Welcome to Tech Support, a segment where I, Dan Howley, serve as your intrepid guide through the sometimes confusing, often frustrating, world of personal technology.
Here, I answer all of your most pressing questions about the various gizmos, gadgets, and services you use in your everyday life.
Now, on to your questions. This week's dilemma:
“Should I wait until the iPhone 12 comes out to buy a new iPhone?”
Apple (AAPL) has officially delayed the launch of its next iPhone. Instead of the firm shipping the devices in the later half of September as it normally does, it’s expected to send out units “a few weeks later.”
For people whose current phones are on their last legs, though, that leaves one question: Should you upgrade now or hold out for Apple’s next-generation devices?
It all comes down to what your immediate needs are and what you want out of your next smartphone. If you’re the kind of person that needs the absolute best handset with all of the latest and greatest features, then, well, you’re going to have to wait out the delay until Apple finally lets everyone know when the next iPhone, which we’ll call the iPhone 12, is available for purchase.
That phone is expected to be Apple’s first 5G-capable device, and promises dramatically faster upload and download speeds compared to current 4G LTE-equipped iPhones. 5G will be a major reason many people look to upgrade to the 12, along with the knowledge that they’ve, presumably, got the fastest iPhone around.
If you’re not interested in 5G and don’t care if your phone has the latest processor, though, you may be tempted to just skip the wait for a brand new iPhone and snag Apple’s $399 iPhone SE, $599 iPhone XR, or $699 iPhone 11.
But that’s not exactly the smartest move.
See, when Apple unveils new devices, it generally lowers the prices of its existing products. That means Apple could drop the price of the iPhone 11 when it reveals the iPhone 12.
And since Apple tends to cut $100 to $150 off older iPhones, you could end up saving a decent chunk of change if you’re able to hold off and pick up the iPhone 11 when the company unveils the 12.
There is, however, the chance that Apple will kill off at least one or two of its existing iPhone models, which is the company’s standard practice during iPhone reveals. That means there’s no guarantee that the iPhone XR will be available for purchase when the iPhone 12 comes out.
It’s also unlikely that Apple will lower the price of the iPhone SE, since the company only debuted the phone in April.
So what should you do?
Well, if you need a new phone right now, I’d suggest opting for the iPhone SE. It’s a fantastic device powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, the same chip found in the iPhone 11 line, and has many of the features you’d expect of a top-flight smartphone including a quality camera and crisp display.
It also has Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader rather than the company’s Face ID facial recognition technology, which some users will find a welcome distinction.
If you’re looking for a new phone with a near edge-to-edge display, though, I’d suggest holding out for Apple to drop the price of the iPhone 11. The iPhone XR is certainly an impressive option, but by the time the 12 comes out, its processor will already be 2 years old, which, in terms of performance, can be quite a difference over the lifetime of your phone.
If money isn’t an issue, and your current phone can get you by until later this fall, then the smartest move you can make is hold off on buying a phone just yet and wait for the iPhone 12.
You should think of your smartphone like any other computer. The newer it is in terms of processor, the longer it will last you. If you get the XR when the 12 comes out, you’ll already be starting out 2 years behind the curve. Get the 11 and you’ll still be a year behind.
But if you get the 12, you’ll be able to hold onto your phone for that much longer. What’s more, as 5G connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, you’ll likely end up kicking yourself for not holding out and waiting for the 12 and its data speeds.
TLDR: Grab the iPhone SE if your current iPhone is busted or on its absolute last legs. If you’ve got the cash and can hold out though, wait for the iPhone 12.
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