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How To Pay Less To Upgrade To The iPhone 3G S

Owners of the current-generation iPhone 3G were in for a bit of disappointment when Apple announced the iPhone 3G S last week. When the new device goes on sale Friday, owners of the current-generation iPhone 3G will have to pay more for the new device than first-time iPhone owners. But 3G owners can still save money upgrading to the new 3G S -- here are some angles to expl
Owners of the current-generation iPhone 3G were in for a bit of disappointment when Apple announced the iPhone 3G S last week. When the new device goes on sale Friday, owners of the current-generation iPhone 3G will have to pay more for the new device than first-time iPhone owners. But 3G owners can still save money upgrading to the new 3G S -- here are some angles to explore.Cancel your existing AT&T contract. Then sign up for a new contract. You'll pay a $175 cancellation fee, minus $5 for every month already used on your contract, plus a $36 activation fee. Do the math -- that won't save you a lot of money, but it'll save you some. For example, let's say you bought the iPhone 3G when it first came out: You'll pay a $120 cancellation fee, plus $36, for a total $156, saving you $44 compared with a straightforward upgrade.

$44 sounds significant, but consider that the average monthly bill for an iPhone user is in the mid-$90s -- that's $2,280 over the two-year life of the contract. $44 doesn't sound like so much anymore, does it?

Sell your iPhone 3G. When you get your shiny new iPhone 3G S, you can sell your iPhone 3G on eBay, Craigslist, or Gazelle.com, which specializes in reselling gadgets; Gazelle has an iPhone page. The price for the 16 GB 3G was $269 on Monday. It remains to be seen how that pricing will hold up; Apple announced last week that the price on new iPhone 3G units would go down to $99 when the 3G S goes on sale. However, the Apple pricing requires a service contract, the iPhone you sell to Gazelle (or through eBay or Craigslist) won't be encumbered that way, so it will presumably be worth more to the buyer.

Sweet-talk AT&T. Ronald Lewis describes how he got AT&T to waive the upgrade charge by asking nicely:


Know what’s funny? I’ve only fulfilled eleven months of my AT&T contract. Here are a few suggestions for AT&T customers:

  • Dial ‘611′ from your iPhone
  • Inquire about your eligiblity to upgrade
  • Kindly explain to the CSR that you’d like your eligbility corrected
  • If the above doesn’t work;
  • Stress that you’ve been a loyal customer
  • Stress that you’d like to remain a loyal customer
  • Remain kind and calm while working with the CSR

Why this might not work for you: He made the call to AT&T months ago, when the iPhone 3G S was more of a theoretical event.

If you try this technique, FriendFeeder Jorge Rama suggests that "sad puppy eyes" are "the key."

You know what I think is funny? Lewis calls his blog Stick it to the Man. Apparently, "sticking it to the man" nowadays involves agreeing to give "the man" thousands of dollars, and being nice about it. Abbie Hoffman is spinning in his grave.

Get a family plan. If someone in your family would be happy with your iPhone 3G, upgrade your single-user plan to a family plan, get yourself a 3G S, and pass the 3G on. You can avoid the early-upgrade fee that way, but of course you're paying for two phones now.

Existing iPhone owners can visit att.com/iphone and click the link marked "Check upgrade eligibility" to find out when they're eligible for a subsidized iPhone 3G S.

I'm an iPhone 3G user myself, and I have to wait until December if I want to get a subsidized iPhone 3G S. Which of these strategies for getting a discount 3G S do I plan to use? None of them, it just doesn't seem worth the hassle to me. I'm just going to wait until my discount comes up in December -- but by then we'll be halfway to the probable release date of the iPhone after the 3G S, a year from now. So I think I'll just skip the 3G S entirely.

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