Verizon iPhone: Buy Now or Later?

When contemplating whether or not to stand in line to buy a Verizon iPhone next month, it might be worth remembering the adage: "All good things come to those who wait." (And bad cancellation fees go to those who need the newest gadget right now.)

Apple and Verizon announced Tuesday their long-awaited partnership to offer the iPhone through Verizon's less troublesome telephone network, ending an exclusive three-year deal with AT&T. The new Verizon deal will offer phones at roughly the same price as AT&T -- roughly $200 for a 16 gigabyte phone and $300 if you want 32 gigs.

The companies did not reveal the price for a Verizon data plan, though industry insiders were already speculating that Verizon would offer more data for less money as a way of dislodging disgruntled AT&T customers. (Last month, Consumer Reports rated AT&T as the nation's worst cell carrier, noting that about half of those complaining about dropped calls couldn't do much about it because they owned some form of iPhone.)

The fact that you've had to wait for the better part of a year, while the iPhone rumors clanged through the marketplace like a pinball, might make you tempted to pre-order the phones in the first week of February or camp out in front of a Verizon store the moment the carrier's iPhones go on sale. But waiting a few months might just save you $500 -- or allow you to get a better phone and a better deal. Here's why.

3G
The new Verizon iPhone will be built on a 3G network, not 4G. Why do you care about and extra G? Speed, baby. Your iPhone is built to give you news and maps and information with the touch of your finger. But if the network can't deliver the information fast enough you're going to feel like a dork waiting for a dial-up connection. Okay, it's not that slow, but it will likely be a lot faster within a few months.

iPhone 5
June.
Cancellation fees
You waited in line to get the new iPhone 4 from AT&T too, right? If so, you've got some cancellation fees to contend with. And if you get the iPhone 4 and realize that the iPhone 5 is likely to let you talk and search the web at the same time, you'll want to dump this iPhone 4 in a few months. That will trigger more cancellation fees and/or the need to buy the new phone with no contractual discount. If you add up all the stupid fees you can pay for just having ants in your pants--let's say $200 for the cancellation fee or $500 - $600 for the phone without a contract -- you could spend a long weekend in Hawaii instead. Aloha.

Bugs
Remember how the people who were first in line to get the new iPhone ended up complaining that they were losing phone connections? It turned out that was because the antenna was in a weird spot likely to be blocked by your hand. Apple eventually admitted the mistake and gave early adopters free phone covers. In the meantime, they got lots of dropped calls (that weren't even AT&Ts fault). Every new tech product has a glitch or two that the first buyers discover and complain about before it gets fixed. New phone. New contract. Lots of potential bugs to work out. If you wait a few months, you can save yourself some frustration by learning about the problems without experiencing them yourself.

Price
Let's say you would be happy with an iPhone 4 and Verizon service, so you figure why not buy it now? Again, if you wait a few months, those iPhone 4s will be last year's technology and the price will likely drop in half -- just like the price of iPhone 3s did a year or so ago.

I know how tempting bright shiny objects can be. But this is another classic example of how you can get rich by doing nothing. Wait a couple months. Use the money you don't waste on cancellation fees and last year's technology to spend a weekend at a spa. It'll be cheaper and less frustrating.

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