iPhone 6S Plus + New Apple Battery = Best Used/Frugal Phone?

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Update 3/17: DailySteals just added new stock in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S at under $200 (Verizon + Fully GSM unlocked). Compare with Swappa.

More and more people are being scared away from paying $1,000+ for a new smartphone as they realize that every September there will be another one that is a bit newer and shinier. I think the absolute amount that the iPhone improves each year is getting smaller and smaller. If you’re not committed to staying on the bleeding edge, why not save some bucks?

I recently took advantage of the special pricing on iPhone battery replacements on my iPhone 6, and it definitely made a difference in speed (and of course battery life). They performed the battery swap in the Apple Store in about an hour while I shopped elsewhere. This made me think about what the current best value would be for an iPhone (functionality/price).

My choice as of mid-2018 is the iPhone 6S Plus. They currently start in the $220 range, compare prices at sites like Swappa (person-to-person) and DailySteals.com (refurb deals). You have Touch ID. You get the bigger 5.5-inch high-resolution “Retina” screen for easier reading. From a superficial perspective, it’s really hard to tell it apart from an iPhone 7 or 8 (especially with case). The speed is adequate, even if you update to the current iOS. Of course, this assumes that you add a new battery ($29) direct from Apple. (You even get a physical headphone jack!)

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  1. The only thing about buying refurbished phone is that you cannot be 100% sure that the screen has not been replaced. (until you receive the phone) I have bought two refurbs in the past year from sellers and both have been refurbished with a new (non Apple OEM) screen. An Apple OEM screen is over $100 which makes it uneconomical to offer a refurb phone for $220.

    The Problem with these screens:
    1) Apple will not swap the battery if the screen is not original
    2) Apple is known to update their software to make the touch function unresponsive. They usually fix it later, but you are left with a useless phone for a while
    3) These screens have lower quality parts which could cause your screen to become unresponsive

  2. Jonathan,

    All ok? Not to be a grammar Nazi (I can say that since I’m in Germany)…your posts seem a bit rushed. Examples: ‘they realize than come September’ and ‘They are currently start’. Do you have a bot writing your posts or maybe someone from Fiverr. Been a loyal reader for more than 5 years. You’ve saved/made me $! Much thanks! Keep up the quality work!

    • Hah. You can blame all grammatical errors on the tiny humans you see on the top right. I’m afraid perfect grammar is simply not high enough on the priority list these days. I’ll be happy to correct any errors that are pointed out to me.

  3. Where are you finding an iPhone 6s for the price you wrote about?
    Is it a 16 GB model?

    • The one I saw was a 16GB Verizon model on Swappa, but it may have been sold. It’s person-to-person like eBay, so inventory changes constantly. DailySteals stock also goes in and out. I’ll try to update when there is a special sale next time on DailySteals.

  4. One thing that persuaded us to upgrade is the SAR rating (Specific Absorption Rate of radiation) of those older phones. There are links between phone use and cancer (studies are readily available via google) plus a legalese warning in the instruction manual. The phone companies seem to have finally taken this risk seriously as they have been slowly lowering the SAR rating in their phones. Apple is still behind the curve compared to Droids, but the newer Iphone 8s and above have SAR ratings about 2/3rds that of the 6.

    • Interesting. I’ve been mindful of radiation since analog phones were around, and always try to use a headset or speakerphone when talking. I still don’t love the idea of having it always by my hip.

      This site lists the “Head SAR” of iPhone 6S+ as 1.19 W/kg and the iPhone 8+ as 1.09 W/kg. Is that a big difference?


      • It’s worth pointing out that the SAR value stated is not an average or typical value. By definition, it is what the phone is capable of putting out at maximum. The level of radiofrequency (RF) radiation put out by the phone will vary depending on what it’s doing, how hard it’s “working” to get a signal, etc. So the “average” (with whatever method you choose to use there) SAR will not necessarily correlate to the reported SAR. In other words, it isn’t helpful to compare the (max) reported SAR values, because the average values may show the opposite conclusion.

        But the bigger point is that there isn’t convincing evidence in large-scale studies showing causation between cell phone use and cancer in humans. Cell phone radiation is non-ionizing, which is to say that the individual photons don’t have enough energy to break chemical bonds in molecules such as DNA which can lead to cancer. People should really be worrying about known cancer and health risks from other environmental factors: smoking; ozone and NOx pollutants from cars and factories; radon in basements; lead etc in drinking water.


  5. Joshua Katt says

    I bought the 64 MB full price ($649?) version of this exact model 3 years ago with an Otter Box and its the perfect choice for me, never a problem, great size & battery life and love the headphone jack as I use it for hours a day as a mp3 / book player as well with old school wired in ear headphones with band. Can’t say this about my other past 20 years of cell phone purchases. I’m looking to stockpile another 1 or 2 just in case.

  6. I’ll take back what I said–there’s not a huge difference between the Apple phones. Its been awhile since I did the research. 1.1+ is still on the high side but it could be worse (they can be as high as 1.6). I tried talking my wife out of getting Apple again but she’s become too accustomed and couldn’t make the switch.

    I upgraded from the Samsung Galaxy 7 to 8 solely because the SAR rating was .4 vs. 1.6 in the oldermodel.

    I’ve found this site to have the most complete information: https://www.gearbest.com/blog/how-to/radiation-checklist-cell-phone-sar-value-in-eu-usa-rating-2236

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