Ask the readers – my dilemma

I have a dilemma and I need your help.

Since ditching landline and starting to use a cellphone over 16 years ago, I have never paid for a cellphone. I have always gotten a “free” phone by signing up to a 3 year contract on the cheapest voice & text plan available.

Many moons ago my manager decided that it was time for me to get a work phone. Instead of carrying a personal phone and a work phone, I decided to merge the two together. My personal phone number became my work cell number and work started paying for my monthly cellphone bill. As an added bonus, work would also pay for the fancy cellphones.

I started with a Samsung Galaxy S3 then upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S5.

After roughly 3 years of usage, I’m still using the Galaxy S5 today.

While the phone is still works great, because I don’t use a case, the phone has taken bit of a beating. Despite replacing the battery and back panel earlier this year, I often have to charge it around 3 PM or so after a full day of moderate usage.

I think I am due for an upgrade.

Thanks to one of work’s many cost saving practices, work no longer pays for the full amount of the phone. Rather, work now pays for a set amount of $250 + taxes (works out to $280) and I have to pay for the rest.

I thought I would be able to pick a phone that costs less than $250, and essentially a free phone.

But I was wrong.

Unfortunately under the “corporate” rate, all the phones available are priced higher compared to the same phones available to typical consumers. Furthermore, there’s only a limited selection of phones available.

So I am left with the following choices:

  • iPhone 6s 32 Gb – $270 + taxes
  • iPhone 7 32 Gb – $400 + taxes
  • Galaxy S8 – $490 + taxes
  • Pixel 32 Gb – $400 + taxes

Take out the amount that work will cover below are the amounts I have to pay out-of-pocket for each phone.

  • $22.40 for iPhone 6s
  • $168 for iPhone 7
  • $268.80 for Galaxy S8
  • $168 for Pixel

When I asked friends and co-workers about whether to go with the cheap route and buy an iPhone 6s over a newer phone, below are some of the comments I got.

“But it’s one generation old, the phone is like dinosaur ancient old!”

“Always go with newest and greatest when purchasing electronics, especially phones.”

“You don’t know how long Apple will support iPhone 6s for.”

“The iPhone 7/Pixel/S8 camera is so much better!”

“iPhone 7 is at twice as fast as the iPhone 6s. Go for the performance.”

“S8/Pixel screen is so much better than the iPhone 6s!”

Essentially, everyone I have asked has told me to fork out the extra money to get the latest and greatest phone.

But I do wonder, does it really matter if I go with an older iPhone?

When I purchased my Apple MacBook Pro about 8 years ago I purchased it refurbished, meaning it was one generation older than the newest model. This saved me about 20%.

This was the also case when I purchased a refurbished Apple iMac a couple of years ago. Again this move saved me about 20%.

Similarly, I have been purchasing my DSLRs used. I purchased a used Canon 5D when the Canon 5D Mark II came out. I then purchased a used Canon 5D Mark II when the Canon 5D Mark III came out.

By buying refurbished and used, I have saved a ton of money on electronics.

When I was paying the monthly cellphone bill myself, before I got a work phone, I was using a non-smart phone (aka dumb phone) despite everyone I knew already had a smart phone. I didn’t miss a thing back then.

(The picture above you see was the dumb phone I used, the picture was taken on film using a double exposure technique in case you’re wondering)

So here’s my dilemma – do I go with the cheapest option (i.e. iPhone 6s) or do I fork out $150 or more and get the latest and greatest?

“You’ll still get a new phone and it will be newer than your existing phone.” Mrs. T reminded me the other night.

Cheapo/frugal option vs. spending $150 – $250.

I guess you can probably figure out where I lie on this subject.

What would you choose if you were in my shoes? Do you have a different view than mine?



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77 thoughts on “Ask the readers – my dilemma”

  1. I still use my samsung s5. Thing is for me. I love the camera aspect of the phone. Generally all phones can go on the internet and do all the same things. The camera is the big thing for me, but like you i don’t want to spend $ on a phone. Would your work pay for a used phone off kijii or something? people always post phones on there and if you wait and watch you can get a great deal. People always want the newest and greatest when the new iphone or something comes out check kijii and stuff out and there’s great phones. If not just get the iphone and save the money.

    • When it comes to pictures I have my 5DII so the cellphone camera isn’t a huge feature for me. Work wouldn’t pay for a used phone off Kijii or Craigslist unfortunately.

  2. Looks like your getting tons of different opinions here as well. I can’t really recommend anything but I’m happy with my iPhone6. It seems like these phones are getting the slightest of upgrades with each phone instead of revolutionary upgrades that we really want. Battery life seems to be the slowest to gain any performance upgrades. Too bad Moores law doesn’t apply to battery life! That being said my iPhone6 battery life seems fine unless I’m streaming Youtube for hours (which I do at work, listening to playlists). Best of luck!

    • You’re definitely right when it comes to newer phones not getting much of an upgrade compared to the previous generation. Lately it seems the upgrades are typically a bigger screen, a more powerful processor, and a better camera. A better battery life with a newer phone isn’t necessarily a guarantee.

  3. Go for the 6 l say. My husband has the iPhone 4 and l the 4s. They still work fine and we bought them refurbished years ago. If and when they break down, we will move up to the 5 or 6 refurbished. Our friends laugh, but who cares! Get the most memory you can, and it will play nicely with your other Mac products.

    • It’s kinda surprising that we aren’t tied to the Apple ecosystem given we use Mac at home. Maybe an iPhone would make sense in the long run.

  4. I’d say the iPhone 6s as well. I recently upgraded to the 7 after having the 6 for over 2 years. Usually after 2 years I would start wishing for a new phone since my current one would be starting to feel a little slow. Not with the iPhone 6. Still felt fast until the day I sold it. The iPhone 6s is even one generation newer and will be plenty fast for years to come.

  5. I use an iPhone 6 largely due to smaller screen than the 7 as well as having a headphone jack available that the 7 does not have.

    I bought the most advanced phone that I know that I could use for at least 4-5 years while still having the up-to-date accessibility features that it has. The battery lasts me a day and a half for normal usage that doesn’t include watching videos and minimul music. My last phone lasted 5 years and it was a BlackBerry.

    • Yes the no headphone jack on the 7 is a bit of a deal breaker for me. That’s awesome that you are able to get a day and a half of battery life on your phone.

  6. I’m with the older Apple phone. First they last longer and generally to me are of better quality. I would pick up Applecare though as it covers two years of raw stupidity if you do anything to your phone and especially since you don’t use a case. It also covers any issues such as a defective battery which popped up on me in my last iphone 5. The other big selling point for me is that iphones retain their value nicely. A quick ebay search on an iphone 5, five generations of phones ago, show that it’s still selling between $60 and $100. That pretty decent return on a phone from 2012.

  7. My Samsung Galaxy J5 is one year old and I still love it. Actually, I’m a big fan of Samsung, they’ve never disappointed me when it comes to smartphones, so I always recommend them to everyone.

    Apple products here cost an arm and a leg. And a kidney. They’re so expensive, it’s not really worth the investment. So, personally, if I have to choose an Android phone, I go with Samsung.

  8. If you’re used to Android, you may want to make sure that you are comfortable using Apple. They’re different enough that you could be annoyed by having to do things a different way.

    You could go the cheaper route if you’re comfortable, but if you go the expensive route, you should feel no guilt as you look back on the years and years of savings that you’ve had to date. Either way I think you should be comfortable with your decision.

    • Good point. Haven’t used Apple iOS but we have Mac at home. Being a technical person I’m sure I’ll figure out iOS pretty quickly so Android vs. iOS isn’t a big concern for me.

  9. If an iPhone 7 was couple of hundreds more, I would understand going for iPhone 6s…
    For around extra $150, considering you keep your phone many years, I don’t understand why it’s an huge issue.

    My gf got an iPhone 7 – 128GB (new Telus corp customer so she got $300 off extra on new contract) and here are some advantages (in real life) compared to iPhone 6s:
    – speaker quality (example to listen to music or podcasts at home)
    – home button is more sturdy
    – pictures quality (possibly not an advantage for you).

    If you don’t switch headphones often, you simply put the adapter they provide in the box on your headphones jack, and it works well.

    Considering a new iPhone will come out this September, one could argue that iPhone 7 will soon be “last generation”…. iPhone 6s came out in September 2015.

    The fact a cellphone contract gives $500 off the phone (making the contract price $400 +taxes instead of $900 + taxes), and work gives you $250 off … the price asked for iPhone 7 is really good price.

    You cannot compare with buying a refurbished camera or computer, since there is no rebate on buying new equipment.

    Either phone is a good choice.

  10. It’s a matter of priorities.

    For some the latest and greatest is most important, for others the savings.

    For some 50 USD is a lot for other’s it isn’t.

    Seeing that you use your gear for a long time, I would personally opt for the Newer iPhone 7.


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