My iPhone 14 Pro Max is a great phone. Well built (obviously), fast (obviously), and capable of doing everything I’d ever need from a smartphone (obviously).

However, it sits within an iPhone lineup that appears to be suffering from some sales issues.

I should note, as always, that these reports come from the rumour mill and therefore shouldn’t be treated as gospel.

They are fascinating, though.

The reports centre around just one device that sits within the iPhone 14 lineup – the iPhone 14 Plus. According to a recent post from a “semi-reliable Apple leaker”, that particular iPhone is suffering from “dismal” sales numbers.

I’m not surprised at all, but it does make one particular decision made by Apple in 2022 all the more frustrating.

 

The iPhone 14 Plus: great phone, poor sales

According to yeux1122, the iPhone 14 Plus sales performance is “far beyond the range predicted by the external environment”. And not in a good way.

This suggests to me that even the doomsday predictions for Apple’s brand-new iPhone form factor were way off the mark; it has, possibly, tanked much harder than everyone predicted.

The leaker goes on to tell us that these poor sales figures are forcing Apple to make changes to their iPhone 15 plans. These could include a reduced price for a theoretical iPhone 15 Plus and implementing a more cohesive range of features across the board (for instance, bringing the Dynamic Island to all iPhones and democratising certain camera features).

The reported failure of the iPhone 14 Plus is a shame. Although I’ve never held one in my hand (more on that in a moment) it’s a device which has been well-received by reviewers. Most have praised its super battery performance, and it even made an appearance in MKBHD’s smartphone of the year awards.

But there are some unavoidable issues with this particular iPhone. It is too expensive (starting at £949 in the UK) and sits within a lineup which is just as confusing as the range of iPads from which we’re now expected to choose. I also cannot work out who should buy it – a common problem with several Apple products these days.

Put simply, the iPhone 14 Plus just doesn’t make any sense.

A lack of desire to review

I only reviewed one iPhone last year – the iPhone 14 Pro Max. I had no desire to review the regular iPhone 14. It’s just a solid choice for most iPhone owners who are in need of an upgrade and for those who are switching from Android. Buy one, and you won’t be disappointed – it’s as simple as that.

There’s just very little to say about it that’s different or even remotely interesting.

You’d think that the iPhone 14 Plus had the perfect opportunity to raise the interest levels of reviewers like myself. Not so. As soon as I saw it within the lineup, I knew it wouldn’t be worth reviewing; I had absolutely no idea to bring one in for Mark Ellis Reviews analysis.

It’s just a bigger version of the regular iPhone 14, I thought. There is literally nothing different about it, bar the larger display. What’s more, its price pitches it perilously close to the iPhone 14 Pro, which actually possesses distinguishing features and that all-important Apple ‘Pro’ cache.

Even the colours are boring.

There’s also the question of who on earth the iPhone 14 Plus is for. A bit like the bizarre 10th-generation iPad, I can’t fathom who needs or, more importantly, who would want this phone. The regular iPhone 14 is the default choice for most people, and it’s the right choice. The display is just the right size, the battery is great, and it’s an iPhone, which means it’s brilliant by default.

Who would willingly pay an extra £100 for a slightly bigger display and gain nothing extra for their hard-earned – particularly in the middle of a global recession?

The niche-maker: bring back the iPhone mini!

So, we’ve established that the iPhone 14 Plus is too expensive, doesn’t have enough differentiating features, and lacks a definable niche.

Why have my thoughts suddenly turned to one of the most interesting iPhones Apple has ever released?

We will never know the exact sales numbers for the iPhone 13 mini versus the iPhone 14 Plus, but I’m going to put my neck out and suggest that the former was a better performer.

I might be totally wrong. I have nothing to base that theory on, other than my experience reviewing Apple’s brilliant little smartphone and the size of the audience it draws towards my own brand. That device had a tightly defined niche, a passionate fanbase, and, consequently, an awful lot going for it.

Of all the content I’ve produced, the stuff that focuses on the iPhone 13 mini – be it the original review or one of the many follow-up pieces I’ve created – still performs well to this day. It is on par with my Apple silicon content and anything I’ve published about the M1 MacBook Air.

People love the iPhone 13 mini. Reports of that form factor’s demise were met with genuine sadness and I only have to hit ‘publish’ on a piece of content that features it to achieve some rather lovely numbers for my brand.

Will people miss the iPhone Plus if it meets a similar fate this year? Of course they won’t. Good riddance to yet another needless Apple SKU, is the reaction I’d expect from most people.

Conclusion

I thought I’d finished writing about the iPhone mini series; I’d put it to bed – accepted the fact that, once Apple has depleted its stock, the iPhone 13 mini will be no more.

Suggestions that the iPhone 14 Plus is possibly underperforming have reignited my passion for that devilishly convenient little phone, though. More worryingly, it suggests that Apple is throwing you-know-what at the wall to see what sticks.

The iPhone mini series clearly didn’t perform to Tim’s expectations. So, where do you go from there? Let’s try a bigger one! Maybe people will want that instead! People love big phones, right? And if the only option they have is the supersonically expensive Pro Max, perhaps they’re being denied the phone of their dreams!

Not so, it seems. Apple has already nailed the default iPhone size, weight, and feature set for most people. It just needs to focus on the niche-maker – the variant they already had and decided to kill off.

Look at the Apple Watch lineup. That has a niche maker – the brilliantly stupid Apple Watch Ultra. No one needs that model, and I’m sure it isn’t breaking any sales records on Tim’s spreadsheets, but it has quickly attracted a loyal following who will be devastated if it meets the same fate as the iPhone mini series.

I noted in my 2022 wrap-up that Apple mustn’t lose the sense of adventure it clearly has buried within the circumference of its spaceship campus. The iPhone mini embodied that; the iPhone Plus is a numbers-chaser that clearly isn’t working.

I know which version of Apple I prefer.