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Can it­er­a­tive de­vices jus­tify their price tags?

APC Australia - - Contents -

In Aus­tralia, Ap­ple’s newly-an­nounced iPhone X costs $1,579 for the 64GB model, or $1,829 for the 256GB model. Need­less to say, un­less you’re Ru­pert Mur­doch or Don­ald Trump, that’s a lot of money to spend on a phone. Now, there is some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for that price tag. Not only does the iPhone X boast a bet­ter OLED screen, but it nearly scraps the bezel en­tirely, along­side cam­era and AR tech that prom­ise to be fu­tur­is­tic, even if rather su­per­flu­ous (and in the case of Face ID, mildly alarm­ing).

But who is it for? The wealthy, ba­si­cally, or else peo­ple who re­ally need to have the best avail­able phone tech­nol­ogy in their pocket and don’t mind sac­ri­fic­ing a great deal else. Peo­ple will buy it re­gard­less, but as time goes by it seems in­creas­ingly silly to fork out too much on a smart­phone be­cause, let’s be hon­est: these things just aren’t built to last, nor are they meant to.

There are a bunch of fac­tors that con­trib­ute to a smart­phone’s life­span. How heavy a user are you, and how many times do you charge it per week? Ac­cord­ing to Bat­tery Univer­sity — an in­de­pen­dent bat­tery test­ing com­pany as­so­ci­ated with bat­tery an­a­lyt­ics firm Cadez — your av­er­age lithium-ion bat­tery can only han­dle be­tween 300-500 charg­ing cy­cles per life­span, with a cy­cle con­sist­ing of any charge com­menced when the phone is be­low 70% ca­pac­ity. That means if you’re any­thing like me, your bat­tery is likely to start ta­per­ing off at around the one year mark.

While that’s the most prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tion, there are also other more neb­u­lous things to take into ac­count. Ap­ple re­leases at least one new it­er­a­tion on its phone per year, as do all of the An­droid brands. Is this $1,579 go­ing to feel like dead money this time next year, when Ap­ple un­veils new must-have con­cepts? Clearly this con­sid­er­a­tion isn’t go­ing to help en­thu­si­asts who sim­ply must own all the new tech, but for any­one think­ing a more ex­pen­sive phone sig­nals a longer term in­vest­ment, then… prob­a­bly not, I’m afraid.

Be­cause in ad­di­tion to bat­tery degra­da­tion, al­lur­ing new mod­els and the fact that you’ll prob­a­bly end up drop­ping the damn thing, Ap­ple has a habit of rolling out new OS ver­sions which, if they don’t ren­der your phone un­us­able if ac­ci­den­tally in­stalled, may very well slow them down to the point of an­noy­ance. This mild form of planned ob­so­les­cence is largely un­proven with sta­tis­tics but, in a New York Times ar­ti­cle from 2014, the pub­li­ca­tion showed a graph that proved search queries for ‘iPhone slow’ tended to spike at a cer­tain time ev­ery year.

The thing is, spend­ing money on new phones feels re­ally nice. But then, in a mat­ter of months, you’ll for­get that your phone was ever a novelty at all. Then, if you’re the soul-search­ing type, you may be­gin to won­der whether a $1,800 phone makes you hap­pier than a $500 one. And you may dis­cover that ac­tu­ally, it doesn’t, and that this im­pulse to ac­quire may find a bet­ter salve in craft beer brew­ing or hobby trains. Buy the new phone by all means, just do so know­ing that you might be up for an­other $1,500 in less than twoyears time.

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