I do only buy the S variants.
iPhone 4: Antennagate, Recall
iPhone 5: Power Button Recall, Battery Recall
iPhone 6: Touch Disease
iPhone 7: ???
There was no recall for the iPhone 4 'Attennagate' and it did not affect everyone. They gave out a free case. The power button issue existed with iPhone 4/4s as well, but Apple only fixed it for those with an iPhone 5. The touch disease issue is too new to figure out what is going on with that. It could be a bad batch of screens, which comes from a supply and not Apple directly.
I have had more issues with 'S' variants than the non-'S'.
iPhone 3G: 0 Replacements.
iPhone 3GS: 3 Replacements. 1 Defective battery, 1 Defective screen, 1 Defective GPS chipset.
iPhone 4: 0 Replacements.
iPhone 4s: 5 Replacements. 3 Yellow screen, 1 Defective Battery, 1 broken power button.
iPhone 5: 0 Replacements.
iPhone 5s: 1 Replacement. Broken home button.
iPhone 6: 1 Replacement. Broken home button.
iPhone 6s: 4 Replacements: 2 Uneven backlight, 1 defective battery, 1 broken home button.
iPhone 7Plus: 0 Replacements thus far. Have a slightly uneven screen but hardly noticeable unless on a solid white background.
My first MacBook Air was the first-gen 11". Still going strong, no real problems besides age related
To make a blanket statement to never buy first-gen products is a little much. Cars are one thing. That is common, but not phones, computers and other gadgets.