My iPhone 6S had a cracked screen, so after three years, I decided it was time to buy a new phone.

Screen: apparently it has an OLED, which is apparently good, I don’t know. It seems the same as my 6S. The screen is bigger, but it doesn’t really make much of a difference. People seem to think having the screen to edge to edge matters, but the amount of space feels the same, because of this fucking thing:


I don’t see why I’d want an edge-to-edge screen, so the notch doesn’t bother me. It’s basically the same black space that was always at the top of the phones, but with the time and battery pushed up. I hate the fact that there’s now no way to see battery percentage, which is part of Apple’s continuing resistance to admitting that battery life and longevity is their weakest spot.*

Processor things: It’s faster, I guess. One of the best things Apple has done was make iOS12 work really well on older phones. In general, the one thing I’ve had against Android is how fragmented it is, and iOS12 shows the value of having software made for specific hardware. I don’t really see that much of a difference from the 6S.

Camera: the camera is really good. Since the 4S, I’ve switched almost entirely to taking photos on my phone when traveling. The good enough-ness outweighs having to carry a proper SLR, and this camera is fabulous, even though the automatic HDR is overzealous and HDR is for boring people who think the actual world isn’t saturated and contrasty enough.

I don’t get the point of the second telephoto lens, outside of collecting depth information. Even at the base 2x zoom, photos look like they were zoomed with garbage digital zoom from an early 2000s camera.


The depth adjustments and bokeh are fun, but really shallow. As someone who can appreciate a good prime SLR lens, I think bokeh is 1) a trade off for getting the most natural light possible and 2) boring as fuck. A good portrait is a good portrait, but I’d still rather have background. Bokeh is just the way shitty photographers say “I can’t compose anything but the subject, so I’ll just blur it out.”

Battery life: it’s okay. It’s about the same as my 6S, which has 94% battery health. If you asked me, I’d say my 6S had a battery problem, but since this is brand new, I think shit battery life is the new normal. It takes forever to charge, though.


Overall: I don’t care about the lack of a headphone jack, because the AirPods are the best product Apple has released in years. I largely bought this phone because my experience with the AirPods has been so good that I thought “Apple hasn’t completely shit the bed when they design products.”

At $1277 (with tax and $50 case, a necessity, because I can’t grip it with more than my ring finger when typing one handed), this phone is stupidly overpriced. I paid $1800 for a maxed out MacBook Air 5 years ago that still runs Photoshop and FileMaker like a boss. These phones are stupidly overpriced for what they offer and people should not be buying them.


Back when carrier contracts were a thing, I alternated between buying iPhones on and off-contract, owning a 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, 6, and 6S. That’s 6/7 phones in 7 years, and I took it for granted that you buy a new phone every year. I don’t know what the fuck Apple is thinking with $1000+ phones, but I kept my last one for 3 years and I’ll keep this for 3-4, essentially dropping the price to $400 a year, because a $1200 phone is fucking stupid.

The value proposition has also gotten a lot lower. Back when I was upgrading religiously, every new phone made the previous one unbearable. The mid-cycle S phones weren’t hugely better, but they were refined enough to be worth the cost. The fully new phones were fantastic (especially the 4, which was so beautiful. The X/XS’s best trait it that it’s the first one since to truly look great). Now, with the top model, three years after my last phone, I can honestly say I could go back to my old phone tomorrow and not feel like I’ve lost anything. I don’t really regret buying it, since my last phone was near the end of its product life, but, Jesus, these phones are overpriced. I’ve yet to find anything that makes me think “yeah, this was definitely worth $500 more than the last phone I bought off-contract.”


Remember the brouhaha about the price of the original iPhone and how Apple dropped prices a few months later? Yeah. Don’t buy these phones and don’t encourage this bullshit.

*c.f., getting rid of battery time estimates on Macs, since the problem was people seeing how many hours of battery life they had, not garbage power management and low battery cycle life.

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