View Full Version : Advice needed; is the iPhone 4 worth the extra cost over a 3GS?

2010-10-20, 10:11
Hi guys, I've almost resigned myself to the inevitability of signing up to a phone contract for the very first time. I've always been on "pay as you go" as we call it in this country, but increased use of my phone means I'm paying a total of almost £25 a month on calls, texts and data which isn't too far off a contract for a new iPhone.

I've been using my wife's old first generation 8 gig iPhone for a couple of years and it has done sterling service but I'm finding in some UK cities it's increasingly difficult to get a data connection without 3G. I've been in Manchester a lot lately and sometimes I'll go for half a day without the phone being able to get any data connection at all. In other cities, such as Nottingham, I've never had any problem whatsoever. Strange. Watching my wife use her 3G makes me realise I would really appreciate the faster data connection.

Anyway, I'm very tempted to go onto a contract and replace it with an 8 gig 3GS. Carphone Warehouse will give me something like £70 for my old iPhone, and they sell the 8 gig 3GS for about £80 (on an 18 month contract) if I remember correctly. This makes it almost a straight swap and really quite tempting.

My question is; am I crazy not to spend the extra ~£130 for the iPhone 4?

The only benefits I can think of are a higher res screen and much better camera. The downsides include the cost and that Vaja (http://www.vaja.uk.com/index1.html) don't make a case for the iPhone 4 (I LOVE the Vaja case for my first gene iPhone; it's taken a pounding and the phone is still in virtually mint condition!).

I could just about afford the iPhone 4, and I'm not the type to regularly change my phone so I'm likely to still be using the thing in a few years time. However, as with all things, I'd rather not spend the cash if I don't need to and I really will miss my Vaja iPhone case. I can't see the 3GS as anything other than a thoroughly satisfactory and significant upgrade from my first gen iPhone.

Have any of you guys first hand experience of the 3GS and 4, and is there really a significant difference that's worth the extra cash?

Sincere thanks in advance for any advice (sorry for the characteristically long-winded post; some day I'll learn to post succinctly!).

2010-10-20, 10:20
On a related note, here (http://twitpic.com/photos/beardedmacuser) are some of the photos I've taken over the last couple of years with my old iPhone. A better camera would be nice!

2010-10-20, 10:20
The 4 is head and shoulders above the 3GS in every conceivable way. Is it worth the money? Only you can really answer that question, but if I were you, I'd definitely go for the 4.

2010-10-20, 11:41
That's a toughie. You can get a good, fast video-equipped 3Gs for practically nothing and only be "stuck with it" for 18 months.

As much as I love my new iPhone 4, maybe the 3Gs makes better sense at the moment?

18 months from now puts you right into May 2012, when a new iPhone 6 would be right around the corner!

You mention pics, though, and I have to say that I've not touched a real digital camera once since owning this iPhone 4. Having such a decent camera with me, everywhere I go, is way nicer than remembering to tote a separate camera around. I've taken some really nice, clear, saturated shots with mine. The HDR, in certain situations, makes quite a difference.

Disclosure: I received my 4 as a gift, so it's too easy for me to say "spend the extra £130 and get it!". I'm trying to be practical and realistic, and viewing it from your specific position. £10 vs. £130 is quite a leap.

I don't know how the 3Gs compares to the 4 in the following two ways, but compared to what I was used to, the difference is quite dramatic:

- WiFi reception...I'm pulling signals from places I never did before. And places where I could - but not in a solid, strong way - I now can. As I'm now on that 200MB/month cap, this means a lot to me!

- Battery life/performance. I'm back to only having to "top off" my iPhone every other day or so. This thing just goes and goes. I know batteries degrade over time and that 2-3 years from now, this phone won't be the same. But it's much better than my original iPhone in the first months of owning it, no doubt.

Since the antenna and battery on the iPhone 4 are different than those on the 3Gs, I have to assume it would be the same type of experience/improvement for you.

As for the Retina Display, it's the thing I notice/appreciate least. Maybe some smaller type appears crisp and more legible at a few sites, but that's about all I've noticed. I don't turn it on every day and marvel at how "amazing and different" it looks.

Having said that, if I went back to an older iPhone, I'd probably notice, having spent three-plus weeks looking at this.

2010-10-21, 03:34
Thanks for the replies, your suggestions echo many of my thoughts. The iPhone 4 is a fine device indeed, but the 3GS is likely good enough. The choice would be simpler if I were the type who replaced my gear regularly, but it's only in the last month I've realised it's time to replace my first gen iPhone. I have a feeling I'll let my finances dictate the decision; I'll have a sit down next week and figure out exactly what I can or can't afford.

I know the camera on the iPhone 4 is a huge improvement but I've almost grown fond of the lo-fi photos I get on my old iPhone. Is that crazy? I've taken some fun snaps with the help of the Camera+ app.

I was also realising that the extra cost of the iPhone 4 will be less than ~£130 as there is no way I'd buy the 3GS and not buy a Vaja case which are at least ~£50.

I don't know! I keep convincing myself one way and then the other, round in circles! One thing I will most definately be looking forward to is being able to use any pair of headphones that come to hand; the recessed headphone socket on my old iPhone was a bit of a pain.

Paul, as an iPhone 4 user, do you keep your phone in a case? I know two folk with iPhone 4s and both use them without any form of protection. I guess they're pretty solid.

Oh, is there any substance to the rumours that slightly revised iPhone 4s are now hitting the shelves, with either modified circuitry or antennas or coating or something like that?

Cheers guys!

2010-10-21, 07:41
I'm not sure about new, revised models.

As for the case, just last week I received my clear Belkin Shield Micra(?) case from Apple's free case program. I've had it on most of the time since. I like it in that it gives a solid, uniform "heft" to the iPhone 4, which, when "naked" feels so much smaller than my first-gen model.

Then again, I had it for over three years so it's going to take time to get used to a new feel. Since it was free - and it's clear and doesn't obscure the nice look of the iPhone 4 - I'll probably keep it on. If nothing else, it'll keep the sides and back from getting all scuffed and scratched. I may keep my eyes out for other things as time goes on, but, for now, free is good.

I do think it helps with the antenna thing. Not that I was having any big issues or dropped calls. But I could reproduce the dropped signal bars when using the Grip o' Death on the naked phone. With this Belkin case in place, the bars stay put no matter how I hold it. That was something I noticed right away.

I do know this: whatever case(s) I may settle on in the future, will have to be clear and minimal in design. This iPhone 4 is simply way too attractive and nicely designed to cover up with s big, gaudy hunk of rubber or plastic!


2010-10-21, 07:42
You know, the camera on my 3Gs is an absolute and utter piece of shit in many situations and the only way that I can make the images useful is to pull it into another app and tweak the contrast/brightness and saturation... so my vote would be to get the 4. But your wallet will determine what you can purchase ;)

And remember, next summer they're likely to unveil a RAM-enhanced version of the phone, so if you want to keep a lot of photos and music on your machine you might want to continue limping along until that refresh... or maybe the one after that? :p


2010-10-21, 07:53
If you don't upgrade often, then you should definitely get the 4. If you're going to practice that type of self-control, you deserve to splurge when you do get new gear!

2011-03-21, 15:58
Thanks for all the advice guys, your input was useful and I considered the issue in depth. I just can't justify the cost of a contract in relation to the trivial number of calls I make from my iPhone. Also, having waited so long there seems little rush to jump to an iPhone 4 with the presumed iPhone 5 appearing this summer.

So in the meantime I found I had some Amazon credit and saw the cheapest iPod touch on sale so I jumped and bought one! It's great to explore all the apps exclusive to iOS 4 and it feels super snappy compared to my old iPhone. And the screen resolution is spectacular!

For now I'm quite happy with the combination of original iPhone and an iPod touch. It still surprises me how much interest my first gen iPhone attracts in all it's sleek shiny and slippery aluminium finery!

2011-03-21, 18:35
For now I'm quite happy with the combination of original iPhone and an iPod touch. It still surprises me how much interest my first gen iPhone attracts in all it's sleek shiny and slippery aluminium finery!

You know, beardedmacuser, I took over my wife's original iPhone after hacking it last year to work on our local pay-as-you-go carrier and it's been perfectly fine. Yes, the pictures it takes are mediocre at best. Yes, the interface is slow. But it still does the job for me. After all, it's just a phone, right?

I like having an unlocked iPhone without contract. I can pop in a local carrier's SIM any place I go! And despite all the nice hardware that Apple puts out every year, I don't know whether I'll ever be willing to lock myself back into a 2-year contract to get a subsidized iPhone. They can take our lives, but they cannot take our freedohhhhhhhhhhhmmmm! (Mel Gibson in some movie)