iPhone slump: the rivals taking a bite out of Apple

Guardian Technology 03 Jan 2019 12:52
Apple’s £999 iPhone XS has many top-end rivals that are often more capable and can be drastically cheaper. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

As Apple’s shares tumble after its cut in forecasts, the company is laying the blame squarely on the economic slowdown in China. But that is only part of the problem.

Never before has Apple faced such fierce competition from a multitude of rivals from around the globe, all vying for a slice of the lucrative premium smartphone market. Matching or exceeding Apple’s iPhone on hardware quality, these phones are arguably more capable, often cheaper and, perhaps crucially for China, made by local firms, not only those from the US and South Korea.

The iPhone X broke the mould in 2017 but 2018’s iPhone XS and XS Max, while very good phones, were only iterative improvements even though Apple pushed the top asking prices to an extraordinary £1,449 in the UK, $1,449 (£1,152) in the US and 12,799 yuan (£1,480) in China.

The firm also launched a lower cost iPhone XR, which had the same processor and overall design of the iPhone XS, but dropped the quality of the screen, the materials used in its body and the dual camera system on the back for £749 in the UK, $749 in the US and 6,499 yuan in China.

The top of the pile for 2018 comes not from Samsung or Apple but China’s Huawei, which overtook the iPhone maker to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer by volume in the world.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The perennial thorn in Apple’s side in its battle for domination of the market since 2010, Samsung’s latest is a different beast.

Google Pixel 3

The third iteration of the Android maker’s own-brand smartphone, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL offer Google’s vision of what the software on a phone should be.

OnePlus 6T

High-cost rivals to Apple’s iPhone are one thing but there are also phones such as the brilliant OnePlus 6T that offer cutting-edge technology and great software at literally half the cost.

Chinese rivals

Of course, in China the competition from local rivals is even more fierce. Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei’s Honor sub-brand and Meizu are just a few of the top manufacturers.

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AppleChinaUSSamuel GibbsGuardian
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