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10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy the iPhone 3GS



With the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C now in focus, many consumers are likely opting to wait for those next-generation models to land. However, a small minority of shoppers is likely looking at older iPhone models including the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. In particular, buyers are going to want to avoid buying the iPhone 3GS even with its cheap price tag.

Back in 2009, the iPhone 3GS was the talk of the town as it replaced the iPhone 3G with a number of big time upgrades. The device offered a better processor, better camera, but kept the same design and screen size as the iPhone 3G.

While this may come as a surprise to many, the iPhone 3GS remains relevant to this day thanks to the fantastic software support that Apple offered up over the years.


Don’t buy the iPhone 3GS.

Last year, the arrival of the iPhone 5 ushered in the iOS 6 era of software. And despite being several years old, the iPhone 3GS, like Apple’s more recent iPhones, received the iOS 6 update. The software was not the full version of iOS 6 but it brought along some of its big features including Do Not Disturb, the new Mailbox, the new Phone App and yes, much talked about Apple Maps. The software update breathed new life into the iPhone 3GS, a device that Apple offered for free up until the arrival of the iPhone 4.

While the iPhone 3GS is no longer available through Apple, it’s still very much a smartphone option and one that is likely beckoning many of those who are looking for a new phone or a quick replacement.

We don’t recommend buying the iPhone 3GS right now or at any point in the future. Here’s why.

iPhone 5C

One of the main reasons why you’re probably looking at buying an iPhone 3GS is because it’s cheap or because you don’t care about specifications, but mainly because it’s cheap.

Newsflash, there are plenty of other cheap smartphones out there including cheap iPhones. For one, the iPhone 4 is currently being sold for free through Apple. The iPhone 4S is $99. And when the iPhone 5S arrives, we could see the iPhone 5 drop to $99 on-contract.

There are also rumors that suggest that Apple is coming out with a new cheap plastic iPhone called the iPhone 5C that may be available for as little as $400 unlocked. That’s not quite Nexus 4 territory but it’s low. It could also wind up being Apple’s cheap free on-contract device.

Unlike the iPhone 3GS, this is a device that is expected to have a 4-inch Retina Display, 8MP camera, slim design, efficient processor, Siri, and Apple’s iOS 7 update. Like the iPhone 3GS, it’s supposed to be made out of plastic, with several color options to boot.

The iPhone 5C is expected to arrive on September 10th alongside the iPhone 5S and it’s a device that prospective iPhone 3GS buyers should be waiting for thanks to its features and thanks to the fact that we should see price drops on Apple’s more recent iPhones.


OK, so you need more convincing. Fine. First off, the iPhone 3GS does not have 4G LTE support. This means that it can’t pull down the data speeds that the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S can. We’re talking data speeds that can be as fast as home Wi-Fi speeds, but on-the-go.

The iPhone 3GS supports 7.2 Mbit/s HSDPA but that pales in comparison to the speeds that can be obtained when connected to a 4G LTE network. Before dismissing LTE, try it first, you won’t want to go back to anything else.

No Retina Display

Next, the iPhone 3GS doesn’t have a Retina Display. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to sport a high-resolution Retina Display and that means that movies, the web, photos are going to look worse on the iPhone 3GS.

We could see a T-Mobile iPad 5 or iPad mini 2 building on the success of the T-Mobile iPhone 5.

The iPhone 3GS doesn’t have a Retina Display.

The iPhone 4 has a Retina Display. The iPhone 4S does as well. The iPhone 5C is going to have a larger 4-inch Retina Display. This may not seem like much to those that aren’t keen on smartphone specs but trust us, the Retina Display makes all the difference in the world. It’s night and day.

No Widescreen Format

The iPhone 5 introduced iPhone users to a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, something that the previous iPhone models did not have on board. What this means is that users can enjoy videos on sites like YouTube without those pesky black bars.

Having access to widescreen content, especially in a world that is heavily focused around media, is often taken for granted. But once you have it, you won’t want to go back to anything else.

Camera is Bad

Camera technology continues to evolve and the camera on the iPhone 5 puts the camera on the iPhone 3GS to shame. Photos taken with the iPhone 3GS look dated and photos taken in low-light environments look downright awful. Want to bring the iPhone 3GS camera  to a concert and take some quality video of your favorite bands? Expect the sound to be distorted and crackly.

We expect Apple to hammer home an improved camera.

The iPhone 3GS camera simply can’t compare to cameras these days.

The iPhone 5S is expected to have a phenomenal camera and one that may even put the camera on the iPhone 5 to shame. That should push the iPhone 3GS camera down the totem pole even further.

Stuck on iOS 6

iOS 7 won’t be coming to the iPhone 3GS. Neither will iOS 8, iOS 9, iOS 10 and so on. The device is stuck on iOS 6, Apple’s software from 2012 and that means that users will never get the opportunity to use the company’s evolved UI, its new Camera app, its Notifications, or its new multitasking. Instead, iPhone 3GS owners will be stuck, forever, on Apple’s aging user interface and it’s most basic camera app.

iOS 6 Was Sluggish

To make matters worse, our experience with iOS 6 on the iPhone 3GS began to deteriorate in the weeks after installing the software.  At first, things seemed good, improved over iOS 5. However, after using it for several weeks, the UI began to lag, applications began to crash without reason, apps took forever to open, and playing a game felt like digging a knife slowly into your thigh.

Experiences with iOS 6 vary from person to person but our experience with iOS 6 for iPhone 3GS wasn’t a good one, something to consider before jumping in with Apple’s aging iPhone.

No Siri

Love Siri or hate her, she is useful from time-to-time. Whether it’s looking up movie times, finding out a score of a sports game, or dictating something, Siri is equipped some with very useful tools.

Problem is, the iPhone 3GS has never had access to Siri and never will. And with the improvements that Apple is making to Siri in iOS 7, including returning calls and playing voicemail, this is a big feature to be missing out on.

Limited Accessories Going Forward

The iPhone 5S should look similar to the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 3GS doesn’t use a Lightning port. This is a problem.

The iPhone 3GS uses Apple’s older 30-pin dock standard which means that it will have limited accessories moving forward. Sure, there are still accessories out there that support the older dock standard but accessory makers are likely going to be inclined to produce new accessories that take advantage of Apple’s Lightning standard found on the iPhone 5, iPad mini and more.

Lose Access to Apps

Finally, as we’ve pointed out, developers appear to be keen on releasing apps that support iOS 7 and not iOS 6 which means that the iPhone 3GS will likely lose access to the features in some apps down the road.

There is no telling what apps might be affected but given the high percentage of developers looking to support iOS 7, it could be quite a few.



  1. Charulo

    08/28/2013 at 5:32 pm

    Seriously? I don’t think anyone in their right mind would buy that phone. Maybe grandma’s that don’t know about tech.

    • Alex Martin

      04/17/2014 at 6:18 pm

      Being 15 years old, on a low income salary, off contract, then this phone. Is my only option.

    • Thomas

      08/07/2014 at 12:21 pm

      Lots of people that CAN afford the latest and greatest device, prioritize their spending differently than you Charulo.. In other words, I am considering another 3GS and spending the $500 difference on something more important to me than a gadget.

      • Aisha

        08/09/2014 at 12:45 am

        I don’t own a 3Gsiphone no more no more I have a galaxy s3 ni w ans I like it

  2. Judy J. Tennyson

    08/28/2013 at 11:11 pm

    my friend’s step-sister makes $71/hour on the internet. She has been without a job for nine months but last month her pay check was $21789 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit our website…

    • My Name

      10/08/2013 at 10:03 pm

      Tell her to get a real job, instead of posting shit like that on here.

  3. Luc

    08/29/2013 at 1:06 am

    Right!You suggest an iPhone 5S!How aout those third countries that they do not afford it?iPhone 3GS for those ppl will be great!Thanks for blog anyway …very accurate !Greetings!

    • itachi21

      08/29/2013 at 10:56 pm

      yeah ryt..jus like me

  4. Mary O'Dwyer

    08/30/2013 at 3:14 pm

    Have unlocked my old iphone3’s would like to update them but fear relocking them again!

  5. Mary O'Dwyer

    08/30/2013 at 3:52 pm

    Have iphone5 great except charger / accessory’s r very expensive the iphone 5 charger breaks easily the older charger was more sturdy! Unless Apple are needing to generate extra capital?

  6. Michelle

    09/07/2013 at 7:04 am

    I have a 3gs that I was considering using as an ipod and preloading with apps to give my 8 yr old. I was wondering after IOS 7 will we still be able to have access to use and get new apps and music. I would like it to be usable for a year or 2. Is it worth doing or shouldnt i bother?

    • Akos

      09/29/2013 at 9:19 am

      You’ll be able to access apps that are already on the app store right now. Updates for iOS 7 are not going to be available on the iPhone 3GS. I think that it’d be a great iPod for a child, you should definitely do it.

  7. avant

    09/09/2013 at 11:31 am

    Why are people still writing about the 3GS in late 2013???

  8. dvovirtualtech

    09/11/2013 at 6:28 pm

    i still have my iphone 3gs and my ipod touch 2nd gen on a 2013… and i have 1 android and even an HTC windows mobile phone… frankly… i only use the text/call feature… facebook apps and twitter apps work just fine… so there’s really no sense of upgrading…

  9. Aisha

    10/04/2013 at 10:54 am

    Wen y’all come out for 3GS Software…

  10. me mememe

    12/15/2013 at 5:42 am

    This is the gayest bunch of reasons to not buy something. Reads like an advertisement for Apple.

  11. zee

    01/09/2014 at 6:35 am

    Last week I got given an old 3GS that a friend no longer needed, its great compared to the Nokia C2-01 I had LOL

    Tl;Dr: Your mileage may vary. As the first smartphone I have ever owned, its awesome

  12. Stupidconsumers

    01/21/2014 at 11:39 am

    Reasons TO buy a 3GS, You can dunk it in 50 gallons of water, and it still works after dried. The battery lasts all day and night if you dont use it, Or 4 hours playing music. You can drop it in the snow, on the concrete, in a lumber mill conveyor, and it will survive.

    Or maybe those are just reasons to buy my 3GS, cuz over 5 years of ownership it still does everything I bought it for. Its been to smart phone hell and back.

  13. Jeremy

    02/21/2014 at 8:46 pm

    People are so easily manipulated nowadays anytime they see something someone else has they have to have it . Ios7 may be nice to have but for now I am PROUDLY sticking with my Iphone 3gs.

  14. Jeremy

    02/21/2014 at 8:48 pm

    By the way whoever wrote this article was trying to find something wrong with it when Iphone 6 comes out then Iphone 5s will be “so ancient” to people.

  15. Tom

    03/14/2014 at 9:54 pm

    I bought an Iphone 3gs January 2014 for 60 bucks + free shipping, because my other phone broke. It was the cheapest smart phone I could find. I have only used a android smart phone so I also I wanted to try an iphone at a cheap price. It works! It does what I need it to do. I am in my twenties, and I don’t have money to buy the newest luxuries phone on the market right now, so for the next months or year or so I am saving up to buy a new phone. The 3gs helps me preview an apple phone, allows me to use a smart phone at affordable price, and I also allows me to save up for a new phone while owning a phone. PS I bought an insurance policy with phone carrier, however I had to pay $200 out of my pocket, before I could get a new phone with my insurance. I realize how expensive and pointless phone insurance is, now I won’t be suckered. Like I don’t think everyone has to own the newest and latest piece of tech when it’s beyond your budget.

  16. Kelvin

    03/21/2014 at 1:33 am

    Hi Tom,
    I am also looking for an iPhone 3GS. Could you tell me where and how you got yours? Found an ad on eBay but I am not very certain about its claims. Thanks for your help!


  17. dave

    04/06/2014 at 11:19 am

    One thing you are forgetting is that iOs 7 is bloody awful…….. The best thing about the 3gs is that it will never have iOs 7

    • AGREE

      05/01/2014 at 6:23 am


  18. bert

    04/09/2014 at 11:59 am

    I got my 3GS back in mid-2009. That probably seems like a very, very long time ago to the author of this article. But the fact is I use it every day, it does everything I need it to do: call, text, watch videos, listen to music, browse the Internet, email, calendar, etc. Pretty much the same stuff people with brand new iPhones are doing. My girlfriend has a 4S and I note that she has to keep it plugged in constantly, plus the phone connectivity on it is crap compared to my 3GS – in the same house my signal is fine, her phone cuts out constantly. I only need to put mine on the charger overnight, or on the next night if I forget – and that’s with regular usage. The only downside to the 3GS these days really is the camera.

    Oh, I’ll probably “upgrade” someday. I don’t know if it will be a 5,6,7 or whatever, or maybe even something from another company entirely. But newer isn’t necessarily better, and that holds true in many points with the 3GS. Until there’s something it absolutely cannot do, I’ll stick with it.

    By the way, when the iPod first came out I got one of those. A first-gen iPod. Which I gave to a friend a few years ago, who still uses it to this day. Never had a battery change either. This will probably kill you, but that iPod does everything he needs it to do as a portable music device despite being “incredibly old”.

  19. Elle

    08/02/2014 at 5:16 pm

    I love my AT&T iPhone 3GS. I got it from for $35.It does everything I need it to do. It keeps me out of a contract and keeps me in my low price plan. Guess I’m not in my right mind, according to the first reply to this article.

  20. dilum ayeshan

    09/07/2014 at 9:46 am

    No front cam is also great problem

  21. Zee

    11/08/2014 at 4:58 pm

    I’m okay wit m 3gs

  22. Yong Chen sent

    11/13/2014 at 1:03 pm

    I still have a iPhone 3GS look it’s still working! I’m using it to post my view . Lol iPhone 6 is on sales by the way . :P

  23. Shehzad Jutt

    02/04/2015 at 12:10 am

    In 2015 i am looking forward to iphone 3gs… i think i am out of my mind… lol…

  24. Rozz

    08/02/2016 at 3:47 pm

    Still a very nice phone in 2016.

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