Why Are We So Willing to Get Rid of Our Old iPods, iPhones, and iPads, Anyway?

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 26th, 2012

I've had the 4th generation iPod touch for two years, but its technological shortcomings had me in the market for a replacement. And so far, I'm quite happy with the upgrade to the 5th generation iPod touch. It has a bigger and better screen, an actual camera, and actually runs games very well! I couldn't be happier, could I?

That earlier iPod touch 4th generation has memories attached to it. I got it as a Christmas gift from my parents. I remember playing Kami Retro on it while waiting to be picked up from O'Hare by a good friend, on a trip that cemented my love for Chicago, the city where I now live. I have a case with a Texas Rangers logo on it. I care way too much about that baseball team, and that case shows some of my pride. There's a lot to attach me emotionally to that device. Yet, I'm so easily willing to let it join a pile of other unused devices because the processor is a little old, the amount of RAM too low. It just wasn't that hard to make that decision to ditch it. And when a new iPhone or iPad is announced, it's not a tough decision for many of us, despite the stories that we could tell about where our phones and tablets have been.

But maybe this forward momentum isn't unstoppable. I have an iPad 2, and told myself I'd upgrade when the 4th generation would come around, to ensure I kept up with the latest and greatest. Well, it was announced a few months early, and my initial reaction was to start figuring out how much I'd be selling this thing on Craigslist for.

Yet, the more I think about it, the more I think that my iPad 2 is working perfectly fine. How will a Retina Display really help me? Games might look better, but it's not like they were muddled and ugly before. Is the promise of better hardware really all that appealing? Considering the number of A5 devices that are still out there, won't the iPad 2 remain capable for a long time? I've used this thing plenty, and it's gone many places with me over the past year. Why shouldn't it go to some more? There's really no reason for me to get rid of it, is there? So for now, I'm holding off. I'm winning this battle against unbridled consumerism. At least for now.

I don't want to decry upgrade-consumerism while sitting here and writing day-in-day-out about the apps that run on these devices. I think that would be fairly hypocritical. But I do wonder: what are we losing with these rapid upgrade cycles? We give these items as gifts, yet we're so quick to dispose of them when unnecessary. The sentiments of actually using them, the things that make them "magical" like Apple is wont to call them: is this quality lost when we keep looking toward what's coming next?