Ask LH: Is The iPhone 5 Still Worth Buying?

Ask LH: Is The iPhone 5 Still Worth Buying?

Is the original iPhone 5 worth buying in 2015? I’m looking for a phone to replace my fourth-generation iPod and to finally upgrade from a flip phone, but I don’t want to spend a fortune. Any thoughts? Thanks, Number Five Is Alive

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Dear NFIL,

Obviously this will depend on the price you can get an iPhone 5 for to a certain extent, because if it’s too close to the base level iPhone 5s price — currently $829 new from Apple — you’d clearly be mad to go for the older technology.

But you’re after a bargain, and at certain prices the iPhone 5 could be a bargain. A quick bit of web searching suggests that, depending on the storage you’re after, you shouldn’t be spending more than around $400 at this point in time, which is a considerable saving. If you’re coming from a flip phone, you’ll also find it a considerable technology jump.

The iPhone 5 is still within the upgrade pipeline for iOS 9, although as always with older iOS devices, the quantity of features and speed of operation post-upgrade can leave a little something to be desired, or sometimes a lot.

You can save some dough by buying from overseas, but as we’ve covered recently you’ve got to be careful to ensure that you get sent the relevant model for Australian network frequencies, and that you’re going to be happy with matters such as battery life if it’s a “refurbished” model. Apple doesn’t sell refurbished iPhones anywhere, so any iPhone you buy that way will have most likely been refurbished by a third party.

If you’re buying from a friend or getting a genuinely second-hand model, be aware that at this point, the battery chemistry won’t be what it used to be, and you may have to budget for a battery replacement sooner rather than later.


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  • Particularly if you are upgrading from a flip phone I think the iPhone 5 is a great choice. You still get 4G, most of the new features and probably a few more iOS versions over time.
    I sold my 64GB version on Gumtree recently for $450 but mine still had the box and in good condition. You should still be able to find a decent one for around $350, just make sure that the seller has removed their iCloud details from the device otherwise you wont be able to activate it to use.

  • There’s also the option to upgrade to a non-iPhone device. At around the $400 mark you could get an LG G3, or any range of only year old Android phones new, as opposed to a 2 year old iPhone.

    • The Nexus 5 is a great phone and should be at a pretty decent price. Still super happy with mine.

  • Nope.

    You are coming from a flip phone and are already looking at “old” phone technology. Given that you are coming from a dumb/feature phone it is unlikely that you’re sold into too much of the Apple ecosystem, and although you are upgrading from an iPod and are very likely using iTunes, it already manages your music and has a folder of music that is easy / quick to copy.

    You can get a brand new Moto G 2nd gen which has a MicroSD card slot for about $250 outright (less actually but you’ll have to look for it). Buy yourself a nice big MicroSD card (cheap as chips (ahahaha) these days) and you’ve got a phone that is a good upgrade for someone coming from a flip phone into the world of smartphones and you’ll be able to easily copy your music across. If you really want it, the new Apple streaming service will be available on Android. Stick it on a pre-paid service like Amaysim or Boost and you’re good to go for not much outlay and not much ongoing.

    You can thank me later.

  • I use an iPhone 3GS. It’s still fine, it runs iOS 3. Sure, I can’t use modern apps, but it is fine as a phone, and I have computers and portable gaming devices to do anything productive.

    Be brave. You many not need to bother “upgrading” at all. :-S

  • Dont be a fucking idiot get a Lumia 930 for $450 and be the happiest man alive without the shitty iOS

  • Check how many charge cycles the battery has had before buying.

    The Iphone 5’s battery severely degrades after 700 charge cycles. It’s been 993 days since the launch of the Iphone 5, and 629 days since it was succeeded by the 5C/5S. Assuming 1 full charge per day, you’d think that the chances of you buying an Iphone 5 with less than 700 cycles are pretty slim.

    However, there was a battery recall/replacement last year. So any Iphone 5 that had it’s battery replaced with a new one then would likely be at 300-400 cycles.

    Source: My own experience of buying a second hand Iphone 5 with a dodgy battery and my friend who works at an Apple Store.

    • +1. The battery for the iphone 5 wasn’t great to start with, and as they age they get pretty terrible. You get better life from a 4S despite the extra age.

      The 5 is the only time we’ve had to buy replacement batteries to keep our fleet phones alive.

  • I’m having a similar debate with my parents. They currently use dumbphones and are thinking about getting smartphones. But they are relatively technophobic and need something that is user-friendly and responsive.

    My main gripe against Apple kit is that successive OS upgrades severely hamper performance and responsiveness (source: the wife’s iPhone 3 and 4 and her iPad 1 and 2, as well as speaking to many other users).

    So getting an iPhone that’s approaching it’s 3rd birthday and has seen 2 major OS updates since, odds are that the user experience may disappoint, esp with iOS9 on the horizon.

    I’d second suggestion above to get a Nexus 5. Google are pretty keen on supporting limited hardware so updating Android doesn’t limp on older kit. For example, I’m running 5.1.1 – the latest – on a HTC One which despite being 3 years old doesn’t lag one bit. And since the Nexus is a Google OEM device, it’s far less likely to become an “orphan” (i.e. stuck on an obselete Android version) vs those from other suppliers.

  • As many have pointed out, if you must go for an iPhone, consider the iPhone 5S – the iPhone 5/5C will certainly have ample performance and smartphone-ness compared to your current device to get you through the years to come, but when you consider Apple’s history of device support, the impact of newer iOS versions on older hardware, and the march of app updates simply to “support” the latest version of iOS at the expense of the oldest supported version, the handset will be needing replacing sooner.

    If you feel like testing the waters, a Prepaid/PAYG Android would be a good way to ease into the Smartphone world – Cheap, more than capable of running multiple email accounts, hopping from website to website across multiple tabs, and getting a feel for which apps you may want to extend the capabilities of your device.

    On that note, the Huawei Y550 is a good entry point – Cheap, 4G capable, Android 4.4, reasonable performance despite it cost.
    The Prepaid line up changes frequently, so if one suggested device is missing, another equivalent will generally be there waiting.
    Once you’ve gotten the introduction handset, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a data ready plan – for a light user 500MB is a good start, but 1-3GB is best for the average user if you can mange it to give yourself ample room to explore the handset’s capabilities.
    Use it for a month or so, work out what you want to use and what you’d like the phone to do better, and then work out your budget is.
    Once you know what it is you want out of your smartphone and how much you’re prepared to pay for it, you can start to look at more expensive and capable units that aren’t necessarily a Samsung/Sony/HTC: I personally know that Huawei’s more premium Ascend Mate 7 and P8 units are great examples of current generation performance without the price premium present on the big regional brands (and as a satisfied Galaxy S4 user, I would happily use either of those as a replacement should my phone fail today)

    And don’t stop at Huawei or any of the other brands just because they’ve been vouched for here; check out the other brands out there that aren’t “big” in Australia – you can get a lot of phone for a modest outlay if you do your research, or a whole lot more phone for the same cost as a premium brand device.
    And in the same vein, if Android takes your fancy, a recent generation device will be powerful enough without costing as mush as it did a year or more ago when released, and will be “supported” that much longer than the equivalent iPhone of the time.

  • Go for Iphone 5s, why to go for 5 if 5s is available at almost same price. You can also get 5s Gold. Otherwise if you will go for 5, you’ll not get gold effect. Go for Iphone 5s..
    Take care.. Enjoy your Iphone. 😉

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