About a week ago, I picked up an iPhone X from Apple SoHo. I bought the phone without thinking too much, other than hoping it would last for another three years. Little did I know that there are a lot of implications associated with this $1,000 phone, including its different meanings to different people. Throughout the first week after I purchased my phone, the iPhone X was the one subject I talked about the most with other people I met. This experience taught me one thing: in a day and age when people buy new gadgets for reasons other than their functions, it is important to reconsider your values and purchase wisely rather than impulsively.
The hype around the iPhone X was monumental. Apple reported extremely high demand for the iPhone X, so much so that the company expected to surpass Samsung as the largest smartphone maker in the world during this upcoming sales quarter. Lines stretching beyond the block formed around Apple stores worldwide. There are many explanations why people wanted this iPhone, but the biggest reason, I would argue, is because it is the first major redesign since the iPhone 6, which was three years ago, and it is the first time Apple has fundamentally changed iPhone’s interface. In other words, with a single glimpse at the new iPhone X, most people will recognize it instantly.
Buying an iPhone was, and in certain countries still is, a symbol of status. Its exclusive price and alluring nature, helped by its great demand nearly every single year, have established the iPhone as a universally popular item. People always develop strong opinions about new iPhones: they either love them or hate them. This year, the iPhone went all the way in both its pricing — now going into four digits — and its design. It is different enough that even those who grew bored of the iPhone in the past few years are now paying attention again. As a consequence, taking one out in class is sure to elicit some reactions.
Indeed, that was the case for me as virtually everyone who laid eyes on it instantly recognized my iPhone X and had one of several reactions: the techies wanted me to show them Face ID, the Android fans dismissed all the functions their devices had sported for years and other students just ogled at the edge-to-edge Organic Light Emitting Diodes, or OLED, display and Animoji. I happily showed them the features, lent them my phone or refuted their opinions, but I never wanted the meaning of that phone to affect my personal identity. I never took phones for more than what they are — tools that make our lives easier. But I could sense all the different emotions this phone might convey for different people.
I am not confounded by this mentality; I can sense the envy rushing up from my gut when I see someone wearing a Burberry trench coat. And this is pretty much the point — we all value things differently. Some people consider the latest iPhone a luxury, while some people may barely consider a Lamborghini to be one. The value is established from what we know, what we can afford and what we consider important, and other people’s possessions should not get in the way of that. From the sheer amount of people who also indicated they will buy an iPhone X just because they saw mine, I could tell what the herd mentality has led to — people don’t make decisions for their own good anymore. I never wanted that to be the case.
We all have our different needs, and if we are making purchases hoping to get other people’s validation, we are essentially spending money on them, rather than on ourselves. This is not just unhealthy for our minds, it is also unhealthy for our wallets. If you think the iPhone X will satisfy your needs and make your life easier, go for it. But if you want one just to fit in, I suggest holding off.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Wayne Chen at [email protected]