Should you purchase the original iPhone or the "S" model?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: August 10, 2013

On the news side of PhoneDog today, our own Alex Wagner reported on the circulating rumor that the next iPhone is set to be announced on September 10th. If Apple is sticking to any sort of pattern that it has been the past four years or so, we can expect to see something with a name like "iPhone 5S" be announced during the event. If recent rumors and leaks prove to be true and we do indeed see an iPhone 5S, this would be the third "S" phone to hit the market. So what makes an "S" model different?

Most people already know that the "S" models of iPhones have (mostly) the same housing design with upgraded internal specs. These better interal specs tend to include a better camera, a faster processor, better battery and more storage. So how do you decide whether to get the upgraded version or the original? Even if you've waited this long before considering upgrading or purchasing iPhones, there is still one major benefit of waiting a year before making the final decision before deciding which model to purchase: $100 price drop. Generally when the "S" model comes out, the previous year's model drop a heaping $100, which would make the 16GB iPhone 5 $99 on contract for most carriers.

There has been plenty of debate already over what makes the original better than the "S" or vise versa, and as always the end result is entirely up to each person's preferences. In this article I'm going to explain some of the benefits of both versions, and what's important to consider when looking to upgrade.

Let's start by looking at the original. The original model is the model that usually differs both in design and specs and features a complete overhaul over the previous tier of phones, usually regarding the material the phone is made out of and the shape of the device. Here is a comparison of all original iPhone models over the years (iPhone 2G, 3G, 4 and 5):

One benefit of choosing the original design, especially once the phone is newly released, is that you're one of the first to show off this new design. Not only that, but as mentioned before, this phone also features a spec upgrade from the last model released. You're getting the best of both worlds by choosing to go with the original right off the bat, but a lot of people still wonder whether they should wait until the "S" model presumably makes its debut a year later. Could you wait another year before getting a new phone? Should you wait another year?

The biggest downside to waiting for the "S" model is just that - you have to wait. You know it's coming, but you also know it's going to be a better version of the phone you could purchase now. It won't look any different, but it will certainly perform better, and who knows what extra goodies the next version can come up with? With the iPhone 3GS we were introduced to the ability to video record, the iPhone 4S brought Siri and an 8MP camera over the 5MP the iPhone 4 featured; so what will the next "S" model feature? So many unanswered questions, but by waiting you'll be able to fairly compare the two and figure out which one would be best for you.

If you're the type of person who likes to be the first to get their hands on a truly new device, looks and all, then the original might be for you. After a year the design becomes stale as we've already seen it before, and the only thing to really look forward to is a performance boost. However, if you're the kind of person who wants to get the most features packed into the same device, or would rather save $100 on the original model, I would recommend waiting for the "S" variant.

Either way, one of the benefits of the iPhone is that Apple has a good track record of taking care of older phone models for at least three years after their release date, so even if you do choose to purchase the original after the "S" is released, you should still be able to receive major software updates until it's time for you to upgrade again anyway. It really boils down to whether you prefer to be first, faster, or save more money. Both models are good in their own respective ways.

So, at the risk of opening up a gigantic can of worms, it's your turn readers: Which model do you prefer? Do you prefer the original models or the "S" variant that follows a year later? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Image via iMore, Gadget Review