I use an iPhone 6S+. It’s old. Old in smartphone-years, on a relative scale, kind of like how I’m old to a millennial because I’m nearly 40.
I should’ve bought a new iPhone last year, I was due. I generally stick to a two year cycle and on top of that it was a new model with fancy new features and a new enclosure, but I didn’t.
At the time, as everyone in my office fervently hit refresh on Apple’s order page trying their best to enter their credit card details and inwardly scream “TAKE MY MONEY!”, I sat back. I took a breath and I asked myself: “Do I really need the latest iPhone?”.
Twelve months later as we sit on the precipice of yet another iPhone release I find myself asking the same question again. The obvious answer is no but then the obvious answer isn’t always the one we arrive at (or actually want).
No one really needs to have the latest iPhone. It’s not saving lives, although Apple would like you to think it does, hell, pair it with the Apple Watch and they’ll straight up claim it will, but the reality is it’s still just a phone and I already have one those and it runs everything the new one will and it functions perfectly well.
One of the largest contributing factors to me not buying the latest and greatest is cost. Every year the cost of smartphones continues to hit new highs and it didn’t exactly start of cheap either. When the iPhone launched back in 2007 it was considered overpriced then, the largest capacity model retailing for US$599. Today, Apple’s current flagship model the iPhone X 256GB is US$1,149 or with our lovely “Australia-tax” a lazy A$1,829. That’s a 52% price increase over 11 years. The smartphone could potentially be the only rival to the Australian real estate market in terms of ludicrous & unsustainable growth over the last decade.
The rationale for such exorbitant costs is that the smartphone has, in its own right, become more of a computer that makes phone calls instead of what they originally were – a phone that could do tricks, like play “Snake”. In fact, the SoC in Apple’s phones and tablets is now so sophisticated that (if using the right benchmarking tools) outperforms many of what new generations consider dinosaurs devices in an old school “computer”.
The comparison is a little apples & oranges though. You don’t expect to upgrade your computer every year like many of us do with smartphones. Computers or laptops are generally bought with a mindset that they’ll be lasting years rather than a singular. They’re treated with more respect in a way, and while we may want to believe that the smartphones of the world are capable of doing everything a computer can the hard truth is they just can’t. Not yet anyway.
For some reason though our smartphones as skirted that rational thought however. For those of us more “tech-inclined” (that’s the PC term for nerdy right?) having the latest and greatest is part of the deal. Or it’s always felt that way to me.
Fellow Reckoner-ite and The Sizzle creator Anthony Agius has admitted on the podcast many times that buying an iPhone each year is his one “treat”. His iPhone purchase is a nerdy course of decadence served but once a year and satisfies his lusting of the shiny-new.
For me, refraining from indulgence, particularly when its a new version of an iPhone and not just an mid-update “S” version, is difficult. Lock away the practical side of my brain and fire up the irrational because it’s serving up a wild course of “but it’s new and shiny and does this different to the old one and everyone else is getting one and I probably need it for work but I don’t really at all, but I’ll keep telling myself that to justify the $2k I’m about to throw away by buying it”.
Ultimately a new iPhone X or whatever it’s called, with its rumoured fancy new 6.5″ OLED screen isn’t going to let me to do anything that I can’t already do but is that going to stop my finger from pressing “Order” come September 12th? I’m honestly not sure. At least when I was having this dialogue with myself a year ago I had the added excuse of avoiding Apple’s notoriously bad first model problem.
For the uninitiated, back when Apple was a computer company (sick burn), people were anecdotally encouraged to skip the first generation of a new product line. Apple’s G4 Cube is a perfect example of this (well every version of the Cube is an example of that) as is the iMac, Lisa, G3, G4, even the iPhone itself to a degree, all illustrate my point.
This year though the iPhone eXperimental (you see what I did there) has well and truly matured. The notch has been accepted by consumers and now features on the majority of major smartphone manufacturers and will get even larger on Google’s upcoming Pixel 3.
Ultimately there’s no rhyme or reason for me to need a new iPhone but I will emphatically want a new iPhone. The decision won’t come down to one that’s based on logic, instead it will be swayed heavily by the subliminal programming I’ve succumb to. We live in a generation where FOMO is real and credit cards that make hard realties of bank balances seem almost irrelevant. Congratulations commercialism. Like a gas lighting ex-boyfriend you have successfully indoctrinated us all, leaving me with the very real, very unanswered question at this point, “Do I really need the latest iPhone?”.