Apple obscures true cost of iPhone 3G S

San Francisco (CA) – Club Cupertino recently unveiled the latest version of its iPhone to a rapt audience of developers at the WWDC. The device – priced at $200 for a 16GB model and $300 for the 32GB version – offers users improved performance, longer battery life and hands free voice control. The 3G S also supports OpenGL ES 2.0 and utilizes 7.2 Mbps HSDPA to achieve faster networking speeds.

However, it appears as if Apple may have “accidentally” obscured the true cost of its iPhone 3G S, as the above-mentioned price points are applicable only to new and qualifying customers. Indeed, current iPhone 3G owners will be forced to cough up $600 for a new 16GB 3G S and $700 for the 32GB model.

Although alternative upgrade pricing is reportedly available at $399 and $499, AT&T can be expected to charge a $175 fee for the cancellation of active iPhone contracts. The company has also stipulated a 90 day waiting period before the initiation of a new contract.

In addition, MMS support will be available only in late summer, while 3G S owners will have to wait until the latter part of 2009 for tethering abilities. Similarly, the iPhone 3G S is capable of reaching speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps, but the required HSDPA technology will only be fully available in 2011. According toPC World, the carrier is still mulling over a possible data and tethering combo plan for a monthly fee of $70.

Undoubtedly, there are hordes of unabashed Apple fans who will choose to purchase the new 3G S at any price. However, those who do not worship at the altar of the shiny Cupertino fruit may choose to pass on the device, especially if they own an earlier iPhone model. Yet, even first time buyers may balk at the prospect of buying a phone with featured technology that will only be supported at a unspecified future date.

Determining who is responsible for this debacle won’t be an easy task. One could certainly blame AT&T for inflexible upgrade options, but the carrier may only be attempting to recoup its losses after paying a hefty fee for the privilege of selling and supporting Apple’s popular product line.