Future Tech

This year Apple has released both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, with the latter being the promise of things to come in the iPhone market. The iPhone X comes in around the $1000 mark, which is also a sign of things to come in the iPhone market. And perhaps not only the iPhone market, as the Google Pixel 2 XL is also running close to $1000.

This has left me wondering about my future technology purchases.

I used to have a laptop, PDA, and mobile phone. I purchased a laptop which was mid-range for the time, and a PDA was a nice cheap mobile productivity tool. Then smartphones came out and I ditched the mobile phone & PDA pairing by migrating to the single device. An iPhone was a bit more pricey than either of my other two devices, but was about the same price of the two combined so I figured it was a wash. The added cost of a data plan was worth the added avenue of productivity.

Then tablets came out, and an iPad worked into my workflow the year following the original’s release. The tablet became my preferred writing device, even before Scrivener for iOS was released. It was small, fast, and got out of the way. It was, and remains, an ideal device for someone who hates being in an office.

Even after I took up using an iPad I continued to upgrade both my MacBook and iPhone. I held to my tendency to purchase mid-range laptop specs, but always purchased the newest model of phone so I could be certain of it continuing to be supported for the next several years. The tablet added to my rotating tech budget, but not so much that it broke the bank.

This happy balance was disrupted by the introduction of both the “plus” sized iPhones, and the pro line of iPads, each of which carried a heavier price-tag. Normally these may not have interested me, but they happened to coincide with my needing glasses. The extra screen real-estate was a welcome relief! Around this period MacBooks also went to Retina displays, which boosted the cost for a mid-level machine while also lowering the onboard storage by a significant margin 1.

The culmination of these developments is breaking my bank. If I were to keep to my “get the latest model phone to assure it’s usability for three to four years” I’d been spending $1000 on a device I use for maybe a few hours a day. The higher spec’d “mid-tier” Macbook model, which I would get to assure a reasonable life expectation, is $1800. A 12.9 inch iPad pro with 256 GB of strorage is $949 without the smart keyboard 2. My purchasing philosophy no longer works. Now I have to decide what device I really value for my workflow, and let the other devices be “good enough” for me to get my work done.

The first casualty of this new mentality is my MacBook. I can’t seen purchasing a non-touchbar MacBook at this point, given where I see Apple going with the line, but I also can’t afford dropping $1800 on a new laptop at this point. Nor will I be able to do so in the near future. So I will be hanging on to my current MacBook Pro until the device is no longer receiving updates — in all likelihood that may be another three to four years. It will be crawling by that point, but I can’t afford to upgrade any faster.

The second casualty is my phone. Until the phone form factor becomes the one device we use for all productivity 3, I can’t see spending $1000 for the lastest model. From now on I’ll be purchasing devices which may be a generation, or even two, behind. I’m still happy with my 6s Plus, and see no reason to upgrade until the battery ceases to hold a charge. That might be another two years.

The one device I do see myself continuing to update 4 is my iPad Pro. I love this machine, and if the software would progress to allow a bit more functionality I’d be using it as my only machine 5. The iPad is the form factor I most prefer, and the one on which I spend most of my productivity hours. The other two devices are more for “quick glance” and “heavy lifting situations. The first is handled better by my watch, which I can picture becoming my phone at some point, and the second is finding its niche growing smaller with each passing year.

Welcome to the future, brought along by economic pressure.

  1. Welcome back, external hard drives. 
  2. And, while I love my cover, the $149 covers are not durable. 
  3. And that time can’t come soon enough. We’ll just connect the phone to different screens or shells to change our interaction. 
  4. Until the aforementioned “the phone is your only computer” future comes to pass. 
  5. In case you’re interested, these features are: external drive support for video editing and photo libraries, the ability to side-load recorded audio (I mean, really Apple, what gives?), and the ability to create custom themes in Keynote