It’s official: Theand have arrived.
No, thanks. Despite Apple’s usual generous helping of hyperbole, I have every intention of keeping my current iPhone.
Of course, if you have a pre-2014 iPhone — something like the 5S or earlier —will get you a bigger screen, much faster processor, 3D Touch screen and a host of other worthy upgrades that you’ll actually “feel.”
But if you have an iPhone 6, 6S, or Plus model, many of the advantages are less clear. Yes, the— but many of Apple’s other upsells are as less tangible. Here’s why I’m sticking with my current iPhone for now.
1. It has a good old-fashioned headphone jack
My current iPhone has a headphone jack, meaning: I don’t have to use an adapter or replace my headphones to listen to music. It’s a little luxury I’m not eager to give up.
Plus, show of hands: Who’s had a Lightning cable fail on them? One day it supplies power just fine; the next, nothing. This is a huge problem with cheap cables, but I’ve also encountered issues with the MFi-certified variety. (Frankly, I’m not sure why there’s not more outcry about this.)
This doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in Lightning as an audio delivery system. I can just imagine the crushing disappointment of plugging in a pair of headphones and…nothing.
Of course this is just speculation on my part. And, indeed, if you’re excited by the prospect of true digital-audio delivery from your iPhone to your ears…
2. You don’t need an iPhone 7 to use Lightning headphones
Lightning-compatible headphones will work with any Lightning jack, not just those on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. In fact, here’s a list of Lightning-compatible headphones you can buy right now. Needless to say, we’ll see a lot more in the weeks and months to come. But don’t buy a new iPhone just for that purpose; your current model will support Lightning headphones and earphones just fine.
In the meantime, like the idea of those AirPods? Guess what:
3. You don’t need an iPhone 7 to use wireless headphones
I’ll admit it: Apple’s new AirPods are pretty cool. And if you want that exact product, you will indeed need an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, because that’s where you’ll find the new wireless chip (the W1) that drives the AirPods.
However, fully wireless earbuds are nothing new, and if you don’t mind settling for regular old Bluetooth, you can get a wireless experience right now, on any iPhone.
In fact, it was barely a week ago that I shared this deal on my Cheapskate blog: waterproof wireless earbuds for about $60. They have a 5-hour battery life and they’re IPX7-rated waterproof and sweatproof as well.
4. You can still run iOS 10
Okay, really old iPhones may have trouble with Apple’s latest operating system, but iOS 10 is compatible with the iPhone 5 and later. So the vast majority of those shiny new features aren’t exclusive to iPhone 7. Indeed, you’ll be able to get them on September 13 along with everybody else.
5. You don’t need a new camera for depth-of-field and bokeh effects
Another year, another round of iPhone camera improvements. Apple spent a good chunk of time touting the fancy depth-of-field and bokeh effects offered by the iPhone 7 Plus. But guess what? You can achieve similar effects via a variety of apps and filters. Not in real time, that’s true, but is that really necessary?
Bokeh Lens, for example, is a 99-cent app that lets you easily blur the background. First you trace the subject in the foreground, then you just drag and slider until you get the desired amount of blur. Tap and hold the Compare button to quickly see the before-and-after versions. Even Instagram’s Tilt Shift filter accomplishes much the same thing, though with a bit less precision.
6. Your screen is bright enough
At least, mine is. Have you ever, even once, said to yourself, “Gosh, this screen is too dim”? Probably not, because previous- and current-generation iPhones have had perfectly bright screens, even when viewed outdoors. Raising brightness 25 percent seems like a great way to reduce battery life. Speaking of which…
7. You don’t need a slightly bigger battery to improve battery life
Apple promises that iPhone 7 owners will enjoy up to 2 hours more battery life over the iPhone 6S, while iPhone 7 Plus owners will get maybe an hour. I’m certainly not one to turn his nose up at fewer trips to the charger, but those numbers are hardly incentive to splurge on a new iPhone.
In fact, you can boost your current battery life by up to 15 percent by making this simple change. And don’t forget the old standby power-saving tips, like turning off push email, dropping screen brightness to around 50 percent and disabling location services for apps that shouldn’t be using them.
8. Performance: So what?
Every time there’s a new iPhone, Phil Schiller gushes about the faster-than-ever new chip. But guess what? My current iPhone isn’t slow. Apps load in a second. The camera is ready in a second. Video plays silky-smooth. Search results appear instantaneously.
So unless you’re playing ultra-high-end games, the iPhone 7’s faster processor is much ado about nothing.
9. Duh: It’s paid for
Last, but certainly not least, your current iPhone is probably paid for. Unless you’re on an installment plan that includes upgrades along the way, the new iPhone will cost you. And cost you big: As usual, the starting price is $649/£599/AU$1,079, and it rises sharply from there.
Now, the flip side to all of this: An iPhone 7 nets you a fresh, brand-new battery, a waterproof casing, optical image stabilization (and optical zoom if you go for the 7 Plus) and compatibility with the admittedly cool AirPods. Good stuff.
But is all that enough to warrant an upgrade? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.