Why you might want to pass on the iPhone X

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I think everyone by now has heard the news about the 10th anniversary iPhone, the device called the iPhone X.  Starting at $999 and packed full of new and/or revolutionary features, the iPhone X is hailed by some tech websites as perhaps “the future of the smartphone.”  And while I do feel like there is a lot to like about what Apple has done, I think there are also a few reasons you might want to hold off buying the most expensive iPhone ever.

The style of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus might go away next year – in favor of the iPhone X design

Sean P. and I discussed this on the Silicon Theory podcast covering the Apple Event – we both feel like its a safe bet that Apple will move away from the old design language and move towards what they have achieved with the iPhone X from a technical standpoint.  Why would anyone buy a phone with more bezel and a larger footprint when they can get the same (or bigger!) size display in a phone that is smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus?  You probably wouldn’t.  So it would seem to make a lot of sense that Apple will eventually discontinue using the design language they have had for over a decade…its simply time to move on.

Apple is famous (or notorious, depending on your point of view) for moving off of technology they see as “legacy” and moving in a diferent direction.  From floppy drives to headphone jacks, the products coming from Cupertino are generally touted as being forward thinking.  It would make sense that they phase out the design first introduced in the iPhone 6, now 4 phone generations ago.

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When the new style phones come out, they will most likely be cheaper than the iPhone X is right now

Following the same trend of the above thought, if Apple is going to offer multiple different sizes of the iPhone X in the future, it would make sense that they have a low end model (probably the iPhone SE in some form, or perhaps the iPhone 6 form factor) but the upper echelon of the iPhone will probably be 2 different display sizes of the iPhone X.  Knowing that, there must be a happy medium between the 1) availability of OLED panels for theses devices, 2) supply chain expertise now that they know what this new form factor device needs to be manufactured and 3) being able to satisfy the needs of those iPhone users that want them.  With scale comes efficiency, and with efficiency generally comes cost savings.

Rumors indicate that there’s likely to be the 5.8″ version of this iPhone X as well as a larger 6″ “plus” version – and the smaller one would then cost what the iPhone 8 Plus costs right now.  A starting price of $799 seems like still a lot of money (and it is) but that would also make it $200 cheaper than the base iPhone X today.  Wait a year and potentially save $200?  Yes, please.

Touch ID will likely be making a comeback next year

Look – I know that Apple is saying things like Face ID is way more secure than Touch ID and that the removal of the home button meant certain compromises.  But there are rumors that Samsung has been working on an underglass fingerprint scanner solution for almost a year now, and that it wasn’t ready from a technical standpoint to be included in the S8 or the Note8 devices.  There are also reports that the nice folks at Apple were working on the exact same thing, and ran into the same problems as Samsung did.

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I would find it very hard to believe that this technology won’t get the bugs worked out over the course of the next 6-9 months, and its very likely that Samsung will be among the first to debut it, possibly as early as in the Note 9.  If Samsung can solve this problem,  then almost assuredly Apple will be able to do the same, and perhaps even find a better implementation.  This would make it very likely that we get a new iPhone X style device that incorporates BOTH Face ID and Touch ID – something that would make a lot more sense than just one or the other in a phone.  Face ID can be a good solution, but the advantages of Touch ID (not to mention its continued integration in Macbook Pros and the existing iPhone 8 devices) are clear, and this is a technology that doesn’t feel like its going to be abandoned anytime soon.

So – if you wanted to buy a new phone but knew that in less than a year, the next version might be cheaper, have more features, AND potentially have a few different size options as well – why would you pull the trigger on the 1st version of Apple’s newest flagship device?  I would wait – and you probably should too.


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