Randy writes:

Is it worth upgrading my iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 5? I’ve had it for three years now and I find myself waiting for the next iPhone every time. The monthly rates go up for me for less call minutes, texts, and data, but I don’t want to spend double the amount to get one from Apple directly.

iPhone 5Deciding to upgrade your smartphone can be tough. On one hand, you have a phone that may or may not work just fine for what you need. Upgrading costs money, and the value of that purchase is different for everyone. It all comes down to where your pain points are and just how much the improvements made between the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 5 matter to you.

The iPhone 5 is faster, has a better camera, and a larger screen than the iPhone 3GS. These improvements are great, but there’s no reason you can’t have an excellent experience with the iPhone 3GS. The vast majority of the apps still work just fine on the older iPhone, and a lot of the accessories can be picked up cheaper than they were the year the 3GS launched.

That said, pain points are important here. If you’re having a problem running the apps you want to use or need a better camera, then an upgrade might not be a bad idea. You’ve had the iPhone 3GS for three years, and that’s a good length of time to own any device. The internal battery might be experiencing some fatigue and loss of life at this point, and repair or replacement might cost you more than a new phone under contract.

It looks like you’ve been struggling with whether to buy the iPhone 5 outright or go with a new contract. By the math, you should save a lot of money in the long run if you buy the phone outright, but if your short-term finances are strained, then fishing for the best contract between AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint might do you some good. T-Mobile has great plans for GSM iPhone users who aren’t locked into a contract, though you’ll need to pay full price for the device to take advantage of this deal.

In the end: it all comes down to what your individual needs are. An upgrade will do you some good if you need something a bit more powerful than the iPhone 3GS. On the other side, if you are able to hold off until you have enough money saved to buy one outright, you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run. Being locked into a contract with any carrier is never a winning proposition. You give up more money to save less money.

Image: Wikimedia Commons