Apple Expands iPhone Line, Drops 8GB Unit To $99 - Twice

Apple Expands iPhone Line, Drops 8GB Unit To $99

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San Francisco — The latest version of the iPhone, the iPhone 3G S, will debut in U.S. stores June 19 with double the wireless-download speeds and more memory capacity than current models, Apple announced here at its worldwide developers conference.

The 16GB version of the iPhone 3G S will retail for $199, and a 32GB version will retail for $299, when purchased with two-year AT&T wireless contract and eligible service plans. The current 8GB iPhone 3G remains in the line but at a price that was cut immediately to $99 from $199. The existing $299 16GB iPhone 3G will be dropped from the lineup when current supplies run out, but its price has been reduced in the interim to $149.

The price moves put pressure on competing touchscreen-equipped smartphones, including the Palm Pre, which debuted June 6 on the Sprint network at $199 with 8GB of embedded memory and no memory card slot.

The 3G S will be available through AT&T, Apple, Best Buy and Walmart stores.

The new 3G S features the iPhone 3.0 OS, which will also be available for free downloading to current iPhones on June 17.

The 3G S looks like the current 3G, but besides the previously announced upgrades enabled by the 3.0 OS, the iPhone 3G S adds 7.2Mbps high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) cellular-data technology. The AT&T network technology doubles theoretical peak download speeds from the 3.6Mbps available to the iPhone 3G, whose actual throughput averages 700kbps to 1.7Mbps.

The new models also add:

* upgraded camera with 3-megapixel resolution, autofocus, auto white balance, macro focus, low-light capability and a “tap to focus” feature in which users tap on an object in the display to adjust focus and exposure;

* digital compass integrated with map displays;

* voice control of phone functions, applications, and dialing;

* reduced application launch times;

* longer battery life;

* OpenGL ES 2.0 standard for improved 3-D graphics; and

* built-in communication with the optional $19 Nike+iPod sensor to track miles run or sync with the latest generation gym equipment.

On the iPhone 3G and 3G S, the 3.0 OS delivers cellular downloading of purchased or rented movies, plus TV shows and music videos, from the iTune store. The OS also enables a remote-wipe feature, which lets subscribers remotely delete all stored data from a lost iPhone. A Find My iPhone feature lets users push messages to lost phones to notify the finder to call the owner at a certain number. If the iPhone is returned, wiped-out data can be restored by connecting to the iTunes site.

Other previously announced features of the iPhone 3.0 operating system include ability to support GPS applications that deliver turn-by-turn driving instructions. Here at the conference, TomTom unveiled its driving-direction application for the OS.

More than 100 other features enabled by the 3.0 OS, also available for downloading to the iPod Touch, include:

* 30 fps video capture with ability to post videos to the web or send them by email or MMS (multimedia messaging service); AT&T will enable iPhone 3G and 3G S MMS in the summer;

* the ability to cut and paste text across multiple applications;

* searching for keywords across multiple applications;

* background notification of text and instant messages via sound, text or badge alerts;

* cellular MMS (multimedia messaging service);

* camcorder capability;

* stereo Bluetooth;

* peer-to-peer Bluetooth connections;

* shake to shuffle;

* automatic login at Wi-Fi hot spots;

* access to Google and Yahoo shared calendars;

* the ability to forward and delete multiple messages;

* parental controls for TV shows, movies and apps from the iTunes Store; and

* the ability to view email in landscape mode and type emails on a landscape-mode virtual keyboard, not just on a portrait-mode keyboard.

The new OS also supports new business models for third-party applications developers, allowing for subscription models, purchasing content within an application and purchasing higher game levels from within a game.

The 3.0 software is available June 17 as a free software update to existing iPhones but costs $9.95 for Touch users.

The new 3G S models will also be available June 19 in Canada and select European countries. The phones will roll out to other countries in July and August, with more than 80 countries eventually getting the devices.

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