Apple iPhone 3GS gets HDR photo update

3GS software update for snappier snapping

iPhone 3GS users get a much-need camera upgrade

Whatever your stance on the Big A's line of iPhones, one area where they've never "changed everything" is in the camera department. Even the latest incarnation, the iPhone 4, only packs a decidedly average 5MP sensor, lagging far behind upcoming competing products from HTC and Nokia.

iPhone 4 owners got an update last month that improved the situation somewhat, letting them switch on a new HDR mode while using the camera, sprucing up dodgy photos and correcting lighting balance. And now the same upgrade is filtering down to 3GS owners and their 3MP cameras.

HDR (or High Dynamic Range) imaging on iPhone works by taking two photos of a scene one after the other. One photo is overly dark, the other overly bright, and the resultant photos are then merged together, cherry picking the best lighting from both originals. The result is more balance in light levels in the photo, soving the problem of a taking photos with pronounced areas of light and darkness.

iPhone 3GS users will need to update their phone's operating system to iOS 4 through iTunes before they can use the HDR feature, which will also give them all the other benefits like folders and fast app switching, Apple's version of multi-tasking, but if you don't mind a slight drop in speed as the 3GS struggles with the higher-powered OS, this upgrade is definitely worth a punt for snap-happy Apple customers.