Not an iPhone launch goes by that there aren’t lines out the door at the local Apple store or enough excited fans to make a pre-order sell out. But for all of the iPhone fans who are feverishly comparing the capabilities of the iPhone 7 to those of the iPhone 6s, there are plenty of other iPhone users who aren’t considering the iPhone 7 and may not have purchased an iPhone 6s (or an iPhone 6 either).
Prior to the launch of the iPhone SE, many staunch Apple fans would have chalked that reticence up to factors like Apple’s lack of a modern, small iPhone. But even with the iPhone 7 joining the iPhone SE, the iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 6 in Apple’s iPhone lineup, there are some people who really don’t want to buy new iPhones anymore. Ahead, check out some of the reasons why the “most loved phone” just isn’t doing it anymore, even for some of Apple’s current iPhone owners and longtime iOS users.
Apple isn’t introducing the features that people want
As is the case year after year, the Apple rumor mill gets some aspects of new iPhones right, and is mistaken with regard to others. A great example is the iPhone 7, which various rumors indicated (wrongly) could get features like wireless charging, a redesigned body, an invisible home button, and an OLED screen. Not all of those features are necessary upgrades, but some of them — like faster charging capabilities, a more powerful chip, and even the Apple SIM — could have made the iPhone 7 a much more compelling upgrade.
While there are iPhone 7 features worth getting excited over, including water resistance and improved battery life, this year’s iPhone launch failed to bring many of the features that iPhone fans wanted. Instead of resigning themselves to the idea that Apple’s timeline is different from the timeline proposed by the Apple rumor mill, some customers are choosing to wait, in hopes that the features they want for their next iPhones will appear next year since they didn’t materialize this year.
Regardless of what Apple introduces each year, there’s a growing contingent of iPhone users who just aren’t upgrading to new iPhones on an annual basis. Power users — who run demanding apps, use their phones day and night, or generally ask a lot of their smartphones — may see the need for top-of-the-line specifications and may inflict enough abuse on their phones that it’s worth upgrading each year. But the average user — the kind of user whose typical activities include scrolling through Facebook, sending photos on Snapchat, chatting on Messenger, and streaming music via Spotify — may not need the brightest screen, the fastest processor, or the camera with the biggest pixels.
The fact that an iPhone that’s been around for a couple of years isn’t anything new, since most of us grew accustomed to upgrading on a two-year cycle thanks to the proliferation of carrier contracts. But with the growing popularity of plans like Apple’s own iPhone Upgrade Program, it’s sounding more and more normal to get a new phone each year. Frugal users are reminding themselves that they really don’t need new iPhones each year, especially since they’re getting used to seeing the full price tags of those phones.
In the days of two-year contracts and carrier subsidies, it was easy for the average consumer to ignore the actual price tag of the shiny new smartphone everyone was lusting after. But with two-year contracts replaced by leasing plans and plenty of people opting to buy a phone outright instead of paying it off in increments, people are becoming newly aware of how expensive high-end devices like the iPhone really are. Particularly if they don’t need to replace a malfunctioning or aging phone, plenty of people opt to hold on to their phones longer as a financial decision.
Each year, consumers realize all over again that there’s never a good time to buy an iPhone. That’s because whenever you purchase one, there’s always going to be a newer, better one on its way. Rumors are already starting about the iPhone 7s or iPhone 8, or whatever Apple is going to call its 2017 iPhone. Plenty of iPhone users are opting to hold off on purchasing a new iPhone until a new model really wows them — and if analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo are correct, waiting another year or so is probably a sound strategy.
While some users may hold out for specific features, others are holding out for something a less concrete: a phone that feels exciting. The iPhone 7, and the iPhone 6s before it, are great phones, but they don’t do anything radically new or impressively different. Users who want something that’s very different from what came before have been disappointed with recent generations of the iPhone. And in the blur of spec sheets and feature lists, it’s hard for many users to visualize how this year’s iPhone will feel significantly better than last year’s iPhone.
Any new phone is fun and exciting when you first purchase it, but most users recognize that the hype around a new iPhone doesn’t have much bearing on what a phone will be like when you’re using it to text your mom or Snapchat a selfie to your best friend. The excitement surrounding the annual iPhone launch has become normal, and just about everybody is jaded about smartphones. But the desire for a phone that really wows has many people waiting for a future iPhone and hoping for fundamentally new features — something that’s rare in an industry that’s become more about incremental improvements and gradual evolution as it reaches maturity.