HEY CHIEF HEATHEN! Should I buy a new iPhone?

No, not yet.

Apple is widely believe to be preparing the next iPhone (and let’s be clear; they won’t call it the iPhone 5 — expect it to be “the New iPhone” just like the 3rd iteration of the iPad was simply “the new iPad”) for release very soon. While they’re notoriously tricksy and secretive, we can divine at least a little information from past behavior and market realities.

Above all, Apple is certain to want at least one if not more than one new product in hand going into the holiday quarter.

Second, we can look at the release dates and “life spans” of the prior iPhone versions:

Iteration Release Date Duration to next version
Original iPhone 6/29/2007 378 days, or 1.04 years
iPhone 3G 7/11/2008 343 days, or 0.94 years
iPhone 3GS 6/19/2009 370 days, or 1.01 years
iPhone 4 6/24/2010 477 days, or 1.31 years
iPhone 4S 10/14/2011 ?

Third, we can pay attention, just a little, to the rumors circulating now about a September release date.

Many times when we try to read the tea leaves, we get conflicting information.

This is not one of those times:

  • To get product in the channel for Christmas, Apple needs to release the phone in September.
  • The past release cycles strongly suggest Apple prefers to have a model be top dog for about year — n.b. that the 4S release date was basically acknowledged as a delay, and that Apple’s intent was probably to release the 4S in the summer as well. The 4S’ release date? Just about a year ago.
  • Finally, actual rumors are circulating that also say “September.”

So, your iPhone is messing up? Battery life sucks? Screen broken? Tough it out. Mrs Heathen’s battery doesn’t last a whole day anymore, and my home button only works about half the time. But neither of us are at all interested in buying a 4S within 60 days of its replacement, and neither should you be.

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