Volunteer writer Christabel Bel Stevens considers a dilemma which many tech-savvy consumers will be mulling over during the festive period …

Consider the iPhone X. Or is it the iPhone 10? I’m not sure – I bowed out of the iPhone race several years ago when I realised that I couldn’t simultaneously own the latest iPhone AND afford to feed myself. Food won, and I am stuck in the misty past with my iPhone 5S, with its pitiful 4-inch screen and embarrassing, unwieldy headphone jack…

Okay, I exaggerate. The 5S serves me fine; as I spend most of my ‘screen time’ idly flicking between the holy trinity of WhatsApp, Instagram and Tinder, it seems hard to justify an upgrade.

For many, though, the advent of new Apple technology will see them forking out some serious cash, and the latest offering comes with a price tag that starts at £999.

It seems insanely expensive. However, so are lots of other things that nobody tends to ask people to justify. There are several boring ‘adult’ purchases which cost at least as much as the iPhone X; such as a new sofa, a combi boiler, and a two-week holiday in the Algarve. Nobody would berate their Auntie Karen for dropping a cool grand on a cruise, for instance, whereas us poor millennials seem to get flack for how we choose to spend our hard-earned pennies. I do wonder why our parents’ generation seem to be able to spend enormous amounts of money on ridiculous things while the younger generation is under pressure to justify every slice of avocado toast.

In any case, we are talking about so much more than just a phone. An iPhone is more like a trusty companion. It is by our side, day and night, loyal to us through our highest and lowest moments. It might sound a tad pathetic, but whether we like it or not, our lives are played out through our smartphones. We use them to pay our bills, track our health, keep us safe, carry out research, find love, and so much more. When you look at it like this, it would seem crazy NOT to invest in such an important feature of our everyday lives.

The phone itself looks amazing, of course. People are in raptures over the screen size, which is a promising-sounding 5.8 inches, and the phone’s sleek, clean lines and lightweight body have won it fans amongst tech bloggers. It is apparently waterproof, which provides peace of mind for those among us who have no hand/eye coordination and whose phones are constantly ending up in puddles, down toilets, and being dunked in mugs of tea.

There are a couple of slightly controversial features. Most scandalously, there is no home button on the iPhone X. As an early iPhone adopter, my fingers speak the Apple language, with the home button being a sort of tactile equivalent to the word ‘aaaaanyway….’. That is, constantly used to refresh a conversation and to enable me to go off on an unrelated tangent as my attention span wavers. I would be worried that my fingers would be constantly stabbing in a panicked manner at the place where the home button should be, stubbornly refusing to adapt to the new shortcut.

Another polarizing component the iPhone X boasts is facial recognition technology. This is the kind of sci-fi nonsense we always dreamed of as children, and it does give a certain thrill to see it finally incorporated into our everyday lives. However, it has given cheaters one more reason to feel hot under the collar. The feature has spawned several memes featuring suspicious partners holding iPhone screens to their other halves’ sleeping faces as they try to unlock their phones in the dead of night. My view on this is: if you are a serial adulterer, then being ratted out by the very device you probably used to facilitate your liaisons in the first place holds a certain amusing irony and, well, it probably serves you right.

So, is the iPhone X worth the eye-watering price tag? Yes and no. On the one hand, we are told to invest in our mattress, in our toothbrush, in our desk chair and our moisturiser. Basically, the message from experts is “do not skimp on everyday products that we use constantly”. And, arguably, what is a more everyday item than the ubiquitous smartphone? They are becoming an increasingly vital part of everyday life: likely to be the first thing we look at in the morning, and the last thing we look at each night. On the other hand, it could be argued that if we are gullible enough to be hamstrung by phone companies to think we need their latest technology to live a streamlined and worthwhile life, and if we want to shell out £1000 for a phone, then the joke is on us.

Will people be willing to pay? The answer is yes, there will always be those to whom £1000 is not a life-changing amount of money. And there will always be Apple devotees who are happy to live on baked beans for six months to save up for the company’s latest offering. I personally fall into neither of these categories, so I will not be attempting to purchase an iPhone X. However, as soon as someone I know decides to take the plunge, I will be first in the queue to have a go on it.

Christabel Bel Stevens


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