My battle-tested iPhone 3GS has been upgraded to Apple's latest and greatest.
One of the iOS platform's advantages over its competitors is that official software updates are not just provided to older devices, but provided in a timely manner on a single date. It gives older phones and tablets a nice longevity boost, and allows Apple to continue selling older hardware that works and acts much like its newer counterparts.
The downside of that approach is that only Apple gets to decide if your hardware is worthy of an update. This can cause two problems: the first is that owners of not-so-old devices can be left with old software, as is happening to owners of the original iPad (which was, believe it or not, still the newest iPad available just 18 months ago). The second is that an update can be pushed out to devices that aren't ready to handle it, as happened when the iPhone 3G received the iOS 4.0 update in 2010.
That update wasn't just missing features compared to the version of iOS 4.0 that shipped for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS—it also made previously existing functionality much slower. Now iOS 6 is here, and the iPhone 3GS is in a similar position: it has just come off the market, and it's using less RAM and a slower processor than the other supported devices. Does iOS 6 make the iPhone 3GS an unusable mess, or can people with older phones perform the update without reservations?