Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 01, 2021
Time to update?

I have an iPhone 7 Plus. The current generation of iPhones is 12, so 7 is relatively "ancient", from 5 years ago. And while my employer doesn't want to pay me an iPhone, I now have an opportunity to buy one a bit cheaper via my employer. So I am tempted to buy the latest and greatest from Apple, an iPhone 12 Max Pro.

The main reason against buying a new iPhone is that even with a rebate these things are quite expensive. And it isn't as if a 5-year old iPhone isn't working anymore, it just doesn't have all the bells and whistles that have been added over the last 5 generations. In addition to that, my usage of my mobile phone during the last 12 months was minimal, for obvious reasons: No business travel, and lots of days of home office, where I tend to use my iPad more than my iPhone.

But then, we all hope that the lockdown will be over next year. And while I certainly not somebody who wants to change his smartphone every year, I think that every 5 years is a reasonable rhythm for an upgrade. While I can buy a previous generation iPhone a bit cheaper, if I want to keep it for the next 5 years, I'd better take the latest generation now.

I'm a tall guy, 6'3", and I have big hands. I took the 7 Plus because the 7 was too small for me. So now I'd rather have the Max version, with the 6.7" screen. That gets me a bigger screen for my old eyes, bigger keyboard for my phat fingers, and as an added bonus a bigger battery. I can see how somebody more delicate than me might prefer a 5.4" screen Mini model, which is just over half the weight of the Max model. But the electricity consumption doesn't scale with size as much as the battery size does, and so the Max has 50% more battery life than the Mini. In more practical terms, a Mini heavily used all day is likely to run out of battery before the day ends, while the Max heavily used will still have 25% charge left at the end of the day. Back in the days of Nokia, a mobile phone on standby might last all week, but that was before it included a full computer and multi-media system.

I'm still debating with myself. Obviously I don't "need" an iPhone 12 Pro Max, strictly speaking. But then there is a certain degree of planned obsolescence in iPhones. The battery is aging, and the newer iOS versions tend to be more power hungry. And the newer versions always have better screens, better camera, and added features like MagSafe and LIDAR. In the end, a new phone is "nice to have", rather than "needed". But then, I haven't done much real world shopping or leisure travel lately, so I might just feel like spoiling myself.

> Back in the days of Nokia, a mobile phone on standby might last all week
Some still do, the android ones.
According to Tom’s Hardware, the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes in 11th place among 2021 smartphones. And frankly, only the Moto G Power ones are really significantly better. Only about 10% difference between places 3 and 15. I guess it depends a lot on the ratio between power consuming features and battery size.
I suggest that you only upgrade if your current phone can't do what you want it to do. I have an iPhone 12 Pro which has additional celluar bands that my iPhone 6 didn't have. Some of those I make use of in areas that I frequent - so I literally get service where I didn't before due to the modem differences. I plan to keep this until it dies or until a situation like that is repeated (maybe 6G?)
I suggest that you only upgrade if your current phone can't do what you want it to do

I agree, this is the same approach I tend to use. Call it minimalistic lifestyle if you want :P (which I definitely don't follow), but I find this to be a cheap solution in being more environment-friendly. I use it also for home appliances, where "latest and shiniest" is even less useful than on digital devices.
Late to this post but you are spot on about suggesting people only upgrade their phones when it no longer meets their needs.

We are in kind of a wierd spot with phone technology right now. Phones are already vastly more powerful than they need to be to perform their tasks and battery technology is developing slowly so besides shoving more powerful cameras in there isn't much innovation happening in the hardware. I feel like that's why manufacturers are so focused on gimmicks and selling accessories.
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