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Is the iPhone 3G S Worth the Extra Cash?

The iPhone 3G S was released last Friday to much fanfare. The critics who got their hands on the device before it was made available called it . Over 1 million people picked one up over the weekend. And all the while, the iPhone 3G -- once the crown jewel of the iPhone product line -- was left sitting on store shelves.

But who cares? The iPhone 3G is old news. It doesn't have video recording capability. It's about half as slow as its replacement. It doesn't have voice control. And it lacks a compass. Worst of all, it can't quite match the iPhone 3G S in battery life.

But there's one catch: The iPhone 3G costs just $99 now. The iPhone 3G S, complete with all those additional features, costs $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model. It's substantially more expensive than the iPhone 3G. And once the early adopters get out of the way and logic starts playing into buying decisions, consumers will need to ask themselves an important question: Is the iPhone 3G S worth the extra $100 or $200?

I don't think it is.

What's so compelling about the iPhone 3G S that it would make you want to pay $100 to $200 more for it? Yes, video recording has been a major omission from the iPhone. But we've survived a long while without it. I've had numerous phones that sport a video recorder and to be quite honest, I've only used it on just a few occasions. It's nice to have, but in practice, it makes more sense to carry a lightweight camcorder around.

I'm also not convinced that the iPhone 3G S speed improvements matter all that much. Applications will load sooner, but how important is that, really? I had an iPhone 3G for almost a year. I never complained about the applications loading too slowly.

Although the iPhone 3G S boasts better battery life, it's not that significant. Talk time is the same on 3G, but two hours better on 2G. You'll get three hours more Internet use while connected via Wi- Fi. Audio playback and video playback have been improved by 25 percent and about 40 percent, respectively. It's an improvement, but it's not groundbreaking.

Perhaps that's the biggest problem with the iPhone 3G S. It has more storage and the aforementioned advantages, but are they really worth $100 to $200? When it comes down to it, you're paying that much more for video, voice control, a slightly better battery life, and a little more speed. You'll still get all the same applications, you'll have copy and paste, and best of all, you'll only pay $99 to get your hands on an iPhone that was just fine two weeks ago.

Is the iPhone 3G S better than the iPhone 3G? Sure. Does it have some really nice features? Of course. But until it's priced about $50 cheaper, I don't think it provides enough value to justify spending an additional $100 to $200 to have it.

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist whose work has included popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.