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Thursday, September 13, 2012, 10:36 am PT (01:36 pm ET)

Apple confirms discontinuation of iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS has officially been discontinued by Apple, the company confirmed on Thursday, and has been replaced by the iPhone 4 as its free on-contract handset.

Some industry watchers had speculated that Apple could continue to offer the iPhone 3GS in developing markets as a contract-free device. But the company confirmed to All Things D that the iPhone 3GS is officially discontinued.

Last year, with the launch of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 3GS became Apple's first free smartphone with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. At that price, it helped Apple reach a lower end of the market that the company had previously not competed in.

iPhone


But with Wednesday's unveiling of the iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S moved down to the $99 price point, and the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, became Apple's new free phone.

Rumors first cropped up last week that the iPhone 3GS, which was first released in 2009, would be discontinued by Apple with the launch of the iPhone 5.

While the iPhone 3GS has been discontinued, recent buyers won't be left behind with next week's launch of iOS 6. The new mobile software update, which will be released next Wednesday, has support for the iPhone 3GS, though not all features are available.