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iPhone 4 Review: Should You Make The Upgrade?

By Erik Folgate

Ever since I got the iPhone 3G about 16 months ago, it has been a gateway drug to Apple for me. I was so in love with it, that it caused me to buy an iMac, and then a 13″ Macbook Pro. I’m officially a Mac junkie, and I’ll never go back. You can go ahead and make fun of me, but having dealt with Windows PC’s for the past 15 years of my life and constantly being frustrated with them, I’ve drank the Apple Kool-Aid. That’s why I spent an hour and a half of my life on Monday following the live blog from Engadget about the keynote speech from Steve Jobs about their newest gadget, the iPhone 4. If you’ve already got an iPhone, then you’re probably either waiting for June 15th to pre-order it or you’re or the fence about whether you should upgrade. Or maybe you’ve been rocking an old Nokia cell phone for a while, and you’re wondering what smart phone you should upgrade to. Whatever your situation is, I’m going to throw a down and dirty review of the iPhone 4 and give you my not-so-unbiased opinion about whether you should get it or not.

iPhone 4 Specs

Tech junkies, if you’re holding a hot cup of coffee, you might want to put it down for a minute. This iPhone is the best update they’ve had since announcing the inception of the iPhone back in 2007. It’s got more features and quality specifications than you can handle. Here’s a comparison chart of the major specs of the iPhone and the only phone that comes close to its specs, the HTC Evo:
iphone 4 review
So as you can see, it is a huge upgrade from the 3GS to the iPhone 4 model. Video will be crystal clear, photos will be crystal clear and you won’t get those nasty, dark photos that cell phones are notorious for taking, and it’s got multitasking! At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the design, but once I saw the comps from Apple, I changed my mind. Plus, it’s razor thin, which makes it nice for people like me who carry my phone in my pocket.

Advantages

  • It’s truly an all-in-one phone solution.
  • the iTunes iPhone app store is the largest in the world and has the best applications.
  • With the introduction of iAds, it could cause more mobile apps to be free.
  • It’s a big jump from the last iPhone upgrade, so you’ll be satisfied with the iPhone 4 for at least 2 to 3 years.
  • Its new design is stronger and built better, so it’s less likely to crack or scratch than previous models or some other smart phone models.
  • If your current plan with AT&T expires any time before the next 6 months, they’ll let you upgrade at the full discounted price.
  • If you have a Netflix account, they are coming out with a Netflix app that allows you to watch streaming video on your iPhone!
  • If you’re familiar with iMovie, it’s now coming to the iPhone as an app for $4.99!

Disadvantages

  • Still no other carriers. AT&T has its problems. I get a dropped call at least once or twice a day. I really wish they would have announced Verizon as a new carrier. AT&T won’t improve themselves if they know there’s no competition.
  • If you’re in an AT&T contract that doesn’t expire in the next 6 months, upgrade prices jump to $399 for 16GB version and $499 version.
  • AT&T is dropping their unlimited data plan services, so now it’s $15 for 200mb of data and $25 for 2GB of data, then $10 extra for every extra gigabyte of data.
  • No expandable memory slot. This isn’t a big deal to me, because I don’t carry my entire music and video collection on my phone, but for some people, they still want to pop a memory card in and out. I don’t know if Apple will ever do this, because it’s not part of their design philosophy. They like the all-in-one approach, because it’s sleeker and more modern, and frankly, I agree with them. I think it’s their design team that’s catapulted them into one of the technology leaders.

Pricing

If you’re currently not in a contract, switching from another provider, or if your contract expires within the next 6 months:

  • $199 for the 16GB version w/ 2 year contract
  • $299 for the 32GB version w/ 2 year contract

If your contract won’t expire for greater than 6 months, then you’ll be paying:

  • $399 for the 16GB version
  • $499 for the 32GB version

If you want to buy the phone straight up with no contract attached to it, you’ll be paying $599 and $699! That’s more than the cost of an iPad!

UPDATE ON DATA PLAN PRICING: Some of you have been wondering about AT&T’s data plans, because they recently announced that they are doing away with the “unlimited” data plans for their smart phones which includes the iPhone. I confirmed with an AT&T rep today that if you already have the “unlimited” plan with them, you can keep it unless you choose to buy the iPhone tethering plan which allows you to use your iPhone as a wireless hot spot for your laptop. If you’re a new customer to AT&T, you’ll be forced to get either the $15 data plan with 200 MB of data or $25 for 2GB of data. But apparently, the “unlimited” plan many of us have had really isn’t unlimited. I think it’s like 4 or 5GB, but you’d really have to be ragging out your phone to get anywhere near that kind of data usage with your phone. I hope that information helps some of you when considering whether you should upgrade.

My Opinion

If you’re looking to switch from another carrier, don’t have a current contract with AT&T or it expires within the next 6 months, I think the $199 for the 16GB is a great deal. This phone has everything you’ll need to last you for 2 or 3 years, so the initial investment will be worth it. If you’re constantly traveling or you run a small business, or you’re really involved with multimedia and social networking, this phone is the best of the best. It replaces the Flip Video camera, iPods, eBook readers, and even some point-and-shoot cameras! For everyone else, I would say to wait on it. Don’t spend more than $199 for this phone. In another year, they’ll make another update to the phone, and they’ll drop the price. Only make the upgrade if the money won’t break your bank. If you have to choose between paying your rent or buying this new iPhone, don’t be dumb! Will I get this phone? Ohhhhh, you better believe it!

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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Comments

  • http://toughmoneylove.com Mr. ToughMoneyLove

    Another Apple Fanboy report. I can’t wait to read all of the complaints about AT&T data charges from the video streaming and video phone users.

    • Erik Folgate

      definitely an Apple fanboy, that’s why I disclosed it at the beginning of this review. I use the data on my phone quite a bit, and the most I’ve ever used is 475mb in one month, but with the new video stuff like 720p video capture and video calling, i’m worried about the limited data plans too. I’ve heard that if you already have an unlimited plan, it’ll be grandfathered in, and only new customers will be forced to have the limited data plans.

    • http://www.billeater.com Jessica Bosari

      This cracks me up. Yes, AT&T is not perfect. What’s your other option, Verizon? Ugh. Verizon is a nightmare!!! They have gotten their customer service act together, but that doesn’t change my husband’s (I am not exaggerating here) 10 dropped calls a day. I lose a call once or twice a month. People need to lay off AT&T and the iPhone junkies. This is another Fanboy report because there are so many Apple fans. It’s a rare company that makes this many devices that are so easy to use…and no one else makes them this much fun.

  • http://www.abczoohome.com Amanda

    I have heard (from an AT&T employee) that if you have an iPhone and your contract is upgradable before the end of the year, not just expiring, you can get the lowest upgrade price. This typically means you reach 18 months on a 2 year contract. This only applies to current iPhone owners, not contract users of another phone. Also that if you have a current data plan (unlimited) you don’t have to change plans. If you change plans or are a new owner you’ll have one of the limited plans above. (I’ve also been told that “unlimited” isn’t really unlimited, but has a cap of 4 or 5GB, I forget which.)

    • http://www.financiallypoor.com Kevin

      yea my girlfriend called and found out that if you have an upgrade available you can use it on the new iPhone.

    • Erik Folgate

      Amanda, you’re absolutely right, either expires within the next 6 months or is eligible for full upgrade within the next 6 months, which is usually 18 months into the 24 month contract.

  • http://www.singleguymoney.com Single Guy Money

    Yep, I plan to pre-order mine on June 15th!

  • http://www.designsvault.net Soares

    Hello Erik,

    in the USA the prices are way low then in Europe Portugal, here we pay 900€ for an iphone unblocked ( no mandatory network ) and 500€ for a plan on 2 networks that are not very good at all….but I never had anything from Mac.
    I have an HTC Hero, and always use PC Microsoft.

    Maybe ill try it when it loes the price around here…

    Regards

  • http://beyonditall.net Carla

    The only reason why I dont have a iPhone now is because I dont want AT&T. Verizon (especially in Portland) has the best service around. If iPhone would ever get on board with Verizon, I may consider giving up my Blackberry.

  • Karmella

    AT&T service is horrible, and I’m angry about this elimination of unlimited data (despite the grandfathering, if you don’t tether) – but I still want one.

    • Erik Folgate

      not a fan of ATT either. i average one dropped call when i’m talking to someone long distance. I hope that another provider gets the iPhone soon. It will make ATT shape up.

  • http://www.jgwentworth.com/Structured-Settlement/Structured-Settlement-Company-Story/Default.aspx James

    i love that you can stream Netflix on the iphone this is one of my favorite features.

  • Mike

    I’m not quite understanding. I have an iPhone 3G with unlimited plan. I want to upgrade. Will I have to pay the insane price for the 4 to keep my plan or can I get the phone for $199 and keep my plan?

    • http://www.abczoohome.com Amanda

      It is my understanding that if you wish to upgrade your phone without changing your plan you may do so. You pay the $199 for the new phone, make no changes to your plan, and start your 2 year contract over. Or you can upgrade the phone, take the lower rate on the plan but lose “unlimited” data, and still start the 2 years over. If it were me (and it will be next winter), I would examine previous bills to see what my actual data usage is before deciding that I just can’t live with a limited plan.

  • http://www.billeater.com Jessica Bosari

    Actually, the new plan isn’t bad if you aren’t a huge talker. It may end up being cheaper for some. I’m on the fence, agonizingly so. I can afford, but I’m having trouble justifying it. The camera would help a lot. My camera eats batteries. But worth $300? I don’t think I’d pay that much for a camera. And with the iOS4 applying backward to 3G, I may fall in love with my 3G all over again. It really is my constant companion. I’ll need it surgically removed just to upgrade anyway!

  • Pingback: Top 40 best iPhone 4 reviews - IPHONETOUCH.BLORGE

  • http://www.thewanderingbrit.com/ Dave

    I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to upgrade from my iPhone 3G, but I think I’ve made my decisions. As always with Apple, the benefits FAR outweigh the cons, and I think the cons are grossly overestimated. iPhone 4, here I come!

  • http://www.nobrainerdeals.com Ryo

    Two reasons why I didn’t get the iPhone 1. Att has the worst service ever. 2. Antenna issues, WTF they couldn’t have worked that out prior to launching the phone!!!

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