Apple ships LTE-equipped fourth-gen iPad, iPad mini units, possible ETA for Friday in some cases

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 08:16
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News

Your LTE-capable, fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini could show up as early as Friday. Per Mac|Life, emails went out Tuesday afternoon, alerting buyers of both tablets the devices are shipping this week.

The LTE iPad mini email alerts started arriving from Apple this morning. Later the same day, word began spreading of fourth-fen LTE iPad shipping confirmations for the same week. The ship dates on both the LTE iPad mini and fourth-gen LTE iPad were scheduled later than the WiFi-only models.

All models of iPad mini and iPad with Retina Display sold out quickly after the announcement last month. All makes of iPad mini are currently showing a 2-week waiting period for shipment on Apple’s site. While the Wifi-only iPad with Retina Display is currently in stock, the LTE models have a one-week delay.

But if you were quick on the trigger for those early preorders, you just might have your device by this Friday.

If you’ve gotten word as to the final shipping date for your LTE-equipped fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini, please let us know in the comments.

Sprint activates 4G LTE networks in 9 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a fast connection.

According to PC Magazine, wireless carrier Spring revealed on Tuesday that it has begun work on its 4G LTE network in nine new cities. The new markets include:

- Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

- Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, Calif.

- Key West, Fla.

- Fort Smith, Ark.

- Michigan City/La Porte, Ind.

- Bloomington, Ind.

- Eau Claire, Wis.

- Arrdmore, Okla.

- McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas

Sprint debuted its 4G LTE service in July and plans to have 125 cities on its LTE grid within “the coming months.” No more specific dates are being offered by the company at this time.

This number is well behind AT&T and Verizon, with the latter promising to have its entire 3G network converted by mid-2013. On Thursday, Verizon is flipping the switch on LTE coverage for more than 20 cities, including much of Missouri and large chunks of Wyoming and Arizona.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro owners complain of graphical glitches following Retina EFI Update v1.0 installation

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:58
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

If you have a Retina Display, the last thing you want is graphical weirdness after an update.

According to AppleInsider and threads on the Apple discussion boards, a number of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display owners are experiencing noticeable drops in graphics and processor performance after having updated their machines to the latest EFI (extensible firmware interface) version, such as drastically clipped frame rates when running graphics-intensive programs.

In this case, some 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro users noticed the performance drop immediately after installing Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update v1.0, which was released in September. While it is unclear if the firmware is to blame, many owners feel the update has been detrimental to how the system handles heavy workloads.

The issue is most pronounced when waking a computer from sleep, playing a graphics-intensive game or operating Windows in Boot Camp. Under heavy load, the CPU, GPU, or both are being underclocked as core temperatures reach or exceed supposedly conservative thresholds.

In one specific case, a user’s Retina MacBook Pro’s GPU begins to throttle down the machine’s discrete GPU to 700MHz from 850MHz, at a reported temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. The GPU is pulled back further if the CPU temperature hits 80 degrees Celsius.

From this information, it can be speculated that the computer’s firmware may not be correctly communicating with the thermal sensors, the threshold presets may be conservatively low, or there is an error with systems management.

Processor manufacturer Intel has noted that the Tjunction maximum, or highest operating temperature specification, of the processors used in the Retina MacBook Pro is 105 degrees Celsius, a much higher threshold than where forum members are seeing throttles. This could mean the problem lies in how the thermal management system handles the data from the digital thermal sensor (DTS), which is integral in calculating a processor’s Tjunction.

It should be noted that Intel chips, like most modern CPUs, have built-in thermal shutdown capabilities to prevent permanent damage to the silicon.

According to the forum members, the Retina MacBook Pros operated without fault prior to EFI version 1.0. Some have found that resetting the SMC or flashing the PRAM solves the problem temporarily, however the fix is far from permanent and owners report a reoccurrence after the computer wakes from sleep.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

20% Samsung price hike could affect Apple’s margins by 1-2%

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:53
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Processors, retail

The ne’er ending fight between Apple and Samsung continues.

Following up on yesterday’s story about Samsung potentially raising the cost of building mobile processors for Apple, such a change would be expected to reduce the company’s overall margins by as much as 2 percentage points.

Per AppleInsider, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray noted on Wednesday that the processors built by Samsung at its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Tex., are the core component of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The chips tend to represent between 6 and 9 percent of the total component cost of a given iOS device.

A report surfaced this week that claimed Samsung has increased the price of its mobile processors for Apple as the two rival companies are driven further apart.

Munster said a 20 percent increase in chip prices would result in a hit to Apple’s margins between 1 and 2 percentage points. He also said that he would not be surprised if the price increase turns out to be accurate, “given the legal tension” between the two companies.

But he also buys in to rumors that Apple plans to move its chip production away from Samsung, and will have assembly of its custom processors like the A6 found in the iPhone 5 handed to another company, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

“We believe that if Apple were to move to another vendor in the next year or two, they may be able to negotiate better chip prices, which would roll back the impact from the Samsung price increase,” he said.

But in the meantime, Munster said it appears Apple has no choice but to continue its partnership with Samsung, even if the Korean electronics maker did put a massive price hike in place.

Piper Jaffray has projected that while Apple’s margins will dip during the December quarter in the face of a number of major product transitions, margins will quickly improve in the company’s fiscal year 2013. Munster has called for Apple to earn gross margins of 41.5 percent for calendar years 2013 and 2014.

“It does not appear that new product launches for iPhone 5 and iPad mini carry significantly different margins than prior launch margins for the same product lines,” he said.

Margins have been a major concern among investors in recent weeks, as Apple’s stock has taken a major hit. But most analysts have stood by Apple. Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank said last month that concern over Apple’s margins has been “overblown,” and that the reduction is “nearly entirely cyclical and not structural.”

Stay tuned for additional updates as to the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys as they become available.