What the iPhone 12 tells us about the state of the smartphone industry in 2020

The smartphone industry was in transition well before COVID-19 was a blip on anyone’s radar. More than 13 years after the launch of the original iPhone, these products have long since transitioned from luxury items to commodities, losing some of their luster in the process. The past several years have seen slower upgrade cycles as […]

The smartphone industry was in transition well before COVID-19 was a blip on anyone’s radar. More than 13 years after the launch of the original iPhone, these products have long since transitioned from luxury items to commodities, losing some of their luster in the process. The past several years have seen slower upgrade cycles as consumers grew reluctant to pay $1,000 or more for new devices.

And while the iPhone 12 was no doubt in development long before the current pandemic, the pandemic’s global shutdown has only exacerbated many existing problems for smartphone makers. The clearest representation of Apple’s reaction is in the sheer number of iPhones announced at today’s “Hi Speed” event. Long gone are the days when a company could rest on a single flagship or two.

Today’s event brought a grand total of four new iPhone models, ranging in price from $699 to $1,099: the 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. As with the Apple Watch, the company is keeping last year’s iPhone 11 around and has cut the price to $599. That puts the older model in the high-mid-range for Android devices, but represents a far cheaper entry point than we’re accustomed to for Apple phones.

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