Get an iPhone 3Gs now or a 4 in september?
July 12, 2010 12:44 PM   Subscribe

My company is getting me an iPhone, should I get the 3GS now or hold out for a 4 in September?

I'm getting a company iPhone for 2 reasons:

1) We (a small web development firm in Chile) want to start developing iPhone and Blackberry websites (and maybe apps) for clients. It would behoove one of us to have somewhere to test them on and get a feel for the culture, etc. We already have a Blackberry.

Personally, I'd rather get some kind of Android, but they have like 0.5% market share in Chile, and the whole point is to be able to offer something to clients that their clients can take advantage of.

2) My current phone (Sony Ericsson w205a) both sucks and blows.

In Chile, so everything is about a generation late, the latest version is 3Gs. There's rumors of 4 being available in September.

Question: Is it worth it to keep my crapPhone for 3 more months so I can get a mark 4? Are there significant changes re: developing apps / sites for 4 vs. 3?

Caveats: Historically, consumer electronics are 2x more expensive here than in the US, which isn't a huge issue but I don't want to pay an insane amount for the phone unless there's good reason to.

I run Ubuntu Lucid on my laptop, so the ability to sync/connect is an issue.
posted by signal to Technology (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wait for the 4.

The new model is really really awesome. A4 chip, better screen, better design 2 cameras, etc..Yeah, they've got an antenna issue, but that's besides the point.

Stick it out 3 months and wait.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:45 PM on July 12, 2010

I agree with Lord_Pall. September is only a month and a half away. Especially if you're developing for iOS, you need something that's not going to be obsolete that soon.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2010

Wait for the 4. Not only because it's just awesome, but because the iPhone 4 will have a faster-growing audience than the iPhone 3GS, and also because it's better at running iOS 4 in terms of resource utilization, compared to the 3GS. The iPhone 3GS might be considered obsolete in a year's time, whereas you can test anything you need to test for the iPhone 3GS on the iPhone 4 and enjoy the greater longetivity.
posted by Phire at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2010

Yeah, hold out, no question. The 3GS was really only an incremental improvement. The 4 is orders of magnitude better from a hardware standpoint.
posted by penduluum at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2010

You'll have to run Windows in a VM to be able to connect/sync with any iPhone; also, you won't be able to develop full-fledged apps at all without a Mac. On the other hand, web-browsing experiences are very, very similar on Android vs iPhone.

As for 3GS vs 4: It'll be a lot better as a phone for personal use - much faster, awesome high-res screen, great camera. As a web-site-viewer, the main difference is that the screen is much higher resolution. Four times the pixels, in fact. You may want to get a 4 because it's newer/fancier; you may, however, want to stick with a 3GS if that's what most of your prospective users would use.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2010

Wait for the 4. Faster and more featured innards, better screen, smaller body, longer battery life, as compared with the 3GS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:51 PM on July 12, 2010

Both iphone and blackberry development kits come with simulators. You can use them to test your sites and applications until the iphone4 comes out in your market. You don't need the hardware to test or get started on apps.

Personally, I'd rather get some kind of Android, but they have like 0.5% market share

If you write a proper mobile page, it'll work in whatever mobile browser you like. You can test them in your various simulators. It shouldn't matter what you carry in your pocket, although having the hardware will much nicer than the simulator.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:53 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're going to be demoing apps on your iPhone to customers, hold out for the iPhone 4. The screen has 4x the pixel count, and really is remarkable. Customers will look at that and think "Wow, that looks amazing. My app will look amazing on this phone." The original iPhone has a nice screen too, but this is something else. If you're doing webdev targeted at the iPhone, I think you can use CSS3 media queries to serve up higher-res images as well (I haven't really studied this).

Apart from that, the only new hardware feature on the iPhone 4 is the gyroscope, which seems like it will be a boon to game and AR developers, but not very important otherwise (and of course, only a minority of iPhones will have it).

Other than that, you get a faster processor, more RAM, better battery life, and different packaging. The good-news/bad-news new antenna design. These will not really affect development.

In the USA, you can buy a no-contract iPhone for $600 (once supplies increase, I guess). It sounds like that's not much more than you'd eventually pay in Chile, so there might not be much reason to wait.
posted by adamrice at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

iOS4 apparently doesn't play nice with Rhythmbox on Ubuntu Lucid yet. It might by September.
posted by azarbayejani at 1:15 PM on July 12, 2010

Absolutely wait for the 4. You don't want to be stuck with last year's model, especially with the wonderful design refinements in the iPhone 4.
posted by markmillard at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2010

Another reason to hold - the iOS4 operating system (or whatever it's called) totally blows on a 3G. I upgraded, and my phone has been acting strange ever since. It freezes randomly, and I have to shut it down and reboot about twice a day. This never happened before. I would assume that fixes for 3G bugs would slow down as more people switch.
posted by kanewai at 2:20 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. Looks like I'm stuck with the sony for a few more months.
posted by signal at 2:33 PM on July 12, 2010

the iOS4 operating system (or whatever it's called) totally blows on a 3G

He said 3GS, on which it's great. But everyone's right, holding out for the 4 is a better idea regardless.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:52 PM on July 12, 2010

Wait for the 4. You get a better screen, more RAM, a faster processor, etc. You can put one of those bumper cases around it to get around that "whole don't hold it this way or it won't make calls" problem.
posted by chunking express at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2010

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