Is it a bad idea to upgrade my iphone 4 to the 4S instead of the 5?
August 14, 2013 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I've had an iPhone 4 for a couple of years now. It's seen better days; the home button works only half the time, etc. My fiance recently got his first, a 4S, and the difference between it and the 4 is amaaaaazing. I am sorely tempted to upgrade to that for a hundred bucks, rather than wait for the new 5's to come out (esp since there's no guarantee now that the original 5 will come down in price).

however, the new 4S's only have 16gb, which sucks because I'm a photographer, but I can delete as I go, rather than spend $400+ for the 5. Also I'm still pissed that they changed the charging port's design. Then again, the 5's come in a supersized 64gb model, and I hear the new ones will have an even better camera.

Would getting the smaller-memory 4S at this point be stupid? Should I bite the bullet, save up, and get the latest and greatest, plus a bunch of charging adapters? And repress my current urge to throw my current phone on the ground and stomp on it? (Warranty etc. has expired.)

Aww crap, I don't know what to do. Help!
posted by flyingsquirrel to Technology (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
if you're a photographer, I would DEFINITELY recommend holding out for the 5 or 5whatever. I have a 4S, and there is just no comparison to photos the 5 takes, particularly in lower-light situations. you'll probably be stuck with whatever you buy for a couple years!
posted by changeling at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

One thing to consider: there will likely be a cheaper (like, $300 off plan) version of the new iPhone. Announcement will probably be September 10th.
posted by supercres at 8:39 AM on August 14, 2013

Good point about knowing I'll have it for a couple of years.

I've heard about the cheaper version, but I'm guessing it's the camera quality and memory they'll cut back on.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:40 AM on August 14, 2013

I have a 64GB 4S, so they exist. However, I would wait and upgrade to the 5. The battery life on my 4S is super sucky compared to my husband's 5. I'm going to upgrade to whatever the new one is in the fall if my battery holds out that long.
posted by bedhead at 8:44 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm in the same boat, and have asked many friends, and the consensus is that this close to the next announcement, there's no sense in upgrading. They're almost definitely not going to jack up the prices on the (soon-to-be) older versions, and there will likely be a lot of deals (from Apple directly or from Best Buy/eBay sellers looking to unload the old ones).
posted by Etrigan at 8:46 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

absolutely wait until the 10th.

while the normal course of action would be that the 4S would go to free on contract and the 5 would be $99, if the rumors about the reduced-cost "5C" are true, it's possible that it'll take either the free or $99 slot

basically, if you wait, you'll get a better phone, cheaper
posted by Oktober at 8:48 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm guessing it's the camera quality and memory they'll cut back on.

True, but the current iPod touch has a camera that's similar to the one in the Phone 4, so you could imagine that this year's lower-cost hardware (a 6G touch, the purported iPhone 5C) would use 4S-grade camera hardware. John Gruber's post from yesterday makes that assumption.

You've got less than a month to see what's new. There will probably be a couple of weeks between the announcement and the phones going on sale, and potentially some inventory to clear -- and very definitely a bunch of 4S users whose two-year contracts come to an end in October, creating a second-hand market where supply and demand works in your favour.
posted by holgate at 8:52 AM on August 14, 2013

I have a 64GB 4S, so they exist.

But Apple doesn't sell them anymore, unfortunately. (You can get them on eBay for $400+ which is silly, though I very much appreciated the recent AskMeFi post about buying smartphones on eBay.) Also, I'm sort of terrified of buying a used/secondhand device upon which I rely so heavily. But that's a separate question, I know.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2013

Best Buy still sells the 32GB and 64GB 4S. I'd still wait for the new ones.
posted by bedhead at 9:00 AM on August 14, 2013

At this point, wait a few weeks.
posted by barnone at 9:00 AM on August 14, 2013

I have a 4 and my wife has a 5. I have had mine long enough that I can upgrade to the 5 (for a price). But I'm waiting to see if a new one is coming out soon. At that point, the upgrade price for the 5 should drop, and I will decide whether to get the 5 or the new one.

I'm a photographer as well, and can tell you the 5 camera is definitely much better, and the panorama mode is just about magical. It's taking a lot of patience for me to wait to upgrade, but knowing I will likely keep my next one for at least 2 years, it's worth waiting for a month or two (hopefully) before deciding.

While you are waiting, turn on the "assistive touch" option in the accessibility settings. This will give you an on-screen Home button (plus other options) which will lessen the frustration caused by your unreliable physical Home button.
posted by The Deej at 9:15 AM on August 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

I'd wait till the announcement that is supposedly on the 10th. Even if you still decide to go with a 4S after seeing what's new, the price of the 4S will surely drop as compared to what it is now - the used market will probably be flooded with 4S's as people sell and upgrade, and the commercial sellers of new 4S's will want to clear out their stock to make room for either Apple's new lower-cost iPhone or the 5 as it takes the place of the 4S as the 'cheaper' option.
posted by modernnomad at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2013

Depending on your carrier you may be able to find a refurbished 4s 64 or 5 64. I know the ATT site sells refurbs, I've done that for my old 4 and my current 5
posted by Gungho at 9:53 AM on August 14, 2013

I have a 64gb 4S, and I definitely understand where you're coming from. Having had a 16gb 4 and a 32gb 4S, it avoids the hassle of seeing 'not enough space' alerts— especially while traveling. Camera is much improved from the 4 also.

Having said that, though my phone is working perfectly after being replaced under AppleCare a few months ago, I'm considering upgrading to the '5S' depending on its features and price.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Right now, September 10th is a RUMOR, not an official announcement. Often, new products aren't available immediately after the announcements, too.

I think waiting is wise if you're staying with Apple. Just plan to wait longer than 9/10 is all. Your options will increase.
posted by FauxScot at 11:36 AM on August 14, 2013

Right now, September 10th is a RUMOR, not an official announcement.

The Dalrymple 'Yep.' is usually considered a semi-official announcement.
posted by holgate at 12:35 PM on August 14, 2013

n-thing the recommendation to wait. You'll kick yourself later if you buy an iPhone within a month of new models coming out. The difference between the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 is bigger than the difference between the 4 and the 4S, and the gap will presumably get bigger when the 5S comes out.

I guarantee you'll be able to purchase an iPhone 5 (or iPhone 5C) next month for the price you would pay for a 4S today.
posted by designbot at 1:20 PM on August 14, 2013

If you are getting an iPhone (or any other smartphone) on contract then it makes very little sense to "save" $100-200 by getting an older phone since you will be paying more than 10x that in service fees over the life of the device.

Gut it out a few weeks and get the new iPhone. You can bet that, among other things, they'll have improved the camera's image quality and speed. It is a total long shot, but maybe they'll bump up the storage too. Flash memory is pretty cheap these days, and whatever the put in the base models these days doesn't go very far at all.
posted by Good Brain at 11:47 PM on August 14, 2013

The current rumor (it changes every five minutes) is that a new iPhone is launching next month. I'd wait until that comes out. Alternatively you can ditch iOS for the less restrictive Android OS.

I used a 3GS and had a very good experience with it, but the lack of customization really frustrated me. Android has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years--now it has killer features like Google Now that iOS can't beat. However, for cohesiveness and ease-of-use I think the iPhone is still a good choice.
posted by Aanidaani at 6:04 AM on August 15, 2013

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