Follow-Up: Why I'm Delighted I Held onto my iPhone 5 for One More Year

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

The Wait Is Over!

When the iPhone 6 was announced last year, I wrote a blog post detailing my plans to resist temptation and hang onto my trusty iPhone 5 until the 6S came out. That year has now passed, and the iPhone 6S is here. In re-reading that post, I realized just what a good thing it was that I waited. I'm upgrading my phone this year, and the only question now is: Plus or no Plus?


In last year's post, I said a few things that I'm surprised to see either proved accurate or were unwittingly good plans at the time. I'll take these in order:

if Apple sticks to the system it has used since the iPhone 3GS, next year will see an iPhone 6 with some amazing new feature that the 2014 model lacks. One year, Apple redesigns their iPhones completely, but the parts inside are similar to the previous generation. The next year, they keep that new design, but add a feature that last year's model didn't have and that everyone will want.

Did Apple ever deliver on that one! 3D Touch, huge upgrades to both cameras, a processor that appears to outpace the iPad Air 2 and rival the 2015 MacBook, and Touch ID that's twice as fast, to say nothing of the LTE/wifi boosts and other small changes. As "s" years go, 2015 is a real humdinger!

The 6S (for lack of a better name) will come along, with, I don't know, a tactile feedback touch screen or the ability to make me pancakes every morning. I'll almost definitely want whatever "killer feature" Apple puts into the 2015 iPhone update, but if I upgrade now [in 2014], I can't get it. If I wait, and keep using the same phone that has served me well for two years, I can upgrade next fall and have the latest phone…

Spot on! I threw out that "tactile feedback screen" bit because it was the first amazing feature that came to mind. Remember that the Apple Watch and Force Touch trackpads hadn't yet been announced, so to look back and see that my random thought was actually half right is pretty cool. Sadly, the 6S currently lacks the ability to prepare my breakfast, but maybe that's next year's feature.

I was correct in thinking that I'd really want the new feature; being able to "peek" into links, calendar events, locations, emails, and more is a very exciting ability I can't wait to get my fingers on. I'm also thrilled that the cameras got a boost--I'm hoping for even better OCR and, who knows, maybe I'll start doing a bit of blind photography.

This year [2014], had I updated, I could have gotten $200 for my iPhone 5 from Verizon, netting me a 16GB iPhone 6 with no out-of-pocket cost to me. Next year, will companies be so generous? Will I still get such a great deal trading a phone from 2012?

Turns out: yes, yes I will. My carrier, Verizon, is offering $100 for the 4 or 4S; $200 for the 5 or 5S; and $300 for the 6. Since I have my 5, plus an old 4 laying around, I'll be able to put $300 down on my shiny new 6S. Granted, this offer is only good through October 15, but it's there and I'm snagging it.

The idea that I could keep putting it off, always saying that next year's model is worth waiting for and thus never upgrading, is also a valid point. ... [but] I'm waiting for that world-changing addition in the next S year, the Siri or Touch ID that makes last year's design so much better than it was.

And here it is, in the form of the new cameras, amazing processor, and 3D Touch. All the reviews I've read so far praise those features above everything else, and had I gotten a 6--given my carrier and finances--I'd miss out on the 6S completely. Going from a 5 to a 6 would have been really good, but right about now I'd be looking at my 6 and wishing I'd waited. Instead, I'm looking at my 5 and counting the seconds until I can replace it with a Touch ID capable, Apple Pay supporting, 3D Touch beauty that can take amazing images and shoot 4K video. (No, I don't take video, but the point is that I could if I wanted to, and it'd look incredible.)

All the good sales (where good means the trade up is free or almost free) happen on the understanding that you lock yourself into a contract. I really want my contract to be with a 6S, instead of watching as Apple unveils a must-have feature I can't get until a year or more after it's released.

No worries there, because Verizon recently did away with contracts entirely. It's now a pay-as-you-go plan, and you can pay off your phone over the course of two years. Verizon takes a down payment on your new phone, subtracts that from the total (unlocked) cost, divides that number by twenty-four months, then tacks that amount onto your bill. The payments stop when you pay off your device, which you can do at any time if you want to. That means that I can upgrade whenever I like--money permitting--with no more concerns about contracts. My plan was still a sound one; I'd rather be in a contract with a 6S than a 6. However, contracts on my carrier aren't even a concern anymore, which is far better and something I never expected would happen.

Should I Supersize?

The only question facing me now is: do I go for the 4.7-inch 6S, which is only slightly larger than the phone I've been using for nearly three years, or do I go to the 5.5-inch monster known as the 6S Plus?

The reasons against going big are rather obvious. I carry my phone on my belt or, more often ever since my belt case got killed by an accident with a seatbelt buckle, in my pocket. The Plus isn't much wider than the 5 or 6/6S, but it's a good deal taller (or longer, however you think of it). That means it'll stick out more on my belt, or be more awkward to maneuver into or out of my pocket. Dealing with a phone that size while sitting is particularly troublesome, I imagine. Will I get used to it? Probably, but I can't help but wonder if, even after months of use, part of me will continue to resent the hugeness of the Plus. I'd hate to poison the relationship between my phone and me with such thoughts, and I know I'd never feel that way about the smaller device. Still, Maybe I won't resent anything, and will be more than happy to accommodate a meter-long phone considering all the benefits it offers (yes, I'm exaggerating the length). Or, if I go for the smaller 6S, I might spend years kicking myself for not getting the extra large size when I had the chance.

On the plus side (see what I did there?), there's a lot to love about a larger iPhone. The battery lasts far longer; there's more room for pages of a book, maps, webpages, etc; apps in landscape mode can offer special features like split screen in Mail or tabs in Safari; it's more comfortable to type braille on; and it looks better visually, for when sighted people borrow it. The Plus also includes optical image stabilization, which reduces shakiness when taking photos or video. I have no idea if that will make a substantial--or even noticeable--difference in OCR or any attempts I make at photography, but even if OIS isn't the reason I go for the Plus, it's sure a plus (these lame jokes just keep writing themselves).

Until Friday, Then

If the stars align correctly, I'll take possession of a 64GB iPhone 6S or 6S Plus on Friday, September 25. I'm thrilled that, in the year since I decided to await the arrival of the 6S series, my carrier has done away with contracts and Apple decided to add such great features to its latest phones. Waiting has really paid off, and my only problem now is figuring out whether I should spring for the Plus--and put up with its larger size for a few years--or save some money and space by getting the slightly-less-feature-rich 6S. I'll be carrying around a cardboard cutout of a Plus for a couple days to see how it would be to have the larger phone. Hopefully, by Friday, I'll have a better idea of what to do: supersize it or remain nonplussed. Whichever way I end up going, though, hanging onto my 5 for that extra year was the best call I could have made.

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Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A great post as usual. You always write very engaging posts. That's a great plus (I can make those jokes too) of this site. Question: Where can I go to see about iPhone trade-ins for other carriers than Verizon? Thanks.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

If you go to an Apple store to get your new phone, Apple also offers the recycling program. I have a 5S which is in excellent shape, and from the parameters I used when doing the evaluation online, it said I could get up to $165. Of course, that is subjective. Check out this link.

Submitted by mehgcap on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I wrote from the perspective of a Verizon customer, because that's what I am and it has the best coverage for my area, so I don't plan to switch. Apple's own recycling program you've found, and every carrier will have the trade-in details on hand. Honestly, my course of action would be to just call them up, explain what you want to do, and see what they say. I always prefer to call instead of searching online for things like this, since I can ask clarifying questions (such as whether I can trade in two old phones at once). Also, thanks for the positive feedback. :)

Submitted by techluver on Saturday, September 26, 2015

I did the same thing. i was able to upgrade last year from a 5s to a 6, but i decided to wait, for the same reasons. I preorderred it the second i could, and now have a brand new iPhone 6S 64gb. i love it. (and it's gold... shiny!)

Submitted by Jason on Thursday, October 1, 2015

Unfortunately, Apple has a very very serious problem that they have not addressed on the new iOS nine update for both iPad and iPhone. If you have a low vision situation as I do you will probably use on a very regular basis the double tap with three finger and then drag to enlarge and shrink the screen on a very regular basis. Flat out this does not work on the new upgrade. Take it from me as I spent several hours on the phone with Apple support as well as in the store. In fact, the store ended up giving me a brand-new Apple iPad Air two with software that had not been updated yet due to this fact. Unfortunately, it carries over into the new iPhones as well as I tried several new ones right on their demonstration floor.

Additionally, Apple has not addressed that with the zoom function is on it intermittent we goes back and forth between full screen and partial screen zoom. The only way to get it off partial screen zoom is to go back in and tap on partial and then back to full screen.

Until they get these two items fixed though vision market will be extremely inconvenienced.

Until Apple fixes this I am stuck with my iPad Air to my iPhone fiveS.