My screen cracked. 6S or 7?
February 2, 2017 12:06 PM   Subscribe

After nearly 10 years of having iPhones, I finally broke a screen. It seems to work okay, but still bugs me. If the phone were newer, I'd have it fixed, but ...'s a 6 I bought not long after they were released. I normally upgrade every 2 years, but the 7's lack of a proper headphone jack left me pretty cold. My plan was to ride this phone as long as I could, and then buy a 6S so I'd have a real headphone jack for as long as possible. (Jumping ship to Android isn't an option.)

I thought I'd look closely at the actual specs before doing anything, but it sure LOOKS like the 7 represents only a marginal bump over the 6S, and then only in processor and camera; pretty much everything else is the same -- except, of course, for the one thing that's worse, which is the lack of a headphone jack.

Am I missing something? Is there a reason to put up with the lack of the jack?
posted by uberchet to Technology (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The 7 is waterproof.
posted by a moisturizing whip at 12:32 PM on February 2, 2017

Major - waterproof, much better speakers (if you ever use your phone without headphones)

Minor - improved camera/processor, corresponding improvement in battery life, marginally better display (most noticeable if you need the brightness cranked way up), newer modem with a higher max speed (assuming you're on a network that can support it/have good connectivity/etc.)

Anecdotally, everyone I know hasn't had an issue with the lack of headphone jack after a couple of weeks, but YMMV.

Personally, given that a lot of people upgraded to the 7 I would buy a used 64GB 6s for ~$400 and spend $100 to extend the AppleCare warranty. If you like the 8 in a year you'll have high resale value phone that you can likely flip at no net loss, and if you don't like the 8 you've got a 64GB 6s for $100 less than a new 32GB 6s, $200 less than a new 32GB 7 and under warranty coverage that'll last you until your next two year cycle.
posted by revertTS at 12:47 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

iPhone 7 user and huge fan here. The speakers and the battery life, in particular, are quite impressive.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:06 PM on February 2, 2017

I just made the decision to go from a 6 with a dying battery (for whom I have a taker) to a refurbed 6S to wait out the headphone jack bullshit. I'll be amazed if they don't give up and put it back on the next one. I know a dozen people for whom it's a dealbreaker with the 7, and that has to generalize. This was the first time I haven't upgraded at the 2 year mark since iPhones came out. Waterproof, pfft, who cares? I have never immersed a phone or had any problem with water damage and I have always used a tough and water-resistant case. And if the speakers go from sounding like shit to a little less like shit, and the camera goes from superb to amazing, well, those aren't selling points for me. A damn headphone jack is. If Apple doesn't return the headphone jack in the iPhone 8, I'm going to get my first Android phone. I despise wireless headphones and am bugged by the dongle requirement and the limitations on charging and listening it imposes.

I've also never broken a screen either (once on an iPad, though). I'm not a believer in AppleCare.

Devil's advocate, in NYC you can get 6's screen replaced by a non-Apple shop for $100.
posted by spitbull at 1:07 PM on February 2, 2017

"Anecdotally, everyone I know hasn't had an issue with the lack of headphone jack after a couple of weeks, but YMMV."

Which I guess means they don't use aftermarket headphones, or they don't mind needing a dongle.
posted by uberchet at 1:11 PM on February 2, 2017

I suggest 6S to you, while you wait for the whole no-eight-inch-stereo-jack issue to resolve. (Or go for the third-party screen replacement?) It's been a rule with Apple buyers forever; always wait for the rev b before you buy. Early adopters get the shaft. When the next jackless iPhone comes out, the aftermarket will be way more mature, and you'll have some reliable options with decent review track-records.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 1:29 PM on February 2, 2017

Which I guess means they don't use aftermarket headphones, or they don't mind needing a dongle.
All dongle or bluetooth. The aftermarket is still fairly bad; I don't know anyone using lightning headphones.
posted by revertTS at 1:48 PM on February 2, 2017

(Sadly, I suspect that most people are happy to put up with a jackless phone, because most people don't give enough of a shit about audio quality to buy "real" headphones, and so I'm probably just staving off the inevitable need to use a fucking dongle, but... yeah.)
posted by uberchet at 1:51 PM on February 2, 2017

I feel like there's zero chance that a "real" headphone maker is going to do Lightning headphones.
posted by uberchet at 1:52 PM on February 2, 2017

I've also never broken a screen either (once on an iPad, though). I'm not a believer in AppleCare.
I haven't either, but you'd be surprised what it does for the resale value. Not a factor if you keep phones for longer than two years though.
Devil's advocate, in NYC you can get 6's screen replaced by a non-Apple shop for $100.
3p repairs are a crapshoot since they can't source Apple replacements. I've never seen one that was decent quality.
posted by revertTS at 1:54 PM on February 2, 2017

I agree: zero chance that there will be good headphones with a Lightning connector.

Your chances are much better if you're hoping for a third-party external DAC like this one for the 6/6S. I mean, the Venn diagram of "audiophile" and "iOS-liking person" has a hell of a lot of crossover, I can't imagine that your corner of the market will go neglected for too long. There are already dongles that do this, of course - I was thinking of battery-case form factor, b/c it's not the need for a dongle that offends me, it's the lack of pocket-ability of dongled phones that has me shaking my head. I'm not even invested in the question; I loathe iOS and stay as far from it as I can. I'm still offended on your behalf, though.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 2:16 PM on February 2, 2017

"I'm still offended on your behalf, though."

I appreciate that. ;)

The problem is that I don't want "the market" to address my need here. I want the device to have the right goddamn port so that I don't need an adapter or a spendy kludge like that Arcam thing. (That sleeve/case/DAC, by the way, neuters the inline control buttons, which would be a dealkiller even if it weren't from Arcam. My previous experience with one of their receivers means I'm terribly unlikely to buy anything from them).

I guess I have my answer. Grump.
posted by uberchet at 2:50 PM on February 2, 2017

Make sure you broke what you think you broke; just last weekend I was informed that my shattered screen (also my first, at least since the flip-phone days) was in fact a shattered glass screen protector in my work phone, an iPhone 5S. An $80 repair became a $20 repair at an independent shop

Lots of good threads in the Green by people searching for bluetooth headphone recommendations. From my experience over the last 2 years, don't cheap out. You can buy 3-5 pairs of the $20-40 headphones, or buy a good one in the $80-100 that'll last you. I've got Jaybird X2s right now, and they're not at all aggravating, which puts them leagues ahead of the prior 4 pairs of headphones.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:04 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Lots of good threads in the Green by people searching for bluetooth headphone recommendations."

I do not want headphones that must charge and still sound worse than my $150 Etymotics.
posted by uberchet at 3:19 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you decide not to upgrade, going to a repair shop to get it replaced should be inexpensive. Doing the repair yourself is really easy too. I've replaced the screen on my wife's iPhone 6 three times now and can do it in under 5 min.
posted by Dr. Twist at 6:45 PM on February 2, 2017

I just bought a new phone and got an SE so it was small (I am small) and had a headphone jack. I will switch to Android before I get bluetooth headphones. I know this is sort of lateral to your question but if you don't mind the not-as-great camera, it's a fine phone.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Alas, my nearly-47-year-old-eyes are having me seriously consider a 6S!)
posted by uberchet at 6:52 AM on February 3, 2017

The 7 ships with a dongle. It's little; 3" long and skinny. You'd plug your headphones into it and never have to think about it again.

Battery life is such that listening-while-charging hasn't been an issue for me so far.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:59 AM on February 3, 2017

You know, there are those who can handle dongles, and those who can't. I am with uberchet in the can't-handle category. This is perhaps because of my long history as the kind of guy who needs to troubleshoot software with dongles. (See: old Logic, old CAD stuff, old translation tools, et cetera.) Merely subvocalizing the word "dongle" causes me to feel hatred. As in "Keys are in my pocket. What are they snagged on? Oh, they're snagged on the dongle. Grr. Dongles. I hate dongles."

I considered posting jessamyn's suggestion, knowing that the low end iPhones will continue to have eighth-inch jacks for the foreseeable future. However, I dunno if someone who upgrades their iPhone every two years wants to step down to the low-end model. uberchet may have to do so to get that eighth-inch jack.

I also considered weakening my "no good earbuds with Lightning connector" statement, until uberchet posted the word "Etymotics." There will be decent-but-somewhat-overpriced earbuds made with the Lightning connector, unless the marked totally rejects said connector. The non-audiophile, money-having friends of mine who have gone over to Bluetooth or AirPods are enthusiastic. Some of them even have good ears, and can tell the difference between e.g. some nice Shure in-ear monitors and some mid-grade Bluetooth headphones. They just don't care. The extra sound quality isn't worth any more money to them.

But the word "Etymotic" is a big ol' flag that says "this person cares about good audio reproduction." It's hard to beat the price-performance ratio on those things. So unless someone like Audio-Technica steps up with something for the iPhone market, uberchet is going to exhibit strong brand loyalty.

(uberchet may also choose to mock my mention of Audio-Technica, b/c uberchet seems to know this market rather better than I do. I destroy earbuds, and I have extremely flat JBL near-field reference monitors on my desk at home. So I don't really care about iPhones or earbuds at all, but I know a kindred spirit when I see one, and remain offended on uberchet's behalf. Sorry about using the word "market" so many times.)
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 1:03 PM on February 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nah, you're good.

The other piece of this is that Lightning headphones won't work with anything ELSE I own, so even if Ety made some I wouldn't buy them, because they'd be materially less useful than the ones I have already.

As for the "just leave the dongle on and never have to think about it again" answer: No. That only works if you only ever use your headphones with your phone, and that doesn't describe my use case. The stupid dongle would have to be carried around and moved from plug to plug, and therefore becomes a tiny single point of failure that is, as a bonus, also easily misplaced.

Plus, of course, you can't charge the phone while listening to music, which is just plain BULLSHIT.

Stepping back to a 6S or a 6S Plus -- ie, the phone from 2016 -- is just fine, because it'll get me a couple more years down the road. No idea what I'll do when Apple decides people who care about utility are no longer worth having as customers, but that at least will solve MY problem until 2019 or 2020.
posted by uberchet at 3:53 PM on February 5, 2017

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