Opinion and Editorial

My iPhone is dying young. This should stop

A Sreenivasa Reddy
Filed on October 17, 2020


Until this day I thought I was my iPhone's master because I shelled out Dh4k to own it

Apple launched its latest gadgets amid glitz and hype on October 13 even as the world is battling the ever resurgent Covid-19. The iPhone, the super gadget invented by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, has become so much part of our life that it became difficult to live without it. This dependence has become a big business opportunity for the most valued company in the world.

I am writing this to illustrate my personal experience with my iPhone X which I had bought way back in January 2018, a few months after its launch with the same pomp that characterised its event on October 13. Roughly 10 days before the launch of its 2020 version, my phone, which is less than three years old, started experiencing unusual slowdown. The screen is not moving as fast as it used to. When I pressed it a little hard, unintended links and windows are opening up. I realised something has gone wrong with my favourite machine. I have done a few restarts to see if the problem can be corrected. I did not see much progress, though there were some brief periods when my gadget appeared to have magically regained its previous mojo. On the whole, It has never been the same experience as the gadget seems to have been crippled and partially disabled via remote control.

Me and my family have been avid users of Apple products, especially the iPhones and iPads, for over a decade. I, as the head of the family, have had the privilege of owning the relatively latest iPhones. When I bought the iPhone X, it was everybody's envy. It delivered a terrific experience unmatched by the previous versions and I was hooked to it from day one. It became an integral part of me because of its intuitive feel. I was chained to this addictive piece of a machine like a slave. I carried it into my bed, fiddled with it endlessly until I lost it into pillow covers and bedsheets as I dozed off. 

One fine morning I woke up to find my favourite gadget playing truant because it received orders from its master sitting in Cupertino, California. Until this day I thought I was its master because I shelled out Dh4k to own it. To my shock, I realised that I am only a temporary custodian of a piece of metal whose inner workings are determined by those sitting in the futuristic headquarters of Apple.

Tim Cook, the most visible face of Apple after the late Steve Jobs, can switch off and slow down your Apple products at his own sweet will. The explanation proffered by the tech giant that the slowdown is effected to protect the phone's battery is, I think, at best fallacious. Nobody is going to buy it. The machines are being deliberately engineered to die faster in order to compel people to buy upgrades. If the people are finding old sets still useful, it is unlikely they will buy the new ones despite hype and propaganda that accompanies every new launch. This is nothing but technological despotism.

In the case of my present iPhone X, it is just three years old and has a strong hardware that can keep it going for several years. Slowing it down so soon made no sense whatsoever and was heart-breaking. Reduced performance makes it as good as dead because it can no longer deliver the same experience. Here is a disclaimer. I am making these statements based on my personal experience with the device, not on any objective and authoritative study.

Tim Cook, unveiling the new 5G-enabled phones on Tuesday night, said about 40 per cent of the 950 million iPhones in use had not been upgraded in at least three-and-a-half years. This inadvertently gave away the game by implying that 60 per cent of the phones had to go for upgradation in less than four years because they were made progressively defunct through continuous software updates. Apple looks at customers as permanent slaves who have to periodically renew their loyalty by buying their latest phone set at obscene prices.     

Millions of phones were made to die prematurely over the years. Customers were left high and dry. But the company's valuation is zooming through stratosphere. From one trillion dollars to two trillions to three .?? This has got to stop

The Big Tech comprising a handful of companies - Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon etc - has been expanding its stranglehold on our lives at an alarming pace. The dangers have been sounded out by a recent US Congressional committee which inquired into their monopolistic practices.

It is time we took a relook at their mindless profiteering, unbridled use of personal data and monopolistic practices. There is a dire need to put customer and the end-user at the heart of this restructuring process. Let us hope the efforts that have begun in this direction will bear fruit.

- sreenivasa@khaleejtimes.com


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