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Buying an unlocked iPhone makes it cheaper to find a iPhone 3/3GS than a 4 than a 4S than a 5. Please assume that I know and am aware of all the other benefits of newer hardware like cameras, running iOS 6 (in the case of the iPhone 3), more RAM/faster CPU so that cheaper hardware will likely be both older and slower. However, functionally with the network connectivity, is there a difference?

But for someone that will only call, text, use maps and very lightly use Safari, my thinking is that I shouldn't spend any extra money and get the oldest phone for a friend that is constrained to T-Mobile.

Does the T-Mobile network / infrastructure only work with 3G or am I incorrect in thinking that newer phones don't work any better with T-Mobile's 2012/2013 network frequencies?

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No He will be stuck on IOS 4 most popular apps have support for ios5 or higher I have a 3g 16gb too old espically for a newbie. Get the 3GS unlocked version if you want to be cheap/ most bang for bucks. He wil be stuck on EDGE until Tmobile finishes adding 3g Support for unlocked iphones. They have done a few cities google which ones 16/32gb 3GS is the best in my opinion. Favcetime and stuff is impossible over 3g unless you can find a ip4 off contract for sub 200 dollars then get tyhat i used 4 different iphones on tmobile 2g 3g 3gs ip4 been with them since 2001

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I'm not worried about finding unlocked phones - almost certain we'll be on iOS 6 too. What link shows the 3G coverage for tmobile? They are promoting 4G rollout and you are saying iPhones are stuck on edge in most cases? –  bmike Dec 4 '12 at 3:56
    
Tmobile only supports the correct bands for 3G on the iPhone in a very limited number of areas. I would expect to be on Edge the great majority of the time. –  Chris Herbert Dec 4 '12 at 20:33
    
@ChrisHerbert So edge data speeds no matter the CPU/model and visual voicemail will work? Basically - get the cheapest phone unless the camera or gaming is important to get a newer camera/CPU? –  bmike Dec 5 '12 at 14:18
    
Visual voicemail won't work. I would recommend at least a 3GS. Older iPhones were excruciatingly slow even for the basic functions. –  Chris Herbert Dec 5 '12 at 17:48

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