Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest reviews of the iPhone XR, sales data for the new iPhone, Apple changing the conversation from LCD to liquid retina, confirmation of Apple’s selfie smoothing, new MacBook details, and what the ‘R’ in iPhone XR means to Phil Schiller.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Reviewing The iPhone XR
As the iPhone XR goes on sale, many consumers are looking at the handset and discovering what it offers. Before that, a number of hand-picked reviewers were chosen by Apple to get an early look and write up their thoughts on the handset. I took a look over all the reviews earlier this week:
Strip away the smoke and mirrors of Apple’s marketing and the role of the iPhone XR is clear. It is the ‘regular’ iPhone that we expect to see every year. Last year it was the iPhone 8, the year before it was the iPhone 7. This year it is the iPhone XR.
..Yes there is a ‘more expensive’ iPhone higher up the scale, but the iPhone XR is ‘standard iPhone’ that will make up the bulk of sales. Apple has brought new technology and hardware to the device, but it is still a $749 smartphone with an LCD screen, a single camera, with materials that are at the very top end of average.
More review details here on Forbes.
Initial iPhone XR Sales
The iPhone XR has been available to pre-order all this week, and Tim Cook’s team will be expecting the new ‘cheaper’ expensive iPhone to boost its sales figures during Q4 and beyond. But three days after the launch, Apple reported that all iPhone XR models were still available for shipping on launch day. Where were the traditional ‘out of stock’ indicators? Forbes’ Gordon Kelly was curious:
This raises one obvious counterargument: maybe Apple managed to make so many iPhone XRs that it can meet any demand? The problem is this isn’t convincing.
First, Apple has never managed to do that in the 11-year history of the iPhone – shipping dates slip from days to weeks often in minutes. Second, the iPhone XR sales date was delayed a full month behind the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max because of widely reported production problems. For Apple to have solved these problems then produced record-breaking numbers seems outlandish at best.
Kelly’s analysis is here. In the end it took four days for the ‘sold out’ signs to go up – a far cry from the four hours previous launches have taken. Mikey Campbell at Apple Insider:
As usual, the number of units Apple managed to manufacture in the buildup to launch is unknown, though some analysts put the figure at around 12 million.
Though the XR launched to seemingly softer demand than its XS series stablemates, some analysts believe the colorful, less-expensive smartphone will ultimately prove vital to Apple’s bottom line. Gene Munster of Loup Ventures, for example, expects iPhone XR to be the bestselling iPhone of 2018 with a 38 percent share of shipments. Others, like noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, predict better replacement demand than last year’s iPhone 8 and better long-term momentum than iPhone XS.
Apple Changes The Conversation From LCD to Liquid
Following on from last week’s details on Apple’s folding smartphone screen, more details on new screen technology have come to light, as the trademark application for the liquid retina display found in the iPhone XR is published:
‘Liquid retina’ is a term that is solely controlled by Apple and can mean whatever it wants it to mean – just as ‘retina display’ allowed Apple to bypass any discussion of quantifiable ‘pixels per inch’ measurements and into emotive words and flowery descriptions of technology that could be found on any smartphone.
No matter what the competition puts out, even if physically the LCD screens are of similar quality, resolution, and standard, Apple will always be able to say that it is the only home of the liquid retina display… and if you want to keep using the enjoyable experience it offers your only choice is to keep buying products from Cupertino’s trillion dollar company.
I look at the implications here on Forbes.
Apple Admits Beauty Gate Is Real
One conversation topic Apple is not good at, is admitting to bugs or problems. Rather than own up to errors in software or hardware, it will ignore everyone insisting there is an issue… before quietly rolling out an update that fixes the issue and mentioning it in conversation to a single journalist while discussing another topic – letting the rumor mill do the work its own PR staff should be doing.
Case in point is ‘beauty gate’. Despite mounting evidence that iOS 12 was artificially smoothing out skin in photos, the fan sites were insistent that this was not a bait and switch on the camera, it was just a ‘better’ camera.
Turns out Apple “…will address the issue of the front camera appearing to smooth out skin” in an update to iOS 12 (expected to be iOS 12.1). Gordon Kelly investigates:
Apple’s response to the issue was complete silence for almost a month. Something which led many to think this image processing was deliberate because beauty modes are extremely popular in Asia, which is a major target market for Apple. That said, given the results looks so unnatural (video below), criticism mounted.
…the company’s timeliness and communication style again leave a lot to be desired. They are a repeat of its farcical approach to the serious ‘ChargeGate’ problem (another Hilsenteger spot) where iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models refused to charge automatically when plugged in. In that instance, Apple again made no statement instead quietly leaking details of an upcoming fix to fan site iMore.
More discussion on this and other -gates here.
Here Come The New Macs
Alongside the 2018 iPad refresh, Apple’s October event is expected to show off a new range of Macs and Books. Thanks to regulatory filings in Eurasia, we have a good idea of what is coming up – some new desktop models, as well as an updated MacBook. William Gallagher reports:
…the newly updated filings show a total of what appear to be eight desktop Macs of which three are new. The listed model numbers A1993, A2115, and A2116 that all haven’t been seen before. The only detail against any of the models is that they run macOS 10.14 so the other five are likely to be current Mac models updated to that OS.
Alongside these desktop models, there is one MacBook model number. The A1932 model is a new listing alongside five existing ones, all now updated with macOS 10.14. This dovetails with persistent rumors that Apple will be introducing a new MacBook and a new iMac. It may also suggest that the hoped-for new Mac mini is coming too.
More at Apple Insider.
‘Boy racers’ the world over took one look at the naming convention of the new iPhone devices (the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max) and laughed at the delight of Apple going the route of the hot hatch car industry – my contribution was for the “iPhone XR GT RS Cosworth 1.8 litre injection”. Turns out we were right, there’s no innovation in the iPhone naming, it’s about appealing to the fast car brigade, as Chris Velazco reports in his interview with Apple VP Phil Schiller:
Phil Schiller, gingerly gripping a cup of coffee across from me, said the letters Apple uses never stand for something specific. But then his voice softened a little as he started to tell me about what the letters mean to him.
“I love cars and things that go fast, and R and S are both letters used to denote sport cars that are really extra special,” he said with a smile. That’s not exactly the answer I was hoping for, but I’m not sure what I should’ve expected from a) Apple’s SVP of global marketing and b) a longtime fan of Porsches and Audis.
More at Engadget.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.