This week was the iPhone’s 10th birthday, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I was one of the holdouts who didn’t get one until two years ago.
For years after the iPhone was released in 2007, I was a hermit who believed that I didn’t need material, worldly possessions. When my dad asked multiple times if I wanted to upgrade my dated LG VX5200 flip phone, I said no. My reasoning was that since it had a camera in it, my phone was already pretty cool.
Somehow, I survived high school and almost made it into my first year of college without any smart devices before I gave into the peer pressure and a need to actually use the internet everywhere. So I got my first smartphone, my mom’s old Motorola Droid Razr XT912, which lived for a brief year in my hands before it slowed down to the point of being impossible to use. Apps on the phone would flicker and freeze, seemingly on a whim.
Finally, in 2015, I converted and got my first iPhone, making me behind the trend by more than eight years. But, I figured, “Better late than never!” My two years with the iPhone 6 so far have been sweet, even if my defective battery has half the lifespan of a mayfly, and even if no Apple Store will replace my phone after I spilled water on it.
One of the defining aspects of my life is that my house is a mess and I never invite a single person to visit. Somewhere, mixed up in the mess of things, are a bunch of old flashlights, newspapers, and numerous other objects that the iPhone has killed. And I have absolutely no need to find them, because, as they say, there’s an app for that. (Do people still say that?) Not for finding all of my useless junk, but for replacing every single one of them. Now who needs any possessions?
You probably take them for granted by now, but here are all the things that the iPhone killed for me:
Calendars and planners
The only person I see who still uses a paper calendar is my grandma. It’s one that she got from a Hong Kong supermarket. I can go into my Calendar app and set a ton of dates, rather than handwrite all of my plans. These notes pop up as alerts and immediately grab my attention so that I can’t possibly forget. It also doesn’t help that good planners are hard to find, either being in the $20-plus range or being too small and curved to fit in all those detailed events and meet-ups.
Instead of having to scramble and find a pen — which has usually already run out of ink, or worse, created a scribble on the lining of my bag, and then having to make out my handwriting afterward — I can jot down notes at high speeds on my Notes app, which already boasts 127 notes with to-do lists, creative ideas, and dreams I’ve recalled. These pads still kind of live in the office, if I feel like hand-writing something, but their day-to-day usefulness has worn out.
This one is definitely dead. The only paper maps in my life now are the ones that we have thrown in the back of the car and never use. With GPS on my iPhone and GPS in my car, I can never really get lost anymore… well, okay, I still manage to find ways.
Throughout high school, I had the noisiest, most obnoxious alarm clock I could find from the (now closed) neighborhood RadioShack. It blared at 6AM every morning, sometimes at 5:30 if I was feeling extra tired and needed that 30 minutes to snooze on and off (much to my mom’s chagrin). I’ve since replaced it with my iPhone’s gentle ringing, which still does the job.
Since the iPhone got a flashlight mode, accessible in just a swipe and a tap, the world has had no more use for flashlights that require you to change the batteries. That is, unless you are trapped underground in a mine for months and have no electricity. In that rare case, flashlights are the unsung hero. My own flashlights are dead, rolled underneath my bed where the spiders live.
My mom can finally stop being angry at me for dropping her $300 digital camera on the floor, causing weird shapes to show up in every photo taken thereafter. Instead of shelling out that $300 for a digital camera, these days I can just shell out double that for a new iPhone that captures better photos than most old camera models and lets me share them wherever I want.
Some old-school newsrooms still use recorders, of course, but why carry a separate device that still requires batteries and another set of earbuds when you can hit record on any number of free iPhone apps? No more accidentally deleting the recordings on your old voice recorder and trying to replay blurry sounds to make out the words. I hate it when that happens.
The iPod and MP3 Player
Just like my Verizon Juke that I briefly had and the little-known Listen to Music feature on my original Kindle where I would spam-play “Kids” by MGMT, there is no practical use for these music players anymore, which casts them into a category of sentimental use alone.
Unless you’re in business school or taking some strenuous calculus courses, the iPhone replaces all your calculator needs. (Even if you are looking for a more serious calculator, the iPhone might just handle that, too.) In day-to-day life, I whip the phone out to calculate gratuities and paychecks, and mental math is enough of a solution for everything else.
Going back to extremely old school, this once-perfect summertime accessory has been replaced by connecting Bluetooth speakers to an iPhone. Both can be equally obnoxious, but now you don’t necessarily have to blast radio commercials and suffer through replays of “YMCA.” This one, like the record player, has experienced a mild revival at the hands of hipsters. As for me, my cassettes are still sitting in a cabinet, dusty and unused for decades.
Rest in pieces, discard pile. May the collectors and archivists enjoy you.