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?