JESSICA MINTZ

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ¿ Apple Inc. slashed the entry price for an iPhone in half and lowered some laptops by $300 Monday, the company's first dramatic price cuts since the recession began a year and a half ago.

With co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs absent until his medical leave is over at the end of June, Apple's biggest unveiling at its annual conference for software developers was a new model of the iPhone, the 3G S. It looks the same but sports a faster processor, longer battery life, an internal compass, a video camera and a photo camera with better resolution and auto-focus.

A 16-gigabyte version of the 3G S will cost $199 and a 32-gigabyte version will be $299.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G, which came out last year, now costs $99, instead of $199. When the iPhone debuted two years ago, eager Apple fans had to shell out $499 for a 4-gigabyte version and $599 for 8 gigs.

Apple is known for ending events with a last-minute surprise, leading to some anticipation that Jobs might make a cameo in Monday's two-hour presentation. But he did not take the stage, and Apple's top marketing executive, Philip Schiller, exited without uttering the company's signature line that there would be "one more thing."

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