Apple hardware sobriety

While I have many Apple gadgets that range widely in age, I do have a phone addiction. Love the latest and greatest. The upgrade plan was a brilliant way for Tim to keep my revenue stream flowing into the company. ;-). The one thing I have not really been tempted to get has been the watch as have had no need for a watch since I got my first iPhone many years ago. That is, until my university gave me a sizable gift card for 30 years of service. I was intrigued by features of the series 4 so used my gift card to purchase one. Have thoroughly enjoyed it. If nothing else I find that my iPhone (XS Max) is in my hand far less during the day than before I had the watch. Even so, my one concern is that my single drug habit has now turned into a cocktail.

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I have an iPhone 8 Plus, which still meets my needs and I don’t plan to replace it anytime soon. I was tempted by the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera for about 60 seconds. Then I did the math and realized that if I kept my perfectly serviceable iPhone 8, I could buy a shiny new lens for my (ahem) “real” camera instead. Heck, I could buy both a shiny new lens and another external hard drive on which to store all the photos I’d take with it. For all kinds of reasons I’m a better photographer with a camera that’s just a camera than I am with my phone, and that would be true even if I got a new phone and didn’t upgrade any of my camera gear. (Which means, I think, that I don’t really need to buy anything at all. I mean, a new lens isn’t going to magically turn me into Cartier-Bresson, either.)

I’m happy to upgrade my tech when it will genuinely help me do something better—and do it with more delight. But I think I’ve reached the point where just “new” isn’t enough, and the environmental impact of the tech upgrade treadmill certainly does give me pause.


Yeah I’m torn between a wide angle micro 4/3 lens I’ve coveted for years & the 11 pro, leaning towards the lens… The price will be comparable … but lately I’ve barely used the camera because I can shoot on my phone …

the more I look at the new software, the more I’m leaning towards the phone after all. I wish Apple would make a camera body.

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Each upgrade of the Watch has been more like a leap and less like a step. I currently have a Series 3 and compared to the two previous version I’ve had. It’s been impressive progress to experience.

Two things I tell myself to keep from buying:

  • It’s cool to try to keep using working tech as long as you can. It’s even cooler to do that than it is to have the newest tech.
  • There’s always NEXT year. Next year’s model – or the year after that – will be even better than this year. And since I can’t afford to buy every product every year, therefore every year I deny myself puts me a year closer to the next cool thing.

That said: Last year, I bought a MacBook Pro, new iPhone AND iPad. I bought the MacBook Pro because my MacBook Air was going to be in the shop for more than two weeks and I could not go that long without a Mac. I bought the iPhone XS because my previous phone was an iPhone 7 Plus, and carrying around that big brick was making me nuts. And I bought the iPad because my previous tablet was a iPad mini, and it was down to about 45 minutes of battery life.

So I’m new to this hardware sobriety thing, after binging last year.

OTOH, my Apple Watch is a Series 1 and I’m OK with that. I am not strongly tempted to upgrade. Siri doesn’t work on my Watch and neither does Outlook, and I would like it if both of those things would work, but it’s just not worth it for me to upgrade.

UPDATE: I have AirPods as well. 1st generation. Not strongly tempted to upgrade.


Even though I have already post “my take” on purchasing or not, what I do find interesting reading all these comments, is quite a few folks are interested in the camera features of the iPhone, and, I see something much bigger going on behind “the Apple”. They are really cranking up the horsepower on the iPhone, increasing camera capabilities, and pitching AR a lot. I like the thoughts of maybes that are running through my noggin’.

Even though I have yet taken the time to check for pricing up sales on the latest new iPad, the entry level price was a smart move. Gotta appeal to the masses on some products.

Worth noting that after several years of price increases, every product Apple introduced at this event is priced the same or less than it’s predecessor.


I was just commenting about something similar yesterday to some people. The iPad that was just released is actually less costly than the original iPad. I find that consistent trend of Apple to be amazing and it’s one of the reasons that it makes it harder to not buy a new device. It’s not the reason for purchasing but it makes it more compelling.


Apple may have reached the limit of what they can charge for their major products. At least for now.

Traditional iPhone markets are saturated. Sales in China are down. Sales in India are up mainly due to wide spread price cutting and other special deals.

Costly advances in technology only pay off if those new features are important for the majority of your customers.

It will be interesting to watch Apple’s pricing strategy going forward.


I got myself a cheap refurbished iPhone SE earlier this year, and I’ll be hanging onto that for as long as it’ll work. The new entry-level iPad was the only announcement that vaguely interested me, as I could see myself using that with an Apple Pencil as a drawing and mobile productivity device. But that’s very much a nice-to-have, not an essential, and my iPad Mini 4 has most of my needs covered for now.


I totally agree with the sentiment of realising that year after year upgrades on the bad side and just upgrading when it isn’t needed or adds material value on the other side is a hard thing to justify. And even brings some bad feelings.
One thing I realised is that after the iPhone event I tend to start contemplating going case-less on my existing phone.
Possible reasons for this:

  • Higher likelihood of breaking the device and being faced with getting a replacement in-store, leading to looking at the new iPhones. This has got me to upgrade in the past. I was able to use a trade-in, but I was sold regardless.
  • The discussion and product marketing of new colours makes me want to relish the fit-and-finish of my current iPhone more.
    This year, no new iPhone. I have a once-replaced XS with no AppleCare+ claims (warranty replacement). Looking at my finances, I’d be loosing to much equity where the cost of a new phone by itself might be more tempting. The trade-in? Still not enough to compensate. I love the new phone’s camera and battery through processor improvements. But the thing is, it’s just not different enough from my XS for me to get no stomach turns on unboxing day.
    I think it’s okay to purchase a new device when the material benefit isn’t all there, that’s our consumerist world I suppose… I just expect to get unbridled joy when I open it. The happiness of a new toy, knowledge of the material benefit that is there, and appreciation of the jeweller’s attention to detail should be high enough that I am not left wondering: “where else could this money have gone?”

Yep. I say, if it doesn’t make money for me too, then it is only making money for the seller, which puts it in MY liability box, not my asset box.

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Just go for the new iPad, Luke! Life is too short …

I just bought a new iPad Air and is it ever terrific! I received new Beats headphones for free– a two hundred dollar value. The headphones are phenomenal! Anyway, the picture on the iPad Air is nothing short of incredible! I later got an Apple Pencil. It has reviews which are not flattering. However, mine makes no noise, is easy to handle and I just love it. (I usually tend to deprive myself– Irish guilt.) But I had been saving for a while. You can do most anything on an iPad!

You can always get a refurbished iPad. That would cut your costs down a bit.

You’ll get the iPad eventually, right?

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I love my iPad mini 4, Alan!

Stay strong. Mortification is a good thing to keep proper perspective. Mt 6:24.



My personal journey has led me to finally replacing my iPhone 6 with an XR. The old phone (on its third battery) is showing its age and the n-1 model is very a powerful, mature product that just dropped in price by 32% in Thailand.


I’m with you 100%. I’m currently using an iPhone 7 Plus that was replaced under AppleCare about a year ago. I skipped upgrading to a 10 S Max last year, mostly because the 7 Plus had just been replaced, and was (and still is) working fine. I told myself all year that I would probably upgrade to whatever iPhone was released in 2019. The announcement came and went, and after thinking about it, I decided there is still no reason to upgrade. I’ll hold on to the iPhone 7 Plus until it breaks or stops working, and then decide what to get.
On the  Watch front, I need to sell my stainless series 2, and my space gray aluminum series 3, and which will just about cover an aluminum Series 5 (GPS only).
As for everything else (12.9" iPad Pro (2017) and 15" MacBook Pro (2018)) as long as they work, I’m a very happy camper.

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I’ve been looking for the source of two quotes, one about being persuaded to do something against one’s will and one about possessions (for other reasons than the MPU forum).

The possessions quote was, “Don’t let your possessions possess you.” … And I’ve found a bazillion similar quotes.

This was something my dad said but he was quoting someone, assuming all kids got a classical education in grade school(!).

A friend ridiculed me, saying I didn’t know my Aristotle (but I can’t find attribution there).

It seems to go back to some early Zen philosophy writing (also unattributed) and the best quote I’ve found in this area (and relevant to your post!) is:

Possessions are usually diminished by possession.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

This is so true of 90% of all my gadgets from cameras and computers (and now) to many Apple products.

Nietzsche probably stole the line from somewhere too.

As an aside, I was hesitant to quote Nietzsche; but then read his sister may have reworked some of his unpublished works to fit her agenda and the publications often associated with fascism really weren’t his thoughts on things… Would appreciate any scholarly input on this as DMs.

In any case: On topic [grin], I agree, it’s really hard to resist the “new and shiny.”

I’m on the fence about the phone.

I think I can resist the siren call of the watch because battery life is still less than a day.

Can’t remember which product they were talking about when they said (during this past event), “Provides all-day power, lasting 18 full hours!” or something like that – Can someone tell Apple that days last 24 hours?!?

My first iPhone was the 5 and I succumbed to buying the 5s because the camera was so much better!

Held onto that for some time and would have held out at least one more year; but left my 5s in a rental car at the airport, when leaving a wedding(!). … Suddenly I had a 6s Max.

Held onto that for a long time. Waited until the XS to upgrade this time. … Upgrading again now feels like the 5 to 5s shift I made back then. :frowning:

Might still do it; but am with you and am taking a “cooling off” period!!

I’m with a recent MPU guest (I think it’s ep. #491, Simone de Rochefort) who said she was holding onto her older keyboard style MBP until it caught on fire.

I’m waiting hard for the next change in the MBP keyboard!

Hoping it’s better; not worse. – I honestly saw someone in a coffee shop w/ a newer MPB and an external, wireless KB, typing away happily!!

I have some wireless KBs; but don’t want to be “that guy”!!


Let me sound the siren a little louder (just kidding). :slight_smile:

According to Apple: yes, less than a day!

According to me: no, not really. Even with three workouts a day, two of them about 30 minutes and one about an hour, sometimes longer (I am cheating: walking my dog… ;)), and with talking to Siri, starting and stopping Overcast or Music on my iPhone via the Watch and doing stuff in OmniFocus, I typically end up with about 50 to 60% after 14 hours on my Series 4 watch. After about 45 minutes (I think), it is back up to 100%. So battery is a non-issue to me.

But still, your points are very valid. It is a problem that we can end up letting our possessions possess us. I will not go for the new iPhone because I regard my iPhone as new (XS). Even I am tempted by the camera demo (silly me), but I have found myself again and again realizing after buying the new shiny that it does not shine that much brighter than the “old” thing, formerly known as the new shiny. :slight_smile:


Much thinking about the Will and the paradoxes of not following it, stems from Aristotle’s discussions around it and prior to that even. The topic even has a Greek name which might help your inquiry Akrasia. Most quotable statements on the topic come, as your Dad implied, from the Classics in my experience.

I can’t identify an exact quote to the effect of the other one you mention but it sounds like a Stoic notion. Go to a scholar of that period, ask Massimo Pigliucci at CUNY-City College, he would be pleased to hear from you, or just try the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. To my mind it is likely Epicurus for a single quotable statement; his thinking, incidentally, is not very well indicated by the modern meaning of the word derived from the school he established. I will also add that in my experience and ‘research’ even, that notion arises spontaneously so to speak, quite often expressed in more or less those words. It might well have been a kind of distillation your Dad arrived at himself. The idea, as I will say in this over long reply, is very prominent in Classical Greek and Roman Thought. Bear in mind that for most of the history of this topic, human beings were and could be treated as ‘property’ or ‘possessions’.

There are really two distinct ideas round this topic, even in Ancient times; one, usually associated with the Cynics, that possessions, in themselves as it were, will corrupt and ‘possess’ you and the other idea, associated more with Stoics and Epicurus and probably steming, as your friend maybe implies, from reflection on Aristotle’s virtue theories; that intemperate attitudes towards and some consequences steming from the desire and possession of and for ‘stuff’ corrupts. The latter idea has had a lot more traction historically especially outside Christian thinking. Quotes like the one you are looking for could reasonably occur from those who hold either view I think?

I have seen the quote below several times, but nothing else closer to the Nietzsche quote you have already, bear in mind modern translations, even Greek versions, can be tricky and diverge from the original meanings quite a bit on examination. This is attributed to Epicurus and he made dozens of quotable remarks on those lines: according to his fans anyway.

“A free life cannot acquire many possessions, because this is not easy to do without servility to mobs or monarchs.” attributed to EPICURUS

Epicurus himself held roughly that it was ok to have stuff; PROVIDED you were quite happy and prepared to go back to being without them. That is almost impossible to do psychologically it has turned out? That psychological fact, if you like, that new and shiny just wears off and creates an addictive cycle of ‘retail therapy’, has come to prominence in this discussion this last couple of centuries? Bear in mind there wasn’t so much ‘stuff’ in Ancient Times, not for most folk anyway.

But I never read Epicurus as saying that possessions themselves, so to speak, were a problem. Probably why his view was so distorted by subsequent christian eras and condensed into a term for a kind of almost elitist connoisseurship. I get that thrown at me re my Apple habit by ‘woke’ colleagues quite often: I accept the charge, but that is a new line of thought; I do get an aesthetic pleasure from Apple gear.

“new and shiny” does wear off, not so much for me though strangely enough. Epicurius’ point really is not against possessions as such, I would argue, but against the consequences they usually bring: as I said and as I think the Ancients alreasy understood.
I think there is something to his point and these guys are now being re-read quite widely. I think there are strong similarities with Zen and so on as far as I am told. I find the idea often arises in people spontaneously too, often surprising them that there is such a strong historical pedigree.

In my own view it is a idea closely related to Aristotle’s view of finding the ‘middle ground’ where virtue lies. Greed on the one hand regarding possessions is bad BUT monkish self mortification on the other hand, in this case is also bad? The right attitude is sort of 'enjoy what you have and more importantly ‘need’ '. All quite hard to flesh out sadly, especially in an Apple Store :rofl:

My apple watch, will go three days without a charge and I have had it for over two years I think. I don’t use a lot of what is on there. I don’t use the ‘fitness’ stuff etc. I find setting and fussing with those settings puts one in that situation where the device is a ‘burden’ in Nietzsche’s sense I might say!
I use my watch for tactile notifications and to open my MacBook and I consider that, along with dead accurate time, with which I am irrationally obsessed :relaxed:, to make it worth every penny. Yeah I have steel and chain mail band that I sure as heck don’t ‘need’.
I have had a lot of scathing remarks from my cohort regarding Apple too:shushing_face: I am holding on to my 2014 MacBook Pro till it breaks like Simone: then an iMac, I just don’t like the new macbooks: leaving aside butterfly issues etc… I just don’t like them as much, this one is thin and elegant enough.

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