Last remaining reason to order an iPhone 5 disappears
Taking so long to ship, it won't even be fashionable
Opinion OK, so it's well known that buying an iPhone 5 is a foolish decision if you want a fully-featured smartphone with any useful new technology in it (the new Apple phone isn't one, and doesn't have any). Also Steve Jobs actually died as the last one came out, so his followers would in many ways be disrespecting his memory by upgrading. It's surely too soon - it may always be too soon - for anyone with good taste to start suggesting that Tim Cook could possibly fill the shoes of the departed master, and purchasing an iPhone 5 does rather imply an endorsement of that position.
Nonetheless, there remains the fashionability/zeitgeist/hipness argument. One can't deny that right now, if you could get hold of an iPhone 5, you would be the cynosure of all your friends, office colleagues etc. Your opinion, perhaps unusually, would be eagerly sought at work, in the pub, around the dinner table etc.
Surely that's worth coughing up a few hundred measly dollars (or equivalent) for? Especially as you also get a new phone, albeit one selectively crippled by its makers in order to enrich themselves at your expense. Many of us, frankly, don't get people paying attention to our thoughts all that often: in a world populated by sometimes dismissive co-workers, pals, bosses, significant others, parents, children etc, it might be nice to have a little boost to the old sense of self-worth. And a few people avidly spotting the latest Cupertino handset in one's sweaty paw, followed by eager questions as to whether it really is any good or not, might offer just such a little shot in the arm of self-esteem.
That's why it would be in some ways to miss the point, to suggest waiting for one's iPhone 5. If you wait until it can be had on a reasonable contract at a reasonable price (or until reasonable 4G coverage has been achieved, or until iOS 6 Maps is reasonably good, etc) ... well. At that point nobody you know will care, or seek your opinion, or in any way big you up because you have the latest iPhone. Yes, you'll save money on the actual purchase, but you might spend/lose it all again in some other (possibly less successful) attempt to get people to pay attention to you.
So, given that there is literally no other good reason to buy an iPhone 5 apart from its temporary and rapidly-decaying attention grabbing qualities, the time to get one (if you're going to) is surely now - without the loss of a single moment.
Unfortunately you can't. Delays to shipping dates have slipped in many regions to as far off as five weeks: and by that point the hysteria will be over and you will not get your ego-boosting halo effect. Exceptions to this exist - readers tell us that in some towns and cities one need not queue for days nor order online to get hold of the latest Jesus Mobe (typically the best move is to head for a cell-operator or other reseller retail outlet, as opposed to an Apple Store). But in general you will have to commit an absurd amount of time, probably a prohibitive amount if you have a full-time job, to get hold of an iPhone 5 at all soon.
In general, then, you will have to wait - and if you wait, you won't get the only iPhone USP, the attention-grabbing pixie dust.
So basically the window where it could make any sense to buy an iPhone 5 has already passed: so, don't buy one. It now makes more sense to wait until the next one comes out. ®