How much is too much for a phone? Apple’s iPhone 12, affordable alternatives, and 5G

Would you pay more than $1000 for a new smartphone?

For many Australians the answer is no, but for diehard Apple fans cost is no deterrent when it comes to the new iPhone 12 range, which hits stores on November 13.

Apple’s new iPhones are the first to feature 5G connectivity, but come with hefty price tags, starting at $1199 for the iPhone 12 mini, $1349 for a standard 64GB iPhone 12, and $2369 for the largest iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Despite widespread financial concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, consumer interest in Apple’s latest iPhone remains high, a survey of 600 Australians by telco comparison site WhistleOut found.

Three-quarters of people surveyed said that they were being more conservative with their money due to the coronavirus, with half saying that upwards of $1000 was too much to pay for a new phone.

Despite this, many expressed a willingness to pay more for the iPhone over other handsets, with 55 per cent of those surveyed saying they were interested in buying a new iPhone 12, and two-thirds (69 per cent) of those people expecting to buy their device before the end of the year.

There has also been a “marked decrease” in people looking to buy phones on contract plans, despite the fact that this is “how Australians have typically bought flagship devices”, WhistleOut spokesperson Kenny McGilvary said.

“The survey results confirm the trend for Australians now preferring to buy handsets outright rather than on contracts, but price doesn’t appear to be such a strong factor for those Australians who want an iPhone 12,” Mr McGilvary said.

The iPhone 12 comes in five colours. Photo: Apple

“Despite the majority of people now being more frugal with their money due to coronavirus, interest levels in the new iPhone range are still high and most people who want an iPhone 12 plan to buy a handset outright before the end of the year, paying the full amount up front.”

Affordable alternatives to the iPhone 12

Apple fans that baulk at the cost of the new iPhone 12 range may “still want to buy an iPhone to migrate towards slightly older models like the iPhone 11(starting at $999) or iPhone XR (starting at $849), both of which have just received price cuts,” Mr McGilvary said.

For those not wedded to the iPhone there is  “lots of strong competition at lower price points”, he said.

“Google’s Pixel 4a is a value-packed device coming in at only $599 outright, while Google’s newly announced flagship Pixel 5 still comes in under the $1000 mark at $999,” Mr McGilvary said.

“Those in the market for a 5G device could do worse than OPPO’s Reno 5G, which also comes in well under $1000.”

Do I need a smartphone with 5G?

With Australia’s 5G rollout still in its relatively early stages, is it worth spending more for a new smartphone that has 5G connectivity?

While handsets with 5G connectivity including the iPhone 12 series will be “a little more future proof”, 5G “isn’t yet an essential decision making criteria”, Mr McGilvary said.

“Optus and Telstra networks are still being rolled out, and there’s hardly any 5G coverage for Vodafone, so even if you want 5G connectivity you may not be able to get where you live and work right away,” he said.

If you’re wondering whether 5G network coverage is available your area, you can check out WhistleOut’s interactive coverage map.

iPhone 12: What’s (not) in the box?

The iPhone 12 range is the first to incorporate 5G technology, but the free headphones and charging cable that iPhone users have grown accustomed to are conspicuously absent.

This means iPhone 12 buyers will have to factor in the additional cost of these items to their budget.

The iPhone 12 will come in five colour options: white, black, green, red, and dark blue.

For snapping TikTok videos and Instagram selfies, the 12 boasts an advanced dual-camera system which is the first camera to shoot HDR video with Dolby Vision, which Apple said will allow users to “easily capture, edit, and share cinema-grade videos natively on iPhone”.

Apple’s proprietary Super Retina XDR display means the 12 will provide a “brighter, more immersive viewing experience” and “more realistic” playback, Apple said.

Those who have experienced the pain of dropping their iPhone, watching the screen crack into pieces, will benefit from the 12’s Ceramic Shield front cover, which Apple said provides “the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone”.

The new iPhone is powered by “the fastest chip in a smartphone”, Apple’s A14 Bionic, while some 12 models feature the firm’s new MagSafe technology, which offers “high-powered wireless charging and an all-new ecosystem of accessories that easily attach to iPhone”.

Topics: Apple
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