Why Apple’s New Phone Doesn’t Matter*

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Why Apple’s New Phone Doesn’t Matter - Shira Ovide

New smartphones have been a tough sell for some time. People in the United States and many other countries are waiting longer to replace their phones — for Americans, it’s more than three years on average.


The shift from wow to shrug happened with cars, personal computers and televisions. More than a decade after modern smartphones hit the market, we’ve lost our zing for those pocket computers, too. Until economic conditions stabilize, our zing will probably be even less zingy than normal.
A smartphone is now a refrigerator. We need it, but we don’t replace our current model when a new ice-making feature comes out. This is not great for companies with shiny new phones to sell. For the rest of us, it’s fine.

This feels like an article written weeks ago and would be the same no matter what iPhone Apple released. I say that because the new iPhone SE seems to line up perfectly with this writer’s values as described in the piece. It’s the first update to a phone line in 4 years, it’s not trying to be be needlessly flashy, and it’s priced at less than half of the $1,000 price tag he mentions as a problem. It’s a phone that gives you all of the practical benefits that will let you keep this phone for years to come without asking you to pay extra for edge-to-edge screens, face unlock, an array of cameras, and the like. This is a $399 phone you will get software updates for and enjoy for at least 4 years, and probably more if you think about your phone as a refrigerator.

Also, the “people are upgrading their phone less” phenomenon is not a new suggestion, and it’s completely correct, but I think it’s not making the point that the author is trying to make. Yes, most people update their phone every 2-5 years, but that doesn’t mean Apple should only make a new phone every 2-5 years. Toyota makes a new Camery every year even though people don’t buy a new car every year, and Samsung makes a new refrigerator (or many) every year even though you hope to own those for decades. The obvious fact here is that it’s always someone’s time to upgrade.