The iPad 3 isn't the only Apple product creating a buzz. Hype about the iPhone 5 has also begun to surface, and some 4S owners may be out of luck in terms of upgrades from cellphone carriers. No official release date has been set yet for the next generation smartphone, but rumors have said that the iPhone will be seeing a summer or fall 2012 launch.
However, this could put users that rely on contract upgrades at a disadvantage. Those with the iPhone 4S may not be eligible for an upgrade when the new phone is released. The current device, which was released in October 2011, has only been available to users for a few months, and cellphone contracts usually require at least a year to expire.
The upgrade issue will impact Verizon customers the most, since AT&T users are able to switch out their old phones after 12 to 18 months. Those subscribed to Verizon service require a year and eight months of usage before they are eligible for a new device.
This could result in some flak from 4S owners looking to possess the latest and most up-to-date version of Apple's smartphone. According to the iPhone 5 News Blog, Apple would be well off to offer owners of the Siri-enabled device a waiver for these limiting upgrade policies, allowing them to purchase the iPhone 5 at subsidized prices after its release.
After all, Apple would want nothing more than to have iPhone 4S users spend even more money to upgrade to the iPhone 5 after only 12 months (or even less if the new iPhone is released in June), wrote iPhone 5 News writer Michael Nace.
Although a waiver seems like a logical solution, cellphone carriers usually take the brunt of the subsidy cost blows, not Apple.
But the iPhone manufacturer may be just as profitable without the aid of 4S owners. Those with older versions of the smartphone will be eligible for an upgrade, and Android-converters may also play a role in new iPhones sales, according to the iPhone 5 News Blog.
Apple has sold more than 54 million iPhones since the release of the 4S, most of which are presumably the 4S. This excludes a lot of potential buyers when it comes to upgrades, but a summer iPhone 5 release could boost sales of the new phone in an unexpected way.
In fact, considering what's at stake here, it might even be more of an incentive for Apple to release the iPhone 5 in June in order to minimize 4S sales in 2012, since, as we now know, the more people who buy the 4S, the less people will be able to afford the 5, Nace wrote.