Need vs. Want

metronicon540roundeddropshadow-300x300Having been on the tick cycle since my first iPhone (the 4), this is the year I’d normally be looking to upgrade. After a couple of years, I’d usually be complaining about the battery life in my two-year-old phone by now: to begin with.

But the battery life in my 6 Plus is fine, really. It lasts all day, most days, and it has never been an issue.

Still, there’s a new iPhone with a swanky new camera and clever cores that run those low-level background tasks on reduced power. The camera looks good. So it’s not really “telephoto” but it is a 56mm equivalent lens, so now you have the two main lenses that every photographer should have: a wide angle and a portrait lens.

So I might want it, but do I need it? Of course not. And this time around, I’m less inclined to get it anyway. I’ve had several moments recently when I was tempted to commit iPhone suicide and just get rid of it altogether. Imagine the lightness you’d feel not having that seductive device calling from your pocket all the time; imagine the money you’d not be spending on a data plan.

When I consider my phone usage it comes down to five things:

  • Twitter
  • Podcasts
  • Google Maps
  • Music
  • Dots (my perennial mindless time-killing game)

Now, four of those five things are fairly important to me, but none of them really require the processing power of most-powerful-iphone-we’ve-ever-made, do they? And only three of them require the use of the screen.

What about photographs? Well, I do take a lot of photos, but only at certain times of the year. And a lot of my photos are taken on my Panasonic system camera, so while I’m impressed by the new camera technology, I’m not hankering for it right now.

My kid is hankering for my phone, however, so there is pressure coming from below in the iPhone food chain. She would kill to have the 64GB I have instead of the the 16GB she makes do with.

Can I afford a new phone? No. But then I never can, really, which hasn’t stopped me in the past.

Something cheaper than an iPhone would be a new Apple Watch. And for a while, I was telling myself I might buy the Watch (Series 2) instead of a phone this year. But I don’t need one. I wouldn’t even take advantage of the GPS to take it cycling without my phone: I always take my phone with me on bike rides in case of accident/puncture/throwing a spoke etc.

So it comes to this. There is no need, and there is not currently enough want to make me take the plunge. So I might wait until next year, who knows? The danger time is actually November (I never buy early in case there are bugs or manufacturing problems). So if I can get past the end of this year without succumbing to temptation, I might skip it this time.


 Watch watch

apple-event-0909-3-660x440Some of my guesses about what kind of wearable would make are sort of true, particularly to do with the price point. A $350  Watch fits the middle market, where there is some intense competition in the watch arena. The  Watch is also considerably more expensive than most of the Android wearables that have appeared so far, which is exactly what you expect. Apple don’t compete at the low end. They don’t want that market, they don’t want those customers, they don’t want to deal with the customer support that would inevitably result from selling a cheap piece of crap.

I was a little surprised to see that the  Watch Edition has a gold case. That’s going to cost well over $1000, pitching the device against some high end fashion accessories. Add a third party gold strap, you’re talking serious money. But although sales are low at the top end, the profits are high, so of course it makes sense.

Whether Apple will break into that top end with the  Watch as a watch on the other hand, is moot. This particular reviewer, a watch expert, details all the things that Apple got right with  Watch. The feel and finish, the references to “classic watch vocabulary” with the crown and the strap system (of course). He also points out that both sizes look good on all kinds of wrists, meaning that this is not a version for men and another for women. Those of us who prefer something smaller will buy the 38mm. But, crucially, while it looks quite nice, it’s still too chunky to fit easily underneath a shirt cuff. His conclusion is that Apple will be market leader in a category nobody asked for.

As to whether I want one. Well. I’m certainly in the pre-order stage at the moment for the iPhone 6, currently trying to decide between the standard and the plus. (Pre-ordering, by the way, is when you’re thinking about ordering; what tech companies call “pre-ordering” is ordering.)

But I’m not really in the pre-order stage for the  Watch. Obviously Sports is going to be the entry level, but if you still have to have your phone with you (for the GPS), then I probably won’t bother. Same goes for if you have to have your phone with you to listen to music. Contactless payments might be interesting, heart rate etc., but I’m not so much of a hypochondriac that I feel an urgent need.

Mainly, I’m thinking about battery life, and convenience, and version 1.0 issues. Maybe, in a year or so, there will be a new model that is thinner and that fits under a shirt cuff. I’ve never been a fan of big chunky things on your wrist, and at the moment, I think the Withings Activité, with its properly analogue face, is a better looking watch to wear as a watch. On the other hand, Apple is all about the integrated software / hardware experience, and that always sells me.

So I’m saying, probably not this time. Maybe next time. Early adoption is a mugs’ game.