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The Essential iPhone 4 Buyer's Guide

June 14, 2010

The last two weeks may have been some of the most nail-biting -- at least technology-wise -- that you have had to endure all year. There have been plenty of discussions regarding Apple's new iPhone 4 and AT&T's release of new iPhone and iPad data plans resulting in a whole lot of confusion and panic, so we're going to break it down and reacquaint you with our research in order to help you prepare. Much of this is targeted to our U.S. readers and international iPhone fans can stay tuned for pricing and availability of their local carriers as availability arrives.

Which One & How Much?

First, you need to choose an iPhone model. You can keep your current smartphone, get an iPhone 3GS at a low price, or grab a new iPhone 4. Upgrade pricing has remained the same and AT&T is offering rebates and swaps to iPhone 4's, minus the difference, for extremely recent 3GS purchasers. Apple offers a basic iPhone 4 vs 3GS comparison chart. For those who don't currently have an iPhone, view comparisons of iPhone 4 vs. other popular smartphones. You'll be able to choose from an 8GB iPhone 3GS for $99, 16GB iPhone 4 for $199, or 32GB iPhone 4 for $299 in either black or white. Internal AT&T documents suggest that availability of the white model could be pushed back to later this summer.. Those of you considering the 16GB model may want to look more closely at your uses. The iPhone 4 allows you to record and edit HD video and features a 5MP camera. If your iPhone is your primary capture device on the go, you'll likely notice it filling up much quicker than before. If you need to take a short trip back in time and re-capture "what is" the iPhone 4, take a look at Apple's promotional videos, marvel at our first hands on, or even watch the entire WWDC keynote.

What Plan?

Next chore on the checklist is to decide which data plan and whether you want to add the option of tethering. Current iPhone and iPad customers are being allowed to keep the unlimited data plan if they wish but at some limits. You can't add the tethering option nor can you ever go back to the unlimited plan if you move to one of the two new plans being offered. You may simply decide to delay this choice due to heavier bandwidth apps like Netflix for iPhone that are not yet available. For those curious, Netflix on iPad uses about 250MB per hour on streaming video. I suggest you check out AT&T's online data calculator to get a first glance at what you may be dealing with. You'll want to check past and keep track of current data usage to avoid huge overage costs.

When & Where?

We're nearing the end of our iPhone purchase preparation and it includes deciding on when and where to pre-order or purchase, and pickup or ship, your new iPhone. Apple, AT&T, Best Buy, and Radio Shack will be offering the chance to pre-order an iPhone 4 starting tomorrow, June 15th, for delivery or pickup by June 24th. AT&T and Apple allow for both online and in-store pre-orders with full down payment. Best Buy and Radio Shack are offering in-store pre-orders with a $50 down payment. Check for nearby Apple Stores, AT&T stores, Best Buy stores, and Radio Shack outlets. For those of you who aren't in a terrible rush, you can stop by your local Wal-Mart on or after June 24th, iPhone 4 launch day, to get your shiny new device. Similar to what AT&T did for the 3GS launch, posted below is a video answering some of the frequently asked questions about data plans and ordering the iPhone 4 from AT&T:

Be sure to stay tuned to AppAdvice over the next coming weeks for more great iPhone coverage, including all the iPhone related hits of E3! [image courtesy of Apple]

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