As just three of what will most likely turn out to be a number of quiet changes to the iPhone 3GS hardware from its iPhone 3G predecessor, Apple has disclosed details of changes to the iPhone 3G’s headphone port, headset, and radiation emissions, which offer mixed news for users of the upcoming 3GS model.
Since 2007, Apple has included the iPhone Stereo Headset with all iPhone and iPhone 3G devices sold worldwide, a pair of earbuds with an integrated microphone and single-button multifunction controller that can accept and reject calls, as well as pausing audio playback and skipping tracks. In 2008, Apple introduced the Earphones with Remote and Mic, adding volume controls to the remote control and changing the microphone to a version that sounded less natural, exhibiting some sibilance but also greater intelligibility. Due to a headphone port hardware change to support the additional remote volume control functionality, the new Earphones worked fully only with late 2008 iPod models, and were sold separately. According to Apple, they are now included in the iPhone 3GS package, replacing the iPhone Stereo Headset, and signaling that the iPhone 3GS has received the updated headphone port found on the latest iPods.
Additionally, just-released test-result documents submitted by Apple to the FCC show differences in the iPhone 3G S’s tested radiation emissions relative to its predecessor. A breakdown of the highest reported SAR values in three different broadcasting bands follows; lower numbers are better, and the FCC’s limit is 1.6 W/kg on any given measure.
Part 22 (824 - 849 MHz): 3G - Head: 0.506 W/kg, Body: 1.03 W/kg. 3G S - Head: 0.57 W/kg, Body: 0.67 W/kg.
Part 24 (1850 - 1910 MHz): 3G - Head: 1.38 W/kg, Body: 0.521 W/kg. 3G S - Head: 1.19 W/kg, Body: 0.33 W/kg
Part 15 (2400 – 2483.5 MHz): 3G - Head: 0.779 W/kg, Body: 0.088 W/kg. 3G S - Head: 0.52 W/kg, Body: 0.06 W/kg.
These numbers appear to indicate that the iPhone 3Gs puts out lower maximum radiation levels when broadcasting in the 1850-1910 and 2400-2483.5 MHz frequency ranges, higher when near the head in 824-849 MHz, and lower near the body in that range, as compared with the iPhone 3G.
AT&T is offering its remaining stock of 16GB iPhone 3G units for $149 with a two-year agreement, according to the Boy Genius Report. Citing an AT&T insider, the report speculates that since Apple is only offering the 8GB model via its website, 16GB units may be available on a “while supplies last” basis. Apple didn’t mention the 16GB model during today’s Keynote Address, suggesting that these discounted units are not part of its long-term strategy for the iPhone.
In conjunction with Apple, AT&T today announced details of its rate plans for the iPhone 3GS, which will continue to offer “unlimited data” access but without any promises of support for tethering or multi-media messaging (MMS). The iPhone 3GS rate plan will cost $30 per month, with speed performance varying by area—an Apple press release notes that higher-speed 7.2Mb/s HSDPA will be offered “where available” without adding additional information. Tethering, a feature that enables the iPhone 3GS to work as a modem for a Mac or PC, is supported by the iPhone OS 3.0 but has been given no date of availability by AT&T, while MMS support will be coming in “late Summer,” with no clear details on pricing. AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone 3GS in the United States, as it has been for the original iPhone and iPhone 3G; users have complained about slow data speeds, dropped calls, activation computer issues, and other aspects of the AT&T experience during and after both prior launches.
AT&T has announced that the upgrade prices for iPhone 3GS will be $399 (16GB) or $499 (32GB) for customers who are still under contract after purchasing the prior-generation iPhone 3G, a $200 premium over the “standard” iPhone 3GS prices of $199 and $299. Using a pricing configurator found on Apple’s BuyiPhone.Apple.com web site, users can find out their individual upgrade prices based on the remaining length of their AT&T contracts, which may be higher or lower depending on the date of their prior upgrades. Users must commit to a new two-year contract; an $18 Activation fee and a $18 Early Upgrade fee are also assessed.
Updated: Some readers have reported upgrade price quotes of $599 (16GB) or $699 (32GB), which may be based on the length of their status as AT&T customers, and their more recent purchase of iPhone 3G hardware.
In addition to the previously disclosed features of iPhone OS 3.0, Apple today announced that the software—officially launching June 17 worldwide—will now include two new features that were previously rumored: Find My iPhone and direct-to-device video downloads. Find My iPhone relies upon a subscription to Apple’s MobileMe service to let users automatically create sound and text alerts on their lost devices, helping them to either find the devices themselves or inform their finders as to their presence and return details. Users can send out noises that are audible even if the iPhone’s ringer switch has been turned off; they can also completely wipe the iPhone from afar, and use the integrated GPS functionality to locate the device’s current position on a map.
iPhone OS 3.0 also adds video downloads, a feature that enables the iPhone to wirelessly download movies, TV shows, and other video content without being connected to a computer. The feature also adds audiobook download support to the iPhone’s integrated iTunes Store for the first time, and permits direct-from-device video rentals as well.
In an effort to increase the affordability of the iPhone family, Apple has announced that the black 8GB iPhone 3G has dropped in price to $99, following the introduction of the more powerful iPhone 3GS model today. It is unknown whether any changes have been made to the $99 iPhone 3G model as it has fallen in price; Apple occasionally makes undisclosed tweaks to its devices or their pack-ins coincident with price drops. We will update this story with additional details as they become available.
Apple today officially announced the iPhone 3GS, the sequel to the iPhone 3G, with a June 19 initial release date. The added “S” stands for “speed,” a reference to the device’s faster processing and potential data transfer speeds. Available in four models—16GB white or black ($199 each), and 32GB white or black ($299 each)—the iPhone 3GS preserves much of the look and feel of the iPhone 3G, adding the following new features.
* A 3.0 Megapixel still camera with VGA video recording capabilities, autofocus, 10cm macro distance mode, auto white-balance, and tap-to-focus features. This camera promises to take more detailed, sharper still pictures than before, with improved low-light performance, as well as enabling users to create and edit videos directly from their iPhones for instant sharing over email, MobileMe, YouTube, or MMS.
* HSDPA 7.2Mb/s transfer speeds. Apple notes that this feature will only be “where available from AT&T later this year,” which is to say not everywhere in the United States, and questionable elsewhere outside the United States.
* OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration.
* Voice control, allowing users to dial out by saying the person’s name or speaking the numbers. The feature also works for audio playback, letting users play music by artist, album or playlist, activate the Genius feature by saying “play more songs like this,” play, pause, activate shuffle, skip tracks, and ask “What’s playing right now?”
* Digital compass with an accompanying Compass application and Maps integration, so it automatically orients any map to the direction you are facing.
* VoiceOver voice prompting and accessibility features, including Universal Zoom, and Mono Audio so that left and right channel audio can be blended into both earphones.
* Improved battery life, with 9 hours of Wi-Fi internet browsing, 10 hours of video, 30 hours of audio playback, and 12 hours of 2G talk time, compared to 6, 7, 24, 10, and 5 hours, respectively, on the iPhone 3G. 3G talk time remains 5 hours.
* Nike+ support, following the same included app and $19 Sensor accessory model as the iPod touch 2G.
The iPhone 3GS will roll out in the US/Canada/France/Germany/Italy/Spain/Switzerland/UK on June 19, then a week later with six more countries. Rollouts will continue thereafter into a number of other countries over the Summer. Prices listed above are based upon qualified new customers and upgrades, and will be higher in the case for users who aren’t qualified—for instance, AT&T will offer users who aren’t eligible for the cheaper pricing the iPhone 3GS for $399 for 16GB models and $499 for 32GB units.
The iPhone 3G S has been announced, and we have all the details and pictures for you. See our Flickr collection of 100 images here, and the transcript by clicking on the title of this story!
[Editor’s Note: We’ve heavily pruned the gallery since this article was initially posted, reducing the total number of images to better spotlight the good ones.]
Photos direct from the WWDC 2009 Keynote are now appearing on iLounge’s Flickr photostream, and will continue to appear during the keynote. Initial banners spotted on site reference the Grand Central multi-core processor technology found in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and the new APIs found in iPhone OS 3.0. We’ll have plenty more to say and show you over the course of the next few hours!
A pair of new Apple patent filings suggest the company is working on both a method for sharing media files like video, photos, and music while on a call, and a multi-touch control scheme for Click Wheel iPods. Titled “Methods and systems for mixing media with communications,” the first patent describes a scenario in which the user is discussing a piece of media during a phone call, and then hits an “Add Media” button within the Phone application to attach and send the item to the iPhone user on the other end of the call. The filing also makes several references to interactive video conferences, suggesting the feature may be planned for a future iPhone model, as video conferencing is not possible with currently-available versions of the iPhone.
The second filing, titled “Multi-dimensional Scroll Wheel,” describes a Click Wheel-like control apparatus that includes circuitry allowing it to “detect input gestures that traverse the center of the scroll wheel and to detect multi-touch input.” It goes on to suggest possible gestures to be used with the improved controls, such as side-to-side swipes for moving images or album covers across the screen, or a rotating two-finger gesture for zooming in and out of images, depending on the direction of the rotation, as well as the more familiar iPhone pinch-and-zoom gesture. As with all Apple patents, these filings do not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offer evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via AppleInsider]
Listings for both black and white versions of 16GB and 32GB “V3,” or third-generation, iPhones have appeared in the inventory system of UK-based iPhone retailer Carphone Warehouse. AppleInsider reports that the new listings appeared just hours ago, mixed in with listings for both iPhone 3G and original iPhone models. Many expected Apple to double the maximum capacity of the iPhone 3G to 32GB earlier this year, as it had done with the prior version when it announced the 16GB model in February of 2008; the iPod touch is currently the only iPhone OS device available in 32GB capacities. Apple is widely expected to introduce new iPhone models this coming Monday during its WWDC 2009 Keynote Address, which we will provide live coverage of beginning at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
Several text strings found in iTunes 8.2 suggest that the iPhone may be receiving the third-generation iPod shuffle’s and fourth-generation iPod nano’s spoken word navigation features as an optional control method, as well as Nike + support. AppleInsider reports that the strings, found inside the iTunes application bundle, include a variety of alerts for Nike + iPhone integration—such as “Do you want to automatically send your workout info to nikeplus.com when you sync your iPhone?”—as well as a single string stating “VoiceOver changes the gestures used to control iPhone. Are you sure you want to continue?,” an addition to VoiceOver strings that the report says have been in the iTunes codebase since version 8.1. A handful of other strings seem to suggest the addition of radio tagging capabilities, although it is unclear whether these would be related to built-in radio functionality, a radio-tagging application, or some other external accessory. The strings appear to be similar to ones used by current docking iPod models for iTunes Tagging of HD Radio broadcasts picked up by external accessories.
Apple’s upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 update contains software features that, if enabled, would allow users to recommend apps to other users, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the technology, BusinessWeek reports that the software may allow users to “share,” or recommend, software with other users, and may be expanded to allow users to invite others to games even when the recipient does not own the game in question. “Now you can sell copies of your app to two players instead of one,” said former Apple engineer Dave Howell, who now runs file-sharing app developer Avatron Software. Richard Doherty, director at consulting firm Envisioneering Group, suggests that the feature may eventually offer users a commission when others purchase software based on their recommendations. Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock declined the opportunity to discuss possible features with BW, saying, “[w]e’ve made no announcements at this time.”
The ability of users to re-download previously purchased apps over-the-air may be restricted in iPhone OS 3.0, according to a new report. Currently, users may purchase and then re-download applications an infinite number of times across multiple devices. Mac Rumors has posted a screenshot showing a new iPhone OS dialog box which informs the user that they’ve already purchased the item, and that they can download the app for free on their computer via iTunes, or can tap Buy to purchase the item again. The article points out that the restriction may be aimed at preventing the illegal sharing of applications across devices; it may, however, be designed to decrease the amount of cellular network data demand attributable to unlimited multiple re-downloads.
Best Buy has issued a corporate memo to mobile sales employees, warning them that inventory of the iPhone 3G will be constrained over the coming weeks, and that some locations may run out of stock completely. AppleInsider notes that the internal advisory is similar to one recently sent out by Australian iPhone distributor Brightpoint; the memo also follows a report from last week stating that AT&T is running short on new iPhone 3G units, and has begun to offer refurbished units instead. Supplies of iPhone units have traditionally dwindled during the time leading up to the introduction of a new iPhone model.
Chinese blog UMPCFever (translated link) has photographically confirmed two previously rumored features of the iPhone OS 3.0—an autofocus feature for the still picture camera, and a digital compass—along with new details on their user interfaces. Believed to rely upon new camera hardware found in the upcoming 2009 iPhone, the autofocus feature places a blue box on the existing camera screen to show the current area of crisp focus, enabling users to move the focus area with finger gestures. Sample images show the new camera producing notably sharper, if less colorful images than a prior-generation iPhone camera used for comparison.
Separately, UMPCFever shows an image of a new magnetic compass application, which provides a digital readout and a full rotating analog compass on screen. The application appears to be similar in graphic design to Apple’s voice recording software, previously revealed in beta versions of the iPhone OS 3.0, and is expected to be available only for the 2009 iPhone due to hardware changes. Additional photographs add further credence to previously discussed new features, such as a movie recording mode, and suggest additional debugging tools will be available to help optimize CPU performance.
The second 360|iDev iPhone Developer Conference has been announced and will be held in Denver, CO from September 27-30, 2009. Held in San Jose in March, the first Conference offered hands-on training and conferences hosted by experienced iPhone developers on a variety of iPhone development topics, as well as opportunities for iPhone developers to meet up and network. Registration is open now, with the first 100 registered attendees receiving a discounted price of $360, as compared to the normal registration price of $480. Attendees at WWDC can qualify for a special registration price of $200 by meeting with the 360|iDev organizers. A call for papers is also open, and will run through Apple’s WWDC for those developers who may be working on applications for the new iPhone 3.0 OS. More information can be found on the 360|iDev web site.
Images from Hong Kong depict several significant changes from the bezels of prior iPhones to the next-generation model, if their source is to be believed. Listings pages from Hong Kong-based part vendor China Ontrade depict what the company claims to be the first next-generation iPhone parts to be supplied directly from the factory, including liquid crystal displays and front bezels. Notably, the bezels appear to show a repositioned and redesigned ear speaker, now significantly higher above the display than the present speaker, and ringed with metal, a change that may make room for additional front-mounted sensor or camera hardware. Alternately, the metal ring may be there to protect a front-facing camera from smudging.
Also changed is the bezel’s color, which has shifted from the prior silver in all iPhone and iPhone 3G models to a nearly black metallic color reminiscent of the backs of later fifth-generation iPod U2 Special Edition models. In the photos, the bezel now stops short of ringing the entire iPhone face, ending at roughly the edge of the LCD screen. The site does not specify what differences there are between the new iPhone’s screen and its predecessor, but the company lists the new screen at $73 versus $35 for the prior version. It is unclear whether the bezel and screen are legitimate components, as China Ontrade sells both identical and modified aftermarket parts for prior-model iPhones. [via iFun.de]
AT&T announced today that it will be upgrading its existing 3G network to provide significantly faster mobile Internet speeds. The upgrade to High-Speed Packet Access technology will provide 7.2 Mbps speeds, doubling the current 3G network speed and serving as a step toward the deployment of an even higher-speed LTE (4G) network in the future. In addition, AT&T has announced plans to enhance its mobile broadband coverage by nearly doubling its wireless 3G spectrum in most metropolitan areas to provide better in-building coverage and network capacity. These improvements will be rolled out later this year, and the company expects to have them fully deployed by the end of 2011.
A report released today by AdMob Metrics indicates that the iPhone and iPod touch accounted for 43% of worldwide smartphone Internet traffic in April and 59% of the smartphone traffic in the U.S. Nokia was in second-place worldwide at 35% and Research in Motion second-place in the U.S. at 17%. Worldwide HTML mobile browsing usage from the iPhone was 65% overall. This comes despite the iPhone presently having an 8% worldwide smartphone market share.
The report also indicates that the iPhone and iPod touch together accounted for 26.2% of requests worldwide, suggesting that many iPhone and iPod touch users are transferring larger amounts of data per request than users of other smartphone models. [via CNN Money]