It was supposed to be the “affordable iPhone” when it was launched last year. And while there was some outrage over its initial pricing of Rs 76,900, sentiment towards it mellowed when it was available at significantly lower prices in the vicinity of Rs 55,000-60,000 a few months later. Indeed, it is the highest-selling phone of the year at the time of writing.
Today, it is truly the most affordable new iPhone out there with a price that has dipped even lower: to about Rs 49,900 on some stores and e-commerce portals. And could go even lower in some of the online shopping festivals. The problem is that its status of most affordable new iPhone is likely to be usurped in about a few days, thanks to the arrival of its successor, which is priced at Rs 64,900. So does it make any sense to invest in it?
We are talking of course of the iPhone XR. It was very much THE iPhone to purchase for anyone on a relatively tight budget a few weeks ago. But then Apple released the iPhone 11 at a much lower than expected price – Rs 64,900 (remember the iPhone XR was launched at Rs 76,900). And this spurred the question:
Did it make sense to invest in an iPhone XR any more, given that the iPhone 11 was on the horizon and priced a whole lot lower than many had expected?
On the surface, the question seems to be a no-brainer. Why would you go for an older device when a newer one, with better hardware, was available at a relatively affordable price?
The answer lies in those three magical words at the end of the previous sentence “relatively affordable price.” There is a belief that those ready to invest a certain amount in a device will be willing to spend a little more for something that is clearly better. Now, the iPhone 11 is of course very much the superior to the iPhone XR. It is newer, has evidently better build quality, has better cameras (dual cameras!), a much better processor, improved battery life and more color options. And it is available at Rs 64,900 – in fact, even Rs 58,900 if you use specific credit or debit cards.
Sounds like a slam dunk for the iPhone 11, right?
Well, to some it would. If – and that is a HUGE “if” – they had about Rs 60,000 handy. But then, they would not even be considering an iPhone XR, would they?
Which brings me back to those three words “relatively affordable price.” The iPhone 11 is available at a price that is Rs 12,000 lesser than the launch price of the iPhone XR. And about Rs 35,000 lesser than the price of the iPhone 11 Pro.
It, therefore, seems “relatively more affordable” than those two.
However, currently, the iPhone 11 costs about Rs 15,000 more than the iPhone XR, or if you want to factor in various credit/debit card related discounts, about Rs 9,000. In fact, you can get a 128 GB variant of the iPhone XR (Rs 54,900 at some stores) for less than the price of the 64 GB variant of the iPhone 11 even after those discounts. And believe me, those extra gigabytes can make a difference in an iPhone.
There is also the little fact of the iPhone XR remaining a very formidable device even now. Most iPhones tend to age well, and the XR is no exception. It is still a smooth performer with a good camera and exceptional battery life and well, it still looks good enough and is easily identifiable as an iPhone. Of course, it does not match up to the 11 (on paper at least, we have yet to actually get the device) but it is definitely not as vastly inferior as some might think it is – it has the same display size (and resolution – STILL not full HD, incidentally) and barring those two cameras on the back, a largely similar design – even the measurements of both phones are broadly similar.
Yes, the iPhone 11 does more than the iPhone XR. Of course, it would. It is a newer device and a whole generation ahead. But it does so at a higher price.
Just how much higher that price seems is a matter of perception. Some would say that you can get a better performing latest generation device by spending a little more. Some others would say that you could get double the storage in a device that remains very good (though not the best) and still be left with money to invest in a good case or any other accessory by spending lesser.
A friend of mine summed it up best: “I can get an iPhone XR and AirPods for the price of an iPhone 11. Well?”
As in so many things, it depends on what you consider important. One thing that can be confirmed, however, is that the iPhone XR is definitely NOT a has been. Not yet. It might have taken almost a year to get there, but the iPhone XR seems to be finally fulfilling its destiny of being “the affordable iPhone.”