Which iPhone 5 Should You Buy?

Sep 13, 2012 - 14 Comments

Which iPhone 5 should you buy?

Wondering which iPhone 5 to buy? We’ll help you answer that question with some common sense, featuring two use cases that will cover the vast majority of iPhone owners.

Average iPhone User – iPhone 5 16GB

The average iPhone user and anyone on the standard upgrade cycle should go with the base-model iPhone 5. Why? It’s the most reasonably priced at $199 with a two-year contract, it holds it’s resale value the best for when you go to upgrade again at the next release cycle, and with iCloud, 16GB is a more than adequate amount of storage for the vast majority of users needs. For just about every average iPhone 5 user, the base model 16GB iPhone is the way to go.

iPhone Photographer – iPhone 5 32GB

Planning on using your iPhone as your primary camera? You should get the 32GB model. Even with iCloud and Photo Stream to help relieve the space burden, the iPhone 5 has a 8MP camera and that means file sizes are often 4MB per picture, which will quickly take up space. Add in a handful of great apps, a music collection, and the occasional 1080p movie recorded from the iPhone 5, and you’ll max out the base models 16GB capacity quick once you start snapping lots of photos. The 32GB model is the most reasonable solution you won’t have to constantly delete photos to free up space, and it doesn’t cost too much more at $299 with a contract. Yes if you’re on the rapid-upgrade cycle, you will lose most of that $100 price difference, but if your iPhone 5 is going replace your point-and-shoot camera, it’s well worth the difference and sure beats cluttering your pockets with a separate digital camera.

What Color?

Which color is entirely personal preference. The black model is extremely sleek with it’s slate back, and a black screen border tends to make colors pop. Meanwhile, the white model has a beautiful aluminum backing that matches the iPads and MacBooks, and looks extremely clean. You’re on your own here!

Which Cellular Carrier is Best for iPhone 5?

This is the hardest question to answer because it largely depends on where you live, where you go, and your monthly budget. The iPhone 5 supports true LTE networking, which is much faster than 3G, but not all areas have LTE coverage yet. Your best bet is to use the carriers coverage maps, find the areas you most often visit, and check coverage based on those requirements, and then use Apple’s excellent iPhone plan comparison tool to determine the best plan for your budget.

Currently, Verizon has the most LTE covered areas, but AT&T and Sprint are rapidly catching up and expanding their networks. If you live in a major US city and spend most of your time in that city, Verizon very well could be the best bet for consistent LTE speeds, but Verizon plans often cost a bit more than AT&T. Meanwhile, Sprint offers true unlimited data – even on LTE – and the cheapest plans. An important thing to remember when checking coverage also is the distinction between what AT&T calls 4G and LTE, LTE is the superfast network that the iPhone 5 is designed to take advantage of, while 4G is just a slightly faster 3G. Ultimately, LTE is what you’re looking for to take advantage of the crazy mobile broadband speeds that will forever change mobile usage.

For me, I live in an area without LTE coverage on any carrier, and I still have an ancient grandfathered unlimited data plan on AT&T. For that reason, plus the eventual SIM card unlock, I’ll be sticking with AT&T for iPhone 5. That said, if I lived in a major city with LTE coverage, I’d probably go with Verizon because their LTE is very fast, you usually get the Personal HotSpot feature bundled with their data plans, and because you can use FaceTime over the VZ cell network. Meanwhile, if I wanted the cheapest monthly bill for using huge amounts of data, Sprint would be the obvious winner. As you can see the decision will vary based on your needs, and that’s why spending a few minutes looking at each option is worthwhile.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone


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  1. JohnnyG76 says:

    what’s your opinion on the 64gb version? Is it worth the extra $100? I guess if you can’t remove photos/videos often it makes sense. I was thinking of getting the 64gb just for the convenience of having that space available for carrying/moving big files. (like a USB stick)

  2. Lena says:

    I’ll vote for the iPod touch. Great thing, no mobile phone, no mobil internet, but with skype, FaceTime and a dect phone app a perfect indoor mobile device for my trouser pocket. At work I can plug it into the wlan there, also having wlan in most of my regular places…, so that thing is the thing for me. With only minimal monthly costs. And more then half the price. That’s the bargain from Apple.

  3. Kralnor says:

    I’m sorry but 16gb storage for $199 is a joke. But I’ll probably still get it. :)

    I just dread the news in 4 months that iPhone 5s is on the way and I’ll wish I saved my 200.

  4. BAKI says:

    I was an big fan of Apple till Sept 12, and i will not going to buy that stick besides really tired of jailbreaking and itunes stupid errors… uuuh.

  5. norbs says:

    Only think im a bit concerned about is black colored aluminum getting a light scratch and the shiny part glaring through.

  6. Andrew says:

    Isn’t the base model 8GB?

  7. Nick says:

    iPhone 5 16GB AT&T for me, no LTE around my area either and don’t want to pay more than my current bill!

  8. Robert says:

    From an Apple fan utill yesterday – None. Waiting for Nikia Lumia 920.

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