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No, you really don’t need the iPhone 15

A person holding the Apple iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 14 Plus
iPhone 14 Plus (left) and iPhone 15 Plus Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you’re reading this article, chances are high that you keep pretty up-to-date with modern technology, including smartphones like Apple’s iPhone. You may upgrade your phone every few years, or — if you’re like me — you might even upgrade every year.

But sometimes, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is a techie. There are people out there who use one device until it dies, no matter how bad of shape it’s in. Or they may wait until someone gifts them a “new” phone. Sometimes, we need to remember that even a slightly older model than the latest and greatest can be a huge upgrade for someone who is still using a phone from almost half a decade ago.

Why old iPhones can be great

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus Product (RED).
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

I was having a conversation with my colleagues recently about the iPhones that Apple currently has on sale — which include the new iPhone 15 lineup, the iPhone 14, the iPhone 13, and the 2022 iPhone SE. We were wondering why Apple still keeps the iPhone 13 around, which costs $600 from Apple and is already two years old.

I briefly mentioned that my brother actually upgraded my mom’s phone from an iPhone 8 Plus to an iPhone 13 recently, while he himself went from an iPhone 12 Pro to an iPhone 15 Pro Max. My mom is older and definitely not tech-literate, so I feel that even an iPhone 13 is plenty for her.

Of course, my brother didn’t purchase these directly from Apple, which would have cost at least $600 alone for the iPhone 13. He did a trade-in with T-Mobile to get the phones at a discounted price while also porting over from AT&T. I don’t have all the details, but I’d imagine that he got a pretty good deal on everything.

Now, let’s think about it. For most of us, the iPhone 13 in late 2023 wouldn’t be that great. But if you’re coming from an iPhone 8 Plus, that’s a significant upgrade.

iPhone 13 standing upright showing back.
Apple iPhone 13 Dan Baker / Digital Trends

Going from an iPhone 8 Plus to an iPhone 13 means a lot. It’s an upgrade from a 5.5-inch LCD display to a 6.1-inch OLED screen with a higher resolution and more pixels per inch, so everything looks clearer, sharper, and more rich in color. There’s also no more Home button for Touch ID since the iPhone 13 uses Face ID. So, even though the iPhone 8 Plus is physically larger, the iPhone 13 has a higher screen-to-body ratio.

The iPhone 13 also is a huge jump in terms of processing power with the A15 Bionic, compared to the A11 in the iPhone 8 Plus. Just navigating around will be snappier and faster, a huge improvement from a chip from six years ago.

The cameras on the iPhone 13 are also much better, with a 12MP main and ultrawide lens with sensor-shift optical image stabilization and overall larger sensors, while the iPhone 8 Plus only has a 12MP main camera and 12MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. It also lacks Night mode, depth control for Portrait mode, and more. And the selfie camera is only 7MP, whereas the iPhone 13 is 12MP.

Again, these specs for the iPhone 13 aren’t super impressive when we compare it to the latest iPhone 15 lineup. But for someone who has been on an iPhone 8 Plus for the past few years, it’s a massive upgrade — especially if you could get it for free or at a really low cost.

Someone holding an Apple iPhone SE next to a wooden surface.
Apple iPhone SE Jessica Lee Star / Digital Trends

My grandma-in-law is also in a similar boat. She’s been using an original iPhone SE (with 32GB of storage) for as long as I can remember (I met my current husband in 2016, so she’s been using it since then). We’re planning to pass along my older iPhone 13 Pro to her once my husband sets up the iPhone 14 Pro I upgraded from, so as you can imagine, that will be a huge upgrade for her. Not only will she have way more storage (32GB to 1TB is insane), but the quality of the cameras is a big jump, too, so she can take clearer photos of my daughter when she babysits.

Not everyone needs the latest and greatest

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in hand.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

A big part of my job is to remain current and up-to-date on mobile phones, including the iPhone. But I know I’m a special case — most people don’t usually upgrade their phone every year like I do. In fact, some people don’t upgrade their phones for years, often waiting until they absolutely have to.

So, even though we may wonder why Apple continues to sell a two-year-old iPhone model alongside more recent iterations, remember — those aren’t for techies. Those “older” iPhone models are for the people who are still using an even older device and could use something a bit more modern. And for those folks, that can be the perfect upgrade.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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