Why it's not worth upgrading to the iPhone 3GS

While we're fairly convinced that O2's stance on tethering is a wrong'n, expecting the service provider to rip up legal contracts signed by your fair hand simply isn't going to happen. O2 aren't going to swap your iPhone 3G for a shiny 3GS, at least not without you paying out the rest of your old contract first. The rapscallions.

But do you really need it anyway? Plenty of the new features announced by Apple last week were native to the new 3.0 firmware that's available today - not solely the 3GS - which means the iPhone 3G will be just as capable of delivering them. Here's what you'll get if you already own the 3G, and what you'll be losing out on if you don't buy the 3GS:

iPhone 3G with 3.0 firmware includes:

  • Cut / Copy / Paste functionality
  • Landscape keyboard in Mail, Messages, Notes and Safari
  • MMS support for photos and audio
  • Spotlight search (phone-wide search facility)
  • Voice memos
  • Buy (and download) films, TV programmes and audiobooks
  • Internet Tethering
  • And a lot of other minutiae besides

iPhone 3GS with 3.0 firmware includes functionality listed above, plus:

  • Up to 2x increase in speed
  • Shoot and edit video
  • MMS support for video
  • 3 megapixel camera (compared to 3G's 2 megapixel camera)
  • Voice control
  • Compass

That's essentially it. Unless video is a dealbreaker, then there's not a great more than what the 3G can offer. And then there's the price; if you already have an iPhone 3G, you need to pay off the contract and purchase the handset at full price:

Our advice? If you've already got a 3G, stick with it - as sure as eggs are eggs, there'll be another handset launched in 12 months time with significant improvements over the 3GS. Buy into an 18 month contract now, and you'll only find yourself at the mercy of O2 once again. There's not enough going on with the 3GS that's worth both your money and your commitment, so as shiny as it looks, ride out the temptation when it's launched this Friday.


  • Jeffro
    So, let me get this right. On the 600 minutes and 500 texts tariff, I'd end up paying £801 for a 16GB iPhone with 18 months service? That's a fortnight's wages just for a mobile telephone for the period. That same money could pay for a month or two on a mortgage. Or a good family holiday. Or a HD television set and 18 months of Sky HD. Of course, 500 SMS isn't that much. So it's an extra £7.50 a month to get the "Bolt On". TCO now stands at £936. And, because all my iPhone-wielding associates seem to end up needing a replacement every couple of months, we'd best stick the insurance on to save waiting for repairs. o2 will take £10 a month for that. TCO now at £1116. That works works out at £744 a year. For a telephone. Or, for someone who earns £20k, £1 of every £20 they see ends up paying for the iPhone. Youch. I pay 3 £15 a month for roughly the same (but with some video minutes and MMS allowance, too) and take a free Nokia N-series from them every 12 months. Their 3G coverage seems much better than o2's, too. TCO of little over £180 every year. Less than a quarter the cost of an iPhone. That's one amazing premium. And I really can't see how it's worth it.
  • MrRobin
    Good advice. I'll be sticking with my standard 3G for some times yet. What is even more amazing is the fact that you have managed to post this article into the future! Tags: apple, iphone 3g, iphone 3gs, o2 Posted in Gadgets, comment, tech June 17th, 2009 | Now that IS high tech!
  • reply r.
    thats pretty impressive observational skills
  • bykergrove
    then there’s not a great DEAL more than
  • shadow
    and the fact that apple sucks
  • Ben
    You've forgotten the significantly increased CPU, doubled RAM, and better GPU...
  • Tom
    Ben: True, but that is only really important if you use the iPhone predominantly as a gaming device. For me gaming on the iPhone is only secondary activity.
  • Robin
    It came in on an RSS in Outlook and was filed under 'Tomorrow' lol
  • Colin
    Increased battery capacity? Still robbery like but o2 don't give much in the way of premium handsets online with no Omnia HD or Nokia N97. Boo you o2.
  • Sai
    If you jailbreak your iPhone, you can download Cycorder from Cydia which let's you do videos anyhow, and works fairly well. Another reason not to upgrade.
  • veedubjai
    Apple is like the Ferrari of mobile handsets so you expect high premiums to buy it in the first place. Sooner we will be getting phones with micro-projectors that allow you to watch your films. People expects the latest, greatest, fastest, leanest, lightest for peanuts. They are living in La La Land. Penny pinching freeloaders! How much did it cost O2 for the license to sell it through their mobile network? Peanuts? Contract phones are always subsidised by the networks otherwise what is the point in signing a contract to spread the overal cost over 18/24mths. Would you like to pay £600 for an iPhone upfront before signing a 1mth SIM only contract? Someone has to pay for it. Yes it can make calls, looks sexy, high-tech UI & very high design, da de da but what you pay is what you get. Why do you think Mac's have always been more expensive than Pc's? Have you seen Pc's that are very sexy compare to Mac's? In Europe, the mobile market is still technologically behind compare to the likes of the Far East. In Japan, you can watch live TV on mobile phones, scan bar codes for product/service infomation, etc but they have the network infrastructure to cope with this. This kind of technology will sooner one day become reality in Europe if mobile phones users are willing to adopt it & pay for the services. Nothing comes free when someone has to pay for it.
  • ed
    The iPhone? Whats that? I don't recall it ever being mentioned on this blog before.
  • Dale
    "In Japan, you can watch live TV on mobile phones, scan bar codes for product/service infomation, etc" You've been able to do those things in Europe for years. Barcode scanners are hardly advanced and have appeared on s60 phones for years now. Also, Nokia have released at least 2/3 DVB-H enabled handsets (N96, N92 and 7710 - this had some form of DVB-H capabilities I think), (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVB-H) not to mention the fact that mobile TV has been around also for years in the form of 3G streaming.
  • dave p.
    Dale you are a prick
  • Anon
    Surely it's my choice if I want to spend that kind of money? For some people kids and mortages take up their money, I don't have the worry of either so I'm going to spend my money on a good product which so far i've used every day of it's life. You may have got yourself a free nokia but I can probably place a bet on the fact that it's not a highly used device, certainly not as much as my 2nd gen iphone has been. What's amazing is it's lasted since 2007 now AND it's still going strong, in fact, even as a 2G user i'm struggling to work out why I should upgrade (but I probably will) Add that to the fact that apple are STILL supporting an OS upgrade on a device best part of 2 years old, adding features (ok mms is missing for techincal reasons) I still think you've got a pretty good deal, show me a nokia that two years down the line is still getting software updates. Just gettinga new cheap nokia every year and throwing it away is a terrible waste, I know for example that my 2G will be going to a member of my family who will no doubt use it for another year at least, we need to be investing in technology which is reliable and sustainable not throw away devices that nobody wants aftera year. the simple fact is that if I wanted I could still flog my 2G on ebay for about £190! Speaks volumes about the device if you ask me, again, show me a nokia that's two years old and worth a single penny!
  • Black J.
    Just buy a blackberry, so much better
  • Boomhaueruk
    Well, I can't say I have a nokia two years old that's getting updates, but I can say my Nokia 5800 is costing me 24 quid a month with unlimited internet, 700 mins, 500 texts (which I've never, ever used) plays video, records video, has gps, in fact, I think it's got a higher resolution screen and I've had that for 6 months. Oh and it's got copy and paste. Oh and a search facility that covers the internet and the local device...well you get the picture. It doesn't have a writable office suite (I' can't create excel spreadsheet, the camera's only 3.1 megapixel and not a great example and, in brief, yes, it's not an iphone, it has faults - I know that and I wish it was - (I'm a mac fan and there's not been a pc in the house since 2001 - though there has been VMWare Fusion), but are you seriously telling me that the ridiculous tarrifs above, plus the insane upfront cost makes this a reasonable price? I ummed and aahed over the iphone when it came time to upgrade 6 months back and I seriously can't say I feel I made the wrong decision. The 5800, not perfect, but does the majority of what the iphone does. It's not a great war cry, is it, but it's mine.
  • Francis R.
    I think you shouls run an article how it is not worth getting an iPhone, and spend the money on something that is going to enrich your life, not make you look a twat.
  • William
    Surely the best way to "upgrade" to the 3GS is to sell your 3G on ebay (it looks like 16gb models are still going for over £300), then get the 16gb 3GS on PAYG for £440 and use your existing SIM card. When you take into account the increased depreciation of the 3G over the next few months, I think £140 is a fairly small price to pay despite the fact that the 3GS doesn't offer too much more.
  • Robin
    Just FYI, the firmware is not available yet. Checked this morning and 2.2.1 is still listed as the latest for iPhone 3G. Falsified advertising!
  • The B.
    I haven't upgraded my 3G in about 6 months, there's been bugger all functionality changes and at the moment it's stable and past updates have screwed things around, so why bother taking the risk? Indeed, 6 months left on my contract and then hopefully I'll be Androiding (depending on version of Android and phone availability).
  • MrRobin
    3.0 Upgrade is apparently available tonight. Presumably it's midday pacific time or something so would be about 8pm here I guess. Good luck downloading straight after launch tho, Apple's servers will be maxxed out.
  • veedubjai
    @Robin. "Just FYI, the firmware is not available yet. Checked this morning and 2.2.1 is still listed as the latest for iPhone 3G. Falsified advertising!" If you are in the UK then the OFFICIAL release date is 17/06/09 @ 18:00pm on O2 network. LOL, falsified advertising? What a loads of bollocks. How many timezones are there in the world? Do you expect it to officially release Version 3.0 bang on GMT BST time 18:00pm would apply across the whole world? Don't think so when this could congest the servers. http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/news.phtml/24847/iphone-os-due-5pm-7pm.phtml “Apple is located on the west coast, so the earliest you’ll see 3.0 go live is 03:00 am eastern time” It’s exactly what I thought. I work for apple iphone and the software will not be released till tomorrow am 6am west coast time you should be able to start downloading 3.0 from itunes. Apple never posts release times, I have noticed they launch mid morning to avoid an extreme server load, so people will download it as they get up and with the time zones it will help even out the server load. I’m assuming it will be released at 12:00:01 AM PT, due to Apple HQ being in Cupertino, CA. When I rang O2 in the UK earlier the man said the update was probably going to be online at 6pm (BST), 5pm (GMT)!
  • Gus
    I almost forgot to post that Mac fanboys are a bunch of [email protected]!
  • Installed B.
    [...] 3.0 for the iPhone is here, but after downloading the 230MB update you might have found you’ve lost 3G connectivity. If that’s the case, here’s how you get it back: [...]
  • DX
    The new tariffs are horrendous. Texts are the main issue, especially for me. 500 texts is just not enough. And to make things worse, they've decided to get rid of the free bolt-ons as you are permanently stuck with unlimited internet access as a 'free bolt on'. AND, you CANNOT add a chargeable unlimited txt bolt on now, the only bolt-on available is the Family Bolt-On which gives unlimited txts yes, but only to O2 customers. There's only 1 person I txt on the odd occassion that's on O2.

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