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The iPhones golden age of sales is over, now Apple will only charge fans more

Apple has released information on unit sales as part of its financial results since 1998, the year of the iconic and colourful iMac G3. But during its Q4 2018 earnings call, Apple announced these numbers will no longer be revealed. It will tell us about revenues and profits, but not how many iPhones, iPads and MacBooks are sold. The number of units sold is “less relevant today than it was in the past”, according to Apple CFO Luca Maestri.

The golden age of iPhones, and to a lesser effect smartphones in general, is reportedly coming to an end. Reports by IDC and Strategy Analytics estimate the number of phones sold in Q4 2018 as either six or eight per cent lower than the same quarter in 2017.

In order to continue growing, Apple needs to wring out more revenue from its customers going forward instead. Those who have checked Apple’s latest prices, of up to £1,849 for iPad Pros and £1,499 iPhone XS Max phones, will not need to be convinced of this.

The big question: why this strategy?

Insulating risk

Smartphones rose during the global recession, seemingly unaffected by the wider chaos. However, Apple’s financials move has been taken as an admission of the coming iPhone downturn, and as a result its share price dropped by seven per cent.

This very reaction demonstrates why Apple’s decision to withhold sales numbers is the correct play, fiscally. Markets and share prices aren’t just affected by reality, but by the impression of what an imagined future reality may be. Tesla’s share price dropped by six per cent after CEO Elon Musk appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, smoking a joint and spouting off about how “love is the answer”. Less than a month later, its shares rode high again after the Tesla 3 broke EV sales records.

Apple’s decision to withhold sales figures is an attempt to insulate the company from damaging share fluctuations, and the wider narrative that it is “on the downturn”. One metric of success has been obscured. And while its relative transparency is becoming, at best, translucent, the maths on this equation is easy to calculate.

In order to continue its upward trend, Apple needs to squeeze more money out of a static, or even diminishing, customer base. Like other tech giants, its success rests not just on profit, but ever-continuing growth. And if Apple wins, from one perspective the consumer loses, with less value per pound spent.

Apple is already well into its project of charging buyers more. It arguably started in full force with the 2017 iPhone X, which represented an almost 50 per cent leap in cost over the iPhone 8. The iPhone X was a more advanced phone, too, of course, but according to IHS Markit costs $137 more to make, but $300 more to buy.

Raising the bar

The success of the iPhone X, which was by no means expected by all analysts, did not just validate Apple’s decision to raise the price ceiling. It primed the market for Android manufacturers to do the same. And they have.

We, it would seem, have bought into the idea of £900-£1,000 phones without as much as a whimper.

Selling old as new

Apple’s prices are becoming alarming across the board, for any hardware that could be considered remotely “current”. Consider the MacBook Pro 13 line, for instance. The cheapest model to use an up-to-date 8th generation Intel CPU costs £1,749. All other MacBook Pro 13s at a lower price use 7th gen processors.

For a little context: Dell discontinued its XPS 13 laptops with 7th generation Intel processors in November 2017. Apple continues to sell out-of-date models, at higher prices than Dell’s, a year later.

The legacy MacBook Air, which still costs £949, has a processor released at the beginning of 2015. No manufacturer of Windows laptops could get away with selling a computer with such an old processor.

It begs the question: are we being played?

This is not an “emperor’s clothes” situation just yet, but Apple is manipulating holes in the knowledge of most buyers, and leveraging its reputation for relative trustworthiness.

Over the next year we’ll see how successful its gamble is. That the £749 iPhone XR can be sold as an “affordable” is perhaps the boldest move. This is the lowest price iPhone that is, by traditional metrics, not out of date. However, it is already buoyed by critics who laud it as the “long-lasting” iPhone you’ve always wanted.

Apple knows how to devise a compelling product. And that Android phone makers have followed the iPhone X trend in producing ever-more-expensive phones is actually a gift to Apple.

That a mid-tier Apple phone can cost £749 seems to have been accepted with only the briefest flicker of cognitive dissonance.

Apple doesn’t know you

Apple needs to be so aggressive on the profits of its devices because, unlike Google, the large part of its profits come from them. Its services division, which includes iCloud, Apple Music, AppleCare, Apple Pay and App Store revenues, accounted for a record $10 billion of its $62.9 billion Q3 earnings. However, its own estimates are of $14 billion revenues by 2020.

This is not the kind of growth that will offset a serious slowing of smartphones sales.

Apple is only in this tight position because of what is perhaps the most admirable part of its operation. Google’s entire business rests on data collection. Apple’s does not.

Google monitors every part of your digital life, from the emails you write to where you go with your phone, to build up a sophisticated advertising profile. A more detailed profile means potential for more closely targeted adverts, which Google’s ad networks can charge more for. Roughly 86 per cent of its total 2017 revenues came from these ad networks, $95.4 billion.

Apple is expected to make just $500 million from its App Store ad network, which Bertstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi predicts will rise to $2 billion by 2020. Its ad revenues are weaker not only because they are largely limited to the App Store, but because Apple’s data collection is so much less aggressive than just about any of the tech giants.

Earlier in 2018, ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker requested all the data held on him by Apple. He found it was, for the most part, what you’d expect: lists of login attempts, app downloads, his device ownership history. From Apple’s collected data you could probably tell if someone was a fan of mobile re-releases of 90s 16-bit video games. But you wouldn’t really know who they are. By contrast, every Android phone you own tells Google who you are.

Ways out of the trap

Apple’s continued, and seemingly genuine, focus on privacy is admirable. However, for phone users it’s only a tangible benefit if you use an iPhone without Gmail, Google Maps and all the other infuriatingly good Google services.

Those who have accepted the privacy trade-off but find Apple’s profit-sucking approach hard to handle should look to the Chinese phone makers. Brands like Xiaomi, OnePlus, Huawei and its sister brand Honor are still in the phase of growing their market share rather than consolidating profits.

And that, usually, means better value. The OnePlus 6T is the most important phone of this type at present. At £499 it is the most expensive phone OnePlus has made. But it is also the first time you’ll be able to buy a OnePlus model from all the big UK networks, bar Three. OnePlus can finally go head-to-head with Apple at retail.

However, given how deftly Apple has manipulated the phone market to date, it seems more likely OnePlus’s maturation will be an issue for Samsung and the other Android adherents, not Apple.

For now, we’ll just have to hope Apple’s 2019 profit-increasing strategies are not too egregious.

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Best Mid Range Smartphone

The best mid range Smartphone phone of 2018 reviewed and rated

What constitutes as the best ‘mid-range’ phone has changed rather dramatically in recent years. With flagship phones like the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comfortably pushing passed the £1000 mark, from a price perspective the goalposts have undoubtedly shifted in the same direction. So here are a comprehensive list of Best Mid Range Smartphone , click on the associated link to purchase or view Moree information too.  All us content creators ensure we bring you the very latest news and information in the world of tech and its new. So want to see what other have to offer after this post. Well head over to the following site, which I personally use too.

At the same time, there are new handsets taking a fresh approach – offering the best possible hardware at the lowest possible price – that also fit within what we would consider mid-range in 2018; handsets like the Pocophone F1, which offer flagship specs without the price-tag.

With these factors in mind, here you’ll find a rundown of phones that we think offer the best bang for your buck while costing around half as much as you would expect to pay for a 2018 flagship.

How we select the best budget smartphones

Just as with any of our other ‘best smartphone’ roundups, this list is designed to reflect the best that the current smartphone market has to offer based on constraints like price and feature-set. We review every phone we consider before it can be placed in a line-up such as this, slipping our SIM cards in and using each phone as our main device solidly for a week at the very minimum.

We test claims on performance and battery life with both real-world and artificial benchmarks, we trial new features and cast a scrutinous eye over every facet and flaw that these phones might possess, all in the pursuit of providing a clear, concise review of the latest smartphone to make your buying decision as easy as possible.

OnePlus 6T Best Mid Range Smartphone

Best Mid Range Smartphone
£409.95 View at eBay
£439.00 View at Amazon
£469.00 View at OnePlus

Pros

  • A huge leap in OnePlus design
  • Seriously fast
  • Fast Charge is still great
  • A well thought-out version of Android with great extras

Cons

  • Camera still needs improvement
  • Missing a few ‘flagship’ features

The OnePlus 6T is arguably the phone that demonstrates just how much OnePlus as a company has grown up in its short lifespan. While at the upper end in this mid-range roundup, starting at £499, the OnePlus 6T feels practically as much of a flagship as any iPhone or top-tier Samsung does.

Not only does it adopt a beautiful metal and glass design, and a notch-laden extended display, just like the rest of 2018’s flagships, it also offers some of the best smartphone performance on the market. There’s a cleanly-skinned Android 9.0 Pie experience with some meaningful tweaks and the company’s excellent Fast Charge technology. Making out one of the Best Mid Range Smartphone

The primary cameras are also a massive improvement on their predecessors, even if they still lag slightly behind the best in the business. There’s no headphone jack, however OnePlus has added a slick in-display fingerprint scanner that’s the final futuristic feature.

Pocophone F1

Best Mid Range Smartphone
£275.00 View at eBay
£310.00 View at Amazon Marketplace
£320.00 View at Amazon

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Superb performance
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Decent cameras

Cons

  • MIUI for Poco will take some getting used to
  • Thick bezels
  • Plastic build
  • No NFC

Being supported by Chinese tech giant Xiaomi’s manufacturing infrastructure has allowed new player Pocophone to make a serious splash with its first handset, the Pocophone F1. For around $/£300 you get a liquid-cooled Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with at least 6GB of RAM, a huge 4000mAh battery, a decent notched Full HD+ display and a surprisingly good pair of AI-enhanced main cameras making this also one of the Best Mid Range Smartphone

The MIUI for Poco skinned Android experience will take a little getting used for anyone who hasn’t used a Xiaomi phone before, but the price/performance balance this handset strikes borders on astonishing.

It comes in three polycarbonate finishes (red, blue or black) or, if you’re willing to fork out a little more cash, the Kevlar-backed ‘Armored Edition’ seen above.

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)

Pros

  • Great OLED screen
  • Solid value
  • Ultra-wide camera is fun

Cons

  • Weak GPU
  • Slow charging and no USB-C

The Samsung Galaxy A7  is a lower-cost alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It’s a compelling choice with some neat extras including an extra ultra-wide camera and a strong OLED screen; two things you’d rarely normally find at this price.

This is far from a gaming phone, though. The Galaxy A7 has a solid CPU, but its graphics chipset is among the weakest in this class and we’d recommend something else if you love mobile gaming.

The ultra-wide secondary camera is a great feature too, giving some variety to the shots you take. The main camera is perfectly adequate, especially at the £309 price.

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Honor 10

£324.99 View at eBay
£289.00 View at Appliances Direct
£289.00 View at Laptopsdirect

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Powerful hardware
  • Good value

Cons

  • EMUI Android skin is bloated
  • Some performance bugs

Honor has released a lot of great value-for-money smartphones in 2018 but its latest flagship, the Honor 10, is the best. It’s a stylish and capable smartphone that gives you most of what the pricier Huawei P20 does for under £400.

You get dual AI-enhanced cameras set within the phone’s eye-catching ‘Aurora’ reflective glass back, fast charging and the same Kirin 970 processor that powers Huawei’s current top smartphones, complete with NPU (neural processing unit) for AI-based tasks.

The company’s EMUI software experience is highly customisable but might be the biggest issue as it also brings with it a few bugs and a little slow-down from time to time. Nothing some focussed software updates can’t fix, though.

Nokia 7 Plus

£246.25 View at eBay
£279.95 View at John Lewis

Pros

  • Big, bright screen
  • Impressive battery life
  • Android One has potential

Cons

  • Lots of app crashes and software bugs
  • Could do with some design tweaks

A big display, a big battery, lossless optical zoom on its primary dual camera and a clean and up-to-date Android One experience make the Nokia 7 Plus an easy recommendation.

One of HMD Global’s best phones since licensing the Nokia brand, the Nokia 7 Plus left us pleasantly surprised by what it brought to the table, considering it can be had for under £350. The polycarbonate body of the Plus comes with the Nokia line’s signature copper accents, helping it stand out from the crowd. There’s a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor too.

The Snapdragon 660 processor is more conservative than what the majority of phones in this lineup come packing, but paired with clean Android One software onboard, this phone feels just as fast and fluid as any more premium handset. Don’t forget to share this post if you found it useful. Best Mid Range Smartphone

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