Why I didn’t upgrade…

The chance to pre-order the iPhone X for delivery on release has come and gone. It’s a fact only remarkable because it was the first time I willingly took a pass on trying to snag the latest miracle from Cupertino on day one. There are a couple of reasons for that – and at least one of them has to do with the phone itself, although Apple is largely to blame for the other reasons as well.

1. $1149 is a tough, tough price point to swallow for someone who remembers $200 cell phones and offers of “free phone with contract.” Sure those were old school dumb phones or “feature” phones of the past, but it’s still a memory fresh enough to trigger thoughts of “what the actual fuck” when it comes time to fork over a grand.

2. My Late 2014 Mac Mini is slowing down under the weight of everything I’m asking it to do as a primary computer and mini-server for the house. It’s going to need replacement sooner or later and that likely means stepping up to the iMac and swallowing another $2400 bill from Apple.

3. My first generation iPad Air, now 4 years old doesn’t quite have a battery problem… yet. It’s still burning through a full charge fast enough that it’s days are numbered. There’s $950 more allocated for tech refresh either this year or next.

4. Pre-ordering is tied to my home address in Maryland… and the state will happily charge me $68.94 for the privilege of ordering a new iPhone and having it shipped to my door. If I’m patient enough to wait until the phone is widely available, I can walk into the Apple Store in Delaware and take delivery and only pay the standard Apple Tax instead of getting hit by Maryland too.

5. AT&T and I have been together for a long time – closing in on 20 years now. The problem with that relationship is that when I’m sitting in my living room I hover somewhere between zero and one bar of service. During the great ice storm of 2017, with my internet connection down I ended up with no cell connection at all… while neighbors running on the Verizon network were still able to call out. Having minimal voice and data coverage at home during an emergency situation is kind of a priority, so it’s likely time for a switch. As an Apple Upgrade Program member there isn’t a clear way for me to change carriers during a pre-order purchase.

So there it is, five distinct and fairly reasonably assessed reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to upgrade right away this time. It’s the right decisions, but I still don’t feel any better about it.

Upgrade me…

I’ve given up on try talking myself out of having the latest, greatest iteration of Apple’s phones and tablets. That sooner rather than later I’ll end up with one of the two new iPads announced this afternoon is a foregone conclusion. Now it’s a simple question of which one I’ll bring home with me.

I’ve really come to like the size of the current Mini as opposed to the “full sized” original iPads. My only disappointment from my Mini is the non-retina display. It’s been sort of like going back to standard definition television after watching everything in HD. Sure, you can do it and it’s perfectly serviceable, but it’s well off the mark from being optimal. The new Mini resolves that issue and adds a whole lot of added horsepower to boot. Of course with the new full sized model being a slimmed down version of its former self, it’s a tossup which one is going to end up being my go-to tablet for the next year.

The only thing I know for sure is after last month’s fiasco of waking long before the crack of dawn and standing in line for four hours to be met with “sorry, sold out.” I won’t be lining up for this launch. I don’t mind standing in line when I know I’m going to have something to show for the trouble, but with Apple product launches I no longer have that old warm fuzzy that they’re going to fill their own supply chain first before making units available for other retailers. Whenever they can ship it to me from China is just going to have to be fast enough this time around.

Resource constrained…

Everything in life more or less comes down to a competition between wants, needs, and the resources to make those things reality. Needs are fairly basic – those things we must have to sustain life. Wants are more problematic in that the more we have, the more we tend to want. Resources, of course, are very nearly always constrained in one way or another. Having spent six days sitting at home over the previous month and a half when I would have otherwise been working, the constraints are a little tighter now than usual. That’s a shame, because we’re ramping up to that time of year when the wants start following an upward trend. Put another way, it’s the time of year when Apple starts rolling out it’s new mobile toys.

Over the next two months, the boys and girls in Cupertino are set to roll out new versions of the iPhone, iPad, and several varieties of actual computers. Given that I’m currently limping along with a 2008 model MacBookPro, upgrading that really should be my first priority. Of all the machines in the house, it’s the real workhorse and takes the lion’s share of abuse in blogging and general writing. Now that the battery issue is resolved, my iPhone is working well enough and could easily last another year in service. The iPad mini gets its share of daily use, too, but basic web browsing doesn’t exactly tax its considerable abilities. It really should be the last thing I’m looking at replacing right now.

When it comes to new toys, of course, logic and service life remaining don’t exactly play a role in my analysis. It’s almost a mortal lock that I’ll be up in the wee hours of a morning soon after September 10th ordering a new phone on its first day of availability. If I have to make a case for needing a new one, I can always fall back on the fact that the old, standard 8GB of mobile storage isn’t what it use to be. Which is both true and sad all at the same time. I’m a little more hesitant about replacing the iPad at this point. If there isn’t a true retina screen built into the mini this time around, I think I can justify waiting for the next generation in my own mind. Without some exceptional change, a two year replacement on tablets almost feels reasonable. As far as getting over the hump and bringing a new laptop into the family, well, it’s probably going to remain in the easy to justify but unlikely to happen column this time around.

Funny how I can justify a new phone every year in my own mind, but not a laptop unless there is literally smoke poring out of the back of it. Stupid resource constraints always forcing me into the fun decision instead of the responsible one.

Day 2…

I had good intentions of getting a hands on review of the iPhone 5 done and posted last night, alas, my new job as nursemaid pretty much slammed the door on that idea. I haven’t even had time yet to really put the phone through its paces. The only think I can really add at the moment to yesterday’s first impression of it being super light is that it also feels fast and very responsive to inputs. Data speeds seem improved even here in Cecil County, BFE, so I’ll be very interested to see how it handles the next time I wander into LTE coverage. The only snag so far was a few apps that absolutely refused to restore from iTunes. After downloading them directly through the iTunes app, all was once again right with the world. So far, my day two impression is similar to one that is floating around out in the tech forums… iPhone 5 and iOS 6 are essentially refinements to what was already a solid device. Bottom line, is it worth the cost of upgrade from a 4S? For a heavy user bent on squeezing out every ounce of performance from the iPhone or a iOS gamer who wants more screen real estate, yes, absolutely with the upgrade. For the casual user wanting to check mail, text, and play angry birds, it’s not so much of a necessity.

Feeding addiction…

I got up at 2:45 on Friday morning to order a cell phone that not one living consumer has actually gotten a chance to hold in their grubby little hand yet. Websites ground to a crawl, crashed, reloaded, and then crawled again, but I stuck with it for almost four hours. Some people might call that obsession, but I like to think of it as dedication to the task at hand. Sticking with it was better than the alternative of getting up the following Friday to go stand in line at an Apple Store or AT&T retailer in the hopes of getting one on the first day of release, like I have the other four iterations of the iPhone.

My precious, precious iPhone 4S is, even as I write this, sitting on a pallet somewhere in Eastern China waiting to be loaded onto a Fedex jet and flown to Alaska to clear Customs, then on to the Memphis hub for sorting, and then into Philadelphia for local routing. Not that I’ve looked into how this usually works or anything. Assuming there are no hiccups with Fedex getting from there to here, I should have my shiny new bauble delivered right to my door around noon next Friday. From manufacturing plant to consumer on the other side of the world in a week and all synchronized to happen the fay the item is first available in stores. You’ve got to admit that’s pretty slick. Who says international commerce doesn’t work?

Maybe it’s just one more addiction I’ve gotten myself into. Fortunately it’s mostly harmless to everyone else and doesn’t leave that hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach the same way putting $500 on red tends to do. So yeah, after 16 months of waiting for the next great thing, I’m just a few days from getting a fix to carry me through another year. Then I’ll be after the next big thing. When you’re feeding addiction, that’s just the way it goes.

Lion…

Like a moth to the flame, I am drawn to yet another newly released Apple product. Thank god a $29.99 download from the App Store won’t break the bank like a new laptop… although the Air updates that they released today look pretty sweet too. Other than blogging, I don’t do enough work on the computer these days to justify any kind of upgrade. Maybe I’ll convince myself next year to spring for a new laptop and ditch the current giant monitor/laptop arrangement… though by then, I’ll be doing even less on the computer than I do now.

At the moment, I’ll be happy just to finish downloading Lion and taking it out for a test drive. I’ll report back if it completely bugs out on me. Otherwise, you can assume it’s another Apple effort that just works.