iphone

GoGaGaH.com | Yes, Your iPhone is Made To Break: Here’s Why and How To Protect It | If you’re like me then you love your iPhone. It’s become an integral part of your life. Whether you’re searching Yelp for a good place to eat, or you’re flipping through LinkedIn looking for a new job, that smartphone is attached at the hip for most of us these days.  

Of course, it won’t be attached at your hip for long considering you have to get a new one every couple years. That’s not by choice either, is it? Your iPhone just seems to break at some point after only a small fall. Or even worse after an update it’s all of a sudden as slow as a 2000’s blackberry. What happened?

The simple answer is, planned obsolescence happened. One of the biggest problems with a capitalist system, for all its wonders, is that companies’ main objective isn’t to make a great product, it’s to make a great profit. That leads to products that are made not to last, but to break.

Planned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence is the production of consumer goods that are designed specifically to rapidly become obsolete and thus require replacing. Companies do this by issuing frequent changes in design, terminating the supply of spare parts, using nondurable materials, implementing software updates and a number of other techniques. 

Planned obsolescence became popular in the 1950s with the proliferation of plastics and the realization by growing corporate entities that better products didn’t always equal more profit. In the past pieces were made to last from furniture to clothing, but companies quickly realized this system didn’t benefit them. 

That’s why we are in the era of planned obsolescence. From Apple to Microsoft almost every major company is guilty of implementing these down and dirty strategies to pull more out of consumers. And every year we fall for it all over again, because we just need that new iPhone. 

Consumers Fighting Back

Is there anything consumers can do to fight back against planned obsolescence? Until the past few years the answer was a resounding no, but of late things have been changing. 

In fact, in 2018 Italy fined Apple and Samsung €10m and €5m respectively for “planned obsolescence” of their smartphones. Of course, a couple million for companies as large as Apple and Samsung is really not much of a deterrent, but nonetheless it’s a start. The action by the Italian government came after it was found that Apple and Samsung were purposefully issuing software updates that would slow down or even break older phones. 

The news of this, and apple admitting to the planned obsolescence, led a number of watchdog groups around the globe to call for more fines against tech giants. The pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop) has led the charge in France for example, hoping to hold Apple and others accountable for the blatant and unnecessary planned obsolescence in their phones and other products. 

Thankfully HOP’s tireless work paid off, at least to some extent, this January when Apple was fined $27 million by the government of France for slowing down older iPhones with software updates. Of course, small fines like those described above won’t protect consumers from Apple’s policies, but at the very least they help to raise awareness.

How To Protect Your Phone

So if fines won’t stop Apple from using materials that are made to break, and it won’t stop them from pushing out software updates that are intended to slow down older phones, then what can consumers do to protect themselves?

Unfortunately, I only have a couple of quite obvious tips that might help extend your iPhone’s life. First, don’t update your phone until you are forced to. Apple pushes out iPhone updates every six months or so, sometimes even more often, and each time millions of users immediately update their old phones only to find the update didn’t help, it made things worse. There’s only one way to avoid this, don’t update. Eventually, you will be forced to update in order to get the newest version of applications, etc., but if you don’t absolutely need to update, then don’t. This will help extend the life of your phone.

The second tip I can give you is pretty simple, but an astounding number of people seem to ignore this one. Buy a phone protection kit. Phone protection kits can save your phone from Apple’s use of non-durable materials. Unlike regular phone cases, phone protection kits help cover your entire phone, improving it’s durability substantially. 

Still, when all is said and done there is little we can do to protect ourselves from planned obsolescence. Raising awareness is of course step one, but that can only help so much.

The fact is, despite continued efforts by governments and watchdog groups to prevent the practice, planned obsolescence is here to stay. We just have to get used to it and do our best to extend the lives of our beloved phones for as long as we can.