iPhone 3G S reviews are in – and so's OS 3.0

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    Apple's Phil Schiller introduces the new iPhone 3G S at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 8. The phone goes on sale June 19.
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Those tech journalists blessed by Apple to have received review units of the iPhone 3G S have just released their reviews of the updated smart phone, available to mere mortals on Friday. What's the verdict? Read on!

First, a recap: The new iPhone was announced June 8 at Apple's Worldwide Developers' Conference in San Francisco. It promised faster processing, larger storage capacity, video recording, voice control, a better still camera, better battery life, and an improved fingerprint-resistant screen.

Here's how the 3G S stacks up.

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Battery life

On my 3G iPhone, I usually could make it through the day, but it was often a close call, with the battery indicator winding up in the red. By contrast, the new model did much better, never hitting the red zone and rarely requiring interim charging at the office or in the car, even though, because I was testing it, I was pounding it much harder than usual, making more voice calls, playing lots of videos and music, trying numerous apps, constantly downloading email from two accounts, and syncing two calendars over the air. – Walt Mossberg for the Wall Street Journal

Speed

Safari, Email, Camera all load noticeably faster than on the iPhone 3G (both running 3.0 software). Even booting the phone takes about half the time. Apps with long load times, like Sims 3, Oregon Trail or Metal Gear Touch all show how much faster you get up and running on the new device. Seriously, everything is faster. It's exactly the same experience as switching from a two- or three-year-old computer to something brand new. Your apps all look the same, but they load and run much more smoothly. Even if you're doing the same things on both machines, the new machine is that much better to work on. – Jason Chen for Gizmodo

Video

It’s the real deal: sharp, smooth, 30 frames a second. Once again, it’s not quite what you’d get from a proper digital camera or a Flip camcorder—it tends to “blow out” the bright areas — but it’s darned close. You can’t beat the capacity, either; in theory, the 32-gig iPhone can capture 17 hours of video — just enough for the elementary-school talent show.With a fingertip, you can trim the ends of a captured video and then upload it to YouTube or MobileMe, right from the phone. (That part, it does much better than a digital camera.) – David Pogue for The New York Times

Voice control

In our tests, the voice dialing performed well. When using names, it understood us accurately most of the time. It made occasional mistakes--for example, it wanted to call "Siemens" instead of "Stephen"--but that's hardly unusual for a voice dialer. Voice Control performed better when using only numbers. We didn't have to speak loudly, except in noisy environments, but it was capable of filtering out most background noise. – Kent German for CNET

Smudge-proof screen

The company has changed the treatment on the surface of the touchscreen, utilizing an oleophobic coating -- essentially a protectant that's highly resistant to fingerprint smudging. For those of you constantly wiping burger grease, WD40, and various other toxic materials from your iPhone, this will come as a tremendous little perk. The most surprising thing about the tech is that it actually does what the company says it will: namely, it resists new smudges and wipes almost entirely clean with a single swipe on a pant leg. This wasn't exactly the most pressing issue we had with the phone, but it's nice to know that Apple is innovating in the dirty screen space. – Joshua Topolsky for Engadget

The upgraded iPhone will sell for a subsidized $199 or $299, depending on capacity, for new customers and those eligible for a standard upgrade through AT&T. Current iPhone owners not eligible for an upgrade must pay a $218 premium if they want the new hardware. New today, though, is word that, despite earlier reports, if you're eligible for an upgrade in July, August, or September, AT&T's letting you do so at the fully subsidized $199 or $299 price. AT&T customers can find out where they stand at AT&T.com/iphone.

iPhone OS 3.0

Of course, as any iPhone fan will tell you, the new hardware isn't the only thing to be excited about this week. Thursday saw the release of the iPhone 3.0 operating system. Enhancements include the long-awaited cut, copy, and paste functions; phone-wide search; turn-by-turn GPS navigation; voice dialing; and two promised-but-unavailable-in-the-US features: tethering and MMS support. Expect those later this summer, AT&T says.

One maligned feature that did arrive, though, was streaming live video. MLB.com's $9.99 At Bat app streams professional baseball games live to iPhones and iPod touches, and, unlike other steaming video apps, is reported to be able to do so over AT&T's 3G network. For now just a few games a day are available, but the league intends to roll out support for all games as the season progresses. A word of caution to those who would try to watch their hometown team through the app: broadcast rights limit availability to "out-of-market" games. So, no dice for fans planning on catching the first inning on their phones on the way to the stadium.

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