'Old' iPhones In Brisk Demand By Jailbreakers - InformationWeek

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7/9/2008
02:25 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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'Old' iPhones In Brisk Demand By Jailbreakers

I'd almost given up trying to find a fresh angle on the 3G iPhone -- Pogue and Mossberg have weighed in, so what could possibly left for us wretched B-listers? Then I found this post, on an Apple forum: "I was thinking of selling my old iPhone for the new 3G. I was flooded with emails with people wanting to buy it ASAP for almost the full price. Am I missing something?"

I'd almost given up trying to find a fresh angle on the 3G iPhone -- Pogue and Mossberg have weighed in, so what could possibly left for us wretched B-listers? Then I found this post, on an Apple forum: "I was thinking of selling my old iPhone for the new 3G. I was flooded with emails with people wanting to buy it ASAP for almost the full price. Am I missing something?"Dear G: Yes, you are missing something. As a quick check of eBay confirms, there is indeed a brisk business in "old," aka first-generation, iPhones. Many of them are selling for almost the full, original price, which was $399 for the 8-GB model and $499 for the 16-GB iPhone. (There are also many discontinued 4-GB iPhones listed on eBay.)

The grabber in all the listings, and the demand-driver about which our forum-poster was curious, is that fact that nearly all of these phones are sold as "unlocked" or "jailbroken." This means that the purchaser is not "forced" to use the phone on AT&T, which happens to be the only authorized iPhone network in the United States. "Tested and works with T-Mobile," crows one of the eBay ads. "Just put in your SIM card and everything will be up and going," adds the eBay ad.

Setting aside for a second why anyone would jump through hoops to voluntarily sign on to T-Mobile, there's that interesting "just put in your SIM card" directive. As in, if you want to install an alien SIM card, you have to hunt around for funky instructions on how to physically break into your iPhones case. [OK, well, as a commenter points out below, there's actually a recessed slot at the top, which is accessible via a paperclip, so it's not as bad as I made out. My lame excuse here is that I keep my iPhone safely padded inside a DLO rubber case, and didn't notice this.]

Which brings us back to our iPhone forum poster, who appeared amazed at her good fortune, what with her suddenly "obsolete" (I'm being sarcastic; note the quote marks) phone all of a sudden worth real money. (The iPhone forum thread is here.)

A couple of respondents explained why the oldie phones are suddenly in such demand:

"My hunch is that it is going to be much more difficult to unlock the new iPhones, as they must be activated in the store. I can't believe how much the old ones are selling for! I have three that I'm going to sell to fund my new iPhone."

It's nice to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well! Indeed, this commenter is correct. First-gen iPhone were activated at home, by plugging them into iTunes. Then there's also the annoyance of the additional $10 per month AT&T is charging:

"I think most people are turned off by the $30/mo (as opposed to $20/mo for first-generations) price for data access. In addition, no SMS plans are included in the data plan, as they are with the first-generation iPhone."

Me, I'm sticking with my first-gen iPhone, at least until I verify that 3G service is more pervasive than it seems to be at the moment.

For more contrarian crankiness on Apple, read my moldy oldie post, Top 7 iPhone Questions Steve Jobs Doesn't Want You To Ask. Hey, that battery is still an issue, right?

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