It's iPhone time again

14 September 2012

So another year another iPhone is released. Will you be signing up for one?

Economists at JP Morgan are certainly expecting the world to buy the iPhone 5 by the bucket load in the last quarter of this year. They estimated in a note to clients that iPhone sales could add between 0.25 and 0.5 of a percentage point to the US's sluggish economic growth rate.

But global economic recovery aside should you buy?

Well there's a lot more competition in the smartphone market these days. HTC, Motorola and Samsung all make competitive handsets based on Google's Android operating system. Nokia are trying to get regain its former domination of the mobile phone market with new Lumia phones using Microsoft's latest software.

Despite lawsuits and fines, Samsung's roster of Android based phones outsell the iPhone throughout Europe. The announced new features of the iPhone 5 are pretty much matched by Samsungs top of the line S3 handset. The iPhone has superfast LTE (also known as 4G) which will allow you to access the net as fast or even faster than your broadband connection at home.

But 4G isn't yet available in the UK, and will only arrive in 16 cities around the UK sometime before Christmas, courtesy of the Everything Everywhere network and Three. If you're a Vodafone or O2 user then its bad luck for you. The S3 doesn't have 4G yet, but it does have a feature missing from the iPhone 5.

NFC (near field communication) gives users the ability to use their phone to pay for goods simply by passing their phone over a special reader. NFC has proved hugely popular in Japan and South Korea, and Samsung and others are hoping it will catch on here too. As yet though, opportunities to use this tech are pretty few and far between.

Setting aside the lists of snazzy features, is the iPhone 5 good value for money?

The honest answer has to be no. Other manufacturers have made sure their phones are cheaper than the iPhone. At the time of writing the best monthly contract deal for the Samsung S3 was a free phone for £28 per month on a 2-year contract deal. The best deal for a free iPhone 5 was a £45 pound per month two-year contract deal.

If you want to buy the handset outright the S3 will cost you £499.95 while the iPhone 5 will set you back £529.99. * I've written before about the difference about buying the iPhone on contract or buying the handset outright.

f you have the cash it might be worth buying an unlocked iPhone direct from Apple. Your monthly mobile bills will be a lot smaller, plus if you have a short-term phone contract you can take your unlocked handset and jump ship to a different network whenever a cheaper deal is offered.

So based on the cost you should logically give the iPhone 5 a miss then. But what's logic got to do with it. Logic says we should all drive around in sensible cars with good fuel consumption, but some of us who can afford it drive BMW's or Audi's or even Bentleys.

The iPhone 5 is a beautiful-looking gadget that runs iOS6, in my opinion still the nicest phone operating system despite the improvements to its closest rival Android. It's never going to be the cheapest deal around but it's still THE gadget to se seen with. Expect the usual long queues at your local phone stores on the 21 September.

* Prices listed are for the 16GB versions of each phone