iPhone 11 launch
Glenn Chapman - Apple unveiled its iPhone 11 models Tuesday with a price cut for the most basic models while also laying out plans for streaming and gaming services as it bids to weather the slump in the global smartphone market.
At an Apple media event, price appeared to be a key consideration as the tech giant reduced the entry level price for the iPhone 11 to US$699 and undercut rivals for its gaming and streaming television subscriptions.
Apple unveiled three versions of the iPhone 11 including "Pro" models with triple camera and other advanced features starting at US$999 and US$1 099, unchanged from last year's prices, touting upgraded features including ultrawide camera lenses.
The surprise from Apple was the reduction in the starting price at US$699, down from US$749 for the iPhone XR a year ago even as many premium devices are being priced around US$1 000.
The new iPhones are "jam-packed with new capabilities and an incredible new design," Apple chief executive Tim Cook told a launch event in Cupertino, California as the company set plans to sell the new handsets on 20 September.
The company's new phone models resemble last year's iPhone XR, XS and XS Max. And they have the same design - with more display space, less bezel and no home button - that Apple switched to with the iPhone X in 2017.
New iPhone cameras are intended to appeal to the growing number of people who use phones to take pictures of themselves, friends, family and the places they go. The phone's "portrait mode" now also works with pets, not just humans.
With little change, many customers who bought models in the past two years may hold off upgrading this year, analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights said.
The biggest difference is the phone's camera, an area that Apple and its rivals have all been trying to improve as consumers snap more pictures on their devices. Even there, improvements from year to year have been small.
This year, Apple added an extra camera lens to each model. The two pricier models already have a telephoto lens for better zoom. Now, they will sport a wide-angle lens to capture more of a scene than regular shots.
Even with those additions, the new iPhones may still be catching up with the improvements that rivals such as Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo and Google have been making to their latest phones.
Unlike some of the other devices coming out this year, the new iPhones won't support upcoming ultrafast cellular networks known as 5G. Apple paid billions of US dollars to settle a royalty dispute with chipmaker Qualcomm in April to gain the technology it needs for 5G iPhones, but those models won't be ready until next year.
In addition to iPhones, Apple also showed off new versions of its internet-connected watch and iPads, also emphasising stable or lower prices with cuts to older versions.
Apple's announcements appeared to be aimed at emphasising value as the company looks to shift its business model to reduce its dependence on smartphones and tie in digital content and other services to its devices.
"We got a stream of nonstop product launches, with content being used as a sweetener," said Avi Greengart, analyst and consultant with Techsponential.
"I think the iPhone 11 is compelling and may convince people to upgrade earlier than they might have otherwise given the lower price and longer battery life, not just an improved camera."
With the new devices and services, "I think there are more reasons to stay with Apple than to defect from Apple," added Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Apple set launch dates for its original video offering, Apple TV+, and its game subscription service as part of efforts to reduce its dependence on the iPhone.
The TV+ service will launch 1 November in more than 100 countries at US$4.99 per month and will include a "powerful and inspiring line-up of original shows, movies and documentaries."
The company's online gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, will launch next week, offering exclusive titles for mobile and desktop users.
The new service, which will also cost US$4.99 per month, will include more than 100 game titles made for Apple devices and will be available in some 150 countries. – Nampa/AP/AFP