1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Should You Buy an iPhone 4?

Tips to Help Decide


apple iphone 4

The iPhone 4

image copyright Apple Inc.

Now that all the details of the iPhone 4 have been revealed and we're no longer asking questions about what it will include, there's a new question: should you buy an iPhone 4?

It's not necessarily a simple question.You'll have to weigh factors such as cost, phone company, and features. This article will try to help make your decision a little easier.


Screen - The iPhone 4's screen packs in 960 x 640 pixels, while the iPhone 3GS only offered 480 x 320. Combine that with greater pixel density (how close together the pixels that make up the screen are) and the iPhone 4 provides a noticeably sharper and clearer image. It's safe to say that no other phone on the market looks like this. Many users may fall in love with the iPhone 4 simply thanks to its screen.

Camera - The cameras included in previous iPhones have long been seen as substandard. Not anymore, thanks to the 5 megapixel camera in the iPhone 4. The camera also finally gets a flash. And, even better, there are two cameras - one of the front, one on the back - to allow for video calls and better video capture.

Video - Speaking of video, the iPhone 4 improves on the 3GS's camera by shooting 720p high-definition video at 30 frames per second and, with the $5 iMovie app from Apple, allows you to edit, process, and share great videos right from the phone.

Battery - While the iPhone's battery has never been a strong suit, the iPhone 4 adds about 16% more battery life. For users who are always on the go, the longer time between charges may be reason enough to upgrade.

Low Cost of Upgrading - Most current AT&T customers are eligible for the subsidized phone price of $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model. Check your AT&T account to see if you're eligible. Users switching from other phone companies are also eligible for that price.

iOS 4 - The iPhone 4 will ship with Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 4, which will add major new features like multitasking and improved email capabilities.


Limited Storage - The iPhone 4 only offers 32 GB of storage at the high end, the same as last year's iPhone 3GS. For a phone designed to shoot a lot of high-quality pictures and HD video, this storage is skimpy.

FaceTime Limits - While the FaceTime video calling feature is pretty cool, it's got some serious limitations. For now, it only works on WiFi (no using it on the 3G network out and about) and can only work if both parties have an iPhone 4.

AT&T - The iPhone 4 only works on AT&T in the U.S. If you're not a fan of AT&T (and there's good reason, including dropped calls and slowness implementing new features), nothing's changed.

No Unlimited Data - Thanks to a recent change made by AT&T to its data plans, there's no longer an unlimited data plan for new iPhone users. While the 2GB monthly allotment will be enough for most users, tethering or uploading hefty HD videos may strain the limits of your plan and cause you to incur extra charges (though another 1GB is only $10).

Who Should Consider Buying the iPhone 4

Gadget lovers who need the latest and the greatest - The iPhone 4 is certainly going to be the apple of the technology world's eye when it debuts on June 24. If you need to have the latest, cutting-edge gadgets, you need it.

Users of phones other than the iPhone - If you've been waiting for the right time to upgrade to iPhone, this is it. Despite some limitations, this is a terrific smartphone, media player, and gaming device. There's no better time to become an iPhone user (unless you want to wait until the summer of 2011 for the next model, that is).

Mobile video makers - Between its terrifically sharp and attractive screen, the ability to shoot 720p HD video, and onboard video-editing software, the iPhone 4 is a mobile video powerhouse. You'll be able to shoot, edit, apply effects, and publish to the web all from your phone. Kind of amazing, right?

First-generation iPhone owners - Only the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS support all the features of iOS 4. The iPhone 3G supports some, but the original iPhone doesn't run iOS 4 at all. So, if you're looking to take advantage of the hundreds of new features in iOS 4(and especially if you have an iPhone older than the 3GS), you'll want to consider an upgrade.

Who Shouldn't Buy It?

AT&T-phobes - Don't like AT&T? Then you're not going to want to get an iPhone 4 for now, as that's the only U.S. carrier offering it.

Those with early termination fees (ETFs) - Most cellphone companies charge their users an ETF if they cancel their contract before its scheduled end. To move from another carrier to AT&T, you may need to cancel your existing service contract. But if your ETF is $200-$300, the cost of your iPhone 4 goes way up from the normal costs.

If you're on a budget - If you're on a tight budget, the iPhone 4 probably isn't for you. Not only will you spend at least $200 to get one, you'll spend around $500 for service, at a minimum (and probably a lot more). That can break a budget quickly.

Those happy with their current phone - If it's not broken, why fix it, right?


Got a tech support question? Ask it in the discussion forums.

Want tips like this delivered to your inbox every week? Subscribe to the free weekly iPhone/iPod email newsletter.

Related Video
Beginner iPhone Tips and Tricks
  1. About.com
  2. Technology
  3. iPhone / iPod
  4. iPhone & iPod touch
  5. iPhone and iPod touch Glossary
  6. Apple Media Events
  7. Should You Buy an iPhone 4?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.