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Summary: Not all of us are eligible for the full upgrade subsidy pricing of the new iPhone 4S and if we want this new device we are going to have to pay a $450 premium.
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?
Matthew Miller started using a Pilot 1000 in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since.