A Couple of Careful Sober Thoughts About Apples’s New God Phone

As someone who has far too many Apple products around the house and on my person, I got sucked deep into the reality distortion field with the reveal of the iPhone X. “Must. Have. Price. No. Object,” I slobbered.

But that was then. Now I’m not so sure. Here’s why.

The Price is Stupid

It starts at $1,319? Wow, that’s…a lot. And if you want to upgrade memory from 64GB to 256GB (there is no 128 GB option), you’ll pay $1,529. That’s like…more. Just two hundred bucks less than a MacBook Pro. Or, to put it another way, close to four basic Windows laptops.

Sure, it looks great, feels great in the hand and has all kinds of sci-fi features to go with the bigger better screen and better camera capabilities, but runs the same iOS and is powered by the same chip as the cheaper iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. That should make all three models equally fast, right?

Unless you really need the X’s cutting-edge features, it somehow sounds prudent to go for the lower-priced models. But then again, people tend to buy Apple products like they buy sports cars: with their hearts instead of their heads.

And before we leave the issue of price, it’s sad to see the spread between what the new iPhones will sell for in Canada compared to the US. The basic iPhone 8 will retail for $699 in the US but $919 in Canada. I just checked the exchange rate and $699 US converts to $847 CAD. What’s with the $72 premium?

Now let’s move up to the X. The small one will be offered for $999 US or $1,215 CAD. Why are we being asked to pay $1,319? WTF, Apple?

Unlocking by Facial Recognition

This is almost tinfoil hat thinking, but not quite. If a cop or a border guard demands to get into your phone, all they have to do is hold it up to your face and they’re in. Let’s think about the privacy implications of that.

If you’re in a meeting, on a date or in class and you want to sneak a look at your phone, you’ll apparently have to hold it up in front of your face. So much for being subtle.

It’s Still Just a Mobile Phone

Yes, it’s a device you use dozens, hundreds of times a day. But in a year or two, it’ll have depreciated into something that’s just going to sit on a shelf or left in a drawer. We need reminding every once in a while that mobile phones are in the end disposable commodities.

If the better screen and camera are worth it to you, then the X is worth considering. For everyone else, though, why bother?

I’m not gonna lie, though. The first time I see one in the wild in the hand of a stranger, I’m gonna be insanely jealous.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38569 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

8 thoughts on “A Couple of Careful Sober Thoughts About Apples’s New God Phone

  • Totally with you on everything here—including the way too many devices 😉
    One thing though: Face ID is still new and unknown but it apparently will not unlock unless the user is actively looking at the screen—to specifically prevent simply pointing the phone at someone’s face in order to gain access. Not sure this helps for subtlety however…!

    Now the prices…urgh.

  • Good point about the police, but you don’t have to hold the phone up to your face to unlock it – it can see your face from an angle. Plus, you can still unlock it with a 4 or 6 digit passcode. Just a phone for sure, but a purrrdy one. 🙂

  • Face ID was new several years ago. Let’s stop pretending Apple invented ANYTHING. Genius marketers, yes. Inventors, No.

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  • On point as usual, AC. I definitely cannot justify the cost of a laptop to buy a phone. I’m really pleased with my 6Plus (first iPhone after years in the Android wilderness), and will replace it with whatever is slotted below the X. I’m becoming much more cynical about these disposable pieces of tech, but they are a necessary evil these days.

  • This would be an awful lot of money to pay for a phone, but the fact is that the device you’re paying for is much more. It’s an extremely capable camera, a music and entertainment centre, a social media hub, a calendar and PDA, a GPS … the list goes on. It’s a thing that does all this other STUFF, but it also happens to be a phone. And really, it’s no more or less disposable than any other similar tech in your home. Most people replace their computers every few years, and I’d consider this device more analogous to that than to anything else.

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