Recently appearing in my inbox was an email from Apple telling me to sign up for their (assumedly) new iPhone subscription program. The idea is simple: pay a designated amount of money per month and receive each year the brand new iPhone, complete with “AppleCare+” coverage and versatility amongst carriers. Considering the fact that a new iPhone is released each year during approximately the same time window, and that the increasing costs of the phone have driven prices for the high-end models up to over a thousand dollars, this plan sounds like not only a good idea for the conscious consumer but also an attractive one to those who are on the fence about the idea of upgrading each and every year. Allow me to take the stance of the pessimist and tear this idea to shreds.
To start, I want to lay out pointedly that I think this is a direct attempt at further pushing the “newer is better” mentality amongst consumers; those who choose to stick loyally with this corporation are at the head of the pack not only technologically but societally, and those who choose not to conform are left out in the dust to either change their ways or to become obsolete. This mentality breeds profits, as there are still people lining up every September to shell out a fraction of their income for an approximate six-inch rectangle that sits in your pocket (but this one takes better pictures!). The push of this new program signals to me that maybe people are not entirely willing to drop a three month’s car payment on a cell phone each year, and that Apple would like to offer a more conservative alternative by draining your wallet over time, and not in one lump sum.
Next, I would like to address what I think is the pure absurdity of the pricing on this program. On the front of the page, it is advertised that the plan starts pricing at $37.41/month, for the iPhone XR with 64 gigabytes of storage (not to mention the non-transferrable iCloud storage extension program as well). Over twelve months, this rounds out to $448.92 annually. On the other end of the spectrum, the iPhone XS Max with 512 gigabytes of storage begins at $68.66/month, $823.92 for one year. Comparing this to the face value price of $1099, a savings of $275.08 might sound appealing, as well as the fact that the lowest end model only runs you just short of $450 per year. Here is the problem with that: it is a yearly plan.
Call me a traditionalist, but I believe that a phone, especially something of such high monetary value in this market, is an investment, not a lease. You should be buying a new phone which will last you for years, that is reliable, and has enough features to leave you content. To touch on that first point, Apple has not only admitted to throttling the processing speed on phones as they age, but they also deliberately design their newest operating system updates to work fluidly with what is the most current hardware at the time – leaving people with an older model and a newer operating system in a quandary that can only be solved by shelling out the money for the newest model. I think it is all a plan to have the consumer spend more and more money on a material item which has undoubtedly become one of the largest crutches in societal life in the last decade.
In my opinion, a phone needs to do two things: receive and give communications. Anything else is extraneous and unneeded. However, we have evolved past such a point where having many of these ‘extraneous’ features has become commonplace; photography, internet access, applications, etc. are all the cornerstone of what qualifies as only the bare minimum of what the average consumer looks for in a phone. Now, I realize that it is unfeasible to carry around a phone for calling and texting, a camera for taking pictures, another device for listening to music, a laptop to use the internet, etc. It is not only convenient but absolutely remarkable that we have the technology to take all of those things and combine them and shrink them down to a six-inch rectangle that we can carry around and use at will. Regardless, I think that shelling out the money each and every year to lock yourself into the cycle that Apple has now given you an easier than ever way to enter is ridiculous, and unneeded. A new phone with all the bells and whistles is nothing more than a material want, not a need. Do yourself a favor and invest in something that is reliable, comfortable, and useful, not something that is designed to break down at an advanced rate.