Apple to Hang Up on iPhone 3GS, Say Hello to Free 8GB iPhone 4

Apple will remove the venerable iPhone 3GS from its product lineup after the launch of the iPhone 5, according to information reported Thursday by The Telegraph. A new 8GB iPhone 4S will reportedly be introduced and the current 8GB iPhone 4 will assume the 3GS’s free, entry-level status.

The new update will mean that the 8GB version of the iPhone 4 will be the entry-level iPhone, probably given away free on £20 per month contracts, as the 3GS is currently. Sources close to retailers also suggested that an 8GB version of the 4S could be introduced.

The iPhone 3GS was first introduced in June 2009 at US$199 and $299 for 16 GB and 32 GB models with wireless contracts, respectively. With the launch of the iPhone 4 in June 2010, Apple introduced an 8 GB iPhone 3GS at $99 with a wireless service agreement.

During the introduction of the iPhone 4S in October 2011, Apple further diversified its iPhone line, by offering the 3GS for free on contract and introducing an 8 GB iPhone 4 for $99.

Possible iPhone Lineup for 2012-2013The possible iPhone product line for 2012 to 2013.

If The Telegraph’s sources are correct, following Apple’s special event next Wednesday, September 12, the iPhone product line will feature the iPhone 5 at $199/$299/$399 for 16/32/64 GB, the iPhone 4S at 8 GB for $99, and the iPhone 4 at 8 GB for free (all prices assume a 2-year wireless service agreement).

The iPhone 3GS technically supports iOS 6, but the vast majority of the new operating system’s features are not available on the older device. The 3GS is also the only remaining product in Apple’s lineup that does not support CDMA networks, utilized by Verizon in the United States, as it was originally introduced during the period of AT&T iPhone exclusivity.

By removing the 3GS from its lineup, Apple would ensure that customers at all price points will be able to access the majority of new software features and have a choice of wireless provider.

One area that is unclear is the contract-free availability and price of entry-level iPhones. The iPhone 3GS is currently Apple’s cheapest official contract-free iPhone, at $375. The iPhone 4 and 4S start contract free at $549 and $649, respectively.

It is unknown if Apple will reduce the contract-free price of the iPhone 4 and 4S to correspond with reductions in their on-contract prices.