The iPhone 4 is a tempting device thanks to it being free through Apple and the fact that it will be getting iOS 7 when it arrives this fall. As tempting as it may be, there are more than a few reasons why consumers should pass on Apple’s aging iPhone 4 in favor of something else.
All the way back in 2010, Apple both announced and released the iPhone 4, a device that replaced the iPhone 3GS as the company’s flagship smartphone and one that introduced an all new design that featured the now iconic glass back. While it was initially only available for AT&T, CDMA carrier Verizon launched it several months later in 2011 which helped to usher in a new era of the iPhone, one where the device wasn’t just limited to one carrier.
While the iPhone 4 is several years old, it’s still on the market, still getting bought by consumers. The reasons are simple. One, the device still has some decent specifications. It doesn’t have the aluminum design of the iPhone 5, but its design is still very capable. It has a 3.5-inch Retina Display. It has a decent Apple A4 processor. It uses iOS 6.
Most importantly, the iPhone 4 is cheap through Apple and just about anywhere else it’s being sold. Apple sells it for free on contract, $100 cheaper than the iPhone 4S and $200 cheaper than the iPhone 5. Apple also recently announced that the iPhone 4 will be getting iOS 7, something that probably delighted current iPhone 4 owners and made the device a little more attractive to those seeking a new smartphone, particularly a new iPhone.
Apple’s iPhone 4 is a tempting offer to be sure but it’s one that we think that consumers should avoid as we head into the fall. That said, here is why consumers should not by the iPhone 4 right now.
Those that have owned a smartphone know that the cost goes far beyond the initial up front costs. In other words, yes, the iPhone 4 may be advertised as being free, but in order to use it, owners will need to sign up for plans through a respective carrier whether it’s through AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.
As we’ve pointed out, over the course of a two-year contract, the true cost of an iPhone will be in the thousands. Point is, the iPhone 4 is an aging smartphone that is going to cost, over time, just a little bit less than a phone like the iPhone 4S. Sure, owners won’t have to pony up the initial $100 but the iPhone 4 gets no discounts on the cost of data plans or accessories. Those are still costs that buyers will need to incur.
So for just a little more, buyers can pick up an iPhone 4S that not only has better specifications, but will also get one more year of support from Apple. With that in mind, the iPhone 4 becomes far less appealing than it may seem on the surface.
Last iOS Legs
The iPhone 4 was released in 2010 and 2011 on Verizon. Apple does a fantastic job of keeping its elder statesmen updated with software as devices typically see three years of software releases before they are retired into the sunset. Such was the case with the 2009 iPhone 3GS which received the iOS 6 update but won’t be getting iOS 7.
The iPhone 4 might be getting iOS 7 but it’s almost certainly going to be the last iOS update for the aging smartphone. Unlike Android, where users can install software ROMs that emulate official, unreleased software, Apple users don’t have that option and instead get left behind, for better or worse.
A better option is the iPhone 4S which is only a little bit more expensive and will more than likely be getting iOS 8 next year.
Lack of LTE is Brutal
Last year’s iPhone 5 was the first iPhone to feature 4G LTE data speeds, data speeds that can be as far as home Wi-Fi speeds. Those that have used 4G LTE for an extended period of time will likely never want go back to a 3G or HSPA device. The iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S don’t feature LTE data speeds and instead feature support on lesser networks.
While this may not seem like too big of a trade off, think about two years from now when carriers have Advanced-LTE up and running with speeds that are even faster than current LTE speeds.
3G is going to feel even more archaic and the money pumped into these devices will more than likely feel like a waste.
No Lightning Dock Support Means Limited Accessories
The iPhone 5 also ushered in a new dock standard with the iPhone 5, the Lightning standard. Instead of the 30-pin dock that the iPhone 4S has, the dock on the iPhone 5 is much smaller. What this means is that older accessories are not compatible with the iPhone 5. More importantly, it means that Lightning will be the standard that accessory makers design for for the years to come and not the 30-pin dock on the iPhone 4.
Accessories for the iPhone 4 will be limited because of this. So those that love to dock their iPhone or get the latest case, will likely find that their iPhone 4 won’t be compatible with most of the big name accessories that come out in the months and years to come.
iPhone 5S is Close
The launch of a new iPhone is close. Apple’s new iPhone is said to be the iPhone 5S, a device that is said to combine an iPhone 5 design with a better processor, improved camera, and more. For the prospective iPhone 4 buyer, it may not be interesting, given that it will come with a premium price tag. However, consider this.
The iPhone 4S will more than likely drop to free while the iPhone 5 will fall to $99. That means, in just a few months, instead of buying an iPhone 4S right now for $99, buyers should be able to get a 4G LTE-enabled smartphone in the iPhone 5 that will easily ride out a two-year contract. And it’s at that point that the iPhone 4 should be truly phased out.