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Apple’s iPhone 14 Plus has a pricing problem bigger than it is

Apple’s iPhone 14 Plus isn’t going to set any sales records, at least according to early analysis. In fact, the 14 Plus is trailing the iPhone 13 Mini when it comes to forecasted sales. It’s a shocking outcome for what was expected to be a commercial hit for the tech giant.

“The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus will be in stock on launch day, reflecting sluggish demand. For now, the pre-order results for the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are worse than those for the iPhone SE 3 and iPhone 13 mini (both SE 3 and 13 mini were cut off in 1H22),” analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said, “The iPhone 14 Plus is a replacement for the iPhone 13 mini. However, the pre-order results for this new product were significantly lower than expected, which means that Apple’s product segmentation strategy for standard models this year has failed.”

While it seems inexplicable, the problem here appears to be simple. From a U.K. perspective, as well as more broadly speaking, Apple is setting the iPhone 14 Plus price far too high.

The iPhone 14 Plus is too expensive

iPhone 14 laying on top of a pair of AirPods Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Let’s talk about that price. In the UK, the iPhone 14 Plus will cost you 950 British pounds. When I considered pre-ordering the phone, that amount struck me as ludicrously high. It’s not that I don’t think the iPhone 14 Plus is worth a premium price — it’s that the absolute value of that price caused me to stop and think about the value of the purchase.

If I’m spending close to 1,000 pounds on an iPhone, I’ve already crossed the financial rubicon. It’s a similar situation in the U.S. There’s just $100 separating the $899 iPhone 14 Plus and $999 iPhone 14 Pro.

What then stops me from extending myself a little further topick up the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max and get the whole gamut of new features — including a new processor, an always-on display, and the much-touted Dynamic Island? According to Kuo’s figures — nothing. The iPhone 14 Pro Max proved to be the most popular iPhone model, despite being the most expensive.

Front and back of the iPhone 14 Pro in Deep Purple.

It’s also worth noting that there is a circular economy to take into consideration for purchase decisions. I’ve shifted to buying all my tech refurbished from places like BackMarket or MusicMagpie. Many of these sites offer discounts on the other large-screen iPhones, including the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which brings the price below 900 pounds. if I wanted the cheapest big-screen iPhone I could get, the 14 Plus wouldn’t be in the running. Who is the iPhone 14 Plus for, then?

When it came to the iPhone Mini series, despite its failure, it had a cogent answer to the question. “Those who want a small iPhone, this is your phone,” the iPhone Mini tagline proudly declares. The iPhone 14 Plus has no such obvious target audience.

Do you want to spend 1,000 pounds for a large-screened iPhone? If the answer is yes, why not get the iPhone 14 Pro Max? Certainly, the same can be asked of the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro, but you’re spending 850 pounds to start. When it comes to the 14 Plus, you’re already just shy of 1,000 pounds. At that point, one would be forgiven for saying in for a penny, in for a pound.

A deliberately compromised experience?

An iPhone 14 Plus in hand.

Quite certainly, the iPhone 14 Plus makes a lot of sense as a device. Many people are using their phones as their sole computing devices, and a larger phone is a bigger canvas for reading books, watching movies, typing up notes, texting with friends, and so on. At the same time, the iPhone 14 Plus offers a deliberate series of compromises to lower the asking price that do cause one to take pause once you consider the absolute value of the iPhone.

Certainly, you don’t need a 120Hz display, but you can get one for 250 pounds more. Of course, you don’t need that new A16 processor, For 25 pounds, it’s there. Maybe that always-on display isn’t the best either, but the option exists just out of reach for 250 pounds more. You get the picture.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

Yes, the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro have the same issue, but the compromises one swallows at shy of 900, and the ones swallowed at shy of 1,000 are different psychologically. And, again, it’s a similar deal in the U.S. Why not give Apple another $100 for a better display, more capable cameras, and a new chipset?

At the same time, it is worth noting that the audience for iPhone pre-orders is exactly the same audience that would be making these kinds of calculations, You’re not shelling out $1,000 sight unseen. Thus, it stands to reason that the iPhone 14 Plus may do better after its release to a general audience who simply doesn’t care about all these things and just wants the cheapest, biggest, newest iPhone they can buy. Apple may well be banking on this.

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Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
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