The Consumer Tech Industry Is Brainwashing Us

Over the last decade, I’ve had a constant desire to have the latest and greatest gadgets. The stuff that was deemed cool, popular, and exciting. This mainly started with the introduction of the iPhone all the way back in 2007. It was a gadget that had the potential of becoming something great, and has largely succeeded in meeting many of today’s standards for consumer desires. However, for some like me, that is not the case anymore. I am not having a dig at Apple for replacing the headphone jack, or the company not being the same as it was after Steve Jobs’ death. Comments specifically about Apple as a company are beyond the scope of this article.

The phenomenon I’m getting at concerns technology in general. Modern gadgets are presented to us as having some fancy new gimmick that we’re told to believe we need, when in reality, such products are just turning us into robots, restricting our ability to live a courageous and communicative life.

​It’s mainly got to do with why as a society all around the world we suddenly have the need to own the latest and greatest gadget that was pretty much the same iteration as of last years or the year before that, or the year before that. We seem to be spending more on the less and the same features from a product that we already own.

We see this in how we—as a society, across the world—have rapidly acquired the need to own the bleeding-edge, even when we already have last year’s model of the same device, and the changes this year were only incremental in nature. In fact, almost every that immediately comes to mind is a re-hash of a re-hash of a re-hash; we seem to be spending more on less, paying for features already present in products we already own.

An example

My iPhone 6, which is my current daily driver, is just as powerful as any other flagship smartphone that we have seen today. (EDIT c. January 2018: This phone is still my main device!)

The iPhone 6 is more than powerful enough for the average person’s workflow.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating the fact that the iPhone 6 is just as powerful as many of the flagship phones we’ve seen this year, but the practical differences are near zero. Specs simply don’t matter as much as they used to 10 years ago! In the image below, we can see benchmarking scores for iPhones released from 2011 onwards. Looking at it, we can see CPU performance clearly increasing every year, and I can hear you saying, “the iPhone 7 is so much faster than its predecessors. It handles everything really well,” and you’d be right in saying that! “So… what’s your point?”

Real world use is what matters. Our devices are fast enough to handle whatever’s thrown at them from the moment you purchase them, and this is obvious. However, these devices slow down with age, but not irreversibly. It’s commonly the fault of users, actually, with many of us simply not being tech-literate enough to perform basic maintenance on our phones and laptops; we don’t clear out unnecessary junk, such as unused software, and don’t care to optimise the hardware we already have through mechanisms such as overclocking, instead opting to buy new stuff from the next generation, even if our current hardware is equally capable.

There is a clear upward trend in CPU performance over time, but this performance increase is largely unnecessary.Geekbench Browser

But that’s another thing! We don’t keep these tech products. We replace them. And that’s because they get slow and because it’s not got the latest and greatest gimmicks. And that’s what a lot of company’s do. They slow down older generations of there products with there newest software overtime, as it’s a marketing scheme to make the average consumer think, “Oh… my phone/computer/tablet is slow…i’m gonna buy a new phone/tablet/ computer, so that I can run things faster”

We need to be aware on how new software has an effect on our gadgets. And also….do you need that new gimmick to a smart phone? Just look at 3D touch. Are you seriously going to replace a phone that works perfectly with a new phone that has 1 new gimmick on it, just because it looks cool and its new. I mean if this new gimmick is going to help you a lot with what you do with your smartphone, then go a head. It’s your money. I’m not telling you what to buy and what not to buy. I’m telling you to really think about what you are going to spend and if its necessary. Just don’t complain not being able to pay your rent this month… or next.

Trust me! It feels so much nicer when you actually have a valid reason to replace your device. Because when you’ve had a device for such a long time and then suddenly need a new replacement, that latest and greatest gadget, whether it’s a new smartphone that you just got, looks so much different, runs way more faster, takes fantastic photos and videos and has new features that are innovative and will hopefully impact your life in a good way. You will be more excited about having your new phone and more appreciative of how long your old phone lasted you for.

Smartphones, tablets, computers and any other gadget, should have a lifespan of at least 4 or more years! It should! If for example you’ve paid £600 for a smartphone, you are gonna want to make that last! I mean, know i do. Heck! I’m hoping my iPhone 6, last’s me as long as possible. It was a lot of money! I could travel to another country and spend a few nights there, rather than having the latest and greatest gadget thats the same as the next iteration of what you already have. It’s a replacement you need. Not an Upgrade! This is something we should all be thinking about. Do we need to replace these devices? Because it’s not exactly an upgrade. An upgrade would be an upgrade in specs, whether that would be replacing the ram for more GB, upgrading the hard drive to a higher capacity, or upgrading the GPU and CPU, for better graphics and performance. It’s not like most of the time we try and get our devices fixed either. A lot of the time consumers just by a new one or the latest to that predecessor.

Think to yourself, the next time your device is broken. “I could get it fix and save more money…rather than buy a new one which will probably be the equivalent cost of going on holiday somewhere for the weekend.” Now for carrier customers, I understand that a lot of you are on 1 – 2 year contracts with your smartphone or tablet. And your probably thinking right now, “well…once my contact ends I can get a new latest and greatest smartphone”, That is true. But what are you really saving from it? It would be cheaper when your contract ends to Just go with a sim only plan and a insurance method.

It was only just 4 months before writing this post, that I persuaded my family to keep hold of their smart phone and go with a sim only plan, on top of insurance, after there contract ends this year. It would save our family hundreds of pounds within the course of two years of a new contract. For example, my iPhone 6, 64GB, Three carrier contract includes all you can eat everything, minutes, texts and data for £54 a month. Hefty right? Well after my contract ends, i’m going with the giffgaf carrier sim only plan, with the same data plan as before, for £20 a month + insurance would probably be between £4- 7 a month. So therefore, I will be saving around £24 – 27 a month. That is £648 in a course of 2 years! That is the price of a high end smartphone! Almost the price for a really kickass computer. Or maybe that weekend holiday.

Plus! phones and tablets are getting more expensive each year anyway, so of course as your next upgrade is due, you’re probably gonna end up spending even more than you did 2 years ago. I know I have in the past.