Questions before the first post-Jony event

Camera reviews, realigning names, pricing tactics and more

Greetings! Coming right up, the most interesting stuff about Apple in the past week. — Please forward this email to anyone you think might find it interesting.

We're two days away from the iPhone 11 event. And yes, it would be a surprise if '11' isn't the new monicker for the new devices. As is tradition, I won't be attending the presentation and I wouldn't want to bore you with rumors, so I'll stick with questions.

Will they have the best camera? The current line up cameras are great, but have been facing competition from the Pixels and Huaweis, dethroning the once unbeatable iPhone in many regards. 

The new iPhones will come here looking like electric hobs, but journalists and experts are going to evaluate their software processing the most, and the reviews will focus extensively in the camera.

Personal note: I like the new design and I don’t care about camera bumps.

Will realigning the iPhones' names work? Last year we got the XS, XS Max and the XR. The XS felt like the main choice because it was presented and marketed as such. Despite that, the customers flocked in masse to the equally powerful and cheaper iPhone XR. 

This time, Apple naming will be more conventional: iPhone 11 (XR successor), iPhone 11 Pro (XS's) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (a name a bit of a mouthful). So the previously main iPhones are now the Pros, and the "cheap" takes the lead.

This realignment will make more sense for the customers, and probably will keep the '11 Pro' as the least appetizing of the three, with customers opting for the super-big-and-best or the cheaper-but-newer options.

Another big question is: what will be the iPhone 11 price? iPhone sales fell sharply this year until Apple started discounting the XR price. There are two reasons for the not very good sales of the XS:

  • Longer lasting iPhones: traditional eager customers will opt for keeping their existing iPhone and instead spend their money in related-devices like AirPods and Apple Watches. 

  • Price: even the wallet-flexibility of Apple customers has its limits.

A $649 iPhone 11 would stave off the competition, which is strongest than ever. Despite that, I think Apple will still go for $749, $999 and $1,199 and call it a day. I've been burned too many times arguing for a cheaper starting iPhone. 

How many people will wait for the 2020 iPhone? If Apple focuses mainly in the camera and leaves most of the things most customers care about roughly the same (like battery life and price), it could create another flat-ish year in sales.

Like it or not, most customers care about design and appearances. Maybe the 'electric hob camera design' could convince some people, maybe not. 5G isn't coming yet to the iPhones and that could have a small effect short-term in sales, as many current customers that bought the 8, X or the XR wait it out.

Besides the new iPhones, anything is far from certain like any new Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPad or MacBook. Even iOS 13 and its weird 13.1 brother will have to wait for next week for me to talk about them. I'm not in the crystal ball biz.

What's going to happen with the home buttons? Will Apple still keep the iPhone 8 in line? The evergreen rumors of a new iPhone SE could see it coming back with a new name and new processor in the future. — Interestingly, the 'iPhone 9' name hasn't been used by the company, maybe being saved for later down the road.

It's the first 'post-Jony' event of the company. Obviously Ive and his team worked on these products, and those that will come in the next couple of years. Maybe he recorded one last 'white video from the Matrix', but I doubt we'll ever hear his voice again.

More from the orchard

  • Touch ID will come back, probably.Apple is working on their own in-screen fingerprint sensors for 2020 or later, that would work in a big part of the screen. It's mostly a supply-chain rumor, and we'll tackle it in due time.

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