Apple to launch most expensive iPhone ever in UK next week

Apple is set to release the most expensive iPhone ever in the UK next week against the backdrop of a Brexit-battered pound, just two years after the company broke its own records with the iPhone X.

The iPhones 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, revealed during a press event on Tuesday, will hit the US market priced at $999 [£809] and $1,099, the same price as their predecessors, the iPhones XS and XS Max.

In the UK, the two phones will cost £1,049 and £1,149, a £50 increase year-on-year. The difference is largely down to the continued poor performance of the pound: two years ago, when that pricing was fixed, £1 bought $1.32. After 12 months of downward sliding, the exchange rate stands at $1.23.

The iPhone price discrepancy is not all down to the currency markets. The UK prices include VAT, while the US prices are quoted exclusive of sales tax: a direct comparison of pre-tax prices has the UK phones costing £874/$1,061 and £957/$1,162 respectively, meaning Apple is still charging $60 (£49) more in the UK than in the US.

But the British premium has actually gone down, not up, over the past two years: in 2017, iPhones cost $100 more in the UK than the US pre-tax.

The difference between 2017 and 2019 is the performance of the pound, which has been battered by concerns about a no-deal Brexit.

This is not the first time this has happened. In 2016, Apple released a new range of MacBook Pros, using the update to quietly raise the prices of every computer it sold – even those that had not been updated.

MacBook Air increased in price by £100, while the Mac Pro became £500 dearer overnight. The event was the first major product release after the then prime minister, Theresa May, had indicated her desire to trigger article 50 in March 2017, news that sent the pound plummeting to a 21-year low.

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