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Thursday, 13 September 2018 09:51

Why it is worth upgrading to the new iPhone XR

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iPhone XR iPhone XR

Anyone who knows me understands that I am not a moronic cult member who eagerly lines up to spend his (or his parents) hard-earned money each time Apple makes a new product announcement. That said, one feature mentioned in today’s announcement of the new iPhone XS and XR phones has made me seriously consider upgrading.

After more than three years, I am still happily using my iPhone 6, which has proven to be an excellent and reliable product. I don’t really care about having a better camera, more storage or a faster chip because my phone does everything I need it to – almost.

These days, I am spending a lot of time overseas and this has been somewhat of an irritant when it comes to using my phone. My provider, Vodafone, does offer a very reasonable $5 a day international roaming plan, but this becomes prohibitively expensive for those of us who spend a good part of the year abroad.

My solution until now has been to swap SIMs when I’m abroad. Where I am currently, I use a very good pre-paid unlimited data plan for about $20 a month. This, however, has the disadvantage of cutting off access to my Australian phone calls and SMS messages.

Consequently, if I want access to my home phone while using an overseas SIM, I have had two choices. I could carry two phones or move over to a dual-SIM Android device. I have never found an Android phone that I like and carrying two phones is a drag, so for me neither solution is viable.

And this is exactly why the new IPhone XS and XR models have made me sit up and take notice.

Buried in among all the guff about the new chip, better camera, improved screen, increased storage and fabulously stylish design in today’s announcement was the fact that, for the first time, Apple has introduced dual SIM to its phones through the use of the usual nano-SIM slot and an embedded digital eSIM chip.

An eSIM is an embedded chip in the phone that is software writable, so in future users could switch mobile operators without changing a physical SIM.

For us overseas travellers, we could retain our Vodafone, Telstra or Optus nano-SIM and activate our eSIM with whatever mobile operator we choose to use abroad. Or conceivably, our Australian operator might be housed on the eSIM and we could simply insert a cheap local  physical SIM while overseas.

eSIM is new and requires mobile carrier co-operation, but the good news for me is that my provider Vodafone is a strong supporter of this technology. For those of you with Telstra and Optus, don’t worry because there is no way they will risk losing iPhone customers by not jumping aboard. Although one wonders why they have still not implemented visual voicemail.

As far as my choice of new phone is concerned, it will almost certainly be the iPhone XR 128GB model for $1299, which is just about at the limit I’m prepared to spend for any type of mobile handheld device. Yes, it’s still pricey, but I know it will last me at least three years – and who knows, I’m might even be able to trade-in (or sell) my iPhone 6.

So will I be lining up for the new iPhone XR when the Apple Store throws open its doors on 26 October? No, but I will certainly go down to a store after the din has died down and take a look at one. If I like what I see, then I will seriously consider ugrading.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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