Apple announces the iPhone 3GS

Today Apple unveiled the latest iteration of the iPhone, the iPhone 3GS. The ‘S’ stands for speed. It will be available in North America on Friday, June 19th.

iPhone 3GS

This is a big deal for a number of reasons. I won’t get into all the new features of the device (and 3.0 firmware update), just a few that stand out to me since there is a lot to talk about.

First of all, for me personally, it means that I’ll have a new, faster, bigger iPhone in less than two weeks as my iPhone 3G was stolen last December so I’ve been getting by with my first gen iPhone for 6 months now. While it hasn’t been that bad, I really do miss the 3G speeds, the GPS and having double the storage space (16gb vs 8gb).

We also finally get an improved camera now at 3 megapixels with touch auto-focus and macro! While 3mp isn’t the most amazing thing ever, it’s still an improvement. I’ve been a big fan of the iPhone camera and all the fun apps that have taken advantage of it. I can’t wait to have a little more pixels to play with. With it also brings the ability to shoot video (too bad it’s only VGA quality and not HD). It also will be able to do some minor editing on the iPhone itself. It’s unclear if the video function, combined with new APIs will open up the app store to Qik and UStream type applications. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Apple approves.

The new Voice Control feature also comes with the 3GS. I’m going to reserve judgement on this one until I get to play with it myself…voice apps have always been disappointing and you ALWAYS feel stupid yelling at a device in public because it doesn’t understand your mumblings…although the voice activated bluetooth feature in my car is making think that voice recognition software may have improved a fair bit in recent years.

Pricing has been set at $199/$299 for the 16gb or the 32gb iPhones respectively and that appears to be the price in Canadian dollars according to the ‘Social Media guy’ for Rogers which is hopefully a welcome sign that Rogers might be catching on. Unfortunately as I write this, specifics about the upgrade path for those that got the iPhone 3G last July (11th) haven’t been released yet. Considering it’ll be about 3 weeks shy of a year between those dates, hopefully Rogers allows those that waited in line on launch day to simply extend their contracts from the July date forward and pay the new customer price. Rogers and Fido have also stated they will be reintroducing (for a limited time), the 6gb for $30 promotion. With tethering now a fairly straightforward affair for those with the 3.0 firmware, having that much bandwidth may finally start paying off.

It’s also interesting that the ‘older’ iPhone 3G will still be available at the very attractive price of $99 at Rogers and Fido on June 19th.

And finally, something that I’ve been eagerly awaiting is TomTom’s iPhone application which was finally announced today. Until the 3.0 firmware, iPhone developers were restricted from creating applications that used the iPhone GPS for turn by turn directions. TomTom even created a nice iPhone windshield mount which extends the GPS antenna and charges the iPhone. It can also rotate to hold the iPhone in portrait or landscape…which is also a nice touch for watching video in your car (while parked of course). I’ve used TomTom GPS units for years…I even had the software installed on my Treo 650 and used it with a bluetooth GPS module on my dash which worked perfectly since you could search for a location and even get and dial phone numbers for stores and restaurants.

Here’s their video demoing the application and windshield mount:

It will be interesting to see how they price both the app and the windshield attachment. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take advantage of the new subscription model (for the map data) the app store now allows under 3.0 not to mention the fact that the dedicated in-car units have seen quite a price drop over the last few years thanks to competition.

So all in all, a big day in iPhoneLand.

5 Comments

  1. Dale says:

    Great article John, and I agree with every thought and sentiment here. It’s not revolutionary, it’s evolutionary, and finally the phone will do just about everything it should do to kick ass and take names.

  2. Tyler says:

    Oh that’s cool that TomTom is releasing their windshield mount for the iPhone. If 3.0 allows for turn-by-turn, I will definitely be talking to my TomTom rep about that. Sounds pretty cool.

    The one thing that has kind of disappointed me with the camera of the 3G is that the camera quality isnt great. John, yes your photos with it are pretty cool, but I’ve had mix feelings about mine phone when I take photos. The auto focus of the new one seems kind of cool though, as will the macro mode.

    Though, you have to wait a year for your contract to renew for a new phone eh? I dont see Rogers/Fido budging on this too much though. Who knows, perhaps they will allow people with 3G phones to upgrade within the 1 yr of their new contract to get a 3Gs but at a price? *shrug*

  3. That TomTom app is exactly what I was looking for about a year ago. Better late than never I guess. I already picked up a RAM windshield mount for my iPhone – but that TomTom one looks a bit nicer, and with the integrated charger and GPS antenna – I think it would be a nice upgrade.

    Don’t really see a compelling reason to upgrade to the 3GS though, at least not for me. I think I’ll wait another year and see what comes next. That is, of course, unless my wife decides she wants my ‘old’ iPhone… :)

  4. John says:

    Dale: Yeah, it will be interesting to see how the 3GS does versus the Palm Pre – at least in Canada…not to mention the lower priced 3G iPhone paired with the 3.0 firmware upgrades.

    Tyler: My Rogers account says I can upgrade July 11th of this year so that’s only 1 year for a hardware upgrade….which is what it’s always been. They announced a change earlier this year that changed that time frame to 2 years but I think that’s only for new customers after that announcement was made. You can log into your Rogers account and see what your eligibility is by clicking on the ‘Upgrade my Phone’ link and it will either give you a list of phones or say that you’re not eligible until X date.

    Kevin: Yes, I remember us talking about the potential of TomTom last year….fortunately (or unfortunately) as I mentioned in the post, I’m upgrading regardless since my 3G was stolen. How Rogers handles the upgrade path for people like me (launch day buyers) is what I’m interested in. A number of new features of the new phone are not available to the 3G iPhone because of hardware constraints (like the video, camera, compass, etc) so I think it will boil down to personal preference. Even if my 3G wasn’t stolen, I’d be upgrading for those features alone. But the 3.0 firmware is still a sweet upgrade for current 3G users.

    • John says:

      I should add that I fully expect Rogers/Fido to relax their upgrade rules (for hardware upgrades aka HUPs) so that those users that got the iPhone 3G last year can upgrade to the 3GS but you will need to extend your current contract another 3 years.

      Last year they eventually relaxed those same rules from one year to 3 months – as long as you’ve been a customer for a period of time (1 year, 3 months, etc) you are eligible to get the upgrade at the ‘new customer’ rate. It may not be on June 19th but it will be shortly after the initial wave of phones go out. Unless of course they want another PR disaster like last year’s data plan debacle where they came out with the 6gb/$30 plan at the last minute.

      You would hope they learned their lesson and post the upgrade plans in a more timely fashion.

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