Rumor: AU Optronics building displays for 7.85-inch iPad

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Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 07:53
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Component reports aren’t always the full story, but they point to something that’s being built.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to have tapped AU Optronics to build displays for its 7.85-inch iPad, reportedly set to hit the market in November.

Citing unnamed sources in Taiwan, the publication said that AU Optronics recently landed orders to provide displays for Apple’s so-called “iPad mini.”

Apple is expected to hold a media event this month to unveil its new, smaller iPad. One rumor published on Monday claimed that the company is planning to send out invitations to the media on Oct. 10, which would suggest the event itself would be held a week later on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

If those dates prove true, it would imply a late October or early November launch for the iPad mini, based on Apple’s previous timeframes for product launches.

AU Optronics has previously been identified as a potential supplier for Apple’s rumored iPad mini. One report from August also suggested that LG Display Co. would build 7.85-inch screens for the new iPad.

It’s expected that Apple’s smaller iPad will feature a screen resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels, which is the same resolution as the iPad 2 and would allow iPad applications to run without modification. But the same number of pixels would be packed into a smaller 7.85-inch screen, making it a higher resolution display than the iPad 2, which currently sells for US$399.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

A6 processor found to vary speeds for best possible performance

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Processors

They say the A6 processor has some cool tricks up its sleeve.

They A6 processor doesn’t have sleeves, but it does have some interesting performance variations. No sleeves, though.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, one possible reason the iPhone 5 has such great battery life is the clever way the A6 changes its clock speed. While originally thought to be clocked at 1GHz, the chip has been clocked at 1.1GHz as well as 1.3GHz by Current Editorials.

While 9to5Mac saw the chip’s speed drop as low as 550MHz, this seemed to do more with an as-yet-updated Geekbench app testing the chip (which also resulted in the 1GHz assumption). A Geekbench update seems to paint a different picture now. By all accounts it appears the chip can change “speeds,” however, resulting in better battery life and dynamically tuning itself to the demand for CPU.

Nifty stuff…now if Apple could just release a much-improved iOS 6 Maps app, most of its problems would be over and it could sit and relax with a margarita this Friday.

Apple files patent for inductive charging pad that could also offer device syncing features

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 06:02
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, Patents

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It’s not the newest peripheral idea in the world, but it’s still sort of nifty.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, Apple has shown interest in building an inductive charging mat that would allow users to dock, charge and sync their portable devices by simply placing them on top of the accessory.

Apple’s filing, entitled “Device Orientation Based Docking Functions,” describes a “docking device” that would allow devices to be placed on top of it.

The mat would accomplish docking functions such as charging, data transfer, syncing, diagnostic checking, or any other potential use based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

The filing notes that smartphones, like the iPhone, as well as digital cameras and media players like iPods can all be built to utilize inductive charging surfaces. Circuitry in these devices would respond to a magnetic field provided by the charging surface that would also allow data to be transferred while the device is docked.

While inductive charging surfaces are not new technology, Apple’s application brings a new twist to the concept with the idea of interpreting the device’s orientation for specific purposes. For example, a future iPhone with inductive charging capabilities could be placed face down on the mat for charging only, while placing the handset face-up on the mat could initiate syncing with a computer or iCloud as well as charging.

Once a device is placed on the mat, its current docking mode may be indicated to the user by either a sound, a graphic displayed on the device’s screen, an electronic message notification, or a vibration of the device.

Beyond a local computer for syncing, the inductive charging mat could also be connected to a host of devices throughout a person’s home. In one example, the mat is connected to speakers for audio output when docked.

Apple’s proposed invention was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2011. It is credited to Jorge S. Fino.

When the iPhone 5 was announced earlier this month, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller was asked why the new handset does not include inductive charging capabilities. He said the perceived convenience of such technology is questionable, as charging mats must still be plugged into an outlet.

“Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” he explained.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst: Lightning cable shortage due to new production methods, change in suppliers

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Date: Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 06:48
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

There might be a valid reason as to why Apple’s Lightning connector sold out so quickly last week.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo notes a change in supplier weighting combined with low yield rates has caused a shortage of Lightning connector supply.

Being roughly 80 percent smaller than its predecessor, Lightning is a complex component and requires new production methods, therefore decreasing the initial yield rate.

It is estimated that Cheng Uei, otherwise known as Foxlink, has been allocated 60 percent of all Lightning production, while Hon Hai, or Foxconn, retains the remaining 40 percent. However, output from supply channels indicate that only Foxlink is able to make stable shipments due to a better yield rate, meaning overall supply can’t meet crushing demand from early iPhone 5 adopters.

With previous iDevices, Hon Hai was the main supplier of the 30-pin connector and enjoyed a 50 to 60 percent share of orders while other companies picked up the slack. When the new Lightning connector was introduced alongside the iPhone 5, however, yield rates from Hon Hai’s facilities were low, allowing rival company Cheng Uei to take the lead in supplying Apple with the new part.

While the specific numbers are unknown, the change in supply weighting from Foxconn to Foxlink is seen as a definite driver in the supply shortage.

Sources say Apple has asked Cheng Uei to dedicate additional workers and production lines to Lightning production to make up for the supply gap, however the ramp up process requires time and is not expected to be solved overnight.

Despite being criticized for introducing a new dock form factor, effectively rendering a decade of 30-pin compatible accessories obsolete, Apple saw Lightning connectors and cables sell out in less than half an hour after iPhone 5 preorders went live last week. Currently, the Apple Store is showing delivery times for the adaptors and connectors pushed back into October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hack discovered, Verizon iPhone 5 apparently unlockable for use on GSM networks

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:58
Category: Hack, Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Hours after the iPhone 5 hit store shelves across the U.S. on Friday, it has reportedly been discovered that the CDMA Verizon version of the device can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks with a simple GSM micro SIM card modification.

Per the iDownloadBlog, it’s apparently possible to trim down and install a micro SIM card into the new Verizon iPhone 5, which was purchased under contract, and connect to AT&T’s HSPA+ “4G” network.

The publication contacted a Verizon representative who confirmed the handset is indeed unlocked, meaning it can use SIM cards from other carriers even under contract. This is encouraging to travelers who own a CDMA Verizon iPhone 5 but need to hop onto international GSM networks from time to time.

While the installation is anything but elegant, in this case requiring a paper clip and a piece of tape to hold the card in place rather than the supplied tray, AT&T and T-Mobile nano-SIMs are likely to have a better fit.

With the iPhone 5, Apple is implementing new nano-SIM cards that bring a 40 percent reduction in size compared to last-generation micro SIM cards.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users reporting scuffs, scratches on new iPhone 5 handsets

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You can’t win ‘em all.

Per AppleInsider, an increasing number of iPhone 5 owners are reporting scuffs and other signs of damage to their newly-purchased smartphones right out of the box, with some miffed customers taking to the web in what is being dubbed “scuffgate.”

According to complaints posted to various forums and social media sites, a limited number of launch-day iPhone 5 units are being delivered straight from the factory with scuffs and dings.

While the exact percentage of affected iPhones is unknown, the issue appears to be significant enough to warrant its own hashtag on Twitter. The tongue-in-cheek “#Scuffgate” is a callback to the iPhone 4′s “antennagate” controversy which saw the then-new handset ship with an antenna design flaw that affected cellular performance.

Most of the reports are coming from users who bought the black and slate iPhone 5, which some claim is due to the anodizing process that colors the handset’s aluminum backplate. The speculation may be unfounded, however, as a number of white and silver units have also been affected. A more likely explanation is that both versions are affected equally, but the damage is more noticeable on the black and slate model as the scratches reveal the underlying silver-colored “raw” aluminum, a stark contrast to the anodized outer layer.

The cause of the damage is unknown, however similar reports of dings and scratches surfaced when the new iPad was released in March, possibly hinting at a manufacturing process flaw.

Not to be outdone, the cool cats at iFixit posted the following video to test the scuffability of the new handset:



Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen scuffs on your new iPhone 5, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit, iLab Factory post initial iPhone 5 teardown reports

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Once again, the lunatics over at iFixit got their mitts on the new iPhone, got to work dissecting it and posted the results faster than anyone could believe it.

And, once again, they found some really cool stuff inside Apple’s newest handset.

Per iFixit’s full teardown report, the repair firm managed to snag a “black and slate” copy of the device in Australia, the first country to see official iPhone 5 availability, within the first hour of sales and proceeded to disassemble the device for its usual comprehensive teardown.

The first steps of revealing the innards of Apple’s most advanced smartphone include removing the small proprietary pentalobe screws that attach the unit’s 4-inch display to the aluminum “uni-body” back casing. A suction cup was used to easily lift the screen assembly away from the rear housing, a departure from the involved removal procedure seen with the iPhone 4 and 4S.

“Compare this to the iPhone 4s, where it took 38 steps to isolate the display assembly, and this iPhone may be the most repairable iPhone we’ve seen in a while,” iFixit wrote.

Next to be removed was the larger 3.8V, 5.45WH battery, which holds slightly more juice than the 3.7V, 5.3Wh part found in the iPhone 4S. In comparison, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III uses a 3.8V, 7.98Wh battery.

To the right of the larger power cell is the the logic board, which contains the high-performance A6 chip, baseband system, storage and a litany of other essential components.

With help from Chipworks, the logic board’s packages were identified:
- Skyworks 77352-15 GSM/GPRS/EDGE power amplifier module

- SWUA 147 228 is an RF antenna switch module

- Avago AFEM-7813 dual-band LTE B1/B3 PA+FBAR duplexer module

- Skyworks 77491-158 CDMA power amplifier module

- Avago A5613 ACPM-5613 LTE band 13 power amplifier

- Triquint 666083-1229 WCDMA / HSUPA power amplifier / duplexer module for the UMTS band

- STMicroelectronics LIS331DLH (2233/DSH/GFGHA) ultra low-power, high performance, three-axis linear accelerometer

- Texas Instruments 27C245I touch screen SoC

- Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controller

- Apple A6 Application processor

- Qualcomm MDM9615M LTE modem

- RTR8600 Multi-band/mode RF transceiver

According to iFixit, “many of the components that came out with the logic board are held in place with screws and brackets.”

Apparently Apple is very concerned with making sure that all the connectors are firmly seated and won’t rattle lose over time.

On the reverse is Apple’s A6 processor, which is said to be twice as fast as its A5 predecessor. A recent test using the SunSpider JavaScript benchmarking tool confirmed Apple’s new SoC is utilizing a different memory interface than normal ARM Cortex A9 chips as it outperformed identical processors based on the same ARM-patented technology.

The A6 is also though to be Apple’s first attempt at designing an ARM core in-house, however the internal architecture has yet to be investigated.

Wrapping up the teardown is a look at Apple’s new Lightning connector. There has been mixed emotions with the new plug, as the move away from Apple’s 30-pin design means the iPhone 5 may not work with legacy aftermarket accessories without an adapter. The company claims there was no way to make such a thin handset without the new connector, however, and said the standard is expected to be used for foreseeable future.

Overall, iFixit gives the iPhone 5 a “7 out of 10″ score for repairability.

Since a video’s worth more than a thousand words, take a gander at what iFixit had to say:



Over on the Asian end of things, iLab Factory (via Mac Otakara) posted the following iPhone 5 teardown video:



Stay tuned for additional details and please let us know what you make of the iPhone 5 in the comments.

Analyst: Apple’s new Lightning connector should have product lifespan of 5-10 years

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Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

If you’re irked about having to buy a new Lightning adapter for your iPhone 5 or updated iPod, at least it’ll be around for a while.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s new Lightning connector, introduced alongside the iPhone 5 last week, is thought to be a key longterm investment for the company, and will possibly have a lifetime of ten years.

In a research note shared with clients, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo broke down the cost of components used in the iPhone 5, and found the Lightning’s ASP (average sales price) to have risen the most compared to parts in the iPhone 4S.

Kuo notes the new Lightning connector’s cost of US$3.50 represents a huge 775 percent rise in ASP compared to the legacy 30-pin dock connector’s last price of US$0.40. Concurrently, the Lightning cable’s US$6.00 ASP is a 233 percent jump from the previous standard’s US$1.80 model.

The spike is to be expected as Lightning is a new technology, replacing the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector first introduced with the third-generation iPod.

While Apple’s new plug is similar in size to the Micro USB standard, Kuo believes the Lightning’s specs are higher, making the connector more difficult to manufacture. Included in the new high-tech part is a unique design which the analyst says is likely to feature a pin-out with four contacts dedicated to data, two for accessories, one for power and a ground. Two of the data transmission pins may be reserved for future input/output technology like USB 3.0 or perhaps even Thunderbolt, though this is merely speculation.

As for Lightning’s expected lifespan, the format is estimated to be in use for the next five to ten years, almost identical to the now-defunct 30-pin standard.

While ASP may be high in the first one to two years following deployment, the cost is acceptable as Apple will likely make back its investment in royalties from accessory sales. Apple is thought to be using a Texas Instruments chip for accessory authorization, making it difficult for third party manufacturers to build and sell Lightning-compatible products without paying royalties.

Looking at other critical parts in the iPhone 5, Kuo notes Apple’s quest to make high-quality products has boosted the ASP of other components as well, including the sapphire camera lens cover, upgraded baseband system, the A6 processor and the 4-inch in-cell touch panel. The second-highest ASP rise comes from the iPhone 5′s all-aluminum back casing’s $17 price which represents a 240 percent increase from the US$5 “metal band” design seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Initial iSuppli report estimates production cost of 16GB iPhone 5 for $207

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The exact cost of an iPhone 5 is still under wraps until the handset’s release on Friday, but there’s still a pretty good guess in the meantime.

Per a report released by iSuppli on Tuesday, Apple apparently pays an estimated US$207 to build the base model 16GB iPhone 5, a cost slightly higher than last year’s iPhone 4S.

The market research company noted in its report that while previously-expensive NAND flash memory prices have dropped, the iPhone 5′s display technology and 4G LTE wireless components brings the build cost up to US$207, or US$8 more than consumer pricing after wireless carrier subsidies. In comparison, the bill of materials, or price without labor costs, for last year’s iPhone 4S was estimated to be $188.

In total, the iPhone 5 is estimated to have a BOM of US$199, while the 32GB model rises to US$209 and the 64GB version jumps to US$230. With a manufacturing cost of US$8 across the line, the final cost comes out to US$208, US$217 and US$238 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively.

A report last Friday from UBM TechInsights pegged the 16GB iPhone 5′ BOM to be around US$168, substantially lower than the IHS estimate.

The most expensive part in the iPhone 5 is the new 4-inch display which comes in at US$44. Apple is sourcing its screens from multiple suppliers, including LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp, as manufacturing the cutting-edge in-cell displays is complex and results in relatively low yield rates.

“The iPhone 5 makes a big evolutionary step in technology that we have not seen elsewhere with the use of in-cell touch sensing,” said IHS Senior Principal Analyst, Teardown Services, Andrew Rassweiler. “Most other smartphones LCDs use a completely distinct capacitive touchscreen assembly that is physically separate and placed on top of the display. The iPhone 5 partially integrates the touch layers into the display glass, making the product thinner and reducing the number of parts required to build display that senses touch without the need for a separate capacitive touch layer.”

Instead of sandwiching the touch sensing layer between glass substrates, Apple’s in-cell technology integrates the capacitive components with the LCD array, thus doing away with at least one layer of glass.

The company is expected to be using a US$34, LTE-capable wireless system from Qualcomm similar to the one found in the iPad 3. However, the new iPhone’s subsystem swaps out the first-generation MDM9600 baseband processor for the more advanced and power efficient second-generation MDM9615.

In previous years, NAND flash memory was one of the more costly components, however current prices have nearly halved in less than one year.

“NAND flash continues to come down in price as manufacturing processes for these memory chips become more advanced,” Rassweiler said. “And because it is the world’s largest buyer of NAND flash, Apple gets preferential pricing. Apple’s massive leverage in this market is reflected in our price estimate.”

Finally, the firm is estimating Apple’s new A6 processor is a bit more expensive at US$17.50 than the A5 found in the iPhone 4S, which cost US$15 in 2011.

A more comprehensive analysis of the new handset’s internal parts is expected to be completed later this week, when the iPhone 5 hits store shelves on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit publishes teardown report of EarPods, finds more durable design

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 06:37
Category: Hardware, News

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It’s the teardowns that tell you what Apple’s really been up to.

Per the full report by iFixit, Apple’s newly redesigned Earpod headphones have been taken apart to reveal a more durable design that is more resistant to water and sweat damage.



The teardown of Apple’s new EarPods was published on Tuesday and stated that the EarPods, which arrive free with iOS devices, are “still of the throw-away kind.”

The EarPods can also be purchased separately for US$29, which is how iFixit got their hands on the new accessory before the new iPhone 5 launches on Friday. The solutions provider used a guitar pick to separate the integrated volume controls and microphone on the headphone cord, while the earbuds were taken apart with an X-Acto blade.

“Like most speakers, the EarPod speakers consist of a diaphragm/cone, a voice coil, a permanent magnet, and a cabinet,” they explained. “The voice coil is supported by a composite diaphragm made of a paper cone and a polymer surround. This is the first iteration of Apple headphones to use paper cones rather than all plastic.”

The switch to paper cones is said to make the speakers more resistant to tearing. That’s an improvement from the plastic that Apple previously used.

In their teardown, the repair website found that Apple “had durability in mind” when the company designed the new EarPods. In particular, the redesigned controls include larger cable wrapping on both ends to reduce strain on the wires.

The EarPods are also said to be more resistant to water and sweat damage. This was accomplished by removing the external microphone grate Apple employed on its previous earbuds.

“Unfortunately, these products are still of the throw-away kind,” iFixit concluded. “Sourcing parts is next to impossible, and it would be a tough sell to convince someone to take apart their earbuds instead of buying a new pair. They will never be the same once taken apart.”

Apple unveiled its redesigned EarPods at the iPhone 5 media event in San Francisco, Calif., last week. Apple design chief Jony Ive said his company scanned hundreds of ears searching for commonality between them, and the new headphones are designed to fit the geometry of a user’s ear without creating a seal.

EarPods feature a directed speaker that points forward into a user’s ear canal. A second port on the back aids with mid-level tones, and also maximizes air flow for improved sound quality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.