Many consumers swear by the handheld electronic device for web browsing, texting, phone calls, and numerous applications (Angry Birds, anyone?). If you’re considering a purchase of the new iPhone, there are a number of factors to consider before investing in this popular technology.

#1: Your Carrier

Not all carriers support Apple’s iPhone; in fact, only three major United States carriers can sell and support the smartphone, including Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. Although this may seem like a small number of choices, you should be aware that AT&T used to have a monopoly on the iPhone as the only carrier. If you have a different carrier currently, you should research each iPhone carrier’s service bundles. Each company offers different incentives to lure customers in; you need to choose the best option for your personal tastes.

#2: Contracts

The iPhone is typically sold with a two year contract; agreeing to the contract allows you to purchase the phone at a substantially lower price, usually starting at $199.00. However, it is possible to buy an iPhone referred to as “unlocked” at a higher price to avoid the two year contract. How much is the unlocked phone? It is possible to start the purchase at $649.00. Ouch. Most consumers agree to the two year contract since they will need the carrier anyway to send and receive phone calls and data. Speaking of data….

#3: Service Bundles

Long gone are the days of a simple cell phone calling plan which would normally offer a set of minutes per month. Currently, iPhone owners need to purchase and maintain monthly service bundles. These will commonly include a set of monthly calling minutes, a text quantity, and data usage. In the early days of the iPhone, data usage, such as Internet browsing, was sold as an unlimited monthly charge. However, as more people jumped on the smartphone craze, cellular sites were being overloaded with data needs which caused slow downloads and dropped signals. Cell phone carriers changed their unlimited bundles to a variety of different data quantities, from servicing a rare user to a heavy download enthusiast. Naturally, the more data usage chosen will cost the consumer more on a monthly basis.

#4: Model Type

Many cell phone carriers offer a number of different iPhone models, such as 3GS, 4, and 4S. The older models tend to be much more inexpensive than the newly released versions; be aware that the older models may have software issues somewhere along the two year contract. If you cannot update your software on your older iPhone, many applications will not work. In the long run, it is a better decision to pay for the newer iPhone version to secure software support from Apple.

#5: Protection

The iPhone’s brilliant touch screen will not look or function well if there is a large crack or shattering across the glass surface. Although the phone is sturdy, new owners should purchase a strong, protective cover or shell to house the device in case of an accidental drop. Over the course of two years, it is best to protect the investment as much as possible.