Do you really need a new iPhone?

For months, the tech press has been drooling over details of a next-generation Apple iPhone, which likely will be unveiled on Monday at an event in California.
The phone is expected to be fitted with a higher-resolution screen, a front-facing camera that can be used for video conferencing and a camera flash.
But even with those new features, the iPhone is far from the undisputed crown jewel of the smartphone market.
A growing number of competitors are giving the touch-screen, app-driven phone a run for its money. And they’re doing so not only with iPhone-like technical features, but with increasingly robust app stores and a variety of mobile phone contracts.
All of this makes choosing the right consumer-oriented smartphone incredibly confusing.
Before you jump to buy the new iPhone, check out the market to see what works best for you. Here are a few tips for your search:
Look at the carrier
Tofel, who covers mobile technology, said it’s smartest for consumers first to look at wireless network carriers — such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S. — and then choose a phone from within the network.
“Don’t become totally enamored by the phone,” he said. “Make sure you pick your carrier first. If you buy a phone that drops calls all the time … or you’re going with a phone that really doesn’t have great coverage where you live and work, basically you’ve just bought an expensive brick.
“The phone isn’t really anything without the connections.”
Apple’s iPhone is available, for now, only through AT&T, which has the worst customer ratings in many major cities, according to Consumer Reports.
Experts said potential phone buyers should ask friends and neighbors about how their cellular coverage fares near their homes and offices.
Hurry up and wait
Last year, when Apple introduced the iPhone 3GS, the price of the previous iPhone model, the 3G, dropped from $199 to $99.
Combine that with the fact that smartphone prices, in general, are coming down over time, and there’s quite a bit of financial incentive for consumers to wait before purchasing a new phone, said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at the NPD Group, a research firm.
“Prices for the devices themselves continue to come down on average and given the AT&T announcement yesterday [that it will end unlimited data plans], we’re starting to see a little progress on making the data plans for smartphones and high-end feature phones more affordable, which should also help spur growth,” he said.
Geek out on the OS
You may not use the term “OS” in daily life, but it’s important to know about mobile “operating systems” if you’re in the market for a smartphone.
The two main competitors these days — at least in terms of the touch-screen, consumer-oriented smartphones — are from Apple and Google, which puts out an operating system called Android.
In the same way that Windows manages the way you interact with information on a personal computer, mobile operating systems control the look and feel of a phone.
“It comes down to the experience. If you take away the experience, you just have a multihundred-dollar device filled with plastic, glass and metal,” Llamas said.
Apple is known for its sleek, simple-to-use OS.
“iPhone … has really set the standard for what a smartphone experience is for consumers,” Llamas said. “One of the great things about Apple is that part of its DNA is to make the entire process incredibly simple. Forget the manual; you take it out of the box, and you’ll figure it out in no time.”
Android leads the pack in some ways, however. Apple has said it will allow its phones to run more than one application at once starting this summer. The Android platform has allowed that functionality for some time.
“The software is really the differentiator,” said Tofel.
Is there an app for that?
If you’ve figured out the OS, the next things to think about are apps. Each mobile operating system has its own app store, where you can purchase apps — or “applications” — that will run on the phone.
Think games, social networks, maps and other fun tools.
Apple still has the biggest app store, with more than 200,000 apps. Google’s Android Market is known for being more open than Apple — meaning it doesn’t have to approve apps before they go on sale — but it only has about 50,000 on sale now, according to CNNMoney.
Michael Gikas, senior editor for electronics and technology at Consumer Reports, said Apple’s App Store provides consumers with a bigger reason to get the iPhone than the hardware of the phone itself.
“There’s no better source for all the things people love about smartphones than Apple’s iTunes and App Store,” he said. “They’re the giant.”
‘Screen’ the competition
Screens are becoming a bigger deal to consumers who are looking for new smartphones, the experts said. The standing logic is this: When you use your phone to watch YouTube videos and movies, bigger is better.
So far, Apple has not been the leader in screen technology, according to experts, although there are rumors that Apple may update the iPhone’s screen on Monday. The iPhone screen currently is 3.5 inches, measured diagonally, and that’s not as big as some of its current and upcoming Android competitors.
The HTC Evo, for example, which comes out on Friday, has a 4.3-inch screen.


  • No, not really if we have one which can support all the business needs.
    Also, stringent contracts with the service provider is a disappointment on top of how we use or choose to use the hardware, what we can and we cannot install on the hardware. Totally controlled by the vendor, even on paying for the devise.
    If one can get unlocked/OEM version for $300, then one can think of.
    Everyone might have noticed this: In order to get new functionality, we have to buy a new model of apple products. 3G, 3GS, 4 they are horizontally compatible(example: Facetime). It means every year we are being made obsolete. Also find the “expression” , “acting” and “hand gestures used to explain about apple products” to be the same in all the keynotes and advertisements. They need to change the advertisement agency.

  • Hey Ali,
    I am a nut for tech, I have been an Apple customer and tech for 20 years, and I really love my iPhone 3GS. This is what I have to say after seeing the keynote yesterday. Thank goodness for Android and the upcoming Windows 7 and all the really nice phones that the cell companies have come up with in the past year. Why? Because it made Apple not stand on its laurels and just make an incremental upgrade to the iPhone. They have created something really cool that by this time next year, everyone will try and copy. FaceTime. Wow. The new screen, fantastic. IMovie as an ap to use with the 30fps HD video. Sweet. Like you said Ali, the only thing that puts a drag on Apple is AT&T. The more sophisticated the device, the more apparent the cell network lacks the ability to handle the device.
    That 3GS I have is going keep me from getting a new iPhone, but imagine what will be out there in just a year. My hope now is FaceTime is incorporated in the iPad.

  • Have you seen the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint?
    Evo runs on the Sprint 4G network.
    Evo has a 4.3″ screen.
    Evo has Qik which does video conferencing over 3G/4G.
    (iPhone is Wi-fi only for FaceTime)
    Evo is already shooting 720p at 24fps.
    Evo has dual cameras (rated at 8MP and 1.3MP).
    Evo can become a mobile hotspot for other devices.

  • My $.02 only, YMMV:
    The phone itself is probably worth the money, but the contract is the issue for me. I prefer to use pre-paid plans, simply because I don’t use my cell phone all that much. I like my iPod touch, and having one device rather than two is very appealing.
    But.. even though my pre-paid contract is with AT&T, and even though the latest contractual obligations are not as draconian as in years past, I’d still end up paying for cell minutes and data access that I’d probably never use.
    Bottom line: If an unlocked version is available at a reasonable price, then.. maybe. Otherwise, it’s not for me.

  • The fact that only AT&T is the only provider is detrimental…
    Most folks I know use Verizon…
    As for myself, I like a cell phone that does one thing well, makes calls…
    All the other bells and whistles are a waste of time…

  • As a late adopter, I am less likely to go out and buy the new iPhone for a number of reasons, but one of which I will provide here is the issues with the AT&T network. The concern I have with the introduction of such a data-services-rich device on an infrastructure that has proven to be unreliable for me personally is enough of a deterrent. For me, I feel AT&T must work to improve their ability to support the current customer needs for these devices before I will consider upgrading.

  • As cool as Android and the other new mobile OS’s are, the iPhone OS and appstore are still miles ahead.
    Also it’s more of a fashion accessory:
    Do you need it? No. Do you want it? Yes!
    Allthough having an Android phone may become the hip thing to do.

  • Hi Ali,
    In my opinion the answer can be found in your needs.
    I’ll always look at the product and what it can offer me versus my needs.
    If you only need a phone to call people, you won’t need it.
    What are the alternatives? What will the cost be. Price vs. quality.
    And last but not least…if you can pay for it and you just want it because it’s cool. Do it.
    It all depends on what you want. Personally I have a Samsung Star. It serves my needs for a far better price. But in America price may be different.
    Hope you can make a good decission.
    Kind regards,

  • I don’t have an iPhone and I don’t need it. The main reason is that I dislike owning exactly the same things as everyone else, and for this reason I will probably never have a BlackBerry either.

  • When another manufacturer brings out a touch screen that is as good as the iPhone’s and doesnt require umpteen touches to perform an action, i’ll consider my options, but until then, they are just not cutting it for me so yes.. i do need the new iPhone.

  • Yes, I need the 3GS one… So who’s buying it for me??!!
    Keep smiling

  • Yes, the face to face talking feature itself will make it a valuable business phone. Granted it is only available via wifi, but what companies don’t have wifi now. The 5mp camera, the HD video and iMovie make it a multimedia device.
    The only downside of the iPhone is AT&T, and with a large antenna it should alleviate some of those issues. If you jailbrake your phone, then you need not worry about this.

  • Tim Tymchyshyn

    it is not secure enough, I deal in public safety and some of the emails I get from the police/fire/ems contains sensitive information

  • Ryan Lum

    After watching the presentation from Jobs. 4G not really make my heart move as previous 3Gs.
    As said, 3Gs will be supporting OS4, thus, 3Gs will be supporting Multitasking, longer batt life (check out OS4 presentation). The really different from iPhone 4 vs 3Gs is only the front cam for video calls and higher resolution screen.
    Cam for video calls, is this realistic enough for consumer, or even business user? Even blackberry doesn’t stress on video call feature and this is nothing new.
    Higher resolution screen. What is the different would it give with only the resolution is higher, HD. while the screen size is still the same or barely different.
    Just to take up, Jobs reveal the 8G 3Gs while introduce the iPhone 4. Why Apple is not retiring 3rd Generation? Worth thinking though…

  • Nope. The Android OS is superior in every single way except for dollars spent on advertising and hype.

  • I just got the Sprint 4g HTC EVO for my company. You have to check this device out as it is better than the iPhone. I love Apple products and wanted to get the iPhone but with ATT being the only choice and the fact that thier network stinks, I finally got the HTC device it blew me away. It has so many features and is so easy to use. Best prodcut on the market.

  • I think the best way to look do you think do you need or you just want the lately things is out there. I personal if you need it get if not then be waste of money.

  • Most of the folks who say they don’t need one, have never owned an iPhone. I am on my third (two were stolen). I will need the new iPhone when mine dies or get stolen again. I abhor AT&T, but the iPhone is still worth it! I have never heard an iPhone user say they don’t need one, only those who have never had one. Kind of interesting, eh?

  • If I will get one as a gift, I may take it. But again I am not sure.
    I am a satisfied owner of a Sanyo cell phone that needs to be recharged only once in a blue moon (every 1-2 weeks). That’s the mobility I need.
    Plus it doesn’t have a touchscreen, so I know what I am typing without having to look at the keypad.

  • I’m not going to get a new iPhone until it’s on Verizon’s network. I am over AT&T’s incompetent network.
    Clarification added 12 days ago:
    By the the way, as for the Android vs iOS4 battle.. this will rage on and on. Some think Android is “it” and others, like myself, prefer Apple’s eco system which *I* feel is superior to Android. Either way, innovation will continue to be driven forward.

  • I need an Android for development as that is the platform that is going to explode.
    It is open source, more affordable, with more competition between manufacturers!
    Compare 800×480 WVGA displays and 8MP Pro Cameras with iPhone specs.
    Plus the other phones (other than iPhone) run JavaME and JavaFX…
    Java technology allows developers to deliver to over seven billion phones!

  • the iOS UI is elegant — there’s no other way to describe it. Android is cool and I may yet go there, but there’s a polish to the iPhone that everything else lacks. The iPhone 4 has two really important features, a bigger battery and better antennas. The latter may help with the dropped call problem. That said, I’d be happier with a Verizon iPhone.

  • Yes – it is ALL about the toys! Okay – perhaps I should change that to want.

  • I personally do not need an iPhone if all I’m going to be doing is making phone calls. They’re loaded with stuff that I really don’t need. Everything I can do on an iPhone I can probably do on a computer.

  • I expect for next 12-16 months more competing 3G/4G products are going to be introduced. Unit price will drop and service plan, hope will be more affordable…
    my $0.02

  • It seem the majority of the answers are leaning towards “no” for the new iPhone. Which from my perspective seem awkward. Last April I attended an after hours meeting of over 1000 people. 80% had iPhones and 5% had the iPad (which had been released only weeks earlier). At dinner, 8 out of 8 of us had iPhones.
    I’ve found that I no longer have to travel with a laptop computer because I have an iPhone. The applications on my phone allow me to find directions to meetings, discover new restaurants, shops, theaters and more, in addition to dozens of other useful utility and entertaining apps.
    Most of my business associates are on ATT so that helps with the calling package. For those family & friends who are not on ATT, I’ve got 10 numbers from other networks & landlines that are also in my package. So, I can still call my mother on Sprint without incurring add’l minutes.
    The bottom line though is the ROI of the iPhone. The advantages of the phone outweigh the advantages of any other phone out there. Ease of use, ability to get work done while out of the office and the ability to carry my portfolio in my pocket.
    There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t accessed the phone for 3 or more tasks. My iPhone 3G is going on 2 years old and is still functioning. I held off getting the 3GS last year because there was not enough difference between the two models. But, the new iPhone 4 has some features that I can use to make my business more profitable. The upgraded camera combined with the ability to stream it live could even greatly reduce the time in getting our podcasts delivered.
    Back when I had a “feature phone” where the only feature was a camera, I felt that it met all of my needs. But I also had to carry a GPS, a Palm Pilot and an iPod and quickly ran out of pockets. The Phone 4 combines all 4 devices and more.

  • It’s not a need, but a want. I don’t need the new iphone because my iphone 3G works fine. However, I want the new iphone 4 because I want to keep up with the jones.

  • Hardly: I probably do not really “need’ the one I have despite its utility.
    Barrett Peterson

  • Interestingly, I’m liking the fact that so many technologically minded people still “want” an iPhone 4, despite rudimentary things such as not actually being able to remove the battery. I personally won’t want the paradox of a brilliant battery life – only for it to power a crashed ‘phone.

  • Bryan Camoens

    Robert Southworth from Hong Kong telco PCCW, explains that error detection mechanisms in an evolving Smartphone markets is a challenge.
    Please read the full interview here:
    The interview is free but you do have to fill in a form

  • Nobody ‘needs’ an Iphone or any similar gadget for that matter – people ‘want’ them because as much as we like to think that our buying follows a series of logical steps and careful comparison the reality is that most of our decisions are driven by emotion and that’s where companies like Apple excel.
    They know that to win your business it’s about you buying into them and what they stand for, not that they may or may not be superior technically. There have been many products that are technically amazing but have failed to capture people’s attention.
    Smart phones may well become more and more of a necessity and how they develop the emotional connection to us that will drive the success.

  • I don’t need an iPhone,but want to own one.

  • I love having the latest technology, but armed with my 3G iPhone and iPad, I’m well covered. Actually, my iPhone use has dropped to (almost literally) just the phone service after getting the iPad, which goes with me everywhere. Long answer short: I’ll wait on the 4G.

  • This answer may not match upto most of the techie ones..
    A person who doesnt own a car wouldnt mind jumping in straight for a Merc..
    So also I wouldnt mind getting an iPhone, if I get it as a prize or if Steve Jobs is giving it out complimentary 😉

  • No. I don’t. I really need the new BlackBerry Curve to be honest. 🙂

  • I’ve owned a 3G for two years. It is my eyes and ears on the world when I’m not at my desk. Much of my LI participation is accomplished using this phone.
    It’s gettin kind of scratched up and an iPad won’t fit in my pocket.
    I’ll certainly be looking at it.

  • Do you really need an iPhone at all?

  • There’s something fishy about this question.
    A) Of course I’m not going to ditch my current phone to buy a new one. That’s just stupid.
    B) I have an iPhone 3GS. I upgraded from an original iPhone when it failed on a business trip [AppleCare did replace the original when I got home. My daughter uses it as an iPod]. Prior to that I had Motorolas, Samsungs, and Blackberries. They all sucked.
    C) I have had Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon, and they all suck for one reason or another. Loyalty to wireless carriers is really stupid. I know for a fact that Verizon will not give me better wireless data service than AT&T. And data is far more important than voice. I can buy a great, cheap, Nokia if I want good voice quality.
    The new iPhone is not revolutionary. But when the time comes to upgrade my mobile hardware, there’s a 100% chance I am getting the latest iPhone. If I ever have to learn yet another mobile user interface, I am going back to POTS.

  • I would prefer to stay with VRZ but they don’t have the new HTC with GSM quad band. Same with Sprint. Since I want either iOS4 or Android OS (not Windows) and I must have GSM quad band, I am left with only one option. ATT ;-(
    I want iPhone on VRZ with GSM quad band. Please!!

  • If you have an iPhone 3GS, probably not, and this is why:
    1. Front facing camera – WiFi only, and the person must have another iPhone 4 to use it. It will probably open up to Skype in the near future and then it would become more useful.
    2. 5MP camera w/ flash: This is a great feature, but not enough to warrant buying a new phone.
    3. Retina Display: OK, it is a phone. The new display is awesome, but it is still a phone. The 3GS display serves me fine.
    4. Improved battery life and wireless signal: This would be my most compelling reason to upgrade, but I have had very few problems with my 3GS.
    -> My MAIN reason for not upgrading: AT&T’s cancellation of the ulimited data plan. I still have it with my 3GS, but if I upgrade I have to switch to a capped plan. Sorry, I use the phone a lot – I like my unlimited plan.
    What would it take for me to upgrade?
    1. Unlimited data plan – bring it back!
    2. Open up front facing camera to Skype
    3. Higher than 32GB storage (64GB anyone?) (Would love removable memory)
    4. 4G service
    5. 8MP camera with flash
    6. Universal dock – When I upgrade from 1st gen iPhone to 3GS, had to get new docks as the new iPhone did not fit in the original iPhone dock!
    7. WISH: user replaceable battery.
    You can upgrade the 3GS to the new iOS4 in a week or two and get most, if not all of the features.
    Hope that helps some people.

  • If you have to ask the question, then the answer is no.

  • No. We don’t NEED any iphones, or other smart phones. they are simple conviniences at best, mere fashion items at worst (and iphone is definitely at the “fashion” end of that spectrum).
    I’m not saying don’t get one if you like – treating oursleves to such things is a reward for hard work, but never, ever, try to claim you “NEED” them!

  • Rather than follow the crowd of Apple-lovers– and iPhone lovers (of which I used to be one) try the new Droid series with tons of free apps, the ability to run multiple programs at the same time and actually do something effective with your phone- like work.
    Out of the Droid phones, I chose the Motorola Droid from Verizon only because it had a qwerty keyboard but it had also been out longer.

  • AT&T customer support service must cope up with upgrading that most people do right now.
    Any ways, I have a smart phone and I’m happy with it since it supports all my online faxing and communication needs.

  • We are already seeing iPhone iOS Exchange sync problems with Exchange 2003, 2007, and Exchange 2010. The setup process for activesync is not always an easy process.

  • Xin (Mike) Li

    Well, I do. The new iPhone looks good and my original iPhone’s contract is over, and no longer be supported by the new OS.

  • Nicholas John Joseph Taylor

    Until Apple support Flash content, I will not be buying an iPhone (or indeed and iPad).
    Ubuntu Netbook Remix is far superior for the time being
    See for more details

  • Martin Roche

    As soon as I am able to !
    Fantastic solution. I think it will fly.

  • Deepu Thapliya

    I want the new iphone because the iPhone is far from the undisputed crown jewel of the smartphone market.

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