When should you upgrade to a new iPhone?

Need help deciding whether to buy the newest iPhone or not? Check out these 14 factors, which can help you determine whether upgrading from your current iPhone or Android device to the newest iPhone is worthwhile.

Buying a new iPhone

1. Your current phone is at least three to four years old

Most mid and high-range smartphones sold in the last few years can efficiently serve you for at least three years and more.

Thus, there is no need to buy a new iPhone, and you can continue using your current phone if it isn’t three or four years old. Here’s what I think:

  • iPhone XS or older: Can upgrade
  • iPhone 11: Maybe upgrade (I still use an iPhone 11, and it’s great)
  • iPhone 12 and 13: Wait for iPhone 15
  • iPhone 14: Wait for at least two years

Related: Tips to make your current iPhone last longer and skip buying the new iPhone 14

2. The phone you’re using runs out of storage space

If the phone you’re using constantly runs out of space and even these 50+ tips to free space no longer help, it might be time to invest in a new phone. In 2020, I was fed up with my 16 GB iPhone 6S+ and had to upgrade to a 128 GB iPhone 11.

Tip: When you’re placing the order for a new iPhone, make sure to get a higher storage tier model in order to future-proof the next few years. Currently, Apple offers the latest iPhones in these storage configurations: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB.

3. Your phone doesn’t support 5G

5G is available in most major cities and is rapidly extending to smaller towns. If your area has 5G, but your current phone is 4G only, then you can get the newest iPhone to take advantage of the faster 5G speeds.

4. The battery drains quickly

You can check your iPhone’s battery health by going to the Settings app > Battery > Battery Health & Charging. If the Maximum Capacity is below 70% or you see a ‘service’ message, then you can get the battery replaced at an Apple Store. It’s far cheaper than getting a new phone.

But, if you don’t want to do that or can’t find Apple-authorized service centers in your area, you can pass this phone to someone in your family and get yourself a new iPhone.

Related: 15 things to do (and not do) before selling your iPhone or giving it away

5. The phone feels slow and lags significantly

Older Android phones and iPhones start feeling sluggish after some years of use. This is because the operating system, newer versions of apps, and accumulated data begin to bog down the phone hardware.

You might want to upgrade to a new, more powerful model if these 18 tips to fix a slow iPhone bring no meaningful improvement.

6. An app or game you love no longer supports older phones

While the developer of most apps and games try to support older hardware, some demanding titles may drop compatibility for phone models that are a few years old because it’s no longer possible to render intensive graphics with the aging processor or limited RAM.

If one of the editing, productivity, or gaming apps you love has dropped support for your current phone, then your best options are to upgrade to a newer model or look for an alternative to that app.

7. You really need the newest hardware for work

Suppose you use apps for work that could benefit from the LiDAR sensor that’s on the Pro models of recent iPhones and iPads. In this case, you’re pretty much forced to upgrade so that you can take advantage of the new hardware features.

Similarly, if you must have the 120Hz refresh rate or the Always-On Display, then you will have to shell out for a newer model.

8. Your phone no longer receives software updates

While Apple is often praised for supporting its phones for five years or more, if you happen to have a very old model like the iPhone 7 or 6S that no longer receives major iOS updates, then you will have to buy a newer iPhone. Popular apps like WhatsApp often stop working on very old versions of iOS and Android.

9. You cannot use the latest cable, chargers, and accessories

Newer iPhones have wireless charging, fast charging, support MagSafe, and the upcoming iPhone 15 is even rumored to have USB-C!

Even after a new standard (like jump from the 30-pin connector to Lightning or the speculated move from Lightning to USB-C) is introduced, you will find support for older cables and adapters by Apple and other reputable manufacturers for a few years.

However, after a point, getting genuine, high-quality accessories may become difficult for older models.

So if you find yourself in such a situation or need a phone that supports all new peripherals and cable standards, then you will have to loosen your pocket for the latest iPhone model.

10. Fixing your current phone is too expensive

It may not be a good financial decision to get your phone repaired if it’s water damaged, has motherboard problems, or charging port issues, and the service center quotes an astronomically high price.

Do the math, and you may find that getting the newest iPhone is better than repairing your current phone. Not to forget that you will get one (or, in some countries, two) years of warranty with your new iPhone, which you can further extend using AppleCare+ and be worry-free for the next several years.

Related: How to check the warranty status of your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, AirPods, and any other Apple device

11. Your iPhone’s screen is damaged, and you don’t have Apple Care

This one is similar to the above point. The repair cost to replace a damaged screen with a genuine one is ludicrously high. In some cases, screen replacement may be almost 50% of the cost of that phone.

So if your old iPhone’s screen is damaged and you don’t have AppleCare+, or you have no insurance for your current Android phone, then you may be better off upgrading to a new iPhone. When you do that, please remember to recycle your broken phone.

iPhone with broken screen
Image: Age Barros for Unsplash.

12. You’re getting a great trade-in offer

If you find an excellent trade-in/exchange offer for your current iPhone from Apple or another reputable company, such as your cell carrier, then jump on that offer.

Remember that, with every passing second, the value of your current phone decreases. So, if your phone is already two or more years old, and you’re getting a good deal on it, it might be better to upgrade now.

Related: How to find the estimated value of your device with Apple GiveBack

13. You have an Android phone and want to try iOS

Both Android and iOS have their benefits and drawbacks. If you have always used an Android phone, you may want to switch things up and experience iOS to see how it works as your daily phone.

Some highly-rated apps like Overcast and Bear Notes are only available on iOS. And to add to this, multiple people feel that some apps, including those by Google, actually run better on iOS.

So, if the above points convince you or you want to try out the second most popular phone operating system in the world, then moving to an iPhone is your answer.

Remember that switching back from iPhone to Android is easy, and our list of 13 tips will help you transition smoothly.

Related: 5 reasons why we stick with the iPhone

14. The next iPhone launch isn’t very near

Finally, there is always a best time to buy a new iPhone. Different people have different theories on it. But here’s mine: I think buying the newest iPhone within six to seven months of its launch is the best time. After that, it’s just more sensible to wait for the next version.

Usually, new iPhones launch every year in September. So you should buy it by April of next year. And if not, the rumors for the next model are already everywhere by then, and it’s more promising to wait until September. You don’t want to hold an expensive 2-month-old iPhone and watch Apple’s September Keynote, where they announce the shiny new successor to your iPhone.

Exception: Apple discontinues some older models, especially the Pro versions, immediately after a new iPhone is introduced. But you may wait until the next launch if you want to buy a non-pro iPhone that’s one or two generations old. If Apple decides to keep an older model in their yearly iPhone lineup, they will most likely reduce its original price by about $100.