Missing compelling incentive to upgrade to iPhone 3G S


Today isn't just the day that Apple announced the iPhone 3G S; it also marks the end of way too many months of silly rumors, bogus leaks, and far-fetched predictions. Even though the company's third handset will continue to appear in tech headlines until a "trusted source" tells someone something about the fourth-generation iPhone, we can all take comfort in knowing that the amount of false information being spread across the internet will taper off for a bit. And even Apple/iPhone haters can appreciate that.

The rest of us will likely spend at least some of the time leading up to the June 19th release of the new device (16GB: $199; 32GB: $299) deciding whether we'll be lining up in front of an Apple store that day. Some of you, like me, may have already made up your minds before this morning's WWDC keynote even began.

Having purchased both generations of the iPhone on their launch days in previous years, it's a no-brainer for me to pick up the 3G S the day it goes on sale. Even though the hardware is cosmetically identical to the 3G model I'm using now (so much for all those all-black, matte back, glowing logo, front cam leaks, eh?) and many of the improvements – better camera, MMS, tethering, voice dialing, cut/copy/paste – are features that other phones have had for years, the reason I'm standing in line on launch day is simply that I want to have the latest model. The unspecified faster processor is also appealing to me, as the current webpage load times constantly test my patience, and I can't complain about the improved battery life.

But what about you guys? If you're not already an iPhone user and are interested in becoming one, there are obviously a lot of reasons to get the 3G S or the just-reduced $99 iPhone 3G. If you already carry around an iPhone, however, what does the 3G S have to offer that will motivate you to upgrade? What's stopping you from installing the iPhone OS 3.0 software update (available on June 17th) on your current device and making do with the current camera/CPU/etc.?

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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23 thoughts on “Missing compelling incentive to upgrade to iPhone 3G S

  • Wait til you see the price for current AT&T customers. I think the 3.0 os is worth more than the new phone

  • This will be my first iPhone, upgrading form ipod touch, and that’s all thanks to Nike+ support. Without that I wouldnt have bothered

  • Nope. I won’t be buying a 3Gs. In my area, Verizon’s the way to go. So, until there’s an iPhone on Verizon, it’s not even a blip on my radar.

  • Avatar of Screwed Again

    And once again, iPod touch owners get screwed. $9.95 for a software update that includes features we can’t even use. Thanks Apple.

  • The bump to 32 GB is the most compelling reason for me. Of course, I’ll also look forward to the faster processor and hope there is more RAM on board to improve stability. Have to wait until the end of August until I can buy at the “upgrade” price of $299 though.

  • While there are many areas the iPhone excells, that my current phone doesn’t (web surfing, for one thing), I’d hate having to leave behind all the things that are superior on my n95, like the camera and ability to customise a lot of things :)

  • I am definitely not buying that. No front cam, not even a minor design change and a 3 mp cam which is like 5 year old technology?!? Please… Installing 3.0 on my 3G will be enough. I don`t know about u guys but i`m satisfied with my 3g`s speed. But, I am pretty sure Apple has a plan. I guess they will announce a new section at itunes that will include only 3GS apps (the ones that will work only with 3GS because of 3G`s lack of cpu and ram capacity). If developers start developing their applications for 3GS for a better playibility, than Apple may make people to buy that new disapointing iphone…

  • Avatar of orbitalcomp

    Have you run through the preorder link on Apple Store yet, Jenn?

    You may be surprised at your upgrade price for being a “day 1” adopter on the 3G last year. I put in all of my info, and it seems that day 1 3G users are not getting a full subsidized price like we did when upgrading from our original iPhones, even after just one year instead of the normal two years.

    Basically, we have to pay $200 more unless we wait until December, then it drops down to the $199/$299 price.

    Regardless, I’ll be upgrading on the 19th because of the faster specs, 32GB, and voice control. Then I can leave my current 16GB 3G jailbroken on 2.2.1 and use it as a glorified iPod touch.

    Is the pricing unfair? Sure it is, but instead of complaining about it, I’ll be getting an extra 6 months of use out of the 3GS before the 4G comes out next year and the cycle starts all over again.

  • Avatar of orbitalcomp

    I used to think the same thing, but the iPhone is so superior to anything else out there, I am willing to sacrifice the camera on my N95 8GB for the overall better experience on the iPhone.

  • Yeah, the $200 premium for those who aren’t eligible for the upgrade certainly stings!

  • “the iPhone is so superior to anything else out there”

    Very interesting assessment coming from someone who just bought a Palm Pre!

  • *sigh* The early adopter tax never fails.

    I wonder if the extra cost will affect launch day sales. I’m guessing that people who would even line up early to buy a phone won’t mind shelling out the extra cash (not to the point of not making the purchase, anyway). Like you said, why wait for 6 months just to save $200 on the hardware? Because when you think about it, that works out to only $33.33 per month. :)

  • Avatar of orbitalcomp

    Not if that same person is returning the Pre this evening :-)

    It’s like starting over with iPhone 1.0 again, and based on Palm’s track record of updates, I’m not willing to risk it. I just had to try it for a few days to make sure, since I have a bad habit of being an early adopter/tester…

    Too bad, because the Pre has quite a bit going for it – the small size, faster browser, the multitasking. But the subpar battery life, narrow keyboard, and usage quirks don’t make it up for me.

  • Avatar of orbitalcomp

    That is exactly how I justify my gadget purchases and wireless bills…but I take it one step further and break it down to cost per day to ease my mind ;-)

    At least with those prices, we won’t have to worry about the crazy lines and shortages the first few days…

  • It was a no-brainer for me to place my order this afternoon. I currently own a first-gen iPhone and the 3GS has the three things I wanted – faster processor, faster than 3G network, and more flash memory. I also want to move to turn-by-turn GPS on the iPhone and so of course I needed a device with GPS.

  • Avatar of Steven Law

    I really don’t understand this complaint. Folks with the iPhone purchased it (at least in the US) unsubsidized, either $400 or $600. It should then be reasonable that they could then get a subsidy for going to the iPhone 3G.

    Now, folks that got an iPhone 3G with a subsidy by signing up for a 2 year contract: why should you guys somehow not need to fulfill your contract requirements before getting another subsidy, just like every other subscriber who got a subsidy for a different phone?

  • I think the reason for the alarm (at least for me) is that first-gen iPhone owners were eligible for the iPhone 3G after only a year of being with AT&T.

    I could definitely be wrong, but I always thought that customers are only eligible for subsidized upgrades after two years of service. I was actually surprised that I was eligible for the “discounted” iPhone 3G because I was *really* a new AT&T customer (switched over from T-Mobile specifically for the original iPhone).

    So since AT&T gave first-gen iPhone users the upgrade price for the iPhone 3G after only a year, it’s unexpected that they aren’t doing the same thing for the 3G S. Even though what they’re doing now is more in keeping with the “standard rules,” I was still surprised.

  • You’re kidding! I haven’t really been keeping up with the reviews, but battery life seems to be one of the complaints I see most often. Maybe there’s some kind of battery leak or something.

    I assume Sprint won’t let you out of your new contract, so what are you going to replace the Pre with?

  • Well you might find it superior, I just find it different!

    I am quite looking forward to the day I find a phone I can upgrade to without losing anything, after all, that would be a true upgrade.

    N97 looks interesting, but I’m not fully convinced that S60 is ready for touch yet, though I’ll admit I haven’t tried it. But web browsing would be a major point if I’m going to upgrade, or I wouldn’t really need to upgrade at all, since my current phone has basically everything else.

    I’m not allergic to WinMo either though, so I may be going in that direction. But I’m a tech-user, so I don’t shy away from complicated, which a mainstream user probably will.

    As for the Pre, it seems American cell-phone makers are always wooing carriers instead of just selling the phones, so I have no idea when/if it’ll ever be available in Norway.

  • Steven Law’s argument is that the reason AT&T gave first-gen iPhone owners the upgrade price for an iPhone 3G is because first-gen iPhone owners had paid the unsubsidized price for their iPhones. Thus, AT&T gave them the subsidy the second time around. This third time around though, since those users have already gotten a subsidy, they need to wait out their contract before getting another subsidy. The way to find out if this is AT&T’s reasoning is to find someone who bought an unsubsidized iPhone 3G and see if he or she qualifies for the subsidized upgrade price.

  • Avatar of Marshall Burke

    What most people forget the reason for the 1G owners being able to get the full upgrade was that they were charged full price for the phone upfront (even though we got the $100 coupon down the line.)

  • Exactly. I wasn’t expecting a subsidized price. I am going to upgrade one of my other lines (sister or husband) to get a new one. One of them can take this one!

  • I have to agree that battery life is the biggest issue so far, but I haven’t had as many problems with it as some.

    I actually think the keyboard is great. I don’t have small hands and I haven’t had any issues with it, and actually prefer it to the keyboard on the (wider) q9c.

    Usage quirks and bugs are definitely an issue though. I’m perfectly happy with it as is, but there is a ton that can be improved. Unlike you however, I fully believe that this will be fully supported. The Pre full-scale advertising is supposed to start the 21st of June, I’d bet money that they will have at least the first update out by then… maybe even before the 3GS launches on the 19th.

    And even if it’s not, people are already looking into everything they can get their hands on (from the ‘leaked’ ROM on Palm’s page) and figuring out how to modify things.

    As for returning it though, Sprint does offer a 30 day trial so you pay prorated service charges and get to return everything without an early termination fee or anything. (In fact I think most carriers these days do that.)

    With regards to the iPhone 3GS, I really think current 3G users are getting screwed. Sure, there are a bunch of hardware upgrades in the 3GS. However, there’s no reason that the voice command software Apple demonstrated isn’t possible on the current 3G. It has more than enough power for that (people’s dumb phones have had that for years). I understand that for things like A2DP there are hardware differences between the first iPhone and the 3G that make it not possible, but this is the first time Apple has arbitrarily held software features back from being available on older models.


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