Why the iPhone 4 iOS 7 Update Matters

At WWDC 2013, Apple announced its brand new mobile operating system in iOS 7, a piece of software that overhauls the look of iOS while delivering new features to iPhone and iPad owners. The update will be coming to many of Apple’s devices including the aging iPhone 4 which arrived in 2010. Here, we take a look at what the iPhone 4 iOS 7 update matters not only for current iPhone 4 owners but the iPhone in general.

During its WWDC keynote, Tim Cook and his colleagues took the stage and debuted not one, but two new operating systems. And while OS X Mavericks and its host of new features are impressive and exciting to Mac users, the highlight of the show was certainly the unveiling of Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system, the software it will use to replace iOS 6 in just a few months.

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The iPhone 4 iOS 7 update matters a great deal.

iOS 7 isn’t just going to be the incremental iOS update that iPhone and iPad users have grown accustomed to. No, instead of just bringing hundreds of new features to a familiar interface, the software will be introducing a ton of new features along with a new user interface, vastly different than the one iPhone and iPad owners have come to know.

Gone are the real-life textures for icons, replaced by vibrant and flat logos. Apple has installed new multitasking that goes beyond just a list of applications in the Control Center. Even the iconic lock screen, which has only slightly been changed since its debut alongside the original iPhone, has received a complete makeover.

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iOS 7 is poised to be a huge update for many iPhone and iPad owners. We saw many because iOS 7 won’t be coming to every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch out there. Owners of the iPhone 3GS are left out, as are owners of the iPad 1 and any iPod touch below the fifth-generation model. Even further, Apple has indicated that not all iOS 7 updates will be equal.

Older devices like the iPhone 4, announced in 2010, will be on the receiving end of a slimmer iOS 7 update than their counterparts. That said, the fact that devices like the iPhone 4 are even getting the upgrade is important. Here’s why.

Why the iPhone 4 iOS 7 Update Matters

Keeps Customers Happy

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Number one? It keeps customers happy.

One of the biggest reasons why the iPhone 4 iOS 7 update matters is simply because it keeps customers that bought the iPhone 4 happy. The iPhone 4 was launched all the way back in 2010, making it extremely old in smartphone years. And with iPhone 4 owners coming off contract, Apple didn’t have to update the aging device with a new operating system. But it did, and that will go a long way with those who bought it long ago or just picked it up.

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Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the smartphone arena, not just because of good marketing and solid hardware, but because they know how to keep their customers. Keeping smartphone customers in a world of choice is a tall order but by offering fantastic software support over the duration of a contract, companies like Apple and Samsung can keep a few more customers than they would have if they simply let their aging smartphones die.

A perfect example that comes to mind is the situation with HTC. The company continues to put out quality hardware, the HTC One is a great example, but it just can’t seem to right the ship. While there are an assortment of reasons for this, one of them is definitely the fact that HTC has been less than faithful with software reasons.

Just ask Droid Incredible 2 owners who thought that they would have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in August but still haven’t received the update, or any concrete information about its whereabouts.

How many Droid Incredible 2 owners are going to move to an HTC device when their contract is up? The answer, not many. How many Droid Incredible 2 owners are going to recommend an HTC phone to a friend? The answer, not many. Word of mouth is important as well when it comes to getting customers on board.

Makes It Safe to Buy an iPhone 4

Apple currently sells three versions of the iPhone. The iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. The iPhone 5 starts at $199.99, a tall order for some people. The iPhone 4S costs $99 on-contract. Again, while not expensive to some, that’s still a bit of money to spend on a device. The iPhone 4 though costs a grand total of zero dollars through Apple and with iOS 7 on the way, Apple has made the iPhone 4 an attractive device, even with devices like the HTC One Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini on the way.

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It also makes it safe to buy an iPhone 4 right now, if necessary.

If Apple hadn’t announced iOS 7 for the iPhone 4, it would make for a tough sell in the months before the arrival of the iPhone 5S, an arrival that will likely spell the end for the iPhone 4. At the moment though, the iPhone 4 is a safe buy for those that don’t care about specs and don’t need all of the software features of iOS 7.

So this is a win-win for everyone involved. For those interested in a cheap iPhone, it means support for the long-term and for Apple, it means a solid competitor to the cheaper Android devices that are on the way.

King of Longevity

Most important though, the fact that a device from 2010 is getting the latest iOS update, and a huge update at that, solidifies Apple’s reign as the king of longevity. What this means is that Apple continues to be the go-to option for those that don’t want to be changing a phone year after year or even every two years.

Those who bought the iPhone 3GS got three solid years of support, well beyond the length of a two-year contract. In the case of the iPhone 5S, the device that is set to come out later this year will likely receive regular software updates until 2016, three years from now.

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iPhones like the iPhone 3GS easily surpassed their contracts.

The same thing can’t be said for Android devices and Windows Phone devices. Samsung has been improving, but it was still a shock to some that the Samsung Galaxy S2, which arrived in 2011, received Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, at the time, wasn’t even the most recent Android update.

So not only do iPhone users get this type of support Apple, they get more choice. Because iPhone 4 owners are getting a brand new update this year, there is more incentive to keep the device beyond the expiration of a contract. Perhaps a user needs to save more money, maybe they want to wait for a redesign with the iPhone 6.

And in the smartphone world, choice is everything.