Apple just unveiled its iPhone 13 line, sending many Filipinos in a scramble to pre-order. Even those with no intention of buying it had their eyes on the latest drop, underscoring the brand’s grip on smartphone users.
Recessions and global pandemics can’t stop to the iPhone’s status as a covetable gadget, even 14 years after its first release.
Prestige and branding
Apple has released iPhones annually since 2007, and now at 13 in 2021. Several iterations, like the 4S, 5C, Mini, Plus, Pro, and Pro Max were dropped in between. You'd get the product in a sleek white box and with it came a reputation for being a covetable gadget, in all its touchscreen glory.
Black was the color of choice for the first few generations of iPhones until colorways came in white, metallic hues, and punchier colors. Regardless of the shade you got, the bitten apple on the back of your phone spoke of your status and wealth.
The first iPhone was priced at roughly P24,950 when it came out in 2007. The iPhone 13 is estimated to cost P50,990 when it hits stores. Aside from its physical look and premium feel, the software also added to its value.
Fresh grad Caylie Franco, who got an iPhone 4S in 2013 when he was in high school, stuck with an iPhone because of that. "I've been using an iPhone ever since because of its smooth and user-friendly interface."
"It makes the user feel high class and the user-friendly interface nga really is nice," he added.
Working girl Cassie Deluria, whose 2014 iPhone 6 has seen countless screen and battery replacements at Greenhills, doesn't subscribe to the idea of buying the latest iPhone every year yet understands that some people drop cash on the phone for the branding and prestige it offers absent ground-breaking upgrades from the previous generation.
"Those who seek and switch once a new model comes out… sobrang wild lang kasi ewan parang masyado ka nang busy habulin yung social status and prestige of having a new phone," Yani, not her real name, said.
Ease of use reigns supreme
While the phone comes with a luxury reputation, most of its users still revere it for its functions. It sports a user-friendly interface and the Apple ecosystem makes it easy to sync files accross gadgets in the iOS and Mac ecosystems.
Tish, not her real name, got her first iPhone—a 3GS— as a gift from her parents and never looked back. "I remember finding it so cool to be able to surf the web and send a tweet from a phone so easily because of the apps and their user-friendly interface that’s almost like the web app…but on a phone!" she said.
"We love Apple because it’s not intimidating, unlike some phones where you turn it on and there are so many things going on already and you’re not sure how to set it up," Tish said.
"The Apple ecosystem makes life a lot easier for me too, which is why it’s hard for me to switch," she added.
Deluria has no intentions of getting a new phone anytime soon, but said it was likely she would get an Apple phone to simplify file-sharing amongst her gadgets, which are also from the tech giant.
"I have a strong hunch I will [get an iPhone]. My laptop and my tablet [are Apple] kasi. Also Airdrop and even my work laptop is Apple," she said.
A new one every year
Once news of the 13 hit sites, Tish knew in her heart what she wanted to get in 2022: the pink one that resembled the soft blush hues in her make-up bag. "It’s become tradition for me and my fam to switch to the next iPhone ever 2 years," which they used to do abroad pre-pandemic.
Yani won't get the 13 as she's still pleased with the photo quality of her 11. She won't cross over to another brand anytime soon as she holds her phone's camera in high regard. She said she was picky about this and plans to stick with Apple sans yearly upgrade.
She also liked the hand-me-down culture in her family which ensures that no new phone goes to waste. "It’s cost efficient and it makes the most out of the device so you’re not entirely sad that your X amount of money is wasted," she said.
Despite criticisms of minimal upgrades per year, Apple still draws an eager crowd every September when it unveils the new generation of phones. Some people have stopped getting new phones every year, but they're still tuned in.
Keeping up to date
Yani first got an iPhone 5 in 2015 and now has an 11, her phone usually a hand-me-down from family members. Though she's keeping her current phone, she seeks updates because her family asks for specs.
Apple loyalist Tish checks news not just for herself, but her entire household. She's set to change her phone soon, and the 13 is the top choice. Her family is likely to get the same model in different colorways.
"I recently heard about the iPhone 13 through my friends saying that wala raw masyadong pinagbago sa iPhone 12," Franco said. "I feel like they're just milking money out of the Apple users who are religiously supporting the product line," he said, circling back to the brand's prestige built over the years.
He's planning to switch to a different brand for a change of pace, but he'll still keep tabs on the next phone the same way he eyes the 13 just in case a major change beckons him to return to his roots.
Deluria pays no mind to the Apple updates anymore, thinking of more important things she could spend her money on. But, just in case her seven-year-old iPhone 6 breaks down, she'll seek an Apple replacement, regardless if it's an older model or the latest drop.