The iPhone buying conundrum: Outlook hazy

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Let us begin this week’s column with a very clear disclaimer: in the times we currently find ourselves stuck in—possibly through some accident involving a warp bubble or rift in the space/time continuum—wondering when you’re going to get a new smartphone is not a critical thought experiment. Let us consider it instead a diversion from having to think about [gestures to everything] rather than an activity that is currently mission-critical. Assuming you already have a smartphone and it’s not on its last legs, you’ll be fine.

Consider The Macalope’s position. His beloved iPhone SE is four years old… [checks watch]… nnnnNOW. Isn’t it adorable? They grow up so fast.

Yes, The Macalope took delivery of this device on March 31, 2016. Could that have been the event that caused the aforementioned warp bubble or rift in the time/space continuum? The timing checks out. The horny one will leave that up to quantum physics.

Let’s check in on how this device is doing. It’s still generally in working order. The Macalope had the battery replaced in October of 2018 and it currently has a maximum capacity of 96 percent. In practical use, he finds it runs out in the late afternoon, a problem he never had when it was young.

The same, of course, can be said of any of us.

To mitigate this issue, The Macalope has his SE in a battery case. This also unfortunately mitigates the benefit of having a small phone in the first place. It’s still small in two dimensions—length and width—unfortunately we live in four. Someone really needs to look into that. Maybe there could be a temporary COVID-19 exemption to having to live in four dimensions.

So, if there's anyone who has a working iPhone and could really use a new one, it’s The Macalope. He could always order a new iPhone 8 or a refurbished iPhone XS as a stopgap measure, but his SE still works, so he’s content to wait. But wait for what? And how long?

If you had asked The Macalope in January, he would have put money on Apple having announced the iPhone 9 by now. As recently as two weeks ago he was discounting rumors of Apple canceling the device. And, yet, looking around his woodland office where he’s sheltering in place, The Macalope does not see an iPhone 9.

Wait, is it over here under this giant stack of toilet paper? No, it is not. It’s just more toilet paper.

For a mythical beast who goes to the bathroom in the woods, The Macalope sure has a lot of toilet paper.

The Macalope still doesn’t see why Apple would outright cancel the iPhone 9, assuming it was something that existed in the first place and that you can cancel things that haven’t even shipped. Given the spring 2020 state of the economy, he thinks a cheap iPhone with modern components could be a big hit, but he imagines Apple has spreadsheets that contain more things than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

Horatio is The Macalope’s accountant.

Looking ahead to the fall, we see conflicting information. Nikkei, which popularized claims of gigantic iPhone X production cuts two years ago, now claims that Apple will possibly delay the launch “by months”. Bloomberg, on the other hand, says the fall iPhones will arrive on time assuming no further delays in summer production.

Given this timeline, however, The Macalope wouldn’t rule out an alien invasion this summer. As bewildering as this all is, try to look at it as a fun thought experiment instead of a big problem. Which is probably how we should have been treating it all along.

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