The iPhone 6S, Running the Upsell Gauntlet, and Why I Stick with Apple

Today was iPhone 6S launch day, and as it happens my iPhone 5S had just come out of contract and I was due for an upgrade. I knew I wanted the iPhone 6S, because the screen size of the 5S was starting to bother me and when I tried iPhone 6’s that my friends owned the bigger size felt perfect (the 6 Plus feels ridiculously oversized though). And there are advantages to being on the “S” cycle of iPhone hardware models, because it usually has the same form factor as the previous model so the accessories market is already well established.

So off I went this morning to the local shopping mall to upgrade my iPhone.

iphone-6s
New iPhone, shot with old iPhone

The Apple Store had a line of people, not long enough to fill up the whole rope line though.┬áI don’t think I’ve ever seen a huge line at this store, but there’s always a few people going for the full queuing experience. Not me. All my iPhones have been on contract with a carrier, and I’ve never lined up.

Which was true again today. Although the Telstra store does do a little rope line/clipboard/concierge experience for iPhone launches it’s mostly for show. They had two sales people ready and waiting when I arrived, so I was straight into it.

Last time I did this was the day of the iPhone 5S launch, and the transaction went off without a single problem. I guess things have changed in the last two years, and the experience went more like this. After I’d picked my size and colour (128Gb Gold) and monthly plan the sales guy started talking details.

“Do you want phone insurance? For $15/mth if you break or lose your phone you can bring it in and swap it for a new one for $180.”

Um… no. I’ll take my chances. We move on.

“It comes with $120 of accessories.”

Ok great, I’ll need a new case and screen protector anyway I guess. He prints out the paperwork and we go through it.

“What’s this $5/mth charge for?” I ask.

“That’s for the accessories,” he replies.

“So they’re not free? Get rid of it.” I say.┬áNothing is truly free, but still…

He does so, and prints out new paperwork.

“So you get a free 12 month subscription to Apple Music as well,” he points out. I already use Spotify and have no real desire to change.

“It says here that it will auto-renew as a paid subscription after 12 months,” I say. “Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Get rid of it.”

Third set of paperwork. This time it’s all okay. But he has something else in his hand.

“We’re offering a free 3 month shared data SIM…” he begins.

“If I don’t cancel that during those 3 months does it auto-renew as a paid thing?” I ask.

“Uh yeah… get rid of it?”

“Yep, get rid of it.”

I finally left the store, happy with my new iPhone in hand, and visited another store on the way back to my car to spend far less than $120 on a case, running armband, and screen protector.

Earlier in the week I asked on Twitter whether people are using iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone. The responses were pretty much in line with the market share stats you see published every quarter, with a little higher than normal usage of Windows Phone since most people following me on Twitter are Microsoft IT pros.

Personally, I’ve stuck with iPhone since the 3GS, making today my fourth iPhone. But not for lack of trying the alternatives.

When it came time to replace my 3GS I rolled it over to a 4S, but then also ordered a HTC Titan (which ran Windows Phone 7). I switched to the Titan and used it exclusively for 2 weeks. The first few days were difficult, but I adjusted. The next week or so was okay. But by the end of the two weeks I was convinced this was not the phone for me. Windows Phone 7 was simply not as good as iOS, had far fewer apps (and was missing key apps I relied on), and the HTC hardware was overall not as good as the 4S. I switched back.

During my two years on the 4S I got into mobile photography. So when the Lumia 1020 with it’s high end camera features was announced I figured I would try another switch. But somehow Microsoft (or Telstra?) botched the Lumia 1020 launch in Australia. I walked into a store on launch day, ready to buy, only to be told some kind of software bug had delayed the launch (despite many other stores selling the phone outright. I suspected a conspiracy within Telstra to not sabotage the iPhone 5S launch (which I think was the very next day). If true, it worked. The next day I got the 5S, and have enjoyed it for the last two years.

The current state of Windows Phone seems like a hot mess to me. A sprawling array of hardware models with few differences between them, yet none of them currently standing out to me as a high-end contender to the iPhone. Plus the app problem is still there. I know it varies depending on which apps you personally use, but I hear the complaints from friends (several of which have given up and are rolling over to iPhone now). And when I audit my most-used apps they’re either missing from Windows Phone completely or only exist as an unofficial third party app with diminished user experience.

If I were to switch it would probably be to Android. But the hardware market there is even more sprawling and confusing, and the one Android device I do own (a Nexus tablet I use for mobile/app testing) kind of puts me off using an Android device full time. Some people like the amount of customization you can apply to your Android device. I find it a more annoying than useful. I like technology, but I also like simple technology. Maybe I’m just getting old.

And with either platform there is always the additional costs of re-purchasing accessories (chargers, cables, cases) and any paid apps.

Platform lock-in is a funny thing, and Apple has me pretty comfortably locked in to iPhone for now. Apple would have to screw up pretty badly to make me move.

By Paul Cunningham

Paul is a writer and entrepreneur living in Brisbane, Australia. He enjoys spending time with his family and running in the mountains. Paul was the founder of Practical 365, a former Microsoft MVP, and Pluralsight trainer. Paul is also on Twitter and Instagram.