The same reason why the iPhone X was expensive last year. One thing that Apple did that is “un-Apple-like” is that they kept the price of the XS same as last year’s X. Which is (kind of?) good. They never did this previously. That is one more reason why they stopped production of the iPhone X.
Apple is a premium brand and hence they charge premium price for their products. It is like they create a price barrier for their products and you need to break that barrier to enter their world. And breaking that barrier while others won’t is what is supposed to “make you feel better” about yourself. This is why Apple products have this hype. They created this around themselves.
Whether the price is justified is a completely different argument. If you ask me, I’d say “No, they are not justified.” But then, most premium brand product prices are not justified. Breaking the price barrier to join their “premium club” is how they justify themselves. INR 28k for a pair of Nike which is advertised as “having air-bags” is what made me laugh for a full three minutes. But then again, people do buy them.
But have you noticed that recently Samsung released their flagship model, the Note 9 which is almost equally priced as the iPhone XS (in US, not India), but not many people bashed Samsung for that. There is a kind of hate for Apple products, somehow, which according to me, is also not justified.
Why the iPhone XS does not justify itself with its price tag?
It still does not include the fast-charging brick in-the-box. This was a major setback for many customers when they first found out. Charging such a premium for a product and still not including the best available accessories in the box is a bummer.
They have the consumer confused by including USB-A to lightning cable with the iPhones and having only USB-C ports on their macs. This means that if you have their recent mac lineup and you buy the latest iPhone, they are incompatible out-of-the-box. They should have included the type-C to lightning in the box but they want you to buy it separately. That is bad practice.
Their wireless charging is still not the fastest. Even though they have advertised that their wireless charging has improved speed, it is still not at par with what other competitors like Samsung already have in the market.
It’s camera is still not the best even though it is the single most expensive consumer smartphone in the market. But this is subjective.
It does not have the best display on a smartphone. Even though the displays on the X or the XS or the XS Max are among the best displays, still the Galaxy S9, Note 9 has much better displays even though the iPhone’s displays are produced by Samsung.
How to justify the iPhone XS price tag (or any Apple product)?
They have THE BEST customer support. No other company comes even close to the after-sale customer support that they provide. You cannot compare unless you have experienced it.
Long Term Support. Apple is, to my best guess, right now the only tech company that provides support for its devices for the longest period of time. Take for example, the iPhone 5S. It was introduced back in 2013 and is still supported through 2018 (and most probably through 2019) with software updates, security updates, feature updates, etc. No other smartphone company can do this, or have done this. iOS 12 was available the same day for the iPhone 5S as the iPhone X. Good luck expecting support for the S9 from Samsung for more than 2 years.
Their product design and build quality. Even if this is subjective, nobody can say that Apple cheap out on their product design or build quality. It is among the best.
iOS. This is subjective as well. But there are people who are head-over-heels in love with iOS and how it “just works”. This includes me as well (disclosure). iOS is a very polished piece of software where almost all the features work perfectly. Unlike Android, where Google releases an unfinished feature first and then fixes it as more and more bugs show up, Apple wouldn’t release a feature unless they have polished it. This is one reason why Apple is mostly late to the game of new features but the frustration with their new features not working are much less.
The Ecosystem. Most people won’t tell you this, but when you are buying an Apple product, you are not only paying for the product, but for the ecosystem as well and how everything within the ecosystem works together seamlessly. Trust me when I say, an iPhone is 10x more loveable when you have a mac or when you use Apple Music or when you have the AirPods or when you use HomeKit etc. This is just how Apple works.
Fun fact, most Apple haters have never used an Apple product and they just shower hate either because they have heard others complaining or because they think it is cool to do so. Ask them why they hate Apple products or the iPhone, and they’ll give you the most weird or funny reasons that are not even true.
That said, there are genuine people who hates the Apple’s high-walled ecosystem and loves Android because how open and customisable it is.