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    I also still use the 2016 SE, and this really resonates with me.

    Since Apple decided not to give the SE the latest and greatest iOS, some newssites that I read have suddenly increased their minimum width, making some text fall off the screen on the right.

    Nevertheless, I am committed to keep using this phone until a worthy replacement shows up. This would mean:

    • USB-C
    • Not larger than an iPhone 12/13 mini
    • Touch ID
    • Camera doesn’t stick out of the back (crappy camera is OK)

    If me not upgrading means that I have to live without certain apps, so be it.

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      some newssites that I read have suddenly increased their minimum width, making some text fall off the screen on the right

      Yup, and it’s impossible to sign in on some apps because the splash screen is too big and the sign in box/button falls off the bottom of the screen.

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        As a first-time iPhone user (work phone) this is interesting. I’ve always used “slim” plastic cases on my phones and while the 12 mini’s camera sticks out a millimeter or so it’s level with this basic case/bumper/sleeve, so assume that’s a dealbreaker if you really want to use it without anything (I find them too slippery tbh). USB-C is indeed a huge factor but I’m wondering why it’s so important? Maybe it’s because I have nearly no USB-C devices anyway (I think we have 2 phones, 1 tablet, 1 work laptop - between 2 people) so with all my Micro USB stuff… USB-C simply doesn’t simplify anything for me, except when traveling lightly.

        Can’t believe I’m actually arguing pro new iPhone here but right now I am so pissed that my Android phone is not getting updates anymore.

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          I really like the zenfone 9, but the camera does stick out the back. Great battery life though…

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            I use a Galaxy S10e for this reason (apart from the camera). Sick of huge phones.

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            This resonates with me in general, but I think there are some key points worth adding:

            • “you’re making me buy a new phone” can and does happen also because certain apps vital to your functioning as a citizen force you to upgrade - I view this as an even larger systemic problem (systemic with regards to society as a whole);
            • forced upgrades (and tech obsolescence in general) pose a systemic sustainability issue, but it is possible (and IMO desirable) to avoid buying a new device;
            • it is possible (in fact, nowadays quite feasible) to exist outside of the iOS/Android walled gardens and embrace freedom and privacy.

            I recently wrote a (very opinionated) post touching on the above points: https://tomscii.sig7.se/2023/01/Privacy-retained-Pixel-sans-Google which I feel answer some of the questions at the end of this article…

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              it is possible (in fact, nowadays quite feasible) to exist outside of the iOS/Android walled gardens and embrace freedom and privacy.

              Possible, yes. Feasible? Much less so. With out iOS or the Play Store on my LineageOS phone, I can’t:

              • Install my bank’s Internet banking app
              • Use mobile tickets for train travel.
              • Use the mobile-phone-as-door-key option in hotels.
              • Check into flights without access to a printer within a day or two of departure.
              • Watch any of the streaming services (I don’t use iPlayer specifically because I refuse to pay the license fee as long as they use public money to promote vendor lock-in to proprietary ecosystems).

              Most of the apps that I use on mobile are open source, but some of the most important ones require platform components from the big two vendors.

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                What does “feasible” mean to you? To me it means “doable”, and all of these are doable (and I do them myself):

                • Use your bank’s online banking website via a web browser
                • Buy a ticket on the platform at the ticket machine (I’m least sure about this one, depends on your country’s train operators)
                • Use a normal door key in hotels
                • Check into your flight via a web browser (last time I flew, I got an e-mail with a “check in online” link). (Or at the airport, but that doesn’t count, since you’d like to check in in advance.)
                • Use most of the streaming services in a web browser (certainly Netflix and Spotify and HBO Max)

                Maybe in your reply “feasible” has connotations of “convenient” or “no drawbacks”?

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                  What does “feasible” mean to you?

                  Does not come with a massive drop in functionality. I could not do any of those things, but similarly I could just use a laptop and not own a phone. I own a phone because of the extra convenience, if I cannot use it for any of the things that make a phone convenient then that’s not feasible.

                  Oh, and I’m guessing you haven’t flown RyanAir recently. They charge for printing boarding passes at the gate and the only other options are print yourself or use their app. You can’t print more than a certain time period before departure, which means you often have to print at your destination.

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                    Does not come with a massive drop in functionality.

                    Apart from some quibbles with “massive”¹, I agree with you. Completely avoiding official apps definitely comes with drops in functionality. You could also add “Staying in touch with WhatsApp-using friends/groups” to the list.

                    I think last time I flew it was Ryanair, but it was a great many years ago. This seems very Them, though.

                    And even if I can come up with workarounds now, I expect your point will only get stronger as time passes. (Except for hotel key(card)s, I’m confident those will stick around.) In general the trend has been for companies to herd customers away from websites and into apps, the better to control and observe us. Which is, in turn, what tomscii is resisting.

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                      You could also add “Staying in touch with WhatsApp-using friends/groups” to the list.

                      I’ve been quite lucky there, in that I’ve managed to persuade my family to use Signal, and most of my friends seem to have gone there too.

                      Except for hotel key(card)s, I’m confident those will stick around

                      This isn’t something I’ve used for a few years, but it was a huge win last time I did. Pre-pandemic, I flew to Redmond 3-4 times a year to visit the mothership and the last few times I was able to use the Marriott app to check into my hotel room and get the key delivered to my phone. I could then go straight from the taxi to the lift, to my room, and to sleep, without needing to go to the check in desk, which was something I appreciated after a long flight. I’d usually go and get a key card on my first morning, as a backup.

                      In general the trend has been for companies to herd customers away from websites and into apps, the better to control and observe us. Which is, in turn, what tomscii is resisting.

                      I don’t have a problem with the apps, I object to their dependence on Google Play services, which lets Google track me across apps. I’d love to see regulators start to take that kind of thing a bit more seriously.

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                        Very good points.

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              I recently purchased an iphone 13 mini to replace my iphone se (the same phone as the author of the linked post has). I am not happy about it; it is a downgrade from its predecessor in several respects, but an upgrade in one crucial respect: the battery.

              Back before the days of smartphones, one could go several days in a row without recharging. While the se had respectable battery life for a smartphone, the battery was fairly small and deteriorated quickly, to the point that I was somewhat concerned, safety-wise, about its being my only source of mobile connectivity. Sure, I could have replaced the battery, but how cumbersome is it to do that periodically?—and even then, the battery life would not have been great.

              The new phone is not quite up to the standards of classic dumb phones (which usually can’t even be used with modern cell networks), but it is much better than my old smartphone; with my light use, I can usually get away with charging it only ever 1~2 days. If not for the battery, I would still be happily using an iphone 6s to this day.

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                Back before the days of smartphones, one could go several days in a row without recharging

                The brick Nokias were rated for 2h talk time and had ~1000mAh batteries (and they were pretty crappy Ni-MH, I had to carry spares). Now iPhones have 14-19 hours talk time, ~3000mAh batteries. Apple claims stand by time 9-15 days. The hardware is more efficient, and the batteries are larger.

                So I think the difference is partly rose-tinted glasses, and partly due to the fact that dumbphones just weren’t used that much. There wasn’t anything to check every few minutes. They weren’t running ad-laden apps logging your GPS on every occasion.

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                  Until I want to say 5G there was usually a smartphone on the market at any given time that would last several days without recharging. Motorola made lots of them. There is still a G Power, but It’s got the same 5000mAh capacity as its equivalent from 2019. Power requirements have risen and expectations have fallen: I had the 2019 phone and it would last a week. Motorola claims the current one lasts three days, and they make a big deal of it in their marketing.

                  I wonder if programmers will stop spending energy like water before we just evolve larger hands.

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                    Well—yes. I was perhaps remiss not to mention this, but yes, there are some large smartphones with reasonable battery life; but I also place a great priority on size. Dumb phones didn’t just have good battery life; they also had very reasonable proportions. I mean, I could also lug around a large external battery, but I don’t want to do that either.

                    As far as I know, all phones supporting 5G also support 4G, and the advantages of the former seem to be dubious. My phone, at least, I can tell not to connect to 5G networks. I am also given to understand that it will not actually connect to 5G networks at all unless bandwidth use exceeds the capacity of a 4G link. Do you mean to imply that simply having a 5G radio is enough to degrade battery life, regardless of whether it is being used to connect to 5G networks?

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                      Do you mean to imply that simply having a 5G radio is enough to degrade battery life, regardless of whether it is being used to connect to 5G networks?

                      Well, I don’t really know if it’s actually 5G or if the timing of 5G just happened to coincide with the point at which the energy demand of everything else overtook the size of phone one can hold with a normal-sized hand.

                      I do agree about the size thing, and I’m not convinced that my smartphone today does anything meaningfully different from what my smartphone 10 years ago could do, at least on the hardware side of things.

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                  Another way to put this:

                  Every bump of your minimum phone requirements means a new bunch of people who can’t use your application until they’ve paid 100-1000 € .

                  (abstract ‘you’)

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                    It’s less the app developers, and more the forced frameworks app developers have to work within. Without these walled gardens, this hardware obsolescence wouldn’t really exist, IMO.

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                      Yes, the technical (and sometimes legally-protected) inability to control what runs on your machine effectively guarantees some degree of forced obsolescence, as the “latest and greatest” replaces what worked just fine. Indeed, developers essentially have no choice: even the devices they own and develop on are subject to the same forces of basically being coerced into updating/“upgrading” whether they like it or not, thus ensuring the software they develop is dragged along into the newer system requirements as well. Today, I am really starting to feel like all proprietary software is essentially a ticking time bomb as we have no ability to keep it functional after the vendor casts it aside as “obsolete”.

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                      Not sure what’s happening there. I’m on a 6S from 2015 and it’s working just fine. Running iOS 15.7.3, all apps work without the crazy lags mentioned. Had the battery replaced once. The only mistake I made was getting a 16GB model, with 11GB used by the system, iOS updates must be done via the computer and I must be economical with the apps. But otherwise I have no pressure to buy a new one. For all the things one can be mad at Apple, the reliability and longevity of their devices is not one, I find.

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                        Sample size of one etc… I, on the other hand, have had multiple hardware issues with iPhones. In reality, there’s a fault rate curve, and you probably happen to be on its reliable end. One of the things I’ve heard is that older/cheaper models don’t get the same level of quality control. Longevity is ok though, assuming you don’t mind not having the latest OS features and not being able to run some of the apps at some point.

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                          With a sample size of over eight iPhones, I still maintain that we had no hardware related troubles of the sort, nor lagginess, absolutely no “planned” or tolerated obsolescence. I also start my 2009 3S from time to time for nostalgia and as a phone it’s still perfectly usable. Also, the 6S being over seven years old, still runs all apps seamlessly and has an OS released just this January. Nor have I found an app or update that would not have been available for it. Not sure what’s the experience with updates and the expectation of longevity on other devices but this experience works for me.

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                          Why the dismissive/condescending attitude?

                          I use an iPhone 8 from launch day (Sept 2017). It works just fine, and the battery lasts all day. Why would I replace it if it works fine and there’s nothing wrong with it? It runs the latest iOS, too (though I’m sure that won’t be the case for much longer). Not that I want it to, because every new major revision brings changes I don’t want, but that’s another subject.

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                            Also an iPhone 8 user, and we recently got a refurbed 8 for our kid as a replacement for their old 5. I do not feel a pressing need to get a new phone in the near future.

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                              Yeah, actually, a family member’s iPhone 8 had a failed baseband IC (so no cellular service worked anymore), and we tried to get it repaired but it was fruitless. They decided to just buy another iPhone 8, preowned. Super affordable and, unsurprisingly, it’s working great.

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                            As much as the manufacturers want everyone to believe these things are sealed for life and unrepairable, they’re not: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iPhone+SE+Battery+Replacement/61303

                            (iPhones are actually one of the best options for battery replacement because you can pretty easily find an OEM-quality replacement battery for them, unlike less common phone models where you’re stuck playing “ebay/amazon roulette” on quality.)

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                              What’s the battery life on an iPhone from 2016? Like 15 minutes?

                              I don’t know iPhones, but my Nexus 6, an Android phone from 2014, can sustain maybe around 12 hours of continuous mild usage (although, as its charge declines over that time, it becomes increasingly likely to shut off immediately if its power usage spikes).

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                                The only reason that I stopped using a 2017 phone was that the cellular radio stopped working after an accidental trip through the washer-dryer (i think it survived the washing but the static cooked the radio).

                                I’m typing this on a 2016 iPad. The battery in that is starting to struggle a bit, but Apple can replace it in store.

                                These devices are still very powerful. The laptop I used for my PhD was worse in every specification (CPU power, RAM, storage space, GPU performance, even screen resolution) than either device.

                                When I was an undergrad, the university had a 3-year rolling update programme for desktops because after three years they were so far behind that they were almost unusable. That gradually moved to 6 or 7 years because the newer machines didn’t make a material difference to performance for most workloads and the replacements were mainly to avoid unreliable machines. Laptops took a few years longer to get to this point, but I’m still using a 2013 MacBook Pro as my main personal machine and only just starting to think about replacing it. Phones took longer, but 2016 is around the point where I’d say that they passed the ‘good enough’ point for most users.

                                Apple is well aware of this trend, which is why they’re trying so hard to reinvent themselves as a services company. Their revenue comes, increasingly, from selling things to iPhone users, rather than selling iPhones. This is one of the reasons the Android ecosystem is having such a problem: handset makers make money from selling devices, Google makes money from selling services, and so the incentives are completely misaligned.

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                                There’s a certain amount of entitlement in the demand that the rest of the world stand still for one’s own convenience.

                                By which I mean: you can use an old piece of hardware for as long as you want to and are capable of keeping it physically operating. You just may also be stuck with running only old software on it. Nobody inherently owes you new software for it. Nobody inherently owes you maintenance of existing software for it.

                                Software tends to get hungrier because hardware gets more powerful. This is not an inherently bad trend; the phone I carry in my pocket today can inherently do more things than the phone I carried in my pocket ten years ago, and is more useful to me as a result. But quite a bit of that extra functionality only exists because the hardware got far more powerful over the intervening ten years, and so the software would not be meaningfully portable back to the ten-years-ago hardware. So the only way to ensure future software stays meaningfully portable to past hardware is to demand that both the hardware and software worlds stand still and stop progressing.

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                                  Yeah, this post raises a great point: adopting new iOS SDK features automatically exempts older devices. I have some old iOS devices that are of course far behind the latest iOS, and unfortunately many apps ship required updates that are not possible to install (because they require a newer version of iOS). So, over time the services I was able to use on those iOS devices simply become permanently inaccessible. Good times.

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                                    Switching back and forth between apps resets their state.

                                    I have noticed this on my 2017 iPad, but I think that’s just a consequence of the first point about memory

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                                      I don’t want to be on the smartphone treadmill either.

                                      I had an iPhone from an old job, that was abandoned by the manufacturer, a fully functioning phone. Sure, it’s smashed and held together with clear tape at this point, but it works.

                                      Then someone handed me a Pinephone that they couldn’t be arsed with, that I’m currently using as my main phone. It does calls, SMS (with Matrix support in the SMS app!), web browsing, and some more things. More than enough for me.

                                      I used to be excited about new gadgets, but now I’m only interested in keeping existing ones alive and usable.

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                                        This is why I don’t buy Apple products.

                                        I got Fairphone 3+ now with /e/os and I hope it’ll last me the next 10 years at least.

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                                          The point in the article is that Apple is supporting the device and making it faster, but third-party developers are making things so bloated that they can’t run on something that is, in reality, a massively powerful computer. That isn’t fixed by not buying Apple. If anything, the Android ecosystem is worse with respect to using silly amounts of RAM to do trivial things but in both cases you can often find lower-memory apps if you hunt a bit.

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                                            Oh i’m not saying android is any better.

                                            However I’ve noticed the more i use software from f-droid the less crap my phone behaves. I just have the usual banking apps etc. from the play store.

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                                            Same here, though I switched from a Nexus 5X; I put LineageOS with F-Droid on my FP3+ and never look back!

                                            This freedom is like a breath of fresh air!

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                                            I agree with the sentiment that we shouldn’t all be pushed to upgrade our devices incessantly. However, this is basically the worst possible messenger for this message. 2016 was 7 years ago. There has never been a time in computing history where a 7 year old device was able to keep up with contemporary devices. 7 is middle age even for a TV. And of course the phone itself is still fine, the thing that’s breaking the phone are new OS updates and new apps and new websites. The solution is pretty obvious: just use 7 year old apps and you’ll be fine. :-P

                                            There was a post going around the other day about how if you can use OpenBSD, you can use basically any computer. The author was using an old lampstand iMac. There was another recent post by an author who used a classic Mac with some adaptors to let it connect to the internet via relay. If you really want device longevity, that’s the way to get it: stop trying to interact with the modern software world, which will inevitably take up more resources because it can. Just build an island computer and get some semi-modern bridge to let it talk to the rest of the world, and let it exist in its own ecosystem. I haven’t seen projects to do this with old phones yet, but I imagine they’re coming. You can’t actually use an old phone as a phone anymore ( 3G is almost dead already), but you could probably make it into an island device that works at your house and then just buy a Light phone or whatever for calls.

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                                              There has never been a time in computing history where a 7 year old device was able to keep up with contemporary devices. 7 is middle age even for a TV.

                                              Well, yeah. That’s the problem.

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                                                Just build an island computer and get some semi-modern bridge to let it talk to the rest of the world

                                                If your concern is the environmental impact of buying new devices, I can imagine this approach actually making things worse. How often do you have to replace those bridge devices? And who made them? Say what you will about Apple, but their manufacturing gets to take advantage of significant economies of scale.

                                                To be clear, I’m not asserting anything either way. I’m more just thinking out loud.

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                                                Found this musing on the diverse range of upgrade pressures easy to read.

                                                And while not directly related to the main points of the post, I resonated with this observation:

                                                Engineers shouldn’t be defining such requirements [for app features that require upgrades] anyway. If we let that happen, we’d only have command line interfaces for Linux desktops.

                                                … because at $DAY_JOB, as an engineer writing their own requirements, I totally (and happily!) write only for [cross-platform] command-line interfaces — you caught me!

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                                                  I know, right? But having just gotten my first mac a month ago for work, after decades of linux (and especially the last decade), I would say some linux desktops are almost more consistent then the macs are. I know I am biased, but I just can’t get the workflows that I want, I have to use the touchpad.

                                                  On the other hand, my wife has also started a new job, and has gotten a windows laptop (a thinkpad p14 so at least performance is okay). She’s also feeling like stepping down in some pretty essential things.

                                                  Finally, in my experience, engineers end up at least refining the requirements if not defining them. Otherwise product people (or car salesmen) would still be selling us faster horses

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                                                    I have to use the touchpad.

                                                    This is one of the annoying defaults in macOS, but if you toggle it the experience is great. Under accessibility in system preferences, you can turn on keyboard navigation and then you can do pretty much everything with no pointing device. In particular, as I recall (and it’s 15 years since I enabled this and forgot about it, so it might have changed), you couldn’t navigate dialog boxes with the keyboard without it. With it, you can, space presses the current button (arrows to navigate), enter presses the default button. The keyboard navigation is always set up so enter is forward and space is abort by default in any dialog.

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                                                      Return and escape map to confirm and cancel without any a11y settings.

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                                                        Also Shortcat:


                                                        A keyboard driven command-palette for pretty much all macOS apps.

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                                                    The issue of state resetting when swapping between apps is what eventually made me change my last two phones as well. Hopefully now that modern phones contain a few gigs of ram that’ll be a thing of the past, but rate of software memory bloat continues to surprise so who knows.

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                                                      Hopefully now that modern phones contain a few gigs of ram that’ll be a thing of the past, but rate of software memory bloat continues to surprise so who knows.

                                                      Once most phones contain a few gigs of ram, devs will start thinking “who cares if I waste a few hundred megabytes? RAM is so ubiquitous nowadays”. This isn’t a problem of technology, it’s a problem of values.

                                                      In fact, I’d argue that fast RAM increases make the problems worse - imagine if literally half the market today still had the same amount of RAM as phones had in 2012; nobody would even think of being liberal with memory, and your old 2012-phone wouldn’t run out.

                                                      I’ve been thinking for a while now that the best possible thing for right-to-repair and the environment, would be for Moore’s law (and specifically, all exponential scaling terms for computing) to visibly sputter out.

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                                                        Yeah, I’m pretty stoked about the fact that new processors/systems aren’t substantially faster than their predecessors. In prior decades the iterative improvements were blatantly noticeable. Today, they are moreso just inching forward (subjectively speaking). The best thing about this is the staying power of “older” hardware (as I type this from a ThinkPad X230 with i5-3320M processor), so supposedly-old stuff is still usable and worth keeping around. The behaviour of frequently replacing your perfectly-working hardware is less worthwhile.