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Why We’re Not Getting the iPhone 5S (Even Though I Have Gadget Envy)


 Image: Compudemano via Flickr

This post will be most amusing to those who have followed the Wolvog’s repulsion of the new operating system.  I wrote the post right before he upgraded.  He is coming around to the new Siri, though he sees her as a completely different electronic friend from the old Siri.  He’s learned that he’s not going to love everything his favourite company creates.  I’m glad he’s keeping his own taste.  It will serve him well when he starts his own electronics and software company.  Yes, he’s already picked out a name, designed his headquarters, and has given me a small amount of stock.

But until then…

I watched the livestream of the last Apple event while the kids were at school, jotting down the details on the new iPhone 5S and C just as much for the Wolvog as for the article I wrote on the new phones.  It was the first thing he asked when he got in the car at school pickup: what was the processing chip, did the new phones have the retina display, how many megapixels in the camera?  He wanted to know everything about iOS7, and he moaned when he found out he had to wait about two weeks before he’d be able to swing by a store and hold these devices in his sweaty little palm.  “Are we getting one?” he asked hopefully.

“Are you kidding me?  Our phones are a year old,” I answered.

“But… they’re not an iPhone 5S.”

He’s right.  Our phones, cutting edge only a year ago are now two generations behind.  Our iPad is pre-Siri.

And to that end, they haven’t just outgrown games; they’ve outgrown gaming systems.

There is always a newer, shinier gadget on the horizon, especially at this time of year when manufacturers want to get your Christmas dollars.  As an adult, it’s hard not to get swept up in believing that you need a new iPhone 5S (or even an iPhone 5C… in blue… since it’s pretty) when you hear all the cool things it can do that your current phone cannot.  As a kid, it’s impossible not to believe that life will be magically different, as wonderful as those adults at Apple make it sound.

For those with a replenishing money tree in their backyard, obtaining every new phone, tablet, computer, and gaming system isn’t a big deal.  For the rest of us, we need to pick and choose what will truly make our life easier and better and weigh that against cost and waste.  And then explain to our kids why we’re not getting a gadget that promises to make them smarter while simultaneously making life happier, brighter, and more fun.

We get new phones when our current phones are on their last legs.  When the battery no longer holds a charge for a whole day.  When the operating system can no longer accept new updates.  When it’s missing more than a few of the time-saving tasks that each new generation of phone brings to its user.  The same goes for our computers: they’re replaced when our old computers cease to work effectively enough to perform the simple tasks we need them to do.  Our iPad will be around until it burns out and dies a painless, gadget death.  And that Wii is going to have to be good enough until it no longer allows us to jog around Wuhu Island.

This isn’t a new phenomenon; kids always wanting the next big thing.  But the next big thing when I was growing up was a new set of Garbage Pail Kids or a new She-Ra action figure.  The items we coveted the most were mostly reasonably priced (with the exception of those Cabbage Patch Kid dolls) and the technology moved at a snail’s pace.  The same gaming system could carry you for years and years without any itch to replace it.  Our telephones were just… telephones.  And while we had a computer growing up, I certainly didn’t know about each incarnation of Apple computer, which came about every few years. (The Apple II sold for 16 straight years with very few changes!)  Beyond that, even if I did know about a new piece of technology, I never expected us to get it.  My parents either brought it home, or they didn’t.  I certainly didn’t care what sort of technology they had.

I think the twins have accepted that we’re not getting the iPhone 5S, nor will we probably get the iPhone 6 whenever that is released.  We may even be able to stretch past the iPhone 7 if the models keep coming in quick succession.  I have relented and said we could go to the Apple store to gawk at the new devices.  I’m sure there will be a lot of coveting and even more hinting (and outright statements) of how much an iPhone 5S could enhance our lives.  And part of me believes the hype too.  Part of me believes that I would be a more organized, more creative, happier person with the latest tool in my hand.

Luckily the part of me that believes that doesn’t have access to my wallet.

Do you covet each new gadget?  How do you decide when to upgrade when the models come at you fast and furious?

cross-posted with GeekDad


1 Nonsequiturchica { 10.06.13 at 8:33 am }

It’s not just kids these days that want the latest and greatest gadget- I have a few Facebook friends that go out and buy the latest Apple product, even if their current one is fine. Me? I am still rocking the iPhone 4 with no Siri and it’s just fine. The home button sometimes needs 10 pushes for it to work, but otherwise it’s good. No need to spend the money.

2 Christine { 10.06.13 at 9:15 am }

My 7-year-old spent most of yesterday asking us when he could get a phone. “When you’re 12,” we said. “Maybe.” He doesn’t even know why he wants it, except that phones are cool and he’s seen his cousins play games on theirs. We don’t have iPhones. We don’t have an iPad. We don’t have a gaming system. We are not early adopters. And yet society is forming him to believe that he needs all these things.

(I shall blame society and not my addiction to facebook, which has nothing to do with this. I don’t even use it on my phone.)

3 A.M.S. { 10.06.13 at 9:33 am }

My laptop battery is completely dead and replacing it is about 1/3 the cost of a new laptop. That said, I don’t really *NEE.D* a laptop to be portable. I usually only use it sitting in my Sheldon Cooper-esque spot on the sofa and the battery provides a safety net in case The Moonpie unplugs the laptop and I don’t notice. So, I’m torn between the fun of NEW! SHINY! laptop, the fills-a-need new battery, or fiscally responsible making do and adding the $800 to savings as yet another drop in the bucket for our new house fund.

4 Heather { 10.06.13 at 10:18 am }

When we had a break in and my iPad 1 was stolen the only good thing about the experience was the insurance paid for an ipad4 and I love it! I hear what you say about the expense but I really covert an IPhone for my next phone.

5 loribeth { 10.06.13 at 11:37 am }

Dh & I are relative Luddites. But then we don’t have a couple of kids asking for the latest & greatest. I have a 10-year old computer upstairs that’s been mostly superceded by my three-year-old laptop but my scanner isn’t compatible with my laptop, so every now & then I fire up the old clunker & do some photo scanning. ; ) Our phones are Samsung flip models, about five years old, that are mostly not on & never used for anything else except phone calls. We don’t have a GPS in our car — I’ve always like reading maps. We still have (& use) a VCR (no PVR, although we do have a DVD player), and our TV is a 10-year-old 32″ picture tube Sony that still works perfectly fine. Our cable package is one step up from basic. I never even had a Sony Walkman, let alone an iPod. I still buy & listen to CDs. I have some music on LP, cassette & CD and it pisses me off that someday I’m probably going to have to buy it all over again in mp3. :p 😉

Dh does hanker for a flat-screen TV, and we will probably get one sooner than later (although I really do have a hard time justifying it when the TV we have still works just fine). And we’ve been talking about smartphones & the fact that we will probably HAVE to get one sooner or later. I do sometimes think it would be nice to have a camera combined with my phone that I could whip out of my purse at any time, particularly since the hone cameras these days are pretty good. Cameras probably have been my main technological indulgence. I got my first digital point & shoot camera in 2004, and am now on my third one. I got the latest one at Christmastime, even though my old camera was only about four or five years old & still took very good photos. I just wanted something just a little more flat/compact and faster.

I like your point about how things were different when we were growing up… I know it’s a common refrain, but it really is true in this case. Different time, different mindset.

6 Laurel (Dawn Storey) { 10.06.13 at 11:49 am }

I just got my iPhone 5 a year ago, and with the latest upgrade to iOS 7 I feel as though I have a new phone anyway! I’m a gadget-loving person, but am happy to stay with what I have for the time being.

7 luna { 10.06.13 at 12:38 pm }

our phones were 3 yrs old and incapable of multitasking (I know, the demands we place on our gadgets these days!), so the timing for the new iphone worked perfectly for us. we similarly wait until we can’t wait anymore. then grit our teeth as we shell out the big bucks, revel in the new technology and hope like hell we’re not rendered obsolete any time soon. in vain though. it’s inevitable.

8 Turia { 10.06.13 at 1:53 pm }

What I really dislike is the way companies build obsolescence into their products. So they won’t make the part anymore. Or there will be a new operating system that isn’t quite compatible with the old one. Or it will be almost as expensive to buy a new one (but still that little bit more) as repair the old, so you might as well get the new one. Not only is technology changing so quickly and leaping forward constantly, so the new items are that much cooler and shinier, but then the requirements for everything else step up to match, and suddenly the six year old desktop can’t cope with the internet because the pages now all have embedded movie trailers. That’s what really annoys me. I can resist the siren call of the new stuff, but I hate it when the new stuff raises the requirement for everything else so that suddenly the old stuff, which still should be perfectly functional, no longer really works.

Q. has a laptop he bought in 2007. I have a laptop we bought in December 2010, and there’s a desktop from 2007 in my study that is almost never used now. My mobile is from 2007. Q. just bought one this year (because E. is at nursery school), and he was actually quite depressed to discover he couldn’t find a model that didn’t have a camera. We don’t have a television, so we stream movies on the laptop.

It is getting harder and harder to hold out on the smart phone front. I saw a statistic the other day that over 50% of Canadians now have smartphones. We don’t NEED one, but I can definitely see places in our lives where it could be useful. But we always, always just ultimately balk at the cost. I have been tempted by an iPad, usually when trapped on a long-haul flight with our toddler, but again, I recognize that we don’t really need it.

The place where I run into most trouble is photography. I have a DSLR from Christmas 2007. It takes very good photos. Occasionally, if I really work at it, it takes exceptional photos. There is nothing wrong with it. But I have been fighting the urge to upgrade it for more than a year now because the new bodies out there (even the new entry level ones) are basically a completely different camera with everything they can do that mine can’t. So if phones are someone’s ‘thing’, I can see how it would be hard not to instantly want the newest version.

I find the pace of change right now very stressful. What are we all going to ‘need’ five years from now that hasn’t been invented yet?

9 Tiara { 10.06.13 at 6:59 pm }

I got this iPhone (4S) for free with my cell plan, a 3 year contract…so I won’t be upgrading until I renew & can negotiate another new phone, whatever version is cheapest at that time.

10 Pepper { 10.06.13 at 7:07 pm }

I don’t. My husband really, really does and thinks I’m a weirdo. 😉

11 Alexicographer { 10.06.13 at 8:07 pm }

Um, no. Allow me to revel in our Ludditism for a moment. I am still making phone calls on a cell phone that will — make phone calls. Oh, and, technically, text, though I have done that perhaps thrice in the — 5? — years I’ve owned it (numeric keypad lettering system only, so not really practical. If I need to text someone because that’s what they “do,” I use Google voice. My phone … will not take pictures (I also don’t have a decent working camera. My experience has been that there are very few moments in contemporary life that aren’t adequately photographed, though of course now that I’ve typed that, a crucial one (perhaps many) will arise).

My DH got a smartphone maybe a year ago, and I’ve had a Nexus 7 for about the same amount of time (our first of each kind of device). Certainly there are nice things about each. But neither has us wishing we had the latest, though DH’s is an off-brand android and he does wish he had a better one, I’m not sure exactly why.

DS has recently learned that Santa brought a cousin of his a Wii U last Christmas and is now hoping to get one himself. Cost aside, we’ve steered clear of portable kid-friendly tech (we do have an older Wii and a television; the smartphone and the tablet are not treated as available to him) and I’m pretty reluctant to go there. We’ll see.

12 Sarah { 10.07.13 at 5:41 pm }

Before kids, I always wanted the next best thing. Every new gadget was at the top of my NEED list, not just want. Now I have to prioritize. Should my kid have clothes that fit or should I get the new thing I just HAVE to have? I’m still rocking the original iPad. It still works fine and does what I need it to do. My iPhone is 4, not even a 4s so I don’t even have Siri. It is however, struggling. I found some old gift cards to cover the cost of the new phone so I will be getting the 5s, but again, I will wait until it is no longer in top functioning order before I go for the new one. Unless of course I win the lottery and money is no object 🙂 Then I will go back to getting the latest thing. It’s hard to see all the new stuff and not want it, but for the most part, I’ve discovered if it still works, why upgrade to something that will likely be obsolete before I even get it home? They sure are shiny and sparkly though.

13 Emma { 10.08.13 at 2:14 pm }

I am really hoping J and I are good about not giving into every.single.whim our kids have as they grow. I never had a Nintendo growing up. I never had cable until college. If I wanted something, I had to do chores for money to pay for it. I am going to need a new computer very soon and I’m freaking out over how much money we don’t have that will be. J wants to get a new car to better suit our growing family and I am not very willing to give up my paid-for car until it’s run to the ground. I love new and shiny, but when money is involved, I do my best to figure out if the object is a need or a want. More than likely it’s a want.

I wish companies would make things that last! I know as soon as my credit card is swiped for my new phone in May (when my plan renews), it will already “need” to be traded in for a newer, shinier version. *Sigh*

14 Amber { 10.08.13 at 2:40 pm }

I love my iPhone, but absolutely don’t need to run out and get the new version every time there is one! My husband just recently upgraded his cellusaurus (flip phone) to an iPhone. As much as I am lured in by new technology, we resist until it’s needed.

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