DISCLAIMER: This is not a review of the iPhone 6. If you are interested in what the latest tech-talk has to say about the human experience, read on. If you are looking for a detailed account of what it’s like to hold the newest gift from the Apple gods, CNET is exceptional with such matters.
One thing Apple has continued to get right with the iPhone is their brave refusal to give in to the metric lobby; that is, rather than measuring their displays in socialist-sympathizing centimeters, they carry on with noble imperial inches. You must admit that 5.5 is a much more pleasing number than 13.97 cm. Even if you round up to fourteen, the digit just sounds cumbersome. Who wants to carry 14 of anything anywhere? Not this guy.
Although I am forward-thinking enough to admit that the metric system has many merits–namely, standardized communication in science that minimizes errors and misunderstanding–I must point out that the metric system itself is an illusion. The strength of the metric system is its relation to other measurable objects. Consider the Celsius temperature scale which sets 0° where water freezes and 100° at water’s boiling point… under other standardized conditions, of course. One hundred is such a wonderfully round number too, easy to count. To get 100, you can count your fingers ten times, or bring in your toes and only go through five times (which is one hand of five fingers). On the other hand of five fingers, how rarely do you see water freeze? Or even more so, when do you see water boiling in nature? Not often.
This leads me to the first half of my point: the metric system is a human way of understanding the world without humanity. Celsius works just fine when you’re recreating an experiment but less accurate when determining what to wear. Now, before you fear that I’m some backwater hillbilly who don’t like none of that European nonsense, I assure you I have no qualms against the metric system itself. I just don’t think it serves as a way to live. I’ll come back to the metric worldview later.
What’s so great about the Imperial measurement system? Wasn’t a foot based on the length of some dead king’s literal foot? Anecdotally, yes. For a moment let us somberly consider how huge of a foot that must have been (respect to my big-feet readers). The weakness of the Imperial system as units for universal measurement is also its poetic strength: it has arbitrary localized meaning. That is, it is harder to find meaning in the measurement of a thing so the thing itself retains its own value more clearly.
I hold up to you something of 7.5 lbs or 3.4 kgs. What does it mean? Metrically I have something that refers to the weight of roughly 3.5 liters of water. Imperially I have, you know, seven and a half pounds. But if I told you I am holding up my new born son (this is hypothetical, not a dad) then we have a new set of parameters for meaning–the human realm of meaning. Then, and only then, all measurements fall to the side as sign posts to the journey we take.
Back to the iPhone 6 and the Metric worldview. If we build a world of meaning by measuring things that relate to other measured things, it can be difficult to determine the true value of anything. This is especially difficult when the dialogue of our culture is wrapped up in hypertext (meta); everything relates to something else. The problem comes when the value of one thing diminishes and puts the entire system is at peril. iPhone 3, 4, 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus; 1334×740 v 1920×1080; 16 days standby, 80 hours audio play; two-year contract, lease program, pay-per-month; trade-in redemption value.
At times you can sense the ennui behind all the noise, the vacuum under the enthusiasm. As for me I am finding a way to the meaning beyond. It can be said many ways but I will put it like this: how does the iPhone 6 fit your hand?