It’s been 14 months since Apple unveiled the iPhone 4. This radical redesign slathered the touchscreen phone in glass and metal. Despite Antennagate, the phone has been a hit. If you bought one, as I did, it’s likely a year old or less. That’s pretty fresh technology, isn’t it? Yet, I’m guessing that many of you are, like me, thinking about trading in your still shiny, still powerful, still effective phone for a new iPhone 5.
And why is that?
The gadget trade-up phenomenon is nothing new, but it always amazes me. In what other industry do consumers so readily turn in something that works just fine for something else that may work only incrementally better? Cars come to mind. People lease them, and then a few years into what is more or less a long-term car rental, they turn their car in for a newer model. Car technology doesn’t change that much in three years, but the consumer can get a completely different car. In other words, they can go from driving a sedan to, say, a convertible.
In the case of gadgets, three years would be a lifetime. The iPhone is only four years old and has gone through more than one major update. So perhaps that explains the urge to trade in, or maybe it doesn’t. Here’s what I think: Gadget owners don’t like to be left behind or to look like their handheld status symbol is in any way out of date. Everyone, it seems, knows about the iPhone 5 launch. If a few months from now you’re caught walking around with an iPhone 4, it could be a major gadget embarrassment.
For me, the knowledge a new iPhone is on the horizon induces a dual sense of fear and paranoia. I’m afraid if I do not jump to trade in my 2-month-old iPhone 4, I’ll be out of step with “The New” in technology. In my position, I can’t afford that. Paranoia comes into play when I see other people looking at me holding the iPhone 4. Mashable readers expect me to own the latest and greatest. Otherwise they may think less of me. At least that’s what I think they’re thinking when they look at me.
If I think about this rationally, the new iPhone 5 is not worth trading in my “old” one. Do I need a bigger screen that will make the perfectly-sized iPhone larger and more unwieldy in my pocket? No.
My iPhone is a peppy little device, so that new A5 chip doesn’t turn me on. The A4 CPU handles games and pretty much any task I throw at it with aplomb. What I could really use is all-day battery life, even when I use data for 12 hours. That doesn’t happen with the iPhone 4 and it won’t happen with the iPhone 5, either. If Apple CEO Tim Cook steps up this morning and announces a new battery technology, I may change my tune.
I like my iPhone’s 5-megapixel camera and have taken tons of great, fun shots and excellent 720 p video. When I want higher megapixel images, I pick up my Sony NEX-5 camera. It shoots 1080p, though I almost never shoot video at that resolution.
I love the look of my iPhone, so why do I need the teardrop shape? Will it change my life? No. Might I be more apt to drop the phone when I grab it by the skinny end? Yes.
What about The Assistant? That sounds awesome. I can speak to my phone, in natural language sentences, and it will respond with useful information and answers. If I say, “Where can I go to buy an iPhone 6?” It will gently explain to me that none are available in my area because the phone doesn’t exist yet.
Don’t forget that I can still get an upgrade of sorts simply by installing iOS 5 on my iPhone 4. I can get the deep Twitter integration (which I will love), iMessage will give me group messaging and more (through 3G and Wi-Fi), I can back up and restore via iCloud and, essentially, never connect my iPhone 4 to a PC again.
Put simply, I do not need the iPhone 5. My iPhone 4 makes me very happy. Seriously, I really don’t need a new phone. I’m happy with what I’ve got. Really. Truly.
Unrelated question: What are iPhone 4’s going for on eBay these days?
Don’t miss my live blog of the Apple iPhone announcement. It starts at 1 p.m. ET right here.