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This is the only thing that could convince me to upgrade to an iPhone 15 Pro this year

Published Aug 23rd, 2023 6:07PM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max units on launch day
Image: Jonathan Geller BGR

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The iPhone 15 is almost upon us, and I’m genuinely excited. I think the base iPhone 15 will be a great device for most people, as it will deliver a more affordable iPhone 14 Pro experience. The Plus variant should be closer to an iPhone 14 Pro Max.

I also think the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are terrific upgrades. That’s because I’m excited about several new features coming to the iPhone this year, like the titanium frame, Action button, A17 Bionic chip (that Android can’t match), larger batteries, and USB-C functionality.

But I also said recently that I’m an iPhone 14 Pro owner who could not be happier with my device. Other than the odd unexplained overheating incident, the iPhone 14 Pro has been amazing for me, and I’m not looking to buy a new iPhone this year. There is, however, one single thing that would convince me to do it. But the stars would have to align.

The iPhone 15 will be a great upgrade

Since I’m using the iPhone 14 Pro, I explained there’s no point in me getting the iPhone 15 or 15 Plus this year. I dislike the size of the Plus and Pro Max models too, so the iPhone 15 Pro would be the only logical solution for me.

My plan is to upgrade to the iPhone 16 or 16 Pro next year, depending on which iPhone 16 rumors come true. Realistically, I could see myself holding out until the iPhone 17 series rolls out in 2025. Then again, my iPhone 14 Pro’s battery health might drop below 80% by then. I’d rather upgrade than swap out the battery and push my phone beyond its limits.

Let’s also remember the iPhone 15 models will be more expensive. I already experienced a price hike with the iPhone 14 last year in Europe, and I fear another one might be coming. US consumers will have to put up with more expensive iPhone 15 Pro models this year as well, if price rumors pan out. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus variants should continue to offer better prices.

iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro bezels comparison
iPhone 14 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro bezels comparison Image source: yeux1122

How I buy iPhones

This brings me to why I’m not upgrading this year: The price. I’m not looking to spend over $1,000 on the iPhone 15 Pro a year after I got the 14 Pro. I’m not saying the iPhone 15 Pro Max isn’t worth its rumored $1,299 asking price. It definitely is, especially if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 13 or older handset.

The reason is that I prefer to purchase new phones without carrier contracts. Therefore, I usually ignore deals, no matter how good they look on paper. Buying another premium iPhone without any discounts only a year after the last one isn’t worth it.

However, this year is special. The entire smartphone industry is in a slump when it comes to sales. Apple is an exception, as there’s still big demand for iPhones. That’s why Apple thinks it can afford to hike prices even though the overall smartphone market is suffering.

One direct result is increased competition among carriers to win over the lucrative iPhone customer.

iPhone 15 Pro CAD leak
iPhone 15 Pro CAD leak showing the new capacitive buttons. Image source: ShrimpApplePro

The perfect storm

There might be significant iPhone 15 deals from carriers this year, especially in the US.

“So far this year it’s been record low upgrades across all carriers,” Counterpoint Research director for North America Jeff Fieldhack told Bloomberg. “The iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers. And with that big iPhone 12 installed base up for grabs promos are going to be aggressive, leaving Apple in a good spot.”

The Counterpoint Research analysts expect smartphone shipments to drop by 6% compared to last year to 1.15 billion handsets in 2023. That would be the worst performance in a decade, with China being the main culprit. But Apple is better positioned than most companies, as most iPhone buyers upgrade to a new device every few years.

This brings me to the stars aligning. It’s not just US carriers who will come up with great deals for iPhone 15 buyers — we’ll likely see them in Europe as well.

Therefore, the only way I’ll be switching to an iPhone 15 Pro this year is if I can trade in my iPhone 14 Pro for the best possible value towards the latest iPhone.

Renders based on leaked iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro Max (Ultra) designs.
Renders based on leaked iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro Max (Ultra) designs. Image source: 9to5Mac

If the iPhone 15 Pro starts at $100 more than the iPhone 14 Pro, then that’s what I’d be willing to pay for the upgrade after the trade-in. Well, it’s a little over that, but I won’t get into dollar-euro conversions and Apple’s EU pricing structure.

One more thing: That deal has to come sooner rather than later. I don’t want to upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro weeks before the iPhone 16 launches, especially if that trade-in deal comes with a mandatory carrier contract. Therefore, I’ll probably stop looking if I don’t upgrade by January 2024.

I’ll also point out I could score a cheaper iPhone 15 Pro by checking the local second-hand market, where you can routinely get great deals on brand-new models. But then I’d have to sell my iPhone 14 Pro separately. I don’t want all of that hassle.

And I know if I do get the iPhone 15 Pro this year, then I’ll have the same conversation with myself in August 2024 about upgrading to an iPhone 16.

Expect great iPhone 15 discounts this year

The larger point I’m trying to make is that not all iPhone buyers are like me. Most people go for carrier deals, and that’s not a problem. Apple has its own trade-in program and the iPhone upgrade program. Either of these deals will let you purchase an iPhone 15 for a much better price, even in this economy where global recession worries still loom.

I’ll also point out that it’s unlikely we’ll go through another Christmas without brand-new iPhone Pro handsets in stores. Last year was a pandemic-related exception. That means there will be plenty of iPhone 15 stock to go around. So expect great iPhone 15 deals during the holiday shopping season, Black Friday included.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.