Phones are a status symbol?

I read some posts on reddit about phones being a status symbol, which was kind of news to me. I don’t get it? When I need a new phone I kind of just pick one on Amazon like I pick my groceries and it arrives in a box and I turn it on.

Looking back, some people have asked me what kind of phone I have but I thought it’s just a random question to start a conversation. It’s some kind of of Samsung with some letters and numbers after it for the model number, I don’t know. My fridge is also a Samsung but it’s not like I pay attention to the model number. It came with the apartment.

Is there something I’m missing?

They can be. A fridge stays in your house but a phone is with you when out and about

I also take my keys with me, but they aren’t a status symbol. I don’t really see why phones would be.

I have family and friends in rural Kansas who still think of them as status symbols. They tend to be less affluent, so I think to them having a $1k iPhone is kind of a big deal. Cars and clothes still seem to be the bigger status symbols for them but phones matter.

They don’t talk as much about homes as status symbols, and the ratio of (home value) to (car or truck purchase price) blows me away. It’s like 2:1.

Because they are expensive and on display frequently, so fancy phones are a form of wealth signalling, just like certain brands of clothing/purses/watches.

If you had a reason to continually pull out your car keys and twirl them in front of your coworkers, you might be able to turn them into a status symbol, too, since they are a proxy for the expensive car you drive.

I definitely remember them being more of one earlier this decade, but I have aged out of the demographic who gives a s***, but I don’t think that means people don’t care, just that I no longer do. The prices on flagship phones are ridiculous, particularly when they get replaced/become obsolete at current speeds.

The only reason I can think of for me to care about what type of phone someone else has is if I need to figure out whether or not their charging cord will work for me.


It was a lot bigger deal 10 years ago, but I’m sure there are still people who care.

With 5G rolling out . . . it’s likely to become a “status symbol” once again.

Not so much on the actual model (android vs. iOS) as whether or not it’s 5G capable.

Key fob people are definitely looking down their nose at those silly key-in-the-ignition people.

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I also don’t get why airpods are a considered a status symbol when they are cheap by headphone standards. $150 is like entry level.

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Huh what

That’s why I’m confused, because they aren’t expensive. Like a basic house costs at least a few hundred thousand dollars, so how on earth could a $1,000 phone be considered a status symbol? Like even if you live in podunk Ohio a house will cost 50x more than a new phone.

I’ve never had anyone ask me about my phone. And I don’t know how I’d tell what type of phone someone has by looking at it. 0 credibility associated with it for me.
Unless you bring it up as being an expensive phone. Then I’d likely think you’re one of those people that care about things that are meaningless.

I’ve got a sub$300 chinese android knockoff that’s as good as anything else out there. Impressed?

$1000 isn’t expensive? That’s more than two weeks’ salary for a lot of people, mayber even a couple months after you take out health insurance and rent. I’m trying to think of the last time I spent more than that on anything that wasn’t directly related to maintaining my car or home (e.g. couch, pool liner).

I get that they’re more expensive than other model of phones, but just given how expensive other things in life are (school, housing, healthcare), they just seem like a small fraction compared to daily life necessities.

You’re new here.
Welcome to Earth.


Yup. Stop nerding up the planet and YOLO. I don’t care about the NPV of your Honda Civic when I could be driving a sweet-ass F250 TODAY. You have a sweet 401k balance? I have an iPhone 12 and some sweet sneakers, bro. Good luck in the bar this weekend talking about how you optimized your tax strategy.

If you really want to understand this, here’s what you do. Hop on a flight to Tulsa, rent a car. Drive 50 miles in any direction and hang out there for a month. I’ll meet you there, and the first 30-pack of Busch Light is on me. Suggest a large belt buckle if you want to blend in.

Phones used to be an important status symbol. Especially when cell phones first hit the market and we’re a luxury item. I even read a scholarly paper about how men hanging out at bars took them out of their pockets just to make them visible, presumably in an attempt to interest women. (Women were as likely sad men to have cell phones, but much less likely to reveal them.)

Now that you can buy a $50 phone that does basic stuff, and a $300 phone that’s very powerful, i don’t think they are as important as status symbols. But I’m pretty far removed from the bar/dating scene, so maybe I’m wrong.

You better be able to prove that you earned that belt buckle, too!