We saw this video of Marques Brownlee on YouTube where he is sharing his thoughts on Are we at peak smartphone, or is it just a hiccup from the chip shortage?” We have embedded the video and also provided the text of the same video for the avid readers.
So the truth is there really is only one spec of the iPhone 14 that I find really interesting right now. But first a question. Are we at peak smartphone? I mean, at this point it’s a classic question and the gut reaction is usually yes, feels like we are.
But I’ve always said NO, we are not at peak smartphones. Just as long as things are objectively getting better every single year, just getting slightly better over and over again. We keep getting more processing power, more memory, higher resolutions and more intelligence and we keep getting new features. Recently there are cameras underneath displays and fingerprint readers underneath screens that are getting better. And just recently we started getting phones folding in half.
So if we are defining peak smartphone as having reached the apex where phones are no longer getting better and it’s flat, then amazingly, we’re still not there yet. But I think we all have the same feeling, which is clear they have slowed down a lot since the beginning. The 2007 and 2009s early smartphones are making huge leaps. I got the first HD screen and then the first selfie camera and then the first eight K video. Now we’re getting little things.
It slowed down. So now it’s in the middle of 2022 and the iPhone 13 is eight months old. This means there are already a bunch of rumours about the next iPhone coming right up. And just one of those rumours, one of those rumoured specs stands out is really interesting because it’s the same as last year. So first of all, just FYI, it looks like the mini iPhone will be gone and it will be replaced actually by a larger version of the base iPhone.
iPhone 13 series and iPhone 14 lineup details
And if I was a betting person I’d say that’s probably going to be the most popular one. So the iPhone 14 lineup will allegedly be iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, then iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. And we also know that every year Apple has the challenge to try to differentiate between the Pro iPhones and the non-Pro iPhones to try to give you reasons to spend the extra money to upgrade. We’ve talked about pricing ladders before in a video. He linked it below the like button if you haven’t seen it already.
So with the iPhone 13 series, the whole lineup was pretty solid and there were a few differentiating factors for the extra money. The Pro iPhone had the extra telephoto camera plus LiDAR, it had stainless steel around the outside, the promotion display upfront, the extra Ram, the higher Max storage, and a couple of smaller features like ProRes, et cetera. So naturally, some of these features are enough to pull people up to a more expensive Pro iPhone this year. So the iPhone 14 has rumoured to be a slightly bigger gap between the regular iPhone and the Pro iPhone. So take all the same stuff that I just talked about with last year’s phones. Plus, the new Pro iPhone is rumoured to be getting this new pill-shaped cutout at the top for face ID and the selfie camera. So finally getting rid of the notch, although it really is just an aesthetic difference, gets you some of those precious pixels back, and that’s about it. And the Pro iPhone should get a new higher-end 48-megapixel main camera, while the regular iPhone still sits at twelve. Now, the Pro will probably also still bend to twelve megapixels, but at least you can get more detail out of it and potentially higher resolution video. But the most interesting rumour of all of the potential iPhone 14 stuff is that only the Pro iPhone will get the chip upgrade.
About Bionic Chip
So the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will get a shiny new A 16 Bionic chip. And the non-Pro iPhone 14 and 14 Max will actually have the same one-year-old chip that’s in the phone. I’m already using the A 15 Bionic, and this to me is fascinating for so many reasons. Where do I even start? First of all, when have we ever seen two phones launch an entire year apart with the exact same SoC, the exact same chip and spec? I don’t think we’ve ever seen that. And I think just out of principle, hearing that, a lot of nerds and tech people are going to have a pretty big reaction, I feel like I can basically see the comments already. Why would Apple do this? How are they going to sell us basically the same phone with a new name and try to pretend like it’s something new? So greedy of them, such an Apple thing to do.
He further added, “But then again, I can also kind of see all the defences already too. First of all, there’s a chip shortage and shocker. No one is immune to it. But then also, let’s be real for a second. If I handed you a phone with an A 15 Bionic and another identical phone with an A 14 Bionic, aside from running a benchmark, how long would it take you to actually notice the difference? And it would take you years down the line to actually start to ever see a difference there. And really, that’s been a huge feature of Apple’s Super high-end chips, which is they give you these years of headroom. And so maybe it feels kind of like you’re shorting these new iPhone 14 users of one year of headroom by not upgrading the chip. So yeah, both sides clearly have a point. And it is very interesting and a bit unprecedented to have a brand new flagship iPhone ship with the same exact chip as an old flagship iPhone.”
It just never happened. But it does make a lot of sense. We’ve seen the A 15 Bionic is obviously a very powerful chip and more than enough for most normal people for a long time. And it is also very common for a manufacturer to ship a slightly lower-end chip in their lower-end phone. So high-end chip gets maybe the best Snapdragon Eight Gen One or Snapdragon 865 plus or whatever. And then their lower-tier phone will have a lower tier chip. So for me, I’m left with one statement and one question. The statement just being the fact that I’ve been saying we are not at peak smartphone yet. If Apple does this, that statement does get a bit weaker. Of course, shipping the same flagship ship, although there are some rumours saying there may be like two extra gigs of Ram alongside the 15 Bionic.
So it’s not the exact same chip as last year. But you get the point that it’s been flattening very much and it feels more than ever like we’re at peak smartphone. But my one question is how is Apple going to get on stage and talk about the iPhone 14? Like it’s not basically the same phone like the iPhone 13, right? Unless I’m missing something and there are some really big features that I am not seeing yet that aren’t rumoured yet.
The Apple Strategy
He shared, “The Apple way is usually just praising their old phone all the time because it’s sold really well, but then selling it again with a new name at a higher price. I don’t know if that’s going to work, but you know how every year on stage they have that slide where after they reveal the price they show the whole lineup of all the different phones they sell at all the different price brackets. So this is how that exact slide looked in 2021. I’m trying to figure out what the 2022 version is going to look like. So we have the new iPhone Se already with 5G. That’s 429 slots in the bottom there. That’s fine. Then I assume we’ll have the new iPhone 14. Let’s say that starts at $ 699 and the 14 Pro starts still at $ 999. They can keep selling the iPhone twelve with the older specs for $ 499, but then do they keep the iPhone 13 around for $ 599?”
He questioned, can they do that? I mean, what’s the difference here? What’s that difference? For 100 extra dollars, you should never get the iPhone 14, right? What’s the explanation on stage going to be?
Are there some new iPhone 14 exclusive software features in the pipeline even though they have basically the same specs? Maybe you’ll get one more year of software updates out of it than a 13. Maybe those two extra gigs of Ram will enable a little bit better headroom and future-proofing, but that by itself doesn’t seem like it’s worth $100. So that is going to be a really interesting detail to pay attention to.
He ended the video with a question to the audience asking, let me know what you think of the way the iPhone 14 is shaping up, especially versus the iPhone 13 and how those could differentiate themselves aside from some new colours.
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