IPhone 5 vs. 4S: What's the better buy?
The new iPhone 5 was the star of Apple's announcement this week, but the now-outdated 4S may still be the better deal.
This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site MarketWatch.
As part of the launch, Apple dropped the price of the older iPhone 4S to $99 for a 16-GB model and a new two-year contract with a carrier. (Retailers such as Best Buy, Target and RadioShack slashed as much as $75 off the then-$199 starting price on the 4S in August, and Sprint knocked it down to $50 online after a $100 mail-in rebate.) The iPhone 4 will be free with a two-year contract.
Experts say that at the new lower price points, the 4S is a pretty good deal. "It's still a very, very good phone," says Eddie Hold, a vice president for market research firm NPD Group.
Apple's forthcoming operating system, iOS 6, will also be available to 4S owners as a free upgrade -- and should help them keep up with many of the new features, including the updated iTunes, the new Passbook service for storing loyalty cards and ticket bar codes, the enhanced Safari browser and the smarter Siri. (Post continues below.)
"It's really based on the size of your pocketbook and how enamored you are of having the latest model," says Kirk Parsons, the senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power and Associates.
Make no mistake: The iPhone 5 is a substantial upgrade, and there are a fair number of features that 4S buyers would be missing out on. The 5 boasts more processing power, supports speedier 4G LTE data networks, has longer battery life and comes with a better camera that shoots 1080p video with the rear-facing camera and 720p video on the front-facing camera. With competitors rolling out bigger phones, the larger screen alone -- 4 inches instead of the 3.5 inches on older models -- makes the new iPhone a "must-have product," says Hold.
Consumers will need to weigh their budgets against the advancements, says Schwark Satyavolu, a co-founder of plan-comparison site BillShrink.com.
Upgrading can also come at a price, including upgrade fees of roughly $30 and the elimination of old unlimited-data plans. Plus, as The Wall Street Journal recently reported, consumers using a 4G LTE connection tend to consume more data -- 1.2 GB per month, versus 500 MB for those on slower connections.
"Not everybody needs all of those different small bumps up to iPhone 5," Satyavolu says. "It comes down to personal choice."
More on MarketWatch and MSN Money:
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Sounds too good to be true . . . but by using these extreme tactics, it's possible to save big at the pump.