I just tried Apple’s new ‘Reasons to Upgrade’ tool to see if it could convince me to buy an iPhone 15

iPhone 15 Pro shown in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you’re still rocking an older iPhone model — say, the iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 — then you may be thinking about upgrading at some point in the future. Then again, why upgrade if the phone you have is still working perfectly well? Apple just launched a new tool to try and show you just what you’re missing.

The tool is called “Reasons to Upgrade” and it’s essentially a variation of those device comparison tools phone companies tend to offer. But rather than showing you specs tables side by side, it seems Apple has tried to explain the benefits of upgrading in more personal terms. A lot of us know that bigger numbers often means better, but it helps if you know why that’s the case.

The most recent iPhone I use regularly is an iPhone 12, which makes me one of the people Apple seems to be targeting. So I decided to check the tool out for myself, and see what Apple thinks people should know when they're considering an upgrade.

Things Apple thinks are worth upgrading for

iphone 15 reasons to upgrade page

(Image credit: Apple)

The first point to note is that Apple’s new tool only compares the iPhone 11 and 12 series — including the mini, Pro and Pro Max models — with all four iPhone 15 models currently on sale. So if you have any other phone, or have an interest in anything other than an iPhone 15 then you’ll need to find another way to try and make up your mind. 

But once you select the appropriate phones, the page will subtly change to reflect just how much of an improvement a newer iPhone might be. For instance, the iPhone 15 has 4x the camera resolution of an iPhone 12, which Apple notes is ideal for capturing additional details and coloring in your photos — all good things to have.

The camera seems to play a big part on the page, with Apple also noting improvements to Portrait mode, the new Action and Cinematic video modes, camera zooming capabilities and the fact you can record 4K Dolby Vision video at 60fps on an iPhone 15.

Apple’s also keen to hype up features like USB-C charging, Dynamic Island, improved durability and the high performance of the A16 Bionic and A17 Pro chipsets powering its current phones. Did you know the latter’s GPU is twice as fast as the one in the iPhone 11’s A13 Bionic. I certainly didn’t, and that’s the kind of thing Apple is trying to highlight here.

iphone 15 reasons to upgrade page

(Image credit: Apple)

Of course the page is also able to show you a comparison of both phones’ designs side by side. So you can see that the iPhone 15 is a lot more compact than an iPhone 11, despite the fact that both offer a 6.1-inch display.

It wouldn’t be a sales pitch if Apple didn’t tell you how much your current phone is worth when you trade it in. The rebate is up to $180 if you’re still using an iPhone 11, by the way or $220 for the iPhone 12. If your phone isn’t in pristine condition, though, you'll get less of a trade-in value.

Reasons to Upgrade isn't perfect

One of the things I will note here is that the Reasons to Upgrade page also had the opposite effect on me than what Apple intended. The fact that the page changes were pretty subtle meant you can also see the lack of changes between iPhone generations — for instance, all four iPhone 15 models supposedly offer “4x the resolution” of every iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 model.

Check the specs and you’ll see the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 have 12MP main cameras, while all iPhone 15 models feature a 48MP sensor. There’s more to camera quality than resolution, of course, so it’s odd that Apple would focus on that spec when there are much better ways to describe improvements to photo quality to the layman.

iphone 15 reasons to upgrade page

(Image credit: Apple)

I can certainly imagine someone being turned off by an iPhone 15 Pro Max when they find out it has the same resolution camera as an iPhone 15 — assuming they ignore all the other differences between the two phones, that is.

Then again, I suppose this is the point of the tool. It breaks down the important changes and you get to decide whether the 5x tetraprism lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is actually worth paying an extra $400 for.

And, to be honest, it would be nice if Apple had included the likes of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 in this tool as well. After all, those people may be considering upgrading, and they deserve to see how their phone compares to the latest iPhone models — or if it’s worth waiting for the iPhone 16 launch later this year.

 Bottom line 

iphone 15 reasons to upgrade page

(Image credit: Apple)

But despite the limited choice and the relatively minor way the pages change from phone to phone, it’s clear to see what Apple is going for here. It’s a way of selling the iPhone 15 series without having to resort to comparison tables and specs lists. As informative as those may be, it’s like reading a recipe from the back of a cookie box instead of eating one of the cookies.

Plus, if you’re thinking about upgrading your phone to a more expensive model, you need a little more justification than the fact there’s a newer model with slightly bigger numbers on the specs sheet, especially if you’re still happy with the way your current phone is running. Apple’s tool gives you all the best (in Apple’s opinion) reasons why you’d be better off buying a brand new phone.

Still, considering how much money the iPhone brings in for Apple, it’s no surprise that the company wants as many people as possible to buy the latest models.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.