## Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

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Topic Author
R2D2
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### Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

I have an old iPhone 6 and I need to upgrade. I can get an XR with 128GB for \$649 or an 11 for \$749 (same storage).

Now I'm not really asking "is it worth the extra \$100 for the 11?", but rather: If I didn't care about the difference between the XR and the 11, would it be worth the extra \$100 anyway? If that sounds silly, consider that the newer model will be supported for longer, it will probably be usable for longer, and the trade-in value will be higher when the time comes to upgrade.

For instance, if I were trading in a 7 instead of a 6, the trade-in value would be \$150 instead of \$60. How much more would it have cost me to get a 7 instead of a 6? I don't remember but it may have only been around \$100.

So maybe it's silly to try to buy anything but the 11.

Has anyone done the math on this or have a good rule of thumb?

[And while we're at it, maybe the right play is instead to spend the extra \$100 on getting 256GM instead of 128GB. I'll hear any opinions on that too!]

mmmodem
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

The math is simple. Assume a 4 year amortization schedule, given you have a 4 year old iPhone 6. I also assume you are upgrading even though the 6 works fine but you want to be on a supported iOS release. The 11 thus has an estimated 4 year usage and the Xr has a 3 year lifetime usage.

\$749/4 = \$187.25 per year for an 11
\$649/3 = \$216.34 per year for a Xr

<edit> It's actually 5 and 4 years. Conclusion remains the same though.
\$749/5 = \$149.80
\$649/4 = \$162.25

That's how I look at it and it almost always favor buying the current phone from Apple. If you're buying used, and get more a deal, then it makes sense. Even if you intend to keep the Xr for one more to the same four years. The 11 may be worth \$25 to \$50 in value used after 4 years than a Xr. That makes it some \$50- \$75 for the, let's be brutal here and say, very small modest upgrades. Seems worth it to me.

I always get the lowest capacity phone you can tolerate because you lose lots of value in the used market. If you're doing a trade-in promotion, there is no difference trading in a 16 GB or 128 GB model. You get zero value back.
Last edited by mmmodem on Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HomeStretch
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

+1. I always buy the current model for the same reasons. The extra year of usage with current iOS support and higher trade-in value make up for the difference in the upfront pricing (usually).

petulant
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

As with cars, if you care about the depreciation and after-market value, the best bet is to get something from about three years ago for \$250-300 in the used market and keep for 2-3 years. I am depreciating about \$100 per year.

Topic Author
R2D2
Posts: 315
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

mmmodem wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:44 am
I always get the lowest capacity phone you can tolerate because you lose lots of value in the used market. If you're doing a trade-in promotion, there is no difference trading in a 16 GB or 128 GB model. You get zero value back.
Great replies. Thanks everyone for your help. I think I might go with the 11.

So for capacity, the question really becomes how much value you personally get from the extra RAM. Is the extra 128GB worth another \$100 in your opinion (using your assumption that its trade-in value is zero)?

HomeStretch
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:28 am
So for capacity, the question really becomes how much value you personally get from the extra RAM. Is the extra 128GB worth another \$100 in your opinion (using your assumption that its trade-in value is zero)?
The amount of GB used on your current phone is a good way to assess how much you need for a new phone.

I used to need a lot more mainly due to photos, music and audiobooks downloaded on phone. With cloud storage and music streaming services, not as much is needed now.,

Topic Author
R2D2
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

HomeStretch wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:37 am
R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:28 am
So for capacity, the question really becomes how much value you personally get from the extra RAM. Is the extra 128GB worth another \$100 in your opinion (using your assumption that its trade-in value is zero)?
The amount of GB used on your current phone is a good way to assess how much you need for a new phone.

I used to need a lot more mainly due to photos, music and audiobooks downloaded on phone. With cloud storage and music streaming services, not as much is needed now.,
Ok. I have 64GB and I'm running out. I figure I'll end up using more on my new phone, so maybe 128GB is the right number. If I switch to unlimited data, then maybe streaming services will alleviate some of the need for storage.

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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

petulant wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:21 am
As with cars, if you care about the depreciation and after-market value, the best bet is to get something from about three years ago for \$250-300 in the used market and keep for 2-3 years. I am depreciating about \$100 per year.
Except that this product is very technology-dependent, so that doesn't hold here.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Stinky
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:28 am

So for capacity, the question really becomes how much value you personally get from the extra RAM. Is the extra 128GB worth another \$100 in your opinion (using your assumption that its trade-in value is zero)?
I buy iPhone capacity based upon my needs, and no more.

I have a one-year-old phone with 128GB, and still have 81GB available. I will not take enough pictures, etc. to use up the 81GB while I have the phone, so there's no sense in buying a 256GB phone.

However, if I was currently at 120GB, I should have bought the larger phone, because I will likely run out of storage before my four-year lifetime is over.
It's a GREAT day to be alive - Travis Tritt

nisiprius
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

It's more complicated than that, because many manufacturers--Apple in particular--have clever ways of gradually reducing the effective price of a newly-introduced product. In addition to outright price cuts, they will often create attractive bundle deals--for example, keeping the "from \$xxx" price the same, but cutting the price of extra memory, or bundling in things that you might really have bought separately. In addition to "one generation behind" there is also the question of "how soon to buy the current generation?" This is particularly true when you consider production problems and defects in newly-introduced products. Six months or a year later, they have them ironed out... and if you do get a bum one, the chances that they have available product to make an exchange is higher. In short, a new product is (in my opinion) often a better product six months after introduction.

You also have to figure in the "version skew effect." My previous (cheap Android phone) was perfectly satisfactory in every way except that an important app that I really needed announced that an update was required... and the update required a version of the OS that was not available for my phone. The older the phone, the shorter the time before you run into this sort of thing.

Of course, there is also a front-end version skew effect, in which established apps have glitches or worse during the first months of new-product life.

It really comes down to intangibles, such as the actual value of the new features (a better camera is worth more to someone who uses the camera a lot). And, of course, if there is value to you in having the latest just to impress your friends, that's entirely your business and nobody can say nay.

Meanwhile, I recall that when the iPhone was introduced, Steve Jobs said "people ask, what is the killer app for smartphones? And we think the killer app is... 'making calls.'"
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

HomeStretch
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:39 am
Ok. I have 64GB and I'm running out. I figure I'll end up using more on my new phone, so maybe 128GB is the right number. If I switch to unlimited data, then maybe streaming services will alleviate some of the need for storage.
From Apple’s website it looks like there is a \$50 difference for the 11 with 64GB and 128GB. It’s worth it IMO if you are running out of storage on your 64GB to spend the \$50 for the 128GB especially if you keep the phone 4-5 years.

When/if you back up your phone with iTunes, you can see what is using up your storage by type (i.e., photos, music/books, etc.).

petulant
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:44 am
petulant wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:21 am
As with cars, if you care about the depreciation and after-market value, the best bet is to get something from about three years ago for \$250-300 in the used market and keep for 2-3 years. I am depreciating about \$100 per year.
Except that this product is very technology-dependent, so that doesn't hold here.
It really just depends what you care about.

Watty
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:23 am
Now I'm not really asking "is it worth the extra \$100 for the 11?", but rather: If I didn't care about the difference between the XR and the 11, would it be worth the extra \$100 anyway? If that sounds silly, consider that the newer model will be supported for longer, it will probably be usable for longer, and the trade-in value will be higher when the time comes to upgrade.
One downside of buying a new model is that there will sometimes be problems that don't show up until the product has been out for a while, and Apple has had their share of those.

zlandar
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Depends on the generation. The current 2019 is a minor upgrade with the biggest improvement on the camera. \$100 is a meh price difference to me and I would opt for the newer iphone.

The 2020 iphone is supposed to be a major model revision. That is when I plan to upgrade from my iphone 7 plus.

SmallCityDave
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

This thread is very much a sign of the times and what we value.

I consider myself fairly tech savvy and I like new shiny things as long as they have some redeeming value but I was really stumped when my 15 year old son asked what the difference was between his iphone se and the newest iphone 11 pro, I told him screen size, processor, better camera(s), battery life... he then asked what the new phone could do that his phone couldn't (in real world application that he would want/need) I was stumped.

I recently upgraded my iphone se to my "new" refurbished iphone 6s for \$25.

Momus
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Never buy iPhone coz I hate mediocre device.

GerryL
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

SmallCityDave wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:12 am
This thread is very much a sign of the times and what we value.

I consider myself fairly tech savvy and I like new shiny things as long as they have some redeeming value but I was really stumped when my 15 year old son asked what the difference was between his iphone se and the newest iphone 11 pro, I told him screen size, processor, better camera(s), battery life... he then asked what the new phone could do that his phone couldn't (in real world application that he would want/need) I was stumped.

I recently upgraded my iphone se to my "new" refurbished iphone 6s for \$25.
I recently upgraded my 5c to a 7 through Consumer Cellular. I could have continued with the 5c but I figured I could keep my European sim in the 5c and use it as my travel phone. So I use the 5c at home as an iPod Touch and an easy-to-find SIM card case.

RootSki
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

mmmodem wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:44 am
The math is simple. Assume a 4 year amortization schedule, given you have a 4 year old iPhone 6. I also assume you are upgrading even though the 6 works fine but you want to be on a supported iOS release. The 11 thus has an estimated 4 year usage and the Xr has a 3 year lifetime usage.

\$749/4 = \$187.25 per year for an 11
\$649/3 = \$216.34 per year for a Xr

That's how I look at it and it almost always favor buying the current phone from Apple. If you're buying used, and get more a deal, then it makes sense. Even if you intend to keep the Xr for one more to the same four years. The 11 may be worth \$25 to \$50 in value used after 4 years than a Xr. That makes it some \$50- \$75 for the, let's be brutal here and say, very small modest upgrades. Seems worth it to me.

I always get the lowest capacity phone you can tolerate because you lose lots of value in the used market. If you're doing a trade-in promotion, there is no difference trading in a 16 GB or 128 GB model. You get zero value back.
Great analysis. I also go with the lowest physical memory since I have unlimited data. I use the offload app function to save space on little used apps and 200GB iCloud storage.

Topic Author
R2D2
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

While we're on the topic, does anyone think it's better to hold off on upgrading now and just waiting until 2020 for the new iPhones (which are supposed to be much better)?

Or is it worth waiting for Black Friday? (Do iPhones go on sale on Black Friday?)

mmmodem
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:36 pm
While we're on the topic, does anyone think it's better to hold off on upgrading now and just waiting until 2020 for the new iPhones (which are supposed to be much better)?

Or is it worth waiting for Black Friday? (Do iPhones go on sale on Black Friday?)
As mentioned above, if you have an SE (or 6s) the upgrade would not be very meaningful as your phone is still on a supported iOS. There's little that the 11 can do that those two phones and newer cannot. It'll just do the same things slower or with less quality. iPhone 6 and lower, I would upgrade. I'm less concerned with not supporting iOS 13. I'm more concerned about having only 1 gb of RAM vs 2+ in newer devices. I have an iPhone 6+ and and iPad Air with only 1 gb of RAM and they are just slogging through Netflix, YouTube, and especially web browsing. It's not just slightly slower, it's irritatingly sluggish. The internet is waiting for my phone and tablet to load and not the other way around.

Apple seems to have moved up from a 2 year to a 3 year major iPhone cycle change starting with the 6, 6s, & 7 and now with the X, Xs, and 11 Pro. Are we not upgrading as often because there are few changes or Apple is making fewer changes due to us holding onto phones longer?

Occasionally. there are deals on iPhones all the up to New Year's. They are usually no better than what you can get when the phone first comes out in Sept.

andypanda
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

I bought my wife an iPhone 11 today. Her iPhone 5c has been struggling since we started dating 5 years ago.

<Insert long story about getting her Verizon account merged/moved to mine.>

I bought an iPhone 11 for me while I was at it to replace my 6s. I paid cash for it and am paying these off. They gave me \$100 for the 6s and I figured I'll need to learn the 11 to be able to show her how it works, etc. She's smart about most things, but not phones and computers. She doesn't like them.

Two phones are a lot cheaper than a divorce.

Momus
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:36 pm
While we're on the topic, does anyone think it's better to hold off on upgrading now and just waiting until 2020 for the new iPhones (which are supposed to be much better)?

Or is it worth waiting for Black Friday? (Do iPhones go on sale on Black Friday?)
iPhone upgrades in 3 yr cycles before a major upgrade to keep sheep coming back and buy their product yearly.
Yes, wait for 12 to come out. 11 is still a crappy phone.

hightower
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Lol one generation behind...I just upgraded from an iPhone 7 to an iPhone 11 and I felt like I was wasting money on something I didn’t really need. But, my battery was becoming annoyingly bad having to charge it a couple times per day. So I finally broke down and bought a new one. I guess if I get 4-5 years out of it like the last one, it’s not a bad buy.

Northern Flicker
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:36 pm
While we're on the topic, does anyone think it's better to hold off on upgrading now and just waiting until 2020 for the new iPhones (which are supposed to be much better)?

Or is it worth waiting for Black Friday? (Do iPhones go on sale on Black Friday?)
That begs the question: why do you need to upgrade now?
Risk is not a guarantor of return.

abuss368
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Just purchased an iPhone XR for \$600 last week and love it.
John C. Bogle: "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

MotoTrojan
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

I went for the 8 and saved even more. XR’s battery life is appealing but I wanted Touch ID, not Face.

JeffAL
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Upgrade for the camera quality. That's the killer feature. If you don't care about that, buy older generation.

anoop
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

mmmodem wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:44 am
The math is simple. Assume a 4 year amortization schedule, given you have a 4 year old iPhone 6. I also assume you are upgrading even though the 6 works fine but you want to be on a supported iOS release. The 11 thus has an estimated 4 year usage and the Xr has a 3 year lifetime usage.

\$749/4 = \$187.25 per year for an 11
\$649/3 = \$216.34 per year for a Xr

That's how I look at it and it almost always favor buying the current phone from Apple. If you're buying used, and get more a deal, then it makes sense. Even if you intend to keep the Xr for one more to the same four years. The 11 may be worth \$25 to \$50 in value used after 4 years than a Xr. That makes it some \$50- \$75 for the, let's be brutal here and say, very small modest upgrades. Seems worth it to me.

I always get the lowest capacity phone you can tolerate because you lose lots of value in the used market. If you're doing a trade-in promotion, there is no difference trading in a 16 GB or 128 GB model. You get zero value back.
iPhone 6 is 5 years old. Also, there are rumors that Apple will support the newer devices for longer because they have more memory. iPhone 6 had only 1 GB of RAM and the next ones (6S, SE) had 2 GB. Recently released (today!) macOS Catalina is supported on devices going back to 2012.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210222

After seeing absolutely insane medical bills, I don't recommending fretting over \$100 for electronics which will be heavily used. I still have an SE, but that is because I like the form factor. Otherwise, I would have upgraded every year to the latest phone just for a better camera. Regarding choosing between the XR and the 11, I would not buy an XR now because the camera & image processing it offers is very much inferior to the 11, and the 11 has better battery life and weighs the same. It's a no brainer.

If I had to buy an iPhone today, I would get the 8 because of the form factor. There are rumors there will be an "SE 2" which is an 8 with updated internals early next year.
Last edited by anoop on Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

dodecahedron
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:45 am
You also have to figure in the "version skew effect." My previous (cheap Android phone) was perfectly satisfactory in every way except that an important app that I really needed announced that an update was required... and the update required a version of the OS that was not available for my phone.
Inquiring minds are wondering what this ¨important app¨ that you really needed is?

I seem to be getting along quite well with my cheap Android phone. I have not noticed any killer apps that I felt I had to have that would require an iPhone.

jjface
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

The value isn't in buying the older models new but buying them used. You can get the new iphone 11 for \$749 or a mint used XR for \$450. Then the math changes vs the new xr.

If you don't like used then buy the latest. Apple overcharges for older models. If you hold onto it for 4+ years might as well get the one you want.

But really if you see little difference between the xr and the 11 you might as well get a 7 or 8 and save your money.

jjface
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:37 am
nisiprius wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:45 am
You also have to figure in the "version skew effect." My previous (cheap Android phone) was perfectly satisfactory in every way except that an important app that I really needed announced that an update was required... and the update required a version of the OS that was not available for my phone.
Inquiring minds are wondering what this ¨important app¨ that you really needed is?

I seem to be getting along quite well with my cheap Android phone. I have not noticed any killer apps that I felt I had to have that would require an iPhone.
You can buy a google pixel 1 for less than \$100 and have a camera that trades blows with the latest iphones still. Runs the latest android 10. It is 3 years old but google are still updating it even though it past its guaranteed update schedule. Most people don't need the latest version of android anyway. It is the security updates that matter.

Phones like the pixel 3a for \$349 put iphones to shame. But yes some people need or want ios I guess. In the us something about green and blue bubbles.

sunny_socal
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

"Trade-in" on a phone? There really is such a thing? I guess iphone users will go to any length to justify the new model number. No need to post about it here, just get the new one already!

Best Value: Last Year's Android Phone

bloom2708
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

Spend the extra \$100. Get the 11.

Then skip one meal dining out while skipping all the fat, sugar, salt and alcohol. \$100 saved.

“People don’t want advice, they want confirmation.” Unknown

andypanda
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

""Trade-in" on a phone? There really is such a thing?"

I got \$100 for my 6s yesterday, and it didn't have top-of-the-line memory either. And the battery was down to holding 81% on a good day.

They wouldn't give me anything at all for the 5c my wife bought in late 2013. A 5c? We weren't dating or married back then.

I thought about cheaping out on XRs or one of the older models, but I've stocked up on \$650 fishing rods and \$500 reels and too many lures and why did I work and save from 1965 to 2012 anyway, etc. She's retiring the end of this month and that will add another pension and then full SSA retirement in 18 months. I really need to stop saving and start drawing down. Old habits, etc.

UALflyer
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

sunny_socal wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:58 am
Best Value: Last Year's Android Phone
I am totally OS agnostic, have used plenty of Android phones as well as iphones, and tend to think that these decisions tend to be very personal.

Having said that, one of many reasons that Android phones depreciate much faster than iphones is because Android phones tend to only receive OS updates for 2-3 years, whereas iphones tend to be fully supported for 5 years or so. So, while last year's Android phones would certainly be cheaper, when you factor in its much shorter support window, a lot of people would disagree with your statement that it represents the "best value."

Further, in terms of usability, Android phones tend not to age as gracefully, so you'll tend to experience a lot more lagging with older Android phones than you will iphones. There are, of course, other things that Android offers that iOS doesn't, so it's not even close to iOS being a clear winner, but you can't just look at the lower initial price of an Android phone and decide that it necessarily represents the best value.

UALflyer
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

R2D2 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:36 pm
While we're on the topic, does anyone think it's better to hold off on upgrading now and just waiting until 2020 for the new iPhones (which are supposed to be much better)?
This year's iphones represent a smaller than usual improvement over the '18 versions, which is also the reason that Apple has cut the price of the iPhone 11. The only meaningful improvements that the '19 iphones offer are to their cameras. The battery life of the '19 iphones is also better, but those are only meaningful for the 11Pro and the 11 Pro Max versions. The battery life of the XR was already quite impressive, so the battery improvement seen in the 11 is unlikely to make a practical difference to people (vis a vis the battery life in the XR).

This is the reason that the demand for the '19 iphones is expected to be fairly subdued and their depreciation is expected to be higher than usual, as all the substantial and meaningful improvements are expected to be introduced in the '20 iphones. This is also the reason that most independent reviewers advise people who don't have to upgrade this year to wait. The problem for you, however, is the fact that your iPhone 6 can no longer receive iOS updates. If you do anything on it that would benefit from the latest iOS and security updates (banking, etc...), then I think that you are probably in the group of people who should very seriously consider upgrading your phone this year.

mmmodem
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### Re: Economics of upgrading to latest iPhone vs one generation behind

anoop wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:29 am
iPhone 6 is 5 years old. Also, there are rumors that Apple will support the newer devices for longer because they have more memory. iPhone 6 had only 1 GB of RAM and the next ones (6S, SE) had 2 GB. Recently released (today!) macOS Catalina is supported on devices going back to 2012.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210222
My mistake, I had my wife's iPhone 6s in mind which is at 4 years old and I really have an itch to upgrade now. I completely agree that the 1 GB of RAM is really holding back older devices.