I’ve had several computers that were less powerful than the iPhone 3G S. My Intel 486 machine was bleeding-edge at the time, but could not compare to the ones like my 300-MHz Pentium powered PC that I owned just a few years down the pike. iPhone owners will soon experience a similar phenomenon, and some apps in the App Store will be off limits to anyone that doesn’t have the latest Apple hardware.
The iPhone 3G S has a 600MHz CPU, 256MB of RAM (my family’s Commodore 128′s clock speed was about 4 MHz, and it had 128KB of memory). The graphics processor in the 3G S is the PowerVR SGX (same as the Palm Pre) that supports OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics–meaning, it would blow my old desktop PCs out of the water.
The iPhone 3G only supports version 1.1 of the OpenGL ES specification. It’s possible to write an iPhone app that provides basic graphics on an iPhone 3G and better ones on an iPhone 3G S, but many developers may not bother. That means owners of the iPhone 3G will not be able to run applications and games with souped-up graphics. An increasing number of applications will be off limits, essentially being roped off into a VIP section of the App Store. How that will affect application development is an open question.
My take is that developers will need to decide which version of the iPhone they will be targeting. With Apple offering the iPhone 3G for $99, its market share will ostensibly increase–especially if Apple opens up to another domestic carrier in the U.S. Developers have finite resources, and will have to pick one or the other.
Consequently, there may not be many advanced games available for the 3GS for some time. Over time, the number of 3G S owners will hit a critical mass, and developers will target it more often. If I was buying the 3G S simply so that I could play more advanced games, I wouldn’t be in a rush to get one.