Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

I’ve written about people getting bored of the annual cycle of new smart devices (phones specifically, but this likely works for tablets, televisions, and even juicers as well), and came to the conclusion that upgrading was less and less worthwhile with every generation of tech. I still think that, honestly, only now I’m thinking about what we upgrade for. It’s easy to assume that people upgrade solely for more features (Face ID anybody?), yet there’s a big trend around for people almost ‘wearing’ their phones as accessories. What matters more in a new phone, added functionality or style points?

Style matters, of course. We want our tech to look good, even when we’re the least fashionable of people, hence why even gaming computers (unlikely to be used by anybody attending London Fashion Week) are designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Such is the reason why Rose Gold, upon its introduction into the mainstream alongside the iPhone 6S (it actually arrived a few months earlier on the rather exclusive Apple Watch Edition, but the price tag stopped it taking off then) caused a large surge in smartphone upgrades and purchases. The same phenomenon can be seen with the iPhone X and the reaction to its distinctive notch, as well as with the initial slow start to the rise of wearable technology. People don’t want a device that looks ugly, especially not one they’ll be looking at most of the day.

What that idea misses out on, however, is why we’re on smartphones so much. I’m certainly not checking my phone every five minutes like a typical millennial because I enjoy gazing at my device’s shiny (and notably notch-less) screen. It’s because of what these devices are capable of, which even now is still pretty remarkable in tech terms. The fact that these quite small pieces of technology can outperform over a thousand old home computers easily is startling (here’s a nice comparison for those interested). I won’t list the functions, you all know what smartphones can do precisely because you use them frequently.

Having said all this, this isn’t a question of function against form. The rational answer to the opening question ‘What matters’ may in fact be ‘working features’, but if that were all there was to it nobody would ever buy a new smartphone whilst their old one still worked. Face ID might have been a hook for a few people, but I don’t think anybody threw out their iPhone SE just for that reason. A device, or any product in fact, is the sum of its parts as all of its aspects work together. As Steve Jobs knew, there is no binary here – good functionality and good design are inseparable.

Besides, trying to come up with some universal rule as to why people switch up their phones is likely an endless task, as the reasons will be different for everybody. You never know, maybe there’s one person out there who fell in love with the iPhone X’s notch and immediately withdrew their savings on launch day. What matters, then, is whether the new product can meet the expectations of the consumer, both in functionality and in style. 

English student at King's College London. Equally a reader and a writer, both of fiction and non-fiction. A country mouse thrown into the city, however hoping I can stay in the city for longer than a meal. Into engaging with the world around us, expressing our opinions, and breaking the blindness of commuting. Also a lover of animals.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️