iPhone 5 is not just for stupid people

Jesse Brown’s cost-opportunity calculus on the latest iteration of the must-have handset


(Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

People planning on buying an iPhone 5 are not necessarily stupid. True, all of its new features—LTE, a higher resolution screen, and longer battery life—can be found for less on various Android handsets. And yes, other features common to Android phones, like near field communication, are absent on the new iPhone. It is also true that Apple has again pooped on its faithful by introducing yet another unique dock connector, thus rendering millions of sound systems and peripherals slightly obsolete (you’ll need to buy a clunky adaptor).

But none of that means that you’re dumb if you want one anyway. The new iPhone looks great, and by all reports, feels even better. Venerated Apple designer Jony Ive is correct when he says in this cult indoctrination, I mean, promo video that your phone is probably the product you use most in your life. We spend more time each day holding our phones than we spend holding our loved ones, so surely it’s worth something to have one that feels just right in your palm. How much is that worth? For me, not as much as an iPhone.

By switching to Android a couple of years ago and moving my number to one of Canada’s new cheap-o cellular providers, my monthly bill dropped from $100-$150 a month to a dependable $30 a month, voice, data, text and tax included. That’s over $1,000 a year that I’m no longer paying while getting the exact same services. This thrift does deny me the pure sensual pleasure I would receive from cradling a superior object in my palm each day. But my wife and I have a human baby, who I enjoy holding more than any phone, even if I do so less often. I earn what you’d expect a journalist to earn, so dropping a grand each year on a luxury item with no practical advantage over its competitors would make me a very stupid man.

But I’m not calling you stupid. Not necessarily. If you want an iPhone, and money isn’t a big concern of yours, then go nuts.  I similarly wouldn’t call a guy who buys a new Corvette an idiot, unless he’s working at the Future Shop, living with his parents and paying off a student loan.

What amazes me about Apple is their success at getting otherwise intelligent people to act like that guy. We agonize about value with every other consumer decision, comparing features to prices and searching out bargains. But when it comes to Apple, people throw reason to the wind and spend like Kanye. Sure, you can get an Android tablet for $200 that does all the same things a $600 iPad does.  But it’s not an iPad.  Sure, your iPad still does all the things it used to.  But it’s not the new iPad. Once the latest fetish object is glorified on the altar of the Yerba Buena center and slathered in magical Apple sauce, who cares about a few (hundred) extra dollars?

The real danger, of course, is not that people are so enthralled with Apple’s killer marketing that they’re ignoring their best economic interests.  It’s that we’re disregarding our social interests as well.  Apple is becoming a dangerously powerful player in just about every digital realm.  That includes music, movies and TV, publishing, and video games.  That includes privacy and patents.  It’s crucially important that all of these spaces remain varied, open and competitive.

On the other hand, iPhone 5 is 18 per cent thinner and ever so shiny!

Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown


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iPhone 5 is not just for stupid people

  1. One thing you have forgotten to take into your equation is the ecosystem, and the amount of money and time that some people have already invested in the ios ecosystem. If you already own tons of apps that you love (after trying tons that you didn’t!), it makes it harder to switch away from Apple. If I stay with Apple, I do not have to repurchase any apps, nor do I have to spend time trying to find equivalent ones that work well with me. (That all said, I’m still at least considering moving to Android before I get even MORE invested in iOS!)

    • Made the move myself and am very happy. For what it’s worth there are programs you can get tht enable you tonuse iTunes with your Android based phone: that definitely made the decision easier!

  2. i truly sympathize with the children whose parents think that an electronic gadget is more important than them. “when a parent twits in front of his/her child(ren): they do not feel loved”

  3. Instantly incompatible apps. Meh.
    Instantly swelling landfills, full of perfectly fine, but now irrelevant accessories, chargers, wires, batteries, plastic cases, new and old packaging, etc.*
    Thanks Apple.
    You’re a peach.

    * I do hope that jurisdictions with electronic product life-cycle regulations and laws (I’m looking at you, EU) sue the pants off of Apple for compensation for massive environmental costs incurred by their latest proprietary connector.

  4. Is it not possible to bring an unlocked iPhone onto Wind or Mobilicity? Seems like that way you could have your lovely iPhone *and* your cheap monthly bill. I bought a SIM card from Wind so I could use my existing (unlocked) Googlephone on their service and it all went very smoothly.

    Also, I’m now going to call up Wind and demand that they lower my plan to $30/month on the grounds that Jesse Brown has that.

  5. As usual it is cool to bash on the big companies (and politicians of course) without regards to facts and reason: it brings clicks.

    So in the end you are as guilty as Apple of wanting success. Shame on you!

    PS: Where do you get a $30/month voice/data/text service that has more than 20 min voice, 50MB of data and 17 text messages? Tax included!

    • theres a company called mobilicity which offers unlimited service aka unlimited, call, text, data etc starting from 25 a month

  6. It’s amazing that otherwise intelligent people post fanboy drivel like this article. Really, this is embarrassing link baiting.

  7. WADR, the cost differences between any top spec smart phone these days is negligible.

  8. Feels better…….what exactly to you mean? Line up lemmings, your new shiny object is ready.

  9. Its appalling to lower oneself to using babies and irrational social fears to bash Apple.

  10. So true – I find that my Samsung (which was free with my cheap plan) works just fine. I have also noticed that those who insist that they can only use Apple products produce no better work than I do (with whatever cheap laptop is on sale when I’m ready to buy) and when I call them on their Iphones, the call is just as good as when I call someone on a non-Iphone! Amazing!!!

  11. Never of you heard of Republic of Moldova but 500MB of HSPA+ traffic cost here about $4 (available for a month), and for $7,2 a month you get 250 minutes inside your network operator, 25 minutes outside, 1000 minutes with a “family” number on your network and five numbers to be called for as cheap as two pennies a minute. That is for you 7,2 dollar a month. Moreover, if you didn’t spend all these minutes during the month, they will be added to your next month.

  12. great article….apple’s an overblown elitist marketing tool and our Blackberry’s are soooo much better…not to mention we support a Canadian company that gives jobs to Canadians and has unbeatable privacy encryption….yea blackberry of Waterloo, Ontarioooo!!!

  13. Steve Jobs, god bless him, was not the innovator genius he’s thought to be…just a Marketing Guru who stole patents, ideas, and intellectual property of other far more innovative souls who he left hanging dry, including the mother of his child whom he did not support and a father that he didn’t care to acknowledge…Steve was, like Madonna, a Marketing W*hore who made his billions without regard of whom he stepped on…and wouldn’t buy “his”(?) products no matter how glitzy and showy–and totally unnecessary–they are.
    Like Madonna, no real talent of his own but a sure firebrand of Marketing and a “borrower” at best of other people’s technological savvy that he never acknowledged. Sometimes it’s best to stick to buying solid stuff without adding on the exaggerated marketing expense.
    No way we’d buy Apple products–ever. Monopolies are hurting Canadians and Americans everywhere.
    refreshing to hear this….

  14. iphone 5 sales are lower than expected, people are wising up finally! the phone 5 looks stupid af it looks like a tv remote