The case for storing your old iPhone

June Wan/ZDNET

it’s season No, not the one with all the songs and decorations. This is the season of all the new goodies…new iPhones, that is. Every fall for more than a decade, we’ve marked the change of seasons with the annual migration (physical or virtual) of the trusty apple to Cupertino.

This year was no different. Apple has released the iPhone 14 series of phones. Compared to last year’s iPhone 13 series, Apple added two key safety features: car crash detection and emergency satellite distress call. That iPhone 14 and iPhone Plus have the same processor, screen resolution, storage and camera capabilities as the iPhone 13 series.

Likewise: Your Google Pixel also has car accident detection. How to set it up

That iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max do add some new goodies. There’s “Dynamic Island,” a UI hack that tries to find meaning for the notch where the front-facing camera peeks out from behind the screen. It’s well made and generally adds some value, but it’s certainly not a reason to buy a new iPhone. The pricier iPhone 14 models also add a 48-megapixel camera (which is a big deal for photographers) and upgrade the processor by another generation to the A16 Bionic, which offers a small speed boost.

Apple hasn’t upgraded the Lightning connection to USB-C, meaning uploads from the iPhone 14 series, including the Pro with those very large image and video files, remain slower than necessary.

Likewise: iPhone 14 Pro: Huge new camera sensor, same slow data transfer via Lightning cable

Apple gives and Apple takes away. This year’s Apple taketh is the ability to use physical SIM cards. All iPhone 14 models only use eSIM internal SIM implementations, which has its ups and downs.

I keep my old cell phone

My daily driver is now a two generation old refurbished iPhone 12 Pro Max and I’m keeping it. I have no plans to buy an iPhone 14 Pro Max (that would be the model I would switch to if I cared enough). There’s nothing in either the 13 or 14 series that rocks my world enough for me to shell out the big bucks for a replacement. Plus, switching eSIM is so hassle that almost always involves a few calls to the cell phone provider that it’s just not worth it.

My wife, on the other hand, may still decide to upgrade to an iPhone 14. None of the iPhone 14’s new features (as they are) particularly intrigue her. But she’s running an iPhone 11 Pro with relatively little storage and 64GB. If the low storage configuration proves too troublesome sometime this year, she might decide to upgrade. But that won’t be due to the attractiveness of the new phones. It is mainly due to the under-configuration of their old phone.

Likewise: iPhone 14 Pro innovation scorecard: the hits and misses

Can’t wait to update calculus

Personally, when it comes to tech upgrades, I usually approach them with one of two mindsets. The first is what I call the “can’t wait” mentality. This is when I’ve been using a device for too long and it’s become too difficult. This can be due to insufficient memory, battery drain too often, something broken, or an issue with apps. “Can’t wait” occurs after waiting and desperately hoping for a new device to become available to fill some burning needs.

The second mindset is the “upgrade calculus” mindset. Right now I’m looking at the new device’s features to see if any of them seem like something I really need. This often depends on how far behind you are with phone shares. For example, when I switched from my beloved 6s Plus to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, I saw huge improvements in almost everything. Also, the 6s Plus just stopped being supported by current iOS versions, which was good motivation for an upgrade.

But if you have an iPhone 13 and buy an iPhone 14, unless you’re stuck in a dead zone at the top of a mountain, you won’t see any improvement at all. These two models are almost identical.

Likewise: Most people don’t need Apple’s flashy new adventure technology. Here’s what we really need

The case for storing your older iPhone

I’ve talked about a number of reasons why I don’t upgrade, but let’s get back to you. Here are some reasons why you might want to stick with what you have. You might want to keep your older iPhone if…

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new device. While you can still buy a floor fitted iPhone SE for $429, the iPhone 14 models start at $799 and end at $1,599. That’s a lot of greenery to spend, especially in a near-recession year sinking under the weight of unprecedented inflation. Given how little the iPhone 14 adds, it might be wise to save your money (and your phone) for another year.

If the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus don’t add anything, your life will change. If you don’t climb mountains or travel outside of cellular range, the iPhone 14 is an iPhone 13 without a SIM card slot. There’s just nothing here that warrants an upgrade unless you’re coming from a much older model.

If your battery lasts. If your battery is holding up well, you may not need to upgrade. Even if your battery needs help, most of the time Apple battery replacements range from about $50 to about $70much less expensive than buying a new phone.

If you have enough RAM. If you have a lot of storage space, you might not feel pressured to find a better solution. With 256GB I have plenty of RAM in my phone and it’s holding up well. However, my wife decided to upgrade because she has way less RAM in hers.

If you don’t care about boasting. Some people like to show off that they have the latest technology. Maybe that’s because they had the money to get it, or because they think it makes them look cool, or just because they love the product. But if you don’t care, don’t spend it.

If you don’t need one for work-related reasons. Sometimes I buy the latest technology to write about, but when it comes to my phones and my computers (which are vital to my work and life), I wait until I’m damn sure the break is worth it .

When you travel abroad. That’s a tough one, because the satellite emergency feature is welcome insurance if something goes horribly wrong while hiking in the Alps. But eSIM exchange is quite problematic, especially if you are outside the country. Maybe you just want to stick with an older phone.

If you are using a non-mainstream provider and don’t want to switch. That’s the eSIM again. Not all carriers support them.

If you want to avoid the hassle of switching eSIMs. We’re hitting the eSIM drum again, but swapping eSIMs between phones will very likely require a visit to a carrier store or a few long and frustrating calls to your carrier’s support line.

If you are happy with the physical size of your phone. If you like the size of your phone, there might be no reason to buy a different phone, especially since you would probably buy the same size. This also applies to the iPhone 13 mini. Granted, it’s only about 1/4 inch smaller than the iPhone 14, but it’s still smaller. Your hands can feel the difference.

If you can still update iOS on your phone. If you have an iPhone 8 or later, you’re good. If you’re rocking a first-gen iPhone 7, 6s, SE or earlier, it’s time to buy a new phone.

Are you upgrading?

I see a pretty strong case for keeping an older iPhone and a generally weak case for upgrading – particularly from a newer iPhone 12 or iPhone 13. How about you? Are you upgrading? If yes why? Let us know in the comments below.


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