You should buy the iPhone 7

IMPORTANT EDIT: It turns out in the Ts&Cs that taking the 11 month upgrade forces enrolment in the plan for another 20 months. This isn’t surprising but has significant impact on the TCO (total cost of ownership) calculations below.

The iPhone 7 is, in many ways, the least exciting iPhone ever. All the perceived upsides (awesome camera) and downsides (no headphone jack) seem to balance out precisely, resulting in a device that feels like an iteration and enhancement of the 6S — itself an iteration of the 6. So why buy one?

The iPhone 7 does not look like this — that’s probably a good thing.

The Apple Upgrade Programme

Astute readers will note the use of “-me” at the end of “programme” — this is because the AUP is now available outside the US, including the UK. For those unaware, the AUP allows you to “buy” a phone with a series of monthly payments, but cruicially entitles you to a free upgrade after 11 months.

But surely that’s only relevant if you’re one of the technorati, who buys a phone every year?

Not so.

They did the Monster Math

For the sums to make sense, we need to make a few assumptions:

  1. You have an iPhone 6
  2. You are selling devices at market rate (no wheeling and dealing)
  3. You are buying an iPhone 8 regardless of whether you get a 7

That leaves us with three options

  1. Upgrade to the 8 in a year’s time (assuming Apple keep to the same release cycle they have kept to for nearly 10 years)
  2. Upgrade to the 7 now, and 8 in a year’s time, buying and selling old devices
  3. Enrol in the Apple upgrade programme

So which is best?

A bit of “back of the napkin” math shows that, over 20 months, the upgrade programme is the cheapest option. But it’s also the best option. Not only do you have £20 vs. upgrading to the iPhone 8 only, and £300 vs. upgrading to both, but you get:

  • The newest phone at every point in the cycle
  • Free Applecare +
  • Spread cost of device (not to be underistamted when you could be spending £800+ up front)

The Apple Upgrade Programme involves long-term tie in, monthly payments, and perhaps engenders a lack of ownership in the device. But, if you’ve had an iPhone for 5–10 years, does any of that really worry you?

I’ve had an iPhone since 2008; excuse me while I go get in line.

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