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Is upgrading to an iPhone 15 worth it?

We break down if the benefits outweigh the cost of an upgrade.

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro held in two hands in front of a blue and green background with the Apple logo. Credit: Reviewed / Apple

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When Apple releases an iPhone, it does so with a plan to support the device with five years of operating system and security updates. If your smartphone was a child, you’d be ready to send it off to kindergarten before you’d need to start thinking about replacing it with a cooler kid that comes sporting better features… were it not for the temptation of incremental hardware updates.

Apple releases a new selection of iPhones every fall. While they might look similar and run the same iOS version as your current iPhone, there’s always one or two amazing tricks that the company’s new hardware can do that a last-generation device can’t match. Fear of missing out on these upgrades poses a dilemma: Should you stick with your current perfectly functional handset or invest a whole lotta money into the best iPhone yet?

To help you make a smart decision, consider the following:

Should you upgrade your iPhone?

Long Life Cycle

One of the best things about investing in an iOS device is that they have one of the best support cycles of any smartphone out there. Five years from now, Apple will still provide the brand new handsets with current versions of iOS and all the features that come with those operating system upgrades. More importantly, over that same five-year period Apple will be on the lookout for any malicious software that could compromise your privacy or affect how your iPhone operates.

These two measures ensure that, while you might not have the latest iPhone in your hand, your device will feel fresh and secure for the next half-decade. As someone who prefers to buy his hardware outright instead of paying it off in little bites through a deal with your cellular provider, an iPhone provides great value for the money—especially when compared to many Android-powered smartphones that come with the promise of one, two or no years of operating system support.

That said, once Apple’s five years of coverage is up, you’re largely on your own. The company does release important security updates to older handsets, but it’s a rarity.

If you and your iPhone make it through five years of adventures, together, you’ll want to consider updating.

Product image of iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 Pro

The top-of-the-line iPhone 15 Pro models are faster, have an improved camera, and a USB-C port.

Preorder the iPhone 15 Pro at Apple

Incremental Hardware Updates

A lot of iPhone users insist on buying the latest, greatest version of the handset as soon as it becomes available—it’s a thrill for them to know that they have the bleeding edge of the tech that Apple has to offer. However, most folks, and I include myself in this group, should know that if they’ve updated their iPhones over the last two to three years, they’re not likely to see a significant performance boost after buying a new handset.

Apple is innovative: the company’s products have been dictating the shape of personal computing for decades. Apple also revels in slow, steady progress where updating its existing hardware is concerned. The A17 Bionic processor won’t be much faster than the one that’s baked into last year’s or the previous years' iterations of the handset. In most cases, the same can be said for the iPhone’s camera system, which is one of the device’s most desirable features. My daily driver is an iPhone 12 Pro Max. When I take a photo and compare it to one with an iPhone 14, the difference, in almost all but the darkest lighting conditions, is minute.

However, once you move beyond two to three generations of iPhones, the differences between old reliable and the new hotness become more apparent. New chipsets don’t only bring increased speed, they often introduce better battery performance. And, with the introduction of the iPhone 15, Apple will replace its 12-year-old Lightning power and data connection with the modern, universal charging standard USB-C. This means that the same cable you use to charge your Steam Deck can charge your smartphone on-the-go.

When you’re considering a new iPhone. Don’t let the sound of new features dazzle you. Take the time to really think about how much of a difference things like a minor speed boost, new charging standard or larger camera sensor will make in your day-to-day life. What else could you spend that money on? Will your current iPhone be the perfect tool for capturing the moments that cash made possible?


Photographer Chase Jarvis once said, “the best camera is the one that's with you.” For many of us, that camera is an iPhone. While I love using my expensive, specialized camera, some of the best photos I’ve snapped over the past decade have been taken with an iPhone. It’s always with me, in a pocket, just waiting to capture a magical moment.

While I might be happy with the camera in the iPhone I currently own, I can’t deny that every time an Apple event rolls around, I can feel my excitement building as I watch what new features in the latest iPhones will be able to offer to my art. The iPhone 15 is no exception. With the iPhone 15 Pro, Apple introduced a larger camera sensor, capable of capturing more light than any previous iPhone camera system. Even before computational photography gets its talented digital fingers into the mix, this means more detailed photos in any lighting condition.

Product image of iPhone 15
iPhone 15

The iPhone 15 includes a USB-C port for charging and data transfer and uses Apple's Dynamic Island.

Preorder the iPhone 15 at Apple

So should I buy an iPhone 15?

So far, this guide has discussed the practicalities of sticking with your existing iPhone or buying a new one. However, like all art, photography is subjective. What pleases you when you take a photo is more important than any technical details. If your heart soars at the idea of a better camera to use on your next vacation or for street photography, then a new iPhone may well be your huckleberry.

And there’s something to be said for incremental upgrades. The Dynamic Island that was first available on the iPhone 14 Pro and is now included on all iPhone 15 models, makes it a little bit faster to check your notifications and access the functions of various apps. The iPhone 15 Pro’s new programmable Action button has the potential to save you time and make the device more accessible to some users. Then there’s the better gaming, faster responses from apps, AAA roadside assistance via satellite messaging… They’re all small tweaks that, on their own, might not feel are worth upgrading your handset for. But when considered as a whole, such improvements can lend a lot to a person’s life.

When viewed through this lens, updating to an iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro could be a great idea.

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