I used to love Apple.
Its phones were revolutionary, simple to use, and the desktop computer image and video-editing capabilities were unmatched. And while iPad Pro still is, in my opinion, one of the best tablet devices ever made, there are fewer and fewer reasons to stay within the Apple ecosystem. Most of it comes down to the company
losing ground to its competition due to the lack of innovation, which is especially evident in the realm of smartphones.
For example, Apple’s current flagship, iPhone X, announced by Tim Cook as “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone” is by no means all that revolutionary. Its most highlighted feature, edge-to-edge screen, was already done before, most notably on the Samsung Galaxy S8, plus and Note 8, all of which came out before the iPhone X.
Morever, this is the first time that Apple used the OLED screen display technology that has been a staple in the Android flagships since 2010 (Google Nexus One and Samsung Galaxy S1). One thing that separates good display quality from mediocre is the screen resolution, measured in PPI, or pixels per inch; the more pixels you have per inch, the more crisp the image looks and less “blocky” it is. iPhone X features 458 PPI, resulting in a 2436×1125 resolution. By comparison, Samsung’s S8, which is half the cost of iPhone X has 2960 x 1440 resolution (571 PPI).
Apple offers nothing spectacular in unlocking sensors and mechanisms department either. While iPhone X’s face recognition (Face ID) solution might seem innovative at first glance, it’s strikingly similar to iris recognition, a feature that Samsung S8 had seven months before Apple’s latest flagship was released. Besides, Face ID comes with a slew of its own issues, ranging from recognition performance to privacy concerns.
What about that cool selfie portrait mode? You know, the one that sharpens the face and blurs the background, making it ideal for Instagram and Snapchat? That feature as well first originated on an Android device, most notably Huawei P10 released eight months before the iPhone X.
There’s also wireless charging, touted as “radically different.” Yet it’s another feature that has been present on smartphone devices since 2009 and is available in the majority of flagship Android smartphones.
Finally, the price tag: $1,149, which will get you Apple iPhone X, fully unlocked with 256GB of space. For that amount of money, you can buy Samsung S8 phone with 64GB of internal and 256GB of extra storage on a micro SD card, Gear VR with a controller and you’ll still save $60. On top of that. Samsung phone offers a slew of features you won’t find on your iPhoneX, including:
SD Card slot. It allows you to expand the storage on your phone up to 256GB. On your iPhone, you’ll either delete the apps or buy a more expensive model with larger storage.
Headphone jack. No need to spend extra $10 just to plug your headphones in.
Security options galore. Don’t want to use Face ID or a regular password? Try the fingerprint sensor, or perhaps shape lock. Want something that works like Face ID? Try Samsung’s iris recognition.
Gear VR. I love virtual reality and what Samsung did with its VR mobile platform. iPhone doesn’t natively support VR.
Heart rate and oxygen saturation sensors on the back. I love using these after my daily exercise. I could get a smartwatch or a FitBit-like device, but why spend extra money when I can get my daily score from one device? If you have an iPhone, be prepared to spend extra on a wearable that can track these metrics.
Phone-to-PC capability. Using a special dock, dubbed Samsung DeX, you can attach your phone to a monitor, add keyboard and a mouse and use it like you would a desktop computer. I see this useful in scenarios where you need to type a lot, have a screen at hand (any hotel LCD will do) and don’t want the hassle of buying a laptop/tablet. Aside from mirroring your iPhone screen to your TV, iPhone doesn’t have a similar option.
Bixby, the smarter AI. Siri is cool, but Bixby has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. For example, it makes your phone smarter, especially the camera: It is able to recognize taken photos and associate them with relevant information, such as product or location information.
Superior battery management. Anything from changing the screen resolution to throttling your phone’s processor and more can be customized to squeeze as much extra juice from your S8 as possible — enough to make that emergency phone call or to last until the end of the commute. iPhone has only two options: low power mode toggle and shutting down apps.
Full disclosure: I own both an iPhone 7 and a Samsung Galaxy S8+.
Remember that Apple losing its innovation edge has been a long time coming. I started noticing it from the day that first Apple Watch was introduced and the company insisted on putting the spotlight on celebrities wearing it. Then the gold and ceramic finishes came out. At that point, I realized the innovation era was over. The Apple device had become more about style and much less about the substance.
While this approach will boost sales for a certain group of customers, it won’t work favorably for the Cupertino giant in the long term. Investors shouldn’t be surprised by reports of poor iPhone X sales — and in fact could get confirmation when the company reports earnings on Thursday.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple may “kill off” the iPhone X this summer due to the poor sales. That goes hand in hand with the survey made by CIRP (Consumer Intelligence Report Partners), which states that both iPhone X and iPhone 8 accounted for only 61% of U.S. iPhone sales in the December 2017 fiscal quarter. By comparison, iPhone 7 models alone accounted for 71% of U.S. iPhone sales a year earlier.
Although the analyst feels the end of iPhone X is due to the display “notch” failing to win over the Chinese customers, I think this is just the beginning of a trend (remember, the “notchless” iPhone 8 didn’t boost the sales either).
So there you have it. In an age where innovation is the key and where technology improves daily in leaps and bounds, it’s naive to assume company’s growth can be sustained by rapidly changing the market focus to a smaller segment of buyers that appreciates the “bling” more than functionality. In the end, the company may earn more per unit, but will sell fewer units and even worse, it may lose favor with existing customers.
If the current trend keeps up, I believe Apple is up for a slow but continuous decline. If the company wants to get back on track, it needs to start noticing the competition, working on its feature set and reclaiming the title of the innovation leader it once had.