OPINION: You don’t need to buy a new iPhone every year

Drawing of an anxious person surrounded by iphones
(Selena Lopez • The Student Life)

Every year, the world awaits the release of Apple’s newest iPhone — only to see the same phone they already have, but with an extra camera or, maybe, a new button. Nevertheless, people run to the Apple store, ready to ditch their one-year-old phone for a shiny new one just because they have to have it. 

While it is understandable to want the most up-to-date iPhone, constantly replacing your phone when it functions perfectly well is a wasteful habit. Consumerism and the company Apple itself have led us to believe that if we don’t have the newest technologies, we are behind. Do not feel pressured to give up your older iPhone just because the world we live in expects you to always have the newest things.

It’s widely known that Apple exploits natural resources and laborers in order to produce new iPhones. The tin necessary to make iPhones comes from Bolivian tunnels where child miners suffocate in silica dust. While Apple claims that they don’t procure raw materials from the sites themselves, they are still tied to supply chains that do. 

Some may argue that Apple’s trade-in program completely solves the ethical problem, but that is far from the truth. If the iPhone is damaged in the slightest way, it would not be eligible for trade-in or would be worth so little that the consumer feels no incentive to exchange it. Even more, Apple’s trade-in program is facilitated through a third-party company that often lowers people’s trade-in value after they have agreed on a price with Apple. If the trade-in system is deceptive and misleading, people won’t feel comfortable giving up their iPhones. 

Consumerist ideals conveyed through advertising can make us want things we don’t actually need. If we see images of happy people prancing around with their new iPhones in an ad, we too would want to buy that phone because we think it will make us happy. Remember that iPhones are just phones: having the newest one doesn’t guarantee that you will be permanently happy and optimistic. 

While I cannot ask people to boycott Apple and never buy an iPhone again, a simple way to stand against Apple is to not buy their products until you actually need to. Since so much exploitation goes into making one iPhone, the least we could do is use our phones until they cannot be used anymore and only then replace them. 

Also, if we buy iPhones with the intention to keep them for a long time, we would be more inclined to keep our phones in better condition. People who know that they will get a new iPhone annually don’t value their phone while they have it. Getting an iPhone with the goal of keeping it for as long as possible teaches people to be more grateful and more responsible with it. 

I understand that I can’t tell others what to do with their money, but if you feel pressured to spend money on a new iPhone every year, step back and question why you feel the need to do so. Yes, new technology is exciting, but once that excitement dies down, question if there is any real purpose to having a new device annually. 

For younger generations who feel social pressure to get a new iPhone, or even the people who feel ashamed of their old iPhone, remember that your phone is the least interesting thing about you. People care much more about who you are as a person than whether you have the latest technology. If you do stumble upon people who make you feel bad about your older phone, they are not worth your time. 

At the end of the day, the purpose of a phone is to keep us connected to the people and world around us and to help us with everyday tasks. If your iPhone allows you to do all of these things, then you are really not in need of a new one. 

Mishaal Ijaz SC ’24 is from San Diego, California. She has a personal connection to her iPhone 7.

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