Refurbished iPhone 3G for $149: Smells Like a Fire Sale

Out with the old iPhone, in with the new?

So it appears at the AT&T Wireless site, where a refurbished 16GB iPhone 3G is now selling for a suspiciously low $149 -- a 50 percent discount off the $299 regular price. True, it’s a refurb, which means it may have a scratch or two, and its warranty period is most likely a mere 90 days. You’ll have to sign a two-year contract too.

But even with those minor caveats, that’s a damn good price for a 16GB iPhone 3G. And the fire-sale price is certainly another indication of Apple’s efforts to clear out inventory to make way for the next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to debut as early as June.

Of course, pre-owned iPhones (“used” is such an ugly term, just as with cars) have been available for a few months now. AT&T in December began selling refurbished 8GB models for just $99, and Best Buy in January launched a somewhat pricier deal: $149 for a “refreshed” 8GB iPhone 3G; and $249 for the 16GB version.

The question for iPhone shoppers: Is it smarter to snag a bargain now, or what to see what goodies ? And if you go with the 3G now, what will it cost to upgrade to the latest handset?

Patience, grasshopper. All will be revealed soon.

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