Yesterday, 9 Jan, marked the 15th anniversary of Steve Jobs’ presentation showing the iPhone to the world. For better or worse it has been one of the defining products of the 21st century. For most it is an indispensable link to the wider world. For some it has caused pain and misery, for others it has replaced the constructs and norms that had defined life before it.
Whether you like the iPhone or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is it is a device that has transformed all of our lives in some very important ways, both for better and worse.
My history with iPhone
I didn’t get my first iPhone until 2012, after the 4S had been released. For about a year before that I had owned early models of Android phones on the Sprint network that had served me well for a decade.
In truth, I didn’t really want the iPhone or Android when I got them. As late as 2009 I had been trying to simplify my life, and free up my focus time, by buying the most basic feature phone I could get my hands on. I figured the iPhone, and by extension Android phones, we’re simply solutions to problems I didn’t have. I’m still not so sure I was wrong in that.
Whether I was wrong or right, the lure of a full computer in my pocket was eventually too much so I jumped on the Android bandwagon and bought my first iPhone only after my HTC EVO bricked on me during SXSW. I really did need a phone at that point so my friend drove me to a Radio Shack away from the SXSW traffic and I bought the iPhone simply because it was the only thing they had in stock.
I owned iPhones for the next 5 years with my last being an 8 Plus. By the time of that last iPhone I was pretty deep in the Apple Ecosystem and decided it was time to change. I traded that phone in pretty quickly for a Google Pixel 2 XL on Google Fi (and all my other Apple gear in for upgraded devices) and I thought I was good to go.
Just like my first time with Android, though, Apple came calling back. After more than 3 years on Android and Linux my family was done trying to communicate with me. In addition, my trust for both Apple and Google was at a low point, especially on privacy. I was trying to maintain my own self-hosted services on a Google Pixel 3XL (I traded the 2 in after a year on a sale that gave me a new phone and $250) with as few Google services as possible and I just wasn’t keeping up.
Last January I traded the Pixel in for an iPhone 12 Pro Max. Over the course of the year I added an Apple Watch 6, an iPad Pro (12.9″) and a new 16″ MacBook Pro. It seems the Apple ecosystem is just something that, at least for me, there currently is no escape.
The iPhone is the best of the worst
So am I happy with my iPhone? As far as tech goes, I think the iPhone can best be summed up today as the best of the worst. It works, usually. The camera is great, I can contact whomever I need to with it and my family is happy they can FaceTime with us and generally exchange data with me much more easily.
On the other hand, as much as iPhone has revolutionized travel and so many other activities, it is still designed to gain as much of your attention and data as it can to be sold to the highest bidder. That is something I would rather not have in my life.