iPhone upgrade question--should I go with the 6 or 7?
February 7, 2017 9:44 PM   Subscribe

I am currently using an iPhone 5S through Verizon. It's about 2 years old now and is paid off, and the battery life has been getting shorter and shorter. I am really used to it, and I don't want to get something that's substantially different. I have played around with a Samsung Galaxy S7 and did not like it at all.

I was thinking about just having an IFixIt store install a replacement battery, but though it might make more sense just to get a new phone. I don't want something that's substantially bigger, but a larger screen wouldn't hurt.

I use my phone for internet surfing, calls, texting, buying on eBay, Facebook, taking pictures, and a few other minor things. I use the camera a TON--this is super-important. I don't do much social media stuff, I don't do games, I don't do video generally. I'll probably be putting music on it.

Would it make more sense for me to get an iPhone 6 or a 7, or something else? Would I be better off buying a new one on eBay or getting it through Verizon? I don't think they really offer a discount anymore, just the chance to pay it off over 24 months or whatever. My budget can handle whatever the newest one is, but I don't see any point in paying $700 for a phone if I don't need to.
posted by Slinga to Technology (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure why it makes more sense to get a new phone if you're happy with everything about your current phone other than the battery life. I've been using my iPhone 5 constantly for the past 4 years and it's in great condition with yearly battery changes. Save your money and keep using the phone that you like for another year or so.
posted by horizons at 10:31 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have you done a hard reset?
posted by k8t at 10:43 PM on February 7, 2017

I just got the 6SE, and it basically feels exactly the same as the 5S. Same size and everything, slightly better camera, more hard drive space.
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 11:13 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

First of all, you can install a new battery. Buy one off ebay, watch a youtube video, boom. $10.

Next, the choice is really iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 7, or… iPhone SE. You may want the SE.

SE stands for Special Edition. Or at least that's what I tell people when they ask why I still have a 5. I don't. I have an SE. And they're all like wait what.

The SE is the same shape and size as the 5 but it's better stronger faster. (Get the 64gb or up version. Anything less is uncivilized/impossible to make use of because we are storing so many photos & videos these days.)

I love my SE. It's just awesome. The size alone makes me really happy. IT FITS IN MY HAND AND MY POCKET. Crazy, huh? If you have been using a 5 all this time I think you may love the SE also.

Oh by the way I didn't mention the 6 or 6+ because they are really bad iPhones.
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:13 PM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I second the suggestions for a new battery for your current phone or going with an iPhone SE.

Oh by the way I didn't mention the 6 or 6+ because they are really bad iPhones.

The 'touch disease' cited in this link affected phones from early in the manufacturing run back in 2014, and although Apple has been reticent about a universal replacement program for the ~quarter billion iPhone 6/6+'s sold, it has been very liberal with replacement on a case by case basis. The link's citing of the long debunked 'bendgate' further highlights its inaccuracy.
posted by fairmettle at 2:32 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was happy with my 5s also. Had it for three years. Until I got my 7+ and realized how tiny and slow the 5s was. The 7+ has a fantastic camera too. The large screen is great also.
posted by LoveHam at 4:31 AM on February 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Or at least that's what I tell people when they ask why I still have a 5. I don't. I have an SE. And they're all like wait what.

Yep. I had your exact issue (phone wouldn't hold a charge, esp in cold weather and it had already had a battery replacement) and I went for the largest storage SE and am very happy. The only downside besides the form factor (which it seems like you like) is the camera is not AS snazzy as the 7s, so that might matter to you. But man it was so nice to just get to use my same old case but with a newer and longer lasting phone.
posted by jessamyn at 6:37 AM on February 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

One thing to consider is that Apple has typically offered iOS updates for about 5 years after release. They dropped updates for the iPhone 4S last summer, so the 5 may be dropped this year and the 5s next year. Not like the phone will become instantly unusable, but if you’re a person who likes to keep a phone for years I think it makes sense that when you do buy a new one you select a fairly recent model. I have no complaints about my iPhone 6 and no plans to replace it for another year or two or three since the 7 is not that compelling to me, but if I *were* phone shopping now I’d probably go for the SE or the 7 depending on the size I wanted. And I’d probably choose the SE based on price.
posted by Kriesa at 7:33 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Upgraded my cracked-screen-and-slowing-batteruy 5s to a regular 7 in November. I contemplated the SE, but wanted to try a somewhat larger phone. Love the extra screen real estate, speed, faster fingerprint reader, camera, and 3D Touch ; don't love the extra size in pocket.

You still might check with Verizon if you decide to go new. I got $450 off a 128gb 7 by buying outright and signing a 2 year extension of the decent plan I had with them. That was November though, and mileages seem to be wildly variable.
posted by ClingClang at 7:53 AM on February 8, 2017

Last September I upgraded my 5S to the 7+. I agree with LoveHam -- once you upgrade, you'll be amazed at how fast the processor is in the new iPhones and the 7+ does take amazing pictures and video. A reason you might want to upgrade is that with older iPhones, you won't be able to update to the latest iOS (eventually your 5s won't support anything past a certain OS) and your phone will get slower and slower and you'll be stuck with older versions of your apps.

For me, the only negative about my 7+ is how ginormous the dang thing is. This is the only complaint I have. Other than that, I am happy with it.
posted by ATX Peanut at 8:50 AM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Concurring with the people who say that if you try the SE (and why not?), get one with more memory. I thought I could get away with the smallest available memory (I really resent spending $100 or whatever for a memory chip that probably costs, what, $10 retail?) because I carry a mini for websurfing and the like so the phone is mostly for calls, but even with occasional picture-taking I find myself running up against the limits.
posted by praemunire at 8:53 AM on February 8, 2017

Keep in mind that the iPhone 7 does not have a headphone jack. You have to use an adapter, which is easy to misplace, and you can't charge and use headphones at the same time. You also have the option of spending even more money on wireless headphones.

I would agree with the other folks to either change the battery and plan on buying an iPhone SE next year when support runs out, or just buy the SE now. Apple is absolutely great with software support, so the SE will last you a good long while.
posted by cnc at 8:59 AM on February 8, 2017

I completely disagree with Mike Mongo. That article is referencing an early batch of the 6 models.
I have a 6S and I love it. I got the 64gb and not running out of space every day is wonderful. It's fast, it's not too big, it still has a regular headphone plug. It's been great. Would definitely recommend.
posted by shesbenevolent at 9:00 AM on February 8, 2017

The 6S is a different phone than the 6
posted by aubilenon at 9:28 AM on February 8, 2017

Since you mention photos in particular: Alternative to shelling out the extra cash for more memory, you can also consider using iCloud to store your photos for $1/month for 50gb storage, which will go with you even if you change phones. I pay slightly more per month, but love that I can access every photo I've ever taken in the past 17 years from my 64gb phone.
posted by homesickness at 11:00 AM on February 8, 2017

You might check with a Genius Bar before you do anything else. I believe that Apple has had some recall programs for battery fade, where they might replace the battery even if the Applecare+ has expired, which would let you keep the current phone as a spare or get more for it on a sale.
posted by Gingercat at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recently upgraded from a 5S to a 7 plus and have been surprised by just how much better it is. Faster, more responsive, much nicer screen, and mindblowingly better battery life. (The first day after upgrading I texted my husband: "It's 4:30 pm and my phone battery is at 72%. And I've been using it, a lot! Holy shit.")

It's just slightly too large for me to comfortably use one-handed, which is a bit annoying. And it sticks out of my back pants pocket worse than the 5 did, of course. On the other hand, my husband finds that because it's so slim, it fits into his front pants pocket easily.

Overall I like it a lot.
posted by Lexica at 3:17 PM on February 9, 2017

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