When you turn on Television and you see an actress with a smiling face trying to sell you the newest phone, it’s often hard to remember that she is being just being paid by a business and that, in truth, that business is not your friend.
In fact, many of these companies are regularly taking advantage of us by forcing us into a cycle of having to buy the newest, flashiest phone every few years so they can make more profit. While many companies are, in some way or another, taking advantage of their customers, cell phone companies are taking advantage of us in three specific ways.
The first and most direct way that cell phone companies take advantage of their customers is by making cell phones that have an integrated battery, meaning that they build the battery directly into the cell phone. On the surface, it may seem that these companies are trying to simplify the phone by having fewer removable pieces, but what they are really doing is removing a very valuable option from their consumers.
The real problem with making a cell phone with an integrated battery is that all batteries have a limited lifespan, and this lifespan is usually far shorter than the lifespan of the cell phone’s other parts. This leaves the consumer with a problem. If the battery in my phone dies, what do I do? In older phones the easiest solution to this problem would be simply to go and get the battery replaced, but because newer phones build the battery into the phone, this isn’t exactly an easy process.
To replace the battery in a phone with an integrated battery, someone—and this someone is usually an expensive technician—has to disassemble the phone, put in a fresh battery, and then put everything back together. In many cases, the cost of not only having to purchase a replacement battery but also for paying somebody to install that battery is an expensive and lengthy process and it is often easier to simply purchase a new phone, and this is exactly what many cell phone companies want and expect.
Outdated OS Versions
Just like how the battery of a cell phone has a very limited shelf life, the operating system—also known as the OS—of a phone can eventually fall out of date. Some phones allow users to update their operating system to the newest version, like the newest version of iOS or Android for example, but this is not always possible for all phone types.
Many phones eventually enter what cell phones companies call obsolescence. This means that these companies consider these phones, many of which may only be a few years old, to be too old to continue to make software and applications for. This won’t always mean that your phone will stop working right away, but it does mean that eventually many of your phone’s applications will no longer function properly, and in some cases, some of the main features of your phone will cease to work. This planned obsolescence on the part of the cell phone companies usually forces you to purchase another cell phone just to get one that works properly.
In addition to the problems of integrated batteries and outdated versions of your OS, many cell phone companies make phones that don’t include any form of optional expandable storage, meaning that the only storage space that you have on your phone is built into the phone, and this storage cannot be changed. So if you keep taking pictures, capturing video, or installing new applications, you will eventually run out of storage.
If you run out of storage on your phone and there is no option to expand that storage, you really only have two options. Your first option is to go through your phone and try to delete as many of the pictures, videos, and applications as you can, but this is often an imperfect solution; there may just be too many pictures of your grand kids or videos of a family holiday that you simply can’t part ways with. In that case, your only real option is to buy another phone that has more total storage than your original phone. By choosing not to include optional expandable storage, these companies make it difficult not to frequently update your phone to a newer phone with more storage.
While it wouldn’t be correct to think that all cell phones companies are out to get you, it is important to remember that these companies are in the business of making money first, and serving the customer second. If they can design their cell phones in such a way that you have to purchase the latest, greatest phone every two years for everything to work properly, it is in their financial best interest to do so, but we should be aware of how they are trying to take advantage of us so that we, as consumers, can all make better cell phone purchasing decisions.