Without interrupts, your program's design is considerably restricted, as it must continually poll the serial port at very short, regular intervals. This makes it nearly impossible, for example, to use SoftwareSerial to receive GPS data and parse it into a usable form. Your program is too busy trying to keep up with NMEA characters as they arrive to actually spend time assembling them into something meaningful. This is where AFSoftSerial's (and NewSoftSerial's) interrupt architecture is a godsend. Using interrupt-driven RX, your program fills its buffer behind the scenes while processing previously received data.