let’s see what happens with Apple’s stock and Apple One… I’m invested in there in more ways than one!

  3. good for you! Can you tell the difference?

    Also, when did you buy your TV? The size I wanted to buy and when I wanted to buy it was restricted by them asking for an arm, a leg, and a 401K for it.

  4. @2Nipun also swears by it… Says he can tell the difference… I think my specs get in the way… Too dirty most of the time for me to tell anything about hifi 😀

    I think you need baby shark in VR to make a difference!

    • I can tell the difference perhaps I worked in R&D at a local lab back in the early 90s and I may have trained my eyes to notice. I’m also a photographer and we tend to pay more attention “it looks great on my teeny tiny smartphone screen” user. I’ve seen what my 24-megapixel image looks like in 720p, 1080p and 4K. They shine in 4K. Also, the 55″ 4K TV is an excellent monitor when I want to work in a different room.

  5. oooooooh you’re the one who got it! Niiiice!

    Yeah, I’ve still yet to head towards the 4K Apple TV…

    Hey, have you noticed anything wrong with the netflix app? Does the interface jitter at times? Or is that just Apple’s way of convincing me to buy the new Apple TV?