Apple no longer sells the iPhone 5, its flagship from 2012, but third-party retailers continue to sell it as a cheap alternative to the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 6. With holiday shopping in full swing, many consumers will be taking a long hard look at the iPhone 5. But is the iPhone 5 still worth buying? Let’s take a look.
In the fall of 2012, Apple introduced its iPhone 5, a successor to the iPhone 4s, and a device that arrived with a number of new features. The iPhone 5 was the first iPhone to offer a larger 4-inch display. It was the first iPhone to come with 4G LTE support. It was the first iPhone to feature a premium aluminum design. And it was the first iPhone to come with Apple’s Lightning standard. It also came with the usual improvements to the camera and processor.
At launch, the iPhone 5 was featured at Apple’s usual $199.99 price point. And thanks to its price tag and its features, the device sold millions of times around the world.
Last year, Apple introduced the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5’s successor. With it, the company also introduced the iPhone 5c, a cheap plastic iPhone meant to serve as a budget alternative to its flagship model. Instead of keeping the iPhone 5 around with a cheap price tag, Apple killed it off. And as we now know, it was killed off for good.
While the iPhone 5 is no longer produced, it’s still on sale at sites like eBay where third-party retailers sell it for a fraction of what it used to cost. It’s an enticing proposition for those that want to buy into the Apple ecosystem but are unwilling to pay top dollar. Because it’s still around, it’s still an option for those looking to buy a smartphone for themselves and for their loved ones.
The iPhone 5 was an attractive phone in 2012 and thanks to the cheap price and a recent iOS 8 update, I continue to get questions about its worth. The questions I get all sound something like this:
“Is the iPhone 5 still worth buying?”
It’s hard to answer this question for everyone, everyone’s situation is a little bit different, but I’m going to take the bait and try and answer that question for as many of you as humanly possible. To do that, let’s take a look at both sides.
Why You Should Buy the iPhone 5
It’s extremely hard to recommend a smartphone that’s more than two years old but there are some reasons you might want to consider buying the iPhone 5 right now or in the near future.
The first reason is the most obvious one. It’s cheap. We’ve seen unlocked pricing for the iPhone 5 dip below the $300 mark. That’s about $300 off the off-contract cost of the iPhone 6 and also much cheaper than the iPhone 5s off-contract through retailers like Apple.
You also might want to consider buying the iPhone 5 if the person you’re buying it for, yourself or someone you know, doesn’t care about having the latest and greatest hardware features. The iPhone 5’s design is top notch, its processor can handle most games, and the screen is still very solid. This is a well built phone and it shows two years later.
If you buy the iPhone 5, you’ll also gain access to a ton of cheap accessories that have dropped in price as demand for the phone has declined. Cases and other key accessories aren’t as expensive as they used to be and you’ll be able to save some money on those items moving forward.
It’s also worth considering if you aren’t fanatical about software updates. The iPhone 5 currently runs iOS 8 and it should, at the very least, get a bump up to next year’s iOS 9 update. After that, there’s a chance that it will get stuck. If you’re not planning to keep this phone for more than a year or so, it’s definitely worth a look.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy the iPhone 5
There are also plenty of reasons why I don’t think you should buy the iPhone 5. The first reason is that I think its price is misleading. Yes, it’s extremely cheap. But so is Apple’s iPhone 5s. We’ve even seen several iPhone 6 deals emerge in recent weeks and we expect them to continue as we move away from its release date.
For a little more money, you’ll get an iPhone that comes with a better camera, better processor, and Touch ID. In the case of the iPhone 6, you’ll also get a much bigger display, perfect for playing games and watching movies. You’ll also get an iPhone that will last a whole lot longer. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s have a leg up on the iPhone 5 in terms of software updates and that’s important if you’re planning to keep your next phone for the long haul.
It’s also worth noting that the performance on the iPhone 5, at least on my iPhone 5, has declined after the arrival of iOS 8. Many iPhone 5 users I’ve talked to are noticing similar degradation. I can only imagine the impact iOS 9 might have on the iPhone 5. It brings back memories of iOS 6’s terrible performance on the iPhone 3GS.
The iPhone 5 is an old phone. And if you’re not comfortable with sub par hardware and declining performance, you’d be wise to invest you money into another version of the iPhone. Or, perhaps, a cheap Android flagship like the LG G3 or Moto X, two of the best phones from 2014. Both of those devices can be found for less than $100 on-contract.
Is The iPhone 5 Still Worth Buying?
For most people, I don’t think that it is. Not with the advancements that Apple’s made with the iPhone 6, not with Android flagships price as low as they are, and not with the iPhone 5s now sitting at $99 or less on-contract.
You have to think of your phone as an investment. Do you really want to throw a ton of money (up front cost and data charges) at a phone that’s in decline? Probably not. There are too many good, cheap options on the market right now including the iPhone 5s, a device that is barely a year old. Your money is going to go a lot further with a phone like that.
I’ve owned this phone for two years and I loved my two years with it. However, I can’t imagine owning this phone for another year let alone another two years. Not with iOS 8 performing the way that it is, knowing that for a little more cash, I could find a phone that delivers better all-around performance.
When I talk to people about buying phones and tablets, I often use the word “future proof.” You may not envision yourself taking a lot of photos or playing a lot of games right now but you simply don’t know how your habits will evolve down the road once you get comfortable. Buying a two year old phone comes with far too many limitations and I think your future will be much brighter if you invest your money into a newer, better device. Don’t sell yourself short.