That New iPhone - you don't need it
OOOOOOHHHH I used to get so excited about new phones coming out! I would set my alarm clock for the pre-order start time - which worked out well when we lived in San Francisco but would be a pain now that we live in Florida - and feverishly reload the order page until it worked. That new, heavy, thin chunk of glass and metal felt so solid and high-tech, and LOOK HOW SMOOTH AND FAST THE ANIMATION IS on my new phone.
But no more. Has every tech writer (for the record I don't consider myself a tech writer) now announced phones and their features are finally good enough? For me there are three critical phone requirements: the battery, the latency in typing or opening apps and the camera, and I'm finally satisfied. Last year's phone is good enough!
First does the battery last more than an hour? That'll do. I have come to the understanding I'll plug in my phone when I get in a car, when I get back to my house, and virtually at all other times. (Several primary factors will crush that little battery: screen brightness, app use, battery age, and the actual battery capacity - read my earlier post here about making your battery last versus using the phone and apps as designed)
Next, do I have to wait more than half a second to open the camera or switch from e-mail to calendar? As software bloats, it eventually overburdens the little processors in your aging phone. New phones always come with speedier chips and I used to dread software updates but there are a bunch of configurations you can tweak to reduce that load. Do you really need to see animations when closing apps? Bouncing up when I reach the end of an article is cute but I would rather have quick access to the camera for when my dog steps into a bucket.
Thirdly, speaking of the camera, I want great pictures; it's really important to me. It's why I switched to the pixel and it's why my next iPhone will have two lenses. I love to snap memories and share great moments.
My current phones, a Google Pixel and an iPhone 6S+, work well. I'm used to carrying a $10 battery in my bag to charge during the day and the pictures these cameras take are amazing. So what am I missing out on by not having the newest phones? Well pretty much stuff that has been around for a while: wireless charging, smaller bezels, marginally better cameras. Each is nice but really not required. Wireless charging is cool and it's really convenient to set the phone down on your nightstand and pick it up in the morning without a cord but... ask yourself how difficult it is to plug and unplug that cord. Really? Now turn on the TV and watch the devastation from hurricanes this fall. Still want wireless charging? Me neither.
Smaller bezels will only matter when we look back in 2022 and laugh at our brick-like phones of 2017. (Ask me about my iPhone 4 that I used until 2014 - I can't stab away at that tiny screen with my pinky if I tried now) Today bezel thickness doesn't matter unless you are terribly concerned with getting the right screen size into a tight pocket in your shirt. In fact, now that I'm typing the words, if you're worried about shirt-pocket size and fitting your phone in there, this isn't the blog for you. Get out of here please. If you want a bigger phone, jam it in your back pants pocket or just acknowledge that you're the type of person, like me, that should just always keep that phone in your hand.
Lastly, those awesome cameras... Apple phones make great pictures in large part due to their awesome processing. Yes the lenses work well and are super thin but lots of the magic comes from the software so just keep your IOS updated and you're good. HDR, that little magic wand icon, the on-screen exposure controls, use all of these and you're good to go.
So now that I'm buying last year's phone, the iPhone 7, the last question is where to buy? Apple sells them new and refurbished, but you can also buy used ones online and locally. Read up soon on the best places to buy and sell used phones. Oh, and is anyone interested in a gently used Pixel or iPhone 6S plus?
This pic is from a 2-y.o. iPhone