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iPhone 3G S: S for Speed

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SAN FRANCISCO, USA– Apple announced their much-awaited next-generation iPhone 3G S at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference held here this Monday. Phil Schiller delivered the keynote in the absence of Steve Jobs, which packed in not many surprises as the iPhone 3G S  and iPhone OS 3.0 were announced along with low-priced Macbook Pros, Macbooks , Air and Safari 4.

The iPhone 3G s is tauted to be the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet with Apple claiming it to be twice as fast as its predecessor, the iPhone 3G. Apple has continued its strategy of cutting prices of its products at WWDCs, this time with the iPhone 3G, which will continue to be available for costumers worldwide for half of the price, at US$99 for an 8 GB model on a 2-year contract with AT&T. The iPhone 3G S will be available at US$199 for the 8GB version and US$299 for the 16GB version on a 2-year contract with AT&T, starting June 19th in US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK,  followed by phased launches across the world reaching 80 countries by August 9th this year.

Apple is sticking to the same casing, therefore looks for the iPhone 3G S may be a little disappointing, but it does pack in high-end specifications underneath the old casing. The following video describes the new features of the iPhone 3G S:

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The iPhone 3G S’s claim to fame include an updated 3D graphics and processor with Apple promising that “everything you do on iPhone 3G S is up to 2x faster and more responsive than iPhone 3G”, 7.2 Mbps HSDPA connectivity; a 3 megapixel camera featuring autofocus, auto white balance, auto exposure, and high-quality video recording at 30 fps in VGA format; digital compass. and as always with iPhones, it lacks an FM transmitter.

The iPhone 3.0 OS features around 100 new components including cut-copy-paste photos across applications, landscape keyboard, MMS, Spotlight search, and voice control, among others.

Capturing still images of great quality is made easier on the new iPhone with its touch-to-focus technology, giving the users the option of focusing on a subject of their choice. In addition, video recording works in both portrait and landscape modes, and features such as autofocus, auto white balance, and auto exposure are available in both image and video mode. Some other value-added features include geo-tagging and instant share on the MobileMe gallery.

Apple is incorporating the “voice over” feature from their latest generation iPod Shuffle into the iPhone with the revolutionary voice control. In addition to voice dialling, users can now ask their iPhone what song is being playing (and hear it answer) and even tell it to play their favorite album or more songs of the same genre.

The iPhone is the only phone to sport a built-in digital compass which works very similar to a magnetic compass; besides acting as a standalone compass, it also rotates maps to always match the direction users are facing.

The new iPhone software platform brings accessibility options to aid users who are visually or hearing impaired. These features include the VoiceOver screen reader, a zoom feature, White on Black display options, and Mono Audio.

Other common-to-phone features, but new to the OS 3.0 are the voice memos, bringing audio recording on-the-go to iPhones; and the (not so common) support for Nike + iPod for workout management. The “Nike+iPod” sensor is not included in the package, and has to be bought separately. USB tethering is now supported on iPhone, which should enable users to use iPhone as modem to connect their Wi-Fi bearing computers and phones to the internet, although these components will not be available to AT&T users at the time of the iPhone 3G S launch, but AT&T has promised to release them soon.

The Palm Pre is the closest competitor to iPhone, atleast in the US markets. However, with its aggressive pricing Apple beats Palm, which offers its Pre 8GB model at US$199, compared to the iPhone 3G S’s 16GB model at the same price. It has to be noted that since the Pre and iPhone are offered by different operators, the subscription charges and the perks are different for the two phones, with Sprint offering better data, text and voice plans. Both phones sport a 3 megapixel camera, but if the iPhone lacks the Pre’s LED flash, the Pre does not offer any autofocus, video capture or editing features on its camera, making it a tie in camera department. In the hardware department, the Pre aces with its external keyboard and removable battery, but the iPhone 3G S has its own advantages with its innovative digital compass and voice control. Both phones seem to be equally competitive, but the iPhone closes the deal with its superior application support with over 50 000 applications in its online store, as compared to the paltry 12 applications in the applications catalogue of the Pre, which is still in beta testing stage.

The Nokia N97 is the other smartphone which will be competing against the iPhone 3G S for a share in the smartphone market. The N97 has several advantages over iPhone 3G S: a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash, full QWERTY slider keyboard, 32 GB of onboard memory and microSD memory card slot (expandable upto 48GB total); and a removable battery. The iPhone 3G S rivals the N97 with its superior 3D graphics and processor, faster web access, and the application store with 50 000 items, beating Nokia’s Ovi store, which contains just over 1 000 applications. The US has never been Nokia’s stronghold and it continues to be so with no major telecom coming forward to tie-up with the N97 on a contract. As of now, the N97 will be available in this region for US$700 sans any contract.

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By , Chief International Correspondent on Jun 10th, 2009 GMT +2

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