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Opinion: Apple – Still premium?

After a slew of recent failures, does Apple still deserve the premium tag?

Apple has been seen as a premium brand over the years. Every time we saw an Apple product announcement, it had that fancy video where each and every facet of the manufacturing process was excruciatingly enunciated by numerous Apple executives. All of that worked! The perception of Apple came to be the benchmark that other hardware manufacturers aspired to equal. If I had to list all the other brands which tried to copy and mimic Apple products then I’d need a lot more than just this one page. All of this wasn’t a simple marketing gimmick, Apple indeed used better quality components and spent a lot of money making their products better and long lasting. The preference for alloys tailor-made to bear the physical stresses of a certain design philosophy is something Apple did a lot. Apple basically did innovate and lead, but not anymore.

I never thought that I’d ever come across the day when Apple would become another me-too in the world of hardware manufacturers. Of late, it has become exactly that. Apple no longer walks along the bleeding edge of technology, nor does it come out with products that are built to last. Apple used to pride itself in being immune from viruses, however, that was never true. Given that macOS only has 13% of the personal computer OS share, hackers never bothered because their efforts wouldn’t yield the same number of victims. The recent slew of crypto miners and ransomware, as we’ve explored in this story, have targeted macOS devices as well. Since we’re on the topic of software, we might as well get the recent WWDC announcements out of the way as well. Little did any of this year’s announcements impress. The “new” features have been around on other platforms for ages. Where’s the innovation?

Everyone remembers Bendgate, right?

On the hardware side of things, Apple’s been having a much worse time. Bend-gate was just one of the many instances wherein the allure of Apple’s build quality hit an all-time low. Apple was only recently caught with their pants down, manually throttling the performance of their phones with each OS upgrade and they finally had to admit it this time. Even the previous-gen MacBooks had a debilitating failure that was triggered by just one speck of dust rolling into the crevice by the key switches. What was immensely irresponsible is that despite knowing the issue (as alleged in the lawsuit) was present in the 2015 Macbook, they continued to use the butterfly keys in the 2016 models as well. One would expect such manufacturing defects to cause a product recall to be issued, however, it took a couple of class-action lawsuits for Apple to finally acknowledge the same and make the repairs free. Until then, it cost users $700.

Is Apple losing its innovative touch?

This year’s MacBook Pros are the latest in the line of faulty Apple devices that have failed basic QA tests. A fresh unit of the 2018 MacBook Pro with the new Core i9-8950HK could not achieve their advertised speeds out of the box due to a bug that caused the CPU to throttle unnecessarily. There have been several threads discussing this issue, some blamed an improperly set fan-speed curve which prioritised silence over cooling. Some blamed a faulty firmware affecting the VRM, i.e. the Core i9 CPU was never getting the power it required. Just following Intel’s reference documentation is enough to handle this issue and to think that such a blatantly obvious issue actually passed the numerous QA tests that Apple claims that they perform. Shocking! A recently published statistic by Blancco, a firm that supplies repair and diagnostic software shows that iOS device failure rates are at par with Android. Either Android device manufactures which cater to the entire price gamut have upped their game or Apple who caters to the premium market solely has dropped the ball. The stats disclosed show that the iPhone 6 has a failure rate of 26%! The statistics are the more or less the same as Android across different geographies.

I was never an Apple guy, never bothered using the iPhones for more than a week because they were that restrictive. I even forced myself to use macOS for two whole months just to change my perceptions about the OS and the ecosystem. Unfortunately, that didn’t. Despite all these misgivings I used to hold the opinion that Apple devices were better built than Android devices because of the sheer fragmentation of the Android ecosystem. Guess, I no longer have to believe in fairy tales anymore.

Mithun Mohandas

While not dishing out lethal doses of sarcasm, this curious creature can often be found tinkering with tech, playing vidya' games or exploring the darkest corners of the Internets. #PCMasterRace