Buying an iPhone : For most people, buying an iPhone will simply involve walking into a store and picking whichever capacity model they can afford. But, for more cautious buyers, a few questions may need to be answered first. How much storage space do you really need, for example? And would it be better to wait for a next-generation iPhone?
How much space do you need?
At the time of writing, the latest iPhone – the 4S – is available with either 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage space. The amount of space you need depends on the number of songs, photos, movies, apps, podcasts and email attachments you want to be able to store at any one time.
True storage capacity
The first thing you should know is that your iPhone may offer slightly less space than you expect. All computer storage devices are in reality about 7 percent smaller than advertised. The reason is that hardware manufacturers use gigabyte to mean one billion bytes, whereas in computing reality it should be 230, which equals 1.0737 billion bytes. This is a bit of a scam, but everyone does it and no one wants to break the mould.
Moreover, a few hundred megabytes of the remaining 93 percent of space is used to store the iPhone operating system, applications and firmware. All told, then, you can expect to lose a decent chunk of space before you load a single video, song or app:
Checking your current data needs
If you already use iTunes to store music and video, then you can easily get an idea of how much space your existing collection takes up. Click Music, Movies, Podcasts or any playlist on the left of the screen and the bottom of the iTunes window will reveal the total disk space each one occupies.
As for photographs, the size of the images on your computer and the amount of space they occupy there bears little relation to the space that the same images would take up on the iPhone. This is because when the photos are copied to your phone they are resized and optimized for use on the iPhone’s screen. As a guide, 3000 images will take up around 1GB on the phone.
To buy or to wait?
When shopping for any piece of computer equipment, there’s always the tricky question of whether to buy the current model, or hang on for the next version, which may be better and less expensive. In the case of Apple products, the situation is worse than normal, because the company is famously secretive about plans to release new or upgraded hardware.
Unless you have a friend who works in Apple HQ, you’re unlikely to hear anything from the horse’s mouth until the day a new product appears. So, unless a new model came out recently, there’s always the possibility that your new purchase will be out of date within a few weeks. About the best you can do is check out sites where rumours of new models are discussed. But don’t believe everything you read….
Mac Rumors buyersguide.macrumorscom
Apple Insider appleinsider.com
Think Secret thinksecret.com
Where to buy?
Unlike iPods and Macs, in some countries the iPhone is only available direct from Apple or the partner phone carrier in your country. The price will usually be the same – or so close that it’s unlikely to be a significant factor.
Buying from a high-street store means you’ll get the phone immediately; ordering online you can expect a week’s wait for delivery Another advantage of visiting a store is that you get to see the thing in the flesh and try the various features before you buy. To find your nearest Apple Store, and to check for the availability of iPhones at various different branches, see:
Apple Stores apple.com/retail
Or to find the nearest branch of your carrier, check online for a store locator page. For example:
AT&T (US) www.att.com/storelocator/iphone
Q2 (UK) o2.asymmetry.co.uk
What’s in the box?
At the time of writing, the iPhone comes with a stereo headset with mic/button, a USB charging/sync cable, a charger and a polishing cloth. The first generation iPhone also included a Dock but, as with the iPod, this soon became an optional extra.
Refurbished Apple products are either end-of-line models or up-to-date ones which have been returned for some reason. They come “as new” checked, repackaged and with a full warranty – but are reduced in price by anything up to 40 percent. You’ll find the Apple Refurb Store on the bottom-right of the Apple Store homepage. If there’s something there you want, act quickly, as items are often in short supply.
Of course, it’s possible to buy a used iPhone from an individual and get a new SIM card for it. However, many iPhones are locked to the network through which they were purchased, which means they’ll only work with a SIM for the same network. If the phone has been unlocked, you’ll be able to use any SIM card and network, but be aware that unlocking will probably have voided the warranty.
As with all used electronic equipment, make sure that you see it in action before parting with any cash, but remember that this won’t tell you everything. If an iPhone has been used a lot, for example, the battery might be on its last legs and soon need replacing, which will add to the cost.
Recycling your old phone
You should never throw old mobile phones away. Not only do they contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment when incinerated or sent to landfill; they also contain metals and other materials that can be recycled and used in new phones.
Anyhow, there are plenty of better options. Various groups will take old phones off your hands — even if they’re broken. Apple provide addressed, postage-paid envelopes expressly for the purpose. To order one, visit:
Apple Recycling (US) apple.com/recycling
Apple Recycling (UK) apple.com/uk/recycling
However, Apple won’t pay you for your old phone, whereas other services will. Old iPhones in particular can command relatively high prices, even if damaged. Try these sites first:
Mobile Valuer mobilevaluer.com (UK)
Cell for Cash cellforcash.com (US)
Alternatively, you could donate your old phone to charity. In the UK, for example, Oxfam can fund 83 school meals in the developing world for each handset dropped off at an Oxfam store or sent to: Oxfam Recycle Scheme, Freepost L0N16281, London WC1N 3BR. In the US, try: