Reasons why buying an iPhone 3GS now isn’t a good idea

By Gary Johnson - Jul 23, 2011

There has been speculation recently that Apple could be about to release two handsets in the coming months. An affordable iPhone has been rumored to be released alongside the iPhone 5, and could even be a prepaid iPhone 3GS. But there are reasons why buying an iPhone 3GS now is not a good idea.

Whether Apple do bring out a prepaid version of the 3GS in the coming months or not, consumers in the US can currently pick one up at a low price from Apple and AT&T. It has been a good move by the companies as AT&T get customers to sign up to its more expensive data plans, while Apple can get access to more price savvy consumers. But according to Roger Cheng of Cnet it may not be a wise move for the customer.

The device is now over two years old, and the cell phone market has evolved at an amazing rate over the last couple of years. It has a slower processor than many mid-range smartphones now available on the market, and compared to the fastest models available it will be painfully slow.

When it was first launched the S stood for speed, but it runs at around 600MHz and compared to the year old iPhone 4 which runs at 1GHz. Then you look at some of the top Android handsets with their dual-core processors you realize how far smartphones have come in two years.

Being an older model it can’t take advantage of features such as FaceTime, and when iOS 5 is released later this year it could struggle with the new software.

iPhone’s remain hugely sought after by the consumer as AT&T has recently announced it activated 3.6 million iPhones during the last quarter. Verizon Wireless hasn’t actually commented on how many iPhone 4s they have shifted so far, they did sell a total of 2.3million smartphones during the same period.

The upfront purchase price is obviously much less, but consumers will end up paying the same monthly charges during the two year contract. By the time users finish their contract they will be left with a four year old handset.

Obviously there is a stigma with owning an iPhone and buying the iPhone 3GS will be ideal for some, but when the iPhone 5 is released we may see the iPhone 4 being discounted. Even though the handset is over a year old now it’s still a worthy handset, and could be ideal for the price conscious consumer out there.

Would you consider getting an iPhone 3GS now?

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  • I think this article takes this a little too far. I agree that getting a 3GS with the 5 on the horizon isn’t the wiser thing to do. However, you make the 3GS sound painfully slow, a fact which I can attest against.

    I was given a free 3GS by Apple three months ago because they couldn’t find a replacement 3G for me. My parents both have iPhone 4’s.

    In all honesty, there is almost 0 speed difference between the 3GS and the 4, and both are smoother than any Android phone. In fact, because the 3GS’s resolution is half that of the iPhone 4’s, you do lose quality but you gain a ton of speed especially in 3D-intensive applications. I get on average double the FPS of the iPhone 4 when 3D benchmarking. Launching apps lags by half a second IF THAT on the 3GS as compared to the 4.

    Plus, I have almost no lag or stuttering in UI animations, which the 4 does under iOS 4.3.x. It’s a well known issue. And my battery can last too. I have gone FOUR days on one charge. On a 3GS. The video reviews I have seen of iOS 5 beta running on the iPhone 3GS is flawless, in some cases even faster than the iPhone 4. Plus, we 3GS users will get most (if not all) features of iOS 5, unlike the 3G on iOS 4.

    As for Facetime, who needs it when I’ve got Skype? I can make video calls over Wifi, 3G, and Edge if I want to. From a 3GS. It’s a perfect alternative.

    The only thing I admit is inferior to the iPhone 4 is the camera because of the older lens technology and lack of flash. Even then I can stand up to the iPhone 4 with the Pro HDR app, among others.

    It may be old, but the iPhone 3GS still puts up a great fight.