Embracing the Beauty of Time: A PRO Perspective on the Patina of iPhones

This very readiness to discard lies at the very heart of the contemporary fetish for the new, but the character and glamour of ageing – the patina – is an often-overlooked merit of the worn and weathered. It’s a part of the process by which objects that might otherwise be soullessly modern acquire their character. The iPhone, the jewel in Apple’s crown, is no exception. Starting with the polished surfaces of the most recent iPhone 15 Pro Max and rewinding to the slightly aged-looking iPhone 13 Pro, the surprisingly affectionate aspects of technology ageing are revealed.

PRO Tip: Finding the Beauty in Wear and Tear

You are not likely to hear iPhone fans wax eloquent over its patina. The very word ‘patina’ — suggestive of antique furniture or aged leather — sounds out of place amid the alloy gleam of Apple’s wares. For connoisseurs, and aficionados of the patinaed, the mark of things well-used is an honourable insignia, a literal trace of a gadget’s history.

The PRO Aesthetic: Metallic Melodies on the iPhone 13 Pro

One sunny day in London, the changing light across the stainless steel sides of my departing iPhone 13 Pro animated a spectrum of hues – a metal chromatic scale of purples, blues, silvers and bronzes – that I’d never noticed on the titanium clasp of the new iPhone 15 Pro Max. Light animating material in a moment of beauty, rather than the machined perfection typical of a new device.

The PRO Argument: Patina vs. Perfection

It might be easy to reason like this: poor kid – if only she had saved all that plastic for the old Lego sets – all this time he could have been making money! However, from a pro’s point of view, the patina of age in the once-mint gadget makes it more interesting, adding a layer of personal history and intimacy; a marriage of metal, plastic and purpose; making it not just a thing but a keepsake with a story to tell about how it lasted, and how it lived, alongside you.

PRO Insight: Patina and Personality

Nor is it specific to equipment. The iPhone, like the mechanical watch and the leather jacket, acquires patina over time. Patina, more than anything else, represents the journey and development, of both object and man: an accretion of experience etched in leather of the highest quality in emphatic juxtaposition to the ephemeral.

The PRO Dream: A Future Colored by Patina

If the iPhone 16 Pro (or whatever its successor will be called) doesn’t revert to more loss-prone materials, it seems unlikely that its patina-friendly successors will any time soon. That said, part of this pro would welcome patina’s return. And in that spirit, one might begin to imagine an iPhone with a visible history, one that grows its own character over the course of a year and then another, and another still. A relationship with our devices that itself carries an exciting new layer of patina.

PRO Tips for Embracing Patina in Your Tech Life

  • Reassess how you protect your device. Sometimes, less is more.
  • Observe the subtle changes in your gadgets. They reflect your journey together.
  • Embrace imperfections. They narrate the story of your interactions with the world.

Understanding the 'PRO': A Dedication to Excellence

The word ‘pro’, as I’m using it here, does not just mean professional or skilled; it means respectful of substance, character and history below the surface. Whether it’s the iPhone 13 Pro or the next iPhone 16 Pro that you’ll read about, I hope you’ll keep this in mind, and understand that the patina of experience that comes from warmly engaging with your technology is a good thing to respect. A pro attitude doesn’t just revel in the spectacular aspects of technology, but also in the beautiful micro-imperfections that accrue with age.

Jun 09, 2024
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