Apple’s iPhone XR was reportedly the best selling iPhone in the world in 2019. Apple is believed to have shipped 46.3 million iPhone XR smartphones (current starting price of $800 CDN). The iPhone XR was released in September 2018.
London-based research firm Omdia (press release below) reported that the second best selling smartphone worldwide in 2019 was the iPhone 11 (current starting price of $980 CDN) with 37.3 million units sold.
The report states that Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy A10 was the best selling Android phone of 2019 with 30.3 million units shipped.
Side Note »
While some news outlets might refer to the iPhone XR to be the budget option, it’s not. It’s not close to being a budget option, unless you never leave the Silicon Valley bubble.
While the iPhone XR may be $150 cheaper than when first introduced, and $100 cheaper then the current iPhone 11, it’s far from a budget smartphone when compared to one year-old high-end Android phones. The Samsung Galaxy S10+, for example, is barely one year old and it’s already half price at $450 US. And the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, first released in August 2019, was discounted today by a massive $550 US on Amazon.
Though the price has come down since it’s introduction in 2018, the iPhones XR is still quite expensive, priced at $800 CDN for the 64GB version, and $870 CDN for the recommended 128GB version. To help protect that hefty investment, one might choose to add Apple Care ($200), a protective case ($50+), a screen protector ($50+), and then there is the inescapable sales taxes. Only those living within a bubble could call this a budget phone with a straight face.
People who are buying Apple products know they are paying premium prices. There’s even a term for it – the Apple tax.
According to Counterpoint Research, Apple’s iPhone XR was again the best-selling smartphone in the third quarter of 2019. Last year’s model, the iPhone XR has been the best-selling model every quarter so far this year.
The research also found that the iPhone 11 only took 5th spot in its own launch quarter.
Where Canada is concerned, could price be the bigger decider? iPhone 8 starts at C$600. iPhone XR starts at C$800. iPhone 11 starts at C$980.
The company said that the iPhone 11 managed fifth place in its own launch quarter.
According to Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse, the iPhone XR was the top-selling model globally in Q3 2019, capturing 3% market share. In fact, except for the launch quarter in September 2018, iPhone XR has been the top-selling model globally in every quarter since Q4 2018. The XR alone contributed to over one-quarter of the total Apple sales during the quarter, making it the best-selling model for Apple across all regions. Apple also adjusted the price of the iPhone XR in China and several other markets, which helped keep demand strong during the quarter. The iPhone 11 also made its debut in the top 10 within the launch quarter.
The top 10 best-selling smartphones in Q3 comprised two iPhones, three low-end Samsung models, and a mix of Chinese brands:
Samsung Galaxy A10
Samsung Galaxy A50
Samsung Galaxy A20
Xiaomi Redmi A7
While Samsung appeared to have pushed buyers up through its range, the reality was that it simply dropped the prices of its former “mid-range” A-series models to become the new low-end phones.
Consumer Reports has updated its smartphone rankings and they have placed the two iPhone 11 Pro models at the top.
In their rankings, CR places a lot of emphasis on battery life. CR claimed the iPhone 11 Pro Max was able to run 40.5 hours. They were able to make the iPhone 11 Pro lasted 34 hours, while they squeezed out 27.5 hours from iPhone 11.
Apple has released a support document explaining the importance of using genuine displays during repairs on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max —and has noted that iOS 13.1 will pop up a warning if a non-Apple one is detected.
The new support document discusses how iPhone displays are designed, tested, and manufactured by Apple to meet their quality and performance standards. They go on to state that genuine devices are critical for the best performance when it comes to Multi-Touch, color accuracy, and features like True Tone, Night Shift, and Haptic Touch.
The warning extends to who is repairing your phone as well, not just the screen itself.
“Only technicians who have completed Apple service training and who use Apple genuine parts and tools should replace iPhone displays,” reads the document.
Once again Apple is restricting who can repair their devices and with which parts. This way, they can continue to charge huge markups for replacement screens and other components.
Amber notes she does not yet know to what other Apple devices this warning might extend.
And for the most part, everyone agrees Apple made a good, solid phone. It’s a bit faster, has much improved cameras, more durable design, and a longer, all day, battery. The new base model, the iPhone 11, also starts US$50 less compared to last year – US$700 / CDN$979.
But it’s pretty much the same LCD display as last year.
Not everyone thinks you should be upgrading this year.
None of this is enough to warrant an immediate upgrade if you have had your smartphone for only two years. The latest iPhones just aren’t a big leap forward from last year’s iPhones or even the iPhone X from 2017.
So here’s what I ultimately suggest: You should definitely upgrade if your current device is at least five years old. The iPhone 11 models are all a significant step up from those introduced in 2014. But for everyone else with smartphones from 2015 or later, there is no rush to buy. Instead, there is more mileage and value to be had out of the excellent smartphone you already own.
Brian goes on to say »
If you spent $1,000 on an iPhone X two years ago, then hold off. The iPhone 11s just aren’t enough of an innovation leap to warrant $700-plus on a new smartphone.
I was also extremely impressed with the iPhone 11’s video capabilities. All three cameras can take 4K60 now, and if you record in anything less than 60 frames per second, you can switch between the wide and ultra-wide lenses with no color shifts or exposure changes, which is impressive. The only Android phones that compete with Apple in video are from Samsung. But Apple’s still ahead, and the gap is getting wider.
As mentioned, we spent a ton of time testing photo and video in our iPhone 11 Pro review, including a deep dive into video, so if you want more, go check it out there. But I think the iPhone 11 cameras are so good that they’re worth a year-over-year upgrade from the XR; I don’t usually say that.
Whether you’re in a sort-of-dark situation, or focusing a tripod-mounted phone at the night sky, there’s a setting that enables you to make what would normally be a badly-lit photo look as clear as… well not quite as clear as day, but wonderfully bright.
The results are startling, elevating Apple to the level of Huawei, Samsung and Google when it comes to taking low-light and night photos – and in some ways enabling it to surpass its rivals. Night mode can make photos shot at 1am look as if they were taken in late afternoon, and if you can get your subjects to remain still, you’ll take great snaps.
However, try to photograph a scene that includes motion – people dancing at a concert, for instance – and it’s a world of blur. You’ll need to manually turn off night mode, and that’s a little bit of a nuisance when you’re trying to get a quick snap.
Lauren Goode at Wired (paywall) was less enthusiastic about the photo improvements of the new iPhone 11, and also wondered which iPhone 11 she’d choose, even if budget was not a factor »
When pitted against other leading smartphones, the iPhone 11 Pro Max wasn’t always the obvious standout. The Google Pixel 3, a less expensive and soon-to-be-outdated phone took crisper photos of a floral arrangement in a very dark bar. An iPhone 11 Pro Max photo of my friend Kayla, captured in a dark sushi restaurant, showed a lot of detail in easy-to-miss spots like her hands, or the slight wrinkles of her shirt. But Kayla, a video producer, and I both agreed that the color and temperature of the photo was off, whereas the Pixel 3’s photo, while cooler, was more true to life.
In my experience, it took me about 23 hours to drain the battery of the iPhone XS Max from 94 percent (I took it off the charger a little early) down to 57 percent. That’s a whole day on less than half a full charge. The Max hasn’t died on me yet, as I’ve been intermittently charging it over the past week. The iPhone 11 Pro is supposed to add an extra four hours to last year’s iPhone XS battery claims, though I have not yet been able to thoroughly test that assertion.
The extended battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro Max is still not enough to convince me to buy a chonky phone. If I had to choose between all three new iPhones, and budget was not a factor, I would buy the iPhone 11 Pro. The smaller size is right for me, and its camera is a step above the two-lens camera module on the iPhone 11.
Does that make it a “Pro” phone? The answer to that is about as subjective as the quality of a smartphone photo in 2019.
iPhone 11: In my full day using the 11 as my primary phone (email, a lot of Twitter and texting, phone calls, too much tapping through Instagram), I was left with a 15% charge by 11:30 p.m. The iPhone 11 streamed video on YouTube for 13 hours and 20 minutes—about 20 minutes longer than the XR. (Apple promises an extra hour of battery life.)
iPhone 11 Pro: With the 11 Pro as my primary phone, I was left with just under a 10% charge at 11 p.m. That’s far longer than I used to get with the X but not as long as with the 11. The 11 Pro streamed video on YouTube for 13 hours—three hours longer than the XS.
iPhone 11 Pro Max: On 11 Pro Max battery-testing day, I was left with a roughly 20% charge by lights out. I could go to sleep and wake up with enough juice to get me through the morning. Even after a grueling day of camera testing at the New York Renaissance Faire, it had 25% left, while the other two were in the dreaded 10% territory.
Video » Scott Stein from CNET spent a week playing with the three iPhone 11’s and asks if they are for you. Spoiler » He says they are not necessary updates, they are good updates. »
Video » Mark Spoonauer from Tom’s Guide says the Apple iPhone 11 is a major upgrade over last year »
Apples line of iPhone 11’s goes on sale today. Delivery is scheduled to begin next Friday, on Sept 20th.
These are premium level phones. The iPhone 11 starts at US$700, leading it to be called the affordable flagship. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at US$1000 and goes up to US$1449.
In Canada, starting today, you can pre-order the base model iPhone 11 for CDN$979. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at CDN$1379 and climbs all the way to CDN$2000. The exchange rate obviously hurts the optics, but still, that’s a $1000 for the “affordable” option, a phone that might last you a couple of years.
At those prices, the regular iPhone 11 is sure to be the more popular. The few minor added improvements will not be justification for the US$300 / CDN$400 price bump. Not for most people.
It’s important to put the iPhone 11 in perspective » Just last year, Joe Public could purchase a new iPhone SE, directly from Apple, for US$399. The SE was first introduced in 2016 and was available from the mother ship until mid-to-late 2018. In January of this year, Apple put the iPhone SE back for sale as a clearance item for $249. It quickly sold out.
No affordable iPhone has been announced since the iPhone SE. It was one of the last iPhones to have a standard 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack. I have an iPhone SE, and I love it. But the screen is dying and I’m looking for a replacement.
Apple made a conscious decision to disregarding a significant number of potential customers who may want a smaller design, or who may be looking for a good midrange smartphone. I like that the iPhone SE fits in my front pocket and I don’t have to worry about crushing it or bending it. And I think US$400 is about the right price for a phone in 2019.
We may have entered a time where the better value smartphone will outsell the premium offering with the premium price tag. Google understood this when they introduced the US$400 / CDN$549 Pixel 3a earlier this year. The Pixel 3a is probably the best mid-priced, Joe Public friendly smartphone on the market today. Customers are just not up to spending $1000+ every couple of years for a phone.
Every day I dive into the internet cesspool and go through a pile of news sources, extracting and making sense of the most fascinating. The stories are curated by hand. No large media organizations. No bots. No unambiguous algorithms deciding what you get to read.