The Age of Augmentation

Constant upgrades are commonplace in today’s society. Apple releases new versions of their phones, laptops, tablets, and earbuds every year, consistently. There are a staggering number of phones that one can buy when looking for a generic Android phone, and a plethora more for high-end ones.

Just a couple years ago, each year brought about new, incremental, and better upgrades in terms of hardware and software, giving the user a totally different and better experience with the newly purchased piece of technology. The upgrades that companies made to their products years ago are in no way arbitrary, but recently, things started to change.

Phones are becoming increasingly similar to one other if it wasn’t for the logo on the back of the phone, or the camera bumps that grow larger and come in weirder shapes every year, and, more recently, if the phone can fold or not. As of late, hardware is becoming increasingly interchangeable, to the point where if you don’t upgrade your phone for 2 to 3 years, you won’t feel any real difference when comparing the performance of the older phone to the newer one.

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Companies make these shallow changes in order to make consumers believe their newer phone got a significant upgrade – when in reality, they actually just added a fancy new wide-angle camera. Whenever you see someone whip out their new iPhone or Samsung flagship, you’d know that it’s the latest and greatest phone instantly, just from that ugly camera bump (which are subject to becoming a meme at how ridiculous they look).

Companies are doing this because technology has become the new status symbol, which is one of the main marketing points tech companies use in their advertising campaigns. They rarely, if ever, showcase the software their new product flaunts since it’s more or less the same as last year’s, and the year before that too. And while hardware is getting better, it’s only doing so at a very gradual rate per annum.

And here’s the catch: whenever you upgrade a piece of tech, there’s a massive cost that isn’t so much as hinted at in your bank statement. The environment is also taking one massive hit just so you scratch that itch of wanting the latest and greatest piece of technology that you believe is going to radicalize the way you work and make you more efficient.

So, before you splurge your hard-earned money on yet another phone or earbuds, ask yourself the following questions;

1. Can I afford it?

If you’re in crippling debt, are living paycheck to paycheck, or you’re simply just another broke student, it’s not ideal to flunk a few hundred euros on a new phone. Start saving up, use your money wisely, maybe invest in a few stocks too – your phone upgrade can wait another year.

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2. How is my current device holding up?

If, however, your phone is frustratingly slow, can’t connect to the internet, has a shortened battery life, or do other basic things like send or receive messages or calls, then you might want to consider upgrading. But if your current device is still working fine, you might want to lay off buying a new phone. What you can do instead is protect your current device by spending much less money on a screen protector, good quality phone case, even repairing your screen or battery. These are simple things that cost just a few euros, but they do add up, in the long run, to keep your current device as protected as possible.

3. Is the difference worth it?

On a year-to-year basis, the phone and laptop companies that release new devices don’t really have that much more of an improvement as in previous years. They might have a new camera, or more cameras, or a smaller bevel, but in the end, these are all arbitrary and superficial things that you can live without for a few more years.

So before you buy yourself or a loved one a device, make sure you ask yourself these simple 3 questions.

Your wallet will thank you.


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