November 13, 2012
I knew that this would happen. After reports surfaced that Apple would begin testing the so-called “iPhone 5S” as early as next month, I began receiving texts and emails from friends and family. Although some of the messages were more colorful than others, they all asked the same question: "Should I upgrade?" There are few certainties in life besides taxes and death. One of those is Apple releasing a new iPhone each year. What remains uncertain is exactly when Cupertino pulls the trigger each year. From 2007 through 2010, that question was a simple one to answer, as Apple always released a new handset at WWDC in June or July. Beginning in 2011, however, Apple changed the release schedule. The iPhone 4S was launched in October of that year, while the iPhone 5 officially arrived this past September. Assuming the rumors are correct and Apple begins testing the seventh-generation iPhone in December, Apple’s release schedule could once again change. Hence, the reason for the messages that I have received. Here is a little secret that I’ll pass on to each and every one of my readers. Anytime is a great time to buy an iPhone. And because Apple offers their handsets at different price points, they guarantee that even the oldest iPhones on the market remain relevant for many years to come. Case in point is the iPhone 3GS, which until Apple pulled it in September, was available for sale for over three years. Sure, the third generation handset came without a Retina display and its camera couldn’t compete technology-wise with those of subsequent iPhones. But the phone could still perform the tasks most important to most users. Perhaps more importantly, Apple continues to support the handset with software updates. For those now worried that the iPhone 5 will suddenly become dated thanks to the arrival of an iPhone 5S, know that this is, in fact, correct. But that doesn’t mean that the iPhone 5 will suddenly become unworthy or uncool when its successor debuts. Instead, it will simply be slightly older than the then-current model. Also understand that with the iPhone 5S, no one is expecting much of a change from the iPhone 5. Sure, the handset may come with NFC, but beyond that, this will almost certainly be an incremental update. If you are in the market for a new phone, there is absolutely no reason to wait, regardless of when Apple releases a new handset. Instead, my advice is to purchase the iPhone 5, or, at the minimum, the iPhone 4S. The one handset I wouldn’t recommend buying is the iPhone 4. First introduced in 2010, this model will almost certainly be the one Apple pulls the next time they refresh their handset line. My advice does come with one warning. If your phone contract is set to expire between May and September of next year and you are the type of person that “needs” the latest and greatest phone every two years, you should wait. Otherwise, you will probably be disappointed. What are you waiting for? If you want a new phone, go ahead and buy one.