Can't upgrade until August. Any other options for <$200 iPhone?
April 29, 2011 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Another iPhone question. I tried to cash in on the 3Gs for $49 special today, but my contract still has 8 months on it, meaning I'm not eligible for an upgrade until mid-August. I can't afford to pay full price for an iPhone of any stripe. Do I have any options?

The guy at the AT&T store said that I could:

a) Get an early upgrade for $250 (which I don't want to do)
b) Add another line to my phone for $200, to be paid out over the next two years (which doesn't make any sense, because I don't need another line)
c) Swap upgrades with someone who's eligible and doesn't plan on upgrading until August (but my partner isn't eligible until June, and no one in my family uses AT&T)

Are there any other options for getting an iPhone at less than full price? Is buying a used one off of Craigslist a horrible idea? Are there companies that sell refurbished ones for less? (And is that a horrible idea?)

Thanks for helping me work through the options. I'm not one of those people normally, it's just that I got all excited about getting one at a price I could actually afford, and now that I can't I really WANT IT.
posted by mudpuppie to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Once the iPhone 5 comes out (presumably in September), the iPhone 4 will drop to the $99 spot.
posted by Oktober at 1:49 PM on April 29, 2011

Yes, you can buy them used without going through a carrier, but I doubt they will be cheap enough for you to afford given what you state in your question. I sold my (perfectly good) used 3GS on Craigslist for $250 last year, and I got the sense that I could have gotten more for it. Looking at eBay now, it looks like most used 3GS are still fetching more than $200.

Unhelpful question: if your struggling this much to afford the phone itself, are you sure you can afford the required monthly plan? My contract with AT&T is $80+ a month, and I think I have one of the cheaper variants....
posted by dyslexictraveler at 1:58 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not 'struggling,' and my phone bill would only go up by $15-$25, depending on the data plan. I just have a hard time paying hundreds of dollars for what is essentially a toy -- and a toy which doesn't always cost hundreds of dollars.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:01 PM on April 29, 2011

I'd wait until the iPhone 5. Everyone will get good deals on the older models.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:19 PM on April 29, 2011

You can occasionally get really good deals on craigslist, less commonly on ebay, but a 3gs in good condition will still almost always run $250+. I looked online for several weeks to get a decent deal on my used iphone 4, and frequently checked prices of the 3gs for comparison. Sometimes someone on craigslist will sell one cheaper, but I'm always skeptical of those quick sales, could be stolen, damaged, etc.
posted by skewed at 2:20 PM on April 29, 2011

The iPhone 5 will be out in September. By then, the 3GS will be two generations old, and that's also when Apple generally stops supporting the hardware with their updates (ie like they did with the 3G last year). I'd wait - you'll be out of contract then, and might even be able to afford a cheaper iPhone 4 with the inevitable price drop. IMHO the 4 is a much better toy than the 3GS anyway and worth waiting for.
posted by cgg at 3:20 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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