Why you don't need to buy an iPhone 5

NEED TO KNOW
  • Samsung Galaxy recently became best-selling high-end smartphone at 3 of 4 largest U.S. carriers
  • More low-cost monthly plans are available for Androids
  • CNET rounded up the best alternatives to the iPhone
Why you don't need to buy an iPhone 5

After months of rumors and overwhelming hype, Apple fanatics can finally get their hands on the new iPhone 5. But a lot of people are questioning whether it can keep up with expectations and other new devices on the market.

For a long time, the iPhone dominated the U.S. marketplace as the top-selling smartphone, but just last month the Samsung Galaxy S III became the best-selling smartphone at T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, making it the most popular high-end smartphone at three of the four largest carriers in the United States. Samsung also took the top spot in overall global smartphone shipments this year.

But is this latest and greatest version of the iPhone really worth all the hype? Just like every new iPhone, it’s thinner, faster and has a bigger screen, but is it really a major step up from other smartphones on the market? The Apple-obsessed would tell you there’s nothing that compares to the iPhone and living without the newest version, well, just isn’t an option. But if you’re wondering why you would not buy the new iPhone, leave that argument up to HLN Money Expert Clark Howard.

First of all, Clark says buying the newest version of any tech product as soon as it comes out is never a good idea, because there will likely be some kinks that still need to be ironed out. Also, the new phone isn’t revolutionary compared to the one before it and others on the market. Yes, it has new features, but many of the improvements being made to smartphones these days are incremental, so the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are still considered great devices. And Clark argues the Samsung Galaxy is an even better device.

Apple has kicked Google Maps to the curb with the iPhone 5 and is going with a new mapping program, and it's not looking too good so far. The new Maps App has already been in the spotlight for bad reviews and serious criticism. On top of that, Apple has also done away with YouTube as an embedded app. Both Google Maps and YouTube will be available in the App Store, but they've been removed as embeds in an effort to get you deeper and deeper into the Apple ecosystem.

All iPhone apps have to survive Apple's vetting process. And while Apple is a closed system, Android and Google run an open platform,  and it's one people find extremely appealing.

The iPhone 5 will also cost you more in accessories. As if buying the new phone isn’t enough, you’ll also have to buy a new cover and new accessories to fit the phone’s new size and new dock connector size. So your chargers and everything else go out the window with your need to have the latest and greatest.

These days, a lot of Americans aren’t rolling in dough and buying a cheaper smartphone is probably a better choice. Every time a new iPhone comes out, earlier versions flood the market at a fraction of the cost. Everyone is trying to get rid of an old phone before buying the new one, so consumers who don’t get sucked into the iPhone 5 hype can get a great phone at a much cheaper price.

NextWorth is an online marketplace that buys back used phones and gives quotes on what they’re worth. According to USA Today, the site had a record number of iPhone requests over the past three weeks as consumers prepared to buy the new version. Older versions are worth a lot of money before the new phone is announced. On the eve of the iPhone 5 announcement, NextWorth was offering $278 for an AT&T version of the 16 GB iPhone 4S and $230 for the Sprint and Verizon versions.

Gazelle is another popular online marketplace for used gadgets that Clark loves. It’s a great resource for finding smartphones at a cheaper price.

Apple fanatics always want the latest and greatest, but after the new phone is announced and available, prices drop big time, and Clark says now’s the time for consumers who don’t need the latest and greatest to score a great deal.

The iPhone 4 is now free. Clark says since the iPhone 5 represents only incremental improvement, you aren't missing much with the iPhone 4 and hello, it costs you nothing. And Apple's new operating system, iOS 6, is available for all iPhone models, which makes the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S even more appealing.

And if you buy a cheaper, older version of the phone, you can also get cheaper service plans. Low-cost carriers such as Cricket and StraightTalk offer unlimited monthly plans at low costs and don’t require a contract. Straight Talk is Wal-Mart’s discount service and includes a plan that allows you to bring your own device. You buy an unlocked iPhone online and take it to Straight Talk at Wal-Mart. You can buy a SIM card from them and use the iPhone on their network for $45 a month with the service being provided by T-Mobile or AT&T.

And if you haven’t drunk the Apple Kool-Aid, there are tons of cheaper alternatives available that Clark argues are better options. Clark is a strong believer in Android over Apple and he loves the Android operating system. The phrase, “You get what you pay for” doesn’t necessarily apply to the smartphone industry. There are more low-cost monthly service plans available for Androids.

Apple has an edge by offering hardware and software combined, but Google’s Android operating system and phones using the system have just as much to offer and aren’t always noticed. For example the Samsung Galaxy S III gets great reviews and you can get it cheaper in the wake of all the Apple hype. Amazon has it for $99.99 right now, plus a $35 carrier activation fee. Check out CNET’s full review of the phone here.

The thing is, Apple lovers seem to think all of this technology is new, but it's actually been around for a while. Other smartphones are already faster with 4G and have had bigger screens than the iPhone for a while now.

CNET rounded up some great alternatives to the iPhone:

HTC One X (AT&T)

HTC Evo 4G LTE (Sprint)

HTC One S (T-Mobile)

Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

Upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices

How to steal a deal on an iPhone or Android smartphone

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