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A $99 iPhone? It's already here

If the rumored $99 iPhone 3G doesn't materialize next week, don't worry: You can get a refurbished model for exactly that price--right now. A shorter warranty is the only negative.

You can get a refurbished iPhone 3G for $99 right now.

At next week's Worldwide Developers Conference, we should find out if the rumors of a $99 iPhone are true.

Of course, savvy shoppers know that it's already possible to buy an iPhone for $99: For several months, AT&T has offered refurbished 8GB models for that tempting price.

(More recently, the company dropped the price of refurbished 16GB iPhones to $149, but at the moment those are out of stock.)

Obviously it makes sense to wait a few days and see what develops at the conference. After all, if you can buy a new iPhone 3G for $99, why go with a refurb? On the other hand, if the rumors don't pan out, you stand to save $100 (or $150 if you choose the 16GB model).

What's more, the only real downside to buying a refurbished iPhone is the warranty: 90 days instead of 12 months. That's probably a deal-breaker for some, but at least you can add an extended warranty and still come out ahead.

Personally, it's not the price of the hardware that bothers me: It's the $70 minimum monthly service charges. Forget the $99 iPhone--I want a service plan that's under $50. Somehow, I doubt very much we'll hear that kind of announcement on Monday. Sigh.