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A Smart Man’s Guide to Buying the iPhone 4

14 June 2010 32 Comments

iPhone 4 is no doubt the best piece of hardware this year (2010). Buying an iPhone on launch day can be a herculean task to say the least! People go to the extent of forming long lines and/or camping outside the stores. If you value time and if you want to save a quick buck, this guide is for you.

First and foremost, you should be aware of AT&T’s dirty tricks.

iPhone 4 buyers fall into 3 categories :

  • Upgrade eligible
  • Regular pricing
  • No-commitment pricing

Upgrade Eligible :

Type in *639# from your AT&T phone and you will receive a free text informing you of upgrade eligibility. If eligible, you can grab the iPhone 4 for $199/$299 for 16/32GB iPhone 4. You will also have to pay an upgrade fee of $18. The worst part being a 2 year contract during which you should pay for the data plan every month. What’s even worse is the $325 ETF (Early Termination Fee). 2011 is the big LTE upgrade year where the next generation cellular communication is implemented in a large scale amongst most or all US carriers. You may be tempted to switch to a different carrier (pay ETF) or you WILL be tempted to get iPhone 4G which accommodates for 4G communications. You will then have to pay the early upgrade fee which is ridiculously expensive if you ask me!

Early Upgrade :

This is the worst category of amongst the three. $399/$499 for an iPhone even after you sign a 2 year contract! ETF still applies and so does the upgrade fee. I would strongly suggest you skip this option and get one at no-commitment pricing. This way you can get a free/better upgrade when eligible rather than paying a big chunk of cash for early upgrade.

No-Commitment Pricing (Currently unavailable in the US, will update when available):

This option may be a very good option. You retain the freedom of switching carriers, not having to pay an upgrade fee ($18/$36) and best of all you are not paying a high premium to get these benefits. In the case of a 16GB iPhone 4, it costs $400(Upgrade Eligible)/$200(Early Upgrade) more. Pricey but peace of mind. If you are like me and want to have the best phone in the market (Android/Windows 7 phones), then this option may be the best. iPhones are known for their resale value and iPhone 4 will fetch good $$$ once the unlock is released.

Following are the various channels where iPhone 4 can be bought :

  • Apple (Online + Pre-order starting June 15th + In-store)
  • AT&T (Online + Pre-order starting June 15th + In-store)
  • BestBuy (Online + In-store)
  • RadioShack (In-store)
  • Walmart (Online + In-store)

Buying it online is the best bet since you will receive it on launch day not requiring you to waste your valuable time in lines outside the store or well and saves a trip to the store!

How about some cashback?

When it comes to iPhone purchases, not many  vendors offer cashback.

You may try the following :

While the cashback percentages are measly, they can give good returns if you buy an iPhone 4 at no-commitment prices. The best part being buying from the comfort of your home, saving a trip to the store, saving time and some cashback in return!

32 Comments »

  • Aditya said:

    Hey Kiran,

    Are you getting the new phone man?
    I still can't decide if I should get it or wait for Dell.

  • Kiran said:

    I am planning on getting one at no-commitment pricing. Right now it is difficult to pre-order one at no-commitment pricing. Dell Streak is still a long wait. You might want to check it out in person before buying it though!

  • Aditya said:

    Why is it difficult to pre-order without commitment?
    and is there something wrong with this phone? (Check it out in person???)

  • Kiran said:

    Cos' neither Apple nor AT&T is selling it for full price yet. Last year, I got a 32GB 3GS straight from Apple retail store for $699. Not sure if we can do it with iPhone 4 just yet…

    Dell Mini 5 has a 5\” screen and it is mighty big compared to any other handheld you may have used! So it will be wise to hold one before you buy online!

  • Aditya said:

    ok.. I thought you were talking abt the iphone 4 when you said check it out in person.

  • David said:

    Hey Kiran, I was wondering if the Iphone 4, when ordered online for shipping, would it come to me activated and ready to use when i get it (meaning start make calls from the iphone when I take it out of the box). I read on apple's site and it says the following:

    "Does my iPhone come ready to use?
    Yes. Your new iPhone arrives ready to start using it. All you have to do is set it up in iTunes. There’s no need to call or visit a store to get started."

    Now it doesnt say whether or not it comes activated, so I am kind of unsure of that. I am still on on my Iphone 2G 16GB and thinking of upgrading to the new Apple Iphone 4, I have been waiting for this a long time.

  • Kiran said:

    In your case, when you order the iPhone 4, you provide all your details (phone number and stuff). So once you receive the iPhone, you may just plug it into your PC, launch iTunes and thats it! Simple enough – but this is all if you sign a 2 yr contract while you order it.

    Activation is tied to iTunes. So iTunes takes care of the activation related stuff.

  • David said:

    Ok, so lets say i order it online and sign the 2 yr contract, BUT when I get it I never activate it, What happens than?

  • kkiran said:

    They will charge you the full, no-commitment price for it to the credit card you put on file. I think buying it on eBay or buying it from Canada in July may be a better option since iPhone 4 in Canada is released 'factory unlocked', better deal if you ask me!

  • David said:

    Yea a very good idea, but we all know that there is definitely going to be a unlock released soon after the iphone 4 comes out and when you compare the price of a no commitment iphone price with a canadian factory unlock price, I am sure there is going to be atleast a $100 differential. Dont you think so? If it the same price than I'd definitely buy the factory unlocked one.

  • kkiran said:

    Factory unlocked may be the way to go, pricey but nice resale value and any T-Mobile user can buy it from you when iPhone 4G is out next year. We have to wait till July – that is when Canadians get their iPhone 4's from Apple..

  • kartheek said:

    Hi Kiran (a***rao), I want to jailbreak my iphone3G. Should I do it now with iOS3 on it or update to iOS4 and wait for ur jailbreak release?????

  • Kiran said:

    Emiraaa!

    You may jailbreak it now depending on your baseband/unlocking situation… I would say you should upgrade to 3gs or iPhone 4! iOS 4 will be out on 21st June just so you know…

    Sent from my iPhone

  • kartheek said:

    Thanks Kiran. I am upgrading to iPhone4, but want to use iPhone3 in another country. Great posts buddy, keep up the good work.

  • kartheek said:

    ilikemyiphone4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ywhy don't you write an article suggesting some nice apps for iPhone4??

  • kkiran said:

    iPhone 4 apps are still being cooked. Not so many to take advantage of the extra graphics and RAM right now. Soon hopefully!

  • Efm said:

    Hi! If u buy an iphone 4 witout commitment, but locked, can u poen it in itunes and add firmware 3.1.2 so u can ulock it? Use it with any simcarrier?

  • Kiran said:

    iPhone 4 cannot have 3.1.2 firmware installed since it will come with iOS 4 by default.

    Unlock for iOS 4 may be released soon after it is launched, so that should make it easy for you to use with other carriers…

  • Efm said:

    Hi! Im living in Norway, and a friend of mine is in the States now, so im wondering if its possible for him to buy an iPhone 4 to me now (when its released) without a contract? Can this be used with any carrier? Prospective, any idea of when a unlock-program is getting released?

    Thanks for answer!

  • kkiran said:

    The best option for you is buy an iPhone 4 from France/Italy/UK/Canada wherein the iPhone 4 will be released factory unlocked, that way you are not limited to unlock software every time you upgrade. They will be double the price with zero hassles! If you get it from the US, it will be at a better price but with some hassles – decisions, decisions!

  • Efm said:

    I see! Thanks for the information. But just one more question.. many says that`s unlock software is released. Is this true? Thanks
    !

  • kiran said:

    Yes, the unlock software is released but it is tricky to actually jailbreak/activate iPhone 3GS’ just cos’ its not a one size fits all! It depends if you are using Mac/PC, bootrom on your device and previous jailbreak status.

    I am testing them on my 3GS phones and I am having problems jailbreaking which is step 1 in the whole process!

  • kc_desi said:

    I have been using this site to get the custom files for all my iphone upgrades (I am a Windows User). Would you be putting the Custom files for 4.0 as well ,now that Dev team has released their PwangeTool 4.0.1?

  • Kiran said:

    iOS 4 happens to be a different beast when it comes to custom firmware. It is not the same for all iPhones out there. Creating one is not a problem but supporting bricked iPhones can be a nightmare.

    I am planning on testing the custom firmware in different scenarios and will then upload them.

  • kc_desi said:

    Thanks. Will be waiting eagerly for the uploads. 🙂

    I have a 3GS with old Bootrom (on 3.1.2) and a 3G (3.0.1), so I am hoping wont me any much of an issue for the upgrade.

  • Kiran said:

    You should be all set for the update given your device details. Hopefully I will get them out in 9 hours from now (I am at work!)..

  • kc_desi said:

    Thanks so much for all the hard work and efforts people like you and Dev team put in these things.

  • kiran said:

    Welcome! I just try to translate the Dev Team’s efforts into human readable format. They are geniuses!

  • kiran said:

    Are you looking for an activated firmware or not activated? I have uploaded activated version for non-iPhone carriers. Still working on uploading other stuff and article. Let me know if you want the direct links.

  • Kiran said:

    All uploads finished, let me know when you are ready to try them.

  • kasra said:

    hi, i want buy iphone4 unlock.

    who can send iphone for me?

    i live in iran and we dont have any master or visa cart.

    if any body can send me iphone4(unlock) that work in iran, i want him send 50 iphone for me. contact me

    kag2008kag@gmail.com

  • Kiran said:

    Try eBay!

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