Ever since we reported that Apple has launched the 8GB edition of the iPhone 3GS in India at a price of Rs 19,990, we have been flooded with queries and statements. Queries about whether the device is worth purchasing given its “age,” and statements decrying the fact that Apple has once again dumped an old product on the (allegedly) unsuspecting Indian consumer. Well, we have turned the matter in our heads for a while and truth be told, we still think that the iPhone 3GS is not only worth investing in, but its 8GB edition is perhaps the best sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone out there in the Indian market. We know that statement will inflame many people, but we have given it some thought. Hit the jump for our rationale. And yes, please feel free to disagree.
Old, but not dated
Yes, the iPhone 3GS is not exactly fresh on the block, but it is still very much alive and kicking, as evidenced by the fact that Apple has named it among the devices that will be able to run iOS 5. Yes, the jury is out on just HOW well it will run iOS 5, but let’s face it, Apple would hardly stake its hard-earned reputation by including a device in the iOS 5 list if it is totally incapable of running it. That’s hardly obsolete, is it?
Most of the hundreds of thousands of apps on the App Store run just fine on the iPhone 3GS, although some of the higher end games might lag a bit from time to time. You are not going to get as many high class apps on any other device in that price segment. Period. And it is this that lets you do so much more with your device. Forget the specs and processor speeds, just think of what the device lets you do.
Stuff the specs, check the experience
They might have better specs (bigger screens, better cameras, more storage. et al) but for sheer experience, we do not think the competition still too many aces up its sleeve to trump the 3GS. The touchscreen works fluidly, the interface is marvelously simple and intuitive, the camera is only 3.2 MP but takes super shots, and of course you have the joys of really smooth multi-touch. Of course, opinions might differ on this, but in ours, the only handsets that really can challenge the 3GS right now in the sub-Rs 20,000 category are the Samsung Galaxy SL and the Samsung Nexus S. And in the truest sense, we would say that only the Nexus S stands up to the 3GS because of its ability to run just about any Android app and get automatic updates. Alas, neither works as smoothly as the 3GS. In fact, most phones in the market still do not – dual core processors and jargon-laden displays notwithstanding – which is why I am still using my 3GS, and am still trying to make up my mind as to whether I need to invest in an iPhone 4.
The whole environment
Great hardware, software that gets updated automatically, good service (we have had problems with our iPhones and had them replaced with minimum fuss), sensible support – you know, the only thing in tech that we have seen come close to the iPhone environment is the one IBM (and now Lenovo) has built around the ThinkPad. Being a part of it for less than Rs 20,000 is not a bad deal, we think.
Been there, done that
For many of us (yours truly included), the age of a product actually works in its favour – it just shows that it has been through the whole gamut of fixes and tweaks and is now perhaps at its best. It certainly is the case with the iPhone 3GS, which actually works better than it ever did, the odd lag with heavy games notwithstanding.
Take our word for it, few devices have the kind of aura and aspirational value that the iPhone has. It is going to turn heads, irrespective of year, model and make – which is why we still see people hanging on to their original iPhones, even though official support for them disappeared a while ago. If you want a phone to flaunt, this is it, this is it, this is it.
We are not saying that the iPhone 3GS does not have its flaws. Some of the lags can get irritating and yes, we do wish the camera had more megapixels in it, but in the end it all boils down (for us at least) to how much we can do with a device and how easily. And it is here that the iPhone 3GS’ apps/interface combo becomes well-nigh unbeatable. Yes, it is more than two years old. Yes, there are phones that claim to offer you more on paper for less. But when push comes to shove and our budgets fall below the Rs 20k mark, we would rather invest in the device they call the Godphone. Even if it be in an earlier edition.