iPhone 14’s Success Depends on One Unexpected Thing

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This story is part of Focal point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips, and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

When Apple executives take the stage at the company’s Steve Jobs Theater in California next week to show off the iPhone 14, as is widely expected, you probably won’t notice many changes to the phone. Rumors suggest that the notch where the selfie camera sits may be smaller, and Apple is likely to tout camera improvements or newly introduced always-on screen technology. But the feature that the company will bet on most to attract customers is the one that was introduced two years ago: 5G wireless.

Sure, for some people, 5G is yesterday’s news. For others it is just a larger number than 4G that came earlier. But more and more data is piling up to indicate that wireless 5G is becoming almost as important in today’s iPhones such as battery life and storage, the two features people look for most when buying their phone. The current wireless standard, which has been available from all major U.S. carriers for several years, is also the second most cited reason people told researchers at the consulting firm Deloitte they’d switched cellular carriers after “better value for money.” “

This is a far cry from how 5G was perceived at launch and in the early years when the service was turned on with much fanfare. but little actual coverage. But the airlines have put billions of dollars into the infrastructure and airwaves to support it, which has led to better service in many places.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is one of the biggest drivers of 5G, mentioning it almost every time he’s discussed iPhones in public since he first offered the technology with the iPhone 12 in 2020. “5G has been an accelerator”, he said in july in discussing future prospects for his company’s handset, despite rising inflation and a impending recession. “I think there is reason to be optimistic.”

read more: How to watch the iPhone 14, Apple Watch Series 8 launch event

Every year seems to be a test of the continued popularity of the iPhone, and it will continue this year for good reason. The iPhone is the company’s flagship product in every way. Apple made more than $191.97 billion in iPhone sales last year, which was more than half of its total revenue. Much of the iPhone’s technology has seeped into the rest of its business as well, with related products such as the Apple Watch, AirPods headphones and iPad tablet become a multi-billion dollar company for itself.

It also helped boost Apple’s value to more than $2.5 trillion, up from the $60.7 billion Wall Street valued the company just before the device was first announced 15 years ago. Now Apple is the most valued company in the world, followed by oil giant Saudi Aramco, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon and electric car maker Tesla.

The big picture

The economy has become a major problem for many people since inflation started rising rapidly last year.

James Martin/CNET

This year, however, the iPhone’s success won’t just be a measure of sales that contribute to Apple’s profits. It will also be a gauge of the larger economy, giving some idea of ​​whether people are willing to spend at a time when our collective confidence in the economy has plummeted to its lowest point in decades. Companies large and small have slowed down new hires or started laying off staff, as Snap, Facebook’s smaller social networking competitor, did last week.

Still, as evocative as it is within the tech industry, 5G could be Apple’s key to success in navigating the sour economy we all seem to be dealing with. Wedbush Securities estimates that approximately 240 million of the 1 billion iPhones in use worldwide have not been upgraded in the past three and a half years and thus do not run on 5G networks.

Those owners of older iPhones will likely upgrade at some point, especially as wireless carriers take advantage of perks like free movie and tv subscriptions to entice people to upgrade. “The stickiness of the iPhone upgrade cycle is still underestimated,” Wedbush analysts wrote in a message to investors earlier this summer. “This remains Apple’s unique advantage over other tech stalwarts.”

Dream a little 5G dream

Tim Cook Announces Apple's First 5G iPhone

While 5G wireless networks were available before Apple introduced its first 5G-enabled iPhone in 2020, many people saw it as one of the major launches for the service.

Apple

An odd aspect of the 5G upgrade cycle may be that while people are buying — as in, they don’t want to buy new non-5G phones — 73% of respondents to Deloitte’s surveys said they wanted “better understanding.” of what 5G offers, and 30% said they were disappointed by “a perceived lack of innovative apps and services that leverage 5G.”

When carriers started promoting 5G a few years ago, they talked about next-generation wireless technology that could usher in a new future full of sci-fi devices. The promise of 5G popped up everywhere, from self-driving cars until remote medical care until smart cities.

read more: Everything we know so far about the iPhone 14

So far, 5G has largely delivered on its promises higher speed and increased reliabilitybut that’s about it.

Carriers, meanwhile, have convinced people that 5G is needed, in part by turning off older 3G services, effectively forcing some people to upgrade and indirectly informing 4G users that they will eventually be next.

Now, with economic uncertainty on the horizon, people need to think more carefully about device purchases that they may not upgrade again over several years.

“If you’re going to buy a smartphone, you’re buying the best you can at a certain price,” Maribel Lopez, former industry watcher and head of Lopez Research. “People have to make serious choices when they look at a 30% rise in food costs and doubled gas prices.”

“Nobody, unless you need a budget phone, would buy a 4G phone today,” she added.

Shiny Apple

an iphone 13 pro and iphone se on a yellow background

Apple posted its highest ever sales after the iPhone 13 launched last year.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

All of these trends don’t mean Apple’s iPhone is a guaranteed hit, with or without an unfolding economic catastrophe around the world.

To sweeten the launch of the iPhone 14, Apple’s teams are working hard to offer software updates with its iOS 16 software updatesuch as new “widgets” to add information to the lock screen, undo-send in Mail and increased security.

They’re also rumored to be polishing up new features like the always-on display, which allows iPhones to display limited information on the screen even when it’s normally turned off, and emergency satellite textingwhich can come in handy if you’re stranded on a desert road or in the middle of the ocean.

Read more: Every iPhone 14 feature I want to see at Apple’s next event

To some people, that may all seem like redundant features to have something new on the box this year. But Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said Apple should exercise caution when introducing features of interest to early-first adopters and premium buyers, which are “critical to brand perception.”

“You can’t make that high-end user feel left out or forgotten,” she said. And for everyone else, she expects carriers to offer grants and other giveaways to convince people that the real big changes will be in the value they get out of the phone.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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