Selling iPhone X. T-Mobile and Verizon salespeople speak out

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


Not loved by carrier store salespeople?


Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

It’s been a pulsating few weeks.

I’ve wandered around various carrier stores and Best Buy, learning about phones and failing to find a single salesperson to tell me that iPhone X is the best phone you can buy.

Phone salespeople from all over America contacted me afterward. Some were sympathetic. 

For example, one Best Buy manager in Colorado insisted his was the best Best Buy in Colorado and should I ever venture there, he would ensure that I would get the best phone for me.

A T-Mobile manager was positively annoyed that the salesman at the T-Mobile store I’d visited seemed intent on selling me an iPhone 8 Plus rather than an iPhone X

Many though, especially those who work for Verizon and T-Mobile, wanted to go into substantive issues.

Are salespeople incentivized to sell one phone, rather than another?

Could the fact that not one salesperson insisted that iPhone X was the best phone have anything to do with commissions?

Some salespeople said that regardless of whether the phone was a flip phone or an X, the incentives are the same. 

I heard from one enterprising Texas-based salesman, currently at a Verizon store, who’d worked in the stores of four different carriers.

“When I worked at AT&T we had incentives for the S8. For every pre-order, we got an 8-dollar spiff. T-Mobile only has ‘sell this much of that phone and we will give you that phone.’ Sprint does not. Verizon, if we meet a quota and sell a certain amount of the phones, we get a free one,” he said. (A spiff is what salespeople call an incentive. It’s different from a spliff.)

A T-Mobile salesman from the northwest went into more detail about spiffs.

“Occasionally we get spiffs on some devices. It isn’t a huge jump in commission but it is usually just more incentive to get rid of aging phones. These spiffs usually only last a  month at a time and the short list — it’s always short, never more than four but usually 2 or 3 — can change drastically or be completely gone altogether,” he said.

So what sorts of devices are on the list? 

“Typically the list are of phones that have been replaced that were bad performers from the get-go or sales have dropped significantly,” he told me.

Other T-Mobile salespeople agreed that this was the case, but not all. 

However, the man from the northwest insisted that one thing was always consistent: “The iPhone in any iteration has never been one of those phones.”

Another T-Mobile employee offered a further nuance about spiffs: “If we do get them, they are rarely from T-Mobile. There may be an incentive to win a free phone from LG or Samsung if you sell x amount of said device.”

So what’s wrong with iPhone X? Why aren’t salespeople pushing it? 

Some salespeople told me that there’s still some backlog in delivery, so they don’t bother pushing a phone that isn’t immediately available.

The T-Mobile salesman from the northwest was more concrete about the phone itself — and the iPhone 8.

“We’ve seen a big interest in both phones. Tons of pre-orders for both. What I noticed was the iPhone 8 people that pre-ordered laughed at the price of the X and never gave it a second thought. For their own reasons they decided the X wasn’t worth it,” he said.

He, though, had his own reasons for believing that the X isn’t, as Apple insists, “the future of the smartphone.”

“We see the spec sheet and it really doesn’t look that different. From my point of view, the major differences are the bezel-less screen, FaceID and the cameras — for FaceID and augmented reality. You take those away and for the most part the spec sheets look identical,” he said. 

Oh, but people don’t buy phones for the specs. They’re emotional. They buy them for the prettiness and, well, the showing-off factor, don’t they?

Still, the “iPhone X isn’t exciting” argument was one I’d heard when I went into the T-Mobile store too. I was told animojis and better selfies were the two biggest reasons to buy the phone. If you’re not moved by those, get an iPhone 8 Plus, I was told.

However, the T-Mobile salesman from the northwest added a crucial point: “Apple also doesn’t have reps come to the stores like the other big brands to show off their goods and try to give us real world hands-on examples of their technology. I’m sure they don’t feel they need to.”

I’m sure, too.

In essence, then, it seems that Apple expects the enormous hype it generates to obviate the need to do too much (anything) in the way of sell-in to stores. Except, of course, to its own stores. But even there, I was told the staff only see new phones a matter of hours before they go on sale.

A Verizon salesman, who said he was regularly a top performer at Verizon– put it a different way: ‘If you really want to know why you are led one way or the other, it’s whatever I think is going to get you out of my store fastest, so I can move on to the next person. That’s the only incentive we have to push certain models.”

The person-to-person interaction is, for some salespeople, pure sales. It could be a car. It happens to be a phone.

“We aren’t here to spend half an hour helping you figure it out,” the Verizon salesman added.

Verizon and T-Mobile declined to comment. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Do salespeople encourage customers to switch from iOS to Android, or vice versa?

In my in-person visits, some salespeople have told me that it’s extremely difficult to switch operating systems. Some have told me it’s easy. Most have told me that Android is better and the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 are the best phones one can buy.

Some salesperson readers offered a similar view. Others had more nuance.

One Verizon salesman gave me a commercial reason why he doesn’t encourage switching.

“I don’t push customers to go to a different phone OS, because the customer will most likely return it. I usually ask a series of questions if you come in asking me about that. I honestly sell with integrity because I don’t want a return on my commissions,” he said.

A T-Mobile employee added: “When people want to switch over from Android to iPhone I tell them they will miss their back button. Going from iPhone to Android, people would miss their iMessage and iTunes.”

“Phones are investments. Why sell a phone the customer is not used to? Why curse them for 1 or 2 years? If you came to my store, I would explain the differences and make you see what you are deciding,” added the Verizon employee.

In essence, then, going to a carrier store involves the same level of caveat emptor as any other transaction.

You’ll find good salespeople and bad ones. You’ll find people with their own motivations and ones that want to see you happy, because they believe that’s the best approach to doing business.

I’m still trying to find one who’ll tell the iPhone X is the best phone you can buy.

Negative News Emerges for Apple iPhone X Sales | Business Markets and Stocks News

Per a new report from DIGITIMES, demand for components that go into Apple‘s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone X came in 30% lower than expected in November, with the publication’s sources claiming that demand for such components is “likely to drop further in December.” The publication cites “sources from the upstream component supply chain” for this information.

Apparently, demand for such components isn’t as robust as expected, with shipments in November leading DIGITIMES‘ sources to worry that Apple “may reduce its iPhone X shipment target for the first quarter of 2018.” 

DIGITIMES‘ sources added some additional color, claiming that iPhone X shipments in January and February will be similar to the levels seen in November, but that in March, shipments will drop so steeply that Apple will see a 30% quarter-over-quarter drop in iPhone X shipments during the first quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

If this report is accurate, then that’s a clear negative for Apple and its stock price, as it would indicate that demand for Apple’s iPhone X — the product that’s expected to drive significant growth in Apple’s iPhone shipments and revenue in the current year, with follow-on products helping to augment that growth in the following year. 

Is it time for Apple investors to panic?

Not so fast

While this report seems bad, it’s worth keeping in mind what Apple supplier Broadcom, which relies heavily on Apple for sales of components that go into smartphones, offered what seemed to be some good news for iPhone X sales momentum. Broadcom said that it saw a 33% jump in wireless component revenue in its most recent quarter thanks to an increase in dollar content within Apple’s latest iPhones that was partially offset by sales declines to other smartphone vendors. 

More importantly, though, Broadcom said that it expects sales of chips to Apple to grow quarter over quarter because demand from Apple that, in prior years would’ve been fulfilled during Broadcom’s most recently reported quarter, was pushed out. For some perspective, see the table below for how Broadcom’s wireless revenue trended in the same periods during the last product cycle versus how it’s set to trend in the current one: 

Product Cycle AVGO FQ4 Wireless Revenue ($millions) AVGO FQ1 Wireless Revenue QoQ Change in Wireless Revenue (%)
iPhone 7 1346 1175 (12.7)
iPhone 8/X 1796 Up from FQ4 Positive

Source: Broadcom earnings reports. 

Broadcom is going from what was a 12.7% quarter-over-quarter drop in wireless revenue last year to some amount of quarter-over-quarter growth — which Broadcom didn’t specify — during this product cycle. That’s a big deal. Moreover, during Broadcom’s earnings call, CEO Hock Tan said that the company’s visibility with respect to the Apple product ramp “has obviously become full — crystal clear.” 

Broadcom’s visibility comes from discussions with Apple. Indeed, Tan made a point of highlighting the fact that over 80% of the company’s revenue comes from sales of product directly to customers rather than through third parties — “distributors or middlemen” as Tan referred to them.

As of Dec. 6, 2017, Broadcom was expecting quarter-over-quarter growth in wireless chip revenue from Apple. It doesn’t seem likely that things could’ve deteriorated as significantly as the DIGITIMES article indicates between Broadcom’s Dec. 6 earnings report and the Dec. 8 publication of the article. 

What to do now? 

The most reliable source of information about how Apple’s iPhone sales are trending is Apple itself — but don’t expect the company to reveal such information until it reports its financial results sometime in late January or early February. Your best bet, then, will be to wait for supply-chain reports from other, preferably reliable, sources. If a few reports from the likes of KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo or Nikkei Asian Review surface confirm what DIGITIMES’ sources claimed, then something might be going wrong. 

I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled, and will be sure to cover any such news that pops up.

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iPhone 8 v iPhone X – Why this is the most vital new Apple feature | Tech | Life & Style

Apple’s new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X are the latest devices to join the firm’s popular range of smartphones.

All of these new iPhones offer a number of advantages over their predecessors with improved low-light photography, sharper screens and the ability to charge them wirelessly.

The iPhone X also features a stunning 5.8-inch OLED edge-to-edge display which covers the entire front of the phone.

This not only gives the iPhone X a much-needed new look but also means you get a bigger screen in a device that’s physically smaller in your pocket.

Apple’s new smartphones have certainly raised the bar but one of the most important new features included on these latest smartphones has to be battery life.

Running out of charge is an annoyance that all smartphone owners have suffered but it seems this issue has been improved on these refreshed devices.

Express.co.uk has been testing both the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus for the past few months and, putting them through a daily cycle of reading emails, checking social media and listening to hours of music via Bluetooth headphones, has left us seriously impressed.

Both the the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus, on average, made it from 6am to 10pm (16 hours) with around 30-40 per cent of charge still in their tanks.

In fact, we’ve found you could get well into a second day without needing to go near a plug.

HERE’S HOW WE TESTED THE PHONES

• Each day, over the period of a month, we have removed the iPhones from their chargers at around 6am.

• Daily use has included listening to tracks via Apple Music on Bluetooth headphones for an average of 4-5 hours per day

• Push notifications have been on at all times with both devices getting regular updates from email, WhatsApp, Facebook and security camera alerts from Canary and Nest

• Both devices were also connected to an Apple Watch throughout the day

• Other regular use has included GPS mapping via CityMapper and Google Maps plus watching short video snippets on YouTube

• The camera was also used regularly throughout the test with many images then being retouched and uploaded to apps such as Instagram.

• The iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus were both running the latest version of iOS 11.

It’s worth noting that our tests haven’t included watching endless hours of video or playing games but, with average use, these are definitely the best iPhones for battery life Apple has ever made.

Apple announced at its iPhone keynote that power consumption was improved on these devices with the US tech giant confirming they last up to 2 hours longer than iPhone 7.

It’s likely that these improvements have come via the new A11 Bionic processor which, is not only more powerful but much more efficient.

There is another bonus of owing these iPhones as they also charge much faster than previous Apple smartphones.

Sadly, Apple doesn’t include a fast charger in the box but this speedy boost can be performed via a MacBook adapter or certain Belkin and Mophie wireless docks.

We’re still waiting for the day when the iPhone will last for a week on a single charge but, until then, these new devices are certainly a huge improvement.

The week’s best tech deals include Amazon Echo, iPhone X, and DJI spark discounts

We’re nine days into December and there’s still Black Friday deals that you can find online, including the new Amazon Echo, Google Home and Xbox One S console. Tomorrow, Amazon is expected to launch discounts on several more of its devices — matching most of its Cyber Monday pricing.

As reported on earlier this week, Best Buy is running a three-day Apple sale (ending tonight, Saturday, December 9th) which offers discounts on the new iPhones and iPad Pro. There’s also quite a few headphone, computer, and more deals to check out this weekend.

Amazon devices

We’ll be updating this post tomorrow when more Amazon devices deals are live.

More Smart Home deals

  • Google Home for $79 (usually $129) at Best Buy, B&H, Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and the Google Store.
  • Google Home Mini (customers can get $25 off an order when they link the device to their Walmart account) for $29 (usually $49). B&H, Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, and the Google Store also have it for $29.
  • Samsung 58-inch Class 4K (2160P) Smart LED TV (UN58MU6070) for $548 (usually $799) at Walmart. This was previously priced at $598 last week.
  • Roku Streaming Stick (2017 model) for $39.99 (usually $49.99) at Amazon.
  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 60W Equivalent Smart Bulb Starter Kit for $139.99 (usually $199.99) at Amazon.
  • Sony LSPX-P1 HD SXRD Portable Home Theater Projector for $798 (usually $998) at Amazon and B&H.
  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 LED Starter Kit & Google Home Bundle for $198.99 (usually $328.99) at Best Buy.
  • Samsung POWERbot R9000 Robot Vacuum for $249 (usually $499) with code PLWW79KYS. Note this is a deal of the day, part of Samsung’s 12 Days of Joy.

Phone & Computer deals

  • Trade in your iPhone for up to an iPhone X in store and get a Best Buy $250 gift card. Note that only select iPhone devices apply, and you can check your trade-in value here. Also note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • Up to $200 off the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus if you activate a monthly installment plan. Note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • Surface Pro (newest version) Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD for $799 (usually $999) at the Microsoft Store.
  • Huawei Matebook Signature Edition 2-in-1 PC Intel Core m5, 128 GB SSD for $499 (usually $849) at the Microsoft Store.
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro (latest model) for $849.99 (usually $999.99) at Best Buy. Note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • iPad mini 4 for $274.99 (usually $399.99) at Best Buy. Note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (latest model) for $2,599.99 (usually $2,799.99) at Best Buy. Note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • 13.3-inch MacBook Air (latest model) for $874.99 (usually $999.99) at Best Buy. Note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • 27-inch iMac (latest model) for $2,099.99 (usually $2,299.99) at Best Buy. Note this deal ends at the end of day today (Saturday, December 9th).
  • Samsung Gear 360 for $199.99 (usually $229.99) at Samsung.

Miscellaneous: Headphones, Gaming & Drones

Looking for more gaming deals? Check out Polygon’s gaming deals roundup here.

Good Deals is a weekly roundup of the best deals on the internet, curated by Vox Media’s commerce editor, Chloe Reznikov, in collaboration with The Verge’s editorial team. You can submit deals to deals@theverge.com and find more Good Deals here.