Apple Announces Faster ‘iPhone 3G S’

Should excite new customers and first generation owners though iPhone 3G users may feel more reticent...

So we got exactly what we expected…

Apple has today unveiled the ‘iPhone 3G S’ – the third generation of its handset line with a focus on faster performance, better battery life and video recording. And yes, the ‘S’ stands for ‘Speed’.

So the new stuff:

  • 7.2Mbit HSDPA
  • 2-3x faster operation (no CPU/Memory figures were revealed)
  • A 3 megapixel camera with autofocus & macro mode
  • Video recording at up to 30fps VGA with built in editing
  • The long expected Digital Compass
  • 16GB and 32GB capacity options
  • Battery life boosted to 9 hours WiFi surfing, 10 hours video playback, 30 hours continuous audio, 12 hours of 2G talk time and 5 hours of 3G talk time (read: hopefully enough to get us through the day)

On the software side highlights include Nike+ integration, full hardware encryption, a text to speech read system and – happily – voice control which is started by holding down the Home button and offers support for dialling, music selection and genius playlists.

What we didn’t see includes:

  • Larger/higher resolution/OLED screen (it remains 3.5in 320 x 480 pixels)
  • Design overhaul
  • Qwerty keyboard or ‘nano’ edition
  • Front mounted camera for video calls
  • microSD support (never likely)
  • An FM tuner
  • The much rumoured rubberised new back
  • A camera flash
  • A significant change in weight or dimensions

The iPhone 3G S will go on sale from 19 June to main countries (this should include the UK) with 80 more having a launch by August. Only US pricing was offered which sees the same 8/16GB $199/$299 price points maintained for the 16GB/32GB iPhone 3G S. Interestingly, the 8GB iPhone 3G will be kept on for now at a reduced $99 price (likely free on most UK tariffs).

In sum – and an attempt to bring some sanity to the wailing (both positive and negative) you’re likely to find around the web – this is exactly what was anticipated. The enhancements are most welcome though it didn’t seem too much to ask for an OLED display and LED/Xenon flash. Importantly, we have no issue with the 3MP camera resolution – our reaction will depend entirely on how well/poorly Apple has implemented the image processing and light sensor.

All in all, we have a sensible third generation device, if not a thrilling one.

”’In related news”’ iPhone OS 3.0 will launch on 17 June with the usual free-for-iPhone-owners-$9.95-for-iPod-touch system. Touch owners looking for some consolation, I’d expect a 64GB version in the not too distant future.

Other than this much was repeated from the previous iPhone OS 3.0 announcement though titbits include 3x faster browser Javascript performance and automatic form filling, a TomTom turn-by-turn app due this summer and Html5 support. The launch of an In-app book store with more than 50 major magazines, 150 daily papers and 1m books is noteworthy too while the new MobileMe ‘Find My iPhone’ feature may finally add some value to the struggling service thanks to handset geo-location when lost and remote messaging, alarm triggering and secure wiping provided.

For an extensive list of previously announced iPhone OS 3.0 features (there are a lot) check the links below. So could’ve been better, could’ve been worse…

Apple iPhone 3GS

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor