Why the iPhone 3GS is still relevant in 2012

Beeplance

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jul 29, 2012
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Singapore
The iPhone 3GS. Introduced in 2009, it was one of the best phones on the market, and was twice as fast as its predecessor, the iPhone 3G. More than 3 years later, it is still being sold by Apple, and is presumably targeted at the lower-end market due to its low price(and even lower on contract). Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying it is better than the 4 or the 4S, but it is still a decent device that is able to fulfill the needs of many people that don't necessary demand a super-fast and pricey smartphone with state-of-the-art features. It is capable of supporting iOS 5.1.1, the most recent update and still performs remarkably despite its ageing hardware(besides some complains of lag and bugs). As a matter of fact, back in 2011, people weren't even sure it was going to receive iOS 5; even if it were, people were either expecting a stripped-down version with only minor features or the horrendous experience like the 3G on iOS 4.

Apple changed that. It optimized the update in a way such that the terrible experience wasn't repeated, and many were satisfied with the majority of the new features. What's more, the 3GS got almost all of the features and the only ones it was lacking was location-based reminders and some others(i can't remember).

Now, in 2012, to our enormous surprise, Apple announced iOS 6, and again, people were almost certain that this 3 year phone was not gonna receive the update. Again, Apple choose to defy the odds and announced that it will be supporting the 3GS with the new update. Sure, it is going to lack some newer features like offline reading list,siri, facetime over cellular, 3D maps and turn by turn navigation. However, most of these features are hardware-limited with the exception of the offline reading list. Despite all of this, it was still incredible that Apple managed to update this ageing phone. iPhone 3GS owners will be able to enjoy Phone enhancements, Facebook integration, faster Safari performance, Shared Photo Streams, VIP mailbox and much more. The beta roughly shows the expected performance, and it was still able to perform decently in spite of its age.

I would still highly recommend this particular phone to someone who requires a smartphone for basic apps usage, light web browsing and such. Not everyone in the world can afford an iPhone 4S, which may be quite expensive option to some. The 3GS is a cheap option to have access to the App Store, which contains a plethora of apps, and internet access on the go, and can still easier out-perform budget android phones to date.

One of the downsides of the 3GS would be the 3 megapixel camera. Nowadays when compared to newer phones that are coming out with 8-12 mp camera with improved sensors, the 3GS's camera seems to be a letdown in terms of photography. However, in bright daylight, it is still able to capture relatively decent photos with its auto-focusing and auto-white balance sensor. In addition to this, the fast camera access from the lockscreen that was introduced in iOS 5.1 ensures that it will be quick option to capture a special moment even when you do not have your DSLR with you.

Till this date, many people in my society are still sporting this phone and it is not surprising as it is still able to meet the needs and demands of many. If you still have your iPhone 3GS or once had it, let me know what you guys think about you experience using this phone.:)
 

Voidness

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2005
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The 3GS is an amazing phone, but I just wish it had a better case. The plastic they're using is a little too flimsy.
 

roblin

macrumors regular
Apr 5, 2007
202
20
I hate my 3GS, cant wait to get rid of it. The picture it takes sucks, it is lagging when I facebook, battery is down the drain. I get a feeling that it has been getting slower and slower the last few months.

iPhone5 will be soo sweet. Could justify getting the 4 and the 4s seemed such a minor update so all that waiting would have been for nothing. But the 5 will be so sweet.
 

Reason077

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Aug 14, 2007
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The 3GS is an amazing phone, but I just wish it had a better case. The plastic they're using is a little too flimsy.
Yes, this is the only real physical flaw with the 3GS. The plastic back case tends to crack after a while. However in my experience, this doesn't actually effect use of the phone - it's just a minor annoyance.

Another issue for me is that most 3GS's don't support 3G on the 900 Mhz band (UTMS 900), which is becoming common here in the UK. This means you get worse 3G reception than newer phones on networks that use this band, such as O2.

They actually refreshed the 3GS late last year with a new baseband chip that does support UTMS 900, but 3GS's made before Nov 2011 are out of luck.
 
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Beeplance

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They actually refreshed the 3GS late last year with a new baseband chip that does support 900 Mhz, but 3GS's made before Nov 2011 are out of luck.
Wow, I had no idea. That means only the newer 8GB models had those new baseband chip. But is there a significant difference?
 

Reason077

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Aug 14, 2007
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Wow, I had no idea. That means only the newer 8GB models had those new baseband chip. But is there a significant difference?
It depends what network you are on. If your network uses UTMS 900 (O2 does) there is a big difference in 3G reception.
 

Voidness

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2005
847
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Null
They actually refreshed the 3GS late last year with a new baseband chip that does support UTMS 900, but 3GS's made before Nov 2011 are out of luck.
Oh, that's interesting. Although not specific to the 3GS, I wish iPhones supported the 1700MHz frequency (AWS Band). I'm with a carrier that only supports AWS phones, and I would greatly prefer a 3GS with AWS to my current Nexus S.
 

chambone

macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2011
969
24
Netherlands
A cracked back is caused by people putting the phone in their back pocket and sitting their high BMI ass on it. Most phones don't like that.

I agree with the OP. The 3GS is a fine phone. The thing is a testament to the fact that a smartphone doesn't need a quad core cpu to run smoothly if the OS is efficient. I'll be buying the iphone 5, but my 3GS isn't going anywhere. It's just too bad that a better camera module can't be bought somewhere.
 
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macingman

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Jan 2, 2011
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A cracked back is caused by people putting the phone in their back pocket and sitting their high BMI ass on it.
No it's not. I know many people who have treated their phones (3GS) well and after a while they begin to crack. Just a small flaw in the plastic probably. Apple aren't perfect you know and sometimes they do stuff up.
 

chambone

macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2011
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Netherlands
No it's not. I know many people who have treated their phones (3GS) well and after a while they begin to crack. Just a small flaw in the plastic probably. Apple aren't perfect you know and sometimes they do stuff up.
Oh, I know Apple's not perfect. I send them feedback on a regular basis. You're just going to have a very hard time convincing me that those backs crack for no reason, and that you can know how others treat their phone.
 

NewAnger

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2012
904
2
Denver Colorado
Oh, I know Apple's not perfect. I send them feedback on a regular basis. You're just going to have a very hard time convincing me that those backs crack for no reason, and that you can know how others treat their phone.
I owned 3-4 3GS iPhones and never once put one in my back pocket, that's ridiculous because the screen would crack. Every single one has had cracks by the sim card slot and/or by the dock connector. The last used one I bought had a crack by the dock connector. It didn't stop me from buying it because as I said, I have not seen one without cracks no matter how gently it was handled.
 

VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,356
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Scotland
My 3GS went to my teen age kid. It has a battery case to protect it, but OMG in spite of the beating that phone has taken it still keeps going....

[EDIT: just realized the pun .... :eek:]
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
6,753
4,885
The 3GS outsold all android models in 2011. It's old, but it's got a following, which makes it more relevant than it really should be.
 

Reason077

macrumors 68020
Aug 14, 2007
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I don't know, but some people say the 3GS is more sturdy, while others say the 4/4S build structure is more durable... -.-
I've seen both survive some pretty nasty drops. It's just that when the 4/4S do fail, it tends to be pretty catastrophic!
 

macingman

macrumors 68020
Jan 2, 2011
2,147
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Oh, I know Apple's not perfect. I send them feedback on a regular basis. You're just going to have a very hard time convincing me that those backs crack for no reason, and that you can know how others treat their phone.
Well a perfectly logical reason which may be the cause would be heat generated why the phone is the pocket of a person/sitting around on a table etc. especially outside causing the plastic to expand/contract causing cracks. Not the users fault for putting their phone in their pocket or putting it down somewhere, that's just normal use.
 

AFDoc

macrumors 68030
Jun 29, 2012
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Colorado Springs USA for now
It's not. Just wanted to give you the heads up.

A cracked back is caused by people putting the phone in their back pocket and sitting their high BMI ass on it. Most phones don't like that.
Do I really need to repeat what all the others have said or should I also pile on and tell you how ridiculous your post is? Let me know because I'd be more than happy to edit this post.
 

Nicolas4ever

macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2010
713
1
well many users still have a 3GS and Apple still sells the phone. Even though i believe the 3GS won't get any 6.0.1 or 6.1 update. Apple will stop selling it this September.
 

chambone

macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2011
969
24
Netherlands
Well a perfectly logical reason which may be the cause would be heat generated why the phone is the pocket of a person/sitting around on a table etc. especially outside causing the plastic to expand/contract causing cracks. Not the users fault for putting their phone in their pocket or putting it down somewhere, that's just normal use.
I'd say a bad batch is more likely than extreme(ish) temperature differences, considering what mine has been through.
 

Mr Hill

macrumors 6502a
Apr 28, 2012
500
1
Charlotte, NC
3GS is still a good phone but I don't really see why people would choose it over a 4/4S when signing a 2-yr contract. The real expense of owning an iPhone comes with the $100 per month phone bill. I would think that someone who can afford that monthly rate plan would also not have a problem kicking out at least $100 to get the iPhone 4 when they sign up.