Suddenly not being able to get around town at all because the new Maps app doesn't even support walking directions, never mind transit directions, here is not "good enough". Should I just sit at home for the next year while Apple gets this right?
You can often get a feature phone for free. A friend pre-paid ¥199 (about US$32) for a year's worth of service (outgoing calls and outgoing SMS are extra) and was sent a phone for free. Personally, I don't think the 3GS is a good introduction to the Apple experience. With modern software, it just runs too slowly, and might actually sour people to the Apple ecosystem.
Sorry, but people here in the developing world don't want an old, slow iPhone. If they don't have any money, they get a feature phone. If they have some cash they they get a modern $100~$300 Android phone. If they're rich, they pay $700+ for an iPhone. No one wants to pay $400 for a three-year-old device.
Yes. Prepaid. Another advantage of Straight Talk is you can let the account go idle up to 145 days without losing your number/account. I am often out of the country for months at a time. Now I don't have to pay anything for those times I'm not in the U.S.