I have a Samsung Galaxy S at the moment, but when my contract ends I'm thinking of switching to Apple. Should I wait for the iPhone 5 to come out or will I be waiting a long time? Do you think I should just get the iPhone 4S?
Also, is there a different phone you'd recommend instead?
Ben Bentley, via email on 28 March, 2012
Our mobile expert says...
Thanks for dropping us a line. These are difficult questions to answer, because no one truly knows when Apple will release its next iPhone. Whether it's actually worth waiting for it to appear is another question altogether, and again it's one that's impossible to answer with any great certainty. There are tons of rumours flying around, but we don't know for sure what the iPhone 5 specifications will be.
When will the iPhone 5 be released?
No one really knows for sure when the iPhone 5 will actually be launched. For the first few years following the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007, a new version was released every summer. This all changed with the launch of the iPhone 4S, which arrived in October last year.
So it's hard to say how long you'd have to wait before getting your hands on an iPhone 5. The general opinion online seems to be that we're looking at another autumn release, maybe September or October.
What will the iPhone 5 be like?
Again, it's hard for us to say whether it's worth waiting, because we don't exactly know what the iPhone 5 will be like. Apple is particularly secretive about new products prior to launch. But we can certainly take an educated guess at some of the features the next iPhone will include.
Bigger screen - Since its original launch in 2007, every new iPhone has had a similar 3.5in touchscreen, but most top-end smartphones now have at least 4.3in displays. Apple has never been one to follow what others do, but as so many of us now want a mobile cinema in our pocket, it's likely the next iPhone will have a much larger screen. One rumour is that the iPhone 5 will boast a 4.6in Retina Display.
Retina display - If our prediction about the iPhone 5 and its bigger display is correct, then it's equally likely to feature an improved Retina Display. Both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S already use this technology, offering screen resolution of 960x640 pixels, while the new iPad delivers an even more impressive 2048x1536. Of course, the iPad has a much larger screen, but it's possible the iPhone 5 will hit somewhere in between.
Better camera - The iPhone 4S has a powerful camera with an eight megapixel lens capturing superb photos with 3264x2448 pixels of detail. This was an improvement on the iPhone 4 and its 5Mp shooter, which in turn was a big step up from the 3.2Mp camera in the iPhone 3GS. If the iPhone 5 follows suit, it could have a 10 or even 12Mp lens - so if you're a keen photographer this might be a key selling point.
4G - It's also likely that the iPhone 5 will reflect the 4G wireless connectivity of the new iPad's highest-spec model. What this means, technically, is that you'd be able to access fourth-generation mobile broadband, which will eventually replace the current 3G networks used by smartphones to get online. However, the UK's 4G network is still under development - so even if the iPhone 5 is 4G compatible, you'll still be using slower 3G mobile internet, at least for a while.
Should I just buy an iPhone 4S?
The iPhone 4S is an incredible smartphone, there's no doubt about that, so if you're a fan of Apple products and you decide not to wait until the iPhone 5 release date - whenever that happens to be - then your iPhone 4S should feel like money well spent.
However, if you're one of those people who pride themselves on always having the latest version of everything, you might decide to hold fire. The iPhone 4S has been around a while, and the iPhone 4 even longer, so Apple will want to impress when it releases the iPhone 5.
It's hard to imagine the next iPhone being anything other than brilliant, but when all is said and done, it will essentially still just be an Apple smartphone running identical software. The only things that will set it apart are the additional features and maybe a faster processor.
So the main question is what's most important to you as a smartphone user. If you're happy with the 3.5in display on the iPhone 4S and can live without an 8Mp camera - which itself is very powerful - then you can't really go wrong buying an iPhone 4S instead of waiting.
On the other hand, you might decide to hang on until the iPhone 5 is launched. But don't forget there are lots of other amazing devices besides the iPhone on the market. Have you considered the Samsung Galaxy S II for instance?
What are some iPhone alternatives?
Apple's iPhone is one of the best smartphones money can buy, but there are lots of others to bear in mind. The Samsung Galaxy S II has been around a while now but still gives even the most recent releases a decent run for their money. Here are some others to consider:
Samsung Galaxy S III - When it is released this year, the Samsung Galaxy S III is likely to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor as one of the most sophisticated mobiles on the market. Online rumours suggest it may include a huge 4.7in touchscreen, superquick 1.5GHz processor and a phenomenal 12Mp camera. This is all pure speculation, but the phone is expected to be launched as early as May 2012.
Sony Xperia S - Another powerful Android smartphone, the Sony Xperia S is a visually stunning device that's perfect for music and video addicts. It has a 4.3in touch display with Sony's Mobile BRAVIA engine for breathtaking colour and clarity. The high-defnition (HD) screen is complemented by two impressive cameras, one being a 12Mp lens capable of shooting video in 1080p (“full HD”) format. .
Motorola Droid RAZR - The "impossibly thin" Motorola Droid RAZR is another super hi-spec smartphone that packs features to rival the iPhone 4S. Slender it may be, but small it is not - you will need to have fists like King Kong to get your whole hand around this thing. But the massive 4.3in screen makes stunning use of Super AMOLED technology - for a responsive, energy-saving display - making it worthy of every millimetre.
The easiest way to find the best mobile phone deal for you is to compare prices and plans online with the free Mobilechoices.co.uk price calculator.