On June 16th Apple released their third generation phone the iPhone 3GS with 16GB or 32GB of storage. The pricing remains the same as the previous models, $199 and $299 respectively, even though the storage has doubled. While the iPhone 3GS is the latest model, the previous model (the 3G) is still available and priced at an amazing $99. At this price it will be hard to choose between the new iPhone 3GS or go with a lower priced iPhone 3G that is still very functional.
The original iPhone hit the market less than two years ago. In that time the Apple iPhone has revolutionized the cellular phone industry. So much so that every new smart phone hitting the market is compared to the iPhone. Along with new phones, Apple announced a new iPhone OS, version 3.0, available for all iPhones and the iPod Touch (update is free for iPhones but $10 for the Touch). This software adds many of the new features in the 3GS to the 3G.
The 3GS has a few new features that make it more versatile, but these may not be enough to entice current 3G owners to upgrade. The 3GS is essentially the same shell as the previous model. It uses all the same accessories and fits in all the same docking stations, at least Apple didn't mess that up.
The 3GS is available with either 16 or 32GB of storage the original had only 8 or 16GB. More storage allows for more applications, music, and videos. The 3GS is also faster. Apple doesn't state what the processor is inside the new iPhone, but reports from different tech web sites put the chip in the 600Mhz range, up from 412Mhz in the 3G. This newer processor is also said to have a larger chip cache plus there is double the system RAM, now 256MB.
Gaming is going to be huge on the new 3GS with its faster processor, larger cache, more RAM, and now OpenGL 2.0. OpenGL is a graphics technology that allows for easier programming of software for displaying 2D and 3D graphics. It's been reported that the 3GS also has a new graphics processor, which improves 3D rendering and smoother video playback. With the power of the new 3GS it's easy to see the iPhone becoming a major player in the portable gaming market, which is now dominated by Sony and Nintendo.
If you like having a digital camera with you everywhere you go, then you will love the new camera in the 3GS. The digital camera in the original iPhone was nothing spectacular. Some iPhones seemed to take ok photos, but most were pretty poor. While most new cellular phones, not even smart phones, had the ability to shoot video, the iPhone lacked this feature. The 3GS has a new, much improved, 3 megapixel camera with video capabilities. There is even software on the new 3GS allowing you to edit the video, right on the iPhone.
While the lens and sensor for the camera has improved immensely, how you use the camera is now extremely intuitive. You use the touch screen to view and frame your photo, just like before. The big difference is that you can actually tap on the subject you want to focus on. Yes, the 3GS has autofocus. Tapping the spot where you want to focus also sets the exposure and white balance to that area. There is even a macro mode allowing the camera to take sharp photos only inches away.
To go along with the much-improved digital still photography is video, something the 3G couldn't do. Full VGA size (640x480 pixels) video is shot at 30 frames per second with audio. The iPhone is not going to replace a dedicated video camera, but if you carry your iPhone with you everywhere you will always have both a still and video camera with you to grab those spur of the moment memories. Plus the large LCD screen of the iPhone makes it the perfect media player to show your photos and videos to others.
Apple didn't stop with simple camera capabilities. There is an application included on the new 3GS to do simple video editing. Now you can shoot some video, trim off the beginning and ending with the built-in editor, and then either show it off on the iPhone, send them out via email, upload it to your Mobile Me account, or directly to You Tube.
Voice control is another feature that has finally made its way to the iPhone. This is a function that has been on other cell phones for quite a while and was surprisingly absent from either the original or 3G iPhone. The new 3GS has Voice Control allowing voice dialing and voice control of the iPod functions. Now you can speak into the 3GS 'dial Steve'. If there is more than one Steve in the address book then it will announce each one for you to choose.
Voice Control is also available to control the iPod part of the iPhone. Commands like Play, Shuffle, Genius, Artist, etc. are available allowing you to control songs, playlists, and other functions. Unfortunately this is where the control stops. Voice Control is not available, yet, for other applications on the iPhone. This doesn't mean that it will be this way forever. If Apple can add Voice Control access to the software developers kit (iPhone SDK) then the sky's the limit. Just think of the games and other applications controlled by your voice.
The 3GS has a built-in magnetometer, or what we would call a compass. This is a nifty feature but with GPS already built into the 3G and 3GS iPhones it is not a critical function. I'm sure that developers will incorporate the compass into games or other applications, which will make it a useful addition.
If you don't plan on using your iPhone as a gaming platform and you don't use the built-in digital camera, then the older iPhone 3G is perfect for you. The 'new' 3G is the same as before but has the new iPhone OS 3.0 installed and is priced at only $99. The updated OS 3.0 adds 100 new features to the iPhone 3G including: the much anticipated cut-copy-paste function, keyboard in landscape mode, push notifications, turn-by-turn GPS directions, and a 'find my phone' function that ties in with your Mobile Me account.
If you are looking to get your first iPhone, then you have a tough choice to make. You could go with the latest and greatest iPhone, the 3GS with its faster speed and new features, or you could go with the tried and true 3G and save $100 or more. On the simplest level the 3G is a great phone and iPod with Internet capabilities, but if you need a small and fast mobile computing device then you will want the 3GS with all its new improvements.