Upgrading and buying new Apple gear.
December 21, 2011 3:19 PM   Subscribe

In what order should I make my Apple purchases? Any advantages or disadvantages to buying an iPad now and waiting on an iPhone 4s till July? Should I swap the order?

My lovely wife (so amazingly lovely) has given me the green light to upgrade my iPhone and snag an iPad. She has basically said that I can get one for Christmas and one for my birthday in July. I've got an iPhone 3Gs that I've had for two years or so, so I'm up for an upgrade through AT&T.

I've been over to MacRumors, and they believe that a new iPad model should be coming out in a few months. I know there's no really predicting Apple release cycles, but I've never really followed it at all, so I have no feel for how much I should be listening or waiting for the next gen.

As for usage purposes, my intention is to use the iPad as a lightweight, portable laptop substitute to read research PDFs (I'm a grad student), along with just general surfing/movies/games. My phone is fine at the moment - not too slow, not bogged down, and nothing majorly wrong with it. Are there any other products I should be looking at? I'd like to stick with my iPhone, but if you can think of another tablet, I'd definitely take a look at it.

I know this is the epitome of a first world problem, but what would you do, given this situation? Snag the iPhone 4s right now and wait on the new iPad to catch the newest of both models? Buy the iPad2 now because the bugs have been worked out?

Thanks in advance for the help.
posted by SNWidget to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Atlantic claims that the iPhone 5 is "probably" coming out Q112. No idea how accurate that is, but it's worth looking into.
posted by dfriedman at 3:31 PM on December 21, 2011

iPhone now, iPad in July. The iPad will likely be updated before then (possibly with a hi-res retina display) and the iPhone 5 will probably be more like Fall.
posted by supercres at 3:34 PM on December 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

The new iPad will likely be out no later than April of 2012 and rumors hint that it will have a retina display. I'd wait. The iPhone 4S is brand spanking new, and I don't think the new iPhone will be out any sooner than summer.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:35 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

the macrumor's buyer's guide is a good pointer to the state of apple product upgrade life cycles
posted by rmd1023 at 3:39 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, iPhone 4s now, iPad in June.

(I think it is incredibly unlikely that there will be an iPhone 5 in the next few months).
posted by Good Brain at 3:43 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I disagree. You already have an iPhone, get an iPad now because it is new to YOU. The difference between and iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 is nowhere near the difference between an iPhone and an iPad.
posted by saucysault at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2011

We're an iPhone household and I had the 3GS while my husband had a 4. I upgraded for my birthday last month and I can tell you from the experiences that my husband and I have with the phone that a 4S is a major improvement/upgrade from the 3GS. My 3GS was starting to bog down, especially for GPS purposes, and now it's slick and fast as lightning.

We have money set aside for iPads but we're waiting for them until we see what my husband's bonuses will be in March (which also gives Apple time to come out with the iPad 3), where the phone upgrade was a must for me in the short term.
posted by immlass at 4:12 PM on December 21, 2011

We were faced with this same decision, and we opted for the phone upgrades now. I am still in awe of how big a difference there is between the 3GS and the 4S.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 4:13 PM on December 21, 2011

iPads seem to come out in the winter, so I would probably wait until the latest come out to get one.

If you want to have your cake and eat it too, the 4 is seemingly identical to the 4S for me. No Siri, but she still needs another revision to be useful. As of a week ago I could pick up a 4 with a contract for <>
I would totally go for the 4 or 4S now and the iPad after v3 comes out.
posted by Folk at 4:54 PM on December 21, 2011

The iPad 3 will have a much display. Wait for that. The iPhone 5 won't come out until next fall, at the earliest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:54 PM on December 21, 2011

I have no idea what the formatting did to me. I meant:

"...with a contract for under $100, probably around $70.
posted by Folk at 4:55 PM on December 21, 2011

Go for the phone now.

I suspect (along with everyone else) that the iPad will be updated with a retina screen. When it is, it'll be amazing. As it is, it's pretty darn nice.

Meanwhile the iPhone 4S was updated more recently. And (at least in my own life) the phone is more useful day to day, so I'd be inclined to optimize that first. The 4S is a significant bump from the 3GS.
posted by adamrice at 5:04 PM on December 21, 2011

And by much display, I mean much better display, one worth waiting for.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:15 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had an iPhone 3gs, until it broke in August, at which time I borrowed an iPhone 4 to use until the 4s came out. I didn't find the 4s vastly better than the 4, but both were vastly better than the 3gs. Don't cheap out and get an iPhone 4 though.

First, the 4s is better than the 4, no question. One of the most obvious things that is better about it is Siri. Siri was fun to play with at first, and has the potential to be incredibly powerful, but what I appreciate most about it is its utility for mundane things. Siri makes it incredibly quick and easy to send my wife a quick text, or set an alarm, or a timer. None of these things was particularly difficult to before, but they were kind of annoying, because getting to the functionality was most of the work. Now I just hold the phone up to my face and speak a short phrase. One result is that I've completely stopped using the alarm on my clock radio.

The other reason not to get a 4 is that the up-front cost of the phone is only a small part of what it costs you. Whether you get a 4, or a 4s, you are still going to be paying off the ~$250-300 equipment subsidy as part of your phone bill over the next two years, not to mention the rest of the data and airtime charges. Sure, $100 isn't nothing, but compared to what you are spending over the next two years, is saving $100 to get a year old phone with half the storage?

So, to reiterate: 4s now, iPad in June. Though I'll say this, once I got an iPad, I used less and less of my iPhone. That pattern still largely holds, even though my iPad (first gen) feels a little slow, and my new iPhone is super-speedy and has a much nicer display than my old phone.
posted by Good Brain at 6:16 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would only get the iPad now if you are dying to use it for grad school reasons. It's too close to a refresh to buy one without probably some form of regret come spring when there will probably be a new one.

Because I was having some rare and random iPhone 4 troubles, I had to decide just last week whether to use my phone upgrade on the 4S or try and wait it out until the 5 (which will probably be next fall). I opted to upgrade now. I'm glad I did. The difference between the 3GS and the 4S for you will be crazy, even if you don't feel your phone now is that slow.
posted by itsacover at 9:59 PM on December 21, 2011

Nthing iPhone now, iPad for your birthday. The 4S is a significant upgrade over the 3GS and it feels like a worthwhile one. Plus, you'll be closer to the release date for each, assuming Apple continues with the one release per year calendar. You'll be getting both the current iPhone and the next iPad during the middle, rather than the end of their time as the newest version of each device, which may be more psychologically satisfying.
posted by andrewraff at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2011

iPad 2 → iPad 3 is a way bigger upgrade than iPhone 4s → iPhone 5 because getting a retine display will improve reading on the iPad a lot. It will be like a completely different device. So get iPhone 4s now, and iPad 3 later.
posted by flif at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice - went with the generally suggested solution of iPhone now, iPad in the summer. Guess I should keep track of the Apple product release cycles now that I'm going to start owning more of this stuff!
posted by SNWidget at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2011

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