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October 07, 2011

Should I get the new iPhone 4S?

My wife and I write about technology for a living, and so it behooves us to stay up-to-date and always carry around the latest and greatest. Yet, I still have my old iPhone 3GS, and my wife hasn't yet complained about her lowly 3G. Truth be told, what both of us anticipated more than the new iPhone was getting off the AT&T contract. We're both off contract now, so that's good. However, why is it that we're told new phones are subsidized and are essentially paid off during that 2-year contract commitment when the charges stay the same when the contract ends? That's as if you're paying the bank a monthly sum for your mortgage, taxes and maintenance, and then the bank continues to charge you the same when the mortgage is paid off!

Anyway, we're off contract and, like everyone else, had been looking forward to the iPhone 5. A big step forward would make signing up with AT&T a bit less unbearable. But now it's just the iPhone 4S, not a new 5. So what should we do?

Get the new iPhone 4S anyway? More speed is always good, though I never felt my 3GS is slow, and I actually never felt my original iPhone was slow. Getting a better camera and 1080p HD video? That, too, is nice, but I still have my doubts that even the new 4S will do the job of the dedicated little digital camera I almost always carry with me. Siri? I know the media swoons about it, but I feel zero need to have my iPhone talk to me. Really sounds more like a Newton Intelligence redux to me.

But if I were to go for the new iPhone 4S, should I get the $199 16GB model, given that I never come close to filling up the 8GB in my 3GS? Or pay $299 or even a hefty $399 for 32 or 64GB? My guess is that the new phone fills up much more quickly because of the much larger still and video files. So getting the base model may end up being frustrating.

So why not just get the iPhone 4 that now goes for just $99? It'd still be a great upgrade for us, what with the retina display and all? It's an attractive thought, but then we'd sign a 2-year contract to pay off an essentially obsolete phone. And every time I'd use the phone I'd be reminded that I didn't spring for the extra hundred or two hundred bucks to get the dual processor and whatever else is new in the 4S.

Or should we just stay with our old phones? They do the job and we've never found them lacking (other than the often lousy voice quality). But paying almost $200 per month for two old phones that are off contract seems an awful lot. And ever since we got iPads, we use those for almost all the non-phone stuff we used to use our iPhones for.

Right now I am leaning towards waiting for the iPhone 5 and continuing to pay AT&T their King's ransom for off-contract phones. I wish I weren't in this situation of having to choose from less than thrilling options.

Posted by conradb212 at October 7, 2011 09:10 AM