How long until your Christmas presents are out of date?

Gadgets, Mobile phones
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One of the most annoying things in tech is when you spend your hard earned cash on a new toy – say, a phone or a tablet – only for a couple of weeks later have the company announce a new model. In an instant you no longer have the shiniest, newest thing – but last year’s news burning a £500 hole in your pocket.

So what about this Christmas? Is that present under the tree going to stay cool and trendy for long? Probably not – as in literally the first week of January the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Vegas, where a new raft of gadgets are announced – yes, that soon after Christmas.

But exactly how long does your new toy have before it is no longer relevant? Read on to find out.
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iPhone 6 / 6 Plus

If you were lucky enough to get Apple’s latest phone this Christmas, then good news, you might get almost seven months out of the handset. This year’s phones were released in September – with the preceding 5S, 5 also being released in September on years preceding.

With this in mind, we can probably expect the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 (or whatever Apple calls it) around the same time next year.

The size question is interesting. The iPhone 6 Plus has been wildly successful which suggests that Apple will almost certainly keep making jumbo-sized phones, but there are also persistent rumours of a new, smaller screened version – so if you’ve instead opted for a 5S for size reasons, there could be a new similar sized device coming in September. Maybe.
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iPad Air 2 / iPad Mini

Both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 were released at the end of October this year – and this followed early November launches for the three generations preceding that. So that does seem to strongly suggest that we can expect an iPad Air 3 and iPad Mini 4 around the same time next year. That’s almost a whole year of having Apple’s latest tablets!

Let’s hope the next upgrade is slightly more substantial.
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Samsung Galaxy S5 / Samsung Galaxy Note 4

If you’ve got a Galaxy S5 waiting under the tree then I’m really sorry but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be the hottest Samsung for very long at all. The Galaxy S5 was released way back in April last year – which suggests that you might have until April 2015 before the S6 arrives, but we’re hearing strong rumours that Samsung may be ready to show off the S6 as early as the CES show in January.

The reason for this is that it hasn’t been a great year for the company: The S5 has sold much worse than expected (there are reports of huge stockpiles of unsold phones) and pretty much everyone has slagged off Samsung’s over-reliance on plastic casing, compared to more metallic rivals.

If you’ve got a Galaxy Note 4, by comparison, things are looking rosier. That was only released in October, and the Note 3 was released 13 months earlier – so it may only be in the autumn that your handset finally goes out of date. Phew!
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HTC One M8

Despite wide-spread critical acclaim, the M8 could be reaching the end of its time in the limelight. The handset was released way back in March – and it is also on a yearly replacement cycle – so we’re expecting the HTC One M9 (or similar) around the time of Mobile Wold Congress in March. Still, it’s a great phone so it probably isn’t worth complaining too much.
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PS4 / Xbox One

If you’re getting one of the two major games consoles this year then great news as it is going to last for a while! Consoles, unlike phones, have much longer product life cycles, so you can expect your PS4 or XBO to still be getting the latest games well into 2017, or maybe even 2018 or 2019. (The Xbox 360 was released in 2005 don’t forget – nine years ago – and has still received most of this year’s big games).

Of course, over the next few years we can probably expect Sony and Microsoft to redesign their consoles – offering more compact versions, but crucially, though they may fit under your TV better than the current bulky consoles, they won’t add functionality that your existing PS4/XBO won’t have. A PS4 game released in 2018 will still run on your 2014 PS4 – which can’t be said for your 2018 iPhone app on your 2014 iPhone.
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If you’re getting a WiiU then don’t worry, it’ll be a fun machine – with Mario Kart, Smash Bros and Captain Toad to play… but it is perhaps safe to say it is in its autumn years, as a console. Whilst there has been no successor console officially announced, and whilst there are still a handful of big releases left (new Zelda and Star Fox games), it is pretty clear that Nintendo is looking to move forward from the commercial disaster.

So I’d wager we can expect a replacement console within a couple of years. More broadly, third party support has pretty much dried up, so in any case there won’t be much new to play.
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Apple TV

Apple TV is a strange one. It hasn’t received a new iteration since January 2013 – and even then that was only a minor improvement on the March 2012 version. So surely it can’t be long until Apple put a bullet in the current Apple TV and trade it in for a newer model?

All of the signs are there – we’ve seen big price cuts, suggesting it is trying to clear out stock, and we’ve seen a tonne of rumours suggesting that Apple plans to make Apple TV central to its “HomeKit” internet-of-things play. Add in broader industry factors like the TV being the next big battlefield as we become increasingly reliant on video streaming and that’s a recipe for a new Apple TV sooner than later… surely?

That said, we don’t know anything for sure – and it seems neither do Apple. So your Apple TV might still be the latest Apple TV for a while yet. If you’re lucky.
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Chromecast / Amazon Fire TV

Now what of the other major streaming devices – specifically Google’s Chromecast dongle, and Amazon’s Fire TV. Because these are currently both first generation devices it is hard to say for sure when the company’s plan on releasing upgrades. But we suspect it won’t be for a while.

The reason for this is that both are designed to be relatively ‘lightweight’ devices – merely showing video content, which the existing hardware can do well enough. Especially in the case of the Chromecast – where your tablet, phone or computer does all of the heavy lifting in terms of navigation. Fire TV is a little different as it is also being setup for gaming, which suggests it might need to receive upgrades with greater urgency, but the device itself has only been around for a few months.

We’d say if you’ve got a Fire TV you’ve got a good 10 with a top-of-the-range device – and if you’ve got a Chromecast, even if Google does release a new one then it only cost £30 so is well worth the money in the meantime anyway.
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Amazon Fire Phone

Finally, if you unwrap an Amazon Fire Phone on Christmas morning then I’ve got good news and bad news. First, the bad news: I’m sorry, your new phone isn’t very good. Whilst on paper a clever device, it has been met with lukewarm reviews, and even Amazon Jeff Bezos has admitted that it isn’t very good.

But now here’s the good news: It’ll still be the newest Amazon phone for some time yet. Following the disastrous launch, Amazon appears to have shelved plans for an immediate follow-up – with only vague rumours of a second Fire Phone suggesting some time in 2016… and that’s if we’re lucky.

So for a while yet, you’ll be the coolest (and likely only) Fire Phone owner in your neighbourhood.

James O’Malley
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