Is the iPhone XS really worth its £1000 price tag? The jury is out

Apple has announced a trio of new iPhones, with 2018’s iPhone XS and iPhone XR updates representing significant upgrades over last year’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 – and a significant price increase. Is it justified? We’ve spoken to the experts, and the early verdict is that Apple is very much “playing by its own rules”.

Starting at £749 and escalating to a massive £1449 for the top-specced iPhone XS Max, there’s little doubt that the new 2018 iPhones are among the most enthusiastically priced on the smartphone market.

Should they be is the question.

It’s easy to get worked up about the latest iPhones, and don’t get us wrong – there’s loads to love here, not least the new Apple A12 chip supporting Gigabit LTE wireless speeds, Smart HDR camera, and improved IP68 water-resistance rating (on the XS).

But it’s equally difficult to escape the fact that there are some extremely impressive rival phones available for a fraction of the price. The OnePlus 6 (soon to be supplanted by the OnePlus 6T) offers flagship specs and a similar cult appeal for just £449 SIM-free, while the Moto G6 is the best cheap phone around for a modest £229 and does everything you really need a handset to do.

All of which contributes to the inevitable sense that Apple is taking the Mick with its iPhone prices, which go against overall market trends and continue to rise year-over-year.

Julian Shovlin, the founder and Managing Director of UK smartphone repair specialist iSmash, is one of the experts to take exception to Apple’s idea of ‘affordable’ iPhone pricing.

“I don’t think that we can consider the new LCD iPhone particularly affordable when compared to other ‘entry level’ smartphones from other market leading manufactures. Apple is playing by its own rules and defining what affordability means,” he told Trusted Reviews.

Compare My Mobile’s James Barron agrees.

Related: iPhone XS vs iPhone XS Max vs iPhone XR

“What we have here is another case of ‘Emperor’s new clothes’. The new iPhone XSs are aptly named as they represent excess in terms of price, size and memory.

“They do show evolution, but it is incremental, and amounts to what is effectively tinkering under the hood. How do you define 30% faster to an average user? What does that actually mean in terms of time?” Mr Barron said, speaking to Trusted Reviews.

Apple will always sell iPhones and lots of them, but is there the risk that its bullish pricing will start to result in reduced consumer interest? The latest data seems to suggest just that.

“Searches for Apple as a whole have seen a decline over the last 3 years (by almost 8%). Searches for the iPhone have dropped from 33% last year, to only 5% in 2018, in line with global market trends seeing Apple falling to third place as a smartphone player,” SEMrush’s Olga Andrienko revealed to us.

The view isn’t unanimous, however. Some industry analysts seem to regard the Cupertino-based company’s position as unique in the smartphone market.

Mark Billige, Managing Partner at Simon-Kucher, is one of them.

“Apple has about a fifth of the global smartphone market, but earns 87% of the profits generated from smartphone sales. By contrast, the various Android phones, such as Samsung, have 80% of the market yet are battling over a measly 13% of the profits. It is hard to think of another product that has been so dominant and profitable for the past decade.

“I don’t think Apple will ever get the prices ‘wrong’. The price increases on ‘S ‘updates and more incremental version changes reflect the value added. Waiting is worth it if you want more features – but that will come with a price tag,” Billige commented to Trusted Reviews in the immediate aftermath of the new iPhone launch.

Related: Best iPhone XS deals

We won’t be able to say if the new iPhones are worth Apple’s considerable asking price until we’ve reviewed them in full, but one thing’s for sure – the jury is very much out.

Just like it was last year.

Are the new iPhones too expensive, or priced about right? Let us know @TrustedReviews.