One of my childhood heroes was Mr. Spock of Star Trek Classic. Logic and math were the rules of life. Real life as a human is disappointing by comparison, but I remain as comfortable with numbers as with people.
As much as there is plenty of feel good at Apple, the company is driven by numbers at every turn. If it’s not the constraints of physics, it’s the constraints of supply chain. If it’s gross margins we’re talking about, profits are not far behind.
iPhone X will be on the streets soon and this leap forward for Apple drags some math and physics and a whole host of numerical considerations and comparisons along with it. At $999, iPhone X is Apple’s most expensive smartphone, nearly three times the price of the tiny entry-level iPhone SE. iPhone X is smaller than iPhone 8 Plus with its gargantuan 5.5-inch display, but itself has a larger display.
Apple’s entire iPhone line spreads out various models in a way unlike any year in the past. iPhone SE, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and iPhone X. That’s eight iPhone models, each with different colors and memory configurations, not to mention cell phone carrier connections.
Why such a large and growing number of iPhone models?
Physics. And parts. Apple’s supply chain just cannot make enough of the latest OLED displays, the latest LCD displays, or all the storage and CPUs Apple would require to produce a single model that sold in excess of 200-million units each year. So, Apple spread out the iPhone production line; each one with something different, newer, better to justify the increase in price.
iPhone X has two storage options. 64GB and 256GB. And, two colors. Space Gray and Silver. But unlike all other iPhones, this one has an OLED display manufactured by Samsung. Yet, it has the same CPU as iPhone 8 models, made by TSMC in Taiwan. The Notch at the top of iPhone X’s screen is a telling and glaring nod to physics. The FaceTime camera, microphone, and all the technology packed into the TrueDepth Face ID facial recognition system require space. Samsung made a slender forehead bar. Apple chose a Notch topping a screen with ears (where battery indicator and cell phone reception icons live).
A design choice based on the laws of physics. All those high tech Face ID parts just won’t fit into a slender bezel. This year. And, speaking of this year, the math isn’t looking good for anyone to get a new iPhone X this year if they haven’t already ordered. Demand is high, supply is low. That’s typical Apple math.
Another observation of iPhone X has to do with numbers you don’t want to run into while owning an iPhone. Drop an iPhone X and crack that lovely OLED display and the price to fix it starts at $279. Break something else not covered by warranty or Apple Car, and the price starts at $549. Apple Care starts at $199 for iPhone X but reduces the screen repair price to $29. Apple Care is built in to the monthly fee for Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program.
One final number regarding iPhone Upgrade Program. Apple’s pre-approval fast track to get an iPhone X after the Apple Store opened last week was 15-minutes late, and that pushed my delivery date into late November.