The Youth Lab


While some are less than enthused about the latest brand and technology announcements, others await with bated breath. Following its latest iPhone event, Apple has once again made headlines (despite the fact that most of the “modest” announcements were predicted to come). What’s new? For a start, 3 new iPhone models - the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.


The iPhone is an important marker in the democratisation of photography (not price wise, but by having next to nothing to carry around), which allows people to express themselves by utilising techniques that, back in the day, were only exclusive to DSLR users with a big camera. Now, the iPhone 11 is coming and all the hype seems to be about the camera, or more accurately, cameras. More camera lenses = more creative fun.

The back of the iPhone 11 has a dual camera system and the iPhone 11 Pro version has 3 lenses. This includes wide and ultra-wide cameras which allows content creators (and general phone users) a wider field of view, which is especially useful in tight spaces. This is not new for camera tech, it’s a feature many other new high-tech phones from competitors like Samsung and Huawei have, but it is new for the iPhone.

“Manufacturing a lens which can zoom optically (that is, not just crop into an image) will always require an extruded lens to gather the light differently… But no one wants a phone which won't slip into their pocket. What Apple have done with the iPhone 11 Pro is to have three cameras with three different lenses. This is nothing really new. The Galaxy Note 10 has this feature, but a neater array of vertically stacked lenses doesn't call attention to it like the iPhone does. In the same way early hybrid cars were made to stand out and look different (and kind of ugly), the iPhone's eyesore of lenses calls attention to a feature which has actually been around for ages.” -Kevin Goss-Ross, Creative Director Film & Photography, Thinkhouse

Cool stuff you can do with the new cameras include using ultra wide settings in video and switching seamlessly from still to moving content capture. ‘Night mode’ also turns on automatically in low-light environments. And not forgetting the selfie camera - you can now use slow motion in the front facing camera.

The camera is one of the most sought after considerations for young people when buying a phone with the iPhone camera being a tool for so many creatives to find their footing over the past decade. Alongside the development of video based social such as Instagram, there comes a demand for higher tech, at a more affordable price, in an easier to use interface, and iPhone keep trying to answer that brief.

If you look to low budget feature films like Tangerine that utilised the iPhone as its only camera, it worked to benefit the budget and the crew - with a smaller production, they could get away with shooting on the street without permits. Although this was a massive success for the film, it was also an unexpected success for Apple, who in years previous had dabbled in iPhone sponsored shorts. Last year, Steven Soderbergh's directed Unsane was shot exclusively on iPhone, albeit on a far bigger production budget. What this shows, is that the gap between cinema and social will slowly close for young creatives, and they may feel like the tools are available to them far more than they ever have been before. The rules have gone out the window.” - David Balfe, Producer, Thinkhouse


One of the major pain points of the iPhone is its battery life. Those aged 15 to 24 on average spend four hours a day on the phone - and it’s not unusual to see those with iPhones carrying around cables and portable chargers in order to ensure access to a charged phone at all times. The new iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are bigger, heavier, and thicker than last year’s models, bucking the usual trend where Apple tries to release increasingly thinner and lighter phones.” This means that the new iPhone will have better battery life, 4-5 extra hours.


The cost of buying a new iPhone has been climbing and climbing. On one hand, this hasn’t been a major deterrent, youth are willing to pay big money for a phone - it’s something that’s rarely out of their hands.

“Apple make these products that have infiltrated our lives. They have such a hold on what we do. I rationalised spending $1,000 bucks on the new iPhone even though it’s just this sort of weird stupid rectangular thing thing that fits in my pocket... I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have that. I’m so blindly giving away huge bucks without much thought because it’s this thing that’s part of what makes us productive and sociable today as humans. It’s the holy grail of products that you need every 2 years and no price is too much. It’s very weird.” - Craig, 29

On the other hand, it’s a tricky situation when young people feel like they should have a certain phone or product and it’s just not financially accessible to them.

“When I heard they were releasing a purple phone, that’s when I tuned out. It just feels like a lot of jazz hands and little substance. Plus I just don’t have, what, like €1,000 to spend on a new phone!?” - Sarah, 26

But, this is the first time in years that Apple didn’t raise the price of its most advanced/high-end phone:

“The iPhone 11 Pro Max, the new flagship triple-lens camera device with a 6.5-inch screen, will start at $1,099, the same entry price as the company’s most expensive iPhone. More significant, the entry-level iPhone 11 will start at $699, or $50 less than the price at which the iPhone XR debuted a year ago. The cost of the iPhone 8 has also been cut to $449, a $150 reduction that highlights how Apple is expanding its smartphone portfolio so its services reach the broadest array of people.” Financial Times

Apple’s event also brought news of its new streaming service, Apple TV+. Its prices undercut Netflix, at $5.99 a month.

“The company has made a concerted effort to boost its offering in services, from music and gaming to movies and streaming TV, in a bid to ensure existing customers stick with the iPhone and to better lure potential customers into its widening ecosystem. More than 420m people now subscribe to a range of its offerings, with Apple Music having overtaken Spotify in the US for paid music streaming services.” Financial Times

Do youth still care? Yes and no. They don’t care for the hype or frills - they care about access and creative tools that will enhance their online communications. While these announcements mightn’t be hugely relevant to the young masses right now, when it comes to the big investment of buying a new phone, finer details will be explored in the decision making-process. Quality is always a big focus, and with this announcement Apple tackled some of its obvious sore spots for long-time users who are getting their heads turned by other brands - camera quality and battery life. While these improvements show how late the brand is to the party, it does show how much the iPhone is crafted as the ultimate tool for this younger generation. In a cluttered landscape, a consistent win is delivering a phone that facilitates super content capture & creativity.


The increased focus on an epic camera requirement is a trend across all hot new handsets and tech. This is indicative of modern youth consumer behaviour: the desire to create personal, meaningful content and drive their own personalised daily story-telling. Essential to this, is the camera in their pocket. The ability for users to create higher quality content brings with it the appetite for creative innovation for brands to stand out more, while simultaneously showing up in more ‘real’ ways.

Brands should be aware of the continuing importance of visual, camera-phone and small-screen-sized storytelling in their brand communications, and should be utilising opportunities or moments to embrace consumer engagement and participation visually as part of those comms. Tap into and work with your young brand advocates and fans for opportunities to co-create content, visuals and moving pictures/film made for and by mobile phones.

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