New iPhones are likely to be revealed Sept. 10 and in stores soon after.
So do you really have to fork over $1,000 for a new phone and have the latest and greatest?
Yes, if you want more power, improved camera technology and more storage. But if you’re like many who have sat out the last few editions of the iPhone, you’ll be in good company. You don’t need the newest because your phone still works.
The reason iPhone sales have fallen—down 15% for 2019, projects CFRA Research—is because they’re too good. They last longer than they used to, and the new features aren’t as exciting as they once were.
That old phone you have, it can be updated for way less money than buying a new model. There are three main reasons for getting a new phone. We’ve got cost-saving solutions for each one.
My battery runs out too often
Simple solution: Buy a new battery. These tools are only designed to last a finite period before expiring. Apple will sell and install a replacement for $49 on older phones, or $69 for the X series. Apple says it will replace them the same day if it can at Apple Stores or authorized Apple service centers. If you prefer sending the phone in the mail, Apple says it will get you the phone back within three to five days.
If you’re concerned about your battery, go to Settings/Battery on your iPhone and check battery health. If you’re down in the 20% range, you know you have a problem.
My screen is cracked
This is way more pricey and more common an issue. It’s hard to live life as a human being and not suffer through dropping a phone, at least once or twice. And if the glass falls headfirst down on concrete, there’s just no two ways about it—the screen will crack. Sometimes it’s livable, other times unbearable. But there’s a solution.
Apple charges from $149 (for older iPhone 7 and 8 models) to $169 for Plus models and $199 to $329 to put new screens on the X phones.
Cottage industries of retailers fixing cracked phones have emerged over the last few years, with companies like iCracked, UBreakIFix and Wireless Planet offering walk-in service, often at lower prices than Apple. Our local uBreakIFix store, for instance, quoted $120 for an 8 Plus screen, $50 less than Apple.
I’ve run out of room
This has to be the biggest issue for iPhone owners, many of whom bought phones back when 16 gigabyte or 32 GB storage was the norm. Now, the standard, at least for Apple’s 2018 models, is 64 GB.
Even then, 16 GB and 32 GB were way too low, and it’s still unconscionable today, in a world of higher resolution photos, 4K videos, data-devouring apps and a tendency among many of us to never delete anything from our phones.
But if you want to save money, get busy.
—Check your storage. Go to Settings/General/iPhone Storage and see how many gigabytes you’ve used. Then scroll down to see which apps have used the most. For me, it’s photo/video related, with Apple Photos at 24 GB, Adobe Lightroom at 10 GB, DJI Go (which I use to operate my drone) 4 GB and Google Play Music at 1 GB. These are all videos and photos I created or stored, so the obvious thing is to go in and start deleting.
—What about backup? Google Photos offers free, unlimited photo/video uploads (at slightly lower resolution) and if you’re a member of Amazon’s Prime shipping/entertainment service, Prime Photos offers unlimited photos (not video) storage for free. You can pay for extra storage with Apple’s iCloud service (first 5 GBs are free, then $2.99 monthly for 200 GB storage.) A more economical, one-time charge is buying a flash drive that fits into the iPhone Lightning port. The SanDisk iXpand drive is $32 for a 64 GB model, and Eastball’s 128 GB drive is $39.99.
You can copy all your photos and videos to one of these drives and then move them to your computer or online service of your choice.
Outside of photos and videos, check your texts. Do you really need 400 megabytes worth of them, for all time? (That’s what I have.) Check the Podcast, Netflix and Amazon Prime app, which stores downloads and doesn’t get rid of them. (I’m at a combined 1 GB right there alone.)
So if you’re counting, let’s imagine you have an iPhone 6S. Spend $50 for a new battery, $150 for a new screen and $40 for a flash drive, and you’re at $240. The lowest price contemporary iPhone is $749 for the XR (granted, it has a bigger screen) or you could buy the older iPhone 7 with just 32 GB of storage from Apple for $449.
What’s it going to be?
(Remember that when Apple announces its new devices on Sept. 10, it historically lowers the prices of older models by at least $100, and traditionally adds more storage as well.)
Reminder: iOS 13
Finally, don’t forget that Apple’s iOS 13 operating system upgrade will be available soon, historically mid-September, and it offers several new tools, including enhanced photo and video editing and management and a robocaller eliminator. But it will work only with phones going back to the iPhone 6S.
So if you have the iPhone 6 or 5S, congratulations on keeping a phone in operation for so long, but if you want to get security updates and new tools, sorry, but you’re out of luck. Time to buy a new phone.