Older iPhones – any good?

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  • Older iPhones – any good?
  • CountZero

    The 3Gs is a perfectly good phone, but is now four years old, introduced in 2009, and technology moves very quickly, so it’s pretty ancient by current standards. As a way of finding out how you’d get on using iOS and it’s ecosystem, though, it’s probably a cheap way to do it. If nothing else, it gives you a pretty good iPod Touch, but with navigation built in.
    Don’t expect it to be as fast as current generation phones, ‘cos its processor will struggle a bit. The fact that it’s still being sold, though, shows that for a lot of people, it still works perfectly well.
    I can’t give any more info regarding advantages, ‘cos I don’t know anything about Galaxy phones or Android; I’ve had three iPhones, a 3, 4, and 5, so can’t give any comparisons, I’m afraid.

    It’s not a patch on the 4, not even close. The screen is the biggest difference.

    I sold my 3GS recently and replaced it with the 5. Tbh I wouldn’t bother with the 3gs if I was you. It’s really slow, I found it very frustrating towards the end.



    As the chief sez, if you can lay your hands on an iP4, you’ll get a much improved phone in just about every way; better screen, better processor, better camera, better GPS, and the fact that the whole structure of the phone changed makes a huge difference; the 3Gs has a curved plastic back, whereas the 4 has a stainless steel frame with Gorilla Glass front and rear, which makes the phone heavier, but much more robust. I still use mine all the time, it makes a great iPod Touch, and I use it for navigation in the car. I just got it unlocked and put a 3 sim in it, for the unlimited data allowance.


    Can you imagine if someone saw you with anything less than an iPhone4?

    It doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner

    Local place is doing fully refurbed 3GS’s for £60.
    Fancy trying one to see what all the fuss is about.

    Any idea how one would compare to the Samsung Galaxy Ace II I’ve got at the mo?
    Anything I’d miss?
    Any advantages?

    Thanks in advance.


    As of next iOS update 3GS is no longer supported btw


    Depends which iOS it is running and what you want to use it for.

    3GS is a great phone for £60. It’s only sluggish with memory hungry apps (facebook app doesn’t work too well since recent updates).

    It takes a normal Sim, it’s not to bad to repair so it’s very suitable for MTB’ers

    i use a iphone 3 all day long in my garage and im really happy with it.
    very strong small phone,does everything i need and more besides.
    ive owned several galaxy s2’s and its just as easy to use.
    i prefer the email reading on the iphone ,just simple to glance at when your in a hurry.
    id say £60 is a good buy if its been checked over

    Premier Icon footflaps

    I think the old style curved shape (3GS was the last model like that) is the nicest to hold, but it’s really old and slow and the camera is low res and the screen is pre-retina, so not a patch on modern HW.


    its better than anything else your going to get for 60 quid .

    especially anything android.

    i have noticed my 4 slowing down now , ive had it since first release and its still not slow enough to make me want to swap it.

    her indoors 3gs did my head in though.


    I have a 3GS and I’d say for sixty quid it’s the best smartphone you’re likely to get. But it will miss the next iOS upgrade and the camera is not good compared to the newer versions (or even the ones that were current when the 3GS was new).

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    Mrs has one & gets on fine with it. I’ve had it in bits to replace the battery, charging port etc. Amazingly, it actually worked again afterwards. 🙂


    If you want a cheap iPhone go with iPhone 4, the 3GS is too old now and will be very slow. You won’t appreciate how good a smartphone is if your frustrated by the speed. Also, iOS 7 out in september won’t run on 3GS.

    Dont bother with the 3GS – I have my Mrs old one and its bloody annoying – the last few OS updates have really slowed it down. Ebay and Facebook apps especially take an age to open compared to a split second on a 5, Tunein radio app buffers constantly.

    If you could install an older OS or jailbreak and improve it then possibly consider it but otherwise I’d pony up for a 4 or 4S instead

    My 3GS works fine. Of course, I’m not running around Facebooking friends about all my eBay purchases.
    For basics apps (Strava, Google Maps) it’s fine.
    Camera sucks, but for £60 what else can you get?


    My 3gs is beginning to do my hyead in, very slow compared to my partners IP4. Had mine apart (for the 3rd/4th time) at the weekend to try and mend the mute button which is now fixed but wifi and network now don’t work despite showing signal??

    As above – I’d look for a cheap 4. The leap from 3S to 4 was significant, the leap from 4 to 5 less so.


    My girlfriend is rocking the 3gs and I’ve got the 4s. I can’t tell the difference between using them. Identical interface, from what I can tell. Had no issues with speed. Camera isn’t as good and theres a few apps that dont work. Surfing the net on the go is also slower but on wifi it’s identicle.

    For £60 it’s a bargain!I’d be tempted to pick one up for that price just for strava.

    Maybe I’m just the equvielnt of a phone ‘mincer’ but I would have thought that for a sub £100 phone you can’t do better.

    Only a short time ago wasn’t the 3 the phone to have? Apart from wizzier models being introduced what, apart from the passage of time, has changed? It still would work, wouldn’t it?


    Mine’s OK (it’s a work one hence why I haven’t upgraded it), I suspect a lot of it is just being used to it and if I used a 4s or 5 for a week I’d hate going back to the 3GS. I wouldn’t say it’s sluggish in apps I use a lot though, some of the more resource-hungry games are but standard apps (maps, banking, notes, readers, calendars etc.) are fine. If buying one now I’d be a bit concerned about the battery as if it’s original it must be starting to lose battery life by now (although mine doesn’t seem noticeably worse yet and is over 3 years old).


    I ‘upgraded’ from a 3GS to a 4 (for free).

    Big difference, but then again I have no desire to ‘upgrade’ to a 4S or 5.

    Perfectly good phones – reliable, and simple to use.

    Premier Icon footflaps

    4S will be my last Apple phone until they bring back Google Maps. I was comparing Apple Maps vs Google Maps for Cambridge the other day and Google is miles ahead, with cycle paths, footpaths, company buildings all marked. All Apple had was street names.

    Premier Icon GrahamS

    My girlfriend is rocking the 3gs and I’ve got the 4s. I can’t tell the difference between using them. Identical interface, from what I can tell.

    http://www.specsavers.co.uk 😀

    Same interface, yes, but the 4 had double the screen resolution of the 3 which makes a massive difference.

    4S will be my last Apple phone until they bring back Google Maps.

    Erm you can just download the Google Maps app from the App Store.

    OP: missus has a 3GS. Still works fine enough for basic stuff but there are better options out there these days.


    Footflaps… But Google Maps is in the App Store. 😕


    I’ve just gone from a 3GS to a galaxy ace 1 and I hate the galaxy. It works but compared to the iPhone it’s poor In all departments and much slower, even though I upgraded the 3GS to iOS 6 which slowed it down considerably. I can’t speak for the Ace 2 which is probably better but I’ll list the differences…

    -Feels poorly made/plasticky.
    -wi-fi cuts out during prolonged use. Every time.
    -battery life is the same and I have hammered the iPhone (ace is new)
    -predictive text makes me want to tear my hair out
    -I can only have 4 windows open on the browser, the iPhone lets me have 8
    -the touch screen isn’t as sensitive which makes it clumsy to use
    -it has no phone memory, I’ve downloaded 5 apps and it’s full
    -just finding someone on contacts and calling them takes effort
    -call quality isn’t as clear
    -maps app isn’t as high resolution
    -I can’t turn the volume down enough, one click is too loud so I leave it on silent and miss calls because of it
    -it crashes often.
    -I’m typing this on the iPhone which I now use as an iPod touch.

    This is all in comparison to the Ace which is an inferior phone to yours so I’m guessing that Samsung improved the ace 2 but it’s built on the same foundations if you know what I’m saying. Id take a punt on the 3GS I think you’ll find it’s not as quick as the 4G but it’s still a nice phone and it makes a great iPod touch if you decide to retire it.

    Hope that’s helpful.

    Premier Icon althepal

    (*cough) I have a 4 for sale in the classifieds if you you’re 4-curious, great phone that’s served me well..
    Selling as I was given a good upgrade offer.. give me a shout if you’re interested.. (*cough).


    althepal – Member
    (*cough) I have a 4 for sale in the classifieds if you you’re 4-curious, great phone that’s served me well..
    Selling as I was given a good upgrade offer.. give me a shout if you’re interested.. (*cough).

    ‘Tis a damned good phone, very solid, just feels good in the hand, well engineered. Mine could do with a new battery, after two and a half years of almost continual use, it’s starting to die a bit. New ones aren’t expensive.


    £60 is a good price for 3GS, iPhone 4S keeps up with most phones, I wouldn’t spend big money on anything lower than that though


    I sold my 3GS recently and replaced it with the 5. Tbh I wouldn’t bother with the 3gs if I was you. It’s really slow, I found it very frustrating towards the end.

    My wife just ordered a 5 last night, to replace her 3 year old 3GS for that very reason. Just opening an app or going back to the home button would take an age. I recently did a hard reset but that made no difference. I guess the processor is beyond its best?


    My mum bought an iPhone 3GS. It’s so slow that it’s verging on unusable if you ask me. Upgrade iOS and it gets even slower. Don’t upgrade iOS and you can’t download a lot of useful apps, as they’re built for more recent versions. I really can’t see why you’d bother – because there’s no feedback in terms of a button physically clicking, you spend half your life going “it’s loading… it’s loading… oh hang on, did that touch actually register?”.

    I’d look at a second hand Android phone – maybe a HTC Desire S or Samsung Galaxy S2. Or even one of the very cheap phones like a Huawei – they’re a bit fragile but they work well enough.


    Not sure what’s up with the incredibly slow 3GS some people are reporting, mine’s on the latest iOS and is perfectly usable. I have 9 pages worth of apps, jumping back from any of them to the home screen is about half a second. Opening a few test apps (weather, settings, notes, photos) takes less than 3 seconds for each, maps took 9 seconds to fully load and display the map which isn’t exactly lightning fast but quick enough (and you have to factor in the location stuff working in that time). I’d say get the most recent iPhone you can afford but if that’s the 3GS then it should be fine, if it’s very sluggish then either you’re using very recent heavy-weight apps designed for the 4+ or something’s wrong with your phone.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise

    One person’s sluggish performance is another person’s acceptable. Personally I thought Facebook on the iPhone 4 was appallingly slow to load, so I dread to think how slow it is on the 3GS. It’s much quicker on the 5.

    In answer to one of the questions above, software moves on to take advantage of the latest hardware. When the 3GS was new, app developers wrote their apps to work effectively on that platform. Now they’re writing them for faster hardware, so they don’t perform as well on older, slower hardware. If that bothers you, don’t get the 3GS.

    Try before you buy.

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