Comparing a phone to a plunger is silly, and makes me question the cognitive abilities of the person making the analogy.
Everything is a trade off. My car is so complex I can't begin to figure out how to fix it, but I do have a diagnostic tool on my iPad that I could not possible afford 10 years ago. My watch, and iPod Mini, is obsolete but it still tells me the time. As long as that is all I want it do it is fine. I used my 3GS over the summer as a roaming phone. Slip a sim card in it and I was good to go. As long as I wanted it as a phone, I was good to go.
Yes, you can't take stuff apart. OTOH I was one of the few people I knew that actually soldered computers to repair them, rather than just plug and play with a new board. Yes, some phones are not upgradable to current software, but many consumers seen to happy to make that choice to have a cheaper phone or a phone with other features. I can even see the current situation where you pay per page for ink is an option that many people would prefer.
Certainly there is a loss when we do not have a choice, but I think in many cases we still have a choice, it is just that we do not want to pay the real or opportunity costs for that choice.