Still point to buy 3GS?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Mattprice, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Mattprice, Sep 23, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011

    Mattprice macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Hi guys,
    Recently a deal popped up for a free iPhone 3GS for £25 per month and it real tempts me!
    My question is, is there still point to buy the 3GS, as it will soon be 2 model behind with the iPhone 5 coming out?

    Also, what is the difference between the iPhone 4 and 3GS ?


  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    They still work reasonably well, but there is a reason they are giving them away
  3. bassett700 macrumors member


    Jan 8, 2009
    Dingus, VA
  4. BA Baracus macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Interesting thread.

    Not directly answering your question but in the last 6 months got a free 3GS for the wife on O2 - £21.50 per month.

    Now I see O2 are doing a free refurb 3GS for £13.50 per month (Apple refurb so quality will be very good), albeit for less mins/texts/data allowance. I am very tempted by this as I barely use a mobile phone.

    Wife is delighted with the 3GS and I know it is 2 years old technology etc etc but it is still fast and does all the things she wants to do.

    TBH I dont see much advantage in spending hundreds more to get the iPhone 4, although I am sure the retina display is great.

    Good luck.
  5. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Does not compute
  6. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Phone is free
    Plan is cheap
  7. h1r0ll3r macrumors 68040


    Dec 28, 2009
    A lot. The 3GS is still a decent phone but it'll be outdated within the next couple weeks. If you're in no need of having the latest and greatest then the 3GS should suffice.

    Big thing you'll miss out on is the FaceTime camera and the Retina Display of the iPhone 4. Both very nice little features but you could easily do without them. If the deal suits your needs then go for it.
  8. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    Dont do it, wait till you see what the next iphone is all about.
    I wouldnt buy a 2-3 year old model where you can get the new one for a little more and will be well worth it.
  9. Agent-P macrumors 68030


    Dec 5, 2009
    The Tri-State Area
    Once the iPhone 5 comes out, the price for the iPhone 4 will drop (not as low as the 3GS you're seeing, but still it will drop). But it also depends on how you plan on using the iPhone. A little anecdotal thing: I currently have a 3GS. Great phone, no denying that. When I upgrade to the iPhone 5, my sister will be take my 3GS. She isn't too tech savvy, she doesnt want the latest and greatest, she just wants something that will let her to check Facebook, browse the web, and use the occasional app. For her needs the 3GS is perfect. No need for her to go out and buy the iPhone 4 or 5. So depending in your needs, the 3GS could suffice. But personally, at the bare minimum I'd get the iPhone 4 (just because my needs from a smartphone are a bit more demanding than what the 3GS offers).
  10. Qoo macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2010
    Totally agree :D
  11. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Encino, CA
    I have a friend who just bought a iPhone 3GS, I mean if you want an iPhone for cheap, then I guess that's still a good reason to buy it.

    Differences between iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS:

    With even a quick glance, major differences between the iPhone 4 models -- the iPhone 4 (GSM) and iPhone 4 (CDMA) -- and the iPhone 3GS, the previously released iPhone, are readily apparent. Apple considers the iPhone 4 to be the "biggest leap since the original iPhone," and it certainly has a number of major changes that warrant detailed evaluation.

    The iPhone 4 (GSM model on the left) uses an entirely new all stainless steel body design with sharper, more angular lines and a thin "metal band" that wraps around the sides of the phone. This metal band has integrated mobile and data antennas and was reportedly designed to improve reception compared to earlier iPhone models.

    The iPhone 4 has a high-resolution 960x640 at 326 ppi 3.5", IPS, LED-backlit display with an 800:1 contrast ratio that Apple refers to as a "retina display."

    The company uses this name because 326 pixels per inch (ppi) is said to exceed the 300 ppi that the human eye is able to differentiate individual pixels from twelve inches away. As a result, content on the display should look more like that in a printed book than on a computer screen.

    Although some have taken Apple to task for this claim, and instead have stated a more accurate "retina display" calculation would be 477 ppi -- and others have defended the company's claim as well -- magazines are commonly printed at 300 dpi and the iPhone 4 display is decidedly high-quality for a mobile device.

    The iPhone 4 has a chemically hardened "aluminosilcate" glass front over both the display and although it was originally announced on June 7, 2010, with a white or black frame and a chemically hardened white or black glass back as well, the white model had numerous delays and did not ship until April 28, 2011.

    By contrast, the iPhone 3GS (left) uses a largely plastic design with a more prominent metal "lip" around the edge of the front and has a black or white plastic back. iPhone 3GS models with a white plastic back -- discontinued configurations with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage -- still have a black front.

    The back of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are considerably different beyond material -- glass and plastic, respectively -- as the iPhone 4 is flat and the iPhone 3GS is rounded and tapered toward the edges. The iPhone 4 is a great deal thinner as well, 0.37 inches (9.3 mm) compared to 0.48 inches (12.3 mm) for its predecessor. If you're keeping score, the iPhone 4 is reported to weigh 2 grams more than the iPhone 3GS but this is unlikely to be perceptible.

    For the benefit of future readers, when such identification information may be useful, the model numbers printed on the back are different as well. The standard iPhone 3GS is model number A1303, the mainland China-only iPhone 3GS without Wi-Fi is A1325, the GSM-equipped iPhone 4 is A1332, and the CDMA-equipped iPhone 4 is A1349.

    The display on the iPhone 3GS also is 3.5 inches but is only 320x480 at 163 ppi with a 200:1 contrast ratio, noticeably lower resolution than the 960x640 at 326 ppi display on the iPhone 4. Both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 have "oleophobic" oil repellent coatings on the front, but the iPhone 4 has the same coating on the glass back as well.

    The audio visual capabilities of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS are a major point of differentiation. The iPhone 4 has dual cameras -- a 5 megapixel HD video/still camera (720p at 30 FPS) with a "backside illuminated sensor," a 5X digital zoom, and an LED flash on the rear and a VGA quality video/still camera on the front designed for video conferencing over a Wi-Fi network with Apple's included "FaceTime" application. The iPhone 4 has dual noise-canceling microphones as well.

    The iPhone 3GS, by comparison, has a single 3.0 megapixel camera with VGA video recording at 30 FPS and a single microphone. Both models have autofocus, macro, and white balance support, and "tap to focus" features although the iPhone 4 is reported to have a superior macro mode. The iPhone 3GS has basic "video editing" capabilities -- you can cut the beginning and end of a clip "in camera" -- but the iPhone 4 goes much further. When paired with a new iMovie application -- available for purchase separately for US$4.99 -- the iPhone 4 supports a variety of more full featured video editing and effects capabilities.

    Internally, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS models are considerably different as well. The iPhone 4 models have an "Apple A4" processor of unspecified speed and 512 MB of RAM and the iPhone 3GS has an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600 MHz (downclocked from 800 MHz) and 256 MB of RAM.

    The iPhone 3GS supports 3G UMTS/HSDPA networks and the iPhone 4 (GSM) supports UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA networks for compatibility with more cellular carriers worldwide. Both the iPhone 3GS and the GSM-equipped iPhone 4 support the slower GSM/EDGE network as well. The iPhone 4 (CDMA), on the other hand, instead supports CDMA (EV-DO, Rev. A, 800 MHz, 1900 MHz).

    Both the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 models support Bluetooth 2.1+EDR as well as Wi-Fi, but the iPhone 3GS supports 802.11b/g and the iPhone 4 models support the same 802.11b/g in addition to the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11n. The iPhone 4 (GSM) uses a Micro SIM whereas the iPhone 3GS uses a Mini SIM (more commonly called simply a SIM card), and the iPhone 4 (CDMA) has no SIM card at all.

    Both models include an accelerometer, proximity sensors, an ambient light sensor, A-GPS, and a digital compass but the iPhone 4 adds a three-axis gyroscope for more 3D gaming options. As originally shipped, the iPhone 3GS had 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, and the iPhone 4 ships with the same capacity options, but the iPhone 3GS was "downgraded" to a mere 8 GB of storage -- with a lower price tag -- when the GSM-equipped iPhone 4 was released.

    Battery life has been increased on the iPhone 4 when compared to the iPhone 3GS too. Apple reports that audio playback has been increased to 40 hours from 30, talk time on 2G to 14 hours from 12 (the CDMA-equipped iPhone 4 does not support 2G), talk time on 3G to 7 hours from 5, Internet use on Wi-Fi to 10 hours from 9, amd internet use on 3G to 6 hours from 5. Each provides an estimated 10 hours of video playback and 300 hours of standby time.

    Pricing in the United States for the GSM-equipped iPhone 4 is the same as it was for the iPhone 3GS when it was released -- US$199 for the entry-level model and US$299 for the high-end model, offered with 16 GB and 32 GB of storage, respectively with a two-year AT&T contract. The CDMA-equipped iPhone 4 is available for US$199.99 and US$299.99 on Verizon in the US also with a two-year contract.

    A newly introduced iPhone 3GS with 8 GB of storage in black only is available for US$99, for "qualified" customers with a two-year AT&T wireless contract.

    For your convenience, the main differences between the iPhone 4 models and the iPhone 3GS also have been summarized below:

    * Apple provides no official information regarding technical details for the iPhone 4 and the clockspeed is officially unreported. However, multiple third-parties have speculated that it has a variable speed processor with a maximum clockspeed of 1 GHz.

    ** The iPhone 3GS originally was offered with a black front and either a black or white plastic back and 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. Starting on June 7, 2010, it only was offered with a black front and a black plastic back and 8 GB of storage. The iPhone 4 originally was introduced to have a choice of a black glass and back or white glass front and back, but the white version never has shipped.

    † On June 7, 2010, Apple discontinued the 16 GB and 32 GB configurations that were US$199 and US$299 and introduced an 8 GB configuration for US$99 for "qualified" AT&T Wireless customers with a two-year contract.

    †† The iPhone 4 (CDMA) instead supports CDMA (EV-DO, Rev. A, 800 MHz, 1900 MHz).

    § These prices require a two-year contract in the US.

    Ultimately, which iPhone to get is your decision, but as most of the cost is tied to the expensive plan in many countries rather than the hardware itself, typically only those on the tightest of budgets -- and those on tight budgets should not purchase an iPhone at all -- should consider the iPhone 3GS.

    However, those who have an unlocked iPhone and who need to switch between carriers frequently when traveling internationally may find the GSM-equipped iPhone 4 Micro SIM inconvenient and the modest selection of supported countries for the CDMA-equipped iPhone 4 unacceptable and instead find the iPhone 3GS well worth consideration. Nevertheless, for most users, an iPhone 4 model is the better choice.

  12. Ledgem macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    Of course. As with all things, it depends on your needs and your budget. The 3GS may be older by now, but it is still an excellent phone and won't be "obsolete" software-wise for at least another year, if rumors are to be believed. Even when it is no longer eligible for new software updates, it will still be a highly competent, functional phone.

    Personally, I'm still rocking an original iPhone ("iPhone 2G"). I use it for the calendar, texting, email, light web browsing, occasional phone conversations, music, and Angry Birds. Gotta have Angry Birds. The phone is noticeably sluggish when opening apps and loading webpages compared to newer hardware, but it does what I need it to do. I'll re-evaluate my phone plan when the new iPhone is released, but otherwise my plan is to go for a 3GS.

    If you heavily use apps, then getting a newer phone might be worth it simply for the security of knowing that your device would be supported and run the program properly. If you plan to use the phone heavily for entertainment (gaming and intensive web browsing) the newer hardware may also be beneficial. But again, it comes down to needs vs. what you can afford. And the point is that, while the newer iPhones will be better than the 3GS, the 3GS is still an excellent phone.

    AppleFanatic10 gave a nice run-down of the differences. In short, the big differences are in the processor (iPhone 4 is faster and has vastly improved graphics capabilities), the display (iPhone 4 has a greatly improved resolution - if you haven't seen one in person, take my word for it, it's really amazing), and of course, the form factor. The iPhone 4 also supports 802.11n wifi (2.4 GHz only, not 5 GHz), whereas the iPhone 3GS is b/g only. Other than that, no major differences.
  13. NicoleRichie macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I am considering using my 3GS until the launch of a true LTE iPhone. I got my 3GS on launch day and have had no problems and still good battery life. I'm in no hurry to upgrade.
  14. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    The iPhone 3G is one of the best, if not the best, free phone you can get on contract. That means if you're limiting yourself to $0 phones, then absolutely get one.

    If you're comparing it vs. spending some coin for a different phone, then I think the $200 to move up to an iPhone 4/4S/5 (whatever...) is worth it. It's less than an iPod used to cost, and does so much more...
  15. Jagardn macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    I've been wondering how well iOS 5 will run on the 3GS. Given the iOS 4 debacle the last time around. Any "Developers" ;) out there running iOS 5 in a 3GS?
  16. earlycuyler macrumors member

    Apr 30, 2009
    The foothills of Appalachia
    I mostly just lurk on here, but I wanted to say that I very much agree with your take on it. I have a 3GS that I got on launch day. It has been a great phone, but over the last few months I have noticed some sluggishness when running newer apps. I like to play games a lot on mine, and I use some other fairly intense apps. So, the phone is showing its age a bit.

    OTOH, my family all have 3GS's and they use them much like your sister -- Facebook, some web browsing, and occasional app use. So, none of them see any need to upgrade.

    At the end of the day, I think it comes down to how the OP would use the phone.
  17. eaglesteve macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2009
    3GS is older than every Android phone except HTC Dream and Magic. So, you decide.
  18. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
    depends who you're buying for. My 54 year old technophobe mother finds the 8GB 3GS perfect for her uses. Her previous phone broke and she needed a new phone pronto and the 3GS was the perfect way to introduce her to iPhones. She's tried my iPhone 4 before and finds it way too complicated to use. Maybe after a year or so, I'll bring her up to speed with an iPhone 6.

    The 3GS is perhaps the longest lived phone ever, it should run iOS 5.0 fine and could probably even run 6.0 given it's generous amount of RAM and fast processor.

    The 3G on the other hand seems to be the shortest lived one...
  19. dazed macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    I'm still happily using my 3GS.

    If you dont need to have the latest and greatest then it's worth considering.

    One caveat though is how often are you allowed to upgrade? You may have the 3GS for at least 2 or 3 years which I'm sure will mean you won't be supported in future ios releases, and everyone else will be walking around with iPhone 7's :)
  20. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    depends on the duration of the contract and how much they would charge you by the month...
  21. AIP5 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 2, 2011
    I was quite surprised and pleased to find this out, but it works quite well!

    Here's a youtube video by a developer running the 3GS on iOS 5 beta 1 (so lots of bugs):

    The 3GS is not to be "misunderestimated" my friend!

    As for the topic on hand, I would say that the only real reason to buy the 3GS now instead of wait is if you like the design of the 3GS. Otherwise, I would recommend to wait and get the soon to be cheaper iPhone 4 (or even an iPhone 4S if they dual release a 4S and 5). If you are interested in the cheap plan, then perhaps that might be a reason to get the 3GS right now. Fear not, the 3GS works quite well with iOS 5. But I suspect that some of the "hidden" features (such as Nuance voice) will be reserved for the 5 or the 4.
  22. Spectrum Abuser macrumors 65816

    Spectrum Abuser

    Aug 27, 2011
    The 3G(s) handles iOS 5 pretty good from the videos I've seen unlike the 3G and iOS 4 last year. It's still the 2nd best selling smartphone in the United States today so that defiantly tells you something. The device is really not that limited and does support multi-tasking just like the iPhone 4. I'd say if you can get a great deal on it then defiantly buy it!

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