Cupertino seeks to make its displays more durable by utilizing liquid metal and sapphire glass, but consumers have other priorities for the iPhone 6.
Apple’s iPhone displays are renown for their durability, and aluminosilicate glass displays have been the premium build material for iPhones past. A recent Apple document shows that Apple’s tough displays will become even tougher in the days ahead.
A new tech patent shows that Apple intends to use sapphire displays in future iPhones, and this fits rumors we’ve heard about the iPhone 6 in days gone by. An interesting feature of this recent Apple patent is that the company also intends to use liquidmetal to build future iPhones. While sapphire displays concern the front of the device, liquidmetal would be featured on the back of the iPhone as well as in the display itself. LiquidMetal has yet to be used in any smartphone or tablet worldwide, and Apple would be a pioneer in this area.
One question regarding the iPhone 6 concerns the price. Apple is expected to release two models, a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch model. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 should arrive in September with Apple’s announcement, but the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may not arrive to market until Apple announces the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 in October. Will Apple price both models at the same retail amount? It seems unlikely, since Apple will likely pack more pixels into the 5.5-inch iPhone than the 4.7-inch iPhone.
With that said, a recent analyst comment shows that the iPhone faithful are willing to spend at least an additional $100 for an iPhone with a wider display. According to Pacific Crest tech analyst Andy Hargreaves, the success of the iPhone 5s over the iPhone 5C shows that customers are willing to pay top dollar for a phone with better build quality. Hargreaves goes on to cite Samsung as an example of charging more for smartphones than the typical $199 on-contract price point. Hargreaves, however, errs in both statements. First, while it is true that the iPhone 5s had far more wide-reaching success than the iPhone 5C, the iPhone 5s was adopted because a number of consumers didn’t see the need to purchase a polycarbonate plastic phone because they’ve become accustomed to Apple’s metal build quality. You can’t market a metal build quality for years, then influence your customers to accept plastic. The reference to the iPhone 5C as “unapologetically plastic” only made things worse for Cupertino.
Next, it is true that Samsung does charge $299 as a starting price point for the Note experience, but Hargreaves doesn’t understand the nature of the Note’s price point: Samsung not only charges $299 for its Note devices, but actually provides 32GBs of memory storage on the device right out of the box. In Apple’s case, the company could add 32GBs of memory storage for entry-level devices, but that’s not been Apple’s style. Why would the company charge $299 for 32GBs when it can just keep the 16GB iPhone 6 at $299 (a somewhat outrageous price point) and make an additional $100 on a 32GB iPhone 6 (with the price at $399)? If Hargreaves intends to make Samsung the example, Apple must increase its memory storage in the iPhone 6 in order to have the same appeal. Not all iPhone customers are willing to shelve out $299 for 16GBs of memory storage. Some customers who purchased the iPhone 5C are willing to get more for less, and these customers won’t be so enticed to pay an additional $100 – even if the additional money isn’t hard to find. A WalletHero survey shows that 35% of iPhone customers want a lower-priced iPhone 6. That’s one out of every three iPhone customers. These low-price consumers are likely to either stick with their current iPhone or purchase the iPhone 5s next year when the price drops $100. A 32GB iPhone 5s will cost $199 on-contract, as opposed to the current $299 price.
While consumers can never get too durable of a display for protection against drops, consumers have other interests regarding the iPhone 6. The same WalletHero mentioned above shows that most iPhone customers want a longer battery in the iPhone 6, with 97% of the 1,500 customers surveyed prioritizing longer battery life over every other factor. Eighty-five percent of iPhone customers want a larger screen, and 73% want a camera with more megapixels. Let’s hope that Apple does more than increase display durability come September.