While Supplies Last: How Long Will the iPhone 3GS &iPhone 4 Remain In Stock?

Apple is currently offering three iPhone models — the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and legacy model iPhone 3GS. But with the 2012 iPhone 5 possibly on tap in less than a year, how long will the iPhone 3GS & 4 remain available?

During the iPhone 5 rumor mill doldrums of the past summer, rumors of a dual-release iPhone 4S and iPhone never seemed all that plausible: how, after all, would Apple successfully sell an iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4 all at the same time? But in spite of the fact that Apple held off on releasing the iPhone 5, we now find ourselves with three iPhone models being offered at the same time: Apple is still offering the 3GS via AT&T for $ 0 dollars (an early rumor that in fact came true!)

Because the iPhone 3GS is so “legacy” at this point, it doesn’t cause the “three’s a crowd” consumer confusion problem that the 5, 4S, and 4 would have together caused. That being said, when the iPhone 5 is released in 2012, will the iPhone 4S and 4 both still be available?

It’s safe to assume that the iPhone 3GS will drop from the ranks sooner rather than later, since production no longer exists for that model. According to AT&T’s website, the iPhone 3GS is now out of stock, meaning that Apple is simply selling off the last few that remain in their own warehouses. I’d be surprised if the 3GS stock even makes it to Christmas.

As for the iPhone 4, there doesn’t appear to be any information out there at present that suggests if it remains in production, and if not, what its shelf life may be from a supply standpoint. Granted, given the fact that the iPhone 4 and 4S both share many of the same parts, it is easier for Apple to keep it in production — it must be considerably less expensive to manufacture at this juncture, compared to the iPhone 4S.Sprint iPhone 4 ad

The only shred of information I’ve been able to glean about the shelf life of the iPhone is from Sprint’s homepage, which has a link to their iPhone 4 product page that says, “while supplies last.”

“While Supplies Last” — Sprint suggests iPhone 4′s time is passing.

Why would Sprint use the term “while supplies last” for a brand-new product like the iPhone 4? After all, Sprint just got the iPhone 4. It is highly likely that the iPhone 4 is currently winding down as well, and that Apple plans on phasing out the iPhone 4 in time for the announcement of the iPhone 5 is 2012, so that they can avoid having the iPhone 5, 4S, and 4 all being offered simultaneously.

I also think it suggests that the iPhone 5 could be released sooner than a year from now — such as at the WWDC.

This is just speculation on my part, but I would suggest that Apple will not keep the iPhone 4 in production once the iPhone 5 goes into mainstream production; even if the iPhone 4S and 4 share similar components, it is unlikely that Apple would stretch production demands like that. In this way, we can imagine that, once we hear that iPhone 4 has wined down, we can see this as a cue that iPhone 5 production may be beginning.

And if Sprint is already hinting of a slowdown in iPhone 4 production, then it isn’t unrealistic to assume that the iPhone 5 production schedule could get going in early 2012.



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