This may seem like an odd subject, because what do Steampunks and iPhones even have to do with each other? Actually, more than you might think!
Photo by Robert S. Donovan
Apple, as a company, is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of Steampunk, and that opposing philosophy is embodied by the iPhone in a number of ways, which I'll lay out for you below.
You may have heard of Apple's App Store being described as a walled garden, which means that they have strict control over what plants grow, so to speak. In reality, they imposed fairly strict regulations on what apps can be sold through their App Store. In many ways, this creates an unfair market as some products can thrive in spite of being inferior to other options.
Logo image from DigitalTrends
This idea of an unfair business environment is opposite to the individual-inventor aspect of Steampunk.
Even if you "jailbreak" your iPhone, that's still against the philosophy of Apple, and they make it as hard as possible for you to do so. While that is their prerogative and arguably legal for them to do, it still runs counter to the ideology of Steampunk.
The iPhone was revolutionary in cell phones in that it had a completely sealed case. This meant no changing the battery, no tinkering, no nothing. Taking such drastic measures to keep customers out of their own devices runs contrary to the idea of being able to use your own products however you'd like.
In fact, part of what drives most Steampunk props is the idea of repurposing and tinkering with pre-made goods, neither of which can be done to the iPhone without destroying it.
Image from Digitized Society
Steampunk is literally the polar opposite of the sleek, minimalist iPhone design. I suppose you could call Steampunk "maximalist" if it were a real word, though the proper term might be somewhere along the lines of "ornate". Many people find Steampunk aesthetically pleasing exactly because it's the opposite of "iCulture"; that is, the mainstream popularity of things that are simple.
Photo from GW Repair
A Steampunk who buys an iPhone will almost certainly want to alter it to suit their aesthetic sensibilities, but Apple doesn't want them to. Judging by points 1 and 2 above (as well as many press releases by Apple), Apple wants you to enjoy their product only how they want you to enjoy it, and not any other way. That's not how Steampunks see the world.
While Android phones aren't necessarily any better, the lack of a single governing organization allows much more freedom of choice and individualization. At the very least, you can take most of the Android devices apart for easier altering of the case.
Photo by iRetrofone
No matter how Steampunk you make your iPhone look, it doesn't change how inherently anti-Steampunk it is. So if you're thinking of buying a phone and all else is equal, consider endorsing a brand that's more supportive of individuality, self-expression, and fairness.
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