Apple Inc’s new, lower priced iPhone that comes with a faster processor but lacks 5G technology disappointed Asia, where cheaper and feature-packed handsets from rivals are already available.
The iPhone 11, launched on Tuesday for $50 less than last year’s base XR model, was met with a limp response from social media users in Asian markets that are dominated by Huawei Technologies and Samsung Electronics.
Lowering the entry price point, a rare move from Apple, was likely an effort to attract buyers in China, where Apple has ceded ground to Huawei due to a surge in support from patriotic Chinese consumers after the Chinese brand was caught in the US-China trade standoff, said analysts.
Despite the reduction, the iPhone 11, and even the higher-end models with more camera lenses, are set to come up short in Asia.
“Apple’s new phones were no surprise at all. Only tangible change is having an additional camera on their premium model,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Seoul-based Cape Investment & Securities.
“However, it is noticeable that Apple has made a price cut for the newest iPhone for about $50, which is a very rare move for the company.
The move might be aiming to manage and reduce potential risks drawn by the US-China trade war.” The iPhone 11 will have two back cameras and is priced starting at $699, down from $749 for the XR last year.
On Tuesday, Apple also dropped the price of the XR by $150. The more expensive iPhone 11 Pro will have three cameras on the back and starts at $999.
The bigger screen iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099. “Since we still have to wait a year for 5G, why not just buy Huawei on Monday,” said one user on China’s Twitter-like service Weibo.
Huawei and smaller rival Vivo have already released 5G models in China, and Samsung in South Korea. A meme doing the rounds on Chinese social media featured Apple chief executive Tim Cook bragging about the new features and Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, shutting him down by pointing out that Huawei has had those features for years.
“(Apple) just added one more camera lens and called it a new feature, meanwhile it is still too pricey,” said a user on South Korea’s Naver.com web portal.
One of the main draws of the new launch for US buyers – a $5 per month Netflix-like streaming service – will not be available in China.
Counterpoint analyst Neil Shah said the entry price, while lowered by Apple, remains high compared to local rivals.
Combined with the lack of 5G, that made the new iPhones “less attractive and future-proof” for Chinese consumers, Shah said, forecasting that Apple will sell 30mn-35mn iPhones in China this year, down from 63mn phones in 2015.
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