Is There a Market (Again!) for the iPhone 2G?

Before WWDC in June of 2008, when Apple announced the iPhone 3G, supplies of the original iPhone (now called 2G) began to dry up. Apple killed the iPhone 2G rather than allow two versions of the device to be on the market at the same time.

So why is every internet rumor and it's quotable analyst predicting Apple will once again introduce a low-end $99 iPhone this spring/year/at Walmart? Why do they think Apple will bring back the iPhone 2G? (which is essential what a cheap, 4GB, EDGE, non-GPS iPhone would be). Sure, the still-ongoing economic problems are a concern to every consumer electronics maker. Granted, non-subsidized markets like India have been difficult for the premium iPhone to penetrate. Okay, Steve Jobs said they wouldn't leave an umbrella beneath the iPhone for competition to try to exploit. FINE!

But here's the thing: Since when has Apple done "cheap" anything? Aren't these the same analysts that have been "predicting" an iPhone nano? An Apple Netbook? A bargain basement MacX mini-tower?

There are some markets Apple chooses not to participate in. And Apple doesn't know how to make cheap products that aren't crap.

Sure, maybe they'll re-introduce the iPhone 2G. Maybe they'll make a Netbook. Maybe Steve JOBS will appear on Dancing with Stars. Maybe I'll look really stupid when all of the above happens this year. Maybe not.

My guess? If Apple introduces new hardware like they're expected to this summer, maybe this time they'll let the iPhone 3G hand around as an 8GB lower-end model. We'll see if supplies start drying up around the May/June time frame.

Meanwhile, instead of breaking out my magic 8-ball again, I'm going to ask YOUR opinions. What do you think? Will Apple bring back the iPhone 2G? Will they go cheap?

(Thanks to Mike for sending in yet another analyst prediction, prompting this question).

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

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

Is There a Market (Again!) for the iPhone 2G?


Not a chance!!!
Although I do like the idea of the older hardware being sold unlocked direct from Apple outside of the exclusivity agreement with the carriers.
For example when the 3G came out, they should have continued selling the "2G" version direct from their own website, in an unlocked state. I think this would have been:
a) Great for customers who don't want / cant have the official carrier
b) a brilliant revenue stream for Apple
But no I don't really want to see the old hardware come back and I really can't see it happening at all. Apple may keep selling older hardware after a replacement has been release (think MacBook White or MacBook Pro 17") but they wouldn't re-introduce them again.

It wouldn't make sense to bring back the 2G iPhone unless it was for markets outside the US. AT&T is working on strengthening their 3G coverage and weakening the Edge network as they are moving it to the 1900Mhz band. Why would Apple want to bring a phone to the US that would run on the dying Edge band?
Secondly, how much does $100.00 really make to someone who is looking at paying a minimum of a $70.00 monthly bill before taxes. Why would you want to save $100.00 upfront and get a inferior product when you are spending almost a $1,000.00 annually for the service? It would only make sense if they brought a "feature phone" with a reduced monthly service cost.
I agree with keeping the 3G 8GB (or 16GB) phone around after the 4G comes out, but Apple does appear to be able to bring a new and improved product out for a little less than the last version. So there may be no need for a cheaper version.

I doubt they would go back to the edge only; however I wouldn't apple going back to the aluminum backing if they could figure out a way to make it work with the 3G antenna. The plastic casing is far too brittle. Both of mine have cracks in the exact same spots, and in general it's very creaky

I think its possible. I have no reason to use the 3G service. As a college student the plan is $10 less and mind you the phone is cheaper as well. If i had the 3g i probably would have the function off most of the time to increase the battery life

I highly doubt it, but Apple is always changing things up that we would never expect. Jobs is not doing the best so maybe some of the other people are speaking their mind and this 2g iphone will come back? personally i dont think it will but i know if the iphone dropped in price again, more people would get it. But the chances of that is very slim seeing that a crappier smartphone(compared to the iphone) can go for a lot more then the iphone yet you get a lot less

2G stays dead in my opinion. I also don't believe there's going to be any new hardware. I do believe that we're going to see a 32gb 3G and maybe some near enhancements with a 3.0 software

I know 32gb is technically a hardware change but other than that.
Oh, and I meant to type "neat enhancements"

Living in a market where there is no 3G (Vermont) yet we have no choice but to pay for the 3G service, I would welcome the 2G returning, though I doubt it would happen.

no chance....with the iPhone's competition strengthing, there's no way they'll let all those early adopters( who's contract will expire in June) switch by selling a 2G phone And even the 3G which doesn't empress 2G users bc there's not much of a difference other than $15 + more- iPhone HD ftw

I'd like to just see the current model, with twice the battery life! If there is a "HD" type model released, but with similar battery performance - I will not be upgrading.

@Frog they will continue to tell us whatever is needed to sell us their products. the 3g has a smaller capacity battery and still we're buying it because it was supposed to have a better performance which it has not...

@Kyle Yes & No. Yes in a sense is stands for 3nd generation, but No in the sense of iPhone.
2G is the global standard for second generation, wireless communications. Which is regulated via the International Mobile Telecommunication Union

They won't do either. They won't bring back the 8GB iPhone 2G or make some cheap iPhone. I think they will up the next iPhone to 32GB and keep the 8GB iPhone 3G as is. The new iPhone will most likely have new hardware and a new look. A netbook ? I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure how they will market it. I think a netbook will take sales away from the MacBook since it is their cheapest notebook.