You’re Secretly Being Trained To Break Your iPhone On Purpose


Death by washing machine? Trampled underfoot in a nightclub? Dropped down the toilet? Many phones have met a sticky end at some point due to the carelessness of their owners…

Or so you thought. Actually, a new study shows that we may be subconsciously breaking, losing or abandoning our iPhones to keep up with the never-ending cycle of newer and shinier smartphones released by Apple.

This is called the ‘Upgrade Effect’ – and although it might sound crazy, findings published by the Columbia Business School in the American Marketing Association earlier this month state otherwise.


According to the study, even when we think we are taking care of our prized iPhones we are actually much more likely to neglect – or even deliberately damage – our mobiles if there’s a better version of the product available or an upgrade on the horizon.

The researchers supported the Upgrade Effect theory by analysing a data set of 3,000 lost iPhones, provided by IMEI Detective. They found that the number of reported lost phones increases closer to the release date of the next model.

Furthermore, an online survey of 602 mobile phone owners showed that the availability of an upgrade would lead to product neglect in many cases, subconsciously or otherwise, as we all flock like lemmings to have the best phone on the market.

Even advertising executives have taken note of the Upgrade Effect and are putting our desire to keep up with the Joneses to good use, as in this advert for the new iPhone on Virgin Mobile, titled Happy Accidents.

One of the three lead researchers, Professor of Marketing at Columbia Silvia Bellezza, said:

We would feel guilty about upgrading without a reason—but if our current product were damaged or depleted, we’d have a justification to upgrade without appearing wasteful. So, we use our phone in the rain or leave our laptop behind at airport security without being aware that our carelessness has an underlying motivation.

According to the research, the Upgrade Effect extends to various different high street products, from shampoo to mugs…

But then again, dropping that ugly mug that you got for Christmas from your Great Aunt Ethel is a much happier, much less costly accident that your new iPhone.

Accident responsibly, people.