Memories vs. math: how to justify paying $1,000 for the iPhone X

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Scale balancing camera with money


I have a dilemma. I can’t decide whether to buy the iPhone X or hang onto my iPhone 7 for another year. Day to day—and sometimes hour to hour—I waver:

Calculating the cost

On the one hand, I dig the X’s edge-to-edge display, its high-res OLED screen, and (especially) its dual lens camera system. And by my math, the costs of upgrading my phone every year are surprisingly comparable to upgrading every two—when I figure in the cash return of reselling the old phone.

But then I remember the X’s thousand-dollar price tag, and my determination falters. That’s a major investment, no matter the potential resale value. I hesitate to spend that much when my current phone works perfectly well.

Memories > math?

Of course, there’s more to this decision than just dollars and cents. If I do buy an iPhone X, it will be to get one marquee feature in particular: its best-in-class camera.[1]

I imagine myself forty years from now: a septuagenarian looking back on the past. From that vantage point, it’s likely that my current stage of life—young parenthood—will be the time I would be most grateful I had used a decent camera.

Kid in grass

Our adorable daughter is two years old—and growing like mad. It’s almost physically painful to see time flying by so fast, and we’re desperate to capture her quirks and discoveries with photos and videos. We snap hundreds of pictures every week—exponentially more than we ever did before she was born.

I want a phone camerathat takes amazing shots, even when my kid runs wild through the yard in the autumn twilight.[2] If I upgrade to the X, I will have a better record of my daughter’s second and third years of life.

To buy, or not to buy?

If I’m awake at 3 AM on October 27, preordering the iPhone X, here’s what I’ll be telling myself: you’re not buying a $1,000 phone. You’re buying a $1,000 camera with some amazing bonus features. Somehow, that seems easier to swallow. A thousand-dollar phone? That’s extravagant. But a thousand-dollar camera that helps me better remember my daughter’s early childhood? That makes some sense.[3] ■


  1. Technically, the Pixel 2 is the current champion, at least as judged by DxOMark. But the iPhone 8 Plus is close behind; assuming the X bests the 8 Plus (likely), it may approach the Pixel 2 in overall quality.  ↩

  2. Fortunately, even older iPhone models take snapshots that compare favorably to low-range DSLR photos. The iPhone is already good enough; it has completely usurped the place that standalone cameras once had in my life.  ↩

  3. Even hobbyists spend that much on photography gear without blinking an eye.  ↩

  4. Scale and camera vector artwork courtesy of Freepik.