New iPhone for my tech-averse partner
October 24, 2019 5:25 PM   Subscribe

My partner's iPhone SE has finally cracked itself into oblivion. Since I last surveyed the iPhone scene (when I was buying my iPhone 8 a couple years back) the array of options has expanded and I'm having trouble making a decision.

Which phone should I get for a person who:

- Likes a smaller form factor
- Likes the fingerprint unlock feature, but open to face unlock
- Doesn't do much beyond the basics - music, Facebook, lots of photos, email ... maybe 25-30 apps
- Is afraid she will lose or submerge in water or crack a very expensive unit
- DOES NOT want a phone that will be "obsolete" in two years - this precludes just getting another SE or even possibly also the 7 IMO but open to others' feedback!

Which iPhone seems right for her? Do folks have experience buying pre-owned phones? Where can I look for good deals on buying phones outright?

posted by codhavereturned to Technology (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Heh, there was a question asked earlier today about iPhone SEs - I recommended buying a used one from Gazelle and a few other folks recommeded buying used from Swappa. My previously owned SE is going on 2 years and hasn't given me a lick of trouble.
posted by sarajane at 5:30 PM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

If something happened to my SE right now, I would just get another one. Seconding Swappa.
posted by pinochiette at 5:34 PM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

The SE is great but there’s one thing about the iPhone 7 and newer - they’re water resistant. So that does mostly eliminate one of the items that she is afraid of. However the flip side to that is no headphone jack. You didn’t mention anything about listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, so that may not be a concern.

There are rumors of a new version of the iPhone SE coming out next year, but it looks like it’s going to be the size of the iPhone 6/7/8. So that basically means that size phone is the new “small.”
posted by zsazsa at 5:51 PM on October 24, 2019

I’m swapping up to my husband’s iPhone XS and he’s getting an 11pro (because he cares about cameras and I don’t). It’s still going to be a lot bigger, but not as big as an 8 or 10r or 11.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:20 PM on October 24, 2019

Apple still sells the 8 so it will likely get iOS updates for at least a couple (several?) years. It's the smallest they're still selling, although the new 11 Pro isn't a lot bigger (although much more expensive) and will be current considerably longer. Choosing between them would kinda depend on how much weight she/you gives to each of the things on your list above. Unweighted, it seems like the 8 comes closest to meeting more of them than the 11 Pro.

One thing to note in getting a new phone is that there may be some 3rd party apps on her SE that haven't been updated to work on the newest version of iOS. Of course even if there were, there may be adequate replacements. If not, and they're essential, you might want to consider another SE as suggested above, depending her/your tolerance for a phone that will never get another OS update and might not be able to run new 3rd party apps (but is considerably smaller than anything new).
posted by ClingClang at 6:51 PM on October 24, 2019

iPhone 11 just came out and won’t be obsolete for another few years. $699 for the cheapest one, brand new.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:10 PM on October 24, 2019

The size of the SE is one reason it's so popular. I'll probably be getting an XR to replace my SE this holiday season. I've enjoyed my SE, but I've really always thought it as a bit too small, and I'm afraid it will be ineligible for iOS 14 next year. Even if that's so, a gently-used SE, with an inexpensive battery replacement, will be OK for a few more years if you're careful about security, which seems likely given your partner's user profile.
posted by lhauser at 7:25 PM on October 24, 2019

Cracked? As in the screen?

You can get the screen and battery replaced for around $200 and have your old phone back for another year or two until it can’t be updated. Compare that to the cost of buying a used one in good condition with a decent battery. Might be cheaper.

In the meantime I too think the predicted forthcoming iphone 8-sized new SE may be worth waiting for. It’s likely to be a good deal cheaper than an 11, and likely to sacrifice the 11’s truly killer app — the camera upgrade — and use a slower processor.
posted by spitbull at 7:54 PM on October 24, 2019

I recently got the battery on my SE replaced because I am
Not giving up this phone.

If it’s just the screen, just get it replaced. Cheaper than a refurbished SE.

An iphone8 sized “SE” is not at all an SE (no headphone jack, and it is too big). So even if those rumors are true, who cares?
posted by nat at 9:46 PM on October 24, 2019

At this point, I would go with an iPhone 8. The SE will almost certainly stop receiving system and security updates less than a year from now, whereas an 8 will be good to go for another 3 years.

That said, I'm a fan of the iPhone SE design and size (the iPhone 5 it is based on, remains my all-time favorite). The iPhone 8 is indeed larger, but not phablet large:
iPhone SE: 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm / 113g
iPhone 8: 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm / 148g
Sure, it would be great if Apple would release a new version of the current SE with an updated processor, but most of the rumors say that the new version will be based on the iPhone 8 anyways.

Although the OP doesn't mention the need for an old school headphone jack, it does always seem to bring out a certain amount of griping. The iPhone 8 comes with EarPods with a Lightning connector to use right out of the box, plus for 9 bucks you can pickup the tiny little Lightning to 3.5mm Adapter. The gripers will claim that it's easy to lose, but the day I purchased it I clicked it onto the end of my old school headphone's cable, and have never since removed it. (Advanced gripers will claim that you can't listen to music in bed while you're charging your iPhone, and if this particular use-case applies, you would need to add a Belkin splitter.)

Personally, once I made the switch to Apple's wireless AirPods, I have never looked back. They are easily Apple's best new product design since the iPhone. They're so convenient and comfortable that on several occasions I have turned off my iPhone and forgotten I'm still wearing my AirPods.
posted by fairmettle at 12:55 AM on October 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I recently bought a used 8 as an upgrade to the SE I had. iOS 13 (the current one) is the last update the SE will get as far as I know. There probably won't be apps that work on the SE but not on the 8 since both run iOS 13.

I like the small form factor of the SE and the 8 isn't too much of a departure from that. I usually don't use headphones, but I bought a cheep pair of bluetooth headphones for when I do.

For me, the 8 was a good compromise of size and price. I paid $280 from a seller on Facebook. There are sites like Swappa out there, but I found them to be quite a bit more expensive.
posted by kathrynm at 10:14 AM on October 25, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks for all this great advice. I opted for the iPhone 8 via Swappa.
posted by codhavereturned at 10:35 AM on October 28, 2019

I lived with my SE for over 3 years. I bought it mainly for the smaller form factor and regretted my choice of that small-ish screen size almost immediately.

I had mixed emotions when pickpockets relieved me of it in Angeles City two weeks ago. Went immediately to an authorized Apple reseller in Angeles and replaced with with a new 32 GB 6S Plus for equivalent of about $385. Couldn't be happier.
posted by lometogo at 5:38 PM on November 3, 2019

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