As I sit here in a hip Los Angeles coffee shop across from the seemingly never-ending whooshes and rumbles of LA traffic on a busy boulevard just outside the door, I wonder if my latte is worth the $4 I have just paid for it.
While not a tiny amount of money, it doesn't seem totally unreasonable. After all, I am availing myself the use of said business's counter, its rather lovely interior inspired by the owner's Taiwanese heritage (well, supposedly), a nice ceramic cup for my beverage, and the generally relaxed atmosphere the place provides. All things considered, $4 isn't so bad for the drink and the hour I'll sit here hashing out emails and responding to comments. At least, that's what I'd normally be doing. Instead, I'm writing.
As I type this post on the Galaxy S6 edge+ in my hands right now, I do not feel as though I am holding an $800+ smartphone. I feel like I'm holding a slippery, warm, glass brick, not particularly dissimilar from other slippery, warm, glass bricks I have held in the past.
This slippery glass brick is, of course, brand new. People have only yet started to receive them, pulling them from their soft-touch cardboard packaging, examining them from edge to edge like well-practiced jewelers before carefully and surgically peeling away the logo and text-emblazoned plastic cover, revealing the almost impossibly clean veneer of a factory-fresh smartphone.
"This," they think proudly, "is what $800 (or more) buys you." They then unceremoniously slap a $12 plastic case ordered on Amazon a week ago over it to protect their newest beloved possession, never really considering again the sleek, purposeful, and thin structure all that amazing technology is somehow packed into, like some prestigious tin of silicon caviar.
2 months later, that phone falls down a flight of stairs, and despite the valiant efforts of that $12 branded plastic tomb to absorb each increasingly brutal impact, the screen develops a spidering crack along the edge of the glass. This renders it as ugly and socially stigmatic as a car that was clearly involved in a serious accident quite some time ago and has yet to be repaired because the owner either lacks the funds or, as we "smart consumers" quietly think to ourselves, because that person isn't careful and considerate with their possessions. No one likes to be "the cracked screen guy," and every time that phone leaves your pocket, there is a brief moment of dread - fleeting as it may be: "What the hell did I do to deserve this?"
Perhaps you have insurance. Oh, for joy: a mail-in process. And a deductible. Maybe a loaner device for good measure, a phone you'll use just long enough to get set up to your satisfaction before it's time to send it back. And suddenly your $800 phone and $12 case have turned into an $800 refurbished phone and a $12 case and two months of $8 insurance premiums (that you will continue paying, because you're responsible) and a $200 deductible and probably a cut finger because what were you supposed to do, stop using your phone? And if you don't have insurance? Time for a repair, with no guarantee that it'll be done right or even that a repair is possible without potentially damaging other parts of the phone.
Take a step back. What if you had bought a $400 phone instead? Or even a $250 one? How much would you miss that $800 "experience"? How much more financially able would you be able to deal with a loss if you opted for the cheaper device? Would you even need a case, or phone insurance?
I really think it is time to take a stand against the expensive smartphone. We've all probably wasted too much time and too much money on at least one electronic gadget in our lives for the sake of being an early adopter or out of a sheer desire for a novel toy. Smartphones have stopped being novelties - they are commodities. The products are so alike even at opposite ends of the price spectrum that consumers can't not notice this much longer.
So, I say down with the $800 phones, the $900 phones, and to hell with anything more than that, either. Let's start treating smartphones for what they are: something that almost everyone needs, and thus that should be made for the needs of everyone.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go plug in this $800 phone that doesn't last on standby as long as the $200 phone I keep on my desk for occasional app-testing.