Five reasons why I won't be buying an iPhone 4S

I own an iPhone 4 which is under contract until June 2012 and I'm loathe to pay the hefty early termination fee to break it. The 4S really isn't that much better than the iPhone 4 in my book anyway.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

This post is a response to James Kendrick's post Why I ordered an iPhone 4S here on ZDNet.

  1. I already own an iPhone 4 and I'm under contract with my carrier. In fact, anyone who purchased the iPhone 4 at launch in June 2010 is still bound by their two-year carrier contract through June 2012, and later if you purchased it later. Although I've done it before, I'm loathe to fork over the usurious ETF (Early Termination Fee) that my carrier demands to let me out of my contract.
  2. My iPhone 4 is fast enough. The iPhone 4S benchmarks are impressive and it's claimed to be twice as fast the the iPhone 4S in my pocket, but I don't really find myself waiting for my iPhone 4 right now, so why do I need more speed? I barely play any games, so the "7x faster" GPU is of little consequence for me.
  3. I already have iOS 5 and iCloud on my iPhone 4 -- two major selling points of the 4S -- so they're a push in my book. Sure, they might run a little faster (especially on AT&T's faster HSDPA network) but not enough so to swallow the bitter ETF that my carrier would levy for breaking my contract.
  4. I'm waiting for a larger screen. I've been spoiled by the 4.3-inch screen on my Droid Bionic, it's glorious for viewing pictures and videos and Apple will need to address the relatively small 3.5-inch screen in the iPhone at some point. I'm not saying that Apple has to match the Bionic's 4.3-inch display (or even the 4.5-inch panel in the Samsung Infuse, HTC Raider or LG LU6200), but Apple needs to have a product in the 4.0+ inch category just to remain competitive. To avoid the pocket-problem inherent with bigger panels Apple should offer both 3.5 and 4.0-inch models -- and not force a one-screen-fits-all approach down our throats.
  5. I'm waiting for LTE. After using the HTC Thunderbolt and the Motorola Bionic extensively on Verizon Wireless' scorching-fast 4G/LTE network in Philadelphia, I've seen the light. 16-20Mbps downloads are no joke and I've clocked both of these LTE handsets with faster download speeds than my Comcast cable modem at home. Granted, 4G isn't kind on your battery, but that's why there's a toggle switch to turn it on and off.

Don't get me wrong, I'm intrigued by the iPhone 4S, just not enough to pay an ETF for breaking my carrier contract. The biggest feature that I want is Siri and I'm annoyed that Apple is artificially restricting it to the iPhone 4S. Both the iPhone 4 and 4S have 512MB of RAM, so it's not a RAM thing. If Apple comes out and says that Siri requires an A5 (which is not true) then I expect Siri to be released for the iPad 2 within 30 days. If it doesn't come out for the iPad 2, then it's obvious that it's Apple's planned obsolesce at its worst.

The new 8MP camera in the iPhone 4S is the second feature that I'm mildly interested in, but again, it's not enough to pay a hefty ETF to get. I carry a Panasonic Lumix GF3 just about everywhere so I don't really need the better 8MP camera sensor and optics, although it would be nice.

I think that I'm going to placate myself by getting an iPhone 4S for my wife (who's contract is up) and I'll just play with hers after she goes to bed (shhhh!). Also, I said that I won't be buying an iPhone 4S, which is different from saying that I won't evaluate one for 30 or 60 days. In other words, I'd be happy to put one through its paces but I don't see myself ponying up the ETF for the privilege.

What about you? Are you upgrading from the iPhone 4 to the 4S? If so, why?

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