Opinion: These are the 10 reasons to upgrade your old phone to iPhone 6S


Apple releases at least one new iPhone every year, and the coverage has become predictable: reviews (accurately) herald “the best iPhone yet,” typically based on “small but important changes that refine the user experience.” Based on everything we know about the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, you can expect the same narrative again this year — starting with the obligatory sigh of similarity that precedes the review of every S model, and ending with the common recommendation to “go buy one unless you can wait until next year.”

For professional reasons, I’ve owned every iPhone since the original 2007 model, and upgraded every single year regardless of how small or large the differences were between models. This year, for the first time, I sold off my current-generation iPhone to maximize the cash I’d get towards the purchase of a new model, and as an experiment, I went back to using the iPhone 5s (updated to iOS 9) to see whether any of the differences really mattered. After a week with the old iPhone, I can’t wait for a new one: there are a lot of reasons to prefer Apple’s bigger, better 6-series phones. So if you’re on the fence about going from any iPhone 4/4S or 5/5s/5c to a new iPhone 6S, trust me, you’ll want to get ready to upgrade now

The following 10 reasons to upgrade from an older iPhone to the iPhone 6S aren’t necessarily in order of absolute importance, but they’re in roughly the order that I noticed the differences between my iPhone 6 Plus versus the iPhone 5s.

  1. Screen Size Really Matters. Once you’ve used an iPhone with a 4.7″ or 5.5″ screen for two or three days, your old iPhone will actually begin to look and feel like a toy. It’s profoundly obvious with an iPhone 4/4S, but still apparent with the 5/5s/5c. Virtually everyone who makes the switch to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus comments on this at some point, noting that they’d “never go back” to the smaller screen. Why? You’ll realize that you’re not squinting any more. And you may also notice that typing feels better — you’ll get more accurate because the keys are larger.
  2. Battery Life Is Hugely Better. This is a surprisingly big improvement, particularly on the “Plus” model. I went from constantly charging my 5s to never thinking about charging during the day (sometimes even at night) with the 6 Plus. Going back to constant charging on the 5s was the biggest step backwards for me, and a major factor weighing in the larger Plus model’s favor. I’m expecting that the iPhone 6S will beat the iPhone 6 in battery life.
  3. Touch ID Matters, And Apple Pay Is Great. I wasn’t a Touch ID fan or user on the iPhone 5s. It seemed almost pointless in Apple’s first implementation, and unless you locked your iPhone with a password, no faster than swiping to unlock. But in newer iPhones, the fingerprint scanner is noticeably faster and more reliable. Moreover, in-store Apple Pay is a wonderful feature, turning your iPhone into a nearly complete substitute for a wallet. According to reports, Touch ID will be even faster and more reliable on the iPhone 6S, which may make swiping to unlock a thing of the past.
  4. Camera Improvements Are Serious. Better photography was the single biggest reason I sold my iPhone to upgrade to the iPhone 6S. If you’re still using an iPhone 4 or 4S, you’ll notice a huge jump upgrading to even the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, but the iPhone 6S is highly likely to include major improvements to both the front and rear cameras. This is likely to be the biggest resolution boost to the selfie-snapping front camera in years, and the first jump in megapixels for the rear camera since the iPhone 4S. Expect to see superior low-light performance, too.
  5. You’ll Notice Faster Speeds. Every year, Apple puts a newer, faster processor into the latest iPhone, and even if the speed differences aren’t gigantic from year to year, they’re very noticeable between two-year updates. The iPhone 6S appears to be ready for a big jump in processing power, as well as a doubling of RAM that will let you enjoy more apps and web pages without the need to re-load. Even between the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6, the improved app loading speed and 3-D performance are obvious when you try to go back from new to old. It’ll only be better with the iPhone 6S.
  6. You Might Not Need Your iPad Any More. Between the larger screen, faster processing, and better battery life, the iPhone 6 (and particularly the 6 Plus) seriously undercut the value of iPad minis and even some full-sized iPads. Many iPhone 6 Plus users have reported that their iPads began to gather dust once they had a 5.5″ screen to use on the iPhone. Depending on the way you use your tablet, you may well agree.
  7. Split Screen iOS + Landscape Mode. The iPhone 6 Plus expanded the iPhone’s support for landscape-orientation apps, sometimes letting the screen split in two panes and — for the first time — including a landscape Home Screen orientation. If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t want to hold your iPhone upright after passing the Lock Screen, you’ll find that the 6 Plus (and 6S Plus) make that a lot easier than earlier iPhones.
  8. Apple Watch Support. Depending on how old your iPhone is, you may find that the iPhone 6S is your first device with support for the Apple Watch. As fans of the Apple Watch will attest, the iPhone is handy for tracking your activity, adding Apple Pay cards and Passbook passes, and sharing all sorts of data with your wrist. Even if none of this appeals to you, support is there if you change your mind in the future.
  9. Force Touch. My colleague Mark Gurman has explained how Force Touch on the iPhone 6S will let you take one-press shortcuts through iOS apps that previously required multiple presses and hunting through menus. Apple will detail the feature when the new iPhone is unveiled next month, but you can safely expect to see very cool uses of a pressure-sensitive screen that will make traditional iPhone displays feel old.
  10. Color Options. Depending on the age of your iPhone, you may be upgrading from a white- or black-only model, a silver, gray, or gold model, or a plasticky model to the iPhone 6S. If rumors pan out, this will be the first time an iPhone is available in pink metal — otherwise you’ll have the ability to get the latest tweaked gray, gold, and silver variants, this time made from a more resilient aluminum alloy than past iPhones.

I was excited enough about the upcoming S-series upgrades to trade in my iPhone ahead of the iPhone 6S launch, and have shared some tips here as to how you can do the same. If you purchased an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus last year, you’ll be OK holding off unless you’re as big of a photography buff as I am, in which case you might want to think about upgrading to the 6S. I’m pretty sure that users of older iPhones are going to find this year’s model very tempting.

More From This Author

Check out more of my editorials, How-To guides, and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. I’ve recently discussed how to safely prepare and wipe your iPhone for resale or trade-in, and how to get the best iPhone trade-in price to help buy an iPhone 6S.

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  1. Thomas Yoon - 7 years ago

    I actually know a number of people still chugging painfully slowly on their old iPhone 4/4S. As someone who uses all available Apple products at home and on the go, the iPhone 6 has been by far the best phone I ever owned. As such, I agree with most of these points. I’ll have to wait to see how nicely Force Touch is integrated into third-party apps (the kit probably won’t be available until next WWDC) before judging that. As nice as the large screen size is though, I’m still in doubt it’ll replace my iPad Air 2. The Plus phone models just aren’t big enough for actual productivity on a larger scale that the iPads can do. Especially with that rumoured iPad Pro coming out soon.

    But still, nice summary. I hope this entices people to stop living in the dinosaur age of lego-sized phones on that old iOS 5/6 software.

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

      Thomas – agreed entirely on the iPhone 6. The 6 Plus is really the iPhone that can break the need for an iPad, though the Air 2 was the iPad most capable of avoiding this fate. I personally went back and forth daily using my 6 Plus and Air 2, basically the 6 Plus all day and the Air 2 at night. I had very little reason to use the iPad mini 2 or the Air 1 once the 6 Plus arrived. The bigger the gap between iPhone + iPad screens, and _meaningful_ chip performance, the more likely I was to use both. But the performance and screen differences became less meaningful over time.

      • Thomas Yoon - 7 years ago

        I could see that. Personally, I won’t be having a (and I hate to still use this term) “phablet” replace my iPad Air 2 at all for a lot of tasks, but I can immediately see the replacement for the mini and older series. The iPhone 6 lineup is quite a strong system, and it definitely works miles better than these older tablet models did.

        I’m going to wait until the iPhone 7 personally, but I will be trying out the larger size this time. I might have tiny hands, but the extra bonuses you get in the Plus models have been quite enticing for a while now.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        When I got my 6 Plus, I wasn’t interested in replacing the iPad I used most at that point (the iPad mini 2), and I really didn’t view it as a “phablet.” It doesn’t really work like a tablet; Apple kept the OS distinctly and almost unambiguously the same as the iPhone’s. But the reality is that the iPhone 6 Plus just slipped into usage for more things that I was previously using the iPad for, like typing/communicating, watching the occasional video, etc. I noticed pretty quickly that the mini just wasn’t getting used at all. That was the point where the Air 2 began to make more sense as a ‘different product’ if there was going to be a different product. Some people wouldn’t need a tablet at all after getting the Plus.

  2. I’ll be upgrading from iPhone 4S to iPhone 6s. It’ll be a huge jump for me.

    • Andrew Brett Watson - 7 years ago

      My wife will do likewise, She canoooooooot wait!

      • Me too. My reasons to upgrade are:

        1. Capacity. I want to get 64GB model. The one I have now is 16GB and it’s pissing me off because I constantly have no free space in my phone.
        2. Touch ID. I like to keep my phone secure and I have passcode on but it pisses me off as well to touch those 4 numbers every time when unlocking.
        3. Battery life. Well, my iPhone 4S is pretty old and I get just about 3-4 hours of use out of it.
        4. iOS. I know iOS 9 is supported on iPhone 4S, I have PB as well but I want to have the latest iOS version for year to come and iPhone 4S just won’t do it. Apart from that, not everything works on iPhone 4S, for example Handoff and I would like to use it.
        5. Camera. iPhone 4S’ camera is great but put a hand on our hearts, iPhone 6’s is waaaay better (of course, it’s newer phone) and iPhone 6s’ will be much better as well.
        6. Speed. My need to have latest iOS on my phone has its costs. It needs better processor man.

        I had more of the reasons but these are the ones I can remember at the moment.

  3. cody1213 - 7 years ago

    #1 is totally a personal thing. After many months with the iPhone 6, I can say that I very much want to go back to a smaller screen. In fact, the refreshed iPod Touch I bought for testing apps immediately took over 90% of my iPhone screen time. When I get home, I dock the iPhone 6 and pick up the iPod Touch because it’s just a significantly better experience for me. The day Apple releases a smaller iPhone with Apple Pay and Touch ID, I’m ordering it and never considering a larger screen again.

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

      Cody, I agree that it’s very personal (and has a lot to do with hand size, vision, and other individual factors), but based on non-scientific polling, I’d say that there are majority and minority sentiments on this one, and the majority is shifting over to “bigger.” Speaking purely for myself, I’m viewing the 6S/6S Plus release as an opportunity to really decide whether I want to carry the (overly large) Plus for another year, or go down to a 4.7″ screen that strikes me as a little smaller than I prefer, but more pocketable.

      • cody1213 - 7 years ago

        I agree that I’m in the minority (and I think Android sales data bears that out) but I’ll bet a similar number of iPhone users would buy an iPhone 6S Minus as buy an iPhone 6S Plus. I’m just hoping we get a choice. (A real one and not “full-featured larger screen vs crippled smaller screen.”)

        I’d also be thrilled if they made an iPhone that’s twice as thick (to make space for more battery, mostly, but also not bend). So, I clearly don’t share Apple’s vision for an ever more flattened-out phone.

    • You do realize that the article says opinion, right? As in Jeremy’s own opinions.

      • cody1213 - 7 years ago

        Yeah, I noticed that. I viewed the “opinion” label as an invitation for discussion. If the headline had read, “Fact: Apple not going to release a smaller iPhone,” I likely wouldn’t have chimed in with a different opinion.

  4. zomgnerd - 7 years ago

    “Better photography was the single biggest reason I sold my iPhone to upgrade to the iPhone 6S”

    You own a 6s? What’s it like?!

    • flaviosuave - 7 years ago

      Read the whole article again, specifically the second paragraph, and then re-evaluate how clever you think you’re being…

  5. geoffreyspencer - 7 years ago

    I agree with your article yet at the same time I disagree.

    I am eagerly waiting for the new iPad Pro…hopefully and finally with mouse support, not just with stylus support. The iPad Pro for those who do not do heavy CPU and memory work would be the new office computer. I am a software engineer so I will still need a MBP. Others could RDP to their terminal server and work there using the iPad Pro WITH mouse support (hint, hint Apple). You can connect the current iPad to an external monitor via the port or AirPlay. The bigger screen would be a boon for my music lessons. The current iPads are too small to read the sheet music. I read text manuals and books on the iPad but it may be even better with the iPad Pro.

    I like using the iPad Mini in bed to read a novel or watching a movie or TV show. I find the iPad is too big and heavy in bed. The iPhone 6+ is too small for movies. Novels are not bad on the iPhone 6+ but I am using the iPhone 6+ to track my sleep so it is busy when I go to bed anyway.

    The iPhone 6+ is great when on the move for quick replies. Longer replies (for work) is done with my iPad because I have an external BT keyboard. While Siri is great, it does not work well in loud situations. Hopefully there are fixes coming for this in the (near) future.

    Each device and each size has its purpose. People need to think what do I want to use the device for and when before buying it.

    • Ugh man. I’m sorry, I didn’t your whole comment because the mouse part just repelled me.

      • flaviosuave - 7 years ago

        “I didn’t your whole comment”

        Was this before or after you accidentally the whole fleshlight?

      • I meant I didn’t read your whole comment. There’s no edit function. Website design just got worse. What would you expect?

      • kijijigod - 7 years ago

        This redesign of the site is high on style (which in my opinion is ugly) and low on functionality, usability, and readability. I hope the powers that be realize the mistake and have a plan to revise the site to something (anything!) better.

      • They should reverse the design back (or at least give you a choice to pick your favourite one – old or new). Think of a new design, maybe have users submit their ideas, have an option to switch to new design for everyone to test and I most of all, change this horrible comments system for Disquss which is so easy to implement.

  6. markazali - 7 years ago

    I hope/assume Apple will include Band 12. That will really help my reception for T-Mobile where I live.

  7. Dafty Punk - 7 years ago

    If I could go from my 6 back to a 5 sized screen (but with the internal improvements from the 6) I would in a heartbeat. I am NOT a fan of the larger screen iPhones.

  8. atcoleness - 7 years ago

    I have the 6Plus and will not be upgrading since my wife and I just got them a few months ago and love them. I could go for a sliiightly larger screen actually. I’m a huge fan of the phablet.

  9. 21ice92 - 7 years ago

    For someone who is still using the 4S for more than 3 years (since I bought the 4S I told others that the next iPhone i get will have a larger screen. 5 and 5S was disappointing IMO), there is no reason not to upgrade if you still have the 4S. Heck, I’m surprised Apple still lets iOS 9 into the 4S’s. To those people who plan on using their 4S’s for the next 2-3 years (and I have seen other people with 4S’s), you will definitely fall behind.

    • capdorf - 7 years ago

      I agree that large for screen is important, but small for portability is more important, for many of us. The rest can work with any size. The real problem is, lack of choice, re size. I’ve looked and looked and decided that the only way I could justify a 6 is if I carry it in a bag. The 5 size is okay although I prefer my 4′ but to get a 5 would be limiting myself re facilities and life of the software. So, yes, the 6 is a great phone, if you don’t mind carrying a brick, yes I know it’ stain but size also makes it feel too thin.

  10. Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

    I am swithching from 4… I really can’t wait. That will be reaaally huge! :)

  11. Navjot Singh Cheema - 7 years ago

    Switching from samsung galaxy ace to iPhone 6s…..it can’t be more exciting!!

  12. mytawalbeh - 7 years ago

    I’m planning to Upgrade from iPhone 6 Plus to “s” model. Mainly it will be about the camera and Force Touch that I’m still waiting the official announcement of its actual capabilities (I hope it will be more than what Mark stated before).

  13. Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

    I loved the shape and size of my 4S. Design was plain great, and it was feeling solid and indestructible (I said “feeling”) and the screen size was ok for me. Then I got the 6 and the screen size really made a difference, though I don’t like the 6 design at all (plastic bands, protruding lens, feeling fragile…). I’d say that the ideal iPhone for me would be a 4/4S with everything that is in the 6/6S. TouchID in particular.
    Having a 6, I wont go for a 6S, not because the 6S expected features aren’t compelling enough, but simply because it is a luxury to me changing iPhone every year. Most likely, I’ll switch for a 7 or 7S, or wathever Apple will name next generations iPhones. Maybe they’ll depart from the numbering scheme, which woldn’t be a bad idea…

  14. Overlord - 7 years ago

    I upgrade one of my old iPhones, iPhone 4 for um Moto G 3ª generation and i’m happy.

  15. Jazz Nelson - 7 years ago

    Well for me personally, I must admit the iPhone 6+ was an excellent device. I was so pumped up over it that I literally stalked it 2months in advice before preordering it. And after getting it? It was all I expected it to be and more, I got so much attention from the phone when and were ever I pulled it out. Not to mention the software and camera capabilities were A1. But unfortunately I was hoping that we’d skip the S model and jump into an entirely new design being that samsung has released two devices that seem to be doing fairly well. So I’m going to roll with one of samsungs New phones untill the iPhone 7 drops next year. I just don’t think force touch is enough to make me want the S model that’s looks practically identical to the previous model.

    • ag80911 - 7 years ago

      Interesting you consider the 6S a minor upgrade because it doesn’t have a new case. This is going to be easily the biggest iPhone upgrade in a long time (yea I know on the Android world these are regular specs)

      12/16MP iSight Camera
      1080p Facetime camera
      LTE chip (up 300 Mbps)
      2G RAM
      7000 aluminium frame
      Force Touch

      Even if you do not upgrade, this means that the iPhone 7 will start off from here.

  16. Kirat Vohli - 7 years ago

    Nice try. Give it for free. I will ‘upgrade’.

  17. Kirat Vohli - 7 years ago

    I am NOT switching from Lumia 1020 to iphone 6s.. Very exciting. Idiots