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Apple's latest iPhone 14 launched in China without anticipated price hike

By CHENG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-09 09:50

The new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone14 Pro Max are displayed at a launch event in Cupertino, California. [Photo/Agencies]

As smartphone sales recently witnessed their worst half-year performance in the Chinese market in years, US tech company Apple Inc launched its latest iPhone 14 lineups and smartwatches without raising prices over previous models, thus upping the ante amid high-end handset competition with rivals like China's Huawei Technologies.

In its annual September event at its headquarters in California as well as online, the company unveiled its iPhone 14 series featuring upgraded chips, batteries and camera functionality boasting a new design called "dynamic island".

The fresh design has the front camera in a pill-shaped hole on the screen to replace the notch, and allows users to receive notifications and alerts.

It also sports satellite connectivity for the first time in its new series and enables users to send a message where signals are weak or nonexistent, which will play an important role in emergencies and disaster relief-a function that Huawei had announced in its Mate 50 series.

While many industry analysts had expected the price of the new iPhones to be at least $100 more than the year's previous models, the new handset starts at $799, with the iPhone 14 Plus priced at $899, unchanged from previous 13-series. The company also dropped the cheapest iPhone Mini version.

"Apple is pricing cautiously as consumers have become more price-sensitive due to the soaring cost of living amid global inflation. Such tighter budgets force consumers to skew their spending more toward necessities," said Joshua Warner, senior analyst at Gain Capital.

In the Chinese market, smartphone sales stood at 134 million in the first half, down 16.9 percent year-on-year, which was the worst half-year sales performance since 2015, according to market consultancy CINNO Research.

"Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I suddenly woke up from being a consumerist and now prefer rational consumption. It is not only reflected by consumption in electronics but also almost every aspect of life," said Qin Tianyu, a 27-year-old bank employee in Beijing.

To attract such younger consumers, industry experts believe that another way forward is to make major technological innovations.

Another highlight of Apple's latest launch is its new Apple Watches. Unlike past Apple Watches, which had robust fitness features but were more focused on lifestyle, the new Watch Ultra model is aimed at extreme sports and diving to compete with sports watch specialists like Garmin.

Also, Apple Watch Series 8 can detect if users get in a car crash and automatically call for help. There is also a temperature sensor that improves menstrual cycle tracking and enables ovulation monitoring.

Though the US company did not announce any progress on the much-anticipated virtual reality products this time around, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a strong hint that the company is working on an augmented reality or virtual reality headset in an earlier interview with China Daily.

"I am incredibly excited about AR as you might know, and the critical thing to any technology including AR is putting humanity at the center of it," Cook told China Daily.

"And that is what we focus on every day. I couldn't be more excited about the opportunities we've seen in this space," he said.

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