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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:00 PM   #1
bradPiano
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Buying phone outright for T-Mobile: 5 or 4S?

Hi everyone,

I've got a nice & cheap T-Mobile plan, and I'm Sitting on a once-spectacular, now-mediocre Nexus One. I work in web development and am invested in Apple's ecosystem (iPad 2, 2011 Mac Mini, and 2012 MB Air 13"), and the phone is really the last Android holdout.

My girlfriend has had an iPhone 4 for the better part of a year, and I've been impressed with what I've seen. I like the size and heft. It feels solid in the hand and almost never drops calls.

I don't use phones much in my day-to-day, but I feel like there's a potential that I'm not seeing with my clogged up, aging phone. What I hate most about it is the audio quality in recorded video. I love playing music and going to shows, and documenting those experiences is very important to me. The Nexus One has never really felt serviceable on this front.

I realize that I may be facing some slow network speeds while T-Mobile continues their refarming process, but I'm rarely outside of wifi networks, so I don't see this affecting me much, so long as calls can connect.

My question is, if I'm buying a phone at full price from Apple, I'm thinking of going for either a 32gb iPhone 5 or a 16gb iPhone 4S. The biggest concern is durability between the two, as I'd like to carry it without a case. It seems that the 4s weight and size might be less prone to accidental mishaps. I've had the Nexus One for close to three years, so I'm not interested in jumping from phone to phone. I just want something solid that will provide great multimedia capabilities. So, with all this in mind, would it make sense to go for a 4S for $550 (a bit leery on the 16gb space limitation, though), or is the iPhone 5 32gb for $200 more a better bang for the buck?
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:02 PM   #2
Jordan921
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Hmm why are you paying more for a 4S then an iPhone 5?
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:09 PM   #3
bradPiano
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The 16gb 4s is $550 at the apple store and the 32gb iPhone 5 is ~$200 more, at $750, correct? So, I would be paying more for the 5. I would certainly enjoy paying less if the 4S is a better value at their current price points, but I've not had a lot of exposure to either model, so any advice on that is welcome.

Also, would the AT&T 5 have a better connectivity future on T-Mobile's upgraded network, or would both models function fairly similarly, in terms of data speeds?
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:43 PM   #4
Jordan921
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Originally Posted by bradPiano View Post
The 16gb 4s is $550 at the apple store and the 32gb iPhone 5 is ~$200 more, at $750, correct? So, I would be paying more for the 5. I would certainly enjoy paying less if the 4S is a better value at their current price points, but I've not had a lot of exposure to either model, so any advice on that is welcome.

Also, would the AT&T 5 have a better connectivity future on T-Mobile's upgraded network, or would both models function fairly similarly, in terms of data speeds?
Ah ok sorry. I think it would be better to get the iPhone 5. Both phones will work with T-Mobiles HSPA+ network. Not sure if the 5 will work with T-Mobiles future LTE network tho.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:05 PM   #5
kvizzel
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If you are gonna buy an iPhone 4S you should check craigslist. Make sure it's GSM and unlocked though.

You can easily purchase factory unlock codes off ebay for cheap, ~$10?

I've had my 4 since it came out. Exact one and it's still in great condition. However it is getting a big sluggish now, but still usable. Either one is a great option.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:17 PM   #6
corvus32
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Originally Posted by bradPiano View Post
Also, would the AT&T 5 have a better connectivity future on T-Mobile's upgraded network, or would both models function fairly similarly, in terms of data speeds?
There's no difference right now, but you'll likely want model A1428 once/if T-Mobile rolls out LTE in your area.

It's the only one that supports LTE band 4 (AWS).
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:23 PM   #7
Breaking Good
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradPiano View Post
I work in web development and am invested in Apple's ecosystem (iPad 2, 2011 Mac Mini, and 2012 MB Air 13"), and the phone is really the last Android holdout.


My question is, if I'm buying a phone at full price from Apple, I'm thinking of going for either a 32gb iPhone 5 or a 16gb iPhone 4S. The biggest concern is durability between the two, as I'd like to carry it without a case.
I'm biased. You can go into the iPad section of the forum and read my posts where I state that I prefer to use the iPad over the iPhone.

With that said, I think if I was you I would get the iPhone 4S and then spend the extra $200 towards upgrading your iPad 2 to an iPad 4 64GB with LTE. With the $200 you save and what you can get out of the iPad 2, you are pretty much half way there.

With either the iPhone 4S or 5, I would recommended getting a case and a screen protector. If for no other reason to help resale value down the road a bit.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:24 PM   #8
corys00
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I'd say the 5 is a better pick. I use it now and it does support the 42+ HSPA network and here in Orlando I get about 13 mb download and 3 mb upload. Also the speed difference is noticeable (I play some games like FIFA 13).

Question though why are you considering different sizes depending on the phone? I use dropbox and the 16 is more than enough for me. All my music is available via iTunes Match.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 05:04 PM   #9
AutoUnion39
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Neither. Go find an AWS + PCS HSPA+ compatible phone, like a Nexus 4 or Galaxy Nexus. With the iPhone, you're stuck on TMo's non existent PCS HSPA+ network, which is ridiculously spotty. Unless you're willing to put up with EDGE most of the time, I suggest getting a Nexus or find a better network with nationwide 3G like At&t (straighttalk for pre paid)
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 06:04 PM   #10
bradPiano
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I work from home and am rarely outside of wifi range, so the initial slower T-Mobile data speeds don't scare me that much. Having the Nexus One, it's been beyond serviceable in the time I've owned it and very durable, but the lack of integration with my other devices and limited on board phone space has rendered my phone basically useless for anything aside from calls.

Regarding the capacity choices (16gb on 4S and 32gb on 5), it was purely based on the inventory I had seen in Apple's online store. I'd like to buy the phone new, and I don't have a good track record with reselling. I tend to hold on to these gadgets well beyond their sell-by dates, anyway (still have a PowerBook G4 12" that's going strong).

I currently have 16gb sd slot in my Nexus One, but it's constantly jammed with multimedia, apps, and email, so I would ideally have at least 32gb in my next phone.

I'd certainly consider a good android device, but I had been very impressed by my girlfriend's photo/video capturing on the 4, and I'm also interested in seeing if the Apple integration will help me get to pull it out of my pocket more often.

The iPad upgrade is an interesting choice, but I really dont like the idea of another data plan or carrier. I'm content with T-Mobile, so far, especially for the price.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 06:35 PM   #11
corys00
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Well from an inventory standpoint, I believe that you shouldn't have any issues picking up the 5 in any size unlocked at Apple, I believe they carry them in store now as well.

But regarding the size, if you are comparing size to size, the 5 is a no-brainer for the $100 difference. Honestly, I'd have a hard time paying $549 for a phone over a year old. You are gaining more ram, faster processor, faster data speeds (when in a refarmed area), larger display with higher resolution, better front camera and also the glass covering the rear camera.

My point is this, if you're going to pay full retail get something current.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 06:57 PM   #12
bradPiano
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Yah, I see what you're saying, but the high outright price will add up to savings over the life of the phone (no matter which model) on a discounted monthly plan. Honestly, the 4 would be a nice upgrade over my current situation, so latest and greatest isn't of much concern, so long as the media capabilities are stellar.

Actually, looking at Straight Talk today, and that seems like a great deal with potentially better connectivity for an even lower price point than where I'm at now. Anyone have experience on this? Can it be utilized overseas? I notice an international pan, but that seems to be for calls only, rather than actually traveling abroad.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 07:11 PM   #13
vistadude
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Personally I'd rather go with a contract phone than unlocked, even if you break the contract you still end up paying about the same amount as unlocked. LTE is a big deal once you start using it, and at&t and verizon coverage is much better than T-mobile.

That being said if price is the main concern, go with the 4s and straight talk. You'll only get up to 3G speeds (figure 1-2 mbps typical).
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 07:32 PM   #14
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That being said if price is the main concern, go with the 4s and straight talk. You'll only get up to 3G speeds (figure 1-2 mbps typical).
Excluding LTE, your connection speed with Net10 or ST is identical to what you'd get with AT&T in your area.

So, for me, that's 4-6 mbps.
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