Non-contract, full-priced iPhone can be unlocked via iTunes

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you get your money’s worth.

Per TechCrunch, customers who paid full freight for an AT&T version of Apple’s iPhone 5 can easily unlock the device with a quick iTunes reset.

The simple unlocking procedure is said to work with iPhone 5s purchased from AT&T at full price, with the process being quite simple compared to the carrier’s traditional previous method of submitting an online form, sending a fax and waiting up to a week for a restore.

The publication was able to confirm the easy one-step process with AT&T’s technical support and successfully unlocked the device in iTunes.

“After restoring the device in iTunes, the user is prompted with the usual unlocking message: ‘Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked,'” the report said.

From that point, according to TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet, all that was needed to gain access to T-Mobile’s network was the trimming down of a compatible micro-SIM card to fit in the iPhone 5’s nano-SIM tray. The device recognized T-Mobile’s signal within seconds, allowing both calls and EDGE data to go through without issue.

Dillet explained that when an iPhone is purchased, the handset’s IMEI is added to Apple’s database, though it appears subsidized phones hold a different status than those purchased at full price without a contract.

While the publication was able to successfully unlock an iPhone 5 purchased through Apple retail, the procedure could not be confirmed on another pre-ordered unit “even though the device was purchased at full price, it was tied to an existing AT&T account during the pre-order process.”

It was previously reported that Verizon’s iPhone 5 ships unlocked for GSM networks.

If anyone out there has unlocked iPhone 5 that they’re looking to attach to an otherwise-unsupported wireless carrier and are about to try this technique, please let us know how it goes in the comments.

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: iPhone 5 shortage a result of new manufacturing techniques, in-cell displays

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Date: Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 07:09
Category: iPhone, News

If you were wondering why it’s a bit hard to get your mitts on the new iPhone 5 you want, there’s been an update.

Per Bloomberg, Apple’s adoption of in-cell touchscreen panels for the iPhone 5 is the primary reason supplies of the new smartphone are constrained.

Analyst Ben A. Reitzes with Barlcays said in an note to investors that constraints on in-cell touch displays have been the “key issue” with iPhone 5 shipments. He said that iPhone 5 display supply is estimated to be just 10 million screens for the current, September quarter, while a “significant ramp” is expected to begin in the next, December quarter.

“We still believe Apple is facing significant production constraints due to a move toward in-cell display technology, which pushes a significant amount of units into the December and March quarters — a factor which limited sales this past weekend according to our checks,” Reitzes wrote.

When production of in-cell displays does pick up in the fourth quarter, Reitzes believes Apple will sell more than 45 million iPhones, resulting in 22 percent year over year growth.

The in-cell touch panels used in the iPhone 5 are believed to be manufactured by LG Display Co. and Japan Display Inc. Bloomberg reached out to those two companies, as well as Apple, but all of them declined to comment.

Apple announced on Monday that sales of the iPhone 5 exceeded 5 million in its first three days of availability. That represented a new record for the company, but also came in below Wall Street expectations.

In a statement, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook acknowledged that demand for the iPhone 5 is outstripping supply, and that his company is working to catch up with demand. Apple’s sales figures also do not take into consideration orders that are en route to customers, as Apple must deliver an iPhone before it can be counted as a sale.

The new iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor thanks in part to the in-cell touch display that Apple has adopted. Previous versions of the iPhone relied on glass-on-glass solutions that were thicker and heavier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.

Some iOS 6 users reporting Wi-Fi issues, Apple may have fixed bug

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Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:01
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Whenever you release a major new operating system for millions of active devices, there might be a few bugs to sort out…

Per AppleInsider, just hours after Apple released iOS 6 to the public on Wednesday, users are already complaining of Wi-FI connectivity issues on the company’s Support Communities website, possibly stemming from a network verification system flaw.

A number of users reported a “page not found” error when trying to browse in Safari on iOS 6. While the exact cause of the connectivity issues is unknown, it seems the problem started sometime after Apple rolled out the new mobile OS, as multiple reports poured in at nearly the same time.

It appears the problem is rooted in how iOS 6 handles network verification. In order to test whether an accessible Wi-Fi connection is present, Safari is led to a special page, which apparently has gone down.

Currently, Apple’s Support Communities site has a 6-page thread discussing the matter, and with every passing minute a new user seems to confirm that they too are having difficulties. One forum member claims his iPhone was working fine when he first downloaded iOS 6, only to find hours later that his handset was unable to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

Both iPhone and iPad users who upgraded to the new OS have reported experiencing the same issue.

Based on the claims, the issue has arisen from a network verification process baked into the software, wherein the OS attempts to load a dummy page on Apple.com to detect if a users is connected to a paywalled network. Unfortunately, however, the verification page seems to lead to a 404 error, resulting in an inability to connect to Wi-Fi for many users.

Apple has been contacted regarding the alleged issue and may have resolved the issue by reactivating the webpage iOS 6 uses for network verification purposes.

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

AT&T activates 4G LTE networks in 10 additional cities ahead of iPhone 5 release

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:47
Category: iPhone, News

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It never hurts to launch the network before you launch the product.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has activated its 4G LTE network in 10 new major cities across the U.S. in anticipation of Friday’s launch of the iPhone 5, which is Apple’s first 4G LTE capable smartphone.

In the last week, AT&T has activated its 4G LTE network in the following markets:
– Birmingham, Ala.

– Cincinnati, Ohio

– Fayetteville, N.C.

– Honolulu, Hawaii

– Memphis, Tenn.

– Pittsburgh, Penn.

– Philadelphia, Pa.

– Sacramento, Calif.

– Seattle, Wash.

– Wilmington, Dele.

While the debut of AT&T’s 4G LTE networks coincides with the launch of a new iPhone, which is AT&T’s most popular smartphone, the press releases issued by the carrier make no mention of Apple’s iPhone 5. Instead, AT&T has focused on promoting some of its other 4G LTE capable devices: the Motorola Atrix HD, Sony Xperia ion, HTC One X, Samsung Focus 2, Nokia Lumia 900, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Pantech Element tablet.

The addition of 10 new markets comes only a few weeks after AT&T turned on its 4G LTE network in nine other markets. The carrier has promised that 34 more will gain 4G LTE coverage before the end of the year, including Denver-Boulder, Colo.; Albany, N.Y.; Detroit, Mich.; and El Paso, Tex.

Current iPhone 4S owners on the AT&T network will see their signal advertised as “4G” in many markets. AT&T began advertising its HSDPA network as 4G because it is capable of 4G-like speeds, though it is not a true fourth-generation network.

Apple has addressed this distinction by displaying an LTE symbol in the upper left corner of the iPhone 5 and third-generation iPad when the devices have a true 4G LTE signal.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.