Those who follow my various diary series’ (Apple Watch, iPad Pro, Apple Music, iPhone SE, Smart Home, Drone) won’t be too surprised that I’m beginning this one before the device has even been officially announced.
The idea behind the diary format is that a single review will always provide an incomplete impression, and sometimes even a misleading one. It represents one particular slice in time. With things I use as heavily as Apple kit, it’s almost certain that my views will change over time.
And with something as heavily hyped as the iPhone 8/Edition, I thought it made sense to begin the diary now – with my impressions from the various rumors and leaks, and why I already know I’ll be buying one despite four good reasons not to …
But let’s start with a quick aside on naming.
To avoid the clumsiness of the whole iPhone 8/Edition naming thing, I’m going to pick one of the two names to use from now on. I don’t necessarily trust the packaging seen by two case designers, and I don’t personally think the Edition name would be a good one (I actually think it was a bit tainted by the apparent failure of the gold Watch). But the naming convention they present seems at least plausible, and they are credible sources (I know who they are even though we can’t say), so I’m going to run with it. For now, at least, this is the iPhone Edition Diary.
So, back to the four arguments against buying one …
Anyone who followed my iPhone SE Diary will already know the first of these reasons: I really, really like the compact form-factor of the phone. So much so that I actually slightly downgraded from the iPhone 6s to get it. I went down in screen size, of course, but also gave up 3D Touch, higher contrast ratio and wider viewing angles. Those were, to me, all worth sacrificing for the more pocketable device.
The second reason is price. If the rumors are true, the base-model iPhone Edition will cost $999. For me, in Brexit-era UK, that’s likely to translate to almost pound for dollar. I’m also unlikely to opt for the base model, so that’s more than a grand. For a phone.
That’s such an insane idea that I need to repeat it. A grand on a <expletive deleted> phone! That’s a particularly nuts idea for me, as my iPhone is easily my least-important iDevice. I use it less than my iPad, way less than my Mac and probably even less than my Watch.
The third reason is the iPhone Edition is, effectively, a first-generation Apple product. I mean, I know it’s just the latest in an 11-year succession of iPhones, but this is a radically different design, and one that is going to represent the future of iPhones for some time. So in some ways it makes sense to think of it as a first-gen product, and there are always good arguments for avoiding those.
Finally, even if you reject my first-generation argument, if Apple resumes its usual tick-tock pattern, then next year’s model will introduce some cool new feature. Does it really make sense to spend a grand this year on a phone I may very well want to replace next year? Even allowing for the resale value, that’s going to be quite a hit.
So that’s four good reasons not to do what I’m almost certain I’m going to do anyway, so how am I justifying it to myself?
The first justification is professional rather than personal. The iPhone Edition is such a big deal in the Apple world that I’d feel kind of weird to be an Apple-focused writer who doesn’t have one. To be honest, that in itself might be sufficient reason this time around.
The second is: AR. While ARKit apps look set to run just fine on older iPhones, I’m expecting there to be benefits to running it on the latest tech even if Apple doesn’t yet employ the added advantage of the new dual-camera setup. I’m already hugely impressed by the demo apps we’ve seen, agree completely with Tim Cook’s view that AR is going to be way bigger than VR, and want to give myself the best possible AR experience.
My third justification is design. I’m not a fan of the design of the iPhone 6/6s/7, which is another reason I was happy to make the switch to the SE – a classic design I still really love. But from photos and videos of dummy models, the iPhone Edition looks great. I don’t even mind the notch, though I will definitely be opting for a black-fronted one so that this doesn’t stand out.
I also think that, with near-bezel-free designs fast becoming the norm, any phone with significant bezels is going to very quickly look dated.
Finally, there’s the gadget-factor. Yep, I’m not above admitting that sometimes I buy technology for no better reason that it’s a cool gadget. From all the reports we’ve seen, it seems that face-recognition is going to be an order of magnitude better than anything we’ve seen in competing phones, and it may also do more than unlock the phone and authorize Apple Pay purchases. We’ve also heard suggestions that it will do things like silence notifications if it can see you’re looking at the phone. That’s cool tech.
There’s also a purely coincidental factor at play. While I wear a suit once or twice a year at most, I have been converted to sports jackets/casual blazers. So that addressed part of my objection to larger phones, that they aren’t easily pocketable. With a jacket, any phone will slip easily into an inside pocket.
So, those are the for-and-against arguments I see so far, and the pro side is definitely winning. I’m also sure that it will be strengthened by the actual announcement. Apple has probably managed to keep something secret, so there’s probably at least one benefit to the flagship phone we don’t yet know.
I’ve instructed my debit card to brace itself for an expensive September. What about you? Based on what we know so far, are you planning to buy the iPhone Edition, or will you be holding out for a later model? Please take our poll and share your own thinking in the comments.