Another year, another Apple event to show off new technology. Held on Sept. 12, the Cupertino, California, company showed off its next slate of phones with the iPhone 8 (with Plus version available) and the X, their new “ultra” phone set to rival Android’s already present set of OLED powerhouses.
Lacking both a front button and the already removed headphone jack, the iPhone X’s new look also presents one new upgrade: the price tag. Coming in at $1,399, the iPhone X once again shows that the constant change in technology continually drives our need for upgrades and excess.
This manner of thinking is nothing new. Car companies have been releasing “new” versions of their cars annually for decades with incremental updates added to justify the cost of the new version. But the difference between these industries is the lifespan of how long they are used. Where a car will more than likely retain its use for a decade or potentially longer, our phones and laptops are seeing shorter and shorter leases on life.
With companies like Apple cutting off phones from future updates, currently the iPhone 5s is the newest version to allow current updates (although with the release of the 8, it shouldn’t be long until the phone is soon unable to update).
The success of this strategy can be seen by both Apple and Android users as the buzz surrounding these events causes people to re-evaluate their current phone plans to see if they can get the newest, shinier version.
Where the problem of this strategy lies is in its expansion to other companies. Both Xbox and PlayStation consoles have now come out with mid-generation versions, while Nintendo has been adding several upgraded versions to their systems since the Wii hit shelves in 2006.
The newest technology isn’t lasting as long as it used to in the past, as it is not meant to. The more product bought the higher the margins of profitability can be seen. What is not seen is the amount of waste appearing on the other side of that number.
A 2016 article in the Atlantic proposed that 50 billion tons of electronic waste are expected to be dumped this year alone with the problem of irresponsible electronic dumping becoming an extreme issue across Asia.
The more companies push their newest technology every year the larger these issues will become. These worries of sustainability should be on the forefront of these companies’ minds as the focus should push for more substantial upgrades in the future. Yet, at this point, all people wonder is: will the iPhone 9 bring back the headphone jack?