iPhone 5s in the US

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):

iPhone 5s prices USA subsidized



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:

iPhone 5s prices USA unlocked and contract-free



 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:

Learn more about the unlocked iPhone:

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

As always, contact me if you have questions!


Hard Disk & Solid State Drive Recommendations

External Hard Disk Drives (HHDs) and Solid State Drives (SSDs):
Many clients ask me for recommendations for external hard disk drives
for backup and storage. Most hard drives can be formatted for use with
Macintosh computers, so almost any drive will work, provided it offers
appropriate port connectivity. That said, here are my top three HDD/SSD
choices from three different manufacturers. Choose the drive that best
fits your needs, thinking about: space, speed, durability, and port
connectivity. Note, all recommendations below are portable, bus-powered
drives. Unless you will be using them constantly, I suggest portable
drives, so you can get into a backup routine that involves taking one of
two external backup drives to an off-site location, and rotating them

  1. Other World Computing’s Mercury ElitePro Mini
    line of HDDs and SSDs is an excellent, sturdy line of HDDs/SSDs, and
    offers excellent storage capacity, speed (FireWire800, USB3.0), and
    portability in a clean, efficient and cost-effective package. HDDs in
    this line come in up to 2TBs, are bus-powered, and very reliable. OWC’s
    Solid State Drives are excellent.
  2. G-DRIVE Mobile
    HDDs are excellent drives with good connectivity:  USB 3.0 (and
    backwards compatible to USB 2.0) and FireWire 800 (also backwards
    compatible to FW400) interfaces, 1TB capacity, bus-powered, all for
    $180, a good value for an excellent drive. This is a great drive
    especially for those who have or plan to purchase new MacBook Pros or
    other machines that have USB 3.0 connectivity.
  3. LaCie Rugged USB3 Thunderbolt Series 1TB
    drive is an excellent portable HDD for $250. If you have a new Mac with
    a Thunderbolt port, you should consider this drive, as it is one of the
    first portable, affordable Thunderbolt-equipped drives on the market
    from a trusted, tried-and-true HDD manufacturer. It is bus-powered and
    has an exterior case that provides protection in case you drop the
    drive. The LaCie Rugged Tripple USB3.0
    drive (without Thunderbolt), is the old standard in portable drives,
    with USB3.0 and two FW800 ports, all bus-powered, for $200.

Solid State Drives & the rMBP

A client recently inquired about the value and performance differences between the current models of the MacBook Pro — i.e. Retina (rMBP) vs. non-Retina versions. The rMBP (as I’ve written about previously) has non-replaceable RAM, but in fact the SSD seems to indeed be replaceable. Here’s an excerpt from an interesting Mac Observer article on Other World Computing’s Aura Pro SSD as an upgrade option for rMBP owners who purchased the small SSD.

OWC Aura Pro SSD for Retina MBP: Maximum Speed, Great Upgrade

6:23 PM EDT, Sep. 25th, 2012 · Jim Tanous · In-Depth Review
When Apple announced the newly designed MacBook Pro with Retina Display (rMBP) at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, many marveled at the power and speed that a completely custom design could bring. As Apple customers slowly stepped out of the “reality distortion field,” however, some were concerned that upgrading such a tightly-integrated beast would be impossible.

Shortly after its release, tear-downs of the rMBP revealed both good and bad news: RAM was soldered to the system, and would not be user-upgradeable, but the internal SSD, despite its custom design, was removable and potentially upgradeable.

About two months after the rMBP’s release, Other World Computing (OWC), a longtime member of the Apple community and the first to release upgrades for many Macs with non-industry standard parts, released the Aura Pro, the first and thus far only third party SSD for the rMBP.

Currently available in a single 480 GB capacity, the Aura Pro promises to increase rMBP storage speeds and provides a nice upgrade path for users who initially purchased their rMBP with a stock 256 GB drive and are now looking for more space.

Read the full article here, and leave your comments below!

Trade-In iPad 2 at

Apple has just announced that they will offer you a gift certificate (to be used on anything in the Apple store) if you wish to trade in your iPad 2, for, say, a The New iPad (3), or anything else in the store.

You will be reimbursed up to $320 depending on the model and condition the iPad is in. This could be great for those who purchsed the iPad 2 but are interested in the Retna display and speed of the New iPad (3).

iPhone 5 rumor: 3G/4G, all networks, fast!

Rumor: “iPhone 5 Will Be Thinner With 3G/LTE Compatibility Across All Networks”: “…According to Huberty, the next-generation iPhone will be slimmer and sport a quad-core Qualcomm chip with 3G and LTE compatibility across all networks….” Read the article here., from

We hear from the rumor mill that the iPhone 5 will likely have an alluminum casing (like the MacBook Pro line), and be released in the third or fourth quarter of 2012. If you have an iPhone 4, it would be my recommendation to skip the 4S and wait for the 5 if you can, it’s going to be a great phone and hand-held computer!

LaCie External Hard Disk Drive sale

OWC $50 discount sale on now

Other World Computing is one of the best vendors for Apple-compatible computer products, has just extended it’s holiday shoping sale. Check-out with Amazon Checkout and receive discounts up to $50, depending on how much your total bill amounts to. Click here for inforation about the sale, which runs through 31 Dec 2011.

OWC sells hard disk drives, hardware upgrades (RAM, etc), computer/iPhone/iPad accessories, etc. Great service and fast shipping.

Special recommendation: OWC ElitePro Mini external hard drives (FW800, FW400, USB) up to 1.5 TB. (Personally, I use two 1.5 TB OWC ElitePro Minis for backup and storage.)