Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Upgrade From an iPhone 3G to 3GS for < $50 and Why to Do So

You can do a quick search online and find millions of iPhone 3G owners going on and on about how there's no reason to upgrade to the new 3GS phone if you already have a 3G. To borrow a quote, "Methinks thou doest protest too much". The 3GS only hold a couple real advantages over its older sibling, but for a number of people, those advantages are huge.

1. Speed - The 200Mhz speed bump doesn't tell the entire picture. This CPU/GPU combo is in another class. It's a full generation ahead and trounces the original especially in regards to 3D performance. And the additional RAM appears to be faster and allows for more programs running concurrently, a great thing for those of use who Jailbreak and use Backgrounder. So, maybe not a big deal for the casual user, but it can take the power user to the next level...

2. Camera
- Video. Yes, you can jailbreak and use Cycorder, and yes it does a decent long as what you're recording stays very still. At 15fps max, any motion looks horrible. The 3GS video is pretty decent. Nothing spectacular indoors, but just about as good as the last cheapy camcorders I've owned. Obviously missing zoom, which makes it not as useful as a real camera but still nice.
-Still pictures. The iPhone 3G takes decent pictures for a phone. The 3GS takes decent pictures, period. Except for the notible absence of zoom, the new autofocus lens allows the 3 megapixel camera to take really nice looking pictures. Being able to direct the focus and set the white balance based on touching an area of the screen allows for a level of control that can't even be found in "real" cameras. Not to say that's it's perfect or anything, but quite impressive.

Item #2 is what prompted to go ahead and make the upgrade. I have started trying to take a "photo of the day" and the pictures I was getting on my 3G really left something to be desired. Plus I've really be wanting to have a decent video recorder available for little family trips... When a coworker showed me the quality of the video and mentioned how it was also noticeable faster that finally tipped me over the edge into implementing my 3G->3GS upgrade plan. It's actually quite simple, and somewhat economically sound.

However, once I got my 3GS, item #1 proved to be really nice to have. In general, everything just became snappier. Perhaps most people wouldn't even notice the difference, but to me it made a big difference it usability, especially when multitasking. And for you jailbreakers out there, perhaps the biggest thing is now Cydia is actually usable. Instead of a 10-15 second pause to refresh the database after each action, it's not 3-4 seconds. Massive difference...

Anyway, now back to the crux of the article. When I am eligible for a discounted upgrade from AT&T it would cost me $199 to move up to the 3GS. Even as much as I hold the 3GS in high regard, that's quite a bit of money. Now if I could cut that amount in half or less, then it would become a lot more attractive. Plus, I'm not actually eligible for a discounted upgrade until next June. So the only option is to buy it mid-contract for $399. That's definitely alot of coin. Strangly enough that is still with a subsidized price from AT&T and requires further contract renewel. If you want to get a 3GS with no obligations at all it costs close to $1000. Crazy right? Well that craziness is what drives this plan.

With the no obligation 3GS at an astronomical price still, a no oblication USED 3G still is also in quite a bit of demand, with the 16GB model bringing between $350 and $400 on ebay. There you go, plan revealed...

  • Sell 3G on ebay for $360
  • Buy 3GS for $399 from AT&T.
  • Have new phone for $40
That's worth it to me. Yes, I know it's not quite the same as buying one for $199 later since I don't actually have the 3G anymore, but at that point it wouldn't be worth as much it works for me. And yes, after fees and whatnot it's actually closer to $60, but $50 sounds better. :) So for all you 3G owners saying how the 3GS isn't worth know you want it. :)

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