Later today I will have a brand new iPhone 5S, which I ordered on Friday. I wasn’t expecting to need a new phone so soon but sadly my current iPhone 5 is not in a good way.
The need to upgrade
I bought my iPhone 5, along with a new two-year contract, in September 2012, shortly after launch. My iPhone 4 had pretty much conked out: it kept randomly rebooting, and was getting rather slow. However, by September 2014, my iPhone 5 was still in good shape. Sure, the battery life wasn’t as good but it still worked fine. So instead I took out a new 12 month SIM-only contract with the intention of keeping my iPhone 5 until next year.
Unfortunately, more recently, my iPhone 5 has developed a fault with the Lightning port. It will only charge if I plug a cable in at a certain angle – and if the cable becomes even slightly loose, it won’t charge. Whilst I can usually get the cable in a good enough position to charge it at home, it’s almost impossible to do when out and about unless you actually hold the cable in position. And there have been several occasions when the cable has been knocked slightly and I’ve ended up starting the day with a phone on 30% battery.
It’s been like this for a while but it seems to have got worse of late. I’ve tried cleaning out the Lightning port as best I can, and I’ve used many different cables, but it still doesn’t work properly.
It may be fixable, but as the battery life isn’t great either, I decided that really, I’d be best with a new phone.
Co-incidentally, I recently received an ‘exclusive’ offer from Three, the network I’m with, to upgrade early to a new iPhone 6. Normally ending my contract now, and not when it ends in September, would incur a penalty, but Three were willing to waive these charges if I signed a new two-year contract with them. I registered my details on their ‘rulebreakers’ page and got a call back later on Thursday to discuss the deal.
The offer was for a brand new iPhone 6, in my choice of colour, at no up-front cost, with a 2-year contract that included 2 GB of data (including tethering), unlimited calls, unlimited text messages and a few other perks. The catch was that the monthly charge would be £46 per month, and it was only the 16 GB model. I’m currently paying £18 per month for a SIM-only deal so this would be a huge hike in my monthly payments – more than 2.5 times higher.
But I agreed to it – I needed a new phone, and I’d be getting Apple’s latest and greatest model. Even though I had the opportunity to home test an iPhone 6 in September, and found it rather too big for my liking.
Cutting too many corners
At first, I didn’t think the lack of storage would be an issue. My iPad Mini 2 is the 16 GB model, and whilst I don’t have much space left on it, it does just about everything that I need it for.
My iPhone 5, however, is the 64 GB model. And it turns out I was using half of the space on it. At first I thought these were things I could do without – a 2.5 GB full HD quality episode of Sherlock, for example. But after deleting the stuff I didn’t use, and then the stuff I occasionally used, and then stuff that I didn’t really want to delete but would do if I absolutely had to, I was still using over 20 GB of space. Essentially, if I wanted to get by on a 16 GB phone, I’d have to make do with not having all the apps I wanted, all my photos, or all of my music. And it’d be a compromise that I’d have to live with for the two years of the contract. A contract that would be costing me over £1000 over the two years.
The lack of storage might not have been so bad if it weren’t for the limited data allowance as well. Whilst I’ve only ever used more than 2 GB in a month once or twice, if I have less storage capacity on my phone then I’d need to store more data in the cloud, which would eat further into my data allowance. A small capacity phone and unlimited internet might have worked, as would a large capacity phone and limited internet, but not the worst of both.
I’m fortunate, in some respects, that I’d agreed to this over the phone, which meant that I was legally entitled to a 14-day ‘cooling off’ period, as per the Consumer Contracts Regulations. And in fairness to Three, they made me fully aware of my rights to cancel on the phone call and what to do. So on Friday I called them, and cancelled the upgrade, which was done without any fuss. After all, I’ll still have a contract with them until September. The iPhone 6 had already been dispatched at this point, so I’ll need to refuse the delivery when it comes today.
With that sorted, I ordered a new 32GB iPhone 5S direct from Apple. Whilst not as big as my current 64 GB model, I can comfortably get by with 32 GB of space – and Apple doesn’t offer larger storage on the 5S anymore. It cost £499, which I can pay off from my credit card over the next few months, and even with a bit of interest, it’ll save me around £180 over two years, assuming that I stay on an £18 per month contract. And the phone is unlocked too – whilst I’m happy with Three and don’t intend to switch networks, if I do, then I can take my phone with me.
I also prefer the size of the iPhone 5S to the 6. I’m not bothered about a bigger screen and would prefer a device that I can use with one hand, for the times when I’m standing on a train and need to hold onto a grabrail, for example. Whilst it is last year’s model, Apple tend to offer updates for 3-4 years after release, so it should be good until September 2018. And there aren’t many other improvements to the iPhone 6 that are relevant to me: I don’t have any 802.11ac wifi devices and Apple Pay hasn’t been launched here yet.
With hindsight I should have turned down the ‘rulebreaker’ deal in the first place, as soon as I heard it was a 16 GB model, but I guess desperation got the better of me. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to cancel without penalty, and been able to find a solution that serves me better. Even if it does mean using last year’s model.