Move up to the latest iPhone or consider a switch to Android
If you’re using an iPhone 6, or 6 Plus, then two new iPhone versions have appeared since your smartphone’s initial release in 2014 with another (the iPhone 8) almost certain to follow sometime in the Autumn of 2017.
You may think it’s time to consider an upgrade; things move quickly in phone technology and Apple have added some useful features and extra functionality to their hugely successful smartphone. Alternatively, you may be considering a move away from Apple’s iOS platform over to Android – the Google-designed smartphone and tablet platform that accounts for well over 80% of smartphone sales each year.
There are some good value and easy ways to sell your iPhone before signing up to a new contract with a subsidised phone or buying a new one outright.
Staying with the iPhone
If you decide to stick to the iPhone, then your upgrade options are to upgrade your 6 to the 6S or the 7. Both are available new and used whether subsidised on a contract or bought outright, and at first glance don’t look much different to the 6 you may already own.
Moving up to an iPhone 6S
Generally, Apple upgrade the iPhone each year and a full number change (from iPhone 5 to 6, 6 to 7 and so on) alternates with an ’S’ version (4S, 5S, 6S and so forth). The ’S’ version is usually a mild upgrade over its ‘full number’ predecessor (6S over 6) whereas the next ‘full number’ change marks a more significant overhaul over the previous model (7 over 6S) often with significant engineering changes along with a new design.
In the case of the 7 taking over from the 6S this hasn’t really happened in that the basic design has stayed the same with some enhancements rather than major changes. This time the ’S’ model is considered the biggest jump from the full numbered variant so the move up to 6S from 6 contains significant changes.
Case – while looking very similar, the 6S has a more rigid aluminium case than the 6.
Screen – size and specification are the same but the way you use it differs with 3D Touch. It detects how hard you press the screen so introduces ways of bringing up short cut menus and previews to links and emails amongst other things.
Performance – a more powerful chip and double the RAM makes multitasking quicker.
Camera – more megapixels (from 8 up to 12) and a beefed up front camera (for selfies) from 1.2 to 5 megapixels.
Battery life – about the same. The battery is actually smaller to allow room for the hardware to power the 3D Touch system but more efficient running offsets the lower capacity.
Fingerprint scanner for Touch ID – much faster than before.
Storage – same options as before, so 16, 64 and 128GB.
It could well be worth upgrading your 6 to a 6S. The tougher case and overall snappier performance and new interaction via 3D Touch make for significant improvements.
Moving up to an iPhone 7
It may seem logical to upgrade your 6 to a 7 if switching to the intermediate 6S is worthwhile, but the decision is perhaps whether you need go to a 7 if the 6S would suffice? Here are the key differences between the two.
Case – virtually the same although the area where the camera is proud of the surface has been ‘rounded off’ a little. More colours are available including a ‘piano black’ finish – but the colour may not matter if you always use a protective case.
Screen – the home button no longer depresses to operate; it has a haptic response (same as touching the surface of the screen to activate functions). Screen specifications stay the same as the 6 and 6S, but a wider colour gamut means it renders a greater number of colours.
Performance – a more powerful chip, but it’s a moot point whether you’ll notice unless you’re into intensive mobile gaming.
Camera – perhaps the main useful difference in the 7 over the 6S; optical image stabilisation (OIS) is included to help take steadier photos and video, and a larger aperture lens improves photography in low level lighting.
Battery life – a slightly larger battery that Apple claims gives two hours longer life, although reviewers have generally struggled to achieve these figures.
Storage – the previous meagre 16GB lower limit has been replaced by 32GB with other storage options all the way up to 256GB.
No headphone socket
The iPhone 7 has no standard 3.5 mm headphone jack socket. If you own a good set of earphones, Apple do provide an adaptor to connect them to the phone’s lightning socket.
Overall, you may not notice huge improvements moving up to an iPhone 7 compared to a 6S, so if you can save on upgrading to the older model then that may be the best course to take.
The Google Pixel – the Android alternative
Having developed the Android platform used by various other smartphone manufacturers, Google have launched their own smartphone in the form of the Pixel. Not surprisingly, it works very well with the company’s own mobile platform and is winning many friends with its performance. It’s available in two flavours – a 5 inch screen model and an ‘XL’ version with a 5.5 inch screen.
With its version of similar Apple iOS features including a Siri-like assistant, apps, touchscreen and even a similar look in terms of its styling, you’d soon feel at home in the Android environment. That said, it may be a bit awkward using an Android device if you already own other Apple equipment such as a Mac computer and Apple Watch.
If you do switch, you’ll benefit from battery life demonstrably better than the iPhone, a rapid charge option that Apple don’t offer and a class-leading camera. It’s said the Pixel has been introduced especially to take on the iPhone so it’ll be interesting to see how the battle pans out.