I went to an Apple store to see iPhone 13 and I wasn't sold at all

Could it be that Apple salespeople are targeting very specific customers when they get excited about iPhone 13? I don't think I'm one of them.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

The one that I (should) want.


I had to.

I can't commemorate the launch of a new iPhone without visiting an Apple store and seeing how the company's renowned experts create excitement around it.

Usually, they're quite clever about this. They take their time. They listen. They even have a sense of humor.

Perhaps, though, iPhone 13 is unlucky for me.

I wafted to an Apple store on a sunny morning, in the hope of being enthused, inspired and even seduced into upgrading from my iPhone 12.

I was swiftly greeted and shown over to the iPhone 13 table.

Within seconds, I was approached by a salesperson -- wait, they're probably called specialists now -- and asked if I'd like some help.

Also: The iPhone 13 feels rough and unfinished

I explained I was interested in the new iPhone.

"Here they all are," he said, cheerily enough.

"Can you tell me why I should buy one?" I asked. "Right now, I've got an iPhone 12."

You're A Pro. I Can Tell.

"Those are the 13s over there," he offered with a slightly dismissive air, still allowing me to take a quick look. "But you should be looking at the 13 Pro."

Then, instead of enthusing about the Pro's qualities from his own heart, he chose to pick up one of the other phones, scroll to the comparison page and begin to read. With all the enthusiasm of a vicar declaiming the benefits of salvation to an empty church.

He seemed most moved by the adaptive refresh rate that comes with ProMotion. At least his promotion of it was more alive than his monotone about the A15 chip being better than the A14, the battery life being better and the camera allowing me to suddenly come over all Hollywood.

"If you're into that kind of thing," he said.

He insisted, however, that 5G was a wonderful thing that he enjoys all the time. Which doesn't seem to match most analyses of its current abilities.

I asked whether the phone would really maintain its speed over time.

"Well, the thing is you think it's slowing down, but it's just that other phones that come out after are faster," he explained, as if this is what I'd been missing.

I then tried a question that has plagued me, in a very minor way.

"Why are the cameras on the back of the 13 now diagonal?," I asked.

"It's purely aesthetic," he replied, with pure indifference.

Think Indifferent.

I still thought it was odd, in a store that certainly wasn't crowded, to not be witnessing the highly alert, Apple-level enthusiasm that's so often exuded by store staff.

In the past, even when I've openly said I owned the previous year's phone, the salespeople have invariably presented the new phones and themselves with a relaxed abandon and an open encouragement to upgrade.

I could appreciate that the Pro has nicer, shinier edges. Once you've enjoyed the matt qualities of the 12 for a year, your superficial side -- large, in my case -- yearns for change.

"So why did you change from your 12 Pro to your 13 Pro?," I asked him, as he'd offered that's what he'd done.

"Oh, I'm on the annual upgrade program," he replied.

"You can certainly sell me on that," I thought.

But by this stage -- and this may have only been a four-minute chat so far -- he'd begun looking toward the door and then over my head toward the inner part of the store.

I imagined he had other customers waiting. I imagined he'd already decided that he couldn't/didn't really want to sell me on anything better.

Then, the deeper truth.

"Look, we get people coming in here with iPhone 6s, 7s and 8s," he said. "They're the people who'll really want the 13."

So yes, it appears I'd been marked. Yet he could have very easily sold me, with little effort, on at least the upgrade program.

I was in a good mood that morning and I'm the sort of human who often doesn't get around to things, until someone gently points me in the right direction.

But then he walked away.

"Feel free to play around," he said, already in motion.

Bye, Then.

Did he walk toward another customer? He did not. He actually went to chat with one of his fellow salesmen who was standing somewhat emptily at another table.

Of the many, many visits to phone stores I've perpetrated, at least 95% have been extremely pleasant, whether I've bought something or not. 

At Apple stores, it may have even been an even higher proportion. So this measured indifference was odd. It was almost along the lines of an AT&T store experience I had recently -- and quite the opposite of the T-Mobile one on the same day.

Perhaps I'd caught the wrong person at the wrong time and he wasn't pleased to see the phone in my pocket.

Perhaps he and his fellow salesman had more important things to chat about, like another exciting San Francisco Giants game.

I decided that, for now, I could live without the 13 Pro. 

I did, however, wander over to the new iPad Mini and that looked very nice.

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