To iPhone or not to iPhone?

I expressed this carnal dilemma on facebook last night:
Zaak thinks an iPhone is terrific, found an ideal monthly plan, has his wife's permission to get one, but still can't list enough reasons why he "needs" one. He guesses he'll just keep his money.
Not surprisingly, I got 15 comments. I'll get to those in a minute.

What I didn't post was my full tech needs and resources. 
  • I currently have an iMac (on it's 4th year) on which I do most of my personal work (design, video, email, photo & music library, website, address book, calendar, Skype with family, etc.).
  • I have a school MacBook Pro (also on it's 4th year) on which I do all of my school work (making assignments/tests/lesson presentations, email, grading program, media class prep), cohousing work (email, proposals, committee work, Skype, etc.), and where I do most of my web browsing and blogging (I'm on it now). 
  • I have a first generation iPod Touch 8 GB (which my students think is totally retro) on which I listen to tunes at work during preps, play Angry Birds, use as a calculator, check my email / calendar / address book, look at maps before traveling to a new location in Calgary, and check the news/blogs on the rare occasion my laptop isn't around and I have wifi). I have tried reading books, the Bible, and blogging from my iPod, but it just isn't a very fulfilling experience.
  • I have an 80 GB iPod Classic which serves as our entire music library. It's hooked up to our receiver in the living room and it comes on long car trips. 
  • I share a Nokia mobile phone with my wife that we usually forget to bring with us or forget to charge. I use it to text for carpool rides (about 10-15 texts a month). When we do remember to bring it with us, we'll call home to ask if there is anything we can pick up on the way home (the answer is usually "no"). We've never exceeded the 50 free minutes on any given month.
  • We also have a brand new set of Panasonic wireless home phones. We spend about $30/mo total to have the home phones including all of our long distance.
So, what more could an iPhone (or an Android smart phone*) add to my life?
  • iPhones are a thing of beauty, not unlike a mountain vista or a glorious symphony. My life could be impacted just by the beauty (harmony, intention, power). 
  • The odd time I am a little lost in Calgary, I could use the G4 network and the maps app. 
  • Amber could have full ownership of the Nokia or we could cancel that $15/mo subscription. 
  • I could shoot video and take impromptu photos rather than having to drag my Canon miniDV camcorder or Flip Cam and my Nikon DSLR around everywhere. 
  • I could update my facebook status from almost anywhere. Something I barely do at home.
  • I could give my kids my iPod Touch to play with. 
  • I could adapt enjoy more apps that I have been unable to try/use because my iPod is so old (3.5 years!!). 
Other than that... I can't think of more options. All of these would be super cool. Being able to carry my Nokia, iPod, and Flip all in one is pretty cool - though I rarely have more than 1 of those in my pocket at a time.

Is that worth $60/month (plus the cost of the phone) for the next 3 years (about $2,650 total including tax, fees)? I would likely spend a couple more hundred dollars on apps etc. too.

Now for the facebook comments:
  • Dean, Isabel, Janis, Cate, Marta and Karry LOVE their iPhones and believe I would also. I agree.
  • Sara, Justin, Helen, and Landon suggest alternatives: Androids, something cheaper. Reservations? Yikes!
  • Mom, Petra, and Trish share my dilemma. Yup.
  • Lawrence and Jon discourage me from giving in to my wants. True, true.
So how would an iPhone impact my life? This should be my question.

Yes, I would have a marginally (?) richer tech life. 

Would I likely have my nose glued to it all day and all evening? Probably, knowing my experience with my iPod/MacBook/iMac. This likely means less facetime (irony?) with my family. 

The pocketbook** would suffer. 

As a whole, I will have become more materialistic, though I've already achieved gold status, so what harm could an iPhone do?

As a global citizen, would owning an iPhone be better for everyone? I believe that is a resounding no. The factories aren't exactly a place where I'd like my children to work, so why would I support the employment for the Chinese. The materials used are likely mined unethically and may even contribute to wars around the planet. But again, I'm already a global criminal by the amount of energy, food, and technology that I consume, what's one more gadget?

Finally, the tough question, and one I am reluctant to post here, but hey it might generate a good discussion. I should iterate: I am not judging those who own and love their iPhones. This is my struggle, but maybe it is yours too: Can I as a professing Christian own an iPhone based on the reasons I've posted? I'm not sure I can. And I type these words with sadness because I really, really want an iPhone.

  • My money could be spent more generously, in a more giving way.
  • My time could be spent in relationship, rather than entertainment.
  • I should consider the full, global impact of my spending as the ripple effect is great and terrible.
  • Can my purpose here on earth (to be used by God for the restoration, renewal, and redemption of the world) be better accomplished using an iPhone? (maybe?)
And this applies to far more than just an iPhone. It demands a re-evaluation of my entire life.

* I'm already fully integrated into the Apple Borg, so would an Android phone fully integrate itself with all of my Mac stuff? I was at a loss trying out my coworkers new Android tablet.
** by using this word, do I disqualify myself from even being able to buy an iPhone?


Dan the Man said...

As your computers are 4 years old, the $$ you would spend on the 3-year minimum service agreement for the phone will upgrade one of your old machines handsomely, which will also be beautiful, and you will be able to do the same work as now, but only more quickly, allowing you to spend more time in the relationships that you want to nurture.

You don't need a cell phone, just a computer upgrade (financed over 3 years as approved by Amber).

I'm glad the voice of reason is able to help you through this. I don't FB, but I do read your blog. Sorry if I was not able to provide input there.

Zaak said...

Dan, I appreciate your comments as a voice of reason.

Good thoughts on how to re-allocate all of that virtual money. My current computers more than sufficiently provide the tools I need to get things done efficiently. I am pondering the purchase of Adobe CS5.5 Production though ($450 for teachers!! - that's the first bill if I got an iPhone) and that would probably get me doing more things more efficiently at school and home.

Lawrence Sirdar said...

There are so many things in our lives that we don't need but still get. In reality, it is what you want that dictates what you get. If you want something bad enough, you'll probably go and get it. One thing though is like you said, everything should work seamless with the iPhone based on the other Apple products you own.

Dawn said...

We have an older mac and I don't have an ipad or ipod. I am thinking, with an iphone I could listen to music and I can use it to monitor my runs and other workouts with the little thingy I could get for the shoes I bought last year. Hmmm...not convinced I shouldn't get one...you on the other hand, another story ;-) .