Why bigger iPhones will always be better than their smaller siblings

Why bigger iPhones will always be better than their smaller siblings

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iPhone
Don't expect smaller iPhones to ever be as good.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Buying a Plus-sized iPhone doesn’t just get you a bigger screen, but also a better phone with more RAM and a greater camera. And there’s a good reason for that.

These things attract a greater number of buyers to Apple’s larger handsets, increasing its profits and the average selling price of the iPhone. And that’s why the iPhone Plus will always be better than its smaller siblings.

In addition to a larger display with a sharper resolution, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s first Plus-sized iPhone, offered optical image stabilization for better photos — particularly in low light. The iPhone 6s Plus featured the same, plus 2GB of RAM — twice as much as iPhone 6s.

But iPhone 7 Plus is the best 5.5-inch iPhone to date. It also boasts a 1080p display just like its predecessors, plus a new iSight camera with dual lenses for 2x optical zoom and that super-swanky portrait mode. It also has much better battery life than iPhone 7.

These additional features help attract iPhone fans to the larger, more expensive option, and every year, they become more popular. According to Cowen & Co., iPhone 7 Plus accounts for around 40 percent of the 58.5 million total iPhone 7 units Apple sold last quarter.

That’s a 17-point jump from the 23 percent who chose an iPhone 6s Plus over an iPhone 6s during the same quarter in 2015. According to UBS, this has increased the average selling price of an iPhone last quarter to $693, up from $691 a year ago.

It might be a slight increase, but it translates to a 2 percent rise in revenue for Apple during the December quarter, and it’s significant at a time when demand for the iPhone has been “softer-than-expected,” according to analysts.

Tim Arcuri, an analyst with Cowen, told The Wall Street Journal that his estimates show Apple sold 24 million iPhone 7 Plus devices last quarter — a 55 percent increase from the 15.5 million iPhone 6s Plus handsets it sold during the same three-month period last year.

Plus-model iPhones have been particularly popular in China, a market where Apple has been very keen to increase sales. More than half of consumers who purchased an Apple smartphone there last quarter chose an iPhone 7 Plus — up from 40 percent last year.

Plus sales also rose to 47 percent in the U.S. during the same period, up from about 35 percent in 2015.

This trend should continue if Apple keeps making the iPhone Plus a better option than its smaller sibling going forward. That’s why the 4.7-inch iPhone will never be quite as good as the larger, more expensive option.