The Paradox of iPhone

There was a time when getting a new iPhone was a simple decision. The only choices you had to make were colour (black or white) and storage size. Everything else was the same.

Today, there's no such thing as "the best iPhone". It doesn't matter which one you choose, you'll have to make a compromise.

For example:

  • iPhone: This is the "normal" one (right now the iPhone 7). It's a fine device, but you'll get a lesser camera and miss out on Portrait Mode and image stabilisation. And personally, I find it too big.
  • iPhone Plus: This one has the latest technology. You get the best camera and everything that comes with it, but you better have big pockets to carry it around. If you want a huge phone you're fine. But if like me, you don't, then compromising on size isn't even an option.
  • iPhone SE: This is the perfect size for me, but there are too many compromises: older camera, older chip, no barometer, lack of features such as 3D Touch, and you're mid-cycle (and who knows if it'll ever be updated).

A few years ago, when I upgraded from the iPhone 5s to the iPhone 6, I wrote an article with my thoughts on this and why I just did not like the size and form factor of the new iPhone. For the first time, I was disappointed with my purchase and seriously considered switching back to the 5s.

I never got used to it.

Also for the first time, I did not upgrade to the iPhone 6s. I just didn't like the size. And I didn't want to go through the mental angst, again, of having to choose between a huge phone or a lesser camera. I only got an iPhone 7 in January this year because I gave my old one to my dad. I would still be carrying my iPhone 6 today otherwise.

Apple used to make these decisions easy.

Now I feel like my 7 year old trying to decide which flavour of ice cream to get. Instead of being a great experience I'm looking forward to, getting a new iPhone has become a stressful experience I dread. Yes, I know how that sounds. It's true though.

What I really want is the latest tech in the size of the SE.

I do not want to have to compromise on the camera or features. And I certainly don't want to spend time analysing different iPhone models to decide which one is the lesser compromise.

I just cannot get the iPhone I want because it doesn't exist.

Every time I think about it I remember The Paradox of Choice. In that book, Barry Schwartz gives an example of buying jeans. It's the same thing with iPhones today. Too many choices.

Next week Apple will announce the new iPhones. The rumour is they'll release the "S" versions of the current ones and a higher end model that some people are calling iPhone Pro or iPhone X or iPhone 8.

Here's hoping that new one brings us back to an easier choice where the only considerations, other than price, are colour and storage size.

I'd love to see an SE sized iPhone with all the latest tech.

But if they keep the same size as the regular iPhone, no matter what decision I make, getting an iPhone will be a compromise. That is not what I expect from Apple.