iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

Summary: Not all of us are eligible for the full upgrade subsidy pricing of the new iPhone 4S and if we want this new device we are going to have to pay a $450 premium.

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It has been a couple of years since I owned an iPhone and earlier this week I participated with Jason Perlow in the Great Debate about the new iPhone 4S. I wasn't necessarily overwhelmed by the iPhone 4S and wasn't sure if I was going to buy one, but I am almost certain to order one after reading of Steve Jobs' passing as a personal tribute to his legacy. One factor in my purchase decision is the non-subsidized price because I have only been a Verizon customer for about 8 months. Larry wrote a post about the subsidized pricing model, but without this upgrade eligibility be prepared for a shock.

We always compare subsidized pricing in reviews since that is the way people buy their phones in the U.S. However, I usually buy my phones overseas or so often that I rarely get the subsidized price. The new iPhone 4S comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities priced at subsidized prices of $199, $299, and $399, respectively. If you are like me and not yet eligible for the full price subsidy then the prices are $649, $749, and $849, respectively. Yes, the subsidy takes care of $450 of the full price.

Due to this huge $450 cost difference, I realize I could pay the $325 ETF and still come out $125 ahead of the game with another carrier. Thus I started to consider the Sprint iPhone 4S with unlimited data or the AT&T iPhone 4S with faster data speeds. The thing is I like Verizon because I am grandfathered into their unlimited data plan and I get better coverage with them than with Sprint or AT&T. However, for the same price I pay Verizon I could also get unlimited text messaging and unlimited calls to other mobile phones. Thus, before Friday morning (that's when online pre-orders start) I need to decide if I am going back with Sprint or sticking with Verizon at a premium price.

Will you be buying a non-subsidized iPhone 4S or is this price just too high for you?

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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15 comments
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  • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

    I think most of us have little understanding just how much the handsets we have are actually worth (not just iPhones).

    I don't get the "underwhelmed" thing. What were you looking for Apple's new iPhone to be? Clearly it would be an iPhone - they were never going to change the launch screen (because they don't think widgets make sense, and big icons mean noodling around to launch stuff). I actually like the case design of the iPhone 4 (especially in black - I know, and we waited so long for the white one!) I think Siri seems amazingly cool (though in truth I'm not sure I'd use it much). The faster processor and better camera seems very cool, and iOS5 seems to address legitimate shortcomings in the UI. As distinct to just "wanting it to be different to what it is".

    So what's not to like? (serious question)
    Jeremy-UK
    • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

      @Jeremy-UK
      better camera and faster processor..aint enuf reasons for update...

      for rest of it ios5 and siri i think u can get that with free software update...
      sagarshirish
      • iPhone 3Gs was less different from iPhone 3G and no one said it was ...

        @sagarshirish: ... <b>catastrophe</b>.
        DDERSSS
  • Buy an unlocked instead

    If you're stuck paying the full unsubsidized price, why not just get the unlocked version? Unlocked will have a higher resale vale too. Also, sell your iphone 4 to close the price gap. You won't get $450 for it, but you could get at least half that. Is the 4S really enough of an upgrade to pay such a premium?
    taylor@...
  • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

    If you get it from AT&T it only has a $250 premium. $449, $549 and $649.
    luckynomad
  • Why Buy at All

    Just to let you know I do own a iPad and a iTouch and have had the iPhone in the past. But since I live in an area that has 4G, there is no way in heck I am going to switch to a lower technology. Before you ask, Yes 4G is that much faster for me on a my smart phone. Plus I do travel so I do tether with it and it feels like I am on a decent DSL link when surfing. I will absolutely buy a iPhone when they doing make the move to 4G but not until then, I will stick with Android.

    PS
    Mr. Jobs
    May you rest in peace and go down in history as the Greatest mind of our time.
    bethereornot
    • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

      @bethereornot Unfortunately some of us that live in rural areas (I live about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh) do not have 4G, and will not for a few years. So I cannot see spending money on a technology that I will hardly ever use. If it was available, and the price was more inline with the service, I would buy into it. But the wireless companies all overcharge for their service, and the data caps get hit faster on 4G. In a year, or two, when 4G becomes ubiquitous, then I will revisit the need for a 4G phone. Until then 4G is not a show stopper.
      Rick_Kl
    • I guess you missed the part where the iPhone 4s has

      dual antennas and has effectively doubled data throughput on a 3G network, without the battery killing power consumption of a 4G chip.
      baggins_z
      • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

        @baggins_z You know, I guess it really depends on which radio chip is in the New iPhone. If it is the MDM660 then it is one thing. If on the other hand it is the MDM9600, 4G could be enabled at a later date. Only time will tell which chip is in the latest iPhone.
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

        @Rick_Kl even if it has the 9600, Apple won't go back and enable 4G on the phone. Bluetooth was one thing in the iTouch, but the iTouch isn't the high profit item that the iPhone is.
        Champ_Kind
  • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

    To be fair all cell phones are overpriced when they aren't subsidized. I do have to say this iPhone 4s is the most expensive I've seen off contract, but its not far from the $500 other manufacturers want to charge. There is no reason for the phones to be this expensive.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

      @LoverockDavidson_ This is one of the few times I agree with you. Cell phones off-contract are over-priced.
      smulji
  • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

    Jobs is laughing all the way to the grave.
    linuxfanboy
  • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

    I think that after years of sitting on the fence, this might be the year I finally get a smartphone. Being I have a few Macs and an iPod, getting an iPhone makes sense. Having to buy a copy of Windows to use a WP7 phone makes little, if any sense to me, so that rules out Microsoft???s OS. Android would make sense, but there is the fragmentation issue, and the Microsoft tax on Android phones.
    Rick_Kl
  • RE: iPhone 4S subsidy savings totals a whopping $450

    People, this is Apple. Which radio chip do you think they put in it? Does Apple ever let you upgrade the equipment you have with firmware updates? Never. They're doing this simply because they get to use the left over iPhone4 parts, add a couple new wrinkles to it and the squirrels will come down out of the trees to get another of something they already have just to get the "latest" that apple has to offer. They basically added a "G" to the name people and that's about it. they also added siri. Anytime Apple has a minimal hardware upgrade they try to sell to us they always package it with the one piece of software that we "can't" live without. See Facetime.

    This is what they do. Because in 6 months when they do come out with an actual 4G/LTE phone then you'll really want that one. What do you do then? Pay them $1000 bucks for a phone when you just paid them $650?

    I agree with some other people. Why pay that price for an iphone when the Bionic is light years ahead of even this model.
    chethammer