iPhone 3G owners hoping the only difference between their handsets and the new iPhone 3G S would be one fewer megapixels and a couple more milliseconds waiting are in for a disappointment. It turns out the iPhone 3G S has powerful graphics support its predecessor can’t match, meaning we could be about to see a splintering of support for games and other power hungry programs on the App Store.
Engadget reports that other than the camera, digital camera and processing power, the iPhone 3G S has one crucial advantage over the iPhone 3G: it support OpenGL ES 2.0, where as the older model supports the 1.1 specification. In laymans’ terms, that means the iPhone 3G S is capable of rendering better shading and textures, and promises better graphics for apps like games.
Here’s the kicker: the two versions of OpenGL ES are incompatible. That means you won’t be able to run an app designed for the iPhone 3G S on a 3G at lower settings – instead, you won’t be able to play it at all. Notes in the iPhone OS 3.0 SDK seem to confirm this split: “Your application should target OpenGL ES 1.1 if you want to support all iPhones and iPod touches.”
Splintering on the iPhone App Store has already started of course, with some apps unable to be used on an iPod touch, but digital compass and video recording aside, this could be a much bigger split because of iPhone gaming. Big iPhone games companies will want to harness the power of the iPhone 3G S graphics (For something like, I don’t know, Fallout 3), potentially leaving iPhone 3G owners in the dark unless they go to the expense of developing it twice over.
Logistically, it shouldn’t be a biggie. BlackBerry App World deals with plenty of devices, and Ovi Store even more, but if you’re an iPhone 3G owner, suddenly that massive upgrade price looks a bit more tempting, doesn’t it?