19 "Upgrades" In Recent History That Were Actually Downgrades If You Really Think About It

Reddit user u/Popular-Recover8880 asked "What was the biggest downgrade in recent memory that was pitched like it was an upgrade?"

Screenshots from "Gossip Girl"
The CW

As I was reading the responses, I found myself nodding in agreement a lot. Here are some of the things people said were actually downgrades:

1."Touch screen buttons replacing physical buttons. Especially in cars."


Screenshot from "Do Revenge"

2."The change of some products, especially software, from a 'you buy it, you own it' to subscription-based models where you lose access once the subscription ends."


3."Customer loyalty cards being replaced with an app that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't when you're at the checkout."


4."The removal of disc drives in laptops. Sure, the laptop is thinner and lighter now, but I can't use any of my CDs or DVDs anymore."


Screenshot from "Sex and the City"

5."All these smart appliances. I don’t see the use of these washers and refrigerators with touch screens and internet connectivity. They have so many points of failure. Just give me a bare-bones fridge that will last longer than me."


6."Getting rid of headphone jacks on phones. Getting rid of external SD cards on phones. Getting rid of replaceable batteries on phones. Smartphones used to be a lot better in so many ways."


7."Definitely streaming services. We were all fooled by Netflix's initial success. It had nearly everything at a low price and was super convenient, so convenient in the fact that rental shops pretty much went out of business in a few years. But aside from those few years, it has ultimately become a huge loss for consumers. Other companies wised up, and everyone and their mother were starting a streaming service. Tons of movies stopped being available, and to have decent availability, you have to spend 50 bucks per month on streaming alone. Packages became more expensive overall, and tons of properties just fell into a dead zone where they're not available anywhere through legitimate means. Ads started appearing in paid plans, and now it's pretty much just cable TV again."

"In retrospect, rental stores were not that inconvenient. They were everywhere, and they had almost anything. They rarely didn't have a title at all, and, at least for me, the cost is more or less the same across the long term. Yeah if you were watching stuff constantly through rentals, it would be more expensive, but it's been years since Netflix had more than one thing per month I bother watching."


Screenshot from "Mean Girls"
Paramount Pictures

8."The use of QR codes at some restaurants instead of a physical menu."


9."Smart TVs with the streaming services built in. You're now tied to some system with a crappy remote that serves you with ads every time you turn on your TV, and will eventually stop receiving updates leaving that feature worthless."


10."Food delivery. Pre-pandemic (and pre-Just Eat and Uber Eats) restaurants and takeaways would routinely offer a free delivery if you order over a certain amount unless you were a fair distance away. And major pizza chains especially never charged for delivery if you were in their catchment areas. Now you need to pay increasingly large delivery fees no matter the distance."


A pizza delivery boy delivering a pizza
Columbia Pictures

11."Those tablets for leaving a tip that became popular post-COVID. I can't even buy a coffee without being requested to tip."


12."I hate that all three major consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo) now require you to pay for a subscription to play online."

"All the other features of PlayStation Plus are good enough for people to buy it, why would you force people to buy it for online gaming? That used to be free."


13."Wireless headphones. Bring back the plug-in ones. No batteries and they saved your phone when you dropped it."

Closeup of Jacob Gyllenhaal on a train
Searchlight Pictures

14."Customer service and communication with companies and general. Everything is now an app, a FAQ, or a robot. I've seen commercials presenting this as a good thing claiming it's so easy to get an answer to your questions; whereas, in reality if you don't have a standard question, you're screwed. And no one lists their phone number anymore. Most large companies are impossible to contact."


15."iPhones getting rid of Touch ID. It's faster than Face ID. It's easier to wave a stolen phone at your face than it is to drag your hand into position, and other brands have shown there was no practical need for it."

16."Pretty much every sale these days. They jack the prices up and then discount to the same price they were before."


A reduced tag on an item of clothing
Touchstone Pictures

17."Netflix ditching the star rating for a simple thumb-up/thumb-down system. I stumbled across so many awesome things to watch purely because the user rating was so high."


18."Open office plans. You have no privacy."


People working in an office

19."Pensions to 401Ks are a big one. 401Ks were meant to be additional to a pension and savings for retirement, but companies found that they could essentially remove themselves from the equation in the late 1970s by getting everyone to invest in 401Ks (the stock market) instead. It saved the companies tons of money, and most people who invest in 401Ks still don’t have enough to retire. Plus, it’s all based on stocks so it grows generally over time — but not always."


Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

What are other "upgrades" that are actually downgrades? Let us know in the comments!