Following the lifting of the iPhone 3GS review embargo, Apple’s hand-picked reviewers near-simultaneously issued their opinions today on the latest iPhone model, which we’ve summarized in the following headers. Expect iLounge’s review of the iPhone 3GS to deal with these and other subjects in detail in the very near future.
Comments varied on the 3GS’s speed increase, with some reviewers merely parroting Apple’s claims that the device runs apps faster; most agreed that it feels at least a little peppier than the iPhone 3G.
Joshua Topolsky, Engadget: “We’re excited by the cranked up CPU, but in our experience you’ll see lowered load times (though obviously not as drastic) if you take a standard 3G and do a full restore, so there is the lingering question of whether or not the jacked-up feel of the 3GS will last, or will begin to bog down after months of use and heaps of data.”
Following a solid week of complaints from users, AT&T has announced that it will be offering iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September of this year its best upgrade pricing ($199/16GB, $299/32GB) on the iPhone 3GS beginning tomorrow, June 18. In an open letter, the company states that “[l]ike most U.S. carriers, we offer a variety of phones that we sell below our actual cost when customers agree to sign service agreements. In general, the more a customer spends with us, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than $99 a month per line with us generally are eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.”
The letter continues, “[a]ll of that said, we’ve been listening to our customers. And since many of our iPhone 3G customers are early adopters and literally weeks shy of being upgrade eligible due to iPhone 3GS launching 11 months after iPhone 3G, we’re extending the window of upgrade eligibility for a limited time.” AT&T notes that its upgrade eligibility tools will not reflect the change until tomorrow, and that supplies will be limited at its retail stores, but customers may order online from AT&T for delivery in 7-14 days, or purchase the device from Apple’s online or retail stores. Finally, it says that customers who pre-ordered from an AT&T store would have the price adjusted at checkout, while online pre-order customers eligible for the discount will receive an e-mail and a credit. Customers who pre-ordered through an Apple will have their upgrade eligibility re-assessed, and if eligible for the lower pricing, will receive an credit from Apple.
Apple has announced that it will be opening its stores at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, an hour earlier than planned, for the launch of the iPhone 3GS. The company had originally planned to open its doors at 8:00 a.m., but may have changed its mind due to AT&T’s announcement that it would be opening its stores at 7:00 a.m. for pre-order customers, with normal sales beginning at 8:00.
Apple has officially released its iPhone Software Upgrade 3.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch. The second major update to the iPhone OS brings with it a host of new features, including Copy & Paste, widespread landscape keyboard support, in-app and Spotlight search, a new Voice Memos application for the iPhone and iPod touch 2G, MMS support for the iPhone 3G, multi-photo emailing and deletion, stereo Bluetooth support for the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G, and more. iPhone Software Update 3.0 is now available as a free download for the iPhone and iPhone 3G; the software is a $10 upgrade for the iPod touch, and iPod touch 2G. For more information on iPhone OS 3.0, read our review, or see our Complete Guide and Instant Expert articles.
A set of photos showing the unboxing of a new black 32GB iPhone 3GS has been posted to Flickr. The photos show the device’s home screen, the Voice Control feature, as well as shots of the Compass application in action, complete with a “Compass Interference” error message.
On examination of a handful of shots posted to Flickr by our friends at iFun.de comparing the iPhone 3G’s camera to that of the iPhone 3GS, new details about iPhone 3GS still photo capabilities have been revealed. Notably, photos taken with the iPhone 3GS are saved in 2048 x 1536 (3.1-Megapixel) resolution, with a file size of around 1MB. As expected, the EXIF data on photos taken with the 3GS also shows evidence of auto exposure, auto white balance, and auto focus adjustments, with focal length data; the data also shows a listing for ISO speed. Notably, the EXIF data does not identify the iPhone 3GS as a separate device from the original iPhone or iPhone 3G; all three devices are listed as “iPhone.”
T-Mobile Germany has announced its pricing (Translated Link) for the iPhone 3GS. The exclusive German iPhone carrier will offer the 16GB model for as little as €1 with the most expensive (€120/month, roughly $166) tariff on a two-year contract, with the handset running €130 (~$180) with the least expensive (€25, roughly $35) plan. The 32GB model will run from €1 to €250 (~$346), respectively. All the plans offer unlimited data, save for the cheapest, which offers only 200MB per month. The iPhone 3GS goes on sale in Germany on Friday.
Orange has revealed its pricing for the iPhone 3GS in France. The 16GB model will be available from €149 (roughly $206) and the 32GB for €229 (~$317) on a one-year contract. The company will be offering a new “Origami special iPhone edition” package from €52/month, which will include four hours of calling time, unlimited data, SMS, MMS, and Wi-Fi access, 60 channels of Orange TV, and Visual Voicemail; Orange will also offer tethering at rates of €9.90/month for 200GB, or unlimited for €29.90/month, with a reduced connection speed once usage reaches 1GB. Orange will be opening its stores Paris on the Champs-Élysées, in Lille in the Grand Place and in Lyon Cordelier at one minute after midnight on July 19 for iPhone 3GS sales.
A first-hand account from the final session of Apple’s 2009 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) claims the company actively avoided facing the questions of many iPhone developers. Tumblr and Instapaper developer Marco Arment reports that the final session of WWDC ‘09, which he attended, was about publishing on the App Store, and although the content of the session is under NDA, Arment claims the session was more notable for what it didn’t contain. Arment writes, “So I’ll tell you what wasn’t in it: the audience Q&A session that succeeded nearly every other WWDC session and usually provided invaluable access to Apple employees and useful additional knowledge to attendees. The session itself blew through its lightweight examples quickly, ending 45 minutes early. The majority of the audience was clearly there for the Q&A. As people lined up at the microphones around the room, the presenter abruptly showed a simple slide with only ‘WWDC’ in plain lettering, thanked us for coming, and bolted off the stage. The Apple engineers, usually staying around the stage for one-on-one questions, were gone. The lights came up instantly, and it was the only session that didn’t end in music. The audience was stunned.”
“It was a giant middle finger to iPhone developers. And that’s the closing impression that Apple gave us for WWDC. Clearly, they had absolutely no interest in fielding even a single question from the topic that we have the most questions about,” he continues. “This went far beyond reluctant tolerance. It’s hard to interpret it as anything else except blatant hostility. We could probably have a more open discussion with Kim Jong-il about North Korea’s nuclear policy.” A separate report from earlier in the week suggests the company may have been trying to sidestep questions from developers regarding the company’s opaque and sometimes frustrating iPhone application approval process, as developers were unable to get answers about their rejections, even when speaking face-to-face with Apple employees during the event. [via DF]
AT&T plans to drop support for all Pay As You Go iPhone users, in an effort to move all pre-paid iPhone users onto contract plans ahead of the iPhone 3.0 release. Erica Sadun of TUAW writes that she called AT&T after receiving a screenshot of an official AT&T text message sent to a pre-paid iPhone user, which stated that the upgrade may affect data service. The message asked the user to call AT&T; he was told that if he downloads the software without being on “an approved iPhone data plan,” his data service would be interrupted. According to Sadun’s phone communications with AT&T, it appears that the company will be deliberately downgrading the data services offered to GoPhone users to get them to move to contract plans. As this online memo states, GoPhone plans are no longer available for either the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, and only original iPhone Pick Your Plan customers with the unlimited data plan for iPhone will be safe from service interruptions. Sadun was also told that original iPhone users on GoPhone plans would be unable to move to a postpaid plan without signing a two-year contract, despite their full ownership of their current equipment, adding, “all prepaid customers should transfer into a contract plan for the iPhone.”
Apple is now shipping pre-ordered iPhone 3GS units to customers for delivery on Friday. iLounge reader Kevin Hanson has posted screenshots of his Apple Store shipment notification for a 32GB white iPhone 3GS, and similar notifications are currently hitting other customers’ accounts. While Kevin did not comment on tracking details, a separate report from AppleInsider indicates that the units are shipping out of Shenzhen, China, home to many of the country’s large manufacturers, including Foxconn Electronics. Both Apple and AT&T have promised customers placing online pre-orders that their new handsets would arrive on Friday, the same day the iPhone 3GS goes on sale in Apple and AT&T retail locations.
AT&T has completely sold through its launch day supply of pre-order iPhone 3GS units, according to a new report. Citing an internal AT&T memo, Boy Genius Report claims that only pre-orders placed prior to Saturday, June 13 are expected to arrive at stores in time for a Friday morning pick-up, while customers placing pre-orders after that time should be told their order will arrive between 7-14 days from the order date. It is currently unclear whether this will have any affect on online pre-orders, or standby stock for customers who chose not to pre-order. AT&T will open its stores at 7:00 a.m. Friday morning to allow pre-order customers to come in and receive their iPhone 3GS before the stores open for general sales at 8:00.
AT&T will not charge iPhone users with text messaging plans anything extra for MMS messages, according to a FAQ list (PDF Link) posted online. Support for MMS messaging will be included in iPhone OS 3.0, which is launching this Wednesday, June 17. Unfortunately, AT&T will not have its network ready to provide MMS service to iPhone users on that date, and has only said that the feature would be activated “later this summer.” In addition, the company has also committed to providing tethering support for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, although it will only say the feature is coming “in the future.”
Following four days of complaints from current iPhone users who are being quoted prices of $399 and up to upgrade their current handsets to the iPhone 3GS, a crisis communications expert has suggested that AT&T has roughly 24-48 hours to respond to the criticism. “It’s time for AT&T to step forward and be an industry leader,” said Dallas Lawrence, vice president of digital media at New York-based Levick Strategic Communications, in an interview with Computerworld. “The next 48 hours will be very telling. AT&T needs to embrace the message, to acknowledge a mistake’s been made, and to make things good.” The online complaints have culminated in a Twitter petition—now with more than 8,000 supporters—calling for AT&T to offer iPhone 3GS upgrades to all iPhone customers for the same $199 and $299 pricing it offers to new customers. The number of names attached to the petition has nearly doubled in the last 24 hours.
“AT&T has the opportunity to turn a potential negative into a positive,” said Lawrence, adding “[t]hey should forget the immediate gratification [of higher revenue] and invest in the longer term to keep iPhone users.” Lawrence went on to say that this vocal group of users will only get more agitated the longer it takes the U.S. iPhone carrier to respond, and that if the company were his client, he would tell them to immediately apologize and guarantee the cheapest upgrade pricing for all iPhone users. “And they should say they will do that for every iPhone that Apple launches, because they want the iPhone users to be part of the AT&T family for life,” Lawrence added. “That would be the type of statement that would be leading—outside the industry norm—and would let iPhone users know they can make a commitment to AT&T because AT&T has made a commitment to them.”
A newly-disclosed Apple patent application suggests the company is working on a system to enhance emergency calls on the iPhone. Titled “Method and system for prolonging emergency calls,” the patent describes a system for determining when a call is an emergency call, either by automatically classifying numbers as emergency services—such as 911—or via an emergency tagging system in the contacts application. When an emergency call is detected, the phone could then implement a number of different tactics to help facilitate the call, including but not limited to deactivating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or various sensors, implementing a confirmation alert before the call can be ended, and providing options for “emergency phrase buttons,” which would allow the user to simply touch the screen to send his/her current location, an “unable to speak” message, phrases describing the user’s problem, or an automated request to contact a certain contact, all via pre-recorded audio messages. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. Continue reading for more images from the patent application. [via MacRumors]
Both Apple and AT&T have outlined their plans for June 19, when the iPhone 3GS goes on sale. Apple will open its retail stores worldwide at 8 a.m. local time to begin sales of the phone and to allow those who pre-ordered to come in and pick their units up, while AT&T plans to have two queues outside its stores—one for those who pre-ordered, and one for those planning to purchase their unit that day. The pre-order customers will be allowed inside the stores at 7 a.m. to pick up their device, while the regular customers will need to wait until 8 a.m. Although both Best Buy and Walmart offer the iPhone 3G in their stores, it is currently unclear whether they will also carry the iPhone 3GS, or whether they will have units available on launch day. iLounge has contacted both companies for clarification and will update this story when we hear back.
In addition, AT&T has posted a video explaining its launch day plans; continue reading to watch.
The new iPhone 3GS contains a PowerVR SGX graphics core, according to a new report, which also suggests that the new OpenGL ES 2.0 features may cause difficulties for game developers. Citing people familiar with the matter, AppleInsider reports that the new iPhone contains the new PowerVR SGX chip from Imagination Technologies, which has been integrated into the handset’s system-on-a-chip, manufactured by Samsung. Prior reports had suggested that an “international electronics systems company” had licensed the SGX technology for its own use in a multi-use, multi-year deal. It was later revealed that Apple had bought 8 million shares, or a 3% stake, in Imagination, further evidence of a relationship between the two companies.
The new SGX technology enables OpenGL ES 2.0-specific rendering features, including programmable shaders, while maintaining support for OpenGL ES 1.1 fixed-function rendering. However, games written to take specific advantage of the iPhone 3GS’s OpenGL ES 2.0 capabilities will need to contain two codebases, one for OpenGL ES 2.0 and one for 1.1, or break compatibility with older devices. This creates obvious difficulties for smaller developers who may not have the resources to create both sets of code; it also makes it less likely that currently-available games will be updated to take advantage of the iPhone 3GS hardware, as the financial benefits will most likely not be able to make up for the development time spent.
The news out of Apple’s WWDC 2009 came so quickly that our News column has barely been able to keep up with it all. Here’s a quick summary of what was announced, along with links to our full articles:
WWDC 2009 Keynote in Brief: Learn about new MacBook Pro models, the $29 Snow Leopard upgrade, iPhone OS 3.0 and iPhone 3GS announcements in our text play-by-play from the event. See over 100 pictures in our photo gallery, as well. Accessory problems twice interrupted the Keynote.
iPhone 3GS Announced: A weird name for a largely iterative upgrade to the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS features a 3MP still camera, 640x480 video camera, voice controls, twice the storage capacity (16/32GB), improved responsiveness, and modestly improved battery performance. It hits June 19 for $199/$299.
iPhone 3GS Upgrade Fees: AT&T and Apple are hitting “early upgraders” with $200 to $400 fees if they want the iPhone 3GS, depending on when they purchased the iPhone 3G or other AT&T phones.
iPhone 3GS Data Plans Announced: AT&T, Rogers, and O2 are amongst companies announcing plans with no changes for prior 3G service offerings, but potentially higher charges for features such as MMS and PC/Mac Internet tethering.
iPhone 3GS Gets Enhanced Remote Support, New Headset: Apple has updated the iPhone 3GS headphone port with support for the Earphones with Remote and Mic, which it includes along with the device.
iPhone 3GS Radiation Data Released: The iPhone 3GS puts out less potentially dangerous radiation at maximum in five of six measures than its predecessor, but more in the sixth.
iPhone OS 3.0 Coming June 17: Free for iPhone and iPhone 3G users, $10 for iPod touch owners, it adds a variety of new software features to every iPhone OS device, and unlocks new hardware features in certain devices as well. iTunes video downloading and Find My iPhone are newly announced features, atop the massive list we’ve been compiling since March.
Rogers Wireless has revealed its pricing for the iPhone 3GS in Canada, via Keith McArthur, the company’s official rep on Twitter. The pricing is mostly consistent with the U.S., with the 16GB model offered for $199 CAD with a three-year contract and the 32GB running $299 CAD with the same terms. The 8GB iPhone 3G will be sold for $99 CAD, again with a three-year voice and data plan. As before, the phones will only be offered through Rogers/Fido and its selected partners. In addition, the company plans to reintroduce the $30 monthly 6GB iPhone data plan starting today, but is only offering it for a limited time. The iPhone 3GS will be released in Canada on June 19.
O2 has announced its pricing and plans for the iPhone 3GS in the UK. New or qualifying customers choosing an 18-month contract will be able to purchase a 16GB model for between £87 and £185, depending on the tariff chosen, while the 32GB model will range from £175 to £275. On a 24-month contract, the 16GB model will be free with all except the £35 tariff—it runs £87 with that plan—while the 32GB model will be priced from £97 to £175. For Pay & Go users, the 8GB iPhone 3G will be £343, with the 16GB iPhone 3GS running £440, and the 32GB model costing £538.
The company has also revealed its pricing on tethering plans for the iPhone, which will run £15 on a month-by-month basis for 3GB of data, or £30 a month for 10GB; customers will be able to purchase extra data at the rate of £5 per 1GB. Business customers may sign up for 24-month tethering Bolt On plans, with the 3GB running £10 a month and a 9GB plan costing £20 a month. On a month-to-month basis, these plans will run business customers £13 and £24, respectively. Tethering plans, as well as the iPhone 3GS, will be available from June 19. [via Macworld UK]