Apparently iPhones do last long and work so well that people are updating them only after 4 years

Apple iPhone 8

In its earnings call last month, Apple disclosed that its iPhone revenue was down by 15 per cent when compared to the previous year. The reason? According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple’s customers were holding on to their iPhones longer than the company’s expectations. Now a research note from analyst Toni Sacconaghi indicates that people, on average, are upgrading their iPhones after four years of use instead of earlier three.

It’s both good as well as bad news for Apple. The good news is because it shows that iPhones are really good devices. They are the kind of smartphones that will last. The bad news is that people aren’t updating their iPhones frequently. Therefore, Apple’s iPhone revenue, as it seems, has been hit.

Cook said that the company was trying some incentives or exchange programs to make existing iPhone users upgrade to the newer iPhone model. But the predictions still show Apple won’t be having a gala time with the 2018 models and it could only improve again by 2020.

But let’s forget about Apple’s business. Instead, the bigger takeaway from this news is that the iPhones, despite their high price, are apparently pretty good value for money because they last long. Really long. Four years in the world of smartphones is like forever!

Thank the iOS updates

Last year’s iPhone XS was a substantial update to the iPhone X. Upgraded cameras, revised software tricks, new A12 Bionic chipset and a slightly bigger battery that’s what the iPhone XS offered over the iPhone X. However, the iPhone X with the iOS 12 update is as fast as the iPhone XS, takes almost as good photos as iPhone XS and looks exactly the same as the new model there’s virtually no difference between these two models. Both of them featured Animojis (if you are into that sort of things) and have the ability to support AR apps as well as services.

In fact, the iOS 12 update breathed a new lease of life for the older iPhone models. The iPhone 7, which came out in 2016, received a major performance boost with the iOS 12 update. Even the older iPhone 6S, iPhone SE and even the iPhone 6 were reported to be more usable than before. One of my friends happened to own a 2013 iPhone 5S, which became useable as a daily driver again with the iOS 12 update. In contrast, an Android phone from 2013 or even 2015 won’t be offering improved performance with the next update. The most important point — a 2015 Android phone may not be even getting software support in 2019.

iPhones withstand the test of time

There’s no doubt that iPhones are one of the best-built smartphones in the industry. The previous generation metal-bodied iPhones have been known to age well over the course of time. The iPhone 6 may be an exception though (remember the bendgate controversy?). If you take good care of your iPhone, it will last you until the software support is terminated.

When it comes to the internal specifications, Apple’s custom processors ensure that older iPhone can keep on working like new under certain conditions (you need to replace older batteries to avoid your iPhone going into a battery conservation mode). The overly powerful chipsets for each generation ensure that Apple can sustain fluid performance even on newer yet demanding software even after 4 years. This means that your 4-year-old iPhone 6 could be working as fast as it was in 2014, if the software and the battery allow.

Older iPhones still offer incredible value

This point is basically a collation of what we have discussed so far. In India, you can get an entry into the iPhone club from as low as Rs 23,000. A brand new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S offers incredible value for less than Rs 30,000. You get the latest iOS updates that similarly priced Android phones may not offer. You also get flagship grade hardware that outperforms equally priced Android phones in terms of raw performance and daily optimisation.

At Rs 40,000, the iPhone 7 offers tremendous value with flagship-class performance even by today’s standards. I earlier switched to an iPhone 7 from our iPhone XR review unit and I never felt the difference, apart from the chunky bezels and the good-old TouchID.

The iPhone has been easily the best smartphone you could have since its inception. Meticulous engineering ensures that iPhones can last longer than Apple expectations. That’s why you will still see many Apple loyalists roaming around with an iPhone 6S despite having the means to get an iPhone XS. Despite flashy features, an Android flagship may at most be useable for 3 years before software support is terminated or the hardware degrades.

The new iPhones are really good if you can afford and want, then an iPhone XS or even an iPhone XR offers the ultimate iOS experience. The best bit is that it offers that experience easily for three years, or four years, unlike the Android phones that start to show their age by the time you complete one year with them, and many of these phones become downright unusable after two years.


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