iPhone 5: Luxury or Necessity?

On September 12, 2012, the worst secret in the field of technology was released into the wild. Yes, the iPhone 5 was coming out and yes, millions of people want to love it and have millions of its babies. It also exposed an interesting fact about our society. With estimates of up to 10 million iPhone 5s sold by the end of September – NINE DAYS mind you – this is obviously going to be one of the most anticipated products launches in recent memory. But the question is this: do we actually need an iPhone 5?

Let’s start off with the facts. The iPhone 5 is going to carry a larger screen, have access to the LTE network, and be more powerful than previous iterations of the phone that revolutionized the industry. It will still have a retina display and with the new A6 chipset, the phone will run faster, smoother, and more efficient so that your battery life will be extended (or so we’re promised). The price points are the same as the previous versions with the 16gig going for $199, the 32gig going for $299, and the 64gig running for $399. The preorders began on September 14th with phones being available in retail stores and shipping on September 21st.

 

Admittedly, the reaction has ranged from excited to apathetic. The excited usually revolves around the bigger screen and the added functionality of LTE. The unimpressed concentrate on it being just another smart phone with a longer screen and the fact that it doesn’t make breakfast for you. “Yay, we have an extra row for apps! *fart sound*” Legitimate and sarcastic concerns indeed, but the more glaring concern I get from this is our expectations of our “phones”. I’m not a fan of excessive air quotes but I feel it is deserved in this case because how much do we actually use our phone for calls? I have an exorbitant amount of rollover minutes because quite frankly, I don’t like talking on the phone and if I can deliver a text to get my point across, boom, problem solved. And all without the awkward silences. It’s really an organizer, toy, time waster, camera, however you want to define it. It’s the do-it-all to end all do-it-alls. It’s the symbol of our generation that relies on convenience to be an arm’s reach away.

Before I got an iPhone, I had a Motorola Q which was complete and utter garbage. The reason I got the iPhone was because I needed a new phone that didn’t make me want to reenact Office Space and take a bat to it. I didn’t realize that I would get sucked into the world of “there’s an app for that.” All of a sudden, I had instant access to the internet, my music from my iPod synced into my phone, my calendars and contacts at my fingertips… it was pretty much the perfect phone to keep me organized. Then came the iPhone 4. Now I had Facebook, Facetime, Final Fantasy Tactics (alliteration much?), Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Instagram…these apps that I never would’ve used in 2006 that now dominate my life in 2012. It was ironic to have an device that can keep me on an organized path and then ruin it with distractions at the same time. The fact that I can go to the airport and check my work e-mails, check my gate with my scan-able boarding pass on my phone, with my headphones on listening to Spotify, and then walk to Starbucks and have them scan my Starbucks gift card off my screen…it’s not only a testament on how far we’ve come with technology, but also how absolutely screwed I am if I ever lose my phone.

As much as I am a fan of technology, I’m curious as to the turning point when I became a slave to it. Obviously it’s not just myself as many people suffer the same dilemma. Of course, there is a segment of the population that looks to the iPhone as a status symbol. Which is understandable because it is probably the trendiest technology out there, which Apple smartly marketed its products to be since the release of the first iPods a decade ago. However, while I try to take advantage of all the features on my phone, there are others that just want to purely show it off, not unlike a new outfit or accessory. It also doesn’t help that some people can’t even tell the difference between the iPhone 5 and 4s as evidenced in the video below.

I get it, it’s the new big trendy thing so not everyone is going to get on board with it. Especially when it should not be such an essential part of living and breathing that some people make it out to be. Unfortunately, in this day and age, for those handcuffed by technology, it might as well be the second coming of Jesus. I did get up at 3am in the morning to pre-order the iPhone 5 just like all the other ‘crazies’ on the east coast. It’s a valued piece of technology for me and while I can most definitely live without, I just choose not too because it simply makes my life easier to organize and also, from an ego standpoint, I like to have the new big thing to show off. That and my old iPhone looks like to got into a fight with the Expendables.

It really just depends on the perspective on the user. While I wish I can say this will be the end all be all of all phones, but it won’t. There will be an iPhone 6 or 7 that I’m sure will boot this phone and its features back into the stone age. The iPhone 5 is very evolutionary and will provide souped up features that will enhance your experience as a smart phone. That being said, this is not the game changer people are making it out to be. I think hardcore Apple users will champion its cause out of loyalty. The general public will probably identify this as an unnecessary device that only adds features that promote gimmicks as opposed to functionality. This phone is far from a necessity to the regular person but if you need to upgrade from an iPhone 4, or heaven forbid, a 3 or 3s, it may be worth a shot. We will find out on Friday and hopefully I’ll get a review up to see if the iPhone 5 will match the hype. Spoiler alert: It never does.

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