Lots of iPhone 4S buyers paid early termination fees for their new phones

Dec 1, 2011
Tech

The iPhone 4S costs, at minimum, $199 with a new two-year contract to customers wanting to purchase one – more if you buy the phone without or with only a partial carrier subsidy when you’re not eligible for an upgrade. But despite the high potential cost of the device, lots of customers wanted their iPhones […]

The iPhone 4S costs, at minimum, $199 with a new two-year contract to customers wanting to purchase one – more if you buy the phone without or with only a partial carrier subsidy when you’re not eligible for an upgrade.

But despite the high potential cost of the device, lots of customers wanted their iPhones so badly that they were willing to pay for the devices plus the cost of an early termination fee, potentially raising the price tag of the iPhone 4S much higher than $199. (It’s worth noting that there are also $299 and $399 models of the iPhone 4S available.)

According to a story from AllThingsD, a new survey conducted by a new consumer research group, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, found that 45 percent of iPhone 4S buyers purchasing the phone between Oct. 31 and Nov. 10 had broken a cellular service contract to do it. Of those, 73 percent said their early termination fee for breaking that contract was more than $100. The maximum cost of an early termination fee from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon is $350.

At the least, that jacks the cost of the iPhone 4S up by $100, and that’s not counting the cost of the new contract those users signed when they purchased those iPhones. But that’s apparently the power of Apple’s latest device – even without being more than an incremental update to the iPhone 4, with the same exterior design and an interior uptick in power, people are willing to shell out big for Apple’s smartphones.

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CIRP surveyed 504 subjects who met its criteria as iPhone 4S buyers, out of an initial 4,632 people polled. The survey also found that about 30 percent of iPhone 4S purchasers were upgrading from the iPhone 4, which was only a little more than a year old at the time of the 4S’ release. This means many of those customers were definitely paying more than $199 for the iPhone 4S because they weren’t eligible for an upgrade, unless they were leaving one cellular carrier for another.

In fact, the survey found that 37 percent of respondents did switch carriers to get hold of the iPhone 4S. And 71 percent upgraded from another iPhone, while 18 percent converted from another smartphone. The vast majority of iPhone 4S buyers surveyed, 75 percent, got their iPhone 4S through a carrier rather than by purchasing it through Apple, and 43 percent of buyers opted to buy online.

CIRP’s findings are pretty telling if they hold true for the majority of iPhone 4S buyers. They show that when it comes to new Apple devices, even those that aren’t expected to perform as well, customers are willing to do just about whatever it takes to get ahold of them.

One wonders just how crazily popular the iPhone 5 – a full update to Apple’s handset – will be next year.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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