The Apple leader made the comments during a live interview on ABC’s Good Morning America this week. Asked by presenter Robin Roberts whether he considered the iPhone X “out for reach for the average American,” Cook launched into an explanation of the lofty price point. It would appear the simple response is “no” and Apple expects people who want an iPhone X will be able to get one.
Explaining that the handset is “a value price, actually,” Cook said the way in which most consumers buy phones means the higher list price should be absorbed. The majority of U.S. smartphone shoppers opt for a monthly carrier plan instead of an unlocked handset from the manufacturer. Apple has endorsed this model since the very first iPhone.
“People are now paying for phones over long periods of times, very few people will pay the price tag of the phone initially,” said Cook. “Also, most people trade in their current phone, and that reduces the price further, and some carriers even throw in subsidies and discounts.”
Cook also made the case that the iPhone X is worth its high list price. The phone packs in a new glass design, Apple’s fastest ever mobile processor, a revised camera and new augmented reality features courtesy of its ARKit software platform. Compared with previous years, the iPhone X has a disproportionately high quantity of completely new capabilities.
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Cook’s argument holds some water. While it can’t be claimed the iPhone X is a bargain, it is worth much more in parts than Apple’s previous handsets. Supply chain sources have put the production cost at $412.75, significantly higher than the $224.80 of last year’s iPhone 7. The difference sees Apple make profits of 59 percent on the iPhone X, compared with 66 percent on the iPhone 7 and over 70 percent for the iPhone 6s.
During the interview, Cook also addressed one of the lingering concerns around the iPhone X. Asked whether Face ID is a security risk, he claimed Apple is “about your privacy” and stressed the company cannot access any biometric authentication data.
Face ID, the company’s facial recognition tech to replace Touch ID, has had a bumpy first few weeks, first failing onstage and then becoming the subject of a Senate inquiry. The technology’s been given a cool reception from many quarters but Apple’s confident customers will come around to the idea once they get to try it. Apple software engineering lead Craig Federighi has previously said the doubts will “melt away” when the iPhone X starts shipping later this year.