Should you upgrade to the iPhone 5?

I’ve loved my iPhone 4 ever since I got it, but I admit that I’ve been anxiously awaiting to upgrade to iPhone 5 considering I held off on upgrading to an iPhone 4S. So when my pretty, new iPhone 5 arrived last week, I couldn’t wait to try it out, along with the fully integrated iOS6. Much to the envy of my husband and his sad shattered iPhone 3GS.

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth upgrading your current iPhone or making the switch from your Blackberry or Android phone, then you’ll want to read my review.

As predicted, thanks to Apple’s detailed iPhone 5 release event a couple of weeks ago, the iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than the 4, though I admit that its size hasn’t necessarily made a huge difference in my everyday use. I’ve heard rumblings that people think the phone is actually too light, but I don’t believe it’s a negative–and a sturdy case can take care of that in a second.

What I do love? The speed! The 4G LTE is noticeably faster, which is a real treat when I’m working on the go.

Size aside, you’re basically experiencing iOS6 from the highs, like my new BFF the VIP email feature, to the lows *coughAppleMapscough*. Now of course, all of that you can get with the iPhone 4S.

Granted, all of it is wonderfully new to me, especially SIRI and all the benefits and–let’s be honest–entertainment, she’s providing me. However, if you’re currently using the 4S, you’ll get all of that when you upgrade your software regardless so it’s probably not worth the change for 4S users.

My biggest gripe has to be the new Lightning adapter, which presents myriad compatibility issues, as you can imagine. I can no longer rummage through our drawers and my husband’s work bag to grab a spare charger for my phone in a pinch, and if you tend to have a trail of chargers wherever you go, you’ll need to invest in a few. at $29 a pop. That means  a trip to the Apple Store with four kids is in my future unless I can hold out until lightning adapters at Amazon ship at the end of the month.

There’s also talk that an authentication chip in the adapter means that less expensive third-party options won’t work with the iPhone5. That’s annoying from a frugal perspective; however we’ve also been burnt with cheap adapters that stopped charging well after the first month or so.

I’m also frustrated that Apple is not releasing an iPhone 5 dock anytime soon, so none of the ones I already own will work. That’s a whole lot of extra money I’ll be forced to spend in the near future; although in all likelihood those accessories will be viable for future generations of iPhones. Or at least one can hope.

Bottom line: Unless you’re someone who just has to have the latest and greatest, save yourself some money and grab the iPhone 4S starting at $99 on ATT. (It’s also available at Best Buy with Verizon service but be aware that Verizon and Sprint networks don’t allow you to access voice and data at the same time.)

Then upgrade to iOS6 and hope the Google Maps app gets approved soon–the only major concern with iOS6.

If you’re switching from another platform, you don’t already have a collection of iPhone accessories so you may want to take the plunge here, knowing that it’s an investment in future iPhone versions. While there are a lot of great things about some Android phones, you still can’t beat Apple in terms of the quality and consistency of the software and the app selection. And wow, do parents love those apps.

My guess is that going forward, the iPhone 5S or 6 will have bigger, more covetable features. And knowing Apple it will be out in oh, six months or so? –Kristen

Have more questions about the iPhone 5? Leave them in the comments!

Cool Mom Staff

We spend our time looking for cool stuff so you don't have to. Hope this one fits the bill.


  • Reply October 1, 2012

    RookieMom Heather

    Thanks for the review. I’ll hold for a while at 4s.

  • Reply October 1, 2012


    I totally agree! I upgraded to the 4Sand love it! Siri is my new best friend. I just dictate and she types emails, texts, sets appointments and reminders, and I can do it while driving. I don’t need the 5 and I have the reliability of the 4S

  • Reply October 1, 2012


    I’d love to know your thoughts on the best GLOBALLY equipped phone.

    I am moving overseas at the end of the month, and need to get one. I currently have an iPhone 4, love it- like it simple but this won’t work. Is the iPhone 5 equipped?

  • Reply October 1, 2012


    This has been my gut feeling since the 5 was announced. I currently have the 3GS and I have to say, I still love this phone. The only reason I have for upgrading is camera. I hope to get a 16 G 4S. I’ve read that the display is amazing on the 5 but the actual picture quality is not noticeably better than the 4S. Thanks for your 2 cents, Kristen!

  • Cool Mom Picks
    Reply October 1, 2012

    Cool Mom Picks

    Verizon/Sprint probably better globally with the 5, @Farrah.
    And Jessica – go to the 4S. You might as well and you’ll LOVE the camera, plus you can’t beat the price!

  • Reply October 4, 2012


    Great review. I am an iPhone fan and have the 4S, but thought you might enjoy the infographic that Mashable posted about the costs of the iphone5: check it out –

    The lightening adapter is a huge barrier for me upgrading.

  • Reply October 4, 2012


    FYI – Verizon and Sprint run on CDMA not GSM, so they would not/not be your better bets if you want your phone to work overseas. If you can get your iphone unlocked, make sure you get a GSM version, and you can pick up a local SIM cheap for it.

  • Reply October 4, 2012


    I’m interested to see that Jessica still loves her 3GS. I USED to love mine, but with each iOS upgrade it has gotten slower and slower, to the point that it’s now ridiculously frustrating for things like web browsing, and the camera takes (literally) 20–30 seconds to be ready when I touch the app button. The timing is perfect for us to buy the new iPhone 5 as our contracts just expired (3 years here in Canada rather than 2 years – boo!). I think I’d be fine with the 4S, but my big concern is that it just won’t be useable in another 3 years. Also, I understand that the 5 is much more physically robust (performs better in drop tests, screen much less prone to breakage, etc.).

  • Reply October 4, 2012


    Thanks for the review. Does anyone know why Apple doesn’t sell the 4GS in the 32 or 64 anymore? Only the 16 is being offered and that’s just not enough space.
    I have the 4G 32 and would much rather upgrade to the 4GS 64 instead of the new 5 32 or 64.
    Any suggestions?

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