One problem with Apple’s iPhone Xs Max

“In September 2014, Apple broke with tradition and released its latest iPhone, the iPhone 6, in two screen sizes,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “Over the years, Apple would continue to differentiate its Plus line of smartphones in certain ways relative to their smaller counterparts. In fact, the level of differentiation seemed to grow when Apple introduced its iPhone 7 series devices, since the iPhone 7 Plus had a dual rear-facing camera system while the iPhone 7 had a single rear-facing camera. With this year’s latest flagship smartphones — iPhone XS and its larger counterpart, iPhone XS Max — Apple has broken with that tradition. Indeed, the two devices, for all intents and purposes, are just different-sized versions of the same device.”

“Here’s why this is a mistake,” Eassa writes. “Apple should encourage upsell. The benefit to Apple endowing the larger and more expensive versions of its devices with additional features is that such a practice could encourage users who simply want the best iPhone available to go with the larger variant. Additionally, individuals who might be torn between the two sizes might view the extra features in the larger model as a swing factor to push them toward the bigger models. ”

Apple's all-new 5.8-inch iPhone Xs starting at $999 and 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max starting at $1099
Apple’s all-new 5.8-inch iPhone Xs starting at $999 and 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max starting at $1099

“Apple’s competition seems to be adding real value to their larger-screen devices beyond simply the larger screen to encourage upsell,” Eassa writes. “Apple, on the other hand, took a step back on this front with this year’s iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max devices.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The larger 6.5 display in the Xs Max is more than enough benefit over the 5.8-inch Xs to encourage plenty of upsell. Another benefit is that the Xs Max’s battery is also larger and therefore longer lasting.

A bigger problem, depending on the margins Apple is extracting from each model, is that the XR may be encouraging downsell as many of the hoi polloi will see its larger 6.1-inch display for $250 less than the 5.8-inch Xs and gravitate to that model. Of course, Apple may be encouraging this “downsell” because they are getting better margins out of the XR than out of the Xs.


    1. This is my point of view too- as a 6s plus owner, with a Xs phone I’m getting a much better camera, a faster processor, 4 times more storage, and a better BIGGER screen in a slightly SMALLER form factor.

      I also understand MDN point of view too, I’ll give the Xr a hard look and I’ll look at the Max before I buy.

    2. Agreed–Apple has made the decision here..for some the X/Xs is just the right size for them. And for others (like me) who want the larger screen there’s the Max. There’s no compromise for those who simply do not need/want the additional screen real estate. IMHO kudos to Apple for being respectful enough to buck the up-sell trend which really ignores user needs..

      1. Further i don’t regard XR as a “down-sell” necessarily. There’s a number of iphone users who really need the premium OLED display experience and are perfectly happy the LCD display and lesser camera eg kids or utilitarian users. This gives those users a lower entry cost *BUT* still gains (and probably keeps) that user into the apple ecosystem that may have considered the cheaper droid hardware. This is a move clearly targeting the bottom end which BTW *still* use services–an ever increasing slice of the apple revenue stream.

    3. The Xs is the premium luxury flagship. Doesn’t matter which size. The Xr is the value phone for the masses. That’s how Apple is positioning them.

      The Xs isn’t about being better it’s aboit being nicer. From a utility point of view a high end Louis Vuitton is not a 10x better than their entry level monogrammed stuff but he higher end you buy the higher quality materials you get.

      Another analogy might be a VW Touareg and a Porsche Cayenne. They’re essentially the same car underneath… therefore the Touareg is a much better deal. But it isn’t a Porsche and the Porsche will have nicer materials and details inside.

      Apple looks like it’s transitioning to a luxury brand, but one that has an accessible entry level. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the future Xr type phones be similar to the Xs in functionality but just with not as nice materials. It will be the smart buy.

  1. This would have been a perfect time to keep an SE sized phone with a full screen and other improvements many of us were hoping for. Like clothing, you would have small, medium, large and extra large…

  2. He’s insane- I agree w/MDN’s take: the advantage of the “Max” (horrific name!) is it’s size- that’s enough. Don’t need extra features.

    I hope they completely ditch any letters next year and just follow their Mac convention: iPhone (for the Xs), iPhone+ (for the Xs Max) and iPhone Classic (for the Xr). All Macs are known by the year they came out but still carry the same name. Should work fine for iPhones as well…

  3. I’m so glad this guy isn’t running Apple. It drove me nuts for years that I had to compromise on features to get the pocketable iPhone. I’m so pleased with the current feature parity.

    1. I also suspect that the iPhone X proved you could have “Plus” features (camera etc) in a normal sized phone. I want the best phone with the best features, but that phone isn’t the Plus or Max size.

  4. “A bigger problem, depending on the margins Apple is extracting from each model, is that the XR may be encouraging downsell as many of the hoi polloi will see its larger 6.1-inch display for $250 less than the 5.8-inch Xs and gravitate to that model.”

    That’s not a problem for Apple at all. Long term, as long as you remain in the iOS ecosystem where they can sell you devices & services, that’s more important than not having you as a user.

  5. With the 2 year pent up demand for a top end big phone in this case the writer is incorrect, as evdenced by initial reported sales estimates. In a normal year probably more logic to his words. I would really like to see at least the big phones work with large screens and keyboards especially now they are getting so powerful that would be a nice extra for last year.

  6. Some people like smaller phones. In my case if Apple decided to sell an iPhone XS for $2000 and a Max for $1000 I’d personally buy the XS just because it’s the smaller phone. For me personally again it’s about size and not price. I’m so happy Apple decided to make the XS a full featured phone instead of the cheaper smaller sibling.

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