The Apple iPhone has a fairly predictable cycle at this point: the initial “next generation” device, followed by an improved variant of the same device, marked simply by an ‘S’ at the end of the device’s name. The iPhone 3G followed by the 3GS; the iPhone 4 followed by the 4S; the iPhone 5 followed by the 5S; that brings us to now with the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus). Presumably, we’ll be seeing an iPhone 6S (and perhaps 6S Plus) in September of this year.
And there is where you have the great debate for many people who find themselves eligible or on the hunt for a new phone around this time: Do you go with the phone that came out 6 (or at this point, 7) months ago? Or do you wait another half a year for the improved version?
For me, the better options has always been to wait for the ‘S’ whenever I’m in the market for a new iPhone. At this point, even if you’re planning on getting the original over the updated version, it’s still not a bad idea to wait the few extra months (if you can) for the new iPhone to come out.
Apple likes to introduce new design and new specs in the initial version, which is great for a big overall change. However, Apple likes to wait to put out their very best for specs with the second generation of any given device while keeping the same design. You already know what the phone looks like, but you’ll have the “best” version of the phone.
You also get a $100 price drop in the previous year’s model, so if shiny new specs mean nothing to you then you can at least come out $100 richer than you would have if you purchased the device prematurely. It’s not like the iPhone 6 is a bad phone at this point, and it still won’t be a “bad” phone when the next generation comes out, either; the only thing better than getting a good high performance phone is getting it with a $100 discount.
I’m currently at this crossroads between iPhones, and as a current owner of an iPhone 5S, I’m not sure that the 6 is worth it for me. The screen might be bigger and the specs might be better, but my 5s is still performing quite well in my opinion; the longevity of Apple phones are part of the reason that I like the platform so much. I also still think that the 4-inch screen on the 5s is optimal for one-handed use.
For anybody considering the switch to the iPhone, now is still a great time to buy the iPhone 6. For the next 5 months, you’re still using the latest and greatest from Apple. Nobody has a better iPhone than you.
I realize that there is a very real possibility that the iPhone 6 and 6S are my last two shots at an iPhone with less than a 5-inch display. I want to say that I don’t think Apple would make the iPhone any bigger, but I previously thought they wouldn’t have gone any bigger from a 4-inch display either. The reality of smartphone trends today focuses around larger screens, so until that trend dies (if it dies) then the possibility of Apple doing what it needs to do to properly compete is very real.
Between the options of having the (current) best operating system, waiting for $100 savings or the upgraded specs, I think I’m going to have to go with the updated specs again if I end up getting another iPhone. I love saving money, but because of the direction the sizes of smartphones are still heading in (although I’m glad flagships seem to be hovering around 5-inches these days and releasing a “plus” size instead of just getting bigger) the safer bet for me would be to go with a phone that will last me longer (performance-wise). I very well might not have that option once the iPhone 7 rolls around.
But that’s just me. iPhone users, when it comes to upgrading at this delicate halfway point, which do you prefer to do? Do you prefer to go ahead and buy last year’s model while it’s still the most relevant, or do you wait in anticipation that Apple will be consistent in releasing an improved "S" model in the near future?