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10 reasons to buy the iPhone 14 (and 3 reasons not to)

New iPhones are exciting. But before you make that big purchase, give yourself a few minutes to make sure you have a reason that justifies plunking down all that cash.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

It's that time of the year, the new iPhone announcement time. Next week, at 10am PT on September 7, Apple is holding its annual iPhone event. The new iPhone 14s are expected, as is an updated Apple Watch. We're probably not going to see new Macs or iPads, but you never know.

The thing about the annual iPhone event is that it inevitably leads to a storm of decision making all across the world as people decide whether or not they want to buy a new phone. While every purchase is personal (and a phone you keep by your side 24/7, especially so), there are some considerations you might want to take into account when making that buying decision.

In this article, we'll outline 10 of them. Even though we don't know the final specs for the new phones, the criteria we're presenting here applies to new device purchases pretty much across the board.

Also: How to get your iPhone ready for the new iOS 16

Reason 1: To get the latest tech

Some people buy the latest tech just because it's the latest tech. If those purchases are something you can afford, then more power to you. But if you're stretching your wallet too thin just for bragging rights, you might want to consider whether there are better reasons to make the purchase. Keep in mind that most iPhones look very much like the previous generation, and if you keep your phone in a case, most people won't even be able to tell which iPhone you're carrying.

When it comes to the iPhone, some folks always buy the newest one because they're writing about them or covering them as part of their jobs. Our own Jason Perlow, for example, always gets the latest model because he immediately covers all the newness in his articles. I, by contrast, always always hold back because while I also cover the iPhone, I don't like taking the time to switch devices, and my relatively late model phone is usually good enough.

Reason 2: To get a specific new feature or features

iPhones generally get spec bumps and improved processors with every model year. However, this year, the base iPhone 14 models are expected to stick with the previous year's A15 Bionic chip and keep the same 12-megapixel rear camera as the iPhone 13 models.

But if, for example, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max get the expected always-on screen feature, and that's something you're dying for, that might be a reason to upgrade. When it comes to iPhones, the specific feature most likely to inspire a reason to upgrade is an improved camera in the higher-end models. Apple has regularly made considerable strides with its camera capability and quality each year, and if photos are your thing, then it might be worth slapping down those Benjamins.

Also: Apple wants you to buy one more thing before iPhone 14

Reason 3: To switch size

If you've been carrying a heavy iPhone Pro Max and it's too large for your hands or pockets, you might want to consider moving to a new iPhone that's smaller. That said, don't expect to move to an iPhone 14 mini because the rumor mills don't think there will be a mini model this year. Likewise, the fate of the slightly smaller third-generation iPhone SE is not promising.

If you've been rocking a smaller screen and want more screen real estate, either because your eyes need bigger text and icons (in scaled mode) or because you just want more screen, then you might want to upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro Max to get that extra pixel abbondanza on your display.

Reason 4: For the color

Confession time. My daily driver is the iPhone 12 Pro Max (I wrote about how I picked up a quite fine used model here). I have absolutely no idea what color it is. It could be silver. It could be black. It could be pink, purple, green, or anything else. Within about 20 seconds of getting the phone, I dropped it into a case and haven't looked at the actual phone body ever since. So, I sure as heck wouldn't buy a new phone just to get a new color.

But some of you would, and you know who you are. For example, if Apple came out with an iPhone in "Energy Yellow" (that's what ZDNET calls the site's new vivid background color), I'm sure some of our editors would be excited to go out and buy it, regardless of whether they needed a new phone or not. After all, clear cases are available. We don't yet know what colors will be introduced for the new iPhones but rest assured, there will be a new color that some folks out there absolutely have to have on their devices.

Reason 5: For the performance boost

Remember, folks don't just upgrade year over year. Sometimes that upgrade can be from a bunch of model years back. I held onto my beloved iPhone 6s from 2015 to 2021, and only once it started to fail did I voluntarily give up the last iPhone model with a cherished headphone jack (which I used daily connecting to studio mikes and other accessories).

Jumping a processor generation from, say, the A14 Bionic to the A15 Bionic doesn't normally generate much of a performance boost. While gaming performance between the two processors did increase by 14% according to benchmarks by NanoReview, overall processor single and multi-threaded performance increased by an underwhelming 2%. Battery life didn't increase at all, according to their tests.

So if you're looking for a big performance jump year-over-year, you're probably not going to notice much. But if you're jumping across a few generations, that performance boost will be non-trivial.

Reason 6: To increase storage capacity

Apple shipped base-level iPhones with just 64GB as recently as the iPhone 12. It wasn't until last year's introduction of the iPhone 13 that base-level iPhones were bumped up to 128GB. For some people, that's enough. But if you start to capture a lot of video or take a lot of pictures, 128GB can fill up pretty quickly.

The iPhone does have features for managing photos on lower-capacity phones, but there are a lot of trade-offs. At some point, if you want all the files and photos on your phone without hoping iCloud will download them when you need them, you might want more storage capacity. And that's a good reason for buying a new iPhone.

Reason 7: Because your battery is dying

It is possible to replace your phone's battery. You can do it yourself, following instructions from parts suppliers like iFixit, or you can take it into a service provider. A few years back, I took my then three-ish-year-old iPhone 6s into an Apple Store, and the technicians there replaced the battery for me for about fifty bucks. That bought my phone three more years of life.

But you can also use a dying iPhone as an excuse to consider upgrading. After about three years or so, your phone is getting a bit old, and you will feel both the battery boost and the performance mentioned above boost.

Also: Why you should really stop charging your phone overnight

Reason 8: To outrun obsolescence

Technology products are not standalone devices. They themselves are complex systems that are part of even more complex ecosystems. iPhones (and all smartphones) are among the most complex. Think about it. Today's modern iPhone has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE, 5G, and -- possibly to be announced next week -- some level of satellite communications capability. All of those networking protocols are changing at a rapid pace, increasing in performance and capability.

At some point, older devices simply can't run on the newer networks. Older networks are being shut down. Apps require new features. Hackers figure out exploits for older code -- yada yada yada. The phone just becomes too old to do much, and what it can do is often cumbersome and possibly unsafe.

Apple has a practice of ceasing to provide OS updates after about five years. iOS 16, for example, will support all iPhones introduced from 2017 on (roughly the iPhone 8 generation and later), but older iPhones will no longer be able to get updates. If your iPhone is about to be obsoleted in this way, it might make sense to think about buying a new device.

Reason 9: To hand down your current phone

If someone else in your family needs a phone, you might want to consider handing down your current phone to that person and getting a new one for yourself. Perhaps you need (or at least want to use) more performance or the new features of new phone, and your giftee just needs more basic functionality.

No matter the individual reason, sometimes it makes sense to get yourself a new phone and give your old one to a friend. If you do decide to do that, make sure you follow Jason Cipriani's guide on how to factory reset an iPhone.

Reason 10: To switch platforms

No, this isn't an iPhone vs. Android screed. Instead, it's worth pointing out that certain apps and certain capabilities are unique to a given platform. Buying a new iPhone becomes rather compelling if you find a must-use app, and that app is only available on the iPhone.

While I regularly work with Windows machines, Linux boxes, and Android phones as part of my work, I've built my primary computing ecosystem around Apple products. It's certainly not because I like Apple better. The company and its products regularly annoy me. It's because there are specific apps and capabilities that only run on Apple products, and some of them enable me to do things I couldn't otherwise do or save a considerable amount of time doing very time-consuming mission-critical tasks.

So, if you find an app that is so helpful it makes switching an obvious option, then you're not alone.

Three reasons not to buy a new iPhone

Now that you've seen ten compelling reasons why you might want to buy a new iPhone, I will share three reasons you might want to stick with the one you have:

  1. You like your small iPhone mini: Rumors are that Apple won't be introducing another small form-factor iPhone any time soon. If you're big on your little phone, you'll probably want to hold onto it for as long as it works.
  2. You need a feature Apple is obsoleting: I held onto my iPhone 6s Plus for six years, in large part because I relied on the headphone jack for my work output, and Apple had removed that feature from the phone. Tech vendors regularly add new features, but they also remove features, and if there's one you're totally reliant upon, you might want to stick with your current device.
  3. You just don't need a new phone: I'm there now. My iPhone 12 Pro Max is maxed out and works great. While it's always possible Apple could surprise us and introduce a feature none of the rumor mills previously shared, it's unlikely. So unless Apple introduces a phone that does something that just blows my mind (or has some magical wow-factor feature that will produce an extra four hours a week), I don't see a reason for me, personally, to upgrade.

Without a doubt, buying an iPhone is a big purchasing decision. Phones are getting more and more expensive, and in our currently shaky economy, such a big spend requires a lot of thought.

Nothing in this article is meant to tell you what to do. But I do hope that some of the reasons I've shared with you will give you food for thought as you make your buying decision.

So, do you have a compelling reason to upgrade to the new iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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