Aug 25 2013, 5:59am CDT | by Deidre Richardson
When it comes to smartphones at least, some things never change. Each year, you can expect Apple’s former new iPhone to become part of its inexpensive lineup, passing the time until it is “laid to rest” some three years later. The iPhone 3GS experienced its demise last year, when Apple announced the iPhone 5. At the time, I wondered what would happen to the trusty iPhone 3GS; the answer I discovered was that the iPhone 3GS would become an ideal smartphone for developing markets and countries who wait years before they get access to a $0 phone (not iPhones in general).
By the time some countries receive access to a free iPhone, three years or so have gone by – but those countries eagerly await their time because to them, the iPhone is worth it. The $0 iPhone has become a US exclusive, but only initially. Other countries get their turn, but Apple always remembers that it is an American company and caters to its own first.
It might seem surprising, but the iPhone 3GS is now four years old and back in the news. According to reports this week, AT&T is looking to continue the run of the iPhone 3GS by placing the four-year-old phone on its GoPhone selection list. AT&T is often one to take old phones and place them on the prepaid phone inventory when a smartphone manufacturer stops making the phone and no longer sells it. In this regard, AT&T is doing nothing different.
At the same time, however, keep in mind that the iPhone 3GS, despite its age, still costs $300 off-contract. Can you believe this? Some may see this as a deal, but it is not really. After all, the iPhone 3GS will only run iOS 5 (iOS 6 if you jailbreak it) and, for the same price elsewhere, you could purchase the iPhone 4 and get iOS 6 – not to mention Apple’s “Flyover” map feature. If you are willing to spend $450, you could get the iPhone 4S and experience the best of iOS 7, which is the largest overhaul of iOS to date. In other words, unless you really want an iPhone and cannot afford to spend the money necessary to get a new one, you probably shouldn’t buy this phone.
With the above said, however, I do want to qualify my statements a little. The iPhone 3GS may be the perfect phone for a teenager who wants a phone but does not need the capabilities of the iPhone 5, for example. If you want to get your child an inexpensive phone that comes with an affordable, prepaid plan through AT&T, this phone would be ideal. After all, AT&T’s prepaid plans now provide 2GB of web data for $60 a month, with an additional $10 each month for each extra 1GB of data. This may be the way to teach your child the importance of money and saving for what he or she wants in life.
I have to level with you, though: although most individuals would pay any price to have an Apple iPhone, the same $300 (plus an additional $50) would get you Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone from 2012. Google also provides unlimited photo storage with a Gmail account, not to mention 15GB of free cloud storage in Google Drive as well as its own Google voice phone application that lets you talk for free with a phone number provided by Google.
You could make Wi-Fi calls on your Google Nexus 4 with Google’s own service, not to mention sport the latest Android 4.3 update with your new phone. The iPhone 3GS will only run iOS 5 at the most, considered to be two major updates behind as of next month. If you’re gonna pay $300 for a value smartphone, doesn’t it make sense to get the phone that has the most to offer?
My job every day is to get consumers to “shop Apple,” but this is not really a deal for someone who wants to save money and have the best of both worlds. Only Google’s Nexus 4 offers that – although some would disagree with me because it lacks LTE. You may live in an area where LTE is non-existent, so this may not be a point of contention for you.
Deidre Richardson is a long-time Apple fan and reports passionate about the latest Apple news and rumors.
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