Apple's large profits are testimony to its power in a market it created six years ago. The lines expected at stores
But if you're reluctant to shell out that kind of cash to AT&T, Sprint, or
Will you be missing out? Mostly at the margins. Another testament to the iPhone's success is that virtually every feature has been mimicked or even one-upped by the competition -- starting with Android phones that now account for about two-thirds of smartphone sales, and lately by some nifty Windows Phones.
Here are three paths to cut costs and still take part in the smartphone revolution, where even camp followers can try out many of the coolest tools:
Try Android or another platform. There is one current iPhone -- well, there will be two next week, but for Apple that was big news.
How to choose? Try reviews and ratings. Consumer Reports, for instance, recommends dozens of Android phones, and ranks both Samsung's Galaxy S4 and its older Galaxy SIII ahead of the iPhone 5, giving each higher marks for messaging and phoning.
Other devices it rates "very good" include the LG Optimus G, the HTC One,
But if you want the smartphone basics -- e-mail, Internet access, apps, and an adequate camera -- and want to save cash, remember that you may not need a top-ranked alternative that's about as costly as a new iPhone.
Consumer Reports also recommends inexpensive Androids from manufacturers such as
One warning: If you look for ratings online, note that specs for the same phone sometimes vary from carrier to carrier. Do your research, shop around, and save.
Stay with iPhone but BYOD. No, that's not a typo for booze. It means "bring your own device," a theme championed lately by T-Mobile -- the last national carrier to start to offer new iPhones -- and by MetroPCS, the prepaid carrier it acquired this year.
BYOD only works if you have an unlocked phone with a SIM card, such as a paid-up AT&T iPhone or a
Every week, about five to 10 customers make the switch at the MetroPCS store at
Lee says smartphone users with a heavy data habit can save about 50 percent by switching to a MetroPCS plan that offers unlimited talk, texts, and data for
Lee says some iPhone owners decide to make the leap to another plaform, lured by bargains such as the Samsung Exhibit, which Metro offers for
One warning: If you look for ratings online, note that specs for the same phone sometimes vary from carrier to carrier.
Apple's own bargains. Starting Friday you can preorder a new iPhone 5C -- essentially a colorful-plastic version of last year's iPhone 5 -- for as little as
Still too much? You can get a new iPhone 4S, with eight gigabytes of memory, free with a two-year contract. You won't count as adventurous, but you'll have access to most of what Apple has invented -- including its new iOS 7 operating system -- without spending hundreds of dollars up front.
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