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AT&T holding back key features from iPhone 3G S owners

US customer loyalty isn't worth a great deal, apparently

AT&T holding back key features from iPhone 3G S owners
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At last Apple put the prolific rumours of the updated iPhone hardware to bed at the WWDC, when it revealed the details on the iPhone 3G S.

While it's not a massive difference to the current iPhone model, at least to the end user, developers are quite excited about the extra freedom that the slightly updated specs will offer them from a game design perspective.

And that's something that is likely to encourage current users to upgrade. We already took a look at the unwelcome news from O2 that its loyal iPhone users will have to pay nasally to get the upgrade, but even that appears to be a step up from what US iPhoners are facing.

The new model comes with the 3.0 software pre-installed, and that means MMS is finally on board. More of a surprise was the addition of seamless USB and Bluetooth tethering, making for two features that iPhone users have been vying for since day one.

But AT&T won't be providing these features any time soon; even if you just shelled out $499 to get the hardware upgrade.

"What we're trying to do is to be fair," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. "Customers in the US enjoy very, very low device prices. [Our customers] have to look at the economic realities."

It's caused quite a stir on AT&T's user forums that MMS and tethering won't be awarded to the company's legions of loyal customer, who've already paid out a lot for the privilege of an iPhone.

The service provider is apparently working out a new data tariff to accompany the tethering function, though many believe this is also a delay tactic as AT&T addresses internal concerns that its already struggling data network wouldn't be able to cope.

One way or another, it looks as though US iPhoners will have a new round of bills before AT&T makes good on Apple's promises.