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

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.