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A closer look: Apple iPhone 3G S is faster and has video recording

June 8, 2009 |  4:23 pm
Iphone3gs_video
Video editing can be done directly on the iPhone 3G S. Credit: Apple

San Francisco -- Don't let its name or looks deceive you. Though it looks nearly identical to its predecessor, there are some key features that really set the new iPhone 3G S apart.

Apple unveiled the newest version of its smart phone today at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, adding video recording and voice control to the device.

The "S" in its name represents "speed," said Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, after revealing the much-anticipated product during his keynote at Moscone Center.

And if the stats are to be believed -- Apple didn't have the gadget available for us to test -- it's pretty darn fast.

Applications and image-heavy websites load up to twice as fast as the current iPhone 3G. And the 3G S is set to take advantage of faster broadband Internet as soon as wireless carriers roll it out across their networks.

Video recording and editing were crowd pleasers when Apple demonstrated the features at the event. The 3G S, with its three-megapixel camera and auto-focus settings, is a noticeable step up from the grainy photos produced by the current phone.

Voice Control is a new addition that makes the iPhone a lot more automobile-friendly. Once activated, say a command like "play next song" or ...

... "play more songs like this," and the iPod cooperates. You can also use the feature to dial a number or call someone from your address book, hands free.

Hikers will appreciate the built-in compass and refined Google Maps app.

Other key features include multimedia messaging for sending photos, videos and GPS locations (all of which won't be supported by AT&T until later this summer) and USB wired or Bluetooth wireless Internet tethering to access your 3G connection from your computer (also not supported by AT&T).

The iPhone 3G S will be in stores nationwide and in seven other countries June 19. A 16-gigabyte version retails for $199 and a 32-gigabyte version goes for $299.

Today the current model of the eight-gigabyte iPhone 3G drops to $99 (with a two-year contract, of course), putting Apple's smart phone at a very competitive price point. Look out, Palm Pre.

Current iPhone owners won't be completely left in the dust, however. That cheaper iPhone 3G along with every iPhone on the market is eligible for a free software download available June 17 that adds a slew of new features.

Those features include copy-and-paste functionality, push notifications, systemwide search and a new voice recorder app, among others.

Apple announced no upgrades to the iPod Touch today, but owners of the gadget will be able to pay $9.95 for the operating-system upgrade that adds many of those same features, including one that lets iPhone and iPod Touch users rent or purchase movies from iTunes directly from the devices rather than having to go to a computer.

-- Mark Milian

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