Thank you, 2016 iPhone

Thank you, 2016 iPhone

This is my phone. It’s a 2016 iPhone SE, and for the past seven years, it has been my main computing device and the centre of my digital life.

It’s outlived four laptops, three pairs of headphones, survived through dozens of trips away from home over three continents, a couple drops, and one close call with a broken umbrella in the fierce Ontario summer rain. It’s had two battery replacements, some lint picked out of the sleep button, and a few scratches on the screen from keys and grit. Practically everybody I know has a cell phone at least five years newer than me.

But today, it’s being retired in favour of the third generation iPhone SE.

Back in spring 2016, the world was a very different place. At the time technology seemed ot be at the very top of the curve - a sort of “end of history” for mobile devices with no 5G or satellite communications even being rumored. Mobile payments were a relatively new thing back then, and being able to use my card from my phone was genuinely an impressive feature. In retrospect, it was absolutely the right time to buy a phone. Amortized over seven years, the device only cost me about seven dollars per month. I will be happy to get even half that longevity out of the next one.

Now, in its antiquity, the device holds a different kind of charm. Nowadays, when I use it to pay for a coffee I occasionally get a brief exclamation of joy from the cashier - not because it’s special, but because devices of this shape and size are probably fondly remembered from their childhood. For somebody in their late teens seven years is a very long time, very well being just over half of their life.

So, with my shiny new device in hand, I hope to make it to 2030 before having to do this again. Maybe by then we’ll have some nostalgia for the “early twenties”, the rounded glass rectangles, and perhaps it will also be ‘so old it’s cool’.