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iPhone 3G S vs Palm Pre: The battle begins

PhoneThe guessing game is over, and Apple's iPhone 3G S has arrived. Don't let appearances fool you: on the outside the 3G S looks pretty much the same as the iPhone 3G, but the real differences are on the inside. So how will Apple's iPhone 3G S compare to the Palm Pre?

The main difference is likely to be price. Palm has yet to announce UK pricing for the Pre, but there's a stark difference in the US: for the same price as a 16GB iPhone3G S, American consumers can only get hold of a 8GB Palm Pre. However, the Palm Pre offers better data plans.

Cameras and video recording

Both the Pre and iPhone 3G S have a 3Mp cameras; however, there are some major differences in features. The Pre's camera has an LED flash, but no autofocus, video recording or editing capabilities. You also can't adjust white balance or exposure.

Apple didn't throw in a flash for this generation of iPhone, but the iPhone 3G's brand-new camera gets some pretty nifty features nonetheless. You can now control focus either by tapping on the screen or using the autofocus feature.

Palm Pre vs Apple iPhone 3G S

But perhaps the biggest edge the iPhone 3G S's camera has over the Pre is its video recording capability. You can record 30fps VGA video with audio by simply going into the camera app and switching from still to movie. Autofocus, auto white balance and auto exposure features apply to video as well.

Video recording was long overdue for the iPhone, especially since it's a feature that most low- to mid-range phones carry. Even better, you can edit your videos with a tap of the finger by picking an in-point and end-point and hitting 'trim'. Then, you can tap the share button to send over email, MMS, MobileMe gallery or YouTube - pretty cool.

Software features

But the new iPhone 3G S also matches some of the software advantages the Pre had over the 3G model. The 3G S has now copy and paste, MMS, tethering (coming later this year), A2DP Bluetooth capability, geotagging (photo and video) and turn-by-turn navigations.

While none of the two phones features a FM receiver/transmitter, the iPhone 3G S has a built-in digital compass and voice controls over the Palm Pre. On the downside, the new iPhone still doesn't feature a removable battery or a hardware keyboard (but nobody was expecting the 3G S to have one, anyway).

There is also an essential advantage the iPhone 3G S has over the Palm Pre: the App Store. Apple packs more than 50,000 apps in its store, while Palm's App Catalog is still at the beginning of the road, with 12 apps available and a store in beta stage.

Apple claims a much-improved battery life on the 3G S, which would be a welcome addition to the not-so-acclaimed 3G's lifespan between charges. But then again, the Palm Pre didn't score too well either.

But the final battle between the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre will be carried out when Apple's new device hits the shops. Besides the obvious storage capacity and price difference, each buyer will have to carefully consider whether they really want a physical keyboard or a LED flash for the phone's camera.

Which one will you choose?

See also:

Opinion: look out world, here comes the iPhone 3G S

Apple launches iPhone 3G S at WWDC

Palm Pre review

Outrage at UK iPhone 3G S upgrade costs

Apple iPhone 3.0 shipping next week

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