Lesson 48: Deciding When to Upgrade

Well, it’s that time again.  Time to decide if a new iPhone is worth the investment or not–pre-order of the iPhone 5S begins September 20th.

Deciding on new photography equipment is always a bit of a challenge.  Even if budget is not a concern, there are several downsides to switching equipment.  First, there’s the emotional attachment.  I don’t know about you, but I’m attached to my iPhone.  It feels like a friend who’s looked out for me and remained faithful in spite of many abuses.  My 4S has given me two good years and giving up on it when it still seems to be in the prime of its life feels a bit like a betrayal.

Second, anytime I upgrade, there is always a learning curve.  I really want to know if the effort will pay back in dividends with better features that make my life easier.  And, most importantly, that I won’t lose some of the features I’ve come to rely on the most.

Finally, there’s the inevitable domino effect of a new device:  a new case, a new lifejacket, a new bike mount, and, of course, what about all my nifty lens attachments?  Is upgrading to the latest gadget worth the inevitable headaches of replacing all the stuff I’ve accumulated for the current version?

I’ll jump to the end of the story:  I have decided to order the 5S.  But, I don’t take the decision lightly.  If you are considering whether it’s time for an upgrade or not, here are the things that tipped the balance for me:

  1. The fingerprint security.  One of the most painful things about my 4S is having to type in a lengthy, complicated password to unlock it.  Now, not everyone has to have a long, complicated password, so this may not be an issue for you, but the thought of being able to unlock my iPhone by simply placing my finger on the home button means not having to choose between missing a moment and using default camera app.
  2. A faster, brighter camera with a bigger sensor.  I have struggled with night time and low-light photos with my 4S.  Having a bigger sensor should help reduce noise and make it easier to get those low-light photos that I’ve been missing.  If you’re not frustrated by what you get with your current iPhone, this also may not matter to you.
  3. A new processor that will allow the camera to focus faster, capture photos faster, and, presumably, faster photo processing.  This equates to fewer lost moments and less time spent editing.
  4. A co-processor that does smart things to save your battery.  Battery life is another struggle when out and about and doing a lot of shooting.  A dead battery means more missed moments.
  5. 10 frames per second burst mode.  That’s pretty impressive.  It means being able to take a series of photos that are firing off 1/10th of a second apart.  More potential to capture more moments.
  6. An improved flash.  While the flash doesn’t claim to be brighter, it’s supposed to create better color temperature and light the scene better.
  7. iPhoto available at no charge.  iPhoto has some nice organization features and, I hope, will allow for metadata management on the iPhone–something else I’ve missed.

That’s my list of iPhonography related reasons (aka, excuses) for why I’ve decided to order one.  To alleviate my guilt, I’ll be donating my 4S to my husband, who is still using a 3G S iPhone–that way, my 4S will still be part of the family.

Your Assignment:  What are your criteria for how you decide when it’s time to upgrade?