iPhone 7. Image source: Apple.
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Hi, my name is Evan and I am an annual iPhone upgrader.
I never intended it to be like this. Buying a new iPhone every year is clearly a poor financial decision. I just found new ways to justify it every year, and Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) marketing department was always willing to enable me. One year it was Siri. Another year it was a bigger screen. Then it was an even bigger screen. Last year it was 3D Touch.
Enough is enough.
The first step is admitting you have a problem
The only iPhone that I never bought was the iPhone 3G, released in 2008. I've been an annual upgrader ever since, but I won't be buying the iPhone 7. Last year's iPhone 6s upgrade actually disappointed me. Apple touted 3D Touch as the big new headline feature, but it's proven to be more of a novelty than a practical improvement that you use daily. Kind of like Siri.
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For a while there, the performance improvements each year made it modestly more worthwhile, as modern smartphones were still a relatively new product category. But as smartphones have matured in the years since, the annual gains moderated in practical terms, even if the new A10 Fusion chip is technically 40% faster than the A9. This isn't a surprise. We've all seen this coming as new features and performance gains have increasingly leaned toward the evolutionary side of the spectrum -- "peak smartphone," as it were.
This is true of the iPhone 7, which includes a wide range of incremental improvements across the device, but there's not really a key selling feature like in prior years. Everything is just a little bit better. The strongest selling point is the new dual-camera system on the 7 Plus, but I personally don't like phones that big.
With the iPhone 7 failing to impress a diehard Apple loyalist like me, I can't help but wonder how this may affect the 2016-2017 upgrade cycle. The pressure is on now that iPhone unit sales have seemingly plateaued, and Apple is testing the market's patience by using the same overall design. The good news for investors is that early demand appears strong at the carrier level, and Apple's initial inventory looks to already be sold out.
All of this being said, it's still highly likely that I will end up upgrading to the iPhone 7s, iPhone 8, or whatever the hell Apple decides to call the 11th-generation iPhone. I still consider it personal progress to move from upgrading every year to upgrading every other year like a rational human being.
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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.