Paul Graham wrote a great piece on “stuff”, and how the trend of recent decades has been to amass an inordinate amount of it. It’s a message that some other bloggers have made as well, because there really is something to be said for the simplicity of having less stuff and living a more streamlined life. On a recent cross-country move where we had little personal belongings with us on the coast-to-coast drive, we found it rather refreshing to have little on our minds other than the drive ahead and locating a suitable rental at our destination. Evenings were spent with family, and our primary outlet into the rest of the world was our iPad, which is itself a statement of simplicity compared to computers of yesterday.
But this experience isn’t why we link to Paul Graham’s article. Rather, it’s this statement of Graham’s:
Before you buy anything, ask yourself: will this be something I use constantly? Or is it just something nice? Or worse still, a mere bargain?
Most of us are probably guilty of buying something we didn’t need but that we picked up just in case, because the price seemed good. Meanwhile, we sometimes gawk at the more expensive prices associated with certain items that we really would use a lot, yet hesitate to purchase because of the up-front cost. Our philosophy has generally been to spend more money on quality items, versus buying something cheap that we’ll outgrow or have to replace in the near future because of cheaper construction. Yet, we still shy away from certain expensive items because we don’t necessarily need them, like an iPhone 4S. We do, after all, already have an iPhone 4. Some minimalists will a argue that this hesitation is just: the iPhone 4 is good enough, so skip the iPhone 4S. But Graham made a statement that’s equally valid: if we’ll use the iPhone 4S constantly, then the purchase may make more sense.
So we don’t feel as guilty about upgrading our iPhone 4 now. We advised a friend in the past that such an upgrade, based on the merits of what the new iPhone offers, is likely not worthwhile, but we’ll now revise that claim: if you use your iPhone 4 a lot, and expect to continue doing so, then upgrading to the iPhone 4S is absolutely worthwhile. More specifically, if you use the iPhone camera, and anticipate regular use of Siri, then the upgrade is definitely a functional one, and an upgrade you should really consider. If, however, you don’t use your iPhone much beyond a phone, and maybe a handful of apps, then an upgrade to the 4S is likely not worth your money.