Is It Just My Perception, or Are We Getting a Bit Screwed Here?

Warning: pissing and moaning ahead- if you’re not in the mood, click away now.

My daughter was lamenting today that her iPhone keeps filling up, no matter what she does to try to keep it’s storage lean. We’ll talk about that in a minute, as Rant #1. For Rant #2, I want you to to think about your mobile data plan, and the notion of paying for content you don’t want and have little control over.

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you’re in control?
Well, I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
Just like me
– “Crazy”, Gnarles Barkley

Back to the iPhone. If you think that when you buy a 16 Gig iPhone, you’ll have 16 GB of storage for YOUR files, you’re sadly mistaken. If you think that 32 GB equals 32 usable Gigabytes on a mobile device, again you are wrong. Basically these numbers are agreed upon lies perpetuated by Apple and other gadget vendors (yes, Android too) and visited upon We the Sheeple who adoringly pay what they say and question little about the shiny new devices that we just gotta have. And if we find that we only get about 3/4 of the device capacity that we think we paid for because the rest is used by fat operating systems and installed bloatware apps, well that’s just our problem.

Or is it?

I ran across this article that talks about Apple being sued by users who have had enough of numbers that you can’t trust and vendors who don’t seem to care about how much of OUR drives they squat on. We’ll see if it actually goes anywhere, but I’d be happy with two outcomes:

  • An end to the industry wide practice of flat-out lying to people about what they are buying (don’t tell me it’s in the fine print)
  • A separate partition on the on-board storage that delivers what the vendor is promising- some amount of storage that truly is yours to junk up as you so choose, that comes absolutely empty. No OS, no bloatware- that goes in another partition.

Data plans have so many bullshit aspects to them it’s just sinful. I don’t know how you fix this one, but for those of us who like to get what we pay for, it’s a travesty. Let’s say you pay $50 a month for a data plan that’s only so big, and when you exceed that usage, you pay overage fees. That’s not unreasonable, right?

Where we have a problem is that you reasonably assume that YOU will decide how your data plan gets used. Ah, you sweet naive kid.

You know all those apps that come on your phone? The ones that you have no use for and can’t uninstall? Some of them are sizable- and so are their updates that eat into your data plan. Think about how many times you open CNN or Reuters and an inline commercial or add kicks off- you’re paying for those too. If you’re saying “so what? I have commercials on cable TV and on my home Internet” then you’re forgetting that those subscriptions are not metered like your cellular data plan is. But there is all kind of force-fed content that helps itself to your data plan regardless of your interest.

The only defenses? Use Wi-Fi as much as possible, root the device to remove the apps you don’t want, or buy some kind of ad-blocker software (you’re still going to get a lot of video that just starts playing when you open web pages). But should consumers really have to go to these lengths to not have their data usage squandered by applications they didn’t invoke or ask for?

So… we got devices that aren’t as big as they claim to be and data plans that will never be ours alone to control, despite that they are ours alone to pay. And “the industry” couldn’t be doing better these days.

So is it me, are are we not in fact getting screwed?

10 thoughts on “Is It Just My Perception, or Are We Getting a Bit Screwed Here?

  1. Keith Parsons

    You nailed it.

    But do you really think we as consumers in love with this technology to the point we gladly upgrade every other year have enough restraint to put enough pressure on the vendors to change their practices?

  2. Zach Jennings

    Totally agree here. Everyone touts “You don’t need local storage, because all your files are up in the cloud!” Total BS. I had to remove the photo streams on my iPhone because it kept downloading every single new photo. Why? Why the hell do I need a 5+MP photo on my iPhone? Why can’t I just see low res previews, and then an option to download the high res if I really want to?

    Device makers are in the business of making money, sure. The app programmers (biggest finger pointing at Apple) need to re-think how they write apps. They all pretend that we have unlimited data plans and 128GB of local storage.

    I guess the money making is working. I’m already considering paying full price for the iPhone 6S+ 128GB when it comes out in a month or two because I’m so sick of running out of space. Ugh.

    1. wirednot Post author

      I generally say no to iOS for me unless work is buying, then this f’d up Apple culture of “you must be able to afford anything we throw at you” is someone else’s problem. Your points are right on.

  3. apcsb

    I share your opinion, marketing had gone beyond all degrees of unreasonable now. look at the latest Galaxy Note 5 – Samsung claims it charges faster. Guess why? Because it has _smaller_ battery. Of course, marketing doesn’t say that 🙂
    Anyways, I’d like to note that on Android one can disable stock apps (they still take space, but disappear in any other way), and restrict the background data usage for any app (i.e. will only consume data when you’re _really_ using the app). So that part of rant is purely for Apple sheeple. 🙂 Don’t worry, Android has its own share of idiosyncrasies, starting with MTP data transfers 🙂

  4. Ben Kirton

    I agree about all aspects of the false advertising.

    Here in Aus we have pretty strict laws about that sort of thing that gets more strict all the time (such as Airlines no longer being able to advertise a price that doesn’t include all the taxes etc).

    I don’t think the responsibility of the quota management lies with carrier though as they shouldn’t treat any of the data differently (and likely can’t do so effectively for 3rd party content anyway).

    iOS has controls for all the app based stuff and is looking to help with this issue by allowing content blockers in iOS 9 which looks like it could help immensely with all the massive bloated webpages and ads/tracking we are getting. Android has similar app controls but I can’t see Google promoting ad blocking themselves and I can’t see rooting a device as a valid practise for most people primarily due to the massive and real security issues that come with it even over the malware already distributed in the various stores.

    So here’s hoping that Apple’s allowing of content filters on iOS is enough to get the websites to alter their behaviours for everyone. I hold out no hope that they won’t just use the browser user agent to keep serving junk pages to devices without the filters.

  5. Ethan Banks

    I rarely comment on blog posts, but I so strongly identified with your outrage here, it seemed appropriate. No, it’s not just you. Yes, we are getting screwed.

    Potentially interesting addendum to the “move to wifi as often as possible.” Well, yeah. Only, I’m metered there, too. Sure, I have LOTS more on my home broadband plan than I do on my cell service data plan. But, all I’ve done is shift the burden of the bits to be carried over to a larger bucket. Sadly. Irritatingly. Astonishingly. Wearyingly.

    The Internet as the savior of mankind that would crush education disparity and bring the world together seems more like a pipeline for paid pixels.


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