Best Buy gives away iPhone 3GS in one-day special

Sign up for 2 years with AT&T, save $49 on 2009 smartphone

U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy is giving away two-year-old iPhone 3GS smartphones to customers who sign up for a long-term contract with AT&T, the chain's website announced today.

The one-day-only offer represents a savings of $49, the price Apple and others charge for the 8GB iPhone 3GS.

Although Apple is probably just weeks away from launching the next iPhone, it will continue to support the iPhone 3GS, which debuted in June 2009. iOS 5, Apple's mobile operating system upgrade, will run on the 3GS.

However, Apple has not defined which iOS 5 features will be available on the iPhone 3GS. Each iOS upgrade typically includes features specific to the newest iPhone, and others that, because of hardware limitations, won't appear on older models.

If Apple follows its usual practice, it will abandon the iPhone 3GS next year when it launches the follow-up to iOS 5. That edition, for example, will not work on 2008's iPhone 3G.

A two-year voice and data contract with AT&T will cost the consumer a minimum of $55 per month, excluding taxes and fees, or more than $1,300 over 24 months.

Apple and AT&T have not matched Best Buy's special offer.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

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