warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Is The iPhone 4 Worth It?

Stephanie McNeal |
June 28, 2010 | 10:37 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

iPhone 4 (Creative Commons)
iPhone 4 (Creative Commons)
The new iPhone 4 had a lot of hype surrounding it before its release, and it appears to have lived up to that hype.

People were literally willing to wait hours, even days, to get the new phone (one guy waited in line for two days to be the first). Apple sold a mind-boggling 1.7 million phones in the first three days it was released, making it their most successful product launch sales-wise ever. Part of this may be due to the fact that AT&T offered early upgrades for its customers if they wanted to buy the new iPhone. By upgrading early and signing a new contract, customers can purchase the 16gb phone for $199 and the 32gb for $299.

Of course, if you're like me, you inquired about the early upgrade and were sadly denied. Since I am living in Manhattan working at an unpaid internship for the summer, there is no way I can afford to buy the iPhone 4 at its normal price ($599 for the 16gb and $699 for the 32gb). Plus, I just bought my 3G in February, so it's basically brand new.

However, I still get a consolation prize, the free iPhone 4 software update. It actually is pretty cool, there are new features on my phone now such as better spellcheck and a different organization of my e-mail inbox. I can also organize my applications into folders. But the coolest part by far is that my camera now has a zoom!

But it's still just a 3G, now the lowest and lamest man on the totem pole. Steve Jobs claimed that the iPhone 4 is, “the biggest leap since the original iPhone." Many see the new iPhone as not simply an upgrade of the old iPhone, but as a completely new type of mobile device.

One thing that makes it appear so revolutionary is the new FaceTime feature, which allows people to talk on their cell phone face to face. It really looks like something out of Back to the Future, and has the potential to completely revolutionize the mobile industry. Pretty soon we all may be able to see the person we are talking to on the phone in real time.

Another of the big features in the new iPhone is the enhanced camera and video. Tech sites are raving about the camera on the phone and its video editing capabilities.

Some sites are even saying that its camera may be better than most digital cameras. Although editing videos on-the-go may be fun for the average iPhone user, the potential it has for news stations and bloggers is tremendous. Imagine if during a huge event, such as a disaster or an international summit, organizations could edit video and upload it all from their phone and have it available within minutes.

Other things people are raving about is its sleeker new design and that it works faster and better.

All these features do sound amazing, so let's consider the hypothetical dream world where I could spend 500 bucks on an iPhone 4. Would the new features really be worth it?

I must ask myself if I would really be buying it because I wanted all the new features, or to just have the "best new thing." I mean if we are going to be honest, does your average Joe need all of this stuff? Most people on the street aren't constantly shooting and editing HD video, or taking photographic masterpieces with their state of the art cameras.

It's funny to think back on how iPhone obsession has grown since it was released. When I graduated from high school in 2007, iPhones hadn't even been released yet. Now, in what to me feels like a very short time later, people are dropping up to $700 to get the latest and greatest version of something they most likely already have, and they could get most of the features of for free.

This cartoon parodies the iPhone craze pretty accurately. Note that before the iPhone, people were cavemen. American society can barely remember what life was like before the iPhone came into their lives.

I bought my iPhone for legitimate reasons, so I could get my email on my phone, not have to buy a new iPod and use applications. If I'm honest though, a tiny part of me did take into consideration how cool I would look with it. I was now part of an exclusive club of iPhone owners, the most trendy phone on the planet. I could finally play Words with Friends, discuss new apps and send Emojis. Now I am third tier in the iPhone owner hierarchy behind those who have the 3GS and the 4.

So are all these people rushing to get the new iPhone really interested in its new features, or are they just trying to get into the even cooler iPhone 4 club? And what does it say about our society that people are willing to get rid of a completely fine iPhone 3G or 3GS and pay so much money for the 4?
I think if they were really willing to be honest with themselves, they would have to admit that they don't need the new iPhone. My 3G works just fine. It is an awesome phone that goes beyond anything I could ever possibly need, and I know everyone who has the 3G would also to be able to continue their normal lives even if they didn't get the 4.

But I also know that I turn 21 August 25, and I'm just going to throw it out there that this is pretty much my last big milestone birthday. So if any faithful readers or family members of mine want to send me a special present this year, I definitely wouldn't mind.  



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.