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Rumor: Apple to Sell Contract-Free $350 iPhone

BGR has reportedly received insider news that Apple will indeed launch a prepaid / lower cost iPhone this year. The device will retail for no more than $350 without a contract, and could possibly be the iPhone 3GS which AT&T currently offers for $50 with a new two-year ball-and-chain (contract). It will also supposedly land on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks here in the States later this year.

As for the next iPhone, something will be announced by the end of the summer, maybe late August. Previous reports indicated that it will be the iPhone 5 sporting a "radical" new design. But the unnamed insiders weren't too sure if that model will be the next iPhone release – Apple may actually produce an iPhone 4S. Speculation is that if Apple planned to release a new form factor this year, we would have already seen the 3rd-party protective cases.

Additionally, there's talk that, for 2011, Apple may sell the super-cheap iPhone 3GS for the low end price tier, the iPhone 4 for the mid-range price tier, and the iPhone 4S addressing the high-end market. A three-pronged attack shouldn't be surprising given that Google's Android platform is slowing eating away iOS market share. Offing a contract-free iPhone 3GS for $350 would also mean Apple finally gets to dip its toes into the prepaid pool. This actually makes more sense than devising a cheaper, smaller iPhone form factor from scratch. Besides, if the 4th-generation iPod Touch really is receiving 3G support this fall, possibly mimicking a 4-inch tablet, then Apple may have an even wider spread in its defensive stance against Google.

As always, rumors of insider information from unnamed sources should be taken with a grain of salt unless someone happens to discover one of the rumored models in a bar, dropped by a drunken Apple employee. Still, would $350 too steep for old Apple hardware like the iPhone 3GS? Wouldn't consumers be better off buying an iPod Touch with 3G connectivity (and use Skype)?

  • Apple is starting to really piss off previous gen iPhone users. If they decide to release the iPhone 4s it better not be more expensive than my 2-year contract price with my iPhone 3GS! It just doesn't make sense to me. The iPhone 4 will not be mid level phone this fall, it will be a low end phone. Those 3gs should be going for dirt cheap or should stop being made if not.
    Reply
  • jblack
    I don't think $350 for a 3GS is a good deal. It is a rip-off. $350 for a 2 year old phone? I think you'd be better off getting it for $50 with a 2-year contract.
    Reply
  • jblack
    I think the other issue here is that the 3GS is GSM only. This means you can ONLY use it on T-mobile (With Edge, no 3G) or on ATT. I don't think the 3GS would be good for a prepaid phone.
    Reply
  • bavman
    What? Someone said previous gen iphone with slower processor, weaker graphics, crappier screen, no front facing camera, all for $350? Plus its still locked to a super crappy network who overcharges their users and doesnt even offer unlimited data; cant be used on tmo?

    whats not to like?
    Reply
  • The Greater Good
    Mastervivi10first
    First at what? The pole smoking contest?
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    $350 is way too much for an outdated hardware. You could pick up a mint one on craigslist for little over $200 these days.
    Reply
  • chronicbint
    $350 isn't too bad, considering an entry level android phone(HTC Wildfire S) is similar priced. Though you cant expect people to talk sense on an Apple story.
    Reply
  • aaron88_7
    $350 not bad? I just paid $130 for an LG Optimus V for Virgin Mobile. Rooted it, loaded Gingerbread, and clocked it to 800mhz. Not sure what the 3GS has that makes it worth the extra $220.
    Reply
  • idono
    What did you expect? Apple actually selling something for a reasonable price?
    People never learn.
    Reply
  • You forgot, you must add in the Apple mark-up! Once taken into account, then the $350 makes perfect sense...

    Makes me happy that Apple doesn't make games, otherwise I'd be paying $99 for any recent video game =/
    Reply