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Digital Life

It's okay to be an iPhone 5 in a 5s world

Beauty is fleeting. When it comes to iPhones, it's about one year before your latest phone is made obsolete. Unfortunately for those who like to stay ahead of the curve, cellphone contracts are usually two years long. This means that every other year, we have to stick with our now old phones and find ways to make them new. But while they aren't the latest and greatest gadgets around, there are still reasons to value your old iPhone.

You get some of the new stuff

One of the best parts of buying an Apple product is knowing that your device is at least guaranteed to be supported for a few years. While Android phones often leave customers hanging when a new software update is available, Apple usually gives its users some version of the latest update. So while your aging iPhone 5 might not have all of these sweet features, it'll probably have most of them.

To the untrained eye, it's hard to tell the difference

Apple usually maintains the look of a phone for two years. The iPhone 3GS looked like the 3G, the 4S like the 4, and the 5s like the 5. If you happen to buy the phone without the "s" you can still blend in. That's assuming you haven't dinged and cracked your phone to oblivion. So realistically, even if there are a few different features, your old phone can easily pass for a new one.

You get to see how things pan out

Photo: Jason Flores

Everything that glitters is gold at an iPhone announcement or launch. A few months down the road, however, that's not always the case. Siri looked revolutionary when it was featured on the iPhone 4S, now it's rare to see anybody use it. Apple Maps was so bad at launch Tim Cook apologized for it. By sticking with your old iPhone, you can watch early adopters get over the honeymoon phase and avoid the disappointment of broken promises.


We all have that one friend who still uses a flip phone. Either they can't (or don't want to) pay for expensive smartphone data plans or they don't understand why they'd need a phone with the internet. You laugh at them, try to explain what they're missing out on, call them hipsters, but secretly, you admire their convictions and envy their transcendental connection to simpler times. Of course, having a year-old phone doesn't exactly make you Henry David Thoreau, but it couldn't hurt to metaphorically "live in the woods" until your contract ends. You might even learn something about yourself.

You have a wandering eye

Let's be honest. You've checked out an Android phone before. Maybe your friend let you use one with a glorious 4.7-inch 1080p display and now your tiny iPhone feels like a smartwatch. Maybe you're just over it. If you were bored with iOS 6, it won't hurt to at least take a look at iOS 7 and try it out on your old phone. If you still don't like it, you've got some time to plan your transition to Android rather than being trapped for 2 more years.

Remember the good times

Your phone was amazing when you got it. It still is. The camera still takes great pictures, the screen is still crisp, and the software is still smooth as butter. The outside may be worn, but everything about it is still solid. Of course there is better technology out there. In a few months there will be even better technology than that. But you probably can't say it was a bad purchase. Chances are, it still won't be, even a year or so from now.

Photo: Yutaka Tsutano