Should You Buy Today's iPhone?
Is this good enough? For the price?
Whether you want to or not, you have probably heard plenty about the almost-certain iPhone 5 that is expected in September. But the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are still for sale, and probably will be even after September. (Apple and AT&T still sell the iPhone 3GS, after all.)
Who buys this old gear? Quite a few people, said William Stofega, who directs mobile device research at analyst firm IDC. Getting say, an iPhone 4 for $50 (as many stores now offer) versus an iPhone 5 for $200 on contract does make a difference for some people.
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In fact, some might prefer an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. The rumored iPhone 5 is expected to have a four-inch screen, making it taller and wider than the current 3.5-inch-screen models. And some people may prefer the svelte form.
Aside from size, the new iPhone's biggest expected feature is the addition of superfast "4G" data service. This will be a big deal to people who stream video or frequently surf the Web — on the browser rather than in an app that's optimized to deliver data quickly.
But many people don't push their phones that far and are happy with email, reading a news app or even streaming music (which works well on 3G). And aside from waiting for them to download, most games don't depend on data speeds.
[SEE ALSO: How Much Smartphone Data Do I Need?]
For many people, the biggest appeal of the iPhone is the user experience. And that's not likely to separate the new and older models by much, since the new operating system, iOS 6, will run on the iPhone 4 and 4S (and even the 3Gs), although some features, such as 3D maps and turn-by-turn navigation, will work only on the iPhone 4S.
Then again, you will probably have this phone for at least two years. While your friends gaze lovingly into their larger screens and brag about their fast data speeds (whether or not they are taking advantage of them), you'll have to justify the retro-cool quality of your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.
Peer pressure may get the best of you. "These devices become fashion statements," said Stofega.
Of course, there is also the option of buying a different model of smartphone. In fact, data shows that Android phones are more popular than iPhones with first-time buyers.