Apple tells developers they’ll need to submit Retina screenshots, which could signal 3GS’ end

Feb 10, 2012
Tech

Apple is telling developers making apps for its iOS devices that screenshots they submit for app listings in the App Store need to be at least Retina resolution or above. Could that herald the beginning of Apple phasing out the iPhone 3GS? The 3GS is Apple’s oldest currently available, and with the iPhone 5 ready […]

Apple is telling developers making apps for its iOS devices that screenshots they submit for app listings in the App Store need to be at least Retina resolution or above. Could that herald the beginning of Apple phasing out the iPhone 3GS?

The 3GS is Apple’s oldest currently available, and with the iPhone 5 ready to be released likely this summer, it’s about time for Apple to replace it with another option. That option would be the iPhone 4, the next-oldest of Apple’s devices, and the first entry to sport a Retina screen. With the iPhone 3GS phased out, all of Apple’s available iPhones will include Retina displays – hence the new requirement.

As The Next Web points out in its report, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is definitely about to send the iPhone 3GS packing in favor of a later model. Requiring photos of a 966-by-640-pixel resolution, Apple could just be cleaning up the App Store and making sure developers send in better-quality pictures to support its various devices and their apps, especially since lower-resolution images don’t play as well on the newer iPhones’ high-res screens. On the other hand, this could be an indication that Apple’s getting ready to remove the iPhone 3GS from its inventory, and older apps designed for late-model iPhones will need to be updated with newer images.

Right now, the iPhone 3GS is Apple’s lowest-priced iPhone model and it continues to move quite a few units. The 3GS costs nothing for buyers getting set up with a new contract, so the other barrier for phasing it out will be to move the iPhone 4 down from a $100 new-contract phone to a lower price point. Apple will probably wait to do that until it’s ready to release a new device, keeping its stable of available iPhones down to three, each at covering a different price tier. That strategy has worked extremely well so far with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.

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So at the moment, the iPhone 3GS is likely to be available for at least a few months more. Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5 this summer, around the time that most iPhone 4 first adopters would be ready for a device upgrade. When that happens, it’ll likely phase out the iPhone 3GS, just as it did the iPhone 3G in 2010.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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