3 ways to save $300 with the iPhone 4SThe early numbers are in, and they are impressive. Apple (AAPL) has sold more than 4 million iPhone 4S handsets during its first three days on the market. So much for the sourpusses who lamented the Mac maker's inability to release an iPhone 5 ahead of the holiday shopping season, eh?

Breaking Records but Not Budgets

This isn't mere fan enthusiasm. Last summer, Apple needed three weeks to sell 3 million iPhone 4 handsets. Fifteen months later, the Mac maker is once more breaking records -- only this time, the economic picture is bleaker. The message? Populist rebels and well-heeled Wall Streeters may disagree on just about everything else, but they both need their iFix.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's also an iBargain. Buying a 4S could actually be a smart money move. Unlike past iPhones, the 4S isn't just another well-designed handset -- this one promises tangible productivity gains that could, in fact, save some serious moola.

1. Free texts = up to $200 a year in savings
Subtle changes have long been an Apple forte. A slightly brighter or larger screen. A clearer app navigation menu. A sleeker curvature of a new handset or Mac. The late Steve Jobs saw art in such minimalist changes, and that's what users get with iMessage in iOS 5.

The app itself doesn't look different. The same green dialog bubble that's been common to all iterations of the iPhone remains on the 4S. But click through to the app and you'll see two types of messages. Green, for texts delivered via a carrier network -- which aren't free -- and blue, for texts sent via iMessage to other iOS users, which look like email to AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Sprint Nextel (S). Texts sent via iMessage are free.

And that adds up. Carriers tend to either charge $20 or more for unlimited texting plans, or $0.10 apiece for every text sent. You can only use iMessage to send messages to people who have another iOS device, but if you can move even half of your instant messaging to iMessage, it could cut your telephone bill by $100 to $200 a year.

2. Free directions = $100 savings
Global positioning systems have been under attack ever since Google (GOOG) brought mapping software to smartphones, but it's the 4S that may have delivered the deathblow. Voice-activation powered by Siri allows U.S. users to verbally ask for directions.

Admittedly, we haven't seen this work on a mass scale yet, but the idea is incredibly powerful. And if it does work as advertised, the hassle of entering an address in the iPhone's "Maps" app goes away. No more looking at the screen, either: Siri does the work instead.

And the savings? Let's say at least $100, which is the bottom-line price I found for Garmin's (GRMN) cheapest nuvi GPS devices sold through Amazon.com.

3. Smarter shopping = on-the-spot savings
Localization has been part of the iPhone ethos for a while now. So much so, in fact, that both Apple and Google got into trouble some months ago when media reports broke the news of how both iOS and Android devices were collecting location data without our explicit consent as users.

The controversy may be over, but localization is still a hot issue. Most iPhone apps use it to a degree. For instance, Facebook and Foursquare famously allow users to "check in" where they are. On Foursquare, the ability to show ourselves in this way has given rise to on-the-spot offers. American Express (AXP) is participating in the program as a credit card partner.

Now imagine what happens if you don't need to check-in before an offer shows up in your notifications, organized neatly on your home screen. True, this isn't available yet, but it shouldn't take much work for Yelp to make it happen. Just update the app to "push" notifications when you're near a deal. The built-in GPS would do the rest.

Have another smart money tip for new iPhone users? Leave it in the comments box below.

Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T, Amazon.com, Apple, and Google, as well as creating an iron condor position in Garmin, a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing a covered strangle position in American Express.

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Consumers are finally noticing that AT&T and Verizon = The Most Expensive Wireless Plans in America. We know where Verizon and AT&T (both in the top 5 for corporate lobbying) get all that money to run commercials 24x7, pay out huge “fat cat” executive bonuses and hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to push the U.S. market into a wireless industry duopoly -- the American consumer.

Taking into account the whole U.S. market, a combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would increase the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), a widely accepted measure of market concentration, to 3,216 from 2,848, according to a Bloomberg analysis. Any score above 2,500 indicates a highly concentrated market, and any increase of more than 200 points clearly enhances market power, according to federal guidelines.

October 18 2011 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In a poll that asked 4,040 smartphone users how many dropped calls they had experienced in a three-month period, AT&T — carrier of Apple's iPhone and iPad mobile devices — came in dead last among the country's four largest carriers.

October 18 2011 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sprint is the only U.S. carrier to offer new and existing customers the iPhone experience with unlimited data plans starting at $79.99 per month. Sprint Nextel has been recognized as a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion — one of only 40 companies to have earned this distinction this year. To qualify for inclusion on this elite list, the companies must not only excel within their own industry, but also stand out among leading brands in 12 major industries evaluated by J.D. Power and Associates.

October 18 2011 at 11:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Internet and technology are amazing things and there is no scarcity of stupid people. The author is the best example of dump a__ having access to technology and Internet as well. But this dump a-- happened to a journalist too.
Sir, respectfully, you are a fool.
I will tell you a better way of saving $300 and more, it by NOT buying iPhone......

October 18 2011 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Waze (www.waze.com) is a free app for iOS and Android (and BB) devices that offers free turn-by-turn navigation as well as real-time traffic and road alerts from a massive user community, plus it's actually really fun to use.
Try it out! The more people that use it, the better it becomes for everybody.

October 18 2011 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You, sir, are an idiot. Google delt the deathblow to GPS systems a long, long time ago. It outdoes anything included in stock iOS 5, by including voice turn by turn directions, and has done so for many years.

You also still need a texting plan, it would be silly not to have one.

Stupid stupid stupid

October 18 2011 at 3:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How come illegal aliens can afford iPhones but most US tax payers can't? Is Obama buying iPhones for them in exchange for their vote and solar job in 20112?

October 18 2011 at 1:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to daballofire's comment
Rocko Smith

Well lets see. 1)Free wellfare. Many illegals claim they do not know who the father of their children is. They can get up to $500 per child. 2) Free medical care. They have no obligation to pay back the hospital bills as they can not be tracked without a valid SSI number. 3) Free school and college. Look up the Dream Act. They claim their parents are dead and receive free college tuition.

That is how they have iPhones my friend. We, the legal taxpayers are idiots I guess.

October 18 2011 at 4:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This article did not provide, as the title would indicate, three different ways to save $300. The title should read "How to save $300..." to be accurate. I'd also argue that #3 doesn't count, since you can do that with any smartphone. Regardless, I'm so excited for my new iPhone!

October 18 2011 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MediaProofreader's comment

The things you can buy with money are not worth owning and the things worth owning you can't buy no matter how rich you are. I would try not to be 'so excited' over things that are worthless - but that is just me.

October 18 2011 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Boost Mobile. Simple phone with navigation. $60. a month with unlimited everything. Dont fall for the hype people. Save your money for something more important like food and rent.

October 18 2011 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The best way to save money is not to buy the overpriced crap. You get ripped off buying then you get ripped again by the phone companies. If you really want to throw your money away send it to me.

October 18 2011 at 10:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply