Issue 23 Mar 19, 2023

Single purpose device


I’ve been struggling with my iPhone lately. It’s just not good at everything it does. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great device, but what is its purpose? It’s an everything box, a magical slate of glass that’s more than enough for most people. For me too, especially the iPhone 14 Pro Max I’m using. And yet, I’m not enthused with it.

I upgraded from my iPhone 13 mini to the 14 Pro Max because I wanted the best camera there is. Scratch that, the best iPhone camera there is. You see, I’d gotten bored with taking photos. The 13 mini wasn’t good, not compared to the 12 Pro I had before. My hope was that the 14 Pro Max would reignite my passion for photography.

Alas, it’s all so very processed, so overly tweaked by the machine, that I don’t like how the photos look. Granted, I can fix that with clever camera apps like Halide, or spend some time editing the ProRAW files in Darkroom. But that’s not what I see on the screen, right then, when I snap the photo. It bothers me.

I picked up my Ricoh GRIII a while back, and it was a whole different thing. There’s no zoom or flash unless you mount something, which I don’t on a small street camera like this. It’s just a camera, it takes photos. It can shoot video, but, I think, not well.

Suddenly, photography was fun again. I started carrying the Ricoh in my bag, and I took photos again. The only thing I used my iPhone camera was to remember things.

I’m writing this on an 11” iPad Pro sitting in its Magic Keyboard. To be honest, I’m not fond of the Magic Keyboard, but space is of an essence at this particular desk, so it’ll do. This, along with experimental drawing, is the only thing I’ve used my iPad Pro for the past couple of weeks. You see, I was supposed to sell my iPad mini 6, but I ended up keeping it for reading. Again, it’s just better than the otherwise superior Pro model at that particular task. But then, my Kindle Paperwhite beats them all when it comes to reading in the dark.

Lately, I’ve been eyeing my Punkt MP02 again. You might remember that I did a series on Switch to iPad where I paired that minimalistic phone with an iPad, ditching my iPhone. I wondered if that was the way to go, yet again. Unfortunately there are some things the minimalistic phone doesn’t do as well as the iPhone, where the iPhone shines, and it’s phone calls (!), texting (!!), and as a music player (that was expected). The MP02 is a lovely device, but it’s a sub-par phone in comparison to the iPhone.

There’s always the allure of the single purpose device. I love my vinyl player, and prefer it over playing digital music, despite it all going through the same hifi system and speakers. It’s the feel of things, I think, and the sole purpose for their existance. It’s why I have notebooks and expensive pens, despite the superiority of taking notes on an iPad. But, just like with music, there’s a place and time for everything. I’m not mocking up designs in small paper notebooks anymore, it’s faster and more versatile on an iPad, directly useful even. But not as alluring, at least not all the time.

The final nail in the coffin for single purpose devices across the board, is when you pack your bag for the day. I can’t be bothered to carry multiple notebooks and pens, a music player, headphones, cameras, computers, phones, and iPads. It’s too much.

The camera stays, however. And, down the line, maybe something else will cement itself as a single purpose device I can’t bring myself to compromise myself out of. I hope so.

📚 Currently re-reading Nine princes of Amber by Roger Zelazny.

🎵 Listening to EBM by Editors. It’s been that kind of week.

📺 I’ve watched all episodes of Martijn Doolaard’s Italian Alp cabin renovation project. It’s wonderful slow TV, free on YouTube.

🎮 Still deep in Breath of the Wild. I can’t believe I never finished this, back in the day. Such a wonderful adventure.

You might notice that it’s Sunday today, not Friday. I’m going to switch to Sunday editions for a bit. There’s something alluring with sitting down with the newsletter on a Sunday afternoon, nurturing a drink, and writing this to you. Or editing, as it were today – this issue was written earlier this week when I had a rare opening in my schedule.

I’ll email you again in a week. Until then, remember to breathe and be kind to the people around you, but more importantly, to yourself. That’s hard, sometimes, so here’s your weekly reminder that you’re allowed to treat yourself.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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