With iPhone 13 launch, Apple discontinues what was once its ‘most affordable’ flagship iPhone

Much like the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone XR has also been discontinued in India.

iPhone XR, iPhone 13, Apple
The iPhone XR was launched in 2018. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

It’s one thing to know that Apple has killed a product like the iPhone 12 Pro, hours after launching the iPhone 13 Pro. It’s like the end of an era when you realise it’s also the end of the road for the iPhone XR. Once heralded as the ‘most affordable’ flagship iPhone, one that was designed from ground up to bring more people up to speed with the latest and greatest in Apple tech, is no longer listed on its Online Store. Much like the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, it has also been discontinued in India.

The iPhone XR has had a bit of an odd journey. It was launched in 2018 alongside the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max bringing a lot of their ‘top-of-the-line’ features to a relatively more affordable price point. Though, that last bit was subject to debate, at least in India. The phone was launched at a ‘whopping’ Rs 76,900 here. Regardless, its attractive spec sheet and bevy of colour options pushed many to go get one in a heartbeat. It felt refreshing.

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A few months later, something unexpected happened. Apple slashed its price by a massive Rs 17,000 bringing it down to Rs 59,900. Over the course of time, it would be available at even more affordable prices in one of the gazillion online sales on Flipkart, Amazon and the likes.

It is certainly not new for Apple to discontinue an iPhone but it is also the same company that continued to sell the first-generation iPhone SE in India for many, many years even after retiring the phone in markets like the US. The general argument could be that it did not have a viable replacement for a long time and Apple anyhow supports its devices for upwards of four years at least. The iPhone SE was launched in 2016.

The iPhone XR did not have any such baggage. The iPhone 11 for instance, currently sells for as low as Rs 49,900 and it takes no genius to figure it is definitely a better iPhone in every sense of the word. Moreover, Apple never had so many iPhones, like ever. There is an option at almost every perceivable price point now. Having said that, maybe, just maybe, had Apple continued to make the iPhone XR for some more time, here’s what might have happened. It would have complicated things for the iPhone SE 2020 that currently sells for Rs 39,900 and maybe, just maybe, Apple doesn’t want to do that.

One could of course argue, having an iPhone XR around would have allowed Apple to sell a technically ‘next-gen’ iPhone at lower prices what with the iPhone SE still giving you an ageing old design that’s in dire need of immediate refresh. But it’s not like the iPhone XR was perfect. The most glaring issue with it was the fact that it had some wonky thermals. It would start to heat up sooner rather than later even in basic, everyday use. The unit that I had bought personally, came with a wonky earpiece too. They were not one-off cases either. Meaning, it was only about time Apple took some heed and pulled the plug on the product.

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As for having an all-screen iPhone at around Rs 35,000, who knows, Apple just might spring in a surprise soon enough. Even if it doesn’t, hey, buying a new iPhone has never been this easy and exciting.

Apple is an aspirational brand but in 2021, its products are also somewhat more affordable and accessible. Take the iPad for instance. For the longest time, Apple chose to ship the product with mere 32GB storage in the entry-level model, something that was difficult to recommend for a lot of buyers, even though this kind of product wasn’t meant for hardcore users in the first place. The ninth-generation iPad finally doubles the storage – now starts with 64GB – while keeping the price roughly in the same ball park as the last-generation model. The iPad Mini similarly is getting USB Type-C charging and a major redesign with slim bezels in this generation. Clearly, change is in the air in more ways than one.

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