How Apple can mitigate 6.1-inch iPhone XR cannibalization of 5.8-inch iPhone Xs

“On Sept. 12, Apple unveiled its new iPhone lineup, which consists of three devices: the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are the premium products in the lineup, starting at $999 and $1,099, respectively. The iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen while its larger counterpart has a 6.5-inch OLED display,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “The iPhone XR — the most affordable product in the 2018 lineup — starts at $749 and has a 6.1-inch LCD (liquid crystal display). LCDs are cheaper to make than OLED screens.”

“Here’s how Apple might be able to shift customers away from the lowest-cost model and toward the higher-end versions in next year’s product cycle,” Eassa writes. “If Apple wants to improve the value proposition of the successor to the iPhone XS relative to the inevitable successor to the iPhone XR, it may want to consider increasing the former’s screen size to match the XR’s.”

Eassa writes, “In the next product cycle, another way Apple could differentiate the successors to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max from the successor to the iPhone XR would be to endow the first two devices with ProMotion screens, while leaving that feature out of the latter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s fine for next year, but what about this year?

The Xs is a tough sell, especially to those of us who have iPhone X units and extra especially to those of us who always felt the X was a bit too small (narrow). We obviously want the Max.

As for everyone else, why would the hoi polloi choose the 5.8-inch iPhone Xs when they can get the 6.1-inch iPhone XR? They don’t know the difference between LCD and OLED, they have no idea what 3D Touch is, and it looks/works pretty much the same to them – plus it comes in colors (that they’ll immediately cover with a case; no matter, colors sell).

We have no idea who iPhone Xs is for. We’d be surprised if iPhone Xs even hits 10% of total iPhone sales. — MacDailyNews, September 17, 2018

Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple Watch Series 4 pre-orders above expectations, 5.8-inch iPhone Xs seeing lackluster demand – September 17, 2018


  1. Why? Perhaps because some of the hoi polloi prefer smaller devices. Not everyone wants to hold an iPad Mini up to their heads, carry a manpurse for their device, and use both hands just to check emails.

    1. Simply put, it would appear that the XS is a deliberate test of the ‘small form factor’ market that the SE had previously occupied.

      What Apple may end up learning is that its target customers (such as my petite wife) may decide that the XS isn’t small enough … and just continue to use her SE and buy nothing this product cycle instead.

      1. than the SE. I have an SE and I printed out a paper mock up of the XS to get a sense of the size. It’s small enough, and I love small phones and carry my SE in very small front pockets in my jeans. The XS fits fine for me. Your use case may vary but the XS isn’t what I would call significantly larger than the SE.

        1. Perhaps you meant to say that the XS “isn’t much bigger” than the 6/6s?

          By specification, the XS is 3.8% (5mm) and 5.7% (4mm) larger than the iPhone 6/6s …

          …but versus the SE, the XS is a not-insignificant 20mm (16%) taller and 12mm (21%) wider.

          In non-SI units, that’s roughly an additional +3/4″ in height and an additional +1/2″ in width.

          This really is an example of creeping incrementalism, no different than how automakers make each generation a little bit bigger than the old one .. that’s why a BMW 3 Series today is larger than what the 5 used to be, ditto the Audi A4 vs A6 … and a Honda Civic today has a curb weight that’s literally 2x as much as the Civic I had back in college.

          Considering that I couldn’t convince my petite wife to move to a 6/6s from a 5 (where the size growth was “only” 12-14% larger), there’s simply no way in Hades that she’s going to accept even the “small” XS version that’s even bigger than the 6/6s that she’s already rejected on being too big.

          We need an Apple executive who makes design decisions that are compliant with 5th-95th anthropometric male *AND* female needs….

          1. iPhone XS is 5.65 x 2.79 inches. iPhone SE is 4.87 x 2.31 inches. If you feel that is significant feel free. It isn’t to me. The width is very close. Perhaps you should try what I did, print out a paper mockup and make a cardboard fake phone and carry it. The significant size difference is in the tallness of the XS and I found that made no difference at all to how I carry and use the device. The width is close enough that I couldn’t tell the difference in real world use.

            1. ” It isn’t to me” …

              That’s nice – – but this isn’t about YOU. We’re talking about products that are (allegedly) designed for a worldwide audience that’s male & female .. as well as under age 21 (future customers & brand loyalty).


              But I will entertain you for a moment: when you *claim* that the larger size isn’t a problem for you, that claim only has relevance and context when you also disclose what anthropometric percentile you personally are.

              For example, I’m 45th percentile & my wife is 10th.

              Now if you don’t know your anthropometric statistics or how they’re relevant – – then this conversation is functionally over.

              That’s why I said: ‘We need an Apple executive who makes design decisions that are compliant with 5th-95th anthropometric male *AND* female needs…’

              “print out a paper mockup”

              No need to, since she’s already borrowed my 6s on multiple occasions, which represents a Real World UI test…which the 6s failed for being uncomfortably too large.

              So then, just how is an *even larger* XS smartphone possibly going to solve this ‘small female hands’ User Interface (UI) incompatibility?

              Or does Apple make a special secret hand cream that will make her hands grow 20% larger overnight? And if they do … who’s going to waste it on _hands_? 😉

  2. For the improved camera in a smaller size.. They will sell a lot of them. People will not want to be seen with the colored cheap phone.. They will buy this for their kids but buy the XS for themselves

  3. I remember when you guys would make fun of Samsung for the phablets…

    No one uses phones for real work anyway just for time wasting. Sticking with my iPhone 7 which is already larger then it needs to be.

  4. It‘s for me!

    As an iPhone X owner I had no doubt for a second to upgrade to the Xs. Screen size is not a big issue for me; the X was just fine. The form factor plus latest technology is important to me. Hence, the technically inferior Xr is not an option and the Xs Max is way too big for me.

    1. Agree 100%. Many of us have been asking for exactly the same for a year now. When you introduce the 3.5 inch revolutionary iPhone in 2007, sell many models for 11 years and cancel the small phone factor a week ago, it is very disconcerting. As many others have said, I want a phone that fits in my pocket — not a phablet or iPad. Sad Apple has deserted this base of loyal fans …

  5. I have plenty of my own problems. I am not worried about Apple problems. It is still early. Anyone can see the quality difference between OLED and LCD (just check out the TVs at any Best Buy). This proud member of the hoi polloi will be going with the Xs.

  6. Apple is NOT going

    “OH NO! People are buying one of my things more than another of my things!!” It’s more like “As long as they buy my things instead of your things, I don’t care WHAT gets cannibalized! Heck, I’ll hand ‘em the digital seasonings!!”

  7. I am a perfect XS purchaser. I have a 6S that is still a great phone, but I skipped the X since I REALLY like the “S” years. There are always meaningful updates to the original. I don’t think X owners should upgrade, but there are millions of owners of previous models. I don’t like the larger-sized phones at all. The XS size is perfect.

  8. The Xs if for me, a 6s plus owner. I’m thinking it’s a larger screen, much better camera and battery life, and a way faster processor with more storage than what I have in a smaller form factor. 🙂

    The Max might be too big and too expensive.

    1. As another 6s owner I’d also choose the Xs, due to its form factor not growing (as much as the others).

      However, with all of the iPhones now lacking an analog headphone jack, my plan is to have my 6s’s battery replaced next month and push things out another year … one of my DSLR’s is acting up, and Canon just released the new EOS “R”, so this would be a pretty painless way to pay for half of that…

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.