I switched from iPhone XR to iPhone 12 and things got weird

Apple admitted last week that sales of the iPhone 12 exceeded the company's expectations. But what about the customer's expectations? After six weeks with the new iPhone, I have some thoughts.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

They call it an upgrade, don't they?

When you're flying, the word automatically fills you with joy because you're getting something better for free.

When you're buying a phone, on the other hand, the price of an upgrade can be steep and the concomitant joy graph may not enjoy such a sharp upward gradient.

Also: Every iPhone 12 model from mini to Pro Max: Prices, specs, and availability

Still, Apple CFO Luca Maestri told an analyst call last week that demand for the 12 "exceeded our own internal expectations at the beginning of the quarter."

That may well be, but when I upgraded from iPhone XR to iPhone 12 six weeks ago, I didn't have steep internal expectations.

Apple's phones haven't incited wonder over the last few years. When the XR and XS emerged, I didn't see the point of paying exalted dollars for the merely pleasant iPhone XS.

A Relationship of Convenience Has To End.

I chose an iPhone XR to replace my iPhone 6, which should tell you that I don't need the allegedly instant gratification of every new iPhone.

At the time I bought the XR, it was my first time succumbing to Face ID. Going from the iPhone 6 meant accepting greater size and weight. Somehow, I still believed the XR felt like an iPhone. I still wondered whether I'd keep it for as long as I'd had the iPhone 6.

I told myself I loved the XR's battery life. I told myself I adored how sturdy and reliable it was.

I often tell myself lies, especially in relationships.

Within a year, I became conscious that this was a relationship of convenience.

The XR began to weigh on me. Apple helpfully tells me I use my phone an average of two and a half hours a day. Holding it in a single hand became (first-world) tiring. Occasionally, I'd be stretching my thumb to click on an app and the rest of my hand would begin to kvetch. This was an irritating imbalance.

Yes, the battery life was an enormous improvement on previous iPhones. But as the XR began to age, I began to look upon it with a tinge of pity. And not such affectionate pity, either.

It had never become lovable. It had become like the portable vacuum cleaner you keep by your sofa to swiftly hoover up your carelessly dropped crumbs. Useful, but never remotely adorable.

Parting with it, then, wasn't a sweet sorrow. It was more like a Hollywood actor divorcing a famous star at the end of their carefully worded marriage contract.

We shook hands. We said thank you, it's time, and goodbye.

Six Weeks With iPhone 12. This Is Getting Creepy.

I wasn't at all convinced that iPhone 12 would offer a vast difference.

Indeed, I went to an Apple store to examine it for myself before succumbing to an entirely surprising sales experience.

The saleswoman didn't oversell the 12. Instead, she told me: "That's probably the most similar to what you've got. The difference between the 12 and the 12 Pro is the telephoto lens. So if you're some sort of videographer, get the Pro."

I'm not (yet) a spy, so I chose the 12.

I'll admit I found the blue color marginally alluring. At the time I bought the phone, I muttered: "The 12 felt lighter and slightly slimmer than my XR, oddly but not unpleasantly retro and, hey, now I have two cameras, something I've never consciously wanted at all."

You see? No absurd enthusiasm there. Just a sense that at least this thing might be a touch more personable to the hand.

The last six weeks, however, have tended toward the creepy. I find myself enjoying the phone's square edges. I find myself thinking back to the rounder edges of the iPhone XR and concluding they looked cheap.

I also find myself believing that the screen has a noticeably sharper resolution and a much better microphone. It clearly takes appreciably better pictures too. I actually like holding this phone. Someone seems to have spent a little more time making its ergonomics fit my handonomics.

What's most disturbing to me is that I'm beginning to feel slight affection for this object. A phone, no less.

I pick it up with a tinge of reverence, rather than a grab of impatience. I even look at it occasionally and think: "Oh, you really do look nice." (Thank you, Sauvignon Blanc.)

Yes, I may have Lockdown Delusional Syndrome. This could be a sad, bizarre harking back to the iPhone 5 -- where the 12 drew much of its inspiration -- and how much more exciting life was in those days.

No, I'm not in love. It may just be a silly phase I'm going through. I still wonder, though, whether this particular iPhone, retro though it may be, could have a lasting impact in the twisted annals of design.

This phone cost me less than the XR, yet it feels so much classier.

Perhaps that's why Apple claims it saw the largest number of people upgrading in a single quarter.

Most of them just did it for the infinitely improved cameras, right?

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