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The iPhone 8 dropped only a few weeks ago and it’s already breaking Apple’s sales records. Sounds about right? Actually, no. According to new research from KeyBanc Capital Markets, Americans are now buying more of last year’s model, the iPhone 7, rather than Apple’s newest, best hardware.

While the release of a new iPhone typically leads to a sales spike for Apple, these findings suggest this is no longer the case. Sure, iPhones are selling, but the latest release is driving sales of older hardware. In light of where the money’s moving, should we be skeptical of buying the iPhone 8? At first glance this makes no sense, but let’s break it down.

The iPhone X Is Coming

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This one is obvious. With Apple deciding to stagger the release of its newest suite of handsets, the iPhone X will drop on November 3 – more than month after the iPhone 8. It’s easy to pin lower-than-expected iPhone 8 sales figures on this. The X has that insanely beautiful, bezel-licking AMOLED display giving inky blacks and rich colors. The removal of a physical home button allows this design to work and, overall, gives the iPhone X a cleaner, more beautiful look.

Aside from the best cameras Apple’s ever made, Face ID and every other X-only feature you’ll get here, the main question on everyone’s lips is: is it too expensive? Starting at $999, it’s the most expensive base price for an iPhone yet. For sure, Apple will sell a trillion of these things, but are we skipping the iPhone 8 to cop the X instead? Some of us will, but probably not those who are buying the iPhone 7.

The iPhone 7 Is a Killer Device

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Is there really a difference in everyday performance between the latest phone and its predecessor? A few years back there was. But smartphone processors are so fast now, even for mid-range phones. And with software updates constantly improving performance, the differences are smaller than ever.

The iPhone 7 and 7s look practically identical to the iPhone 8 and 8s. Same deal with the hardware, bar the glass panel on the back of the 8. With this panel you get wireless charging, but who cares? Performance-wise, Apple claims that the new A11 chipset is 25 percent faster when it’s maxed out. But in the real world, where people aren’t running benchmarking apps for fun or doing more than uploading Stories to the ‘Gram, chances are you’ll hardly notice the difference.

The iPhone 7 is still a killer device. Apple’s best phone doesn’t become trash after one year. Only second best.

It’s All About Price

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The iPhone 7 is around $150 cheaper than the 8. If you’re not fussed with being on tech’s bleeding edge, this is cash saved for a phone that looks and feels almost like the latest and greatest. It’s clear this sitch mostly comes down to price.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, with Apple recycling a years-old design with the iPhone SE – the smaller form factor is a plus, but it’s also Apple’s cheapest new phone – and older iPhones become cheaper every time a new one drops. And at $549 for a new base-model iPhone 7, with a top-notch camera, design and everything else, it’d be surprising if sales weren’t strong well into 2018.

Next up, read our iPhone X review to see if it’s worth the wait. 

Words by Omar Hamwi
Associate Managing Editor
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