Own an iPhone 4? Congratulations, as of yesterday, Apple’s turned it into a paperweight with the introduction of iOS 8. 8, it turns out, just won’t run on an iPhone 4. And you iPhone 4S users shouldn’t be so smug either, as iOS versions tend to, what’s a nice way to put this, chug like an underpowered train on older hardware.
So, you might be in the market for a new phone. But you might want to ask yourself a few questions before you go shopping.
1. How Long Can You Wait?
The first question is how patient you are. As surely as the sun rises, as certain as the leaves turn, come this fall Apple is rolling out a brand spanking new iPhone for you to buy. Every year brings a refresh to the iPhone line, and it’s unlikely Apple’s going to break that trend.
You should hold off switching now for a few reasons beyond just the new hotness coming, though. First of all, it means the iPhone 5S will be cheaper, and a bit more future proof against iOS updates bricking your phone. Secondly, it’ll give you more time to evaluate what’s on the market and see what else might be coming, which is important as you might find something you need outside the Apple ecosystem.
2. How Committed Are You To Apple?
This isn’t an idle question. Apple has always been a proponent of “closed architecture”, meaning the hardware is locked in with specific components, and that’s extending increasingly to its software. OSX Yosemite is essentially turning your Mac, and only your Mac, into an expensive iPhone extension, for example. Apple also showed a tendency to try and shove its services in place of others, such as Dropbox or Google.
So, how tied up are you in Apple? How much of your music is on iTunes? How many iOS-exclusive apps do you use constantly. And on that theme…
3. What Do You Use Your iPhone 4 To Do, Exactly?
If you’re constantly running high-end apps and need the absolute latest from Apple for work, this isn’t a hard question and you were probably already debating an upgrade now or later. But if you use your iPhone to make calls, send texts, read some books at the bus stop, and maybe play a few games of sudoku, an upgrade might actually not make a lot of sense. Take a good hard look at the features of iOS 8 and ask yourself what you need.
4. Why’d You Buy Your iPhone?
Here’s an embarrassing secret: A few years ago, on a bet, I went a week with a dumbphone. A straight-up flip phone, bought for $15 from the Internet. It was a fully modern phone, to the extent such things exist in the flip phone world, but it was still a dumbphone.
I had no problems, at all. I need a smartphone now, for work related reasons: I need to be on top of my email and write long messages, and a touchscreen is easier for that. But it taught me a valuable lesson, and it’s one everybody should consider, whether on iOS or Android: How much of your phone is necessary? And how much is hype?
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.