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Should I Buy the iPhone 4S or Wait for the iPhone 5

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The most common question I hear as we approach the iPhone 5 release date is, “Should I buy the iPhone 4S or wait for the iPhone 5?”

Waiting for a new phone is tough, especially for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 owners who are no longer under a 2-year contract.

No matter what the situation, at this point it makes sense for almost any potential iPhone buyer to wait for the fall.

Read: iPhone 5 Release Date – What to Expect this Fall

Check out why you may want to wait for the iPhone 5 release date before buying a new iPhone, and who can go a head and buy a new phone right now.

We expect Apple will stick with their fall iPhone release date schedule, which leaves roughly 90 days between now and the iPhone 5 release date. Even if it means borrowing an old phone for a few months, I suggest waiting for the iPhone 5.

New iPhone Buyers

First time smartphone buyers are a growing group, and many of these shoppers are looking at the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4.

“Coming from a flip-phone background is it worth waiting, or should I call it good with the 4S now? reads a recent email from reader Michael, and he’s not alone. I’ve received many similar emails and questions from readers, family and friends.

Flip phone to iPhone 4S or iPhone 5

Coming from a flip phone should i buy the iPhone 4S or wait for the iPhone 5?

If you are a first time smartphone buyer planning on getting an iPhone, I suggest holding out for the launch of the iPhone 5 this fall, even if you plan to buy the iPhone 4.

Apple’s new strategy is to offer older iPhone models at reduced prices, which means we’ll likely see the iPhone 5 with a $199 price and a drop to $99 for the entry-level iPhone 4s. I also believe the iPhone 4 will be a free smartphone offering on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint when the iPhone 5 launches. This is the current price for the iPhone 3GS on AT&T.

iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 Owners

While I believe that iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 owners will wait for the iPhone 5 circumstances beyond their control could force a look at an early upgrade.

Even if the iPhone 3GS seems to slow down a little more each day, or battery life diminishes faster as the phone passes 3 years old, It’s worth holding out for the iPhone 5.

iPhone 3GS to iPhone 5 Upgrade

iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 owners should wait for the iPhone 5.

This is especially true for users who plan to keep their next iPhone for two to three years like the iPhone 3GS.When buying a gadget to last years, it makes sense to wait 90 days for the most advanced model, a model that will see support long into the future.

Sprint Customers

Sprint customers who couldn’t purchase the iPhone 4S when it launched in October 2011 may find themselves off contract and ready to jump from a flip phone or Android to the iPhone.

Even thought the iPhone 4S is a tempting offering now that it is finally on Sprint I suggest waiting a few months. The iPhone 5 is rumored to ship with 4G LTE support for all three major carriers.

While Sprint’s 4G LTE network is in its infancy, Sprint is working on rolling out support for 4G LTE in more locations.

T-Mobile Customers

T-Mobile boasts over 1 million iPhone users, even though the carrier doesn’t sell the iPhone. These users deal with slow speeds and unlocked iPhones to run on T-Mobile’s network.

This fall T-Mobile expects to launch a “4G” HSPA+ coverage to deliver faster connections to unlocked iPhone owners. T-Mobile is also on the start of a 4G LTE rollout which might allow an iPhone 5 with 4G LTE to connect at even faster speeds.

If the possibility of faster 4G LTE speeds aren’t enough to tempt you to wait, T-Mobile customers who don’t jump ship may want to hold out until 2013 when it is rumored that Apple will sanction a T-Mobile iPhone 5.

Verizon Customers

Verizon iPhone shoppers have more to gain from the iPhone 5 than most other carriers thanks to the massive 4G LTE network.

If the new iPhone 5 features 4G LTE, Verizon will be the go to carrier, thanks to coverage of nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population.

Not only would this mean faster upload and download speeds, but the first time Verizon iPhone users could talk and browse the web at the same time while on a cellular connection.

AT&T Customers

If you’re looking for an iPhone on AT&T, wait for the iPhone 5. assuming the iPhone 5 offers 4G LTE connectivity, you’ll see faster upload and download speeds and might just benefit from more reliable data connections.

The iPhone 4S experiences slow downs or data drops for some users in large cities, while the 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy S III doesn’t show the same behavior. Hopefully the new iPhone’s 4G LTE antenna will help fix this problem.

Regional Carrier Customers

If you use a smaller regional carrier for service, now might be the best time to buy an iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S has recently landed on a number of smaller regional iPhone carriers like nTelos, Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, GCI, Cellcom, Golden State Cellular and Bluegrass Cellular.

These smaller carriers won’t likely see the iPhone 5 until late 2013, which is a significant time to wait. Unless users plan to switch to a major carrier, the iPhone 4S is a good option.

Why Everyone Should Wait for the iPhone 5

Anyone shopping for a new iPhone should wait for the iPhone 5 release date before buying a new iPhone and signing a contract.

iPhone 5 engineering sample

The iPhone 5 looks to be taller and slightly thinner, but not wider.

Rumors suggest the iPhone 5 will bring a number of new features and a new look to the market. Our exclusive iPhone 5 engineering sample photos show a taller iPhone 5 with a 4-inch display that is slightly taller than the iPhone 4S, but about the same width.

White iPhone 5 photo

This white iPhone 5 photo rendering shows the possible metal back and taller design.

iPhone 5 leaks point to a new design which may be more durable than the iPhone 4S. A new metal back would remove a common shatter point of the iPhone 4S and new Apple patents suggest the company is working on waterproofing the iPhone better.

One of the most noticeable features changes could be the inclusion of 4G LTE. Not only will a 4G LTE connection allow iPhone 5 owners to upload and download 10 times faster, it would most likely support talking and using the web at the same time, a feature only found on the AT&T iPhone 4S. It’s possible that this feature would even work in 3G coverage like the HTC EVO 4G LTE.

There’s also a rumor of a Quad-Core processor, HD front facing video camera and better rear facing camera.

Who Should Buy the iPhone 4S Now

Users who need a new phone right now, don’t care about the newest features and don’t mind paying $100 more than they would need to in 90 days should go ahead and buy the iPhone 4S or even the iPhone 4.

 

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

17 Comments

  1. mark

    07/16/2012 at 3:05 pm

    I have the droid 2. Im not sure I want to hold out. I don’t care about the new features. I just am looking at my first iPhone purchase. You say I will save 100 dollars if I wait. Do you think I should still wait? I don’t plan on getting the samsung galaxy, but I was hopinng Apple would’ve released it during the summer as they had done in the past. What are they waiting for? If it doesn’t get released until fall, I’m wondering if it is worth it to wait.

    • Aric

      08/06/2012 at 1:41 pm

      If you really hate your phone and don’t mind spending an extra $100 instead of waiting, get the 4S.

    • Bananaz

      08/17/2012 at 12:12 pm

      Well I know that Samsung and Apple had a lawsuit in the US. And that is the reason that Samsung Galaxy III is duel core and not quad core like the Iphone 5. But the Galaxy in Europe is quad core. That is what I believe to be the reason. They were able to stop it here and stop the competition and wanted to be the first quad core.

  2. Tony

    07/17/2012 at 5:33 am

    Why in the world would anyone want to sign a two year contract now for a slow 3G iPhone 4S…Either wait for the iPhone 5 or if you must upgrade now, go with something like the Samsung Galaxy S3.

    • natasha

      07/17/2012 at 9:14 am

      no thanks

    • dawn

      08/18/2012 at 4:28 pm

      The Samsung Galaxy S3 is not very good. The screen quality sucks. I owned it for a total of a week and couldn’t wait to return it.

  3. natasha

    07/17/2012 at 9:12 am

    you spould wait for the iphone 5. that’s what im doing.

    • mark

      07/17/2012 at 11:24 am

      Just noticed a rumor that the iPhone will be coming out on Aug. 7. I will definitely be waiting. And as for what she said, I agree, screw the Samsung. Apple here I come!

  4. Lily

    07/31/2012 at 11:23 am

    Im still with the iphone 3gs and cant wait to get iphone 5 have been waiting. So i woulx wait

  5. Kamila

    08/09/2012 at 8:44 pm

    Hi!
    I’ve still got one of those ancient flip phones, but my contract ends August 18 and then I’m upgrading to a smartphone plan. I really want an iPhone. The thing is, is it worth it to wait even longer? My phone’s pretty important to me and i don’t think I can wait a month without one. Honestly, I reaallly like the 4s, specifically the shape and size, they’re perfect! But then again, the iPhone 5 is rumored to have some pretty cool features. And that’s the thing, “rumored” What if they’re not all that cool? I really don’t know what to do… Help?

  6. Christy

    08/11/2012 at 12:05 pm

    I’m eagerly awaiting my first iphone too! I can hardly stand it. But I do want to save money and see what the new features are.

  7. Greg

    08/12/2012 at 7:47 pm

    Apple is going to introduce the iPhone 5 on September 12, then they’ll be available to us on September 21. I’m definitely waiting to get one-I waited this long-1 more month of waiting won’t kill me. I can’t wait to ditch my LG Optimus S and say “goodbye” to android-but it still works so I’m not going to rush to buy an older model iPhone. Besides, I’m not eligable for a phone upgrade until September 1 anyway-talk about perfect timing. My advice to anyone pondering on whether to wait or get the 4 or 4s, if your current phone still works (even though you may hate it or are just sick of it) just wait another month-you”ll most likely be glad you did.

  8. dawn

    08/18/2012 at 4:33 pm

    Wait to see what the features are for iPhone5…if it’s not worth it, at least the iphone4s will be cheaper. That’s what I am doing anyway.

  9. Veronica

    08/19/2012 at 9:55 pm

    I carried the 3GS confuse waiting for IPhone or buy iphone4S my 3GS always no network

  10. Lisa

    08/31/2012 at 12:01 am

    When will cell com get the iPhone 5?

  11. Gunz

    09/09/2012 at 3:21 pm

    why buy the 1phone 4s now … compatibility with existing accessories that’s why… everything i have runs on a 30 pin connector … you all know how much the cords cost … how many of you have one cord that you carry around in your pocket? nope there is one in the bedroom, one at the office, one in the car and one hooked to the computer not to mention the speakers in the living room av cables hooked to the tv. thats a lot of money to just switch connectors … a 4s is cheaper

  12. Paolo

    09/12/2012 at 7:47 pm

    I heard the LTE will eat your data up in no time

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