Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Stick or twist 3G: Should I upgrade my iPhone?

With the arrival of the hallowed iPhone 3G, existing iPhoners have a decision to make: to upgrade or not to upgrade? And just how much more are we willing to shell out?

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
3 min read
Advertiser Disclosure
Advertiser Disclosure
This advertising widget is powered by Navi and contains advertisements that Navi may be paid for in different ways. You will not be charged for engaging with this advertisement. While we strive to provide a wide range of offers, this advertising widget does not include information about every product or service that may be available to you. We make reasonable efforts to ensure that information in the featured advertisements is up to date, each advertiser featured in this widget is responsible for the accuracy and availability of its offer details. It is possible that your actual offer terms from an advertiser may be different than the offer terms in this advertising widget and the advertised offers may be subject to additional terms and conditions of the advertiser which will be presented to you prior to making a purchase. All information is presented without any warranty or guarantee to you.

So it's finally here: the fabled 3G iPhone arrives on 11 July. Anyone who's been waiting to buy will have a pretty straightforward decision, as it's a great phone made better and cheaper. But what about those who shelled out the full price for the first-generation iPhone? As one of those number, this Craver received a text message from O2 pointing to a page that explained the options. We took a look, comparing both generations, and considered whether it's worth upgrading.

We know all the new features: 3G (HSDPA actually), GPS and iPhone 2.0 software. It's unquestionably a better phone, with 3G speeds completing the Web-browsing puzzle. Existing iPhone owners can upgrade to 3G on 11 July, with the only proviso being that it's back to the start of a new 18-month contract. This won't be an issue for most owners, who've already reconciled themselves to the long contract. What is a big issue is that you'll have to shell out an extra £99 to get the 8GB handset on the £30 and £35 tariffs. For those users who bought the 8GB in the recent price cut, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. But for 16GB users like your humble Craver, that's another ton.

The 8GB 3G model is free to anyone taking up a £45 or £75 contract, but that's £810 or £1,350 over the contract period -- still a boatload of bread. And if you currently have a 16GB model and don't want to downgrade memory-wise, it'll cost £159 on the 30-something tariffs, £59 on the £45 and free at £75 -- on top of the initial £329 you've already shelled out. You're also left with a spare handset, which O2 charitably suggests you can palm off on a family member or friend.

But why do that when you can flog it? Take the £99 hit, and cover that by selling your existing first-gen handset. It'll need to be unlocked or jailbroken, which is a pretty straightforward process -- not that we can condone that sort of behaviour, of course. It's a grey area, but it's fairly likely this will violate your contract, void your warranty and possibly even knacker your insurance. So don't do it.* The good news is, at the time of writing, unlocked handsets are doing a brisk trade on eBay, with prices more than covering a new handset. The 16GB is selling at around £250.

Incidentally, if you're on the £35 tariff and would like that fiver a month back to spend on chocolate or crack, don't bother. You only get 75 free minutes on the £30 tariff, which is the telephonicular equivalent of a kick in the old Jackson Pollocks.

Or, of course, you may have developed a deeper bond with your trusty EDGE iPhone. Maybe your head hasn't been turned by the seductive speeds of 3G. Maybe you want to stick to your silver-backed friend, scratched faceplate and all. Maybe you've even given the slow-but-dependable little fella a name**. Or maybe you're getting cynical at the constant pricing shenanigans and are happy to stick with what you've got until the next price crash makes the whole iPhone experience a little more palatable. Let us know how you feel in the comments or our 3G iPhone forum.

So what are we going to do? Well, us Cravers are data-speed junkies surfing the bleeding edge of technology, so of course we're going to upgrade. But we're secure in the knowledge that even though it will require channelling more cash Apple's way, there is the option to recoup some of that with a nifty quick sale. And when our kids ask us why they can't go to university, we can look them square in the eye and say "because I had an iPhone". They'll understand. -Rich Trenholm

*Unless you really want to.
**Ours is called Henry Rollins iPhone.