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How iPhone 8, iPhone X will impact the premium end of India's smartphone market

Analysts say that Apple has created a new "premium-plus" category with the new launches, but the biggest beneficiary could be the iPhone 7.

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Now that the initial excitement surrounding three new iPhone models is out of the way, let’s put things in perspective. Apple’s new offerings are slated to hit the Indian market on September 29 — right in the middle of the festive season, which is typically a lucrative time for smartphone makers. However, given the steep pricing, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X may not be selling like hot cakes exactly. What could happen, instead, is a surge in the sales of older models, especially the iPhone 7, after a price cut.

The iPhone 7 will now come cheaper by Rs 7,200, while the iPhone 6 could cost Rs 6,900 lesser. By all means people will upgrade. Analysts believe that iPhone 6 users will opt for the iPhone 7, while the iPhone 5S or the iPhone SE users will move to the iPhone 6. And the iPhone 8-onward models will create a new layer in the top-end of the smartphone market. “Apple has actually made space for a new, premium-plus category. With the older flagships getting a price cut, the newer models will help Apple maintain its brand image,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, tells BGR India. “iPhone 8 will be the new status symbol,” he adds. ALSO READ: Apple iPhone X Face ID feature raises concerns around privacy and surveillance

The iPhone 8 starts at Rs 64,000 for the 64GB version. Its other variant, the 256GB one, costs 77,000. That is significantly higher than the iPhone 7 which after a price cut will retail at Rs 49,000 for the 32GB version and Rs 58,000 for the 128GB one. The large-screen iPhone 7 Plus, which has charmed users with its dual-camera setup, too comes at Rs 59,000 for the 32GB variant. The market is poised for sharp growth in iPhone 7 sales, experts estimate. “Apple volumes will entirely be driven by the iPhone 7 for the next one year at least,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst at Greyhound Research. “The market will shape up like a pyramid with the iPhone 7 at the base of it,” he tells BGR IndiaALSO READ: Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X India prices revealed: All you need to know

Why do tech commentators sound so dull about the iPhone 8? “Because it lacks the wow factor. There are just incremental additions to the iPhone 7,” says Gogia. “The iPhone 8 isn’t a compelling product for people to buy. The iPhone 7 will continue to be the King of the Apple Jungle so to speak,” he adds.

Research indicates that on an average, people use only about 25-30 percent of the iPhone’s features. And the most-used ones are the same on the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8. Hence, users don’t have enough motivation to opt for the new model at a steep price. The iPhone 8 Plus too, analysts say, will suffer because of its form factor, i.e. the large screen, which traditional Apple users aren’t comfortable with. “Plus, a larger screen consumes more battery,” Gogia notes.

Where does that leave the iPhone X then? The giant 5.8-inch bezel-less phone with a starting price of Rs 89,000 and goes up to, hold your breath, Rs 1,02,000. Contrarily, analysts are positive in this case. “Apple has the best iPhone sales when a new model has a markedly different design. The iPhone X delivers a design unlike any other existing smartphone because the display is edge to edge on all four sides,” Ian Fogg, senior director, mobile & telecom, IHS Markit, explains.

“It will still sell in enormous volumes because Apple has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to persuade consumers to shift their overall spending to place a greater share of their disposable income towards a smartphone purchase. And, the starting price of $999 is only $33 more than the previously most expensive iPhone,” he adds. Meanwhile, the iPhone X will be in limited supply across the world. That could possibly be an indicator of the demand it will have. ALSO READ: Apple iPhone X to iOS 11 release date; here are the top 6 announcements from the keynote

Apple’s new launches come soon after Samsung rolled out its latest flagship — the Galaxy Note 8, which has reportedly notched up record pre-orders already. Xiaomi, too, has announced its flagship — the Mi Mix 2, which incidentally is bezel-less like the iPhone X. And there’s Google Pixel 2 coming up next month. With so many premium devices on the platter, how does the Indian smartphone buyer behave? Analysts say that the market is already “well-defined”. The conversation has long shifted from Android-versus-Apple to Android-versus-Android, and iPhone-versus-iPhone. “Inter-OS changes are happening in only 10 percent of the users. So, I don’t think Android flagships need to worry about the new iPhones,” says Greyhound’s Gogia.

Well, if nothing else works, there’s always the brand new Android Oreo to hold them back. No?

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  • Published Date: September 13, 2017 3:38 PM IST