If you are considering purchasing or upgrading your iPhone this season, there is only really one good option — that is, the iPhone 5s. With it’s improved camera and lens, it’s faster processor and it’s enhanced security features, if you are upgrading, you really must consider the iPhone 5s. One saves $100 by going with the iPhone 5c, and in my opinion, that cost savings pales in front of the 5s’ advantages.
If you want to get an iPhone and are on a budget and want to consider buying an older/used/discounted iPhone, check Craigslist or eBay or Amazon or any of the other myriad old/used hardware resellers, but be very careful! It’s best to buy hardware still covered under AppleCare, that gives you some recourse if you get a lemon. Always correspond with a potential seller and ask them to send a screen-shot (picture) of the phone’s serial number from the Settings > General > About menu on the iPhone, by pressing the Home Button and the Sleep Button at the same time. The image appears in Photos > Cameral Roll, and have them message or email you the picture. Then, check here on Apple’s AppleCare Check Your Service and Support Coverage page to figure out if the phone is still under AppleCare warranty or not. You can check any Apple product’s coverage on this page — it’s quite useful for computers and iPads as well — a good page to bookmark.
For those leaning to a new iPhone 5s, here’s the breakdown of prices in the US. I suggest dismissing the 16 GB model, and considering only the 32GB or 64GB models — we live in a age of music and photos and videos, and I would not have any of my clients restrict themselves unless absolutely necessary. Remember, you should add the cost of AppleCare to these figures, as well as sales-tax if applicable.
2-year Contract iPhone 5s:
For those of you who prefer AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, and either have an account there (hopefully on which you have eligibility for discounted upgrades) or are ready to jump into one, here are your prices for a discounted iPhone 5s with a 2-year contract (new accounts and accounts eligible for a phone upgrade):
Unlocked, Contract-Free iPhone 5s:
Carrier-unlocked, contract-free phones: For those of you who wish to buy your phone outright without a 2-year contract, here are your prices:
Should I consider an Unlocked Contract-Free iPhone 5s?
If you are primarily in the US, and have affiliation with one of the three contact-carriers (AT&T, Sprit or Verizon), I usually suggest my clients go with a contract option and thus receive a discount on the hardware price. The prices of contacts on these three carriers without phone subsidies are usually not much less than with phone subsidies, and if you are eligible for a phone upgrade on your current plan, it’s usually cost-effective and the least hassle to stay where you are and get a discount on the hardware, extending your contact 2 years into the future.
For those of you who travel internationally, live abroad some of the time, are not settled in the US, or who prefer T-Mobile as a carrier, then purchasing a carrier-unlocked contract-free phone is a good option. T-Mobile has great month-to-month and contract-free plans for those who need temporary US phone and data service.
If you go with an AT&T contract, you can now ask them to unlock your phone after a period of time under contract so you could use an international SIM when traveling, for instance.
Verizon runs a CDMA network in the US, but the Verizon iPhone has a GSM radio in it as well, and their phones are unlocked for international GSM use the day they are purchased. * Do note that you cannot use a Verizon phone on a GSM carrier in the US, e.g. T-Mobile or AT&T. Verizon iPhones support GSM use only on international carriers.
Sprint’s unlocking policy is unclear — it seems that they will unlock your phone if you have a normal account with them, after some time under contract. * Do note, if you plan to ask for your Sprint phone to be unlocked, make sure you don’t have an ASL (Account Spending Limit) on your account, because if you do, Sprint has evidently been difficult about unlocking.
Do note, however, that the iPhone 5s accepts only a nano-SIM, not nearly as common in far-flung locations as micro-SIMs or regular old SIMs. Carriers who support the iPhone the world over would be able to provide a nano-SIM, however, and the list of countries with iPhone-supporting carriers is long!
Here is Apple’s official blurb on unlocked iPhones:
If you buy iPhone for T-Mobile, it will arrive with a nano-SIM card already installed that you can activate by visiting an Apple Retail Store or a T-Mobile store or by calling T-Mobile. If you buy a SIM-free iPhone, you will need to purchase a GSM-compatible nano-SIM card separately. In the United States, you can purchase such a SIM from AT&T or T-Mobile. When you travel internationally, you can use a nano-SIM card for iPhone 5s from a local GSM carrier. The unlocked iPhone 5s model is A1533 (GSM). For details on LTE support, see www.apple.com/iphone/LTE.
As always, contact me if you have questions!