Ten days before the iPhone 4 hit stores I took the plunge and bought an iPhone 3Gs (my first iPhone). I decided to get the 3Gs rather than wait for the 4 because AT&T was clearing out the 3Gs and I could get a 32GB model for the same price as a 16GB iPhone 4. Combine that with no earth-shattering differences between the two and I knew what the best option was. I have never regretted buying an iPhone nor have I regretted opting for the 3Gs. 32GB has been an optimal capacity for my needs.
When the iPhone 5 was announced last week I wondered what my next upgrade would be. My 3Gs was beginning to show its age with sluggish performance and impacted battery life (though still not bad). The 5 will certainly be shiny and the next must-have phone with its larger screen, faster processor and 4G LTE but just how different is it from the 4s?
Turns out, it's very different and very much the same. The key is, though, that there is, again, no difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4s that is important enough to me to make the 5 a must-have. With that in mind, I dropped by the AT&T store yesterday to see if they were offering clearance pricing on the 4s yet. As it turns out, they were.
My first question was about the buy-back program. AT&T will buy your (i)phone back to make the upgrade process sting a little less. My 3Gs is in near-mint condition, 100% operational with an unblemished screen. I thought I might get $50-$60 for it but when the AT&T guy looked it up he told me they would give $84 for it. That's a 42% return after 2 years! Maybe I could get a little more off eBay or Craigslist but then I'd have to hassle with listing it and shipping it and I had $84 of value being offered right here and now. I told them I'd take the 32GB 4s - the last one they had in the store.
Switching out the phone was relatively seamless. The most painful part was waiting for my information and settings to download from iCloud. It took about 30 minutes and I was hanging around the store all that time so I could make sure everything had transferred properly before nuking the information on the 3Gs and kissing it goodbye forever. When I got home, iTunes didn't even blink when I connected the new phone to my desktop. It just started dumping my downloaded apps and music like nothing had changed. Since both devices were running iOS 5.1.1 the experience is almost identical. I have a few extras available to me now but it operates exactly the same - only faster, which is something very important. Now I eagerly await iOS 6 (instead of dreading how much it's going to cripple my phone)