Why I Won’t Upgrade My Phone Until It Can Turn Into a Magic Pony
The next generation of phones will have to feel a lot more special to get me to spend another dime on a new one
Of all the absurd things I’ve hoarded over the years, by far the stupidest collection in my closet is a box of old mobile phones. I’ve told myself that if my current phone got crushed under a bus, I could always pull out one of these old beauties and make use of it in a pinch. Or if there were an apocalypse, I might be able to barter one away in exchange for food or water.
But in truth, I think I’ve just held on to them because they mark the passage of time, a less sentimental version of one’s elementary school photos. Plus, how often do we get to document, on such a personal level, the rapid evolution of a particular piece of technology?
When mobile phones were first introduced, they were elusive status symbols, the accessories of celebrities and people who needed to be reached at any moment of the day. Their huge, brick-like size announced their worth: Look at me, they screamed, while their various accessories and cables splayed vulgarly across the caller’s desk or car dashboard. My father, a doctor who was often on call at the hospital, had one of these enormous phones, and none of us was allowed to touch it. On the rare occasion that he used his phone, he would count each minute of use, as if our entire college savings were being drained before our eyes.
But luxury is defined in part by scarcity. Bit by bit, phones got smaller and cheaper and into the hands of more people. Having a phone was no longer a privilege reserved for the few.
Our phones all basically look the same and can do the same things. Most people can’t tell the difference between one year’s iPhone and the next.
I got my first phone in 2001. While it was nothing fancy, it was a wondrous thing that fit in the palm of my hand and made phone calls. It could also — well, no, that was really all it could do: make phone calls. Oh, and text messages, but that was a pain. Each button represented three…