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Opinion: iPhone X? Nah. Here’s why I’m recommending the iPhone 6S

iPhone X plant global sales
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
iPhone X? Pshaw. You don’t need it. Heck, most people don’t need it. In fact, when a friend asked me recently what he should buy, I pointed him toward a different phone. Not the iPhone 8, nor even the iPhone 7, which are both damn good options.

I pointed him toward the iPhone 6S. I’m not crazy, and I’m not alone. Digital Trends’ senior editor Caleb Denison bought a new iPhone last month: An iPhone 6S, knowing full well not one but two new iPhones were imminent. Here’s why.

Apple as a company has been on a tear recently, with gargantuan profits fueled by continued demand and increased sales of its flagship product — the iPhone line of smartphones. Like any commodity, the company unveils tiny tweaks to its product every year to juice sales without really changing the overall experience. This year’s Levi’s are a lot like last year’s Levi’s, and a new line of healthier modern options from Campbell’s (like Black Bean with Red Quinoa – yum!) doesn’t affect availability of classics like chicken noodle soup. For the most part, today’s iPhones are a lot like last year’s iPhones.

You’re easily looking at a $1,500 bill – all to impress your friends with your top of the line, cutting edge phone.

I know, the iPhone X changes that paradigm. It’s got a stunning new screen with OLED technology, meaning the blacks are even blacker and the colors are as vibrant as that neon ski jacket you thought was cool back in 1987. It has a new feature that unlocks the phone by scanning your face, which should simplify life (although our review notes it’s not as consistent as we’d like it to be). The iPhone X sounds great. Smartphone savant Julian Chokkattu called it “the breath of fresh air Apple fans were waiting for.”

But do YOU need it?

For one thing, you’ll pay an incredible premium, largely for the fancy OLED screen in the iPhone X. The iPhone starts at $1,000, and the higher storage model sells for $1,150. Toss in the new case you’re going to need, the wireless charger you’re going to want, some taxes, and you’re easily looking at a $1,500 bill — all to impress your friends with your top of the line, cutting edge phone.

“I want this,” a friend asked me a week or two ago. “I do … don’t I?”

iPhone X v iPhone 6S opinion 6s in hand

I told him he wanted new Levi’s (his old ones had a big hole in the crotch). But as an upgrade to his cracked iPhone 5, the iPhone 6S is a fantastic option. Consider for starters the fact that it’s less than half as much as the iPhone X. You can buy a 32GB model from Apple for $450. Given how long this form factor has existed, there’s a vast array of cases to choose from at far more affordable prices.

Cutting edge flagship phones from Apple, Samsung, LG, and Google are aimed at a certain crowd of technosnobs, elite power users that DO take 4K videos and ONLY pay using NFC communication. For the bulk of Americans, those features and phones are neat to read about, but cheaper mainstream tech is just as useful. The iPhone 6S was itself a flagship phone just two years ago: It boosted battery life over earlier models and added the 3D Touch feature that Apple’s still working to get developers to support. You think these same developers are going to leap to support new features in the X that only a fraction of users will have access to in the next 12 months?

For the most part, today’s iPhones are a lot like last year’s iPhones.

Oh, and about all the new features you’ll be missing in the 7 and 8 and X? Meh, I say. Apple hasn’t really done much to transform its flagship product over the years. Yes, newer models are faster and more powerful, but the 6S was a damn good phone. The 7 looked identical, improved the camera in ways many users will never notice, and annoyed the hell out of most people by removing the headphone jack — an act of “courage,” according to Apple, that many viewed as a slap in the face.

The iPhone 8 looks identical to the 6S, improved the camera in marginal ways many users will never notice, and again will annoy you by not having a headphone jack. Yes, it adds wireless charging, which is convenient. But at the end of the day, you’re probably fine plugging your phone into a cable on your nightstand, right?

iPhone X camera
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Besides, a great deal of the improved features and functionality come in software upgrades to iOS 10 and the new iOS 11, including futuristic stuff like the ARKit software everyone’s buzzing about. Certain features will not be supported on earlier models, of course, so you won’t be able to shoot in HEIF and HEVC format, but your photos will still be damn good. The iPhone is the world’s most popular camera for a reason, after all. You won’t be able to send Animojis to your friends, and I can only imagine how disappointed your friends will be about this.

Apple’s iOS 11 runs just great on that iPhone 6S you’re about to buy. It also runs on the 6, and the SE, and even on the iPhone 5S.

But I don’t you think you should buy a 5S. What are you, a Luddite or something?

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