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iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S?


Doug Osborn
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My six year old dumb phone may be on it's last leg and a replacement looks imminent.  I've held off purchasing a smart phone for years because the last thing I want is a "yuppie status badge" and a carrier holding a gun to my head with their data package.  Ahhh . . . I feel better getting that off my chest.

 

That being said I know smartphones are a great tool and the time has come for me to maintain better contact with my crew members.  

 

Should I get a new iPhone5 or the iPhone 4S?  Features aren't super important to me, but best value-- not necessarily cheapest cost--for technology and ease of keeping in touch are what's important.

 

Any input greatly appreciated.

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I think you first have to decide if you want an iPhone or one of the other zillion smart phones out there. Maybe you've already made that decision. If it is to be an iPhone, I see no reason to not go for the iPhone5 --- it is better in all respects from the iPhone4S. Unless you are really, really trying to save money and can find some fantastic deal on a 4S, I would go for the 5.

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I had the 1st iPhone from the get-go. Eventually wound up with a 3G then waited way to long...

 

Upgrading to a 5 last January was a total game-changer. What a step change. The thing does what you request immediately. Apps work great and the voice dictation is finally usable.

 

I love the thought of having a really customizable Android phone, but the 5 fits the bill really nicely for the moment.

 

Good luck!

 

Sean

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Im still with my 3GS, and plan on using it til it dies.

Does everything really really have to be the newest, and then be upgraded every freaking year? Do we have to be so absolutely driven for a constantly changing state of the art?

Just a thought.

Switching from a 6-year old dumb-phone to one of today's smartphones is not quite the same as upgrading every year. But I do see your point and totally agree, mostly.

Aside from that the iPhone 5 may be just a tiny bit healthier than the 4S, in that its SAR value is slightly lower. If you care about that.

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You'll probably be getting into a 2 year contract and the 5 has a much faster processor. That will be more significant in a year or two when the next versions of the OS ship. The LTE is also significant, I have flat out been told by Verizon tech support that they are so busy building out LTE that maintenance on the 3G network is very low priority (1). The thing that Americans don't wrap their heads around is that the difference in the price of the phone is insignificant when you factor in how much you are paying the carrier for the next 2 years. There is not reason NOT to get the 5, unless you want to hold out for the replacement. 

Latest rumors say *possibly* Apple will pull releases back to the Summer, but if not, then Fall. There are some people that think the next phone is already in production for a Summer release. Most people seem to think the reason the phone pushed from a Summer to a Fall release in the first place was because of the tsunami (it happened that year). 

 

(1) When I got my Android phone I could tether to a laptop and it was quite usable. About a year later, no data connection at one specific neighborhood. After weeks of back and forth, and a field crew coming to test, their solution was to push up my renewal date and get me an LTE phone. That was easier than me waiting for repairs that they didn't see coming anytime soon. I held out for the iPhone5 and service is great with LTE. I can't imagine that one pocket of North Philly is the only place a carrier is neglecting the 3G network. 

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Getting the iphone 5 means you are one model newer and further away from that device being end-of-lifed by Apple's ios updates.

 

I am still using my mint condition 3GS that I bought as a factory-unlocked phone 3 years ago. It has been in an Otterbox ever since. Unfortunately, Apple has most likely decided that this phone is no longer suitable to update the software, and I seriously doubt that I will be able to install ios 7 when it comes out. At some point soon after ios 7, all the app updates will start declaring that they "are not compatible" with that phone, and it will cease to get program updates. Will it still function? Certainly. But Apple will force the issue. LTE is also a desire and this phone will never have that.

 

At the end of this week (or as soon as I can reasonably get it) I will be upgrading to the iphone 5 on my Tmobile service, Probably to stay with that one for at least another 3 years, depending on Apple. 

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Not updating software is probably preferable to updates that the phone can't handle and bog it down. That was my experience with my Droid a little over a year in. It got to the point that the phone would choke when trying to answer a call or unlock the screen. I would have been a lot happier if the phone stayed usable and stayed with an older OS.

Everything else aside, the LTE upgrade is huge if you actually do anything online. It's faster than my home Internet.

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I skip multiple generations between phones. Started with the original iPhone and went to the iPhone 4. Massive leap forward and worth every penny. Now I'm probably going to wait until the next significant improvement comes out, or until the 4 is simply so out-dated that I don't want it anymore. I don't mind waiting until there is a significant enough reason to purchase a new phone, and it always ensures that I'm eligible for the upgrades and have the option to switch carriers if necessary. Saves me money

 

As to the iOS upgrades and unsupported phones; it's a bummer. 

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I have a sneaking suspicion that my iPhone5 with Verizon sounds worse than my iPhone 4G with AT&T.  I don't know, it sounds more robotic and like there's an improperly set gate that keeps cutting off parts of words.   Some times it just chirps on certain words and sounds really harsh overall.  I wonder if the noise reduction is also applied on my return feed from the cell tower, in my speaker.  Does anyone hear that also, I've been through three separate iPhone 5s and tons of resets and other phone company jargon to try and fix it.  

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I have a sneaking suspicion that my iPhone5 with Verizon sounds worse than my iPhone 4G with AT&T.  I don't know, it sounds more robotic and like there's an improperly set gate that keeps cutting off parts of words.

 

I remember when AT&T changed from analog cells to digital, and I immediately heard a loss in sound quality -- very choppy and metallic, like a low-res MP3 file. On the other hand, the reception got about 10 times better, so I didn't beef about it too much.

 

Richard Ragon knows about this stuff. I believe the phone company has a way of sending (close to) zero bits when one or more callers pauses, so basically the silence in phone conversations is gated out to save bandwidth. They use a lot of tricks to cram way too many calls in a small space. 

 

I'm still convinced that when you get past a certain time limit (like approaching an hour), the local cell says, "eh, that's enough" and just drops the call -- based on how many callers are trying to access that cell at one time. The phone company plays a lot of games juggling this crap. 

 

Consumer Reports "claims" that the iPhones have among the very best sound quality of any cell phones out there, so I bet there's probably more difference between carriers and bitrates than there is between devices per se. 

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Thx Marc,

Of course Apple blames it on the Carrier and the Carrier blames it on the phone.  One of the Verizon folks suggested that I swap out my iPhone for a different type of phone all together.  haha I was surprised by how quickly I dismissed that idea, I'm really in the Apple Cult, I guess.

 

I also had that suspicion about the automatic dropping after a certain time limit.  It's nice to hear that some of my paranoia is somewhat founded.  I still believe that iPhone 5 plays nicer w/ AT&T than Verizon.  Verizon sent me a new iphone 5 and it immediately sounded better, but as soon as I updated the software (I did put it all on from scratch and I didn't revert to the saved data from the last iPhone) it got glitchy again.  I have some hope that some future updates will make it sound better, and I think it has improved some.

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