Most parents about to celebrate their child’s first birthday are just hoping their little one doesn’t get cake all over themselves. However, for iPhone 4 owners, many of who will be celebrating their iDevice’s first birthday this week, the occasion presents other concerns.

Namely, what happens now if the handset breaks?

Each iPhone comes with a limited one-year warranty. However, for many, that hasn’t meant so much. After all, Apple typically releases a new handset in June, meaning many simply upgrade year-to-year rather than keep their existing iPhone.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case this year.

With Apple not releasing an iPhone 5 until at least September (if not later), this could mean many iPhone 4 owners will go at least 15 months without a new handset; and three of those months will be without a warranty.

So what can iPhone 4 owners do in the interim? That depends.

One-year warranty has expired

Unfortunately, if your handset is already outside its one-year warranty, you cannot extend it with an AppleCare Protection Plan.

In this case, you can hope nothing goes wrong between now and the launch of the iPhone 5. If something does go wrong, however, you have a serious choice to make.

For one, you could purchase another iPhone 4. But, that would mean not being able to upgrade to the next iPhone at those smaller upgrade prices.

Or, you could find a cheaper handset to hold you over between now and the time the iPhone 5 arrives. Of course, you need to do so without signing a new contract, which isn’t always possible.

Finally, perhaps in this case, sharing your spouse’s iPhone 4 is your only opinion.

One-year warrant still active

For those iPhone 4 owners who are still within the one-year warranty period, your choices are a little bit better.

First, you could purchase a two-year AppleCare Protection Plan online for $69. By doing so, your iPhone 4 is protected.

Plus, you could always make up the $69 when it comes time to sell the iPhone 4 for the newer model. In fact, would-be buyers would probably pay more knowing it the device comes with a two-year warranty.

However, there are two additional points to consider.

First, the AppleCare Protection Plan only covers parts that fail. In other words, if your actual one-year old would drop your iPhone into the swimming pool, the cost is on you.

Finally, given that your iPhone 4 has survived for 12 months without a problem, the likelihood it will go bad now is quite small. This is especially true if you plan on replacing it immediately when the iPhone 5 arrives.

Naturally, your decision on what to do is entirely up to you.

For me, whose iPhone 4 is no longer in warranty, I have no choice, but to hope for the best then plan on purchasing an iPhone 5 on day one.

To find out if your iPhone 4 is still in warranty, visit Apple’s support page here. By typing in your iDevice’s serial number, Apple will tell you its current warranty status.