Don’t by an iPhone right now

(image above from left to right: USB-A, USB-B, USB-C, and Lightning)

As many of you know, summer is not a great time to buy an iPhone because Apple releases a new model every September (I predict September 15 or 22 this year). I think it’s even more important to wait this year for one reason in particular: Leaked CAD drawings show iPhone 15 changing from Lightning to USB-C. Of course, until Apple officially makes the announcement we can’t be 100% sure, but the leaked CAD drawings are almost always reliable.

If you need to buy a new iPhone now then obviously you have to, but this advice is for anyone who is thinking about getting a new iPhone. And of course, I don’t recommend everyone buy a new iPhone every year. The changes each year are incremental, but after 3, 5, or 6 years, they really add up.

There are many reasons to be excited for USB-C on iPhone

USB-C, if you haven’t heard, is the new generation of USB plugs. This is the first major change to USB since it was introduced in the mid 90’s. It’s not an Apple thing. This is supported by every computer and smartphone manufacturer. The transition actually began about 8 years ago, and iPhone is one of the last popular devices to make the change. So for the first time, we have a universal plug for charging every smartphone, every laptop computer, every tablet, and just about every rechargeable electronic device.

  • Fewer cables. Imagine traveling and only needing a single cable to charge your computer, your iPad, and your iPhone. Even if you use a PC laptop.
  • Cheaper cables. There are so many on the market already and they cost less than Lightning.
  • Easier to find a cable in the future. A few years from now as older iPhone models disappear, Lightning cables will get more and more difficult to come by. Might as well get ahead of that. And if you need to top off your battery, Android already uses this charger so you can always get some juice from a green-bubble friend.
  • Faster charging. If you use a high-powered USB-C charger for your iPad or laptop computer, it will also charge your iPhone significantly faster. Don’t worry about overloading your iPhone; it will only draw as much power as it wants.

Why I always recommend purchasing the latest iPhone model

It may sound counterintuitive, but it actually costs less in the long run to get the latest model. You can save $100 on a year-old iPhone or $200 on a two-year-old iPhone, but that just means your iPhone will need to be replaced a year or two sooner. Those discounts are too small to make financial sense, as a 6-year estimated lifespan on the latest model works out to $133 per year. Apple makes more money off of you if you take the small discount because you are back again sooner. Not to mention, the newer model has better battery life, double the storage, and additional features such as Emergency SOS via Satellite. And if you don’t like change, you have the added benefit of going an extra two years before having to get a new phone.

iPhone 12iPhone 13iPhone 14iPhone 15
Release year2020202120222023
Cost as of August 2023$599$699$799$799 (predicted in September)
Obsolete year (estimated)2026202720282029
Years before obsolete if you buy now (estimated)3456
Average cost per year if kept until obsolete$200$175$160$133

How long can you expect an iPhone to last?

My estimates are considering the age of the model, not when it was purchased or manufactured. For example, the iPhone 12 came out in 2019. But if you buy it now it’s already 2 years old and will probably only last you another 2 years, 4 if you get lucky.

  • People who use their iPhone as a major tool in earning income: 1-3 years
  • People who use their iPhone heavily as a social tool: 2-5 years
  • People with basic smartphone needs: 4-6 years

Rumors and expectations for iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro so far include

  • Improved battery life
  • Improved camera
  • Faster processors
  • All models get Dynamic Island in place of the notch
  • Smaller bezels (border around the screen) may give us a slightly larger screen without making the phone itself larger
  • Periscope lens in iPhone 16 Pro Max will allow for 10x optical zoom
  • iPhone 15 Pro models will include Wi-Fi 6E, allowing faster speeds and lower latency
  • iPhone 15 Pro models will switch to a more durable and lighter titanium frame
  • iPhone 15 Pro models will replace the mute switch with a programmable “Action” button (which of course will probably be able to be programmed for mute if that’s the action you prefer)
  • A new cellular modem may offer better speeds, range, and lower power usage
  • New UWB (Ultra Wideband) chip allows integration with Apple Vision Pro among other uses
  • A new internal design will allow easier back glass repairs on the 15 Pro models, just as they do on the standard 14 models
  • And of course, USB-C

A little history lesson

  • 1996: Intel introduces USB, aiming to unify most of the myriad of connectors we used for things like printers (parallel port), mice (serial port), and keyboards (PS/2 port). The end of the cable we plug into computers is called “USB-A” and the end that goes into your device is called “USB-B”. But we rarely ever use those terms outside of technical documentation. Though USB is an abbreviation for Universal Serial Bus, it is far from universal. We still use separate connectors for video, audio, power, and high-speed data such as FireWire (the successor to SCSI).
  • 1998: Apple releases iMac, the first all-USB computer. Everyone thinks they are crazy for dropping all of the old connectors. The industry struggled to adopt USB so there were few devices on the market at the time. iMac helped push that along.
  • 2003: Apple introduces the 30-pin connector for iPod, which also became the standard connector for the iPhone when it was released. It allowed us to have one connector on your iPod, but you could plug into either a USB port or a FireWire port depending on which cable you used.
  • 2012: Apple introduces Lightning. Nearly a decade after the 30-pin connector was released it was beginning to show its limitations. It was huge. It was slow. Many of the pins were no longer even used because FireWire capability was removed. And 30 pins meant 30 things that could easily break. Apple had to make a switch to something smaller and more modern. The problem was, the only real alternative at the time was Micro-USB, which was fussy and unreliable. Pretty much every other smartphone on the market used this and it had big limitations and many problems. Intel, the maker of USB, was working on a new connector to address everyone’s needs. Unfortunately, Apple couldn’t wait. So Apple made the Lightning connector and promised that they would not change again for the next decade.
  • 2014: Intel finally gets around to releasing USB-C (remember USB-A and USB-B I mentioned above? It’s a pattern). It’s surprisingly similar to Lightning in design. And it finally really is a “universal” connector. It now can do audio, video, high-speed data, and can even supply enough power to run a computer. And it’s reversible both in the sense of flipping the cable like Lightning, but it’s also the same on both ends of the cable.
  • 2015: The 12-inch MacBook is one of the first products on the market to use USB-C. Everyone seems to think that it’s a proprietary connector. But very quickly every Android phone and most laptop computers make the switch as well.
  • 2018: All Mac laptop models have now switched to USB-C.
  • 2022: The EU passes legislation mandating that beginning at the end of 2024 newly-released portable electronics must use USB-C for charging. Though the new law only affects products that come to market after December 28 of 2024, all indications point to Apple meeting the requirements with their 2023 models. So perhaps they would have anyway.
  • 2023 (hopefully): Apple finally switches iPhone to USB-C. With any luck, the other remaining products to use Lightning will switch by year-end as well: AirPod, Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad.

Further Help

If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.

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