New iPhone – you decide

Actual photo taken with iPhone 5s. Image courtesy Apple.
Actual photo taken with iPhone 5s. Image courtesy Apple.

So the announcement has now come and gone for the new iPhones. Do you have a decision to make? Perhaps it’s already made, and come September 20 you will be lining up for a shiny or colourful new device. Alternatively, you may be completely underwhelmed by the latest offering from Apple, though I expect millions won’t be, and sales demand will be as strong as ever.

Why you should(n’t) buy a new iPhone

I always find articles with these titles somewhat bemusing. What? You don’t actually know whether you want or need a new phone? Granted, most of us do not need a new phone, we just want a new one. Fair enough, go buy it. Your money, spend it how you like. By all means read about features, improvements, options (now iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c) and the like, though I do not believe the decision should really be that hard.

For me, I am currently in a contract, though my wife will soon be out of hers (both iPhone 4s models currently). Occasionally we swap phones depending on who might want or perhaps be better suited to a newer model. This time? We are not really sure as yet – did someone not just say the decision shouldn’t be that hard? Correct, and it’s not, however until our preferred carrier releases their plans/pricing, we will reserve our decision.

My Considerations

iPhone 5c
Firstly, the iPhone 5c is not for me for two reasons. Though it is no doubt a great phone, having a coloured phone is not my preference. Secondly, the fact that I do not like the additional thickness of a case on my phone, precludes the option to change this by covering the colour with a case. Though in saying this, there is an option for white.

There we go, 50% of the new product range ruled out. One key point here is that Apple have made it quite clear they will not compete on price. The iPhone 5c is basically a colourful iPhone 5, and unsurprisingly will essentially retail at similar prices, particularly on a 2 year contract. The idea here is simple – this is Apple, we make quality products that are worth paying a little more for. Some thoughts on this philosophy and the experience of owning such a product can be found in an excellent article by Ben Thompson on his blog stratechery.

iPhone 5s
So in considering the iPhone 5s, where do we start. For some, such as Shawn Blanc, a few key features such as the Camera, TouchID, and M7 Coprocessor are key considerations, and the article is a concise overview of the rationale on why this is the case.

I have linked to Shawn’s article, as it contains many similarities to my current thinking on the new features, though I also consider the new A7 chip with 64 bit architecture to warrant a mention for me. I think it is worthwhile upgrading every few years to a faster processor (and this one sounds pretty quick), though I would not really consider my current iPhone 4s to be slow in any way. Also, any improvement in 3G/LTE connectivity is always welcome.

One point on the M7 “motion” coprocessor, which is a dedicated tiny chip separate from the main A7 processor. I recently wrote an article on the app Human, which tracks movement and overall activity through the iPhone’s built in motion and location tracking services. That app has been deleted from my phone. Overall performance was good, however it sucked the absolute life out of my battery. The M7 processor aims to change all that, as Apple states:

It’s designed specifically to measure motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass — a task that would normally fall to the A7 chip. But M7 is much more efficient at it. Now fitness apps that track physical activity can access that data from the M7 coprocessor without constantly engaging the A7 chip. So they require less battery power.

Thanks Apple. Problem solved.

Conclusion

Whether to upgrade or not is simply a matter of having a look at the new features that may be relevant to you, and comparing the price point at which they are offered (don’t forget that come September 18 and iOS 7, everything will look new anyway – and this is free). Do you want it? Can you afford to have it? Often the former question is easier to answer than the latter, but that is up to you.

A bit of further reading if you like:

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