Why won't I buy an iPhone 5s? Blame Verizon

Faster hardware at the expense of unlimited data is not a choice I should have to make

Oh, the agony! I have an iPhone 4, which is starting to show its age. It's pokier under iOS 7, the battery is starting to hold less charge, and the Home button doesn't always register presses. The iPhone 4 doesn't support Siri, which part of me would like for navigation; although I have the Navigon app that gives voice turn-by-turn directions, it can be clunky when you're entering addresses. Last year's iPhone 5 didn't move me, though I was at that stage with my carrier, Verizon, where I was eligible for a discounted upgrade.

The iPhone 5c announced last week didn't knock my socks off, either, as it's just an iPhone 5 in M&M's-colored polycarbonate shells. But the significantly upgraded hardware and the convenience of the fingerprint-reading Home button of the new iPhone 5s are appealing, and the speedier hardware should give me years of computational legroom. (Although I like the HTC One, the truth is that with a Mac and iPad, it makes sense to stick with an iPhone because of how well iCloud, AirPlay, iTunes, and all of that work together. I've cobbled together a mixed Apple/Android system, but it's not good enough.)

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I can afford the $300 plus $70 in taxes for the subsidized 32GB iPhone 5s model when it goes on sale this Friday, but I still hesitate. Why? Blame Verizon Wireless. I have unlimited data on my iPhone, and I don't want to give that up. The truth is that my average data usage is only about 500MB per month, as I'm on Wi-Fi while at work and at home, so I'm under the 1GB cap that the same-priced new plan would cost. However, I travel a lot at certain times of the year, and my data usage rises noticeably. Plus, iOS 7 allows more activities to happen over cellular networks, so I expect my data usage to increase. Sure, I can turn off most of those activities, but why if I don't have to?

I can't in good conscience pay Verizon any more money than I already do. Carriers charge way too much, and despite their cries of poverty, they make huge profit margins. I'm on a family plan, and several of the members live in or frequent rural areas, thus ruling out T-Mobile and Sprint as realistic carrier options.

AT&T is more plausible as an option, but its data plans are no better than Verizon's, and they'd cost even more than the legacy Verizon plan I get to keep if I upgrade my smartphone (though the legacy plan requires losing unlimited data when I get a new device). In addition, AT&T's coverage in San Francisco's neighborhoods is lousy, so I'd be an unhappy user for voice at least where I live.

So I'm stuck with Verizon. At some point, I'll have to get a new smartphone and lose my unlimited data. I just keep hoping -- vainly, I know -- that the cellular plans in the United States would be less rapacious and the coverage good enough to allow choice. Until then, it feels like I'm losing more than I would gain if I were to switch to the iPhone 5s. I see no reason to do that!

Note to readers: BizTech Magazine has named this blog, as well as my colleague Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog, to its 50 Must-Read IT Blogs list. I'm honored -- thanks!

This article, "Why won't I buy an iPhone 5s? Blame Verizon," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.