Should you upgrade to the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus?

2014 iPhone buyers guide: How to decide if you should upgrade to the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus!

When new iPhones are introduced one of the toughest decisions to make is whether or not to upgrade to the latest and the greatest. If money is no object, it won't matter. If you're due an upgrade on contract, it comes down to whether or not the new features in the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus are compelling enough to be worth $200 or $300 or more to you. If you're not due an upgrade, or if you don't buy on contract, then that decision escalates to $650, $750, or more. So what are the pros and cons of upgrading to the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, and when does the cost get overwhelmed by the value? Let's take a look...

iOS 8 compatibility

The ability to run iOS 8, and to be compatible with iOS 8 apps, is a major consideration. The iPhone 4 won't be able to do either. The iPhone 4s will be, but in limited and likely not entirely enjoyable form. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c will be good. The iPhone 5s will be darn good.

If you have anything less than an iPhone 5, you're going to want to upgrade. If you have anything less than an iPhone 5s, you're going to want to think about it.

Screen size

The iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s all have smaller, 4-inch screens. So even though they can run iOS 8, it'll be at 1136x640 pixel form.

The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen with 1336x750 pixels, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen with a 1920x1080 inch screen.

That means you won't be getting the best experience from new apps going forward, and with the iPhone 6 Plus, the ability to run Apple's apps in iPad-style (two column layout) in landscape mode. You'll also get Display Zoom which, if you'd rather not have more pixels but bigger ones, can help you read and see everything better.

If you like 4-inch or even 3.5-inch iPhones and aren't sure that bigger really is better, wait and try them in stores first.

If screen size matters to you, especially if the ability to run iPad-style apps on an iPhone in landscape is interesting to you, you may want to upgrade.

LTE and Wi-Fi

The iPhone 4s tops out at HSPA 14.4mbps and can't access the much faster DC-HSPA+ 40mbps or LTE 100+mbps networks. That means you'll be stuck on dial up in an increasingly broadband world.

The iPhone 5 supports LTE, and the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s support an incredible range of LTE bands, but they all top out at 100mbps. They're also limited to 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus support LTE Advanced and can go all the way to 150mbps. They also support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, matching Apple's latest generation AirPort Extreme base stations.

If you're in an area with LTE Advanced and/or if you have an 802.11ac router, moving data faster lets radios power down faster and ultimately saves battery life. You may want to upgrade for both.

Camera

The iPhone 4S has a fairly decent 8mp/1080p rear iSight cameras but still a poor front FaceTime camera. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c have slightly better iSight cameras and the iPhone 5c has a better FaceTime camera as well with backside illumination. The iPhone 5s has the same better FaceTime camera and an even better iSight camera with support for burst mode and 120fps slow motion video.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, however, have better cameras still. Most of the differences are subtle and, unless you're a camera enthusiast or take relentless selfies or slow-mos, not really worth an upgrade from the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, or iPhone 5s.

However, the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization (OIS) which makes it much better for low-light photography.

Taken together if your iPhone serves primarily as your camera, you might want to upgrade, especially to the iPhone 6 plus.

Lightning connector

The iPhone 4S has the old 30-pin Dock connector. While there remain legacy accessories for that connector, all new iOS devices now use the Lightning connector. The iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s all already have Lightning connectors.

If you have an iPhone 4s, Lightning is just one of many, many reasons you might want to upgrade.

Touch ID

With the exception of the iPhone 5s, none of the older iPhone models can use Apple's Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.

That means, if you want to be able to unlock your iPhone or authorize iTunes purchases at the touch of the finger, you'll want to upgrade.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay stores your credit card information on a secure element inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. With it, you can tap-to-pay at NFC terminals in stores, or shop online using apps from Apple, target, and more.

It's like a digital wallet, authorized by passcode or Touch ID, and it's not available on any older iPhone models. So, if you want it, you'll want to upgrade.

Should you upgrade from the iPhone 4 (or earlier)?

History of iPhone 4: Changing everything - again

The iPhone 4 was released in June of 2010 but was still available at $0 on contract until September of 2013 (and is still available even now in China and India). If you're not on contract, or are eligible for an upgrade for any reason, you should definitely take it.

If price is the most important factor, the $0 on-contract position has been taken over by the iPhone 5c. It gives you not only a 4-inch screen but the much more powerful Apple A6 processor, the new Lightning connector, and fast LTE cellular networking. It comes in bright plastic colors. Whether it will get iOS 9 next year, however, remains unknown, so in addition to missing out on the even bigger screens, it may not be a great long term investment.

Starting at $100 on contract, the iPhone 5s will give you an even better Apple A7 processor with M7 motion coprocessor, a better iSight camera, and the Touch ID fingerprint authentication system. No bigger screen, but a lot of everything else, and it will likely get iOS 9 next year.

Starting at $200 or $300 on contract, however, if you can afford an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, however, they'll give you everything modern iPhones and iOS 8 have to offer, and will serve you well for years to come.

Yes, you should strongly consider upgrading.

Should you upgrade from the iPhone 4S?

History of iPhone 4S: The most amazing iPhone yet

The iPhone 4S was introduced in October of 2011 and was available for $0 on contract until this year. If you got one anytime in the last year, you're still on contract. Early termination fees (ETFs) could make it financial unattractive to upgrade.

If you're not on contract, or are eligible for an upgrade for any reason, you should consider it. The iPhone 5c is now $0 on contract, gives you not only the new, bigger, 4-inch screen, and also the Lightning connector, the much more powerful Apple A6 processor, and fast LTE cellular networking. It comes in bright plastic colors. Whether it will get iOS 9 next year, however, remains unknown, so in addition to missing out on the even bigger screens, it may not be a great long term investment.

Starting at $100 on contract, the iPhone 5s will give you an even better Apple A7 processor with M7 motion coprocessor, a better iSight camera, and the Touch ID fingerprint authentication system. No bigger screen, but a lot of everything else, and it will likely get iOS 9 next year.

Starting at $200 or $300 on contract, however, if you can afford an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, however, they'll give you everything modern iPhones and iOS 8 have to offer, and will serve you well for years to come.

Yes, you should strongly consider upgrading.

Should you upgrade from the iPhone 5?

History of iPhone 5: The biggest thing to happen to iPhone

The iPhone 5 was introduced in September of 2012 but was discontinued in September of 2013.

If you're not on contract, or are eligible for an upgrade for any reason, there are a few reasons to consider upgrading. The iPhone 5s will give you a better Apple A7 processor with M7 motion coprocessor, a better iSight camera, and the Touch ID fingerprint authentication system. However, it's not a major leap up from the iPhone 5 and it's also $100 on contract.

Starting at $200 or $300 on contract, however, if you can afford an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, however, they'll give you everything modern iPhones and iOS 8 have to offer, and will serve you well for years to come. You'll get a bigger 4.7- or 5.5-inch screen, NFC radio for Apple Pay payments, fast LTE Advanced and 802.11ac networking, better iSight and FaceTime cameras, optical image stabilization with the iPhone 6 Plus, and be future-proofed for a least a couple years to come.

If you've had an iPhone 5 since launch, take a look at the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Both are really good upgrades.

Yes, you should consider upgrading.

Should you upgrade from the iPhone 5c?

History of iPhone 5c: The most colorful iPhone yet

The iPhone 5c is essentially the same phone as the iPhone 5 with a new, fun, plastic coating. If you got one in the last year, you're likely still on contract. Early termination fees (ETFs) could make it financial unattractive to upgrade.

If you're not on contract, or are eligible for an upgrade for any reason, there are severals reasons to consider upgrading. The iPhone 5s will give you a better Apple A7 processor with M7 motion coprocessor, a better iSight camera, and the Touch ID fingerprint authentication system. However, it's not a major leap up from the iPhone 5c and it's also $100 on contract.

Starting at $200 or $300 on contract, however, if you can afford an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, however, they'll give you everything modern iPhones and iOS 8 have to offer, and will serve you well for years to come. You'll get a bigger 4.7- or 5.5-inch screen, NFC radio for Apple Pay payments, fast LTE Advanced and 802.11ac networking, better iSight and FaceTime cameras, optical image stabilization with the iPhone 6 Plus, and be future-proofed for a least a couple years to come.

However, if you got an iPhone 5c last year, well you didn't opt for the more forward-thinking iPhone 5s then and you may be perfectly happy not to opt for the even more forward-thinking iPhone 6 models this year.

Upgrade only if you want to move from fun to forward thinking.

Should you upgrade from the iPhone 5s?

History of iPhone 5s: The most forward thinking iPhone ever

The iPhone 5s was released in September 2013, so it's still relatively new, and if you got it under a traditional 2-year contract you'll have early termination fees to worry about. If you got it under a newer, more flexible upgrade contract, however, then you have more options.

Starting at $200 or $300 on contract, the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus will give you everything modern iPhones and iOS 8 have to offer, and will serve you well for years to come. You'll get a bigger 4.7- or 5.5-inch screen, NFC radio for Apple Pay payments, fast LTE Advanced and 802.11ac networking, better iSight and FaceTime cameras, optical image stabilization and two-column apps in landscape with the iPhone 6 Plus, and be future-proofed for a least a couple years to come.

The iPhone 5s is an excellent phone and there's no need to rush out and upgrade. However, if you got the iPhone 5s because you wanted the cutting edge of technology, that edge is now cutting with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Upgrade only if you simply must have the latest and greatest.

Still undecided?

If you're still not sure about about upgrading to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus , ask questions below or jump into our iPhone discussion forums and the best community in mobile will happily help you out!

Then, once you know, let me know why — or why not —in the comments so everyone else can benefit from your thoughts!

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

78 Comments
  • Hey T-Mobile here i come. I will be Upgrading from my iPhone 5s 32GB to the iPhone 6 Plus 128GB. Yeaaaa Apple is Ground Zero for the Tech World and i Love it. Yes !!
  • Your joking right? Other phones have more storage (several can have up to 196GB) Other phones have bigger, higher res screens. Most other phones have NFC. I am not saying this won't be a great phone but there is nothing new here. Other than being 64bit and incredibly thin this is last years tech. Hardly worthy of being called ground zero.
  • The reason apple is cutting edge tech isn't because they have the latest tech inside their phones or devices, it's because they actually one-up the competition and make the tech USABLE. Has anyone used their NFC-enabled phone to pay for something somewhere? Maybe, yes, but it's hardly mainstream. Now that Apple has decided to use it it will become the standard. Samsung who?
  • @onesojourner, you are so right. Apple is almost never first-to-market, but I've said many times they are best-to-market. As Tim Cook said in his Tuesday keynote, they love to find a problem where other people are attacking the issue from their perspective instead of the user perspective. Pixels and memory alone do not make a product great - the synergy of how it fits into your life, how it interacts with your other devices (tablet, PC, family devices, set-top-boxes, and now wearables, etc.) are what is important. Now that Apple offers NFC payments, they did not do what everyone else did - take your credit card and use it to pay via NFC. They rethunk (my word!) from the ground-up transactional security, personal security, and how to make sure only authorized people can pay, and others cannot. They have created a new payment system with AmEx, Visa and MasterCard as partners, and used that new payment system to pay via NFC and special Apple Pay payment system scanners at retailers. Another example, not first-to-market, but best-to-market.
  • I disagree. The iphone 1, retina in the iphone 4, The ipad, Lightning in the iphone 5, retina in the ipad, 64 bit cpu in the 5s, all apple being first. This release set is just late to the game. They may do some of it better, but will that be enough to stop the market share loss? Who knows.
  • In a few features they are first to market, but only as a feature and not as a product, that I will concede. What do you mean by iPhone 1? That is by no means the first smart phone as Blackberry can tell you (and many had Palm phones, like the Samsung I-300 that I had way back when). Retina and 64-bit CPU, those are things only Apple and a couple other companies could do, because they are both a silicon manufacturer and a product manufacturer. Either way, there is a pattern, a formula they follow. It is deliberate, and deliberated - and not necessarily following what the other tech companies pursue. They forge their own direction, so if you like it, buy their products. I like the guiding principles of usability, interoperability, security and privacy. Those speak to me, and I own at least one of every type of product they make (except CarPlay).
  • Just in case you haven't notice, those high res is actually the downside of the coin. The hardware can't compensate thus the stutter during heavy load is there. I know that this sounds very simple but I always found these people who proud of the unbalanced product just because it has the right side of the real number. Sigh.
  • I think I might too, I have a 16GB iPhone 5s, and I'll probably go with the 16GB iphone 6, but in hoping I can get the 64GB instead
  • Needless to say, I'll be upgrading from the iPhone 5s. Cutting edge needs to be kept sharp :)
  • will you be getting the 6 plus or the 6?
  • I'm looking forward to your very in-depth reviews in the next couple weeks, Rene. So that means you have to upgrade, to satisfy your readers of course ;)
  • Just a typo notice. First paragraph, last or second-to-last sentence:
    "upgrading to the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 P;us"
    Should be "Plus." Great article! Looking to upgrade from my Lumia 920 because the iOS 8/Yosemite integration looks amazing.
  • This is a tough decision...as they always are. I have the iphone 5, but am considering waiting until apples "mid"/"s" model....I just dont know.
  • That's why it's called bleeding edge, my friend!
  • 14mbps dialup? Sign me up! (Dial-up - 56 kbit/s using the V.90 or V.92 protocol)
  • Yeah man, get me a 19.2K modem!
  • I'll be upgrading from the 5S, too. Of course, I will have to pay full price, but I'm getting very mixed answers on forums and from AT&T regarding whether or not I can buy the 6 Plus for full price on pre order day from Apple's website. Some say that Apple will not allow this on 9/12, but that full price purchasing will only be allowed at a later date. Do you know the answer, Rene?
  • gern blanston, I called Apple Customer Service yesterday and the CS rep I spoke with indicated you could buy a full priced phone for pre order. I sure hope so because we have unlimited data with verizon and have to pay full price. I'll g