On Campus

Locked down in the iPhone’s gilded cage

Udita Chaturvedi | Updated on March 24, 2013 Published on March 24, 2013

The IPhone 3GS

Is Apple technology moving faster than our pockets can handle?

Got an iPhone 3GS? Bought it for over Rs.30,000 in 2010? Well, why don’t you just throw it in the bin?

That seems to be the status of the iPhone 3GS now.

The phone, which cost you a small fortune, has turned out to be a pretty much useless handset thanks to the launch of the iPhone 5.

Since the launch of the latest Apple iOS, the older versions have been rendered useless. Quite a few applications no longer work on the iPhone 3GS as these apps now require iOS 4.3 or higher operating systems while the 3GS will not upgrade to anything over 4.2, try as you may.

One such problematic app for Apple is the popular messaging service WhatsApp. This app was designed as an alternative to Blackberry’s BBM for non-Blackberry users. It allows free texting and sharing of data in the form of text, pictures, videos and audio files. The app has proved such a hit that everyone with a smartphone is now on it.

Ruhi Dhawan, a student, said: “I don’t remember when was the last time I sent a regular SMS to someone. Ever since I got a smartphone a year and a half ago, I’ve been using WhatsApp. Everyone I know is on WhatsApp and I spend a large part of my day staying connected with my friends and family through this app.”

However, iPhone 3GS users can’t say the same anymore.

Ashish Sharma, an employee in a multinational company and an iPhone 3GS user, said: “It’s so annoying that my phone will no longer support WhatsApp. What am I supposed to do? Spend Rs 50,000 to buy the latest iPhone just so I can use WhatsApp?”

He added: “When I first faced this problem, I took my phone to various stores to get it fixed or upgraded, but unfortunately, my iPhone is close to an obsolete model and cannot be upgraded.”

A lot of iPhone 3GS users now face the same problem.

The owner of a phone store on Brigade Road, Bangalore gets about three-four customers coming in every day asking for their iPhones to be upgraded, only to find out that it won’t budge beyond the 4.0 barrier. Faisal Sharif, the store owner, said: “These customers come in with their iPhones hoping that we can fix them, but they only get disappointed. If you want WhatsApp on your iPhone, it needs to be an iPhone 4 or higher. IPhone 3GS is a completely outdated model now – we don’t even keep it at our store anymore.”

He added: “I think there is a collaboration between WhatsApp and Apple. It helps them mint more money because now every Apple customer who has an older version will have to pay another half a lakh to buy the latest model of the Apple iPhone.”

What’s worse, if you think the iPhone you bought for a considerable sum earlier will fetch something when you went to sell it two years later, you are wrong. He added: “We do buy iPhone 3GS if people want to sell it or want to take another one in an exchange offer. However, the price is really low.” Mobile stores are buying iPhones from disappointed customers at only Rs 2,000 if they have the original bill or at Rs 1,500 without the bill. If you are able to sell them to a store for more, well, you’re just plain lucky.

Vinay Chandra, a banker, said: “When I put in so much money into Apple, you deserve to be treated better. Just because Apple plans to come out with iPhone 5, they want every customer to shift from older models to the new one. I put in thirty grand two years ago and can’t put another fifty (now). I’d rather shift to Samsung then.”

Satish Raj, an employee at a Samsung store in the city’s Garuda Mall, said: “Since Samsung came out with the S II and then S III, a lot of Apple customers are shifting to Samsung. It has a lot of features and it comes in much cheaper than the iPhone 5.”

He added: “There are more free apps on the Android Play Store than on Apple’s App Store and Samsung allows sharing of files in an easier manner through Bluetooth. Plus, there is no issue of iTunes and synchronising music through it.”

Apple customers are shifting their loyalties to other brands because they are feeling cheated. Others, who have enough money and care about the Apple brand name, are, well, just putting in half a lakh again into the company.

R. Rajnish, an employee at one of the official Apple Imagine outlets in the city, said: “Upgrading iPhone 3GS has been an incurable issue among customers. They may use Samsung for a while, but soon they’ll realize that Apple is any day better.”

But what happens when Apple comes out with iPhone 6? Does that mean the half a lakh we put in now will go to waste as well?

(Udita has a BA (Honours) degree in Journalism from Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University. She now studies at IIJNM, Bangalore.)

Published on March 24, 2013
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