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Is the iPhone 4S the best deal on a new smartphone?

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Time to crunch some numbers

All the excitement about the iPhone 5 can come to a screeching halt when you look at the price tag. It's the same price as the iPhone 4S when it debuted: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for 64GB. But you'll also need to buy a new 2-year agreement with your phone carrier. If you're in the middle of a contract, that's usually not cheap. Check out our Early Termination Fee calculator to see how big the financial hit would be.

But with the advent of the iPhone 5, Apple has also cut the price of its iPhone 4S down to $99. That's a more-than-reasonable cost for an Apple smartphone, especially one that has many of the same features as its new counterpart.

The poor 4S didn't generate too much love among the tech scene when it launched last year, mostly out of disappointment that it wasn't the iPhone 5. However, it still offered customers noticeable improvements in usability over the iPhone 4, and its camera was the best of the day. And if there was no iPhone 5 to compare with, it'd still be a strong contender to rival the other phones on the market. A look at the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 shows most of the same basics, but the iPhone 5's features are a bit sharper and flashier.

Here's where the calculations start to go beyond money. If you're an Apple devotee but don't want to shell out too much cash, the iPhone 4S is still a really solid choice. As usual with Apple, the new processor and operating system may have some initial kinks to be worked out in this first outing. The biggest disadvantage is that you won't have the coveted 4G LTE. If you can live without that feature — and you totally can, depending on how good your carrier is — then save your pennies and get the iPhone 4S.

If you aren't entirely sure that you want to go the Apple route, and the new bells and whistles aren't enough to sway you, then you do still have a great deal at your fingertips. In advance of the iPhone 5 release, Amazon Wireless announced that it would cut the price for the Samsung Galaxy S III phone to $99. Quite frankly, that's an absurdly low price for such a great phone. It has 4G LTE capability, and the popularity among users to back it up. If you're willing to give Android a go, then jump on that deal pronto.

[Image credit: Robert S. Donovan]

This article was written by Anna Washenko and originally appeared on Tecca

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