Buyer’s Guide to the iPhone and Outdated iPod Touch: How to Choose the Portable Device That’s Right for You

In the past year, the iPhone has been the source of a lot of hype among technology gurus and the general public. That’s unlikely to change with the release of the 5g in 2020, but the sometimes-overlooked cousin of the iPhone – the outdated iPod Touch – is actually a better buy for many users wanting to use a music player only.

What You Get with iPhone That You Don’t Get with Touch

In appearance, the two devices are very similar. iPod Touch has done away with the old click-wheel design in favor of the iPhone-style wide touch screen, and it has the added bonus of a WiFi connection. The most obvious difference, of course, is that the iPhone is a phone – you can’t use the iPod Touch to call or text.

Another difference is that instead of WiFi, the iPhone uses mobile phone towers, so the online features such as YouTube, iTunes store, Google maps, weather, and Safari that make iPod Touch such a tempting upgrade from the old iPod will work anywhere with the iPhone. To use these features with a Touch, you have to be in a location with a wireless connection.

Other features of the iPhone that Touch doesn’t have include GPS and a built-in camera. Also, the upcoming App Store will be available for free for iPhone users, while Touch users will have to pay a surcharge ($9.95 in the US) to upgrade the software.

Drawbacks to iPhone

When Apple announced that the iPhone 3G would be available for only $199 in the US, while the iPod Touch still costs $299 for the 8GB model, many users wondered why anyone would buy a Touch. Clearly, this is what Apple wanted users to think, but the obvious answer is that an iPhone can’t be used without a mobile calling plan.

In the US, AT&T has an exclusive agreement with Apple to provide service for all iPhone users. Many current users have complained that AT&T doesn’t work well in certain areas, and 3G service will be even more limited, so that some may upgrade only to find that they’re connecting at the same old speed. Similar concerns have emerged throughout the world regarding exclusivity agreements.

In order to use all the iPhone’s features, a user has to buy a voice and a data plan, as well as signing a contract (in the US it’s two years) that comes with an early termination fee. Of course, this is no different from most phone plans, but users who are not customers of the wireless provider that provides iPhone service in their country and still have a contract with another provider will have to pay a fee, and in some cases pay more per month for the new contract, along with the price of the iPhone.

The Bottom Line

Users who need a new phone anyway, have a contract that is expiring soon or don’t have a wireless phone, and don’t mind paying the monthly fee for the iPhone’s features should buy the iPhone. Other considerations include the phone’s shape (users who don’t use a headset may find the iPhone’s design uncomfortable for long conversations and awkward to carry in a belt holder) and whether the home region has 3G service.

The iPhone is also a good pick for those who don’t want to carry around multiple devices and frequently use a phone, PDA, and camera. Other users may find that the slim iPod Touch is not difficult to carry along with a mobile phone, or that the cost of a monthly plan makes the iPod Touch a better choice. Another consideration is wireless access – users who need to be able to access maps, weather, or e-mail when it’s difficult to get to a library or coffee shop with a wireless connection may prefer the iPhone, while urban users may have no problem accessing features with Touch.

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