After four long, hard years, it’s finally happening: Apple is making phones that look good again.
On Wednesday, the Silicon Valley tech giant held its annual iPhone event, announcing its latest slew of premium handsets and devices. But while in previous years, the lineup has been a predictable procession of muted metal slabs, Apple finally announced something different this year — the iPhone XR.
The iPhone XR is positioned as a lower-cost alternative to the new high-end iPhone XS and XS Max — “lower-cost” being relative of course, with Apple still charging customers an eye-watering $749 for the device (the XS and XS Max start at $999 and 1,099, respectively).
The XR follows a similar design to the other models in the X family, with a nearly edge-to-edge screen featuring a notch at the top, a glass backing, and metallic sides. It differs, however, in a striking way: Color. The device comes in 6 different bold shades — black, white, blue, yellow, coral, and red.
The XS, meanwhile, only comes in the standard silver, “space gray,” and gold. They’re the latest in a long line of lackluster devices, that offer nothing for people who were after some actual personality from their devices. Sure the build quality is high and the software is competent, but there’s little in the way of flair or fun.
The XR finally acknowledges that not everyone wants to keep a shard of an office block in their pocket, and that there’s room for an Apple smartphone that doesn’t prioritize “cool” at the expense of individuality.
Apple has experimented with more colorful devices before, namely the iPhone 5c— a “beautifully, unapologetically plastic” device introduced in 2014 that looked unlike anything else Apple offered, while still remaining quintessentially Apple. Coming in five glossy colors — white, pink, yellow, blue, and green — the 5C was a lower-cost edition to the iPhone line, alongside the iPhone 5S. Its bold finish was reminiscent of the old iMac G3 — back before Apple began to fetishize chrome and glass at the expense of approachability.
Alas, Apple didn’t refresh the device the following year, ultimately replacing it with the meh-looking iPhone SE.
With the iPhone XR, Apple appears to be waking up to the possibilities of colour again — and it couldn’t come soon enough.
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