It’s a little disgusting how many people mentally prepared to buy the iPhone 5 before it was even announced. Even if the only new feature was a redesigned volume rocker, initial pre-orders would probably outnumber votes in the upcoming election. But before you let Apple’s genius marketing convince you to drop a few hundred bucks, consider this: What’s really new is iOS 6 (which just came out today), and the new iPod touch.
What is this blasphemy? Hear us out. If you have the 4S, you are most likely not eligible for a new iPhone 5. This means you would need to sell your iPhone and apply the sale to the purchase of an off-contract iPhone ($649-$849, plus tax). Here’s why that makes no sense.
The 4S will probably remain valuable for a few months, as many markets won’t care about the new features and it will be a long time before a majority of developers update their apps to run on the iPhone 5′s 4-inch screen. We’re not even talking about all the accessories that don’t yet exist for the iPhone’s new Lightning port and the scarcity of Apple’s $30 adapters. Even if you sell your old one, you’ll still need to drop some dough, especially if you plan on upgrading to one of the higher capacity models (which you should, because the iPhone 5′s amazing HD videos and 8-megapixel photos are going to use up your free space). It’s just not a good idea.
If you already have a 4S, you’ll be able to take advantage of every software change in iOS 6, which you couldn’t do with older iPhone models that don’t support some graphic and speed-intensive features. All you’ll miss are a few subtleties: a little extra screen real estate, some speed, nicer networking and a slightly improved battery. Don’t get us wrong: The extra space on the screen and the lighter form alone will make a huge difference in your life, but there’s another way to enjoy the hardware changes.
Experience the best of these subtleties and score yourself a fun new toy with Apple’s other new thang, the refreshed iPod Touch. At 6.1 mm, it is now Apple’s thinnest full-featured mobile product. It has the same beautiful 4-inch retina display as the iPhone 5, Apple’s fast A5 processor and a new flash-equipped HD camera. It’s also $350 cheaper than an off-contract iPhone 5. (Plus, there are colorzzz.)
The iPod Touch is now the ultimate mini-tablet: a brilliant flash camera and multitasking internet kiosk with BLE (the new standard of Bluetooth that doesn’t suck up your battery), fast WiFi and generous battery life. It’s runs iOS 6 just like your iPhone so you can still talk to Siri, send iMessages and mirror your stuff on an Apple TV.
It’s essentially the thinnest iPhone ever, except that it doesn’t make phone calls. (Just kidding; it does.) This is really the first time an iPod Touch has mimicked the feature set and hardware of an iPhone so closely; previously, the iPod always followed a few generations behind the iPhone, like a dumping ground of old hardware pieces and a teaser for the iPhone itself.
If you buy the new iPod Touch, you’ll have an awesome lightweight sidekick to your iPhone that, as long as you’re connected to a WiFi network, does everything you use it for anyway. Which means you’ll save some money, gain some battery and avoid tech envy by trying out most of the new hardware.
If you have leftover cash, consider taking a break to explore LTE Android devices like the HTC One X or the Galaxy S III—both of which make great, highly-customizable phones with uncensored access to the Google world. At the very least, it’s something new for your brain, and a dramatically better experience for anyone who relies on Google products like Gmail and Calendar. As long as you’ve got your trusty iPod Touch as a sidekick, you won’t miss your iPhone, and you’ll get the best of both worlds.