Which iPhone

apple-iphone-2017-lineup-screenshot-from-appledotcom

Which iPhone: a reader asks…

I have an iPhone 6s (on Verizon) and usually upgrade every other year. So I guess it’s time, but Apple’s announcement left me feeling confused. Should I get the iPhone 8 or the X? I make calls, do email, surf the web, and do a little social networking, but I don’t have or use a lot of apps on my phone. I don’t use an installment plan, just plan to buy the phone outright.

Hmm, this is truly a personal preference question, but have you considered a 3rd option? Just keep your current iPhone. Before I go into the pro’s and con’s of each of the new models, you might want to consider your needs and uses, and the reasons for upgrading (or not).

iphone8-image-from-appledotcom

Your iPhone is perfectly capable of running iOS 11 (which comes out today btw), and you have TouchID already on the smartphone to protect your use (and Apple Pay purchases). Unless you just have to have the latest and greatest, it might be best to stick with what you have for another year. If your battery is no longer lasting very long, you could consider taking it in to an Apple Store and having them replace the battery with a new one (cost you less than $80 and take about an hour). Yes you could save money by going to a 3rd party (such as kiosks in the shopping malls), but I think you’re best served by getting an Apple-certified replacement battery by Apple folks who will cover that under your Apple warranty.

While every new iPhone model that comes out has a faster processor and more functionality, a lot of the new functionality is baked into iOS, and your current iPhone will run that. Let’s take a quick look at the newest features of the iPhone 8 & X and you can decide if these features are important enough for you to plunk down a lot of cash on a new model.

First, there’s wireless charging. Both new models have this built-in, which will allow you to use a charging pad instead of having to plug in your lightning cable to charge the iPhone. 3rd party charging pads are available now, Apple is expected to make their own available early next year. The newest iPhones use the Qi standard for charging, so just about any charging pad on the market will work. As wireless charging becomes more common, you can expect to see wireless charging pads in lots of public places like airports and coffee shops so you can top off your battery while you wait for your flight or have a cuppa coffee.

iphone8-and-iphoneX-sidebyside

I should note that the iPhone won’t come with a wireless charging pad in the box, but both models will still have a lightning port so you can charge them the old-fashioned way. Unless you plan on going to wireless charging asap, the value of this feature is going to be low.
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Second, Apple claims that the new processor is a whole lot faster than the old, not just an incremental step faster. If you’re constantly waiting on your iPhone to do things, then the faster response might be nice. But if you are reasonably happy with the performance of your current iPhone, there’s no huge value in upgrading just for things to be a bit faster.

Third, you’re going to get a bit better water damage resistance from the new iPhones. Your current iPhone is splash-resistant, the iPhone 8 & X are water-resistant. That means the new ones (like the iPhone 7) could be accidentally dunked and not be harmed. But you wouldn’t take it into the pool with you, as it’s not rated as waterproof. Unless you’ve gotten too near water too often with your iPhone 6s, this probably isn’t a big issue for you.

Since you’re not going with the iPhone 8 Plus, the above is pretty much the most significant improvements over your current iPhone. The 8 Plus adds dual cameras and a new ‘portrait’ mode (that darkens the background for portrait pictures of people). That’s also in the new iPhone X by the way. If you go with the iPhone 8, you’re getting an incremental improvement on your current iPhone. I should mention that the iPhone 8 is probably going to be the last iPhone model that uses TouchID. Which leads me to…

iphoneX-image-from-appledotcom

The iPhone X has two big differences. First, the screen takes up nearly the whole face. Gone are the big bezels top and bottom and the small bezels left and right, the iPhone X’s face is nearly all screen. That means the Home button is gone too and that’s the second big difference. Apple has retired TouchID and moved the iPhone X to FaceID. This is nothing like the facial recognition you see on other smartphones, this is the real deal. It is orders of magnitude more secure than TouchID, although it may take a little getting used to. Different way of verifying you are you, and over time this is going to become the new way of bio metric verification as it gets copied and adopted by all the other manufacturers.

One other thing about the iPhone X is that it has the same photo portrait mode as the 8 Plus, the same optical image stabilization, and the screen size of the iPhone X is even larger than the screen size of the iPhone 8 Plus -but in nearly the same size package as the iPhone 8. A huge difference to many folks, and you’d get all the benefits of the iPhone 8 Plus (and more!) in nearly the same size package as your current iPhone. And you’ll be well-set for the future as all smartphones are going to be moving towards the full-screen/secure face recognition/wireless charging standard that Apple is setting in place now. Well, next month when you can pre-order the iPhone X…

So after you think about the above, your 3 choices are:

  1. Stick with your iPhone 6s (for another year perhaps longer)
  2. Get an iPhone 8 (probably the last model with TouchID)
  3. Get an iPhone X (most future-proof)
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It really is a personal decision based on your need for the new features, your pocketbook, and your willingness to give new technology (that might have a few bugs in it) a whirl before it becomes mainstream. If it was me, I’d either jump towards the future with the iPhone X, or stick with my current iPhone and let the early adopters work out the bugs, then buy the successor to the iPhone X next year.

There are currently 674 reader comments on my articles, care to join in? Use the Leave a Comment form below/at the bottom of any existing comments. This is a good place to ask follow-on questions on this subject.

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