Our iPhones are six years old. Here’s why we are dreading upgrading them

My incredibly patient wife waiting in the Orlando Apple Store for our iPhone 6Ss back in 2015

I hate Face ID and Face ID apparently doesn’t like me either. It actually refuses to admit I have a human face. For the first month after getting my overpowered 2021 M1 iPad Pro, I couldn’t get my iPad to register my face at all. I know I’m no George Clooney, but still. It’s not like I’m green and look like something out of the Horde in World of Warcraft. I’m just a guy with a beard.

After trying repeatedly, I finally did get the Face ID registration system to set up with my face (which involved being in a very, very bright space and holding the device just so). But since then, I have not been able to get it to ever let me log in to my iPad with my face. That means that every single time I use the device, I have to tap in my code. It’s like I’m back in 2012, before Touch ID was introduced on the iPhone 5S.

Aside: I quite liked 2012. 2012 was a calm, quiet year. I miss that.

I know. I’m spoiled. But Touch ID is rock-solid reliable and it just works. Losing Touch ID is just one of the reasons my wife and I have been so hesitant to give up our six year old iPhone 6Ss. That said, her iPad Pro recognizes her face every time. She’s a lot prettier than me, clearly.

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All those people packed in the Apple Store back in 2015. The only thing we had to worry about was how long it would take to get our iPhones.

Image: David Gewirtz

Does Apple have something against beards? I’d think Apple would have taken into account all those bearded millennials when it released Face ID. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe this is Apple’s way of getting back at me for everything I’ve written about it over the years. I just don’t know. In any case, I’m going to miss Touch ID.

Denise and I have been hanging tight with our old iPhones for a few other reasons, too. First, they’re awesome. They have been rock solid reliable (except for when we needed to get new batteries). They’re nice and big. The display is crystal clear. And — this has been the other technical reason we haven’t upgraded — they have headphone jacks.

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The world is such a different place from 2015. No masks. No super-spreaders. No social distancing.

We both use the headphone jacks almost every day. Yes, we now have AirPods Pro, but it’s nice plugging in earbuds that will just not run out of juice. Plus, I use my headphone jack to connect to my RodeLink wireless mic for recording my videos for YouTube and here on ZDNet.

And then, there’s the cost. We spent roughly $2,500 to upgrade our phones back in 2015. That’s a lot of money. Why spend that if we already have perfectly good phones?

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iOS 15 and Monterey

We are still running iOS 13. As GottaBeMobile reports, iOS 14 has a relatively large share of problems on the 6S, including “abnormal battery drain, UI lag, issues with first and third-party apps, Touch ID issues, touchscreen problems, Exchange issues, Wi-Fi issues, Bluetooth problems, and more.”

It’s unlikely iOS 15 will be better, even though Apple has said it will support the iPhone 6S.

I almost always run about half a major OS release behind on my production machines. I like to wait six months or so before upgrading (particularly on older machines) to be sure the kinks have been worked out. But by the end of the month, we’re likely to be two major iOS releases behind.

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And we waited…back in 2015, this line snaked around behind us and went out the door. It’s been almost two years since I was this close to strangers. What about you?

That’s unacceptable. At that point, apps stop functioning. More and more apps require the latest (or near latest) OS release, and we’re likely to find ourselves unable to run some mission critical apps.

Also: Migrating to M1 Macs: How I’m upgrading my small fleet of older Apple desktops and laptops

Plus, we’ve recently updated our entire Mac line-up. All except two recent-generation Intel machines are M1-based. Everything is running Big Sur, and once I’m convinced a black hole won’t open and swallow the Earth by upgrading, we’re likely to move to Monterey sometime this fall.

In addition to wanting all our Apple ecosystem devices to be able to communicate, we’re probably going to want to take advantage of Monterey features like Universal Control on our iPads.

It will be weird (and possibly a systems management challenge) if all our devices are current, except for our two iPhones.

Also: Phones we love: ZDNet writers actually use these devices

Even though the iPhone 6S has dethroned my once beloved Palm Treo as my all-time favorite phone, our 6Ss are starting to show their age. It’s even been almost three years since we replaced our batteries (which were then three years old). Battery life is getting really bad on our 6S devices and despite my having removed all rarely used apps from my iPhone, my phone has become painfully sluggish.

I’m still reasonably satisfied with the 6S camera, but my wife wants to be able to use the vastly improved camera in the upcoming iPhone release.

What we’re giving up

And so, we’re going to upgrade to the iPhone 12S or iPhone 13 (or whatever Apple decides to call the phone it’s expected to announce this month).

Still, it shouldn’t be like this. Upgrading phones shouldn’t involve losing cherished capabilities. Sure, buyer’s remorse is a real thing. And since we’re likely to spend another $2,500, that’s certainly something to regret.

But there’s no doubt that I’m also going to mourn my lost headphone jack and Touch ID. Every time I have to enter that code to use my device (because Face ID probably won’t work on the new iPhone either), I’m going to regret buying a new phone. Having my expensive purchase tell me thirty or forty times a day that I’m not recognizable as human is likely to be demoralizing.

But we need new phones. And so we’re going to pays our money and takes our chances. But it’s kind of a sign of the times that this is the first phone upgrade that I’m actively dreading, instead of looking forward to.

Ah, well. That’s the 2020s for you.

What about you? Are you upgrading your iPhone this year? Do you miss Touch ID and hate Face ID? Or are you lucky enough to have the iPhone approve of your looks? Let us know in the discussion below.


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