Christmas is coming and it’s the season for gift giving once again! Now, what are you going to give to yourself or to your loved ones? Giving the ‘right’ gift is both a delightful joy when you see their surprised, happy faces; and also a headache when you don’t know what gift is most useful to them. A gift that is lasting would be ideal; something that can be used everyday without being consumed in the process, for its effects to be felt as a ‘never-ending’ gift.
This brings us to the iPhone by Apple, which seems to fit the bill perfectly as that ‘endless’ gift. It not only looks and feels great when carried around; it is one of the most complete smartphones and all-in-one multimedia devices that is portable enough to fit in your pocket. Based on the smoothest and slickest operating system ever created called iOS; and with the greatest number of apps available from the Apple App Store, it is no wonder that the iPhone still holds the top ranking today as the most desirable and usable smartphone.
So now that you’re convinced about buying an iPhone gift, let us now look at some practical matters to help you make the best possible buying decisions based on iPhone prices in USA, in bringing iPhone joy to your loved ones.
iPhones on Contracts
The iPhone is no ordinary phone, which typically comes bundled with contracts under the major carriers in the US. Much as you would love to just give an iPhone without any contract; but like it or not, they would still need a call plan and a data plan to use the iPhone’s functions, which brings them back to a contract anyway. Based on the iPhone rates on Apple’s site, the cheapest contracts are currently under AT&T from $54.99, Sprint from $79.99 and Verizon from $59.99.
Now, although you might be able to buy an unlocked iPhone without contract, but these iPhones are actually much more expensive, being without any carrier subsidies. Hence, the deal with contracts through carriers is that they subsidize your iPhone purchase, while keeping you tied to a contract. So in your budgeting, do factor in the entire cost of both the iPhone as well as the contracts to make it truly a gift worth giving.
There are currently three major carriers to choose from in the US: AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Altogether, they offer you access to four iPhone models currently in the market. AT&T is the only carrier that offers the oldest iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4: GSM version, while the iPhone 4: CDMA version is available through Sprint or Verizon and the latest iPhone 4S is offered by all three carriers.
Naturally, each carrier would tie down your iPhone model’s usage to their own contracts respectively. Each of the carriers have varying service qualities, with AT&T having poor coverage in certain areas that Verizon and Sprint fare better in. So do check each carrier’s coverage carefully to ensure your lucky iPhone recipient does not get lost without proper network coverage.
You can also survey each carrier’s strengths and reliability by asking iPhone owners in varying locations for their feedback. Generally speaking, AT&T excels in providing faster 3G/4G network speeds in their areas of coverage, with support for voice and data traffic simultaneously. Verizon has better overall network coverage nationwide, while Sprint’s data plans could favor those that already own phones under Sprint contracts.
Having chosen both the contract and carrier of your iPhone, it is now time to decide which model you should get.
Best iPhone Deal for those with Low budget
Super-low budget option: iPhone 3GS
If you’re on a very tight budget, we would recommend the iPhone 3GS, being the cheapest since it’s the oldest model. This does not mean the iPhone 3GS performs poorly at all; in fact, it still holds its ground firmly even up to today, considering it was first released back in 2009, and was a top seller back then. It is currently available under a two-year contract for free from Apple, or for just $1 from AT&T.
The iPhone 3GS comes in black with 8GB storage, and is the oldest model that is still compatible with the latest iOS 5 operating system release that packs many new features. With a screen resolution of 480 x 320 on its 3.5-inch screen, this was the best resolution before the Retina Display of iPhone 4 came out. Complete with features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, and a 3MP camera that shoots VGA video, this is certainly the best iPhone choice on a shoestring budget. Then again, 8GB storage is very limited today; hence if you can afford it, the next model, the iPhone 4 is definitely recommended as a much better choice, and here’s why.
Best iPhone Deal for those with Middle Budget
Low budget option: iPhone 4
If you’re able to spare an additional $99 upfront in iPhone cost, you can gift the iPhone 4 that was just released last year in 2010. The iPhone 4 comes in color choices of black or white, and was a huge upgrade over the iPhone 3GS, with the trademark Retina Display at 960 x 640 resolution that is still unbeaten to date, a faster A4 processor that gives the iPhone its smooth and slick feel, and an improved 5MP camera that now shoots 720p HD video. The iPhone 4 is also available in 8GB only like the iPhone 3GS, which is somewhat limiting too as explained above, so if your budget allows, let’s move up one more step.
Best iPhone Deal for those with Higher budget
Higher budget option: iPhone 4S (16GB or 32GB)
Topping up another $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB) more, you can now get the latest iPhone 4S that was just released in October 2011. The processor has now been beefed up further to the latest A5 chip that runs at twice the speed of the iPhone 4, and the camera has been improved further to 8MP that can now shoot Full HD 1080p video. The doubled 16GB or quadrupled 32GB capacity makes a huge difference in what you can store in the iPhone 4S, which unleashes its full potential in storing and running apps, music, photos, movies, documents, and so on.
One of the biggest new selling points of the iPhone 4S is its new voice assistant, Siri, which can respond to simple voice commands like searching for a restaurant and even taking dictation for messages and emails. Considering the larger size of the 8MP snaps from the camera which quickly fills up internal memory, we would recommend the 32GB model if your budget allows.
Best iPhone Deal for those with limitless budget
Money is no object option: iPhone 4S (64GB)
Finally, if you really have the budget where money is no longer an object, then go for the very best, the iPhone 4S 64GB model at the best iPhone price of $399 under a two-year contract. If you really insist on getting an unlocked iPhone that is contract-free, then these iPhone models cost $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), and $849 (64GB). Though the 64GB model has essentially the same functionality as the 32GB model, the double storage is great for users who demand it and who need to store lots of music, apps, photos, and so on.
Based on the iPhone price in USA, there is certainly an iPhone available to suit your budget; so do try to consider at least the current iPhone 4S, which packs the latest enhancements and decent storage that makes a huge difference. To make it truly a 100% gift, just be prepared to foot the monthly iPhone contract costs as well, otherwise you would have to ensure your recipient can handle it.
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