This article originally appeared on VICE UK. The new iPhone 8 and iPhone X have just been announced by Apple. Now, for just $999, you can get an iPhone that does a ton of augmented reality, has facial ID recognition (which didn't respond during the Keynote), and can transform your face into a singing poo emoji.
But a worm is burrowing through Apple's profit-laden flesh; just last month, one of the UK's biggest mobile retailers, Dixons Carphone, downgraded its full-year profit forecast from between $480 million to $587 million, from $669 million last year. A spokesperson told the BBC that "customers were not upgrading their phones as frequently because phones had risen in price." Customers just aren't so bothered, they said, about "incremental" changes to mobile tech.
Apple is hoping that the X feels like a leap forward—that people will regain that "must have" desire and line up in droves to get their hands on it. But once they open the phone and spend five minutes fiddling with the new emojis, will it actually bring them true happiness?
I asked a bunch of people who've bought new Apple products within the first week of their sale for their thoughts.
Aaron Smith, 28
VICE: How long did you wait in line for to get your Apple product?
Aaron: I waited in line for about four hours for the first iPad. I bought one for me and my friend
Was it worth it?
Yeah—I'm kind of nerdy, and I embraced it. I've got four iPads now; it was worth it.
What were the best new functions to it?
Zero—it was just a cool gadget, a bigger screen for an iPhone. It was cool to have the newest thing.
Did it make you happy?
Yes, it did! [laughs a lot]
Do you ever question that rendition of happiness?
I do question that a bit. I watched almost two hours of the Keynote last night, and it's essentially watching an ad, and you're thinking, My pretty new iPhone is now redundant, and I'll be really happy with this new one because look how happy these people are talking about it. I'm conflicted about it because I know I didn't need this phone ten years ago. Everyone has smartphones, but why do I need a new one every year? I'm aware how hollow it is, but it makes me happy for a bit. I do think there is more to my life than just buying something!
Are you going to buy the iPhone X?
I don't think so; I think I'm going to buy the iPhone 8 plus. I miss the big screen, and the X doesn't have that.
George Spencer, 31
VICE: Did you stand in line?
George: I got the Apple Watch pre-ordered because I got there ten minutes late. But in central London generally all the idiots are standing near Apple stores, so if you go into a small phone carrier around launch week and you're willing to get the best quality or among the most expensive of its kind, you can get it on the same day. My barometer for quality is always "What's the most expensive?" because I'm incredibly gauche. Every year for the past decade I've bought a new iPhone, so I might as well get it early.
Does it make you happy?
No, but it makes me unhappy to not have it, so having it keeps me at parity. It's cool to have, and there are some features that are good, but it doesn't change the quality of my life. Andy Warhol said that Liz Taylor, the president and the bum on the street—the best Coca-Cola is available to all of them. That's the same with phones. I know that, right now, I have the best phone on the market. There's nothing that worries me, no variables, no FOMO, and I know in two weeks that will change, and it will be in the back of my mind, so I'll get it over and done with [and buy the new phone].
"It's annoying when you meet a girl on Tinder, and she texts you, and it comes up green. You just think, Ugh, it's not worth it."
What could make you happier than the newest iPhone?
It's good to have meaningful relationships with people around me, but apart from that, nothing. There's nothing that good that's available for $1,000 in two weeks.
Will you get the iPhone X?
What do you think about people that don't have iPhones?
I don't have any close friends who I get green messages from. Having lower price points is fantastic for bringing Apple to the world because it's annoying when you meet a girl on Tinder, and she texts you, and it comes up green. You just think, Ugh. it's not worth it? I have a friend who's 24, and her data plan ran out. She said she'd have to wait six days for it to refresh, so I just gave her $9 to get more data because I don't want to deal with green messages.
Dylan Mckee, 22
VICE: How many iPhones have you waited in line for?
Dylan: I've lined up for the 4, 5, and 6, which is sad, and then did a pre-order once for the 7 because I was on vacation.
What's the longest time you've waited in line for?
Probably about two or three hours. It was in quite unpleasant conditions, a late September morning at about 6:30 in very rainy and cold Newcastle weather.
Why do you do it?
I'm an app developer, and I need to test them on new phones to ensure the user experience is good.
Does Apple make you happy?
I enjoy getting the upgrades; I love the design—I think they'll eventually become modern-art pieces—and it's satisfying to touch, feel, and use the modern design. I've been to San Francisco to Apple's Worldwide Development Conference twice through a scholarship; you send them an app, and if they like it, you get to go for free. That was awesome because as well as professionally using Apple, I'm a big fan.
Does it annoy you that the democratization of the sales means that you, a developer, don't get advance versions of the product?
Yeah! It's far too fair, because people who have a genuine need for the phone can't get it earlier. It sounds a bit dickish and a bit anti-equality, but often it's really hard and waiting in line can be annoying. Unless you're absolutely huge, like Facebook or Snapchat, who've clearly been in partnership with Apple, you don't get any special treatment.
Will you get the iPhone X?
I'm tempted by the X, and I want it for development purposes—it looks so amazing. But the price is really off-putting and hard to justify. I felt guilty enough after buying the iPhone 7. I can't imagine spending $1,000 on a phone. It's the first time I've been hesitant. My heart says "yes," and my head says "God, no."
Claire Beveridge, 31
VICE: How many iPhones have you bought in the first week?
Claire: None, though I tried. I was working at an Apple retail store and didn't have an iPhone. I tried to get the iPhone 5 first; my mom and I were waiting at a small cellphone service provider in Brighton because there was an exclusive deal there—you could only get the phone through them at first. I waited in line for hours, but once I got to the front, I realized I'd forgotten my debit card, so I just went home.
Did it make you unhappy to not have it?
I wasn't too mad because otherwise I would have picked up my card and gone back to make the purchase. I was in charge of stock and visual merchandising and one part of that meant I got to see the product before anyone else did. But the excitement wore off when you had to spend all night setting the store up for a launch.
Do Apple products make you happy?
The thing about Apple is either you're in with this cult-like family obsession over the new products and releases… or you're not. I kind of wasn't. I didn't really see the point in plunging all the money you've earned at a company right back into that same business the minute a new product is released.
Will you get the iPhone X?
No way! It's so expensive, and I don't care about face recognition or animated emojis. When you're an actual adult not involved in tech, you have other priorities than throwing away a grand on a phone. My iPhone 6 does everything I need, so what's the point?
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