112 iPhone XS’s = one house. And the update lifetime of a new iPhone.

I was thinking about my iPhone X today, the upcoming iOS 13, and how much these devices cost, as well as their lifetimes.

My partner recently bought a new iPhone XS directly from Apple here in Japan. It has 256 GB of storage and he also went for AppleCare Plus.

In February, we both also bought our nice, little house here in Tokyo.

While comparing apples and oranges, it is curious to note that the cost of our house is equivalent to just 112 iPhone XS iPhones. I’m thinking of a small stack of iPhone X boxes, 10 wide and 11 high. That would easily fit on my computer desk, next to my MBP. It seems weird to think that such a small number of iPhones has the price value of our 3 story house.

While I’m waxing philosophical, I was also looking at the upgrade lifetime of new iPhones. iOS 13 will drop support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. They were released in 2014. That means the iOS upgrade lifetime of an iPhone is just 5 years. On the other hand, my MBP (late 2013 retina) can still be upgraded this fall to the new macOS Catalina. Even 2012 MacBook Pro’s can. So the upgrade lifetime of a Mac is 7 years. Is the difference for marketing reasons, or are there technical reasons why it’s not possible to upgrade an iPhone 6 to iOS 13?

Of course I realize that an iPhone 6 doesn’t suddenly become useless just because it can’t run iOS 13. But iPhones are expensive. If they cost $1,000+ new and can only be upgraded for 5 years, that’s $200/year upgrade life. Better than Androids of course. But still, it makes me wonder at how materialistic I’ve gotten. Or we have all gotten.

I rarely feel like upgrading my computer. I think most people are that way. Yet we seem to always want to upgrade our iPhones. I have done so regularly every 2 years at least since they first became available in Japan.

My conclusions? None really. But I do feel like maybe it makes sense to use iPhones as long as computers, and maybe it isn’t necessary to upgrade so often, as long as the battery is kept in good shape. But then, there are those regular camera improvements…

Comparing the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus display

I’m not upgrading this year, but was curious.

Just before I went over to Yodobashi Camera and compared the iPhone X (on the left) to the iPhone 8 Plus (on the right), side-to-side. The main purpose was to see if the letters on the iPhone X were smaller than on the iPhone 8 Plus.

Here are my impressions, looking at a blog post I recently made:

1. First, the display of the iPhone X is clearly better. It’s obviously more beautiful.

2. I didn’t measure, but it’s my impression that the character size on the iPhone X is actually a bit larger, not smaller.

3. Since the iPhone X is narrower, naturally sentences word wrap sooner than with the iPhone 8 Plus. The amount of text is almost the same, but you can see just a bit more content on one screen on the iPhone 8 Plus than with the iPhone X.

I think the iPhone X is the winner in this test.

You can click on the photo to see it larger.



At Ochanomizu Station

This is an experiment with the new iOS 11 “long exposure” live photo mode, taken this evening on my iPhone. You can click on the photo to see it larger.

Followup on my new iPhone 7 Plus – and a cool photos sync feature I discovered

I just did a test with a friend’s AU SIM card to confirm that my new iPhone 7 Plus is not carrier locked. AU showed up right away and I was able to make a test phone call. (See screenshots)


Using a borrowed AU SIM card

Using a borrowed AU SIM card

Using my Softbank SIM card

Using my Softbank SIM card

While I have to admit to not being completely satisfied with the display (it isn’t as bright as Apple advertises), it does occur to me that the way it ended up is advantageous to me in the short and long run. In addition to the extra 9,000 yen refunded to me because of the price difference, the amount I will actually pay for the iPhone with the Softbank carrier discount is just a small fraction of list price  – just about 40,000 yen.

But even better, the phone I now have in hand is completely unrelated to the iPhone received from Softbank. So when a new model comes out, I should be able to sell this one at a good price since it is not carrier locked, and the iPhone itself is not under any contract. Plus it’s under AppleCare until February 2019.

If I sell it at some point, I can upgrade to another straight-from-Apple iPhone at my leisure, for net amounts that are like carrier discounts.

It seems like a reasonable way to go forward: no more phones from the carrier are needed, and I have freedom to move from carrier to carrier more easily.

I did casually look around over this last week at the latest Android models. The Samsung and Sony models are especially nice. But they are also pricey, and not attractive enough to lure me away yet. But the way I’m leaving it, I also leave myself open to being lured.

On the Apple ecosystem plus side, I discovered a new, cool thing about the iPhone today, if you also have a Mac. I went to sync photos from my iPhone to Mac Photos for backup (even though I mostly use Google Photos these days) and found they were already synced! It turns out that even if you don’t have iCloud Photo Library turned on, as long as you have My Photo Stream turned on everything gets put into your Mac Photos library until deleted there, making backups easier. You don’t have to physically connect to your Mac with a lightning cable anymore to do this. It’s all done via iCloud.