Motherboard

Why I Have Decided to Hoard the iPhone 6S

The iPhone 6S is the Skoda of smartphones and I'm going to buy at least four of them.

by Marcy Wheeler
Sep 12 2017, 2:58pm

Image: Shutterstock / Composition: Jason Koebler

Because I suspect they'll one day be like Trabants or Škodas, I plan to spend my lunch hour today buying up iPhone 6ses from local retailers. It'll be a good time to buy up a two year old model, as the hipper Apple world watches boggle-eyed to learn why they should drop $1,200 on a new iPhone-whatever. Things will be quiet. I'll be able to get in and out of the stores quickly, before the lines start to form.

So I'm going to sneak out and start buying old iPhones during that sweet spot of time when I can get them for increasingly reasonable prices, in unlocked form. If Apple is no longer selling them, I will get them from Verizon, or eBay, or Craigslist.

Here's the thing about Trabants, the old single model East German car built under communism. It was ugly and didn't have much power, but when something went wrong, everyone knew how to fix it. And you could just borrow a part from someone else's Trabant. They sucked. But they served their function in a dark time. Škodas worked about the same in Czechoslovakia, though since communism ended, the brand has gone on to produce snazzy models.

The trusty Trabant. Image: Alotemi/Flickr

And as the world feels like it's beginning to crash, I'd like to have a stock of solid iPhones available for what comes next. Sure, any iPhone is far more powerful and sexy than a Trabant, but the iPhone 6s is the moment when Apple hit the perfect mix of functionality and power, without introducing too many spare parts—like those Airpods—that make replacements difficult (I've come around, I guess, on the lightning cable's functionality). Plus, because my phone got run over by a car this year, suffering just a minor and thus far stable chip in the edge of the Gorilla Glass, I've got an unwarranted belief that the iPhone 6s is sturdy—certainly sturdier than anything that turns into all screen, as today's iPhone-whatever has been promised to do.

The thought of adding another way for a device to collect my biometric data, like Apple's new facial recognition software, is incentive to not buy the new phone

So long as Apple lets me upgrade to the impressively more secure iOS 11 (which has several features that will make it harder for cops to break into your phone). I simply don't need any of the hardware functionalities Apple keeps introducing to lure me into newer phones. I probably could use real waterproofing (I did lose a travel Android in the toilet this summer, just days before reports of the brand's persistent spyware would have convinced me to flush it in any case). But once the iPhone 6s comes down in price after today's dog-and-pony show, dropping one in the kitchen sink or getting it run over won't be quite so catastrophic. For the price of a new iPhone, I figure I'll soon be able to get four unlocked iPhone 6ses.

Even my existing phone is loaded with stuff I don't use. I have yet to make the acquaintance of my own personal Siri. As a security nerd, I insist on typing a passcode rather than using my fingerprint. I don't even know how to use my iPhone as a payment system (but it will be there on my collection of iPhone 6ses if that's the only currency we have left). My spouse claims I don't use directions much because I know where everything is; don't tell him, but my apparent geographic omniscience owes to Google's maps, not Apple's.

Rather than invest in the latest cool thing, I plan to acquire several more of those incredibly powerful and adequately functional phones as the craziness of another Apple show makes them increasingly accessible

But the thought of adding another way for a device to collect my biometric data, like Apple's new facial recognition software, is incentive to not buy the new phone. With each new hardware feature, Apple risks making these phones more dangerous repositories of data available to an increasingly ravenous security state. And as Apple builds more complex features requiring specific branded parts, they may prove harder to recover from if something goes wrong.

Perhaps, one day, Apple will woo me with a feature I truly need, like solar recharge. Give me that and a truly waterproof case—call it the climate change edition—and I might buy it. But until then I'll take the excellent functionality Apple reached two years ago, with the freedom of a path to unlocked devices.

NASA went to the moon with far less computing power than you get in an iPhone 6s. Back then, the camera came separately. Rather than invest in the latest cool thing, I plan to acquire several more of those incredibly powerful and adequately functional phones as the craziness of another Apple show makes them increasingly accessible, just so I'll have working phones around if I need them.