It's not too bad
I upgraded to an iPhone Xr - from a 4S.
Yes, I used it for almost 6 years (got it for free from the carrier back then, before the 5 came out - they obviously had lots of stock...), mostly because I had hoped for an SE-successor (hasn't materialized, yet).
I sort of miss using the headphone jack and charging at the same time - but battery life of the Xr is so much greater than on the ancient 4S, that it never mattered so far.
Yes, it's big, difficult to carry and if it slips to the ground, it's most likely to break (that was already true for the 4S, though, and it worked out fine - at a much cheaper price-point...)
I don't think anybody at Apple hopes that you upgrade yearly. They do have the "iPhone-subscription" - but I don't think they meant this to be the standard way for everybody. Some people like to do that and I guess if you sell your old one at the year-mark, it's not too bad financially.
Yes, Apple makes a giant profit on any given iPhone - but at the same time, they (try to) make sure that their contractors' employees get paid slightly above standard, don't work themselves to death in a short time, aren't sexually exploited, that their raw-materials' suppliers don't exploit kids, that they actually know their full supply chain (I don't think you can say that of many manufacturers of even much simpler goods) and that everybody in their supply chain follows local laws - and all on 100% renewable energy.
If you think any of Apple's competitors also do that and even more and can produce cheaper phones at the same time - then I'd really like to see it.
There's also the fact that, like all big Chinese corporations, this one too is, to a certain degree, state-driven - how much that is the case is unclear. But to deny that would be ridiculous.
And I don't think that politically, China should be a model for anything right now.
It reminds me a bit of a "tamer" version of 1930's Germany. Less blatantly racist, a bit less expansionistic, similarly corrupt but technologically quite advanced and with a "strong" leadership.
As long as one could overlook the first too bits, a lot of people outside of Germany in the 30s really looked at it as some kind of model (which it wasn't, of course, just as I think China isn't really a model, unless you think our achievements of the last 150 years in democracy and pluralism are pretty much worthless).