In case you have been traveling in the Himalayas in the last month, you may have heard that Apple introduced a new product. It’s the long-awaited iPhone 5.
There are 3 questions we’ve been fielding here at IvanExpert World Headquarters, and they are:
- Should I get one?
- Which one should I get?
- How do I actually get my hands on one?
Let’s tackle each question separately.
Should you get one?
The iPhone 5 has nothing revolutionary to offer, but has several important incremental improvements over its predecessor, the iPhone 4S. If you like using your iPhone, you’ll like using an iPhone 5 more, and it’s just a question of whether you want to spend the money on it.
Whats new: a taller screen (meaning it is larger, but has the same feel in the hand because it is the same width); it’s noticeably lighter; and it has much faster internet speeds. There are many other worthwhile changes, but these are the big ones that are likely to make a difference to you.
Now for the bad news: The new iPhone doesn’t use the same wide docking connector that they’ve used on nearly every one of their mobile products to date. The new connector, called Lightning, is much smaller, and none of your existing cables and accessories are going to attach to it; for these, Apple offers a $29 adapter.
The other bad news is not specific to the iPhone 5, but also any iPhone 4 or 4S which has been updated to the new iOS 6: the Maps application, which is no longer based on Google Maps, has invited so much scorn that Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a public apology about it. One popular workaround is to actually install the Microsoft Bing app and use its maps instead.
Which one should you get?
The iPhone 5 is available in the same matrix of options as its predecessors: Black, or White/Silver; AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint; and 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB, priced at $199, $299, and $399 respectively with a two-year service contract. (The prices may be higher for you if you’re still under contract.)
As for capacity, we’d suggest 32 GB for most people. But if you really just want for basic phone and email use, the 16 GB model is fine, and if you plan on taking a ton of photos or are a serious media junkie, then get the 64 GB.
The iPhone 4S is also still available in a 16 GB capacity only, for $99. The iPhone 4 is available for free with contract, but because of its age and because it only comes in an 8 GB configuration, we don’t recommend it.
As for which carrier, there are some good reasons to consider Verizon if you’re not already an AT&T customer (and maybe even if you are). If you travel internationally, you will be able to get the fastest internet speeds (4G LTE) in more places with the Verizon iPhone 5 than the AT&T version. Also, the Verizon phone, unlike the Sprint and AT&T versions, comes unlocked out of the box, allowing you to use a local carrier’s service, potentially saving a ton of money in data roaming. (You could even break your new Verizon contract and use the phone with AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S., but you won’t get 4G LTE internet speeds.) Also, Verizon’s 4G LTE network in the U.S. is significantly larger than its competitors’.
How do you actually get your hands on one?
The iPhone 5 is the objet du jour, and therefore you will need either patience or persistence to acquire one. If you have patience, you can simply order one on Apple’s web store, and you’ll receive it in 3-4 weeks. But the local Apple Stores also receive limited amount of stock every day.
To get ahold of one, you can use Apple’s iPhone Personal Pickup program, in which you can purchase the phone online at 10 PM every day, and during the checkout process, you’ll be given the option for local store pickup the next day — if they have it in stock, which you’ll be able to see. You might also be able to walk in when they open and coax a salesperson into selling you one if they have it, though for the moment they are usually all preallocated to Personal Pickup customers.
At some point the demand will abate, and you’ll be able to get it more easily, but for the moment, you’re going to have to elbow your way in.