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iPhone 3G S vs iPhone 3G: Is it worth the extra cash?

The iPhone 3G S isn't cheap, especially when you can get the new software for free on the iPhone 3G. Let us help you decide if the 3G S is worth your hard-earned cash

There's no doubt that the iPhone 3G S is the current king of touchscreen smart phones, but you may have to pawn your fillings to get one, and we've hardly got any left after shelling out for the iPhone 3G only a year ago. Furthermore, with Apple giving away most of the goodies in a free software upgrade, is it worth buying out your contract and selling your sisters online to get a 3G S?

If you want to join the Apple-ites but you don't have money to burn, you'll save about £100 or so by picking up a 3G instead of a 3G S. Although the 3G S is a couple of grams heavier, it looks the same and people probably won't even notice the difference. If you're thinking of laying down the Benjamins, then, you should be sure that the hardware features of the 3G S are must-haves. 

The features that we think might particularly tempt us to part with our hard-earned cash are the improved camera and video-recording capability. The 3G S takes much better close-up photos than its predecessor, and it has autofocus that you can control with the touch of a finger. The video recording is also gorgeously implemented, with a groovy editor and YouTube uploading built in.

The faster speed of the 3G S is great, living up to Apple's promise that it loads Web pages around twice as fast. But the 3G is already so good that we can't call the increased speed a deal-breaker.

Even the battery life, which is the Achilles heel, ankle and elbow of the power-hungry iPhone, isn't that much improved. Talk time on a 3G network is the same, at 5 hours, while 2G talk time goes up from 10 hours to 12 hours -- not that ground-breaking. Standby time remains the same at 300 hours, and you'll get an extra 3 hours of surfing on Wi-Fi, and 6 hours of audio playback.

But, wait, what about the siren song of cutting and pasting, stereo Bluetooth and MMS messaging? All this, and much more, is available on the 3G, thanks to the free iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade. Yep, that means the landscape keyboard, voice recorder, and universal search are all there in the humble 3G.

We've put together a handy reference guide to the differences between the touchscreen twins, so that you can separate the must-haves from the also-rans, and decide if grandpa will just have to do without that new hip this year. We've also rated each new feature according to how awesome we think it is, to help you make this tough choice.