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iOS 12 is so good on older iPhones that people are rethinking their iPhone XS upgrades

Published Sep 19th, 2018 9:58AM EDT
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Here’s a turn of events most people likely didn’t see coming. It turns out that Apple’s biggest roadblock for its new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR smartphones might not be competition from any rivals, but rather competition from itself.

Apple’s next-generation iPhone launches are staggered for the second consecutive year in 2018, and the first wave hits store shelves later this week. Preorders for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max opened this past Friday, and there has been plenty of positive chatter about the phones all over social media since they were announced last week. But then something interesting happened: Apple released its iOS 12 update to the public. Remember how we told you that the iPhones people already have were about to feel brand new, and that it might make people less interested in the new iPhone models that are about to be released? Well it turns out that’s exactly what’s happening.

It’s obviously far too early to make any kind of guess as to how it might impact sales, but there’s no question that iOS 12 is causing people to think twice about upgrading to a new iPhone this year.

Apple’s iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are the company’s most expensive smartphones yet, and some Apple fans balked at the idea of coughing up that much cash for a new phone as soon as Apple announced pricing. The cheapest iPhone XS you can buy costs more than $1,000 after taxes, and the most expensive iPhone XS Max costs more than $1,500 after taxes. Even for people who have plenty of disposable income, that’s a tough pill to swallow.

Making matters even more complicated is the fact that Apple’s new flagship iPhones don’t really have any standout features. Sure they’re faster and more powerful than previous-generation iPhone models, and of course things like camera quality and battery life have been improved. But every “S” update that has come before the iPhone XS has introduced at least one new standout feature. On the iPhone 5s it was Touch ID, for example, and on the iPhone 6s it was 3D Touch. There’s nothing like that on the iPhone XS, just better specs, better performance, and a larger Plus version that’s now called “Max.”

But the icing on the cake came Monday when Apple released its long-awaited iOS 12 update to the public.

Apple’s iOS 11 software has been plagued with issues ever since it was first released last fall. Bugs and security holes were commonplace, and the software had RAM management problems that were so serious they prevented Apple’s superior A11 Bionic chipset from reaching its full potential. For those reasons, Apple reportedly delayed several new iOS 12 features and chose to focus more effort on ironing out all the big wrinkles that were in iOS 11. Thankfully, the company succeeded.

iOS 12 is a breath of fresh air, and it’s compatible with every single iOS 11 device that’s capable of running iOS 11. That’s right, not a single Apple product was made obsolete by this year’s iOS update. iOS 12 offers speed and battery life improvements across the board on Apple’s iOS devices, and we told you just how dramatic those improvements can be. Users are obviously taking notice, and it turns out that Apple’s fantastic work on iOS 12 might have an unwanted side effect.

We’ve noticed people all over social media making comments about how great iOS 12 is, and how they might not upgrade because of how dramatic the improvements are on the older iPhone models they already own. Now there’s a thread to the same effect on Reddit, and it had 1,200 up-votes and nearly 500 comments at the time of this writing.

“iOS 12 runs so well that it’s making me reconsider my XS preorder,” Reddit user cjohn4043 wrote. “Coming from a 7 Plus. iOS 11 didn’t run terrible on it, but iOS 12 is just leagues better. Everything is flying and it’s blowing my mind how much the performance has increased. I preordered a XS last Friday, but with iOS 12 being so great it’s making me wonder how much do I actually need to upgrade?”

The two top-voted comments in the thread come from iPhone 7 Plus users who said they don’t plan to upgrade because iOS 12 is so good. Hundreds of other users chimed in with much of the same. Of course, plenty of other people said that they still planned to upgrade to Apple’s iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max despite how good iOS 12 is on their current handsets.

Will Apple’s new iOS 12 release cause a large percentage of iPhone users to cancel their plans to upgrade to a new iPhone? Almost certainly not. But there’s no question whatsoever that there are people — a lot of people — who are so happy with iOS 12 on their current iPhones that they’re going to skip the iPhone XS this year.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.