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Stronger, faster iPhone 3GS will hit stores June 19

  • Story Highlights
  • Apple announces new version that it says is faster than current 3G
  • New phone will be sold starting June 19 for $199 and $299, with contract
  • The announcement comes at a developers conference in California
  • Apple exec Steve Jobs was reportedly not in attendance at the event
By John D. Sutter
CNN
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(CNN) -- A new, faster version of the popular iPhone will hit stores June 19, Apple said Monday.

Apple marketing head Philip Schiller says the iPhone 3GS will be about twice as fast as the current model.

The new iPhone 3GS will have a camera that shoots video and zooms, among other new features.

The iPhone 3GS is billed as a more powerful, feature-laden follow-up to the 3G, which the company says revolutionized the way people use mobile phones.

The 3GS features a similar look to the current iPhone, complete with a sleek rectangular shape and a large touch screen. But the phone comes packed with new features inside, according to CNET reporter Erica Ogg, who blogged live from the event.

Ogg says the 3GS has a new camera that shoots video and zooms. A touch-screen feature also lets iPhone photographers tap the area of the photo they would like to put into focus, she says.

The new phone reportedly will have a longer battery life.

iPhone 3GS will be available in the United States on June 19 and will hit 80 countries by August, Ogg says.

The new iPhone carries a price tag similar to the old iPhone. A version with 16 gigabytes of storage will sell for $199 with a new contract; one with a 32-gigabyte storage capacity will cost $299. Video Watch Wired.com's Dylan Tweney on Apple's big announcement »

Apple also said it has dropped the price of the current iPhone 3G to $99 ahead of the release of the 3GS. The $99 model features 8 gigabytes of storage.

The announcements came at Apple's much-anticipated Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. The annual event was attended by 5,000 Apple tech developers, Fortune reports.

WWDC, as the conference is called, is known for its innovative announcements. Apple appeared to meet expectations of many tech bloggers, who had been awaiting a new iPhone model.

Perhaps the only disappointment was that Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not make an appearance on stage. There had been speculation online that the popular tech figure would make a cameo at the event. Jobs has been on medical leave since January.

Apple also discussed a new iPhone operating system, version 3.0, which adds a cut-copy-paste feature to current iPhones. Apple said the new software adds 100 new features.

One of those getting the most buzz was the Find My iPhone feature, which will be available only for customers of Mobile Me, an Apple service that lets users sync e-mail and other data between computers and iPhones.

If you lose your phone, Mobile Me will display a Google Map that shows where your iPhone is, as long as it's turned on. You can then send a message to the phone, and it will sound an alarm, alerting nearby people to save it for you. If you think you've lost the phone permanently, you can remotely wipe all your data; if you find your missing phone later, you can plug it into iTunes and restore all your data.

New iPhone applications were also discussed. Apple has gotten widespread praise for the fact that independent developers can create programs for the iPhone.

Read blogs from CNET and Fortune for details on the latest iPhone apps and other news from Monday's event.

Apple's laptops and computer operating systems were also discussed Monday.

Apple Senior Vice President Bertrand Serlet took the stage to demonstrate the company's newest operating system, called Snow Leopard. It will hit stores in September, although a "near-final" version was made available for developers Monday.

Serlet also said that Apple's Safari 4 browser, which was released in beta in February, will ship Monday.

Apple marketing head Philip Schiller also unveiled a new version of a 15-inch MacBook Pro, which he said will feature up to seven hours of battery life. The unibody aluminum laptop boasts a new battery that can handle 1,000 recharges and should last five years before its life begins to diminish, he said.

Phones remained the focus of the event, however.

Apple's phones are the second-best-selling consumer smartphones in the U.S., according to the NPD Group, an online market-research firm.

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Smartphones are a category of mobile phones that act kind of like personal computers, allowing people to surf the Internet, share photos and keep up with e-mail while on the move. About a quarter of all consumer phones sold from January to April of this year were smartphones, NPD says.

The iPhone faces new competition from the Palm Pre, a smartphone that debuted Friday and claims to combine Apple's popular touch screen with a more functional keyboard, like the one found on a popular business-class smartphone, the BlackBerry.

CNN's Brandon Griggs contributed to this report.

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