New new new new new iPhone

A photo of an iPhone 13 Mini with iOS 15 showing the home screen

Last week, I bought myself a new iPhone 13 Mini. This is the fifth iPhone model I’ve owned:

  • iPhone 4 (black, 16 GB), bought in autumn 2010
  • iPhone 5 (white, 64 GB), bought in autumn 2012
  • iPhone 5s (white, 64 GB), bought in spring 2015
  • iPhone 8 (Product RED, 64 GB), bought in summer 2018
  • iPhone 13 Mini (blue, 128 GB), bough in spring 2023

As you can see, with each model I’ve kept it a little longer than the previous one. Before my first iPhone, I would generally keep a phone handset for 18-24 months at a time, and indeed that was the case with my first iPhone – it was on its last legs by the time I traded it in. Its replacement, the iPhone 5 laster a little longer but I had issues charging it after a while. The iPhone 5s laster slightly longer again, but in the hot summer of 2018 its battery started expanding and the back was coming away from the phone body, so I decided it was high time for a replacement.

I was hoping to get my iPhone 8 to make it to five years, and in late 2021 I even had the battery replaced to give it some extra life. Alas, this new battery was also starting to wear out – I would have to recharge my phone more than once a day to get through.

Whilst I could have had yet another new battery fitted, I suspect that Apple won’t support such an old model much longer with new iOS updates, and they were offering up to two years 0% finance on new models. I’m not eligible to upgrade with my current phone network, as I’m on a 2 year fixed SIM-only contract, so buying the new phone direct from Apple on 0% finance seemed like the best option.

Apple conveniently provides a Compare iPhone models tool, and so I was able to decide between the various models on offer to work out which was best for me. As you may note from the above, my purchases of the 5s and 8 were at times when physically larger models were available, but I’ve generally preferred the smaller iPhone models. That pretty much ruled out buying an iPhone 14, as there’s ‘mini’ version available – and it was also £200 more than the iPhone 13 Mini.

Apple also offers its iPhone SE range, and the current third generation is essentially an iPhone 8 body with iPhone 13 internals. However, that means a smaller screen, and Touch ID rather than Face ID, as well as a more basic camera, slower 5G, less water resistance and no support for MagSafe, when compared with the iPhone 13 Mini.

A photo of an iPhone 13 Mini (left) next to an iPhone 8 (right)

The iPhone 13 Mini is also slightly smaller and lighter (albeit by a mere four grammes) than the iPhone SE. Despite this, the screen is bigger, as the bezel is smaller – it doesn’t need to accommodate the home button for Touch ID.

As for the iPhone 14, as well as it being too large for my liking and more expensive, it’s not much of an upgrade. Again, there’s an even better camera, the ability to make SOS calls via satellite, crash detection and slightly better battery life, but the processor is the same as the 13 Mini and SE; the only benefit is one extra GPU core.

Having had the new phone for a week, I’ve appreciated the extra speed, and the convenience of Face ID which seems to work well, even when I’m wearing glasses. The transfer process from old phone to new also went pretty well and I was mostly up and running on the new phone in a couple of hours – some of which was spent installing iOS 16.4. The new camera is also great and I’ve taken a couple of photos with the ultra-wide aperture lens (giving a fish-eye appearance).

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this new phone going for the full five years. Whilst it’s always nice to have the latest and greatest device, I also appreciate the cost savings of not upgrading regularly. If everyone held onto their phones for several years, I’m sure there would be wider environmental benefits.