AT&T airs new iPhone 3GS for $49 commercial

AT&T is airing a new -- that's right, new! -- commercial for the 2010 iPhone 3GS 8GB highlighting it's recently lowered price of $49. AT&T also has a new logo treatment at the end, which has also been attached to their previous iPhone 4 "anniversary" commercial.

Is it odd for AT&T to be advertising a phone that's been on the market, in one form or another, for for roughly 19 months now? Is the $49 price point so attractive compared to the $199 starting point for iPhone 4 that AT&T feels it's worth the marketing dollars -- even over newer Android and Windows Phone devices?

Or is AT&T simply touting something else Verizon can't match -- a bargain iPhone?

(We'll replace the above video with the official AT&T version as soon as it's posted).

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

AT&T airs new iPhone 3GS for $49 commercial


Does this really affect a large number of people? If you're not buying the iPhone 4, you're saving 150$ up front. But you're still paying the same (expensive) rates for data plans, unlimited txt, minutes, etc. that are associated with owning an iPhone/month. I would assume the 3GS is aimed at a demographic that does not want to spend a lot of money, yet saving 150$ is not really that much compared to two years worth of iPhone monthly service charges. I'm missing the allure. Also, I won't buy another iPhone until its available in white!

I love the commercial. I work for AT&T and since the 3GS dropped to 49 I have sold more of them than the iphone 4 by at least a 3:1 margin and I work in a pretty wealthy area. Its funny to see how many we sell but it is HUGE advantage that we have over the Verizon iPhone. People look at it like "I can get an iPhone for $50? Why not" Not everybody cares about having the absolute latest. I've seen more parents buying the 3GS for their 11 and 12 year olds like crazy. And I'm loving it. I have a friend that works at Verizon and I sold more iPhone 3GS the he sold iPhone 4s on Feb 10!!

Excellent points mike! 3GS for $50 makes a lot of sense for a kid present - they will either bust it or get it stolen or whatever, but $50 is not $200-300.

The 2010 iPhone 3Gs. I thought that came out in June of 09?? Not 2010. Or am I reading this article wrong?

@Ricardo: The cheaper 8GB iPhone 3GS came out in 2010, alongside the iPhone 4. The iPhone 3GS launched in 2009 was only available in 16GB and 32GB sizes.

I think it's a good deal for those who "must have an iPhone" it can run all the current games and aps fine. Personally I couldn't survive with an 8gb. I sold my 16gb 3GS to get a 32gb ip4 a long time ago. Between apps, movies, and music videos you (or at least I) run out of space really fast. Wish the ip5 comes in 64gb!

The apps are getting bigger, music collections are getting bigger, everything digital is getting bigger. What can you do with 8GB of storage now a days? I got my verizon iphone the day it came out and already used up 7 GB on the first day.
I can wipe my bum with 8GB lol.

i would actually argue that services like pandora, hulu+ and other streaming media applications make the need for large amounts of local storage less relevant than they were previously. granted there's no replacement for local storage when it comes to apps (large games are probably the #1 culprit), but as wifi networks continue to proliferate and increase in speed it's no longer what you have on your device, so much as what you have for a connection.

I think there is still a large market in the US who expects to get free phones every 2 years. They don't care about the latest greatest and probably don't want a smart phone. Saying that though, say what you will, the iPhone is a device just about everyone at least is aware exists. One of these customers may see the commercial or walk into a store and decide that $50 is ok to spend on their phone, but not $200, and pick up that $15 data plan. Not everyone wants the latest greatest and unlimited data we must remember.

The big advantage AT&T has over verizon is the price. $49 for an iPhone and $15 data, if my son was old enough to have a cell phone, this is what I would get him. It's really a great deal if you can get by with 200mb cellular data.

Hence the iPhone Nano rumors. I still think it makes more sense to keep selling last years model rather than set up a whole new production line for another model, but whichever way they go there is obviously a market for cheap starter iPhones. Yes, saving a few dollars up-front when you're paying so much over the contract isn't always the wisest choice, but it's a fact that's what a lot of people choose. I imagine a lot of these phones are additions to family plans. Kids break or lose a lot of phones, and these are cheaper to replace.

I've had my 8GB 3GS for almost three months now. Aside from the form factor and front facing camera on the i4, I don't feel like I'm carrying a dated devic at all. If you think of your iPhone as a small computer (which it essentially is), last year's model functions just fine. As much as I love the latest and greatest, myself and many other users can't throw down for a new iPhone every June, and since the reduced price models started coming out with the 3G, it's allowed us to buy newer hardware without a hefty price tag when upgrade time rolls around. I'm all for Apple continuing to offer the previous model or a reduced price as opposed to another kind of iPhone. I think it makes more sense to offer users full functionality minus a couple of shiny upgrades, versus a watered down partially functional model. They need to stop using firmware upgrades to disable models two generations behind!

First adopters read this site. They think iPhone4 is the way to go. I have it, but could easily get by with the 3GS. And sometimes wish for it as it never hung up on me when my ear touched the screen. At $49, the non-first-adopters get in with what they want. They are usually upgrading from something way way below an iPhone. As the ATT salesperson said, he is selling many. Kids. Those more frugal. Maybe groups not wanting to leap to the 4 if the 3GS is $150 less.

I work in sales for ATT. Since this $49 price came out, ive sold TONS of 3GS'. Incredible how people will buy a 2yr old phone to save $150. Its especially weird bc of the time of year. lol @ iPhone n00bz.

It seems to me that the new deal may be an attractive option for some of those who do not use their phone for watching movies.

The worst thing ever to happen to the usefulness of a phone was all the useless garbage it does to negate it actually working like a phone should as a first line of 'can do'. That said, I have windows phones, T9'ers, and an iPhone 4, and have used a 16gb 3GS in the past.
Gotta say, the 3 GS water is fine. It actually WORKS as a phone, and has some nice things beyond that. I have to add though, that the security of a 3GS (about a year ago, anyway) was crap. If you think for even a second that putting personal or financial info on these devices is ok, you'd better do some research into it. It's a real education about SSH ports and just how vulnerable you really are.
For daily use... 3gs is cool. Anyting sensitive, look elsewhere.

Anthony, Use the extra money for the monthly charges, not to buy an IPhone 4. Use your money smart.