So the iPhone 6 is in pre-order now and it’s got some pretty compelling new features – but is it worth upgrading my iPhone 5s? What do I get with an upgrade and does it matter that I’m on T-Mobile ?
The big changes are the introduction of NFC to support Apple Pay, handling of more LTE frequencies, an improved CPU to bump up general processing speed and give a bigger lift to graphics processing, better photo capture, claims of marginally better battery life, and a larger screen. It seems like there is enough there to justify the upgrade – especially if T-Mobile is going to give me a $350 credit towards the iPhone 6 for trading in the 5s.
One factor causing some hesitation is the additional LTE bands supported by Apple primarily focus on bandwidth acquired by Sprint and do not address new bandwidth being allocated to T-Mobile that provide better service inside buildings or other structures that interfere with higher frequency signals. This also means that as T-Mobile grows, I’ll not be able to move to lesser used low frequency LTE bands with the new iPhone and will need to pick up the following generation when it becomes available if they add support for the new bands supported by T-Mobile.
Considering the higher probability that support should be forthcoming in the next generation iPhone, I am almost certain to want the upgrade when it becomes available. I can live without the lower frequency LTE support for now as T-Mobile also routes calls over the internet when I can connect my phone to a wireless network in my offices. This mitigates some of the challenges associated with the higher bandwidth frequencies losing strength going through walls in some buildings.
I’ve thought about adding an Apple Watch to add the NFC capability to support Apple Pay through the iPhone 5s by pairing the device – the thought has some appeal. I also get the added capability of tracking health related information and getting status at a glance absent having the iPhone immediately on hand. But there is an undefined timeline on availability on this which will be sometime early in 2015 according to Apple and the cost for the Apple Watch starts at $349 plus any additional for extras. If I was forced to choose between either an upgrade or a watch, I might consider waiting to make the choice until after the release and availability of the watch for hands on evaluation.
The cost to an iPhone 6 is $750 if I keep the 64GB limit of storage – or $400 considering a $350 trade-in on the iPhone 5s. This translates to an incremental $16.67 on my T-Mobile bill if I finance the $400 over 24 months at 0% interest through T-Mobile financing. I usually max out the phone features to make the phone last longer, but in this case 64GB has been more than enough with 20GB still available and I’m likely to trade the phone in again when new LTE frequencies are supported. I’m guessing it only needs to last me a year and maintain some trade-in value for the next upgrade – and if not I can likely stretch 64GB of storage to last me two years if I keep the bigger files on a cloud service.
With the OS being a non-factor (iOS 8 will be available for download to the iPhone 5s shortly) – are the new iPhone features compelling enough to upgrade the 5s ? With my only hesitation being the lack of frequency support in the lower bands used by T-Mobile, it appears as though an upgrade is likely worthwhile as there is no guaranty that frequency support is forth-coming in the next year. By limiting the storage at 64GB, I allow myself to bump up the storage later and will not be setting myself up for more hesitation if frequency support is in the next iPhone.