Many would-be iPhone owners are wondering whether it's smart to buy the current iPhone 3GS for $97 at Walmart when the new iPhone release is little more than a month away.
My advice: Stay away from the $97 Apple iPhone deal if you want a real bargain. Believe me, Walmart and any other retailer that joins the company in discounting existing iPhones is smart because they're betting the new iPhone will be just as hot selling as its predecessors (the iPhone revolutionized the cell phone and smart phone industry) and its as-popular tablet computer cousin the iPad. How popular you ask? The iPad sold a million units in 28 days, a mark it took the iPhone 74 days to reach, and the iPad did it during a bad, bad economy.
Which leads to why I believe buying a discounted iPhone 3GS (which I own and am very satisfied with) is the wrong way to go. First, you won't save as much as you might think. Buying an existing iPhone 3GS not only locks you into old technology, it locks you into a two-year AT&T contract that comes with an increased early termination fee of $325.
Yes the iPhone 3GS will perform well and users will be able to upgrade to 4.0 software when released next month. But it will still be eclipsed by the added features to the new iPhone, including some that remain in high demand by existing owners, such as a front-facing camera for video chatting and business conferencing. The new iPhone will also boast longer battery life (the existing iPhone suffers ongoing criticism for its relatively short juice time) and a much faster processor, key components for any smart phone.
And for those key new features you may only have to pay an extra $100. Apple has not announced official prices for the new iPhone, but many expect the starting price to be $199.
MacRumors.com places the iPhone 3GS on its "Don't Buy" list, along with Apple Cinema Displays and MacBook Air laptops because updates from Apple are due out soon.