Lost Pleasures

Two years ago, minus a little over a month, I hopped on the first train from Swindon to Bath. The commute was a regular occurrence (though usually not that early), but today was different. I had the day off, and I was heading to one of the most special events in a modern, Apple loving geeks diaries: An Apple product launch.

It was the iPhone 4. I had my reservation papers and arrived at the usual at-least-one-hour before opening time, my iPhone 3G was weeping dejectedly in my pocket while I waited second in the people with reservations line, secretly gloating at those in the longer line without reservations. About 30 minutes early, we were allowed in to start the process, and I was very quickly out with my new iPhone 4, walking past the (really rather huge) line at the O2 store in Bath’s Southgate centre.

The next part is the boring bit, 16 months of pleasure mixed with a little debating on whether leaving the usual 2-year upgrade cycle to hop on board the iPhone 4S (which didn’t happen) we’re at around October last year, and this is where things start to go down hill…

iOS 5 launched with iCloud on October 12, and despite the fact no-one knew how it worked and no-one could figure how to make it sync their contacts properly, I found it all work lovely for me. A little bit of speed issues, but that’s fine for a teething phase.

iTunes Match launched in early December and I signed up immediately, enabling it on all my Apple devices. That quickly changed after my iPhone battery decided to only last half a day when listening to iTunes Match music, even if it was already on the device, so I disabled it.

Things got progressive worse since then, the speed decrease that came with iOS 5 got worse with iOS 5.1 in March, and it just feels like it’s getting worse every week. Maybe because I have more apps, more music, more iMessage and SMS data, but why should that be a bad thing? I’m using my device. I have 32gb of storage and it’s still one of the most powerful phones on the market.

It takes away from the enjoyment I’ve had for the last 18 months when I want to do something like take a photo and it takes literally 15 seconds from homescreen-slide to ready, don’t get me started on switching to video or from video.. Or how long some apps take to start, or how long wifi syncs take – or why they seem to want to sync genius data for 200 of my songs with every single sync.

The worst part is: I’m not going anywhere, and I know it. There is no other device for me. I’m part of the Apple ecosystem, and that’s a decision I made a long time ago. I’ve bought too many apps, own too many devices and use too many services to even dream of switching to another platform; not that anyone can offer anything that comes close to the unity you get from using Apple products. I’ll be right in line for that 6th iPhone this summer or autumn.

  • Chutzpah84

    Mobile phones exist in this weird space where we are being almost forced to upgrade every couple of years. I don’t want to accuse Apple or another handset manufacturer of deliberately slowing a handset down to force you to upgrade, but you can bet that ensuring their updates don’t bork your phone is low on their agenda.
    I’m making a stand on this for now, having decided the other day to keep my HTC Desire. It’s two years old now, and I can have an upgrade if I want it. Compared to other phones it’s behind the times. There’s faster ones out there, there’s better cameras, faster processors, newer operating systems.
    But fundamentally, it’s just a phone. It makes and receives calls, accepts and sends texts. The camera is OK enough to take pictures for Twitter. I can run the apps I want on it.
    There comes a time when we will all just have to say that relentless upgrading of technology is bad for our personal finances and bad for the environment. That’s not to say that innovation shouldn’t happen, but that we need to accept that things should last longer than they do.
    Or should we all accept that a phone that costs more than £500 is not fit for purpose after 18 months?

    • lgladdy

       @Chutzpah84 It’s hard to see that angle with Apple, as they sell their phones for 3 years now, with 2 levels cheaper if you want to go for cheap. Though i guess they won’t using their phones to the same degree I am.
      I think maybe the “fit for purpose” part is more interesting.. Does that apply if Apple update it, when I had the choice to stay on the original software? What about if it still makes phone calls, just a bit slower?

      • Chutzpah84

         @lgladdy Don’t forget that “fit for purpose” is largely in the eye of the beholder in this case. I’m happy with my phone, you’re moaning that it’s slower than it used to be.
        And Apple are in the business of stimulating demand for products. Don’t write what I’ve said off as “it’s hard to see that angle with Apple”. Do you think they’d ever really say “do you know what, we’re not going to release a new iPhone this year because with present technology we can’t justify it”?
        No, they’ll do the usual “10% faster processor” or explain how the camera is to die for and push it out.

  • ittookten

    @lgladdy Last 3 phones experienced perf. drop off @ 18mths starting to think network & handsets programmed to underperform to drive upgrades