Apple is introducing a new, speedier version of its popular iPhone with a host of new features including video capabilities, a better camera and longer battery life.
Apple says the new phone is engineered to operate twice as fast as the existing 3G phone.
The new phone, called the iPhone 3G S, comes in 16GB and 32GB versions. Apple announced the device during a software developers' conference being held in San Francisco.
While retaining the same form factor, the new iPhones will include some extras including a 3 megapixel auto-focus camera and hands free voice control similar to the feature rolled out on the iPod Shuffle music player earlier this year.
"The 'S' stands for speed, because this is the most powerful iPhone we've ever made," Apple vice president of marketing Phil Schiller told the audience. "What is inside is entirely new."
In Australia, the iPhone 3G S will be available on June 26 - that's a week after the phone goes on sale in the US - with local pricing available at launch.
Apple will retain the existing 8GB version of the iPhone 3G. In the US, Apple has halved the price of this model to $US99, plus a two year contract.
The existing 16GB model will be phased out.
The introduction of Apple's third generation iPhone paves the way for mobile carriers to offer the superceded device as a cheaper, entry-level model.
In Australia, the iPhone is offered by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. None of the carriers is currently advertising pricing on the new iPhone models.
In March, Apple revealed that it had sold 17 million iPhones since the first device was launched two years ago.
Those sales saw Apple to go from nowhere to a 19.5 per cent share of the US smart phone market, according to research firm IDC.
However, Apple still trails Canada's Research in Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry device, which accounts for 55.3 per cent of the market.
iPhone OS 3.0
The new iPhone OS 3.0 software will be available to Australian customers from June 26 as a free software update via iTunes 8.2 for all iPhone customers.
iPod touch customers will be charged $A14.95 for the same upgrade.
Apple says the upgrade will add 100 new features such as cut, copy and paste, multimedia messaging and a landscape virtual keyboard.
Among those additions is a "Find My iPhone" function. Working with Apple's MobileMe service, it enables users to locate their lost or stolen iPhone on a map, message their phone or activate a sound.
If all else fails, there will be a Remote Wipe feature allowing users to zap the phone's contents.
In a swag of announcements Apple has also:
:: Updated the aluminium unibody MacBook Pro line to include 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch models;
:: Announced a shipping date of September for its Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system;
:: Released Safari 4, a new version of its web browser which is available now as a free (44MB) download.
The new MacBook Pro models include features such as slots for SD camera memory cards and more eco-friendly lithium batteries promising longer life.
Prices on the MacBook Pro line begin at $A1899 and Apple says it has shaved up to $A500 off the price of some models.
The new models are available from today.
There was no sign of chief executive Steve Jobs at the conference.
Jobs, who has been treated for pancreatic cancer, did not make an appearance despite speculation he would.
The Apple co-founder announced in January on the eve of the company's last major product launch that his health problems were more complex than previously thought.
He said he would step down for several month on medical leave. He is expected to return to work later this month.
- with agencies