With so much attention turned to Apple’s next iPhone release, whether that’s an iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, or even both, its easy to forget that the stalwart iPhone 3GS continues to chug along. Right now, you can pick one up on AT&T for a mere $50 on-contract ($20, if you settle for a refurbished model), but what will become of this iPhone value option once the next model debuts?
One analyst believes that Apple could start letting the 3GS go for free with contract. Off-contract, you might be able to hope to see the smartphone demand a price in the $350 – $400 range. What about the iPhone 4? It could drop to $100, or $500 without subsidies.
This arrangement wouldn’t be without its problems, just like the current discounted 3GS pricing, because there’s no 3GS option for Verizon, so further moves to position the 3GS as the budget iPhone would give AT&T a decided advantage.
We’ve got our doubts, though, especially if we see the release of both the 5 and a spec-bumped 4S; Apple would be unlikely to want so many models floating around at once. While the 3GS can handle iOS 5, it won’t support all of its features, and we’ve really got to wonder how much longer Apple will continue supporting it with new software. Even at $100, the iPhone 4 would be quite affordable, and it may be in Apple’s best interest to position it as the new budget iPhone rather than continue to squeeze everything left out of the 3GS.