You Don't Need an iPhone 11 Unless Your Current Phone Is Literally Unusable

The practically, morally, and financially responsible thing to do is to use your current phone for as long as possible.
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Image: Apple
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State of Repair is Motherboard's exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces fighting to lock down access to the things you own.

Are you reading this blog on your phone? Good news! You don’t need a new phone.

Apple announced the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max today with all the typical fanfare we give to our depraved tradition of treating gadget releases as major, nation-stopping news events. There is literally no reason to watch these events, because we have already seen them many times before.


There were many stats and facts splashed on screen; the new phones have faster processors and better cameras and more pixels than the old ones. The phones are better than before. This means nothing because you are either an iPhone person or you are an Android person, and you either need a new phone or you don’t need a new phone, and if you don’t need a new phone then there is no reason to buy this one.

This practical truth, for reasons existential, moral, and extremely banal, becomes more true with each passing year. Buying a smartphone in 2019 should be like buying a very expensive microwave. If your microwave does not turn on, or regularly catches fire, then you should buy a new microwave.

This is all to say that this iPhone looks slightly better than the last few iPhones, and if your old iPhone is not literally unusable (does not turn on, cannot run apps), then you don’t need to buy this one. Beyond true unusability, anything that is busted on your old iPhone can be fixed both cheaply and quickly at any number of independent repair shops. Busted cameras, cracked screens, and batteries that lose charge quickly can be replaced for a tiny fraction of what a new iPhone costs. A phone that is not purposefully destroyed should last, I don't know, three or four years. Definitely longer than a year.

Your repaired phone will feel like a new phone, and it will still let you do things like browse Facebook, send text messages, and take pictures. You will have saved many hundreds of dollars, participated in your local economy, and supported a small repair business. You will have done a very small thing to help prevent more metals being mined from the Earth and to prevent a still-useful device from ending up in a landfill or from being shredded into metal confetti.

When your phone is broken beyond repair, then it is time to buy a new phone. In the same way that you (probably) don’t watch two-hour-long livestreams about new microwave models or research its every spec before you go out and get a new one, you don’t need to watch or pay attention to these yearly iPhone keynotes. The good news is this requires less effort and less money from you. All you have to do is use your phone until it no longer turns on and then go buy a new one.