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Old 07-10-2012, 01:30 PM   #1
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Which slightly out-of-date (i.e. cheap) phone should I choose

Well, I've narrowed it down to the iPhone (Apple haters, please spare me).

My needs/wants:
- Obviously, something that runs reader apps (kindle, B&N, etc)
- and the goodreads app
- I'm not a heavy talker or data hog
- don't play alot of games
- can't see using it for much video with the tiny screen
- probably use it as my music player too (already have a nano)

With my carrier (AT&T, in the US) I've narrowed it down to the iPhone 3GS or possibly the iPhone 4. Both 8GB.

The 3GS is super cheap ($0.99) versus the 4 ($99.99, though refurbs occasionally come up for half that). For the price, is the 3GS a better deal?

I'm not one to need the latest toy or flashiest gadget. The iPhone just is better at some of the internet/app things than my current non-smartphone.
I have no problem going for years not upgrading, I am just getting the itch.

I think I could be happy with the 3GS, but wonder about the downsides of the older model. Is it likely to become unsupported by ATT or Apple in he near term (i.e. 2-3 years)? Would it be better to get the 4 for this reason?

Weigh in and tell me your experiences and what you think.
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Old 07-10-2012, 02:08 PM   #2
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I wouldn't get the 3GS. The new iPhone will be out in a couple of months which would make the 3GS too old (it was introduced in June 2009) in my opinion. Spend the money and get the 4 now or wait until the new one comes out and get the 4S when it's price is reduced.
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Old 07-10-2012, 02:12 PM   #3
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The 3GS still does everything that it did on day one, as well as it did on day one. The problem will be that many apps move forward and add functionality that requires features in newer OS releases. While the 3GS can be upgraded to the newest 5.x iOS, it may run slower than it did with the 4.x software. [not sure if it'll support the upcoming iOS6 release] If you find a reader app that you like you may not be able to upgrade it well into the future, but if its one that you can download generic epub files to via the browser then it should continue to work well enough indefinitely.

I've not used a 3GS more than a few seconds myself, but having watched people use them, they seem to work just fine for basic functionality.
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:00 PM   #4
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Target is selling the iPhone for $50 right now. At least the one near me is? I believe it is the current edition.
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by RHWright View Post
Well, I've narrowed it down to the iPhone (Apple haters, please spare me).

My needs/wants:
- Obviously, something that runs reader apps (kindle, B&N, etc)
- and the goodreads app
- I'm not a heavy talker or data hog
- don't play alot of games
- can't see using it for much video with the tiny screen
- probably use it as my music player too (already have a nano)

With my carrier (AT&T, in the US) I've narrowed it down to the iPhone 3GS or possibly the iPhone 4. Both 8GB.
The iPhone 4 is quite a significant upgrade over the 3GS. I don't really recommend going for the 3GS. Text on the iPhone 4 is a lot more legible compared to the 3GS which makes it a lot better for web browsing and reading ebooks.

The new iPhone is slated to be release around September or October which is just a couple of months away. By that time, you'll probably be able to get the iPhone 4 for $0.99 or the iPhone 4S for $99.99. I've seen Walmart occasionally discount the iPhone 4 8GB for $50. Really, the initial outlay for either phone is such a paltry sum compared to the overall contract cost so you might as well make full use of the "subsidy". The cheapest you'll spend over the life of the contract assuming you're on a family plan is $10 line fee + $20 300MB data = $30/mo or $720 for 2 years. If you're on an individual line, it's $40 450 mins + $20 300MB data = $60/mo or $1,440 for 2 years. I would actually suggest going for the iPhone 4S when it drops down in price. The dual-core CPU really helps with the phone's responsiveness and since you'll be keeping the phone for 2 years, it's a good thing to have some reserve CPU power for future iOS updates.
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:12 PM   #6
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The 3GS is slower and has less RAM, so I would pick the 4 any day if the difference is only 99$.

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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
Target is selling the iPhone for $50 right now. At least the one near me is? I believe it is the current edition.
You can get it down to 1$ if you look the right places. It all depends on the plan that comes with it, and ties you down for years, and takes your soul..
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:18 PM   #7
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Target is selling the iPhone for $50 right now. At least the one near me is? I believe it is the current edition.
Nope. It's the iPhone 4 8GB that's $50. The iPhone 4S 16GB is $150. Basically, both discounted by $50.

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You can get it down to 1$ if you look the right places. It all depends on the plan that comes with it, and ties you down for years, and takes your soul..
Not in the US. Subsidized pricing for the iPhone is kinda fixed here and we only have 1-year and 2-year contract terms. Authorized resellers of subsidized iPhones are also pretty limited. Apple is being very careful not to devalue the iPhone.

Last edited by ilovejedd; 07-10-2012 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:06 PM   #8
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From what everyone is saying, I think I may hang in there til fall and see if prices on the 4/4s drop some more.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:42 PM   #9
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I have an iPhone 4, and it's too small for my middle-aged eyes to read on. If you're after a phone on which you can seriously read, I'd suggest an Android phone with a larger screen, perhaps something like the original Samsung Galaxy S?
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:19 PM   #10
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If you're after a phone on which you can seriously read, I'd suggest an Android phone with a larger screen, perhaps something like the original Samsung Galaxy S?
Meh, the Galaxy S sucks unless you root it and install custom ROMs. The Galaxy Nexus is a much better option. In fact, for someone with low-usage, the $350 Galaxy Nexus paired with a prepaid plan might be better than going contract.

AT&T Postpaid
Monthly: 450 min + 300MB data
2-yr TOTAL: $1,440 (service) + $100(iPhone 4/4S) = $1,540

AT&T Prepaid Monthly
Monthly: 250 min + unlimited messaging + 200MB data
2-yr TOTAL: $800 (service) + $350 (Galaxy Nexus) = $1,150

If you can get by with just using wi-fi and use very, very, very few minutes (e.g. 100 minutes/month or less), then you can even go with Pay-As-You-Go for a minimum of $100/year.

AT&T Prepaid Pay-As-You-Go
Monthly: 100 min
2-yr TOTAL: $240 (service) + $350 (Galaxy Nexus) = $590
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:21 PM   #11
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Meh, the Galaxy S sucks unless you root it and install custom ROMs. The Galaxy Nexus is a much better option. In fact, for someone with low-usage, the $350 Galaxy Nexus paired with a prepaid plan might be better than going contract.
Thank you for your useful extra information. I know that Samsung make a good range of large-screen phones, but, other than the very expensive "Note", I'm not sure what the different models are.
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:42 PM   #12
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Target is selling the iPhone for $50 right now. At least the one near me is? I believe it is the current edition.
The iPhone 4s for $50?
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:43 PM   #13
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The iPhone 4s for $50?
With a contract and a hefty monthly payment, doubtless!
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Old 07-11-2012, 05:19 PM   #14
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The iPhone 4s for $50?
Nope. iPhone 4 8GB $50, iPhone 4S 16GB $150.

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With a contract and a hefty monthly payment, doubtless!
That's been the case ever since the 3GS. Alas, getting it with subsidy is still better than paying the full $650-850 price tag for an unlocked phone while still being forced to pay a hefty monthly fee. AT&T forces you to pay a minimum of $20/month for a mandatory data plan with a smartphone regardless of whether you got it subsidized or not. The only time buying a smartphone unlocked makes sense is if you plan on using it with T-Mobile or with prepaid service.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:36 AM   #15
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I have an iPhone 4, and it's too small for my middle-aged eyes to read on. If you're after a phone on which you can seriously read, I'd suggest an Android phone with a larger screen, perhaps something like the original Samsung Galaxy S?
It would be more of a back-up reader for when I'm without my trusty NOOK-ST, so I'm not so worried about screen size or full-on reader functionality.

Besides, I started the e-book thing with my Palm m105, so a screen that's "only" the size of an iPhone is OK by me.
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