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BLOG: Should you upgrade to the iPhone 5?

Lex Friedman | Sept. 14, 2012
When Apple introduced the iPhone 5 on Wednesday—with its taller screen, faster networking, and new Lightning port—iPhone owners everywhere faced a common question: Is it worth an upgrade?

When Apple introduced the iPhone 5 on Wednesday with its taller screen, faster networking, and new Lightning port iPhone owners everywhere faced a common question: Is it worth an upgrade?

As with so much in life, the answer is a definite maybe.

Apple will start accepting iPhone 5 pre-orders on September 14. Before the virtual lines start queuing up across the Internet, youll need to decide whether youll be one of the eager early adopters out to get Apples latest smartphone.

To determine whether an upgrade to the iPhone 5 makes sense for you, you need to consider a few factors: cost, what you have now, and what youd really get out of the upgrade.

An Eligible Receiver

For some lucky readers, perhaps money is no object. You can stop reading, get ready to pre-order an iPhone 5 at any cost, and then start the hunt for a solid gold case to put it in. For the rest of us, however, cost is a key concern.

You can check your upgrade eligibility directly from Apples website: Choose your carrier, enter in a few details, and find out how much itll cost you to upgrade to the iPhone 5.

Reports from Macworld staffers and others around the Web suggest that AT&T at least is being stingier this time around than it has in the past with its upgrade pricing. If you bought an iPhone 4S at the time of its release last year, AT&T may demand $649 from you if youd like to upgrade immediately.

(Remember, a 16GB iPhone 5 would cost a new customer just $199 with a new, two-year contract. Carriers charge more for early upgrades, because you havent finished paying for the subsidized phone over the course of your full contract.)

If your upgrade pricing is more competitiveall the way down at the $199 entry-level price, or within $100 thereof, that affordability might make your upgrade decision easier. But whether it makes sense to plunk down several hundred dollars to replace the perfectly functional iPhone in your pocket should also be influenced by what model iPhone that is.

Out With The Very Old, In With the New

If youre still using an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, or the original iPhone, good heavens, yes: Its time for an upgrade. The upgrade from your older iPhone to the iPhone 5 will feel a good deal like when you upgraded from whatever random cellphone you were using to the iPhone in the first place.

Apples upgrades to the iPhone in the years since the iPhone 3GS are legion: You get the Retina display, with crisper text and sharper visuals everywhere; significantly faster wireless and cellular data connections; a substantially improved cameranot to mention a front-facing one; and a dramatically speedier device over all. The iPhone 5s speed gains will feel even more impressive to folks whove grown accustomed to the relatively pokey performance of Apples older iPhones.


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