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.