The only thing more predictable than iPhone hot takes – like this one – is the desperation of writers to declare that the new iPhone or Note 8 is “massively expensive”. I’m here to tell you that, in fact, it’s a massive bargain.
Once the dust had settled on the launch event I had a little look at the iPhone X pages on Apple’s site. One feature stood out for me – video. I’ll explain. For some time now I’ve been making a portion of my income as a video producer. Video is massively expensive, cameras that perform well are still incredibly costly.
The video features of the new iPhone are incredible. The fact a phone can shoot 4K at 60 frames per second is insane. To give you an idea, for most TV applications you’d shoot 30 frames per second. With the iPhone X you can shoot at double that, which means you can get the smoothest motion possible or use those extra frames to slow the footage down by 50% without a significant drop in motion quality.
Even more remarkable is the phone’s ability to record slow-motion video, at 1080p, with 240 frames per second. It’s hard to explain just how mindblowing a feature like this is. For one, it requires a lot of processing, creates a lot of data very quickly and if you wanted to buy a standalone camera that did it, would cost you quite a bit of money. It’s a really amazing thing to have on a phone.
Cameras like Nikon’s awesome new D850 are just shooting in 4K 30fps and cost three and a half grand. Now I’m not trying to make a comparison between a DSLR and a phone, but given that video and photos are one of the things the iPhone does, it’s quite impressive to see such amazing quality on a thing that fits in your pocket and “only” costs $1000.
When I was a kid my dream job was to be a cameraman. All I ever wanted to do was operate cameras. Back then, a 240 line video camera cost $500 or so and was out of my reach. Now we have phones with 4K video and a whole lot more. As an example, back in the VHS days, you’d have to spend money on an edit controller, titler, extra recorder for dubbing and probably a sound mixer too. You can do all of this on a phone now, and produce pretty good results.
For a lot of people, $1000 is unaffordable. For a lot of people, spending that kind of money on a phone seems absurd, and that’s fine – no piece of technology is aimed at everyone. But what I believe is that the iPhone X, Samsung’s Note 8 or S8 or LG’s V30 are all devices that offer more tools than you can imagine in one box.
Gaming on an iPhone might mean you don’t need to buy a Nintendo Switch. Video means you can avoid a $1000 camera and you get beautiful stills thrown in. For some people, a phone is their only computer too, and phones have brought access to people who might not otherwise have it. You can make video calls to people in distant lands and, for the most part, for very low cost. The value of this kind of communication has, perhaps, been lost in a world where it’s common. But show someone the iPhone X in the ’80s and ask them what they’d pay for it – I bet they’d offer more than $1000.
So, what am I saying? I’ve seen a lot of technology over the years. I’ve wanted to own, and not been able to afford, a lot of it. Some things that I have bought, like MP3 players, cameras and games consoles have cost me a lot of money and I’ve loved them. But I bet if you added up the hours of use I’ve had out of my other technology – with the exception of computers – the total wouldn’t come close to what I get out of a phone in one year.
And for those who don’t want to spend that kind of money, get an older model. The Galaxy S7 (even the S6), iPhone 6S or SE all have amazing features at a far lower cost than owning the newest phone.