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

applelogo_silver

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.

2012 model iPod touch, iPod nano, third-party Lightning adapters begin to appear on Amazon

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 10:56
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, News

Even if Apple’s Lightning connector adapter pre-orders sold out in only a few hours, there’s always third party models to choose from.

Per AppleInsider, third-party adapters for Apple’s new Lightning connector have begun to appear online. In addition, the new iPod touch and nano can also be preordered from Amazon.

As of Monday, resellers on Amazon were offering a pair of new Lightning to 30-pin adapters made by third parties. The US$17.95 Nanotch adapter features a male Lightning port on one end, with a female legacy 30-pin device port on the other. The two are connected by a 20-centimeter cord.

Also available is the US$9.99 iTronz USB Sync Data/Charging adapter. It features a male Lightning plug on one side, with a female 30-pin port on the other, and the two are connected by a single solid plastic piece rather than a wire.

Apple sells its own first-party Lightning to 30-pin adapter and cable, but those accessories quickly sold out once they went on sale late last week.

In addition, as of Monday, Amazon began taking direct preorders for Apple’s updated iPod lineup. Available for purchase are the new fifth-generation iPod touch, the seventh-generation iPod nano with multi-touch display, and the fifth-generation iPod shuffle.

The new iPod lineup is advertised to ship anywhere between two and five weeks from now. Apple has said its new iPods will ship in October. The latest iPod touch and iPod nano, along with the iPhone 5, use the new Lightning port, which is 80 percent smaller than the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple component hints towards full gigabyte of addressable RAM on iPhone 5

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 07:48
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you’ve been hankering for an iPhone with a full gigabyte of RAM onboard, your wish might be about to come true.

Per AnandTech, slides of Apple’s A6 chip presented at the company’s iPhone 5 debut event on Wednesday reveal the processor likely holds 1GB of RAM, double the amount found in the legacy iPhone 4 and 4S handsets.

The unobscured parts numbers seen on the chip point to a Samsung DRAM component which boasts 1GB of addressable RAM.



The part number emblazoned on the A6 is K3PE7E700F-XGC2 which, according to Samsung’s 2012 product guide is a package-stacked DRAM module. This is in line with Apple’s A-series SoCs, which implement a package-on-package design to save space.

Breaking down the part number, “K3P” points to a dual-channel LPDDR2 package with 32-bit channels, while the “E7E7″ designation denotes the 512MB density of each DRAM die, which comes out to a total of 1GB of RAM. Finally, the “C2″ yields the part’s 1066MHz cycle time/data rate.

The publication notes the new package should give the A6 a 33 percent boost in peak memory bandwidth compared to the iPhone 4S.

It was recently speculated that the new A6 processor could hold the company’s first custom-designed CPU core, a departure from previous A-series SoCs which relied solely on ARM’s patented technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and hey…a full gig of RAM!!!

Samsung begins fabricating 128GB storage modules for mobile devices

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Hardware, News

Samsung may have a stinging legal bill after the Apple fiasco, but this isn’t to say they don’t have some damn cool stuff coming down the line.

Per Electronista, the company’s semiconductor wing has started fabricating 128GB flash storage chips and 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules for mobile devices. Currently, most high-end smartphones are shipping with a maximum of 64GB of internal storage, leaving users with media-heavy libraries unable to take their music collections with them. The introduction of the new modules should go a long way to alleviating this problem, although pricing will remain a key factor in adoption.

Its new 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules are built on Samsung’s new 30nm process, enabling 2GB modules to be made on the one package for the first time. The new chips run at 1600 Mbps, which is a 50 percent speed boost over LPDDR2 DRAM packages. Samsung claims that it will enable real-time decoding of 1080p content on smartphones and tablets.

With manufacturing ramping of both memory modules ramping up now, it could align perfectly for the rumored appearance of a Galaxy S III successor, which it is suggested may show as soon as February 2013 at the Mobile World Congress.

In short…imagine a 128GB iOS device somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lightning port adapters sell out in 30 minutes, shipments slip to 2-3 weeks

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Date: Friday, September 14th, 2012, 08:49
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

It wasn’t the sale of the century, but it WAS a part people needed and it went fast.

Per AppleInsider, just half an hour after the iPhone 5 went up for pre-order, USB adaptors for Apple’s new Lightning port sold out, forcing users with compatible accessories to wait until new shipments arrive in October.

Both versions of Apple’s new Lightning to 30-pin adaptor are already quoted to ship in October, but the Lightning to USB adaptor saw shipments slip to two to three weeks within 30 minutes of Apple initiating iPhone 5 pre-orders on Friday.

Currently, there are three adaptor models available in the U.S., a US$39 version with a 0.2-meter cable and a US$29 unit that resembles an oversized 30-pin plug and the regular Lightning to USB adaptor that runs for US$19.

Apple unveiled the smaller 9-pin Lightning connector alongside the iPhone 5 at a special event on Wednesday, with the new plug said to be a necessity in building thinner iDevices. The proprietary part is 80 percent smaller than the legacy 30-pin connector it replaces, is all-digital and can be plugged into compatible devices in any orientation.

Besides the iPhone 5, the new iPod touch and iPod nano also use the newly introduced standard.

The Lightning to USB adaptor may be available in brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, though the stock allotted to each location is not known.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.