Why the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will still sell

They have the same processor as the iPhone X and are cheaper, among other reasons

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are "obsolete within five minutes of their announcement", quipped a colleague while talking about the launch of the iPhone X.

Yes, the two iPhone 8 models do not have the sexy design or the gorgeous "bezel-less" edge-to-edge Oled screen of the iPhone X.

They also do not have the new 3D face-recognition technology (Face ID), portrait selfie mode and animated emojis (animojis).

Furthermore, in terms of pricing, the iPhone X is not that far off from the iPhone 8 Plus. For example, the 256GB iPhone 8 Plus costs $1,548 without a telco contract, which is only $340 cheaper than the iPhone X with the same storage capacity.

Personally, I would hold out for the iPhone X. But that's just me.

As someone who has kept the original iPhone as a memento, the 10th-anniversary iPhone X will be something that I will buy to use and keep as part of my technology collection after its expiry date.

But that does not mean that everyone will be like me.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller showing the current line-up of iPhones during the special event held at Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino earlier this month.
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller showing the current line-up of iPhones during the special event held at Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino earlier this month. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Not everyone will embrace Face ID. There will be people who prefer the fingerprint sensor or Touch ID instead. It is the "workflow" that they have been used to over the years. Changing that habit is like taking a fish out of water.

Some will want to wait for others to "trial" the Face ID technology before taking the plunge one or two years down the road.

There will be those who hate the notch - a term used by journalists to describe the black area on top of iPhone X's screen that houses the TrueDepth camera system that makes Face ID possible.

Yes, unlike the clean rectangular edge-to-edge screens on Samsung Galaxy Note8, LG V30 and the Essential Phone, iPhone X has that glaring notch on top of its display.

So when you are playing games or browsing the Web on the iPhone X in the horizontal orientation, you lose screen space with that notch.

Furthermore, the iPhone 8 models use the same uber-fast A11 Bionic processor as the iPhone X. So you are getting similar performance at a lower price if you buy the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.

And, if you want a great rear camera, the iPhone 8 Plus has the same rear dual-camera system as the iPhone X, though the latter has a slightly larger aperture. But you will be getting camera performance similar to that of the iPhone X.

In a Fortune article, Kellogg School of Management's Professor Mohanbir Sawhney said he feels that consumers may be going for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus because of a well-known consumer decision bias known as extremeness aversion.

It refers to a form of consumer behaviour that avoids choosing options that are at one extreme or the other. Consumers feel that they are "saving money" by not buying the most expensive product and that they are getting a good deal with the "compromise product", which is neither extremely expensive nor too cheap, said Prof Sawhney.

If you look at the current iPhone line-up, you have the iPhone X as the flagship model, followed by the iPhone 8 models as second-tier models while the iPhone 7, iPhone 6s and SE models take up the lower tier of the spectrum.

Therefore, if you want something that is the latest model but not that expensive, you might go for the 256GB iPhone 8 ($1,388), which is $500 cheaper than an iPhone X with similar storage capacity.

You can buy a lot of other things with $500, such as a PlayStation 4 console, an Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) or a return air ticket to Hong Kong for two. You get the idea.

But I think there is another reason, especially for introverts. People simply do not want to be bothered with comments like "Why you buy iPhone X?" from friends or strangers when they pull out their smartphone to reply to a WhatsApp message or look at Facebook updates.

So leave me alone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Why the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will still sell'. Print Edition | Subscribe