The latest iPhone has gone on sale around the world, but people are staying at home.
Apple Stores in Australia opened their doors on Friday for the first day selling the iPhone XR, and while Apple has offered something a little different than on previous launches — more colors, arguably the best bang for your buck from the iPhone in years — the queues were nowhere to be seen.
At the Apple Store in the middle of Sydney, the store was quiet in the hour before doors opened. Where crowds have queued around the corner to buy Apple’s newest phone as recently as last month’s iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max launch, there were just a handful of people waiting.
According to staff at the store, most customers were coming in to pick up preorders at pre-allocated times throughout the day, a system that Apple has also had in place for previous launches.
It could be that queueing is becoming less necessary. Wait times for those who order the iPhone XR online in the US are three to five days rather than the weeks we’ve seen with some launches in the past. It could be that the lower-priced, colorful iPhone XR is pulling in people looking to upgrade a three-year-old model, or those looking for a less pricey phone for their kids. That could also be why the YouTube iPhone unboxers (and those who buy the phone to quickly flip it) were nowhere to be seen.
Apple’s newest iPhone may have had to follow behind the iPhone XS, which went on sale in September, but it still gives Apple fans a way to trade up to a new iPhone without having to push up to the $1,000 mark for the iPhone XS (or stretch their hands and their budgets for the larger iPhone XS Max, which starts at $1,099).
And while the iPhone XS launch saw buyers ponying up for premium features including the Super Retina display and dual 12-megapixel rear cameras, the iPhone XR still has its own selling points. CNET’s Scott Stein says the XR still delivers most of the iPhone X and XS features, including an excellent big screen, fast performance, Face ID and wireless charging, and a camera that’s mostly as good as the iPhone XS.
But despite the positive reviews and lower price, that may not have been enough to pull superfans out for the second iPhone launch in 2018, especially after they’ve seen a decade of iPhone launch days.
But that was no deterrent for those who did show up. First in line for her preorder was 23-year-old paralegal Rosa van de Pol, who was buying a black iPhone XR for her husband ‘mainly because of the price point.’
‘I think it was a good option, compared to the other phones that came out,’ she said. ‘The whole phone is the screen, so that’s great.’
But van de Pol admitted that considering the lack of queue, getting down to the store half-an-hour early ‘was a bit of overkill.’
The iPhone XR is going on sale around the world on Friday — stay tuned to CNET for updates as more stores open their doors.
Scenes were also quiet at the London launch, where doors opened at the company’s historic Covent Garden store at 8 a.m. on a dark and drizzly morning.
Again, Apple’s policy of booking people in for specific time slots meant the crowd before opening time was modest — I saw around 30 people in total — and the atmosphere inside the store was serene and civilised.
Many of the customers picking up their iPhone XRs were of the opinion they’d bagged themselves a bargain by opting for the cheaper model.
‘We felt there was more value for money,’ said 54-year-old David, who was buying an XR for his 21-year-old daughter Joanna. Both are self-described ‘Apple freaks,’ although they’ve never queued to pick up an iPhone on launch day before.
‘We thought we’d make the effort to come and see the store as well, because it’s just been refurbished,’ said David. ‘It’s quite an exciting day really.’
As David pointed out, the iPhone XR launch in London coincided with the reopening of the Covent Garden site following refurbishment, which sees a new forum area for talks added in the central atrium.
The refurbishment brings the store in line as much as possible with other Apple Stores around the world. At both its main retail locations in London (the other being its flagship Regent Street store) Apple has been careful to work around the listed heritage status of the buildings, to ensure their original features are kept intact. The arched porticos just outside the Covent Garden store are a great example of this, and also make it the better location of the two to shelter from the London rain while standing in line for phone launches — even on days like this, when the queue is relatively short.