What to Do With Your First Generation iPhone?

by Bakari Chavanu Jun 20, 2008

I never purchased a first generation iPhone, mainly because I've learned that paying for first generation Apple hardware means subsidizing the next generation, which is typically a lower price than the original. This is not a swipe at your first generation iPhone buyers. You were trend setters. Hip. Stylishly nerdy. Maybe a little broke after your purchase. But dang, you helped make history. 


However, now you're faced with upgrading to the iPhone 3G (or is it iPhone 2.0? I guess it depends on how you look at it.)


No doubt, many first gens are now hinting at their wives or bosses about a iPhone 2.0 purchase, but indeed what are you going to do with a $500 phone that's hardly a year old? How much could you even re-sell it for, given that the upgrade is only $199.00? What to do, what to do?


Well, Aaron Vronko of Rapid Repair, sees that ironically the new iPhone will open up an untapped market for the old version. In a press release put out by his company, Aaron claims that this new market birth "will be a buzzing hotbed, more active than the selling of 2.0 itself. Everything from busted warranties, the sale of damaged devices, carrier intolerability hacking, theft, and other market swirling topics...will change the face of the used market forever."


He may indeed be right. As it stands now, AT&T will require all new iPhone customers to activate the 2.0 version from right within their stores. They want to users totally locked this time. Not so with the first generation iPhone. As I understand it, you can use the phone without AT&T activation, or at least not having to pay the $20/month service fee for Edge access. So is it a good idea to get rid of iPhone 1.0? Maybe not. With voice internet phone services and poor G3 service in many areas of the country, what's the big deal about owning 2.0 if you already have 1.0? 


Sure, 2.0 is thinner, supposedly better sound quality (is that voice sound, music sound, or both?) It may be plenty of nice to have all those fun little iPhone apps that might run more smoothly on the newest version (even though they will run on on 1.0 as well.) And of course, the biggest selling point is that 2.0 will have much improved internet and data transfer speeds. But how useful is all this to average users, especially those diehard Apple addicts who burned a hole in their wallet or purse to buy 1.0?


Well, yours truly can't provide much advice about what you first gens should do. I've about convinced my spouse that she really ought to have my iPod Touch instead of the now ancient 5th generation iPod that I gave to hear over a year ago. (It was the viewing of a slide show of our children and a short family video that convinced her. Of course, she has the same features on the older iPod, but the screen size on the Touch sealed the deal.)


So yeah, I might well be standing outdoors my local AT&T store on July 11th. But if I had the first generation iPhone, I'd certainly take my time in upgrading it. The difference doesn't seem great enough just yet, unless you just have the money to splurge. iPhone 2.0 software will be available to all iPhone users. So what's the big deal!


The last I checked, the first generation iPhone was selling for like $300 to $400 on eBay. And there were no shortage of bids either. So it would be prudent to wait and see, because if you haven't figured it out by now, it's quite expensive for die hard Apple fans to keep up with all the latest and greatest Apple products any more. It just doesn't make financial sense. If you have a good Powerbook G4, you realized that you could survive without a Macbook Pro, and hardly anyone would really know difference. Unless you won the lottery, you realized that you didn't need MacBook Air. And though you don't brag about it, you may still be using your old Mac mini and getting things done just fine, thank you.


But hey, maybe the question is not about whether you should sell your phone or buy a new one, but there's larger question for all us Apple users. What indeed should be our annual budget be for Apple products? How many iPods and iPhones will we indeed purchase in our lifetime before we go for broke? It's hard to tell when you got a company like Apple constantly setting trends and attempting to make our digital lifestyle easier and more efficient.


1st Generation owners out there, what are you planning on doing with your (old) iPhone?


  • Mine will end up serving two roles:

    (1) As a spare, backup phone, or ‘primary’ when I’m out and about in places where I might not want to take the newer one (e.g. clubbing or in a bar, etc.).

    (2) As a test platform for work-in-progress iPhone applications, which I have promised myself I’m going to learn how to write.

    Re-use is partially the fact that even old Apple hardware can be re-purposed past its original use and remains viable for many months/years, and partially the fact that the phone was a 40th birthday present off my family, and I don’t want to sell it on.

    andywar had this to say on Jun 20, 2008 Posts: 6
  • As an early adopter (not camping out early, but close), my iPhone 1.0 will stay with me.  After reviewing the cost I can’t justify the extra $25ish per month in service costs.  I text like a 14 year old and I don’t have a use for 3G data.  I have a nice GPS system in my cars and so I should be happy with what I have now.  I think iPhone 3G, just doesn’t do it for me.  Maybe next time

    tigerw had this to say on Jun 20, 2008 Posts: 5
  • If someone wants to sell their iPhone for less than the cost of a new one, I’m interested in buyin’.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 20, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Beeblebrox, we may have the making of a deal here.

    I’ll be in line to get my new one.


    DanRobinson had this to say on Jun 20, 2008 Posts: 9
  • Why do you seem to want to ridicule first generation buyers?
    Without the people who buy these products when they come out you would never have the chance to buy one at all.  Unless a product is successful at launch it will not be developed and could just disappear.  Early adopters are a must and should be thanked for making sure late comers have the chance to purchase at all.

    There is also no reason at all to suspect that the original iPhone will not work with the applications from the download store just as well as the new version.  They will both run the identical operating system and applications, as far as I am aware the main processor has not changed either.

    The new version is only ‘thinner’ at the edges and in my eyes is worse off for having a plastic shell (required for the additional wireless options built in).

    Did you think yourself an early adopter of the iPod touch?  What will you do when the new version comes out later this year, better, more memory and cheaper?

    I will keep my iPhone V1.0 has it does al that I need.  Maybe when V3.0 comes out I might be tempted.  I guess my V1.0 phone will continue to get better for many more months / years as Apple add more features for free (as they have said they will do) and as more Apps appear on the App Store.

    Parky had this to say on Jun 21, 2008 Posts: 51
  • “Beeblebrox, we may have the making of a deal here.

    I’ll be in line to get my new one.”

    When you’re ready, let me know a price and we’ll see if we can work something out.  I’d be more than happy letting Hadley be our go-between, if he doesn’t mind.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 21, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Your lifetime budget question is interesting. I have a first-gen iPhone that I bought in April, and I’m keeping it, partially because I don’t want to pay higher service fees. I’m hoping to get three years out of it, and I paid extra for the 16GB because I think the extra space will mean I can happily use it longer.

    But one of the reasons I don’t mind having paid $500 for a phone is because my overall Apple budget, and my overall gadget budget, is pretty reasonable. I got my iPod almost-free in 2004 with my education-priced Powerbook, and I had never paid for a fancy phone. So averaged over four years let’s say I’ve spent $150/year. That’s not that big a chunk of my budget.

    Rather than always buying the newest and shiniest, my general principle is to try to buy near the top of the line—-extra memory, extra space, and then use a gadget until it’s dead, and that has worked pretty well for me.

    dance had this to say on Jun 22, 2008 Posts: 1
  • I already sold my iPhone down here in Mexico to an unsuspecting guy for $450 dollars and HE thought it was a bargain. Just wait ‘till he hears the news about how much iPhone 3G is gonna cost.

    Nemin had this to say on Jun 23, 2008 Posts: 35
  • I bought my iPhone during the great o2 price drop of ‘08, for £169.
    I recently sold it for £235.
    So effectively, I’ve been paid somewhere in the region of £60 for using an iphone for a month or two, AND I now have enough cash to get myself a nice new 16Gb 3G version.

    All in all, I very much feel that I’ve done alright out of this upgrade.

    However, if it hadn’t been profitable for me to do so, I wouldn’t have upgraded. 3G coverage here might be great, and GPS is likely to come in useful, but neither of them are big enough to outlay the sort of cash needed. The headphone jack though…

    Christopher Pilkington had this to say on Jun 24, 2008 Posts: 2
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