Should I Upgrade To The iPhone 5?

Apple overnight announced the iPhone 5, which goes on sale here in Australia next week. If you're an existing iPhone user, is it a worthwhile upgrade?

One quick and obvious point to make; I'm pitching this guide at those already within the iOS ecosystem. Yes, there are alternatives, and they're worth considering at any point, but that's a different point of complexity to consider.

You can see the full details of the new iPhone over at Gizmodo, but what's worth considering more from a Lifehacker perspective is whether the upgrade makes actual financial sense.

Apple hasn't done anything at all to the relative pricing for the iPhone 5 in its three storage capacities. A 16GB model will cost you $799, 32GB is $899 and 64GB is still $999, so certainly right now would be a terrible time to invest in a new iPhone 4S, but what if you've already got one -- or an older model?

As I write this, none of the telcos have announced their pricing plans for the new phones, and if history is any guide, we might not see those until some time next week. Then again, taking history as a guide, it's fair to suggest that it'll be positioned in the premium price caps for each of the telcos if you do opt to go down the contract route.

The jump from the 3GS, or if you've held out for a very long time indeed, the 3G would be a rather immense one, and anyone on a phone that isn't a 4S should be rather solidly out of contract by now. You won't get much for an iPhone 3/3GS/4 any more; the best strategy (and one that I've employed myself) would be to dedicate it fully to being a music or games player and handing it over to a relative.

The positioning for iPhone 4S users is a little bit harder to discern. There's no doubt that the 5 is an upgrade from the 4S in most respects, but whether it's enough of an upgrade -- especially if you're not as keen on the stretched 4 inch screen -- is a tough issue to work out. With the single year gap, most iPhone 4S users will still be on contract to a telco, unless they purchased outright. Penalty fees being what they are, you'd have to seriously love the new stretched iPhone 5 look to break contract right now, but what if you bought an iPhone 4S outright last year?

A quick check around the usual sites that offer to buy old iPhones suggests that you'd get something in the $400-$500 range for a working iPhone 4S 64GB; less for a broken one or one with lower capacity, and you almost certainly wouldn't get the cash before the iPhone 5 launches here. Still, that'd knock nearly half the price off the top of the range iPhone 5 if you opted to go down that route.

Will you be lining up for an iPhone 5 next week, and if so, what's your plan for your existing iPhone?


    No sir, I will not line up for an iPhone 5, I will walk into a store and get one when it is readily available like a gentleman

    But to be honest, I don't need all that fancy stuff

      +1 to you sir.

      Lining up is for the great unwashed masses.
      I shall also stroll into the store and buy it like a gentlemen.

        Good luck doing so in 2013


    "Penalty fees being what they are, you’d have to seriously love the new stretched iPhone 5 look to break contract right now"

    Or incredibly stupid - I think most of the time Apple banks on the latter

    What a crap device, was expecting something more innovative...

      Like what?

        Like the Lumia 920. I may not pick one up (the release time poorly for my contract), but the feature list is impressive. Makes the iPhone look like a piece of crap.

          Why would they go for something more innovative? They just spent all their time fighting pointless lawsuits.

          Agreed Thom - this has just made me a 920 advocate even more so, considering the lack of earth-shattering "Ka-Boom" from the announcement. Usually Apple are market leaders. this is just another phone at this point.

          I must be out of the loop. What's so innovative about the 920?

            You're not out of the loop. It has NFC that no one will use, a wireless charging option that will turn out to be pretty unimpressive in practice, and a nicer camera - probably.

            It's a solid, attractive, quality phone with a good looking OS, but there's not much space left for spectacular innovation with smart phones.

            the main innovations are the touchscreen you can use while wearing gloves and the camera has an optical image stabilser.
            It also has LTE, NFC, wireless charging, all have been seen on phones before but nice things to have

              agree that smartphones are only able to get incremental updates now

              but there is substantial benefits for nfc
              all the big banks are deploying mobile nfc payment solutions
              for once oz is ahead in the game. i am not talking about kaching
              nfc in general would replace train, bus,ferry, concert, plane and movie tickets
              thats alot of paper and more secure than qr codes

              itd also replace credit cards and you can share info like eBusiness cards

    After the official announcement of the iPhone 5, my excitement for the Lumia 920 has not diminished.

    As someone who travels frequently for work and picks up local SIMs wherever I go I found the iPhone 4 to be hard work with its Micro SIM. It was over a year into the availability of the phone before I could buy (and not trim) the SIMs for it.

    I've yet to see any commentary on trimming SIMs down to Nano size but think it might be just a bit too hard. If this is the case I'm thinking of holding off until the 5S comes out - in the expectations that nano's will then be more available worldwide.

    In the mean time I have choices to make:
    - pick up a 4S (the price will fall in about 4 weeks time, either fire sale at a retailer or 2nd hand on eBay)
    - give in to my fanboy weakness and buy a 5 knowing I will also have to use (ie buy) a different phone when I travel (teenager will not give me back the 4 once he has it)
    - Least likely but possible - go fully android (may be Samsung will sell me a cheap phone they can no longer sell in the US?)

      was the nano sim confirmed?

    Telstra allow you to pay out the handset instalments remaining (minus their discount) and add another phone without penalty - just need to recontract for 24 months.


      Are you serious?

      Why the f*** have I not joined Telstra yet?

      Where did you here that? And what do you mean by minus the discount?

        They use a discounted price to calculate the handset installment in your contract I believe.

        vodafone too.
        they use the same sign up system. seibel.
        you pay the remaining balance of the phone installments and continue a new 1. OR merge it. and voadfone doesnt have the minus discount thing because it works like this , telstra: get the IP4 on 50 plan with $10 installment (after $99999 discount). vodafone: 50 plus 10.
        so in this case the "minus discount" is $10004. where as vf will be $10 x whatever months. or merge with new 1

    I was pretty late to the iOS party - but I'm certainly happy enough with my 4 to upgrade it to the 5 at some point in the future.

    However I always dread renewing my contract as it never feels like I've got a particularly good deal - the temptation is always to buy the phone outright but then that seems like a daft way to do it when you do the math.

    It's all so hard.

      MATHS! I hate it when Australians talk like Americans! because that's what they hear on TV.

    Phones are not exciting anymore. I see no reason to upgrade from my iPhone 4 or change platforms. My phone is an utility device at this point, not an object of desire.

    "and anyone on a phone that isn’t a 4S should be rather solidly out of contract by now"
    I beg to differ, i got an iPhone 4 in August 2010, which was back when it was very hard to get. So i have only been out of contract for less than a month. The majority of people on 24month contracts would still be on them.

    As an iPhone 4 user, im contemplating SGS3 or Lumia Windows 8 phone. Despite having so much invested in the iOS (lots of apps). First i might investigate jailbreaks, see if the old issues such as broken notifications etc are still applicable to get the most out of my ageing iPhone. The iPhone 4 in my opinion was the best available at the time, but i am rapidly losing tolerance for Apple and their incessant disregard for their users.

    Now if Samsung had a trade-up offer (your iPhone for a substantial discount on SGS3, id have a really tough decision to make)

      I've always signed up for 12 month contracts. Not because I have to absolutely have the latest and greatest when it becomes available, but because I tend to get a bit bored of them after a year. And the resale price is generally still quite keen.
      My contract is up in a few weeks and I'll not have to break it to upgrade to a 5. But I'll want to see how iOS6 is on my 4S first - the only new stuff I'm really interested in is in the software not the hardware.

    Contract due in Nov so no lining up. I'm considering getting a new phone upfront and switching to a BYO monthly plan instead...

    Also what are the usual sites that offer to buy old iPhones? I've just been using eBay and but the latter is new only.

    Yeah, Nah.

    Contemplated moving back to iPhone after a little run with Android, but iPhone 5 and none of the Androids are exciting me as much as Lumia 920 WP8 right now.

    As CNet puts it: 'For the first time in a long time, Apple has given its rivals room to bask in their own innovations.'

    Hypothetically, If I had a 4s, it probably wouldnt be worth the upgrade, but iPhone 4 or 3GS, definitely (that is, if I was still interested in the Apple ecosystem).

    If you're already in the iOS ecosystem and you don't want to consider alternatives, of course the iP5 is going to be worth considering. As always, it comes down to disposable income - nobody *needs* the kind of tech that geeks like me love.

    Some people can just buy what they want, when they want, and damn the price. My boss is one of those people and I've no doubt he'll be sporting one of these ASAP so good on him :--]. Others have to balance the costs and benefits with reference to their own needs and wants.

    One of the great things about iPhone is that you generally won't miss out on most of the cool new iOS features even if you have an older device, so there's less compulsion to go out and grab teh brand-new shiny until you're good and ready.

    Where can I sell my iPhone 4 in Australia?

    "You won’t get much for an iPhone 3/3GS/4 any more" - will depend on what you call much!

    ReGadget are still offering over $200 for all iPhone 4 models, around $100 for 3GS and a bit less for 3G.

    Better than it sitting it in the desk draw losing more value!

    Pfft, now's the perfect time to buy a 4s since there's so few upgrades in the 5 and the 4s will be absurdly cheap.

      I am buying my wife a white 16GB iPhone 4S tomorrow. She has just finished a 24mth contract with an HTC desire and most of the household is now on iOS with 30 pin connector accessories. JB HiFi are doing the Small Telstra plan with no additional handset charges. (Telstra still want to add and extra $7 / mth).
      I will be getting a Lumia 920 come Nov / Dec or Mar 2013??

    Article: "Should I upgrade to the iPhone 5", doesn't talk about any features that might help you decide whether or not to upgrade.

      what new features? just a few tweaks is all that's happened this time and a smaller SIM

    I am still on 3 and I got a call to switch over to Vodaphone. They will discount my plan by $24 (from 69 to 45 per month) but still give me same plan features, cut of 2 months of my iphone 4 contract (no charge) and give me the iphone 5 on a new 2 year contract. Ill be switching.

    It all seems rather "meh" to me.

    Bigger screen but applications run with borders. Different dock so nothing you own works (eventually the adapter will mean the thing pokes up/doesn't fit). Camera sensor is 25% smaller (bad bad bad).

    The only thing that might sell it is LTE, but what price Telstra?

    More of the same, really. A bit bigger, a bit faster, a bit more....... Nothing to get excited about, nothing 'new' at all.

    I have the 4 and about 4 months remaining on my contract. I am unsure whether I want to break contract to get the 5 or to wait it out.

    Only the earliest iPhone 4 adopters would be out of contract, since it was released just on 2 years ago.

    Given that the iPhone 4 is still available for purchase on a 2 yr contract today, no, many people won't be "rather solidly out of contract by now".

      A fair point, but the sentence referenced the 3G and 3GS; those would almost entirely be sans-contract by now.

        3GS was also still available on contract as an 8gb until stock ran out in the last couple of weeks, also your article writes that the iPhone 4 wouldn't be worth anything however I checked and they've been selling (used) on ebay for around $400 at auction today, that's the iPhone 4 32GB, so you could certainly halve the price of your outright purchase if you off loaded it now.

        If that was your intent then you need to amend the wording of "anyone on a phone that isn’t a 4S should be rather solidly out of contract by now." as its clearly including the iP4 in that list.

    Telstra are taking intrest orders on the phone.

    Using this website.

    On balance I'm going to stick with my iPhone 4. Sure it's 2 years old but when I upgrade it to ios 6 it will still have most of the features of the 5. With my cheap prepaid plan it's a hell of a lot cheaper. Eventually when the 4 dies I'll look at a new phone.

    I didn't buy my 4S outright, nor am I still in contract for a year - I have a 12-month contract ending in a month. But I have no intention of upgrading. I don't see the point in spending anything significant for a slightly bigger screen. I'll instead spend at least the next year saving me some cash.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now