Brace yourselves. Because according to The Atlantic, “The iPhone Isn’t Cool.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @jonyiveparody.)
Uh, well, sorry, but the iPhone’s mom said it was cool. So.
By the way, the contrast between the title of this piece above and the URL slug–“iphone-14-apple-annual-upgrade-improvements”–is hilarious.
The Atlantic’s Damon Beres is a little bit right, though. When everyone has something, is it still cool? Like, remember how we all thought being in a relationship with Harry Styles would be cool and then after we were all in a relationship with Harry Styles we were like, whoop, not cool anymore?
iPhones and iPhone events have become a little boring, though. Well, “boring” might be overstating it. After all, this one had a bear and a plane crash! What fun. Next year Apple executives will need to retrieve each new product from a pit of venomous snakes as they are announced.
“Staid” is probably a better word.
It’s not just iPhones, though. Smartphones are a mature business and rocking the boat might be fun and a good lower body workout but it also can get a lot of water in your boat. The phones that try to shake things up a bit, foldable phones and phones from upstart companies with names that range from Essential to Nothing, are mostly gimmicks you probably don’t want to throw your hard-earned money at.
So, complaining about smartphones being dull is a bit like complaining about all the cars coming with four wheels these days.
Beres starts by reminiscing about the first iPhone he ever bought.
The year was 2011; the season was winter. The ground was slushy…
It’s starting to feel like there’s going to be a recipe at the end of this piece.
Many reviewers rightly pointed out that the touch screen was worse to type on than a physical keyboard, and complained about the iPhone’s fragility. In these early years, buying one was the fashionable choice, not the pragmatic one.
Okay, hang on there. Yes, it was harder to type on a virtual keyboard than on a physical one. But the keyboard isn’t the only point of interaction. It’s not even the most frequently used point of interaction. The whole attraction of the iPhone was that it made the rest of the experience–the larger part of the experience–easier and more pleasant, so much so that you wouldn’t care about typing being a little harder. Was fashion a consideration for some? Sure. But the iPhone and Android didn’t crush Blackberry by means of fashion, they crushed it by being easier to use.
While Beres waxes poetic about the iPhone 4, agreeing with Apple that it was “the phone that changed everything”, he neglects to recall a little thing called “Antennagate”, which had pundits clamoring for a recall of the device. The Macalope likes to reminisce as much as the next mythical beast but the past wasn’t all magical unicorn kitten fairies. There were, for example, a number of plagues.
Beres continues his long-held hatred of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program.
These phones are expensive—$800 and up…
They are expensive and Apple has effectively increased the starting price of this year’s fall lineup by not shipping an iPhone 14 mini. But Apple does also sell the iPhone SE for a very reasonable $429. Yes, it’s an older design, but one that is still completely functional, and Apple is rumored to be switching soon from the iPhone 8-style design for the SE to the iPhone XR-style.
The Macalope is a big fan of the SE, even if it’s a bigger phone than he likes. While the design may be older, it’s also familiar and comfortable. The internals, meanwhile, are not old at all, making it a terrific choice for people who want things to run well but don’t need pro features.
If you are going to upgrade your iPhone every year and want AppleCare coverage, the iPhone Upgrade Program is still a pretty good option, despite Beres’s concerns about being eternally indebted to Apple. First of all, it’s only two years and the clause about your immortal soul is just boilerplate and is probably not even enforceable, maybe, who knows, the Macalope’s not a theologian.
Still, there is something to be said for slowing down a bit. Just because Apple wants to shove a $1,000 phone in front of you every year doesn’t mean you have to take it. The Macalope does not upgrade every year and, therefore, does not use the iPhone Upgrade Program. Heck, he used his original iPhone SE for four years, waiting for the iPhone 12 mini which he now intends to trade in for an iPhone 13 mini. And if Apple never ships another small phone again, he’ll probably use that until it crumbles to dust. Which he hopes is not the case because some of that dust is not good to breath in.
Look, take it as writ that Apple is a company and capitalism is the fire in which we all burn. You can rail against the game all you want but if you’re not feeling it, the only winning move is not to play.
And the Macalope hears the new rotary-dial phones this year are hot.