Two weeks ago a friend of mine invited me to grab a coffee at our favorite place, and I agreed. I knew he’d been through a turbulent love story since we talked last and could benefit from an attentive listener. To my amazement, he wrapped up the story rather quickly and began persuading me that he would get himself an iPhone 6S when
I was smiling to myself. I knew this decision didn’t come lightly to him.
At the very beginning of the year I was looking to replace a cheap smartphone of obscure origins I had with something new and sexy, and my friend had a solution. He got me added to Framily, a Sprint cell phone plan which was so great it had to be canceled soon after people realized its advantages. The plan included the possibility of upgrading to a new phone each year, which my friend used gladly. Each time he gave back the phone he had paid out in half and began paying for a new phone from scratch, but somehow this seemed reasonable to him. After all, he was getting a brand new phone each time, and for a savvy connoisseur of technology he was it meant a world. I disagreed, but refrained from judging despite having the notion he would not be happy with the Samsung he chose to replace his old LG with. That phone just didn’t look right to me.
Without even looking at the available options, I knew I was going for an iPhone 6. My friend laughed at me, saying I was going to pay an exorbitant price for yesterday’s technologies. I knew he was right, and that literally every other phone I could choose from was beating the iPhone by a whole range of characteristics. Then again, I had no clue what technical characteristics this iPhone even had. I didn’t know its screen resolution, it’s camera pixel count… boy, I didn’t even know how much memory that thing had! I didn’t know, but I didn’t care. I simply wanted an iPhone 6 because, as I know from personal experience, the latest model of iPhone in a man’s hand makes this man considerably more attractive in the eyes of most women who look at him.
Samsung vs iPhone user experience
In the months that followed, I don’t think there was a single time my friend and I met that he wouldn’t complain to me about his Samsung. Its worst sin seemed to be the swiftness with which the gorgeous 5.5″ screen was draining the battery. As my friend was putting it, his Samsung could never get lost because it was always plugged in and charging.
At the same time, I had no complaints about my iPhone 6. I still had no idea what that thing could do: I was using it primarily as a phone and didn’t even open an Internet browser unless I really had to. Watching a video on it seemed almost a sacrosanct idea, although I did appreciate the convenience of having a calculator handy. I also liked the compass function, although I realized it was much less reliable than I would expect.
There was, however, one area where my friend’s Samsung was beating my iPhone: camera. Taking photos or videos had been a painful subject for me throughout my whole life (this is what the rest of this article is essentially dedicated to), but owning an iPhone considerably expanded my picture-taking horizons, making me believe the quality of shots I was getting was very high.
HTC – the best phone video I have ever seen
As I soon found out, I was wrong. At my friend’s Birthday party I got a change to see a video another friend of his shot with his HTC phone, and I simply could not believe my eyes. Its clarity, its focus, its color saturation was something beyond my imagination. My friend pulled out his Samsung to show some videos he shot himself, but their quality paled away so much compared to the works of HTC it looked nothing but pitiful.
Realizing the iPhone camera’s shortcomings
This incident made me reconsider the esteem I had for my iPhone’s camera. First of all, I realized that, no matter how great your cell phone was, a dedicated photo camera still was going to do a better job both shooting photos and videos. Another discovery was that my iPhone had, in fact, two cameras, the second one allowing to make selfies and being much worse than the main one. My friend lectured me on various pixel resolutions of our respective gadgets and forgot the exact numbers as soon after the conversation was over, taking out one but a very important conclusion: the camera(s) on my sexy iPhone sucked, and if I was in any way serious about making good photos and (especially) videos I could not count on it.
Having told me he wanted to get an iPhone 6S, for the next hour or so my friend continued by reciting a long list of its killer-features which he himself learned from a rather short (8 minutes, I think) promotional video. While I was watching it, two thoughts disturbed me. One was a simple question why he did not show me the video in the first place and wasted an hour narrating it instead. The other one was a different story. It was a cold, rational realization that left no room for doubt and made me shiver. What I realized was super-personal, and yet it could be applicable to a huge proportion of people in my generation which is sometimes called that of millennials (for the sake of seemingly classy simplicity, of course).
I realized that if this device feel into my hands back when I was fourteen it would have irrevocably changed my life.
The Shadowy Past
When I was 14 years old, I did not have a cell phone. The most advanced piece of technology I owned was a SONY CD-player that was purchased after long meditations on the subject of its potential utility. I had to pay for the thing with my own money so, much as I coveted the player, I had to be sure the use I was going to make of it would be worth a considerable chunk of my savings. Deep down I knew I would have purchased the player no matter what, but I still needed justification.
Another piece of technology belonging to me at the time was a Pentium desktop which I purchased along with my dad (contributing roughly one half of its price, some $350) and which I used exclusively for two things: playing computer games and typing various documents in Microsoft Word (mostly research papers for school and my own creative writing). The former was unavoidable despite being a major waste of time, the latter turned out very useful as now I am able to type without looking at the keyboard in two languages despite never actually learning it.
Now, ladies and gentlemen: this was it! The player and the desktop (with no Internet access, by the way: I didn’t get online until I was 17), this was my technological universe which I used to the best of my abilities. Which were rather limited, by the way, otherwise I would have learned some computer languages while taking breaks from playing strategies and first-person shooters.
A Game Changer
Of all the technology I could have at the age of 14 and didn’t the single most pivotal item was a video camera. My parents had multiple photo cameras (analogue and, eventually, digital), but I never was interested in photography. In my mind, photos were too close to paintings, and I royally sucked at painting, drawing sketching and everything else that involved images. Video, on the other hand, was a completely different subject. I never viewed video as an extension of visual arts: to me it was a medium of delivering a complicated and multidimensional philosophical message, something closer to, say, poetry. And what made me view video in this was was the fact that throughout my whole childhood and adolescence I have been exceptionally good at acting. In other words, I needed a video camera to explore a maddeningly attractive creative dimension. Too bad there was no video camera available for this.
I am sure you know the story: a clown who thinks he is good at something turns on the camera on his cell phone and starts recording himself doing it, be it pizza making or toilet cleaning. Well, the thing is: I was actually good at acting and often performed whole scenes from classical plays and my own writing when left alone. You don’t have to believe me, but I am sure that recording even 10% of what I performed at that time would have been enough for a rather diverse acting portfolio that could earn me admittance to best drama schools. Recording everything could have made me an Internet prodigy soon after the invention of Youtube: it would have taken but another hit video, and the rest would have come on its own. All the talent was there, the only thing missing was a video camera, even if a cell phone one.
Back to the Future
Here I was, a 27-year old man on a Friday evening, looking at a promotional video of iPhone 6S which promised to deliver videos of stunning quality to any jackass who was clever enough to turn the device on. Plus a million other things iPhones do. My treacherous imagination was already painting pictures of having my dad’s entire music library on iTunes and performing unexpected scenes on the whim of the Shuffle function. One of my school teachers once said that almost everything I do in life is an epatage. I couldn’t agree more, except now I know neither she nor anyone else understood that epatage for me was a natural state of being. I couldn’t do otherwise even if I wanted. This is why I would have been so effective.
In the meantime, I was seeing in front of my eyes millions of people riding on subways, waiting in lines in supermarkets or just taking a lunch break in the nearby park playing wasting the precious time of their lives on games and idiotic apps instead of exploring the creative opportunities their smartphones were offering. My friend kept talking, now complaining again about his Samsung’s battery life. He didn’t consider himself a heavy user, but in my eyes he was. Yes, those were the eyes of a person who used his iPhone 6 mostly for calls, but I knew something neither my friend nor an army of modern phone users had any clue about. I knew that, behind staggering resolutions, huge memory improvements, lightning-fast Internet connection and everything else modern technology companies do to make people willing to spend money on their products, all these men and women were missing an obvious chance to bring their lives to the next level by figuring out how they could use their devices to become better people. Goodness and creativity are almost synonyms for me, you know.
iPhone 6S is now available for purchase, and I am to close another introspective loop of thought. Upon rereading this text, I realized it could seem to a reader unfamiliar with me that I am full of regrets of resentment for not having the technology of nowadays when I was going to high school. This is not the case. Of course, my heart does skip a bit when I imagine what I could have done with an iPhone at the age of fourteen, but if there is something I learned since then it’s that when it comes to creativity, it’s never too late.
It’s only a matter of motivation, and if you have it you are invincible.
by Danil Rudoy – September 2015