Mobile // Mobile Devices
03:52 PM

Apple Intros iPhone 3GS

The new iPhone will be available June 19 with a faster processor, improved data connections, voice control, digital compass, and a digital camera that can record and edit videos.

Apple iPhone 3GS
(click image for larger view)
Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple on Monday introduced the next-generation iPhone, the 3GS, at its Worldwide Developers Conference, revealing the additions of video recording, improved data speeds, voice controls, and boosted storage.

The design of the device won't change much from the iPhone 3G, but it's what's on the inside that matters, said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing.

"The 'S' stands for speed," said Schiller. "It's the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet."

Apple didn't dive into specifics about the new hardware under the hood, but it said the new iPhone had up to twice the average speed and performance of the iPhone 3G. It will have hardware support for the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard, and this should make graphics-intensive applications run smoother. The new iPhone will also be able to access 3G data connections of up to 7.2 Mbps. This dovetails with AT&T's recent announcement that it was beefing up its mobile data network to accommodate faster smartphones like the iPhone 3GS.

The camera will also be seeing an upgrade, as the iPhone 3GS will be getting a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus and white balancing. While this isn't a very high megapixel count compared with devices like Sony Ericsson's Satio, the iPhone 3G has shown that consumers are looking for camera phones that have a good implementation and make sharing photos easy. For example, the iPhone 3G's camera is only 2 megapixels, but it's used more than three times any other cell phone for the photo-sharing site Flickr, Apple said.

The iPhone 3GS will have the ability to record and edit videos on the handset. It can record videos at 30 frames per second, and users will be able to share these videos through MMS messages, Apple's MobileMe online storage site, e-mail, or with a native YouTube uploader. Third-party developers will get access to the new camera functions to create programs for the App Store.

The iPhone 3GS will have built-in voice controls for hands-free operation, and this can be used for dialing, as well as music control. Like video recording, rival platforms like BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile have had these capabilities for years.

IT departments may be happy to hear the iPhone 3GS will have improved hardware encryption for data, and the new iPhone will also have a digital compass feature that is integrated into the mapping application to automatically orient the map to the direction the user is facing.

The iPhone 3GS will run the upcoming 3.0 software, which is adding cut, copy, and paste capabilities as well as device tethering, HTTP streaming, auto-fill, and multilanguage support. The iPhone 3.0 software will also include a remote kill switch to prevent an iPhone from having what Apple called a 30 Rock moment where strangers could easily access data.

The iPhone 3GS will be available June 19 for $199 for the 16-GB version, and the 32-GB version will cost $299 with a new contract. Apple said its iPhone 3G will also be getting a price cut. The 8-GB version now costs $99 with a new two-year contract.

The iPhone may be your next full-function computer. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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