The tech world is on a frenzy as sources continue to pour in that claim to validate the rumor about the iPhone 5’s entrance on store shelves this coming September 21. Apple has kept the iPhone 5 a secret (as the company does with every new electronics arrival), so you will not know until the very week that the iPhone emerges at your local Best Buy, Target, Walmart, or other local retail store. At this point, you may be in the process of considering a new iPhone for purchase. However, you have heard very little about the iPhone 5 but always wanted to get an iPhone 4S. You should consider the following factors when purchasing your new iPhone:
- iOS6 update for the iPhone 4S
- Price drop for the iPhone 4S
- FaceTime over 3G feature
- $345 gift cards given to return the iPhone 4S
- Rumors, rumors, and more rumors
First, the iOS6 update will be provided for all current Apple products that are running on iOS5—with the exception of iPads 1 and 2 and iPod Touches second and third-generation. With regard to the iPhone 3GS, there has been no word on whether the three-year-old iPhone will receive the new update. While one can always be optimistic, Apple may consider using the iPhone 4 as its newest reduced-price phone, while selling the 3GS in other countries around the world. The iPhone 3GS is free right now with a two-year contract under phone carriers Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T. The iOS6 update will be provided for the iPhone 4S and will come installed on the iPhone 5. This means that, should you decide to purchase an iPhone 4S now, you will receive the new update next month when the iPhone 5 is due to arrive (September 12 and September 21 have been proposed as potential arrival dates). This means that the iPhone 5 will not offer you a better operating system; instead, the iPhone 4S will have the same, current operating system. This is but one factor that will make you see the iPhone 4S in a different light.
Another factor to consider when purchasing your new iPhone is the price drop for the iPhone 4S on store shelves. Currently, Walmart has reduced its iPhone 4S to $148. Radio Shack will sell you an iPhone 4S (16GB) for $149, according to CNET. Sprint, as of the last two weeks (since August 14, 2012), provides buyers of the iPhone 4S (16GB) with a $100 mail-in rebate that will go on an American Express card. The iPhone 4S, at Sprint, will cost you $49.99. Apple has decided to consent to this price and has done the same.
The FaceTime over 3G feature with iOS6 (and the new iPhone 5) has become a subject of much controversy within the last several days. AT&T is the only company at the moment that looks to restrict its allowance of the new feature to mobile share data plan users. If you use 3G for FaceTime, you must have a data plan with a phone company. According to iPhone studies, if you own an iPhone data plan of 300MB, you can only get 400 minutes per month of FaceTime chat. A 2GB data plan will provide only 2000-3000 FaceTime minutes each month (the exact number of minutes differs based upon the phone carrier). The number of FaceTime minutes you would have on a 2GB data plan is akin to a 40-50 hour workweek. The numbers show that affordable data plans do not provide enough minutes to suit your needs. You will pay a pretty penny to have FaceTime as a luxury service on your iPhone. In this regard, the iPhone 5 will not provide you with any more convenience than the iPhone 4S. Rather, the iPhone 4S will save you money because you can use FaceTime over WiFi. The iPhone 5 will still provide you with a WiFi option, but the 4S will save you from the temptation of trying to afford a 3G or 4G plan you cannot afford.
Apple plans to reward consumers who recycle their iPhone 4S models by giving them a $345 gift card in return. This may be another reason why you should purchase the iPhone 4S. You may not be able to take advantage of the 4S gift card now, but you may be able to take advantage of the Apple gift card in the future. Even if you are not able to take advantage of Apple’s gift card to recycle your iPhone 4S, you will still be able to trade it in with your phone carrier for money towards a new phone, your phone bill, or new phone accessories.
Lastly, there are the constant, unceasing rumors that have circulated about the iPhone 5. What many interested readers may not know is that the tech world “predicted” (I say this rather sarcastically) that the iPhone 5 would appear last fall. The Fall of 2011 came and went, without the iPhone 5—and tech writers were forced to turn to other things. This past Spring, talk of the iPhone 5 resurfaced, as many new rumors were announced on tech sites and blogs. As someone who has spent a year studying iPhone news and rumors, I can tell you that many of the rumors circulating in the blogosphere are just that—RUMORS! I have read rumors in the Spring that are now obsolete to many tech writers. With that said, let me say that very few tech writers know what the iPhone 5 will feature. We can only know what Apple has told us, and here are some things Apple has announced:
- iOS6 will come to current devices this Fall
- iOS6 will bring along with it Siri integration across all devices: desktop PC, tablet, iPhone
Apple announced this past summer at the WWDC conference that iOS6 would come to current-generation iOS devices. With that said, only the new iPad will see Siri integration in the iPad category; the iPhone 4S does not need it because it already has Siri (although it could use Siri’s extra knowledge). Mac desktop PCs have never had Siri, so the iOS6 update will prove to be an entertaining one for both PC and tablet owners alike.
With regard to other features such as an improved camera with increased megapixels, larger screen display size, and a thinner body, we do not know if any of these things are true. Here is where some would say: “But we’ve seen the photos that have been reproduced, so we know that the new iPhone is coming and that the photos are real.” In my time in the tech world, I have learned that images of phone parts without a picture of the “whole” iPhone still does not make the case about the iPhone. Without seeing an iPhone or hearing of one, consumers are still in the dark about Apple’s future plans. The company chooses to keep it this way, but tech writers have yet to understand that they consume way too much time with rumors of whether or not a new iPhone will emerge as well as what the new iPhone will look like. Until pictures of a new iPhone (full-body) emerge, the rumors are nothing more than “just rumors.”
With that said, you may await anxiously the arrival of the iPhone 5, only to turn around and feel silly for putting your hopes on an iPhone that you knew nothing about at the time. For all we know, Apple could treat this phone as it has done others—a few upgraded parts here and there, updated operating system, faster processor chip, increased megapixel camera, improved pin dock connector, larger screen display size, and so on. These features may sound wonderful for the tech writer or tech geek, but the average person does not need to invest a few hundred dollars into the iPhone 5 for these features. If you want to read more along these lines, consider the article “Why You Shouldn’t Fall for the Upgrade Trap Phone Makers Set for You” by Simon Hill. Simon Hill is right on when he says that upgrades are phone carrier traps. Regarding the iPhone 4S, Simon Hill provides some advice that I find fitting for those who are considering a new iPhone purchase (whether the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5):
“The iPhone 4S was identical to the iPhone 4 in terms of aesthetic. It offered slight improvements in terms of storage, speed, camera, and a few other things. It also boasted the much-publicized Siri feature. It sold faster than any previous release.
A few people suspected that Siri could probably work on the iPhone 4, and some developers even ported it to prove the theory. It works. Apple didn’t roll it out to the iPhone 4 because it served as an extra incentive to upgrade.”
The truth of the discussion here is that the iPhone 5 will be a few minor improvements from the iPhone 4S; and the iPhone 4S consists of slight modifications from the iPhone 4. In the end, you may realize that even the iPhone 4S has very little distinction from the iPhone 4—and, if the iOS6 update comes to the iPhone 3GS, you may not even feel the need to purchase the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4. The iPhone 3GS may not be such a bad device to keep after all.