Apple admits there is a decline in iPhone sales in Q3
Apple posted its financial earnings call for the fiscal year's Q3 last Thursday. The Cupertino-based company has admitted that there was a slowdown in iPhone sales for a third consecutive quarter.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, announced that the company saw strong sales records for the quarter in India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. Apple also set June quarter records in France, Netherlands and Austria.
He revealed that the sales of the iPhone dropped by 2.4% in the last quarter, with the revenue amounting to $39.7 billion. The Mac lineup meanwhile recorded $6.8 billion but saw a decline of 7% year-over-year. You can listen to Apple's latest earnings call here.
Cook blamed an uneven macroeconomic and currency exchange headwinds for the slump in the iPhone sales. He pointed out that the iPhone sales in China were better than in the U.S., while admitting that buyers in the U.S. were not spending more on the products than they used to. The company said it wasn't alone, and that the entire smartphone industry was affected by the slump.
Why Apple iPhone sales have declined
The decline in Apple iPhone sales could be affected by the longevity of the products. iPhones receive software updates for 5 to 6 years, and the hardware's performance is impressive even after it may have seen a few years. Take the iPhone 13 for example. It has a great camera, an amazing screen, offers good battery life and snappy performance, has an ample amount of storage, supports 5G, etc. You can FaceTime your friends, send iMessages, browse the internet, install the latest social media apps, stream music and videos, etc., on your old phone. The iPhone 13 is available for $599, while the iPhone 14 128 GB costs $799. The newer device barely offers a new experience that justifies the extra 200 bucks.
The upgrades that we have seen on recent iPhones have been unremarkable. The changes in the design are barely enough to distinguish it from the previous gen devices. When Apple announced the iPhone 14, everyone mocked it with memes that said it's exactly the same as the iPhone 13. They were not wrong, the size of the displays of the two iPhones, the bezels around the screen, the buttons, and the cameras on the rear look alike. If you hold the two devices, it may be hard to tell which one is which.
Apple made some improvements to the internals by adding more RAM, and a slightly bigger battery, but stuck with the same processor as the previous gen model for the basic iPhone 14, while the higher end models got a newer chipset. The most impressive upgrade in the iPhone 14 series was, of course, the Dynamic Island. The feature displays contextual-notifications and other information at the top of the screen was welcomed as an innovative change to replace the notch design that had been stagnant for over 6 years But, the Dynamic Island wasn't available on the base iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus, because Apple made the feature exclusive to the pricier Pro models, i.e. the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
A notchless design may look cool, but is that miniscule bit of screen space and a slight bump to the hardware, worth shelling out $1000 for? Unless you're loaded, the answer is probably no. Not everyone upgrades their phones every year. The majority of buyers who switch to new phones frequently are either rich, or have some good trade-in offers, leases or contracts with their mobile service provider that make upgrades affordable. The rest of us hold onto our phones till it slows down, or breaks.
Personally, I think that the only real improvements in the iPhone 14 series were the crash detection system and the emergency SOS via satellite, both of which could be lifesavers. The crash detection system can identify hard collisions to tell if you have been in an accident, and call an ambulance to rescue you, it also notifies your emergency contacts with your location. If you have an Apple Watch Series 8, you already have a crash detection feature in it, which sort of nullifies the need to buy a new iPhone.
The satellite messaging technology is pretty much a niche feature, which may be useful for hikers, campers, or people travelling to remote places where cell service may not be available. But the emergency feature isn't exclusive to Apple's devices, there are many dedicated satellite messengers such as the Garmin InReach which can do the same, though it means you need to carry another device with you. Also, these messengers come with a subscription fee (in addition to their upfront cost), while the iPhone 14 offers the same feature for free, for a limited time. Apple could begin charging for a subscription for using its satellite services in the future. The point is, not everyone may find these useful enough to upgrade from their older iPhone that still works.
What we can expect in the iPhone 15
Apple may have noticed why people are not upgrading to the newer devices. This could explain why the iPhone 15 lineup is getting the Dynamic Island across all models. The upcoming devices will get thinner bezels, which in turn makes the screens slightly bigger. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will be equipped with an Apple A16 Bionic chip, which was previously available in the iPhone 14 Pro models. The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will get a newer A17 Bionic chipset. The cameras are said to get an upgrade as well, and the Pro Max could support improved optical zoom with a periscope lens.
The main point to note here are the differences between the iPhone 13/14 and the iPhone 15. If you are getting the Dynamic Island, a bigger display, a more powerful processor with better battery life, improved cameras, titanium frame (for the Pro models) and a USB Type-C port on a new device, these are robust features that could qualify as a proper upgrade, i.e. it may be worth the money.
iPhone 15 to be available from September 22
Mark Gurman says that the iPhone 15 could be launched on September 12th or 13th, which tallies with previous reports. The devices will be available for pre-order in the coming week, around the 18th, and will start shipping from September 22nd. The new line-up could give Apple a boost in the next fiscal year, which begins in October.
Apple is also said to be working on an iPhone 15 Ultra which could be even more expensive than the Pro models, the new device could debut in 2024.