Excitement is building about next month's likely iPhone 15 launch, and for good reason — rumors suggest the new models are making a number of significant changes, especially when it comes to the iPhone 15 Pro models. From USB-C coming to all four new iPhones to the iPhone 15 Pro Max adopting a periscope-style telephoto lens for better zooming, it sound like there are plenty of features worth getting excited about.
Unless, of course, you have no plans to upgrade your iPhone come the fall.
It happens. Maybe you're satisfied with your current phone. Maybe you just don't have the budget to swing a brand new iPhone at this time. (And with iPhone 15 price rumors suggesting a price hike on some models, who could blame you?) Whatever the reason, you're just not planning on jumping aboard the good ship iPhone 15 when it pulls into the dock at Apple's still-unannounced September launch event.
You don't have to fee left behind just because you're thinking of giving the iPhone 15 a pass. While I'm on the record as arguing that the rumored iPhone 15 changes are addressing exactly what Apple needs to with its smartphone lineup, I can also make the case for waiting until next year to upgrade your phone. Here's why you'd be perfectly justified in skipping the iPhone 15.
You've bought an iPhone in the past year or so
If you're reading this article with an iPhone 14 close at hand, you can probably sit this round of updates out. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are among the best phones you can buy right now — just because they're a year old doesn't make them any less powerful. As for the other iPhone 14 models, they may not have seen the substantial changes that the Pro models enjoyed, but they're still perfectly capable devices that don't need to be put out to pasture the moment something shinier and newer comes along.
For most of us, the days of upgrading to a new phone every year are long over. That's probably a little more financially responsible and certainly more thoughtful about the ecological impact of quickly disposing of tech. Apple builds its phones to last, and the fact that the upcoming iOS 17 update runs on devices that came out five years ago should convince you that you can squeeze more life out of your current iPhone.
The calculus gets a little trickier if you're using an iPhone 13. Personally, I'm of the belief that a smartphone should last you three years at a minimum, so I'd probably look to hold on to the two-year-old iPhone 13 through 2024. If you're on the fence, our iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 13 comparison can help you decide if the rumored changes are significant enough to make you give up your current phone.
You're in the market for something cheaper
While the iPhone 15 is likely to keep the current model's $799 staring price, that's still a lot to pay for a phone. And that's before we consider the rumored price hike to the iPhone 15 Pro models that could push the cost of an iPhone 15 Pro Max to as high as $1,299.
Apple does sell cheaper phones, of course, as it keeps older models around at reduced prices anytime it introduces new handsets. (Here's a look at the models Apple is likely to discontinue in the wake of the iPhone 15 launch.) And if you're really on a limited budget, there's always the $429 iPhone SE.
The current iPhone SE that first arrived in 2022 may not inspire oohs and ahs, but that's likely to change with the next version of Apple's compact phone. For one thing, the next SE is expected to adopt a new design, getting rid of the dated look inspired by 2017's iPhone 8. For another, rumors now suggest the next iPhone SE will get some of the cooler features rumored for the iPhone 15 lineup, such as USB-C connectivity and an Action button that replaces the Mute switch.
The challenge with the iPhone SE 4 is that it's unclear when the next version will arrive. Rumors suggest that Apple won't release a new model of its cheap iPhone until at least 2025, so you're going to need to be prepared to hold out until then if that's the iPhone upgrade you really want.
You want even better cameras
Every iPhone introduction seems to bring at least one improvement to the phone's cameras — not surprising given how fierce the battle to be the best camera phone is proving to be. For instance, this year, the standard iPhone is expected to adopt the 48MP main camera sensor Apple added to last year's iPhone 14 Pro models. And the iPhone 15 Pro Max has been tipped to get a periscope-style telephoto lens with an improved 6x zoom to better compete with Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Hard as it may be to pass over those camera upgrades, you'd figure that the iPhone 16 will introduce improvements of its own. Already, we're hearing rumors that the 2024 iPhone Pro models will see an upgraded ultrawide camera while the iPhone 16 Pro Max may sport an ultra telephoto lens, which you usually see in cameras with a 300mm focal length. (The iPhone 14 Pro's focal length is 77mm, just for context.)
The point is, that any camera improvement introduced to the iPhone 15 this year is likely to trickle down to future iPhones. If you can afford to wait, you'll probably get a much better camera setup.
You want a bigger screen
You might think that the 6.7-inch display on the iPhone 14 Pro Max is plenty big, Apple is eyeing a potential panel upgrade for 2024. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the Pro editions for the iPhone 16 could come in sizes of 6.2- and 6.8-inches. That's an extra 0.1 inch for both the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max.
Will that be enough reason for most of us to hold off on getting an iPhone this year? Realistically, no. But add it to the column of future iPhone improvements likely to happen after the iPhone 15, and it's another argument in favor of holding out for next year's phone.
You're intrigued by the sound of an iPhone Ultra
Earlier this year, we heard talk that Apple was considering introducing an iPhone Ultra, either as a replacement for the Pro Max model or as a separate, higher-end handset in the spirit of the Apple Watch Ultra. There isn't going to be an Ultra phone this year... but that could change going forward.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has reported that an iPhone Ultra model is still very much under discussion at Apple, even though it won't ship this year. Instead, we could see such a phone in 2024. While it's unclear exactly what features would rise to the level of an Ultra model versus the regular iPhone Pro lineup, you can expect anything Apple does release to be quite expensive. If the Ultra intrigues you, best to set aside that iPhone upgrade money for at least another year.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.