If you’re thinking about getting an iPhone 5…

Not sure if you’re ready for an iPhone 5, but are still mesmerized by Apple? Then, kick off your shoes, cool your heels and read on, internet traveler!

If you’re just making your way into the world of smart devices, there are enough options to make your head spin. And spin. And spin. But if Apple is the horse you are betting on, there is no better value right now than the iPhone 4. See below for more tips if you’re in the market for an Apple smart phone.

With the launch of the iPhone 5, you are now faced with the following options:

iPhone 4 – (still a very capable handset) available for free (or as AT&T would ring it up .01 cent.)
iPhone 4S – available in a 16gb variant for 99.99
iPhone 5 – available in 3 different capacities:

16gb – $199.99
32gb – $299.99
64gb – $399.99

all of which include a carrier subsidy. If you’re not yet eligible for upgrade, you can expect to pay the amount of shown and an additional $400. We don’t recommend getting it for full cost unless you are uber rich. Even then, that’s just throwing away money.

Remember, up until lately the iPhone 4S was the state-of-the-art and a 16gb model can still be bought, used or refurbished, for $300-400. Compared that with the unsubsidized retail price of an entry-level iPhone 5 at $699.99, and an iPhone 4S is a steal.

With the iPhone 5’s launch, what should you keep in mind? And how can you be a savvy iPhone shopper?

As has been demonstrated once again, pre-ordering an iPhone is no guarantee you’ll get it when you think you will. While the iPhone 4 took just 21 hours to sell out of pre-orders and the iPhone 4S took 22 hours, the iPhone 5 sold out in 63 minutes. It takes me longer to cut my grass than that. That means if you added an iPhone 5 to your shopping cart on Apple’s wesite 64 minutes after the launch, then Apple has your money and your phone is will be there 2 weeks late — at a minimum.

There is, however, another way: Forget the long lines that you see wrapping around Apple stores and carrier locations. Historically, there is typically little to no line to be seen at neighborhood Best Buys and Wal-Marts, and even less of a queue at Radio Shacks. All of these retailers get new handsets for launches. Carrier locations and Apple stores sell out quick. Hit the lesser-known outlets, wait less time and have a better shot of getting your new, shiny gadget.

Bear in mind, however, that if your handset belongs to a small business or enterprise account that your only option is your carrier or the Apple store. This leads us to maybe the most important point: It’s okay to wait.

Don’t let iPhone 5 envy cause you to do something silly like buy one on eBay or Craigslist and pay double the price. The phone is indeed sexy, but unless you are this guy, $1500 is a bit steep. Your 4S, 4 or even 3GS has performed admirably up until now and is not going to cease working properly simply because it the i5 has launched. Three-to-five weeks from now there will be a steady supply of iPhone 5s. While every passerby on the street may not ogle your device in the meantime, you should let common sense prevail and hold off a few weeks. Your wallet will thank you.

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