We’re now less than three weeks away from the date when Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 7, and I’ve noticed something worth discussing ahead of time.
This year’s iPhone appears to be a pretty modest update largely because of what we expect will be an iPhone 6s-like design, but I’ve seen a generally positive response to rumors so far from the type of users that insiders sometimes call normals. What feels like a boring iPhone cycle to insiders still holds a sense of magic for others. Perspective is important.
There’s also a splash of magic that seems to spread to even cynical insiders as Apple’s rumored plans turn into official products. We already know how the next few weeks will play out, but there’s still an adrenaline rush that comes with each step along the way…
One factor to note is that there’s always a ‘meh’ factor for the press during an ‘S’ year for the iPhone, yet Apple still broke records with iPhone 4s and iPhone 5s launches. The last two quarters with iPhone 6s haven’t seen year-over-year growth, but there are other factors at play besides the ‘S’ factor. Expect the ‘meh’ response from the press to be amplified this year, and iPhones to continue to be sold in the tens of millions anyway.
Anecdotally, among the normals I’ve seen a lot of excitement for new iPhone models ahead of their release — even when people see what we’re expecting. Dual cameras on the Plus model and a potentially darker space gray or black version are features many people care about. Case-compatibility could even be an upside for average users in a year when enthusiasts were looking for a more radical change like what we’re expecting next year.
Based on the rumors alone, I’ve been very much on the fence about buying the next iPhone even though I have a yearly upgrade plan through my carrier. My wife, on the other hand, saw the recent space black leak and commented that she’d switch to that from her rose gold iPhone 6s Plus. Okay, so maybe normals aren’t as bored as the cynical press.
I also think new iPhone colors are like new emoji in iOS updates: people really care about that kind of thing. The white shell on the iPhone 3GS, the long-delayed white iPhone 4, the slate iPhone 5, the iPhone 5s in gold and space gray, every iPhone 5c, and the rose gold iPhone 6s. They may not be the #1 reason to upgrade (or maybe they are!), but people care about color even if much of the shell hides inside a protective case.
Then when this week’s iPhone 7 release date story hit Facebook’s trending topics page, I discovered what a lot of regular folks were saying about the upcoming iPhones. Below are a few examples:
- “Been waiting patiently. 💁🏻💪🏼”
- “Here comes the Monster Machine!”
- “I Will Have 😍”
- “Will be getting mine”
- “I want 1.”
- “This is my wish for christmas”
- “Anyone else as excited as I am”
And that was on a story suggesting the launch date may be a week later than previously rumored. People are excited. I even saw one person planning a pre-order party. You almost wouldn’t think it’s likely going to be sort of a double ‘S’ year, and it seems like many people aren’t interpreting the rumors that way. This isn’t the kind of thing you hear about in the tech press this year, but we’re not everybody. Perspective.
My next guess is that even some of us in the tech press will find one reason or another to be excited about a new iPhone that looks a lot like the last two models. The same is true for a lot of our readers that similarly yawn at yet another year of the iPhone 6 design.
Think about it. A faster chip and a better camera are usually the main upgrades we care about year-over-year. Less technical customers buy new iPhones every two to three years, but we pay for the latest models before they’re even in stores so we can get them on day one. Major iPhone changes don’t happen year-over-year; it’s the collection of changes from a model here and a model there that add up to upgrade-worthy iPhones.
We buy new models every year anyway. We care about the smallest camera improvements and how the A9 beats the A8 and that RAM upgrades keep more tabs saved in memory for Safari. That’s the thing that I’m thinking about now: the new iPhone is expected to drop the headphone jack, but no one believes the new models will be the same speed or slower, and the camera improvement could be dramatic with a second sensor.
Finally, consider how the next few weeks will go. John Paczkowski at Buzzfeed or someone will report a date that is considered by insiders as solid for the next iPhone event (although we may be past that point this year), then Apple will follow with press invites making it official (probably next week on Thursday, August 25). Then the event will likely happen on September 7, just 20 days from now, followed by pre-orders likely on September 9 and deliveries on September 16 or September 23.
A lot of on-the-fence types will cave in and ultimately buy the new iPhone (I’m still on the fence but leaning mostly on the side that doesn’t buy) because each one of those events adds a little shot of excitement into the experience. Then there’s the fear of missing out factor, the appeal of any new iPhone on the day that deliveries go out, and any features we don’t know about yet that will make the new models more appealing regardless of how they look.
Blame it on the Reality Distortion Field (a Steve Jobs invention) or simply Apple’s magic, but more people are as excited as ever about Apple’s next iPhones despite what the tech press would have you believe.