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June 24, 2009

My iPhone upgrade dilemma

Posted: 11:04 AM ET

I purchased my 1st-generation iPhone on eBay in 2008. For a hefty $250 price tag I received a bundle of electronics that was outdated and no longer protected by Apple's famous warranty, but it was all mine.

What should I do?

My iPhone came with no contractual obligations to AT&T, nor could Apple threaten to revoke its non-existent warranty if I chose to unlock or jailbreak the device. Despite what corporate lawyers attempting to stretch the authority of the The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (pdf) may argue, that phone and all its antiquated chips and transistors belonged to me.

It is now 2009 and Apple is once again tempting me with the release of the iPhone 3GS, but at $199 is it really a bargain?

New iPhones are locked into a service agreement with AT&T because of the subsidies AT&T provides for the sale of each phone. But even after these service contracts expire, essentially ending a rent-to-own agreement, iPhones remain locked to AT&T. It's as if you bought a TV that only works if you subscribe to Comcast.

There are programs to unlock the iPhone (software is not yet available to unlock the 3GS, but unlocked phones can be purchased on eBay), and unlocking a phone was granted a legal exemption from the DMCA, but Apple opposes these hacks (pdf) and counters them with each new version of iPhone software.

I enjoy my iPhone, but I do not approve of Apple's attempt to control the device after the point of sale. While I would like to trade in my 1st-generation 4GB iPhone for a shiny new 3GS, I am hesitant to sign a two-year contract that dictates how I will use my phone.

Should I trust that hackers such as those at will remain one step ahead of Apple's locking mechanisms and purchase an expensive contract-free iPhone 3Gs on eBay? Or should I overcome my moral objections and play by Apple's rules? Your thoughts?

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Filed under: Apple • DRM • iPhone

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jm   June 24th, 2009 11:21 am ET

My guess is that it really boils down to how happy you are with your carrier. Let's face it, we're at a point of no return and if you own a cell phone now you're going to own one until the day you kick the bucket. Same story with shoes–once they invented them and people started wearing them, the fad hasn't gone away. So if you've been on an AT&T plan then I see no issue, but if you're with a different carrier such as myself who is also interested in the iPhone (again, myself) then it leaves you with a bit of a conundrum. My wife and I are wide-eyed when it comes to the iPhone and would love to get our paws on a couple of them, but a large population of our friends and family have the same carrier we do. However, if one covets the iPhone badly enough who doesn't have AT&T, that's when they would need to turn to purchasing an unlocked phone. In a nutshell: Are you satisfied with your carrier?

Joel   June 24th, 2009 11:23 am ET

I feel your pain. I've been tempted to purchase an iPhone but the whole contract with AT&T thing is just disgusting. I've seen my friends bills first hand and with all of the nickel and dimming padded in there really does bring about a dry heave. All in all I've learned to subdue my lust for one. Don't get me wrong its an amazing device but there are far better things in life than being tied up to a little electronic gizmo 24/7.

Aaron   June 24th, 2009 11:24 am ET

Buy it and jailbreak it. It's your phone you can do what you want with it. Apple or AT&T will never take you to court.

John   June 24th, 2009 11:34 am ET

I have the same problem and same hesitation. I actually purchased an iPhone 3Gs for my girlfriend as a gift but when the store wouldn't let me out the door without activation I returned it (which was a chore in itself). I had no plans to jailbreak or anything, I just wanted to give the gift and let her decide when she wanted to activate as it would require porting her number over. I find the behavior of either AT&T or Apple or both with regards to the iPhone to be so offensive that after the experience I was tempted to switch off of AT&T all-together just in protest (I've had them for years). I really don't understand this control they want to exhort over people, I was actually interested in the iPhone but now am sticking with my Blackberry (I have the Bold so do get 3G, well sometimes!).

I do think hackers will always be one step behind Apple with the jailbreaking (again I wasn't interested in this just figure people will always find a way to circumvent any protection placed on anything) – they'll unlock it and then Apple through some update will close that hole but the hackers will keep getting in too.

In the end I just don't think any phone is worth the kind of control they want to have over it, it's my phone I should be able to do whatever I want with it and I'll be sticking with devices that have that same attitude.

Ashi   June 24th, 2009 11:47 am ET

There is no 'moral objection'. A company is offering an item with certain contractual terms. If you don't want it, don't take it. What Comcast does sell is DVR boxes that only work with comcast. If you don't want it, don't take it. It's a packaged deal so that the initial price can be lower. There is no moral objection. If you want to start your own company where you sell phones with no service contract and a higher initial cost instead, go right ahead.

Evan   June 24th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

I've got the iPhone 1G also, i'm currently waiting for the dev team to get the 3GS jailbroken and then will be purchasing the phone with no contract. they are much more expensive this way i believe around $500. it will be well worth it not having to pay $120 a month to AT&T for a data plan that i will never use since there is free wifi almost everywhere.

Tim   June 24th, 2009 12:25 pm ET

It's no different than Microsoft forcing IE on consumers for years. In this case, you have Apple saying look ATT at how popular our device is, Let's make a deal: We'll sell YOU the exclusive rights to all the network traffic, for which you will pay us a premium. Now not only can they profit from the device itself, but from its sentiment. The money making ability of this sentiment would be eliminated if not for the exclusivity of the deal.

Michael   June 24th, 2009 12:33 pm ET

People who have not bothered to do the research to fully undersatnd a situtation should not be complaing! The simple fact is that if you get an iPhone you have 2 choices: either sign the contract with ATT in which case they subsidize the cost of the phone and it's much cheaper, OR pay full price and choose your own carrier. It's a simple business deal, explained in detail by David Pogue on his blog. There is no "moral" issue.

Mark   June 24th, 2009 12:39 pm ET

I've so far resisted and will continue to resist the iPhone or any other smartphone for that matter. I also have a problem with the minimum monthly fees required. Currently my wife & I typically spend less than $80/month for 2 cellphones. I've no desire to spend well over $100/month for cell service. There's no option with any of the services to buy a smartphone and use only the voice plan; you're forced to purchase a data plan. With the additional fees, I could purchase a new device every year.
I needed to replace my Palm OS device, so I compromised by getting the iPod Touch. Cost was higher than the iPhone, but at the end of the year I have far more money in my pocket than if I had gone the iPhone route.

Ilija   June 24th, 2009 12:42 pm ET

The developers that make the applications possible to unlock or jailbreak your phone work closely with the developrs at Apple. The unlock for the IPhone 3GS will be available very soon possibly within the next week. Now as in what you should do? Well it all depends on how you use your phone? Do you use it just like a regular phone but have tons of need for music and pictures? Then you might need a 3GS due to the storage space if you cant get your hands on a 16gig regular one. If you only want to just use it like ppl use there blackberrys for work and play, download a few apps, then stick with the 1st generation. You should jailbreak your phone so you can add 3rd party applications like a video recorder. Jailbreaking your phone is harmless and this does not unlock just gives you the priveledge of not being restricted to apps only available in the app store. I have a Iphone 3G 8gigs with the OS upgrade and I am very happy with it. I can wait a year or so to upgrade to a 3GS. The difference really comes down to space and speed, the speed you really dont notice at times and when I refer too speed I mean processor speeds of both phones. Also unlocking iphones with the new os software is not possible at the moment and neither is unlocking a 3gs, a program called ultrasn0w is in the works to make this possible.

[EDIT] Correction: I checked the site a two days ago, didnt see it was available as of yesterday. Sorry about that.

Joe   June 24th, 2009 12:48 pm ET

Just because you have the money, doesn't mean you should have an iPhone!
Especially if you don't understand how it works or the technical nuances of ownership. So many people today buy gadgets because they are "cool" but have NO CLUE how to operate so it becomes the fault of the gadget or the company that produced the gadget.
There is a price to pay for playing with the latest technical gadgets! Learn it of leave them alone.

Chris   June 24th, 2009 12:49 pm ET

The contract has an early termination fee. It is the escape clause to the contract. It's $175 – ($5/month * num months on contract). So, free and clear it's $410 playing by Apple's rules...and breaking out when you get sick of it.

As far as upgrading...well that's a no brainer.
– double the ram
– double the real speed (with only 50% more processor)
– gps
– quadruple storage
– real video and autofocus camera (cycorder is too slow)
– upgraded graphics processor
– and a compass!!!! YEAH!!!!

Sheeshhh....all it lacks is backgrounding and flash...both of which I expect to see soon.

ender   June 24th, 2009 12:50 pm ET

I'm not quite sure why anyone would buy an Apple product personally.

Its not that Apple makes bad tech. They make decent products that excell in some areas and wane in others, just like their competetors.

My problem with Apple is, and always has been, their inisistance that everything remain proprietary. Quite franky, that ideology has been killing them for decades and continues. If it were not for that foolishness Apple would own 80% of the share like Microsft now does.

I'll stick with IBM compatable products until Apple stops crying "MINE" all the time.

G1 Fan   June 24th, 2009 1:05 pm ET

I'm a loyal T-mobile customer, but have always wanted to try out an iphone. After being informed by a most helpful tmobile customer service rep that I could purchase a unlocked iphone and activate it on tmobile's network I was really excited, only to find out that an unlocked phone would cost much more than I wanted to spend. I went over to ATT to purchase a locked iphone 3g for $99 and even after informing them that I wanted to port over my phone number from tmobile, the red tape was unreal! Mid transaction, i just gave up. I called tmobile back and they offered me a G1 phone for half off the list price. Needless to say I agreed and it was on my desk by the next morning! I love it!!! Its a 3G phone and the android software is a breeze. Take great pics and videos with a simple touch of the screen. The best part is that I am selling my old cellphone to gazelle and will recoop half of the price of the G1! I will NEVER go to ATT!

Nee   June 24th, 2009 1:05 pm ET

I have an iphone. I had AT&T prior to getting the iphone. My bill with my old phone vs my iphone only increased by 10 dollars. I didn't change any of my options – same minutes, same extras, same everything, just added data plan.

Jim   June 24th, 2009 1:36 pm ET

Ok, first off, the orginal Iphone 3G was one of (and still) the most ingenious phone/mini computers to ever be created. Now, the 3GS has been created and it is faster processing, faster surfing the web, has video recording and editing, and of course has thousands of apps which no other phone even comes close to. As far as service, EVERY CELL PHONE CARRIER has issues with spotty coverage, so its not just AT&T...all you Verizon lovers out there, you know you have bad service too sometimes. As far as the new price, I early upgraded and got a partial discount and paid $399.00. Yes it is a steep price but it is worth it. Palm, Blackberries, or other smart phones can try all they want, but they will NEVER match Apple and the Iphone!

chris   June 24th, 2009 1:58 pm ET

Phones have been locked to carriers for a long long time, this is nothing new. People just want Iphones badly so now they decide to throw a hissy fit. other carriers are not magically better than AT&T despite what trash talkers will say. Save money, sign up with ATT and get an iphone. Or buy a 3g, jailbreak and use whatever service you want. i dont believe you mentioned what service you have now.. if it is sprint you might just want to pick up a pre

Donna W   June 24th, 2009 1:59 pm ET

I have been with AT&T (which for me started out as CellOne) since 1986. I have a iphone 3G now and love it. I had a Palm Treo so it took awhile for me to like the iphone. I bought the 2G the year before and hated it. Took it back with in 30 days and got my money back. Then I heard the 3G was better so I bough it. I like this one better ๐Ÿ™‚
Not sure I'll buy the new one anytime soon. But like the one fellow said "it's like a pair of shoe's"

Betty lou   June 24th, 2009 2:10 pm ET

It is not just Apple making the requirements, they work hand in hand with the cell phone companies. The cell companies make the manufacturers sell only to them, in exchange for offering Apple the highest bid for the phone. AT&T won out over the cell phone company I used to work for for three years. Ours did not want it because Apple wanted to keep almost all of the commission and not give the cell co. profit on the sale of the phone. These cell co. make a profit on the phone and our monthly service fees. If everyone would stop upgrading and buying new phones left and right, the prices of the phones would go down. Hence, the ew phone being $199. It is not cheaper just because. New electronics are always on the high end when first released but not this phone. People are buying less frequently and realizing even though we get sick of our phones, an average phone user will spend $600 in four years just in cell phone equipment alone, not including service. We are handing our cash over to these companies who just laugh at their customers, while swimming in their profits. Let's use our landlines and computers a bit more for a while, so our cell prices go down.

Mauree   June 24th, 2009 2:11 pm ET

To the person that said:

Itโ€™s no different than Microsoft forcing IE on consumers for years.

That's laughable. First of all IE is free. Second of all you can switch it off. Saying that they "force it" on you it's like saying apple forces the "txt" application because it comes installed with the iphone.

Erin   June 24th, 2009 2:12 pm ET

Ive worked in the wireless industry for years. They will always find a way to unlock these devices. you should not be bound to a contract with a carrier just because you want a specific device in my opinion. I hope that in the future the manufacturers of these devices will open their eyes and go toward an open platform instead of roping in consumers with snazzy marketing and expensive data plans.

Wes Finley-Price   June 24th, 2009 2:19 pm ET

@Chris – Coincidentally, I currently use AT&T and have no problems with the service, but my 1st-gen phone is unlocked so I can take advantage of cheaper packages. If the phone were not unlocked AT&T would force me into iPhone exclusive "deals" that are more expensive and include extras I don't need.

@Michael – I agree with your statement, but my "moral objection" is with Apple's attempts to prevent unlocking. You should be allowed to pay full price and choose your own carrier without fighting Apple's DRM, and without worrying that a future software update could re-lock your phone.

Rajiv   June 24th, 2009 2:36 pm ET

The way Apple is controling the iPhone customers, I think this should end immediately. What happens if Microsoft came up with the same idea and blocks Windows from using other internet ISPs or restricts from using browsers other than Internet Explorer.

MikeC   June 24th, 2009 2:52 pm ET

Alright just take note... It was only AT&T that opened up it's doors and allowed Apple unprecedented access to their network. It's not Apple's fault the other carriers declined this.

The start of the iPhone was demanding on the company that wanted to help it become a possibility and with out AT&T's original risk, the phone would not be anywhere near what it is today.

I didn't like AT&T, but I love the iPhone and the network isn't enough to keep me away. It's just whatever. I didn't buy the phone anyway... I bought one of the greatest multimedia devices available and it just happens to have a phone on it. That's only 1/10 of the reason for having one.


Pamela   June 24th, 2009 2:56 pm ET

The iPhone is a glorious, nifty toy. Lord knows I almost bought one when the price of the G3 dropped to $99 bucks recently. But dude, we're in the middle of a recession. My paychecks are smaller, just like so many other folk out there, and I can't HAVE a shiny new toy right now.

So. How bad do you want that shiny toy? You willing to suck it up and play Apple's game? Or suck it up and pay a bundle for not playing their game? Me, I'm sticking to the old standby. Unless a new iPhone G3S has features that you MUST have to get important things done, keep the old one and wait.

toct   June 24th, 2009 3:36 pm ET

Don't do it!
I have a first Gen IPHONE.
I hate AT&T. I love my phone.
Stick with your old phone get the new software and wait until AT&T's Dark Empire Like Grip on IPHONE falls away. First they promised I could keep my old phone number if it was an AT&T number. I couldn't.
My international calling bill is hella high even though i have the very funnily advertised extremely inefficient World Call plan. Service interrupts in the middle of the most urban area's, although all my friends boast about getting service in places like Sundance, Utah and Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK; I need service in Newark, New York and London and find AT&T lacking. (Every time I come out of the subway it takes my phone about 5 minutes to find a signal.) I cannot wait for the day Apple emancipates their great device from the clutches of At&t and I can sign up with the more expensive but at least reliable Verizon.

Casey   June 24th, 2009 3:40 pm ET

All carriers offer a 2 Year contractual discount on phones, and everyone opts for this option without a second glance to get the cheaper purchase price of a device. Dont get all up in a bunch just because that's the only option here. This is merely a tactic for AT&T to limit the number of customers who jump ship mid way through their service contract leaving them holding the bill for discounting the phone in the first place. It's business, and that's all there is to it. Tmobile, Verizon and Sprint all have similar tactics on their devices, they just dont sell the coveted iPhone to get the press behind it. Buy the phone, enjoy the features, and realize you have had a phone for more than 2 years so it's not like this contract is inopportune. Just verify the service of AT&T 3G before you buy as you would on any service.

Jim   June 24th, 2009 3:42 pm ET

Well most of us have budgets that we have to stick to but if there are certain things that you can splurge on, it is something useful like an Iphone, unlike a pair of shoes....(Pamela). The new 3GS (its not called G3S) is unlike any other phone developed and I am not rich or well off but choose my spending wisely and this is a great investment!

kyle   June 24th, 2009 4:12 pm ET

get over yourself. if you buy a new car and a year later the dealer has a newer shinier better version... do you go back to the dealer crying for a trade up or refund?? NO. apple is calling the shots. like it or not. and being one of the most successfully marketed devices in history with flocks of mindless zombies rushing to get one because they think its the pinnacle of mobile... little will change any time soon

Tiffany   June 24th, 2009 4:29 pm ET

I have a question...If you buy an unlocked iphone from overseas where they sell iphones without contracts, does that mean you are not bound to the AT&T contract even though you have AT&T as your carrier?
I bought a 3G iPhone when I was traveling in Hong Kong. At the end of the trip I bought an unlocked iPhone from one of the authorized resellers/stores. I activated the iphone when I got back to the states, and without a data plan, the phone started connected to the internet and I was getting charge for it. So I contacted AT&T and told them that I would like to block data usage on the phone since I can use WiFi. But the AT&T rep said that since I am using an iPhone and AT&T is the only carrier in the US that offers the phone, I MUST get a data plan. He also said that he could block data for me FOR NOW, but once their system sweeps to see which iphones do not have a data plan with them, they would send me a text message and tell me that they would now require me to get a data that true? It's been almost two months since I activated my iphone with AT&T, but I haven't gotten any text message from them yet.

MikeC   June 24th, 2009 4:42 pm ET

Oh and if you're complaining about the cost... it was released today that they are almost selling at cost. It takes $178.96 in parts and manufacturing to produce a 3GS. When you think about it, it's realistic considering the high quality scratch proof class, crazy touch sensors and just high quality chips set and plastics/metals all around.

And also realize that all phone companies have there flagship phone that is exclusive to that carrier. Please also write blogs for those new smart phones as well ๐Ÿ™‚

David   June 24th, 2009 11:51 pm ET

I have a better idea. Don't fall into Apples ridiculous scamming scheme to take your money on a not-so-hot product that offers lame improvements that should have been there in the first place just so that they can take more money from the previous people who where dumb enough to buy the original iphone.

Sean   June 25th, 2009 1:39 am ET

What is truly obscene is the way in which the iphone has been crippled to comply with ATT's contractual terms. For example, the bluetooth stack has been crippled to prevent users from using their iphone as a 3G modem for their laptop. This is a ploy by ATT to protect their bandwidth. But it is a permanenet cripple to all iphones, even those not locked to ATT. Even worse, it applies to iphones sold overseas where ATT has no presence. So an iphone bought in Australia ( where I live) is crippled even though every Australian carrier allows mobile handsets to be used as modems.
Other comments have said well its a contract you are free to accept it or reject it. The deal between apple and ATT is an example of a restrictive trade practice which denies that basic freeedom of contract. You can't choose to pay more to buy an iphone with a proper bluetooth stack.

Brian   June 25th, 2009 1:47 am ET

Baby if you want this device to work like it was intended stick with the program. And buy an iPhone the legal way. The beauty of Apple products, which may be ugly to some, is that they strictly control their products because they have built services and great software around and into this phone. That's why it works so wonderfully. But when you start to circumvent the process by unlocking this and jail breaking that you break the spell that really makes the device awesome. Go ahead and buy that iPhone. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nelson   June 25th, 2009 2:16 am ET

Buy an HTC Android phone. Seriously.

Eso   June 25th, 2009 3:51 am ET

Even though the contract is onerous if you really like the phone I think you should go for the contract. My reasoning is this. Every product is backed my extensive design and manufacturing expense. In order to keep these products coming, apple has to do certain things to guarantee its revenues. Just think about it. If all users of the iphone got jailbroken versions and apple ends up not making enough from its agreement with AT & T it may be a disincentive to investing in a 4th generation iphone in the future

NB: This is not a sop to big business
NB2: I dont own an iphone (but I have a 32gb ipod touch) and I dont because I can get better functionality right now in other handsets (e.g. xperia x1, htc HD etc. I must admit however that for wow factor nothing beats the Iphone

Joe   June 25th, 2009 7:26 am ET

I have been using AT&T for service for many years and I plan on staying with AT&T so buying the I-Phone with a two year contract is no biggie for me. If it were not for AT&T having the contract with Apple we could not afford the I-Phone. The development and manufacturing cost would make the phone too expensive for anyone. You have to have a carrier so if you like the I-Phone then what is the big deal about having a contract?? I do not see a problem and I love the I-Phone!!! I also am very satified with AT&T.

Peggy   June 25th, 2009 12:52 pm ET

Mark, I got around the data contract required by Verizon for the Blackberrys by buying an SMT5800. I too just wanted to get rid of my Palm and have everything in my phone. Didn't want email. Just Outlook contacts, calendar and tasks plus being able to read/write Word & Excel files. SMT5800 had no data contract requirement. Love the phone. And surprisingly, like Windows Mobile.

Can't afford an iPhone. And not a fan of touch screens anyway.

JT   June 25th, 2009 1:47 pm ET

A crude analogy:

Would you buy a Ford and complain because you couldn't get a Chevy engine in it to power it?

The agreement with AT&T is what it is, take it or leave it.

Just like the people who complained about bricking their iPhone after updating the OS after a hack. If you don't agree, don't buy it, but don't complain about it. It's a great device, it's cutting edge and new so some day we'll probably see the flexibility you get with a RAZR, in the meantime enjoy it for what it is.

Upgrade because the new phone will be that much better and the fact that you are tied to AT&T won't matter while you're playing SIMS 3 or watching baseball on MLB At Bat 2009.

andrew   June 25th, 2009 1:51 pm ET

AT & T is horrible. PERIOD. I had Verizon for years until I bought the iphone. I have been plagued with problems, dropped call, etc.

AT & T is a second rate carrier.

TG   June 25th, 2009 2:00 pm ET

I happen to be nearing the end of my contract, and I'm going to re-up with a brand new iPhone 3GS. Don't want to be saddled with AT&T, but still want an iPhone? Get over it or buy an iPod Touch. It's the same thing minus the phone...

Matt   June 25th, 2009 2:31 pm ET

Wes, what a complete waste of life you must have to actually address this issue. Just buy the phone and quit whining and try to find some enjoyment out of life instead of focusing and petty things like your post.

alan   June 25th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

Whats is all the fuss about?

I am a Verizon customer, and have thier "free up" every 2 years plan... I own each phone after 2 years and I get to select which phone I want.

2 years ago I bought the LG Env and PAID $100 beyond the $49.00 I got towards the new phone... Verizon service has been fine- I don't use gadgets much, but the keyboard has been indispensable and the inside screen is bright and large.

Now I am done... I own the phone, and will soon buy the Iphone 3G 8gig version for $99.00 at the end of 2 years it's mine. I don't see any difference in what Verizon's approach to what Apple and ATT are doing.

My bill will go up by 10.00/month, but I will have far more flexibility and more options which are all included. I get much more for my money from both the phone and the phone plan.

If I elected to continue with Verizion, they nickle and dime you to death! The costs are outrageous, and the new phones cost triple what the Iphone is.. I will be happy to switch and have ATT subsidize my phone.

Verizon store staff are rude, concieted, power hungry wimps. They are always "busy" and brush you off like flakes of dandruff. Who needs that abuse?

I've visited 3 ATT stores... in 3 cities, was treated well, the salesman were courteous, helpful and explained everything I needed to know. They were not pushy or arrogant. You bet I am switching over! It will be the best 100.00 investment Ive made in a while and the increase in monthly fees is bearable.

I am willing to give ATT and Apple a chance to show off their capabilities. It won't all be perfect... the 3G service is not available everywhere, that's OK with me.

Joe   June 25th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

Its really tempting to let go and fall under the spell of ATT to have the coolest gadget, but if you step back and reason the dilema you'll see that not only are your remarks true, but in addition it will cost you at least $30 more in monthly plan fees, compared to Sprint plans which right now, I think, is the carrier with the best cellular plans. So to have the coolest gadget it will cost you a lot more than other carrier that offer cool phones too, that come close to the IPhone. So if you are a savy consumer you'll wait patiently like I'am waiting for the IPhone to be offered on another carrier, if in the other hand you must have the latest without regard to what it cost, then you should be heading to the Apple Store.

BILL G   June 25th, 2009 3:46 pm ET

What control freaks... I'd be happy to trade in my iPhone but and commit to AT&T for two fresh years, but apparently you are only allowed to buy so many iPhones in a one year period. We had 2 iPhones stolen this year, and even with police reports to prove it, apple WILL NOT sell me an iPhone... they won't take my money! What kind of business is that?

Love iPhone Hate AT&T   June 25th, 2009 3:50 pm ET

I have a first generation iPhone and have now purchased a new 3GS. I did so reluctantly because of horrible AT&T service and will abide by the terms. However, I have also sent letters, professionally written to executives at both AT&T and Apple, outlining in great detail the problems I have experienced with the AT&T service. They have been numerous. As a result of my letters I have received calls from executives at both companies asking for my input on how the service can be improved. I now have contact information which I use regularly to update them on the problems with the AT&T service. I like working within "the law" so to speak in constructive ways to try and improve on it. I think I've had an impact, but only time will tell for sure. Sure all carriers have outages and if that were the only problem, I'd live with it. But when you experience a real outage and call to report it, and get a really rude operator who tells you there is nothing wrong with the network, that I just don't know how to dial a phone; that is completely unacceptable and prompted my aggressive campaign to get Apple to open the iPhone to other carriers. Let me decide who I want as a carrier if you expect me to purchase the next version of an iPhone, no matter how good the phone gets.

Andrew   June 25th, 2009 4:00 pm ET

Wait a year – I talked to someone from Verizon about the possibility of having the iPhone on their network, and he assured me that, come next year, Verizon will carry the iPhone on their 4G network. Do NOT switch over to AT&T just for the iPhone; that is a silly reason to change carriers especially if your carrier works for you.

Seriously, wait a year. It'll pay off.

Andrew   June 25th, 2009 4:41 pm ET

I'm sorry you're stuck with AT&T. I work in Long Beach, CA and have an uncle whose house is in another part of Long Beach. They have no signal or barely have any signal here.

Frank   June 25th, 2009 5:07 pm ET

I have a ipod touch and am loving it. It has all the functionality of the iphone except the phone and camera bits. My wife and I carry cheap cell phones that came with the plan – and they have crappy cameras just like the iphone – and we together pay $65/month for service. I can update my touch by plugging it into my calendars at work and at home and I use it for email, web-browsing, all the apps etc. It was a one-time $225 and now between these two devices I have everything that anyone with an iphone has. The town I live in offers wifi for $20/month if I want it – at least a $10 savings vs ATT data plan – but my office, macdonalds, and numerous other locations have free wifi so I haven't bothered to sign up for the city plan.

Greg Sviland   June 25th, 2009 5:43 pm ET

You do not need to port your current cell phone number to the iPhone when it is activated. It can be activated with a new original number, then at some time of your choosing you can port the number. So the guy who did not want to get an iPhone for his girlfriend as a gift because it would make her current cell phone unusable when he left the store with her new iPhone is full of it. Probably just being cheap.

San Picciarelli   June 25th, 2009 6:53 pm ET

That's a very simple question, mate: jailbreak it. Apple scored a million phones sold just like that. The two year term is nothing more than a counter-argument and, to be honest, trying to control the way customers use their device and stimulating centralisation to one or two companies (pre-dealt up ones) is simply not compatible with the market of our generation: an information-based pool of customers who want (and demand, or at least they should) nothing but running their own pockets, not mattering much how cool new biz's latest technology is. Break free.

I am not fond of using cracked apps for instance because they actually do not cost a lot and by doing that, we kill a second-wave long cut of programmers and developers, and that is just not that fare (although both Apple and developers could seriously considering a time-limited trial period for full apps (not that LITE crap), and therefore, not obligating users to "Pay First, Sorry Later". BTW, I've never heard of people claiming refunds for bad apps at the Apple Online Store.

Anyway. Go on and Get one, jailbreak it, break free.

Megan Pawlak   June 25th, 2009 9:35 pm ET

In my opinion, most people who buy apple products recognize that there is something of good quality there. And the reason for that quality is apple's desire to micro-manage everything. Buying apple means buying in to Apple's philosophy. You have less choice, but your equipment is going to last longer and be more enjoyable because it's much harder to make mistakes that will invite viruses and crash your machine. Similarly, Apple has an image to maintain like anything else. They want to say their app store is (relatively) clean. If you want total unbridled freedom, ditch the iPhone and go for a T-Mobile G1. But I, for one, am far more skeptical about AT&T wireless, as I'm a loyalist to T-Moble. Apple made a mistake in contracting out to only a single carrier since carrier qualtiy varies from city to city. In Chicago, T-Mobile and Verizon have the best coverage, not AT&T. I would worry more about having just one contract to AT&T alone and less about Apple's management of the iPhone software.

Mark   June 26th, 2009 2:04 am ET

I would buy it off of eBay, I hate service agreements, the service provider is still pulling a profit from the sale of a 'upgrade', and then your stuck with crappy AT&T service. I sold my last two phones online and I will buy my next new phone used, those silly contracts are bogus. Simply put, if the phones off eBay work, don't add to AT&T's account, if the quality is under par, buy one new...

MacmanDe   June 26th, 2009 6:43 am ET

AT&T's 2 yr contract is nothing new, they & other cell carriers have done this for years. I have an iPhone 3G i bought July 2008, and I cannot upgrade to the 3GS until Dec. 2009, and still have to pay $499. I could get it now and pay $699 !

It's OUTRAGEOUS AT&T can get away with this highway robbery, but it's the capitalist system, the law of supply & demand. They know they can charge the price they do for the iphone, and require the contract, because people will pay it.

Apple has always locked down their technology so they can control it. Look at the Mac OS, they don't license it to other PC hardware, like Microcrap does. Which I think is good becuase as a result the software & hardware work much better than Windoze. Apple is just like Comcast - you can't buy only their DVR or cable boxes and use them for other cable companies. It's a shame that companies can force consumers to sign their contracts, but that's the way it is if you want the device.

We should be urging Congress to force competition upon Apple & AT&T, that is the only way to lower prices. Cell companies shouldn't be allowed to require long term contracts. I don't believe for one second that AT&T needs a 2 yr contract to cover the costs for the iphone. That's typical marketing B.S. The actual "cost" of the hardware, and AT&T's network is most likely, very small, and they are raking in BILLIONS from us stupid consumers who have to have the latest phone or gadget. We need competition like in the TV industry, where you have satellite, over the air broadcast, cable, or "fios" type services that compete and keep costs down.

gwats   June 26th, 2009 7:39 am ET

I was with verizon for 14 years and when I dumped them for AT&T for an iPhone, I tossed their CDMA phones into the trash. They also tried to screw me over for an extra month's service , good luck collecting that ever! AT&T's coverage is ten times better while I live and work, so switching was a no-brainer and I couldn't be happier.

David B   June 26th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

All great comments. Should I, shouldn't I? I love conversations about consumerism. At one point I owned a shiny iphone. Regardless of the contractual nuances it is an amazing device, truly remarkable. It was, sadly, later stolen. One would think that's a horrible thing


It's put a huge perspective on the "want" versus "need" conflict in all purchases. It's a luxury item. A high priced mobile bill is a luxury. I don't care in what business if you can't afford the cost it doesn't make sense. The same is true for many things we now call "needs"(i.e. internet, cable, LCD televisions). If we had to, we could get by.

That's from first hand perspective because I lost my iphone then had to switch to Tmobile. That's because AT&T wanted me to pay full price for a new model. I paid AT&T their cancellation fee but after a month I also lost my job. Fun.

Tmobile actually let me out of my contract without the cancellation fee because I simply asked in a letter. They did add it to my bill but applied a $200 "goodwill" credit towards my account. Then, I moved on to my current plan with Boost. It is not the best coverage and texts are not so fast but it's $50 per month, flat. I am saving about $50 per month and in Jan. 2010 will go back to Tmobile and get a "G2."

Not even sure if that will happen because I love the universality of my time. Waiting until 9pm to make calls or defer them until dark is just not convenient. For all the features of the iphone it gets very expensive per month if one needs a plan with ample daytime minutes. I need mobile telephone service, and I get that unlimited now 24 hours a day.

Justin   June 27th, 2009 5:26 pm ET

Get a palm pre with sprint. Cheaper service plans, better reception. If you haven't played with it dont you dare go IPhone Fanboy crazy on me. WebOs is alot smoother and the multitasking alone makes it loads better then an Iphone. Only thing apple has on the palm pre right now is thousands of mainly useless apps and video recording.

D in Dallas   June 30th, 2009 1:39 pm ET

just bought an iphone 3g from buddy, maybe 3 months old, had it jailbroken and some other software loaded on it and it actually works better that an Iphone. It has so many options now like recording video, changing colors and backgrounds and also she can actually download youtube videos and watch them later rather than just watch them. The only thing is she can't use the 3g service but the edge is really fast. Her unlocked iphone is actually quicker than my wing. We pay $89 a month for unlimited mins for 2 lines plus around $30 each for data plans. About the same as 1 line with at&t. Unlock is your best bet. I research any and everything before I buy and that is the best way to go. Good Luck....

aaron   June 30th, 2009 7:04 pm ET

Just buy it. I pay 80 bucks a month on a family plan and I love it. Theres not actually free wifi everywhere and even if there is, who's to say how good it is? and sometimes you have restrictions.

Matt   September 29th, 2009 1:44 pm ET

Chances are that by now you have already made your decision – however, if you elect to purchase a new iphone ($99), you can be assured that the applications that were specifically designed to take advantage of all the capabilities of the phone will work. As opposed to finding an app and discovering that it is not compatible with your phone or the performance is substantially degraded because of some issue or another.

Just my .02

Allan   November 17th, 2009 9:48 am ET

I have lost all touch pad sounds on my iPhone 3G after installing the most recent 3.1.2 update.

Does anyone know why this is the case?


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Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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