Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 4 as the greatest leap forward since the original iPhone 2G in 2007, with its newer, thinner design, better (and additional) camera, FaceTime video calling, and that incredible 960x640 display. It becomes available for pre-order on June 15 and goes on sale June 24 in the US, UK, Germany, France, and Japan. (More countries will follow in July, 88 total by the end of the year).
But should you buy one, and if you should, when? Check out our iPhone 4 preview and iOS 4 walkthrough for everything you need to know about the hardware and software, then keep reading after the break for our advice on buying!
Should you pre-order iPhone 4 on June 15?
If Apple had you at Retina Display (960x680), if you simply must have that better 5 megapixel, LED Flash-equiped camera -- and the front-facing VGA camera -- if the idea of two sheets of Apple glass sandwiching a stainless steel, structural, antenna-boosting band had your credit card dancing in your pocket the moment you saw it, then yes, you already know you're pre-ordering it on June 15. Come on. You've already made up your mind.
As an alternative, real Apple aficionados may simply choose to reserve on June 15 and then go pick it up at an Apple Retail store on June 24. The difference is getting it compared to having the full Apple experience of getting it. It's purchase vs. event. You won't have to wait for the delivery truck but you will have to wait in line with a throng of other Apple lovers.
But let's face it, the only people who order or show up and buy a new phone without trying it -- even touching it -- first probably knew they were going to buy it 3 seconds after they bought their last one. This buyers guide isn't even for you.
Should you line up for an iPhone 4 on June 24?
This is really just an extension of the previous section about reserving an iPhone 4 on June 15. If you're going to camp out, make sure you reserve. If you're on the fence and aren't sure, then later freak out and simply must have it, you'll be put in a second, first-come-first-served line apart from those who reserved and you'll be at the mercy of supply and demand.
Do yourself a favor. If there's any chance at all -- even a tiny one -- that you want an iPhone 4 on June 24, reserve it. If you don't pick it up, Apple will release it to the general pool around 3pm (if their iPad pattern holds up). But reserve it so you don't kick yourself in the Droid later.
Should you buy an iPhone 4 on or after June 24?
Some people just don't want to buy a product, especially a newly re-designed one, without touching it first. Fair enough. Come June 24 you'll be able to go into an Apple Store and turn it on, swipe it around, launch the apps and play with it a bit, and just utterly lose yourself in that 960x640 retina display screen.
If you don't qualify for upgrade pricing and want to make sure the iPhone 4 is really that much better than your iPhone 3GS, if you're on Verizon or another network and want to make sure iPhone 4 is really worth finally making the switch from whatever BlackBerry or Android placeholder you've been lugging around, if you're just not sure $199 or $299 is worth it, do yourself a favor and try before you buy. Apple's happy to let you -- that's why they set up all those big hands-on tables. Really.
Should you wait a couple months for a quick iPhone 4 price drop?
Sadly, no. Apple did drop the original iPhone 2G price fairly soon after launch, but then that device was sold almost completely unsubsidized. Ever since then Apple has priced their iOS devices incredibly aggressively and have only dropped the price when newer generation models were introduced (iPhone 3GS came in at $199, pushing iPhone 3G down to $99, now iPhone 4 will come out at $199 and push iPhone 3GS down to $99).
If you really, truly want to wait for a price drop on the iPhone 4, then...
Should you wait another year for the fifth generation iPhone 5?
If Apple stays true to form then the 2011 iPhone 5 will be an iterative update to the basic iPhone 4 package. It might get a speed boost courtesy of an ARM Cortex A9 multicore CPU and next generation PowerVR SGX GPU wrapped up in a new Apple A5 system-on-a-chip, it might get 64GB of storage, it might even get a better-than-VGA front-facing camera. But it will be a year from now.
If you just got an iPhone 3GS and aren't in any big hurry for the Retina Display and FaceTime video calling, iPhone 5 in 2011 (or a $99 iPhone 4 in 2011) might make sense.
Should you never -- not EVER -- buy an iPhone again?
No, that's silly. If AT&T just doesn't work in your area, get the best phone that suits your needs on the network that provides the best coverage where you live and work and travel. One day Apple might make the iPhone for you, and one day your favorite carrier just might get it. In the meantime, new Android devices are dropping like they're hot, Palm is setting new bars for user experience, BlackBerry is going all sliders and clams (Vegas buffet anyone?), and Microsoft is getting ready to unleash Windows Phone 7. We're lucky to live in a time with so many excellent choices. Certainly one of them will fit your needs.
Unless you're some kind of zealot. In that case, may we offer you something in an Open Moko?
If you still can't make up your mind, if iPhone 4 looks good to you but you're just not sure if it's good enough, then figure out how long you can wait before you decide. And then wait that long. Read reviews, go hands-on, keep reading TiPb, keep discussing it on our forums -- get all the information you need. Then decide only when you have to.
That's our advice, but if we missed anything -- or just plain got something wrong -- let us know yours!