Even though we knew everything that Apple was going to announce at its Far Out event, there were still plenty of surprises during Wednesday’s keynote. The iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island is one of the best interfaces Apple has ever released. The Apple Watch Ultra is packed with way more pro features than we thought. And the AirPods Pro have tiny trackpads for adjusting the volume.
But the biggest shock of all might have been the pricing. For months, we’ve been prepared for extremely high prices due to a variety of factors: inflation, supply chain and production issues, and a greater emphasis on high-end products. But despite all that, this year’s new products won’t cost any more than they did yesterday. And in some cases, they’ll actually cost a lot less.
The products that were updated—the iPhone 14, AirPods Pro, Apple Watch Series 8—all cost the same, and the Apple Watch SE 2 costs $30 less at $249. And the iPhone 14 Plus, which was rumored to start at $949 or $999, costs just $100 more than the iPhone 14 at $899. And the Pro models still costs $999 and $1,099.
Granted, the loss of the mini model means this is the highest ever starting price for a new set of iPhones—and in some countries around the world prices have risen substantially due to currency fluctuations—but we were prepared for significant price increases. The Pro models were supposed to rise by $100 due to the new display, camera, and satellite features. They got all those things, but prices remained the same. Apple isn’t even charging for satellite connectivity through Globalstar for at least two years.
And if you don’t want to hand over $800 or $1,000 on a new iPhone, Apple is still selling the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini for $699 and $599 respectively. While that’s Apple’s standard practice for older phones, it’s a little surprising this year, since the iPhone 14 isn’t all that different, other than a slightly better camera and chip.
The biggest pricing surprise, however, is with the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s absolutely loaded with features—precision dual-frequency GPS, depth gauge with water temperature sensor, EN13319 certification, 100m water resistance, 86-decibel siren, cellular connectivity, and 36-hour battery life with a 49mm sapphire crystal display wrapped in a titanium case with three specialized bands—but doesn’t have the $899 or $999 price tag that we were expecting. The Apple Watch Ultra costs $799, which is $100 less than the 45mm titanium Apple Watch Edition.
That’s an impressive price tag for a lot of Apple Watch. Apple could have easily charged $999 for the Apple Watch Ultra and tacked on $100 for cellular and no one would have questioned it. But Apple went as aggressively low as it could to compete with similar watches from Garmin. For example, the Enduro 2, which is aimed at similar users, costs $1,100.
Apple isn’t going to shake its reputation as a high-priced luxury brand by not pricing a few devices into the stratosphere. But at a time when everyone expected Apple to up its prices, we got a refreshing surprise that made a thousand-dollar phone and $800 watch seem downright affordable.