The Worst Possible Time to Purchase a Verizon iPhone?

February is a really interesting time to release a new Verizon version of the iPhone 4, don’t you think? I spot several impending complications with this timeline, not the least of which is a wrench in the typical cycle for a new iPhone arrival.

Today we’re going to discuss why you should think twice before purchasing a Verizon iPhone in February. Hint: It has to do with the upcoming iPhone 5!

iPhone 5: Coming This Summer

screenshot

The iPhone 5 is on the way

Why are we so certain that an iPhone 5 is coming in just a few months? Completely baseless iPhone rumors abound on the web, making it hard to trust anything we read. So let’s start by tossing out rumors altogether and look at something a little bit more concrete: history.

Interpreting recent data to spot a trend in Apple’s iPhone release practices doesn’t exactly take a statistician. All one has to do is look at the release dates for the past four iPhones. Let’s start with the very first version: June 29, 2007. Already we can see that the first iPhone was released four years ago. When you combine that with the fact that we are currently on the iPhone 4, we can set down our pencils because we already see that Apple is launching these things out at a rate of one per year.

Now, the rate of one per year isn’t enough information. We want to know exactly when Apple will be launching the next iPhone. Do the other versions line up with the same time of year as the first?

  • iPhone: June 29, 2007
  • iPhone 3G: July 11, 2008
  • iPhone 3GS: June 19, 2009
  • iPhone 4: June 24, 2010

As you can clearly see, Apple releases an iPhone every summer with all but one of these releases falling in late June. So without any bogus rumors about case manufacturers ramping up production, we can be pretty confident that Apple will release the iPhone 5 sometime this summer, likely in June.

Now that we have our untainted hypothesis in place, does the rumor mill concur? Yep. According to several sources, the iPhone 5 will begin production in May, supposedly for a June release.

The Verizon iPhone Dilemma

Now, given the near certainty of the arrival of a new iPhone in June, what does this mean for the hordes of Verizon customers waiting to pounce on the new CDMA version of the device in February?

In short, it looks like it means these customers are about to get screwed because their shiny new $200 phone will be old news when June rolls around. There are two possible scenarios that come to mind, and neither looks good for the Verizon early adopters.

Scenario one, Verizon releases the CDMA iPhone in February and AT&T releases the GSM iPhone 5 in June with Verizon following a few months later. This puts Apple on a really weird release schedule where they are juggling multiple handsets simultaneously with different features and varying degrees of outdated technology, which creates real nightmares with iOS updates.

Apple has been continuing to sell the 3GS despite the presence of the iPhone 4 so, while unlikely, this staggered iPhone scenario isn’t exactly unprecedented. Though being consistently ahead would definitely give AT&T a serious advantage over Verizon. Also, it would be hard to pump the Verizon releases if every time one rolled around everyone knew Apple was on the verge of giving AT&T an even newer version!

Scenario two seems far more likely. In this version, Verizon customers purchase an iPhone 4 in February only to get hit with the arrival of the iPhone 5 in June (along with AT&T and perhaps others). This wouldn’t make the iPhone 4 completely obsolete, it would just move to the current position occupied by the 3GS: the cheaper, crippled version of the iPhone that doesn’t do nearly as much or perform as well as the most current version. Again, as a Verizon customer you would no doubt start to regret that February iPhone 4 purchase.

Another Rumor Check

With our two logically derived scenarios in mind, we set out again in search of rumors that might provide some insight into which one is most likely.

screenshot

A hybrid CDMA/GSM iPhone?

It turns out that Cult of Mac is reporting that there is strong evidence indicating that the iPhone 5 will have a dual GSM/CDMA radio. This highly likely scenario puts Apple producing one phone that works on lots of carriers rather than continuing on with separate CDMA and GSM models. This is great news and means you will be able to buy an iPhone anywhere you want and perhaps even switch carriers while keeping your handset.

If the rumor proves true it also means that the Verizon and AT&T versions of the iPhone 5 are one and the same and will both hit stores in June.

Conclusion

If you have a version of the story where Verizon iPhone early adopters aren’t making a poor decision, I’d love to hear it. Unless you are in dire need of an iPhone before June, it seems to me that you simply can’t get around the fact that you’ll be buying a piece of technology that’s on its way out. Even if you’re perfectly happy with the iPhone 4, it will likely be available at a reduced price in June.

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on the debacle. Is Verizon doing customers a favor by rushing out an iPhone 4 in February or are they pulling a fast one on their customers, knowing full well many will want to upgrade by June? Would you recommend lining up for the iPhone 4 in February or waiting for the iPhone 5 in June? We want to know!


  • http://www.casabona.org/blog/ Joe Casabona

    History also dictates that while each iPhone did see upgrades, the 3GS to 4 was the greatest upgrade. I doubt that the iPhone will see anything more than some hardware upgrades come June.

    And even if it does come with a single receiver, how many people will actually be switching back and forth between ATT and Verizon?

    I think unless you absolutely need the latest and slightly greatest, might as well get it now because you want it, then get even awesomer iPhone 6 in 2 years.

    • Don

      The point the article is trying to make is that right now might not be the best time to buy regardless of which phone you want. It is probably better to wait even if you want the iPhone 4 because when a new phone comes out, the iPhone 4 will be cheaper.

      If money is not something you care about and you can’t wait a couple months, then I could see someone getting it now just “because you want it.”

  • Chris

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple products; however, I think it is a bit foolish to believe that you need the latest and greatest. Even with the (supposed) quantum leap from iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4 … my wife and I both happily use our 3GS phones today and don’t feel the least bit like we’re missing out on Apple’s amazing new features.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having last year’s iPhone model. Who knows — it may even be better for your soul.

  • SirCake

    The only compelling reason I see to get a Verizon iPhone as soon as they’re out is pricing. If Verizon offers a truly unlimited data plan, you can bet it won’t last long. You’ll want to snap one up before they throttle back to the now standard unlimited-really-means-5-gigabytes plan.

    • JD

      This is actually a huge reason. If a person can jump on the unlimited data plan on the iPHone 4 and all it takes is an easy upgrade to the iPhone 4 via eBay this summer, its a win win.

      In this instance nobody should wait or it will cost you way more in the long run.

  • GigaHurtz

    You are all wrong. The future of communication is the ipod. Its freakishly skinny. It makes phones calls. It works google voice flawlessly. The battery lasts days on a 3 hour charge. Video calling with skype. I get all my gmail, gvoice, email, text quicker on my ipod than I do on my ANDROID Evo 4g nonsense. Ubiquitous wifi is almost here and when it does ill send all these phones with their LAME 3g and 4g antennas packing down the road.

    • SirCake

      Only if you’re near wifi. Too much of a limitation for me.

  • JD

    I was going to wait for the white iPhone… look where that would have gotten me.

    I always tell people they can sell their phone on eBay and even make some $ while picking up new hardware. I don’t see why this won’t be the case for the Verizon iPhone.

    And what if the iPhone 5 comes to AT&T a few months or more before Verizon? Not likely but… suckers will just keep waiting for the next big thing while life passes them by.

    Get your iPhone 4 now, upgrade later. Simple.

  • KDog

    Another interesting option: an off-cycle refresh. Doesn’t seem very Apple though.

    http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/01/11/will-verizons-iphone-have-an-off-cycle-refresh-every-year/

  • Jon D.

    If any of you are anything like me, none of this should be a problem. I’ve managed to own around 9 phones in the last 3 years. I’ve owned an iPhone, 2 android phones, a BlackBerry and several other so called “iPhone Killers”. I’m not wealthy by any means, just determined. There’s ALWAYS a way to get what you want, you just have to figure it out. So I say to Apple, release your phones at any pace you feel like. People always find ways to get what they want, and I am one of those people.

  • PG

    I agree with the post. I have waited so long for verizon to get the iphone because at&t service is just horrible. I might as well wait 4 more months just so I don’t have any regrets in June. Also, by June users can judge if verizon is going to have service problem just like At&t had with all the extra iphone users. Not all of us are able to switch phones so often so I think it just makes more sense to wait 4 months and see what happens.

  • Chris Mathews

    I have stuck with Verizon the whole time the iPhone has been available for AT&T. I patiently waited for this day to come and now it is here. Why would I voluntarily wait until June?

    It’s the same thing with every Apple product, something new comes out and everyone says to not buy it, because eventually something new will come out that is better. When I could use a perfectly good iPhone for the next 3-4 months, why wouldn’t I?

theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow
theatre-aglow