It is no longer merely an opinion to state that smartphones are the most widely-used devices of the digital age. It is a fact that is as clear as the sky is blue and that fact is one that is impactful on the lives of most people. Smartphones have become an integral tool in society, whether it’s used for business or for pleasure, the fact still holds up. We need our smartphones.
But with that in mind, there’s just something that seems to irk me every time a new smartphone comes out. While having the means to put incredibly powerful hardware into a device that fits perfectly in the hand is an incredible feat, smartphone manufacturers seem to overlook a really basic aspect — that of durability.
Surely they do not think that consumers would be so gullible so as to think that each iteration of Corning’s Gorilla Glass is better than the previous generation, especially when every recent generation of Gorilla Glass “scratches at a level 6, with deeper grooves at level 7.” (Yes, this was a JerryRigEverything reference.) There may be a chance that this oversight is intentional. Here’s why planned obsolescence might be behind this.
But First, What Exactly Is Planned Obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence has two main principles. The first involves the intentional design of a product to fail after a certain period, thus prompting consumers to buy a replacement. The second is that of introducing the next generation of devices at a rapid rate in order to make the previous generation seem obsolete or undesirable. Many smartphone manufacturers employ both strategies and will often do so in conjunction with each other. A few examples are:
The Headphone Jack, Or Lack Thereof
From being a staple to being a feature, the headphone jack was once thought to be an essential part of a smartphone up until Apple decided that it wasn’t. While this may seem like a trivial change, it’s important for readers to know that there is a finite number of times that you can plug and unplug a charger. Because the lightning port is now used for both charging and earphones, you are essentially doubling the rate of wear and tear on your charging port. And if you want to avoid doing so, you’re going to be forced to purchase a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Glass Sandwich Designs
Despite all the nifty features that smartphones pack, they aren’t going to mean much if your phone’s chassis is easily broken. Cracked glass has a severely compromised integrity that it will gradually fall off. This is besides the fact that this also allows foreign objects to enter your phone, which could cause further damage. Most flagships come with this design language. But, if you’re not too picky on hardware, and you want a phone that’s durable, you might want to consider buying one of these rugged phones instead.
There was a time when you could simply swap out an old battery for a newer one in order to give your phone a new life. While that’s still possible these days, the process has since then involved a complete disassembly of your phone, which increases the risk of damaging other parts of your phone if you aren’t well-versed in performing phone repairs. These days, when your phone’s battery can no longer hold a charge, you either send it to the repair shop or you simply buy a new phone. Either way, the phone manufacturers make a profit.
We all remember the performance throttling that Apple admitted to a few years back. Despite the justification that this was done in order to help preserve the battery, the fact that consumers (initially) didn’t get a choice made it look more like an attempt to cause consumers to buy new iPhones.
Finally, one of the most talked-about issues is that of smartphone repairability. The argument here is that smartphones should be designed in a manner that allows them to be repaired easily. In a sense, it would have been as simple as buying electronic components and performing repairs yourself. But, because of how modern smartphones are designed, it’s almost impossible for the average consumer to perform these repairs himself and thus, the damaged smartphone requires technical expertise and a hefty amount of money to repair. Income cases, repairs could be so expensive that consumers might be better off buying a new phone instead.
However, despite all this, there is a lesson to be learned here. We need to adapt to the state of things. And with smartphones being the way they are now, we might want to take better care of these devices, especially if they are important to us. If we can’t change the system, we might as well try to change ourselves.