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It is absurd to think that because you plug into a 3.5mm jack on an adapter, its somehow magically better than plugging into the same size jack on the iphone itself.
Of course, Apple could have decided to make them perform differently, but its nothing inherent in being a lightning port vs. 3.5mm jack. And louder != better, although many people will claim in blind tests that music played louder sounded better even when they are exactly the same other than being louder.
Agree with JPM's comments.
Apple has huge cash horde. They could change industries. Instead they've wasted the money with financial engineering trying to prop up their own stock. They could have bought, or could buy, a video content company (not a good idea any more, but Apple is doing it anyway), they could buy Tesla to shake up the automotive industry, be a leader in EV & autonomous, and get a visionary as part of it. Breaking into the gaming market in a big way would be a good move. They have so much money they could really change the landscape. They could buy AMD or NVIDIA, make their own graphics cards better than anyone else in the industry. They could buy or have bought a cell company, an ISP. Lots of industries that have been hard for Apple to work with, Apple could just buy.
Instead they're just tweaking products and raising prices.
Smaller is better. Carry around an iPad if you want big.
The XS Max is too big to carry, too big to use. What is needed is a phone with the footprint of the iPhone SE but with a display the size of the iPhone 6/7/8. This is the sweet spot. That provides a big screen that you can barely manage with one hand, while having the smallest footprint for that screen.
Apple needs to provide choices. They have big sizes, 5.8, 6.5, iPad mini with its 7.9 display, iPad 9.7, iPad Pro 10.5.
What they're currently lacking is a small PORTABLE device that can be easily managed with one hand. Thats the phones smaller than iPhone X/XS.
Apple has classically been blamed for making things too small, thin. Now they've given up on that and making phone big big big.
Hopefully Apple will provide variety and not continue to be obsessed with size.