Is the 3GS still a good buy in today's market?

zoebaggins

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
39
0
I recently bought an iPhone 4 and my sisters, who are 14-years-old, are super fascinated by it. My mom, now intrigued as well, wants to get them an iPhone for high school. Problem is, it has to be off-contract since the phones will be put on a prepaid plan.

I managed to get an iPhone 4 16GB for $250 on eBay refurbished but assuming I can't get a deal like that again, it's going to be $500+ to get my sisters an iPhone 4. I know once the iPhone 5 (or whatever the heck it's going to be called) comes out, the 3GS would be exceedingly cheaper.

Given my sister's needs, they'll only use it as a phone, texting, light internet browsing, and probably a few simple games (like Angry Birds or something); they're really easy to please and they're not a bunch of snotty teens. My question now: would they notice a really big difference between the two models? Is it better to just wait it out and get the 4 or will the 3GS suit their needs just fine (considering it's their first smartphone anyway)?

I've looked through the forum and everybody says it's a bad buy if you get it on contract; since this won't be on contract, wondering it it'll make a difference or not.

Any insight would be helpful. :)
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,894
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Boston, MA
I suspect (and hope) Apple stops selling the 3GS once the next iPhone launches, replacing it with the iPhone 4. Assuming they did that, I personally would say the 3GS is NOT a smart buy, unless you can get your hands on a used 32GB one or something. 8GB with today's apps is just incredibly limiting.
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,294
2,201
If you (or your sister) can wait a month, the prices of 3GS and 4 should drop when new iPhone is announced.
 

zoebaggins

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
39
0
I suspect (and hope) Apple stops selling the 3GS once the next iPhone launches, replacing it with the iPhone 4. Assuming they did that, I personally would say the 3GS is NOT a smart buy, unless you can get your hands on a used 32GB one or something. 8GB with today's apps is just incredibly limiting.
32GB?! Apps are that huge? I haven't bothered installing any apps on mine yet, but I didn't think apps would clog that much space...
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,894
3,417
Boston, MA
32GB?! Apps are that huge? I haven't bothered installing any apps on mine yet, but I didn't think apps would clog that much space...
They aren;t THAT huge, but a brand new 3GS only comes in 8GB. Apps, especially if into games at all, are going to eat up 8GB pretty quickly. I have 16GB almost completely full of just apps. A few of those are some larger games (500mb+) but it is not unusual to see 200-300mb apps anymore, especially those where there is one app for every idevice (retina graphics for the 3rd gen iPad tend to take up a lot of space).
 

zoebaggins

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
39
0
If you (or your sister) can wait a month, the prices of 3GS and 4 should drop when new iPhone is announced.
We do have the time to wait and I was intending on waiting a month or two anyway. Just wondering how much cheaper the 4 can get; spending $500 on two phones isn't exactly ideal. I'd get them an Android but they found the interface confusing to use.
 

BiggAW

macrumors 68030
Jun 19, 2010
2,542
171
Connecticut
No. Most of the cost is in the data plan, so buy the most top of the line phone possible. Unless you need a used replacement real quick, and then a used 3GS wouldn't be bad if you get a decent deal on Ebay.
 

zoebaggins

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
39
0
No. Most of the cost is in the data plan, so buy the most top of the line phone possible. Unless you need a used replacement real quick, and then a used 3GS wouldn't be bad if you get a decent deal on Ebay.
Data won't be an issue since they'll be on prepaid; it's only $30 a month for unlimited data and texting.
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,894
3,417
Boston, MA
We do have the time to wait and I was intending on waiting a month or two anyway. Just wondering how much cheaper the 4 can get; spending $500 on two phones isn't exactly ideal. I'd get them an Android but they found the interface confusing to use.
Nothing is confirmed, but I belive the 3GS will be discontinued with the new iPhone, and the 4 will take the 3GS' place and price point.
 

Beeplance

macrumors 68000
Jul 29, 2012
1,548
430
Singapore
Given that apple continues to sell the iPhone 3GS after the intro of 6th gen iPhone, I still think its a remarkable phone with the upgrade to iOS6. My iPhone 3GS is still doing well, & I would highly recommend getting a refurbished 16GB one if u can. Shouldn't be too expensive. Plus apps & games run fine here & battery life is decent too.
 

canucksfan88

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2007
559
62
i would say no. the screen for me is the big difference.
wait a month or a bit and get them an iphone 4.
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,672
6,404
At the iPhone hacks section.
The 3GS lived longer and got support more than any other iphone model before.
I think once the new iphone is out it will go too.
I dont see them carrying the new iphone, 4S, iphone 4 and 3GS still.
 

PaulKemp

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2009
452
45
Norway
Yes, but the 4 doesn't in any way seem like a last gen device. It's still fast, the screen is still very good. The 3GS feels old. Plus, there is the possibility that iOS 6 will probably stomp the performance of 3GS.
 

zoebaggins

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
39
0
Thanks for your help everyone! :D Looks like the iPhone 4 wins. Now to wait patiently for the prices to drop... Also,

What Carrier???
It's T-Mobile's Monthly 4G. I've noticed a lot of people hate T-Mobile but I've been quite happy with it; my area actually gets 4G too.
 

Rocky244

macrumors regular
Jun 14, 2012
162
1
The 3GS may work (actually probably not, it's very slow with any semi recent iOS), but it's 3 years old already. Why would you bother? You can get other smart phones for cheap, and they'll be significantly newer.

And in today's phone world, newer is better. Also, they'll be giving away 4's when the new one comes out. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Edit: I stopped reading half way through the thread and it appears you've already accepted the 4 lol
 
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For 14 yr/old I'd say 3gs would be best. It should be significantly cheaper, is more durable, and... wait for it... possibly faster than the 4. What?! :confused: My iPhone 4 has been pretty slow lately, and from what I've read, the processor is a very small step up from the 3gs to run 4 TIMES THE PIXELS. The retina screen comes with a cost. I won't definitely say the 3gs runs better, but I certainly wouldn't worry about it running worse.

The only thing they won't like is the 3GS has a much poorer camera for all the sexting they will be doing in HS /kidding (hopefully)
 

ThatsMeRight

macrumors 68020
Sep 12, 2009
2,257
124
32GB?! Apps are that huge? I haven't bothered installing any apps on mine yet, but I didn't think apps would clog that much space...
No, they are not that huge but remember that you don't get 8 GB. It's formatted so the actual capacity is slightly less. You'll also lose some capacity because of iOS and the default apps that come with it (you can't delete the default apps).

I'd look for a 16 GB model if you want to get a 3GS. Even better: wait until september, the iPhone 4 will probably get a price drop (it'll probably be just as expensive as the 3GS is today).

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For 14 yr/old I'd say 3gs would be best. It should be significantly cheaper, is more durable, and... wait for it... possibly faster than the 4. What?! :confused: My iPhone 4 has been pretty slow lately, and from what I've read, the processor is a very small step up from the 3gs to run 4 TIMES THE PIXELS. The retina screen comes with a cost. I won't definitely say the 3gs runs better, but I certainly wouldn't worry about it running worse.

The only thing they won't like is the 3GS has a much poorer camera for all the sexting they will be doing in HS /kidding (hopefully)
iPhone 4 actually runs better. The GPU is indeed the same, but the iPhone 4 has got a higher-clocked CPU and a different architecture CPU (so double speed boost, really) and it's got 512 MB of RAM (iPhone 3GS has 256 MB RAM). RAM is crucial on iOS devices if you look at the performance.
 

cambookpro

macrumors 603
Feb 3, 2010
6,463
1,909
United Kingdom
For 14 yr/old I'd say 3gs would be best. It should be significantly cheaper, is more durable, and... wait for it... possibly faster than the 4. What?! :confused: My iPhone 4 has been pretty slow lately, and from what I've read, the processor is a very small step up from the 3gs to run 4 TIMES THE PIXELS. The retina screen comes with a cost. I won't definitely say the 3gs runs better, but I certainly wouldn't worry about it running worse.

The only thing they won't like is the 3GS has a much poorer camera for all the sexting they will be doing in HS /kidding (hopefully)
Seems weird, but I found the 4 to be more durable. I dropped my 3GS once, and the screen shattered, but with the 4, it's perfect.