Lasting: iPhones tend to stick around


You know what’s a good use of the word “only”? Roy Orbison’s Only The Lonely. You know what’s not?

The headline on this piece by The Guardian’s Samuel Gibbs.

“Apple expects your iPhone to last only three years.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Jonathan Beadle.)

Wrong! Not only is it Wrong!™, Gibbs knows it’s wrong because he goes on to explain exactly how it’s wrong.

Let’s be clear here since Gibbs is not. When we say something will “last” three years, the idea is clearly that it will wear out after that time. And this is obviously what the obtusely constructed argument is here.

Gibbs is like a man who knows how to construct a golem so well he can do it with his eyes closed so he does just that and then says “Oops! Whatever did I just do?!” as it proceeds to go on a rampage and destroy the Carpathian village whose town elders had politely asked Gibbs to please take up a line of work other than mayhem-inducing golem construction.

[Stereotypical Eastern European accent] “Ack! Itz not eefen a biznezz! No one iz eefen paying you! And zey destroy your haus az well! Vhy do you do it?! VHYYY?!”

Apple has announced that it expects your £500 iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches to last only three years and Mac computers only four.

Nope. You might just own them for that long, but that’s not the same thing.

Within a new question and answer section Apple said: “Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices.”

Ah! See, here’s the problem. There’s a difference between how long something will “last” and how long someone will want to use it. The Macalope would now ask “Does that help?” but Gibbs apparently already knows this. He does not need clarification, he just needs to have his cheap magic store smoke grenades upgraded.

That assessment doesn’t take into account the recycling of devices, their reconditioning and their resale, of course…

In other words, this thing that I said is actually another thing completely. How well iOS devices retain their value is a huge differentiator. A year after its introduction, you can get $155 on Gazelle for a 64 GB Samsung Galaxy S6, a device that originally sold for $760. A year and a half after its introduction at $749, the 64 GB iPhone 6 will get you $200 on Gazelle. At those depreciation rates, smartphones certainly aren’t a great investment per se, but one is demonstrably less bad than the other.

Also, whence the “only” in the headline? Three years is kind of an eternity in the smartphone (first) world. Three years ago the Macalope was using an iPhone 5 which, while still a serviceable phone, does not have Apple Pay or Touch ID.

The Macalope has one right here. It still works. As does the iPhone 4 he still has. And the iPhone 3GS. And the iPhone.

The original iPhone.

Which has “lasted” 9 years.

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