My contract with AT&T is up for renewal. My wife has an iPhone 3G. I'd like to use my renewal to score her a free upgrade to a 3GS.

She's on T-Moble and so needs to have her phone jailbroken and unlocked.

I read that all new 3GS models are now bundled with iOS 5.

How can I buy a new 8GB iPhone 3GS that still has iOS 4? Is the packaging any different? Are there any telltale signs that indicate firmware version before purchase?

  • iOS 5 is gonna get a untethered jailbreak eventually (as in soon), so why not wait a while and get much more apple awesomeness?
    – abc905
    Nov 16, 2011 at 14:14

2 Answers 2


In short you can't. Apple has a very efficient supply chain so the window where they sell devices that aren't the latest version is very limited.

On occasion a service replacement unit can sit in the "supply" chain a bit longer, so I have seen several people still getting phones from the Genius Bar / AppleCare with iOS 4 loaded. I would expect that to be mostly over as well.

You will likely have to find a seller of a device and you can always ask for the serial number or look for one with AppleCare still active in case you have suspicions of the motivation of the seller.

(and since you or others may wonder)

There really isn't a good way to tell if a phone has been stolen (no police database (and if there were it could always be reported stolen at a later date). Due to privacy concerns you can't get data on prior owners from Apple. You do run the risk of problems if the device you buy ends up being stolen goods. You do run the risk of having to do some work to ensure any return policy is workable if you need to locate the seller if the phone doesn't work as advertised.

Given your problem you might offer to sell a brand new in-the-box phone and once you had a buyer, use your AT&T subsidy to offset the cost of a new unlocked iPhone for your wife. It all depends how valuable your time is and how hot your local market is for current AT&T phones. I would feel a lot more comfortable buying a phone when I could come to the store with you and see the new phone being bought. You could be sure the buyer had the cash in hand and everyone should end up happy.


Firstly im not sure the phone needs to be jailbroken and if a contract is up the carrier is required to give instructions on how to unlock.

The packaging is not different.

Not all 3GS models are bundled with iOS5. I would look at some websites that do not sell a lot of these phones, ask shops how long they have had the particular model in stock, if the had them for over 2 months then you're in luck.

You could also look to buy a second hand model, which hasn't had an update.

Can I ask why you do not want iOS5?

  • I would be using my renewal to get her the new phone - on contract. It's not about not wanting iOS 5.
    – Kalamane
    Nov 16, 2011 at 15:41
  • why does that matter what iOS you are using? if it is beacuse you want an unlock, you can get unlocked codes all over the place. Nov 16, 2011 at 15:55
  • I've personally had difficulty getting unlock codes for my USA AT&T iPhones in the past. Any tips?
    – Kalamane
    Nov 16, 2011 at 18:17
  • just google it, you may need to pay a few dollars, but its worth it. It may also be worth having a look on youtube, there are a lot of guides to unlocking phones on there. Nov 16, 2011 at 18:31

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