During the launch of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max at the Apple Store Dubai Mall, Dubai. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: The launch of the two new iPhones — XS and XS Max — at Dubai Mall’s Apple store on Friday did not generate the same excitement it did at last year’s iPhone X launch in the UAE.

The fall in footfall was anticipated as the new iPhones did not have outright major innovative revolution compared to iPhone X.

The iPhone X was a major change for Apple fans and it was also the anniversary edition.

Nabila Popal, senior research manager at International Data Corporation, told Gulf News that there is no denying that the new iPhones are exceptional phones with quite a few technological improvements over its predecessors.

However, are the phones an innovative revolution that will change the world of smartphones? In the words of the average consumer and channels, she said: “not really”.

“Almost every flagship launch since the past few years from almost all brands, be it the Note 9 from Samsung or the iPhone XS this year, every model seems to just be a slight upgrade from the last one as opposed to an outright innovative revolution, leaving consumers hungry for the ‘next big thing’ in smartphones,” she said.

“So, I don’t think it has been ‘innovation’ in its phones that is the driving factor to pull consumers to Apple handsets. Everyone knows many smartphone innovations in the last few years have been coming first from brands other than Apple trying to make a mark in the industry,” she said.

Even with the large screen size, she said that Apple came to the party way late. “Yet despite this, Apple continues to drive strong market share with 22.3 per cent market share in UAE in the second quarter of this year. I believe this is mainly due to the massive brand loyalty and prestigious brand image that no one other than Apple enjoys in the region, and perhaps even the world,” she said.

Moreover, she said that Apple share sees a jump in the fourth quarter and first quarter of next year, due to the loyal consumer base that is ready to upgrade their device.

However, she said that it would be interesting to see how the current market responds to such high-priced products as the market has been suffering a significant decline in consumer spending. “Retailers or operators offering monthly instalment plans are likely to see more traction in sales for these high-priced phones,” she said.

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, told Gulf News, that Apple is trying to extract more value from its installed user base and that is why they are going stronger on services and contents because that will be the future source of revenue. “It is not the specs game anymore as most Chinese players are fighting in the specs space and same is the challenge for Samsung to be an ecosystem player,” she said. “Nowadays in the smartphone market, you cannot expect any revolution and it is going to be only incremental. It is value and evolution rather than revolution,” she said.

They have to do it finally with wider displays to compete with other Chinese players, she said and added that despite the 5.8-inch iPhone X being a solid and great device, it felt a little bit lacking in display size when compared to the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 plus.

She said that the new iPhones will be appealing to more regional markets that care about having bigger displays.

The iPhone XR, which is more affordable and a clever addition, will be appealing to more Asian markets, especially China when it launches next month, she added.

“In mature markets, I think the iPhone XS Max will do well while the XR will be more attractive to price-sensitive buyers,” she said.
According to the “Smartphone Model Market Tracker” report by IHS Markit, Apple accounted for 86 per cent of smartphones priced above $751 in 2017. Samsung, with 12 per cent of the market, is the only other manufacturer represented in the segment.