Verizon to end unlimited data plans in migration to 4G LTE, move towards shared data plans

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Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, News

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Per Fierce Wireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo announced on Wednesday that the company will discontinue existing unlimited data plans when users move to the carrier’s faster 4G LTE network, pushing current 3G subscribers toward data share plans expected to launch later this summer.

At the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference Shammo said that current unlimited users, whose data plans were grandfathered in when Verizon made the switch to tiered plans in July 2011, would lose the all-you-can-eat option if and when they move to 4G.

Verizon is leveraging its speedier 4G LTE network to attract customers away from their US$30 per month unlimited plans to new data-sharing tiers which are scheduled for a mid-summer rollout.

“A lot of our 3G base is on unlimited,” Shammo said. “When they migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share. That is beneficial to us.”

In their quest to garner the highest possible revenue per user, carriers have quickly moved away from the unlimited data plan, which was first introduced as an enticement to enter the then-nascent smartphone market. With the rise of data-hungry handsets like the iPhone, wireless companies found that a capped and tiered pricing model was the most lucrative solution.

Currently, unlimited customers pay US$30 per month on Verizon’s network, identical to the price paid by grandfathered users on other networks like AT&T.

Unlike Verizon, AT&T extended its legacy plan to 4G LTE customers, but at the same time instituted speed throttling for users who pass a “threshold” of 3GB and 5 GB each month for 3G and 4G users, respectively. Earlier in May, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said that he wishes his company never offered unlimited data.

Verizon’s upcoming data share plans are meant to streamline the management and offer an attractive price structure to contract owners who own multiple smartphones, such as small businesses or families. Shammo noted that the industry has crippled the smartphone market by restricting data usage to individual devices.

“If I can add as many devices as I want, that is more efficient from a family perspective and a small business perspective,” Shammo said.

Carriers have promised shared data plans for nearly a year, though the nation’s top providers only recently firmed up strategies and possible launch windows.

Shammo noted that as carriers implement shared plans, they will have to move from studying average revenue per user metrics to average revenue per account.

Pricing for Verizon’s data share plans have yet to be announced, but Shammo made it clear that the company is pushing hard for the new model.

“Everyone will be on data share,” Shammo said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple ordering parts for at least a 4″ screen on next-gen iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be a nugget of truth in the midst of all of this.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple has begun placing orders for a new, larger screen that will measure at least four inches diagonally, according to a new report.

The report indicated that the next iPhone is “expected” to feature a screen larger than the 3.5-inch display that has been found on the iPhone since it first launched in 2007. Production of the screens is reportedly set to begin in the next few months, and it will measure “at least 4 inches diagonally.”

Apple is said to be working with a number of screen manufacturers for the larger display on the next iPhone, including LG Display, Sharp, and a new company, Japan Display Inc., that was created last month by three Japanese companies and the government. Wednesday’s report made no mention of Samsung as a display partner.

Rumors have suggested for some time that the next iPhone will be a major redesign, overhauling the look of the handset that has remained since the launch of the iPhone 4 in mid-2010. A larger screen would be a major change for the device, and could require developers to update their applications to take advantage of the larger display.

Apple’s rumored shift comes as competitors continue to offer smartphones with larger screens. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy S II, which features a 4.8-inch display, is the new flagship device for the company.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note also features a massive 5.3-inch stylus-driven display that the company has advertised offers both the best of a smartphone and of a tablet. The device was cited by the company in its quarterly earnings in April as a strong seller.

With a 4-inch display, the iOS home screen could theoretically fit another row of icons on the home screen, bringing the total number to six. Applications written for the iPhone 4S and earlier handsets could simply feature black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, using the same aspect ratio and screen space as it would on the earlier devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple signs iPhone 4, 4S, deals with three additional regional U.S. carriers, announces May 18th launch date

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 12:21
Category: iPhone, News

If you were hoping for additional regional suppliers for the iPhone 4S, you’re in luck.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has finished several deals with smaller regional carriers in the U.S., as Kentucky’s Bluegrass Cellular, California’s Golden State Cellular, and Kansas’ Nex-Tech Wireless will begin offering the iPhone 4S on May 18.

The iPhone 4S will be available starting at US$149 for the 16-gigabyte model, US$249 for the 32-gigabyte model, and US$349 for the 64-gigabyte capacity. Those prices are US$50 cheaper than with the three major carriers in the U.S.

In addition, all three carriers will also offer Apple’s previous-generation 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49. Customers can pre-register for their purchase today.

The three carriers’ networks are based on the same CDMA wireless standard used by major U.S. carriers Verizon and Sprint. Bluegrass Cellular is headquartered in Elizabethtown, Ken., Golden State Cellular is based out of Jamestown, Calif., and Nex-Tech operates out of Hays, Kan.

A month ago, a total of five carriers announced they had signed a deal with Apple. Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos all began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 on April 20.

Apple began expanding availability of the iPhone to smaller, regional carriers last October when a deal with C Spire Wireless was announced. That carrier has about 900,000 customers.

Only one of the four major U.S. carriers — T-Mobile — does not currently offer the iPhone, because of technical limitations. But that could change as soon as the end of this year, as the carrier plans to modify its network to allow compatibility with the iPhone’s HSPA+ wireless antenna for high-speed data.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 09:58
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Not that iOS 5.1 wasn’t perfect, but there’s always room for a few bugs fixes.

Per Mac|Life, Apple released iOS 5.1.1 on Monday. The update offers the following fixes and changes:

– Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut.

– Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks.

– Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances.

– Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List.

– Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase.

Users can install iOS 5.1.1 using the over-the-air Software Update from your device Settings, or by plugging into iTunes and downloading it from there. As always, recommends devices are plugged into a power source while installing.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback whatsoever, please let us know in the comments.

Australian iPhone 4 glowing/fire incident found to be caused by failed screen replacement, not battery

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 11:52
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, remember the Australian glowing/fire/iPhone 4 plane thing from this past November? It wasn’t the battery.

Per AppleInsider, an investigation into the cause of an iPhone 4 that began glowing and emitting “dense smoke” on a flight landing in Sydney, Australia last fall has traced the problem to a battery punctured by a screw misplaced during a botched attempt to replace the device’s screen.



The incident, which occured last November, initially stoked concerns about the safety of high powered lithium batteries in general, given other isolated cases of battery failure including a batch of Sony batteries used in Apple’s iBook and PowerBook G4 notebooks in 2006, and an separate problem with first generation iPod nano units from 2005 and 2006.

However, rather than being a manufacturing defect, a report by ZDnet notes that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the overheating iPhone was caused by a screw left behind during a screen replacement performed by an unauthorized repair center.

The relatively large screw, “from the bottom of the unit, adjacent to the 30-pin connector,” was discovered inside the body of the device in an X-ray, where it punctured the battery pack, resulting in its overheating.

Referencing the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s recommendations, the ATSB’s chief commissioner Martin Dolan stated that “when traveling with mobile phones, laptops and other portable electronic devices — or just their batteries — passengers should, wherever possible, carry them in the cabin, and not in checked-in baggage.”

Dolan also noted that the incident “highlights the importance of good maintenance and repair processes for these devices, and the risk of using non-authorised repair agents.”

Walmart offers discounted prices on iPhone 4, 4S units with AT&T contract

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail

If you were headed to Walmart anyway…

Per The Mac Observer, Walmart reduced the prices for the AT&T version of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on Friday, leading to speculation that new versions of Apple’s combination iPod and smartphone are coming this spring.

The 8GB iPhone 4 was reduced from US$88 to US$34 with a two-year contract, and Cult of Mac learned that at least in one store the 16GB iPhone 4S price had dropped from US$188 to US$114. The Walmart website, however, lists the iPhone 4 at US$117 and out of stock, while tagging the iPhone 4S as “Store pricing may vary.”

If you see this deal in your neck of the woods, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple’s next-gen iPhone to be thinner, incorporate 4-inch screen, utilize metal backing and new dock connector

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be some element of truth here…

Per iLounge, Apple’s next-gen iPhone will be slightly taller to accommodate a 4-inch screen with a new aspect ratio, will feature a redesigned dock connector, and will also have a new metal panel on the back side, a new report claims.

The latest rumors about Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone stated that the new iPhone will be about 10 millimeters taller, giving it dimensions of 125 millimeters tall, 5.8 millimeters wide and 7.4 millimeters thick. That’s about 2 millimeters thinner than the current iPhone 4S, with essentially the same width as the current model.

Because the new iPhone will allegedly be the same width, that would mean that new applications would need to be designed to work with the handset. The taller screen would have more pixels at the top and bottom, giving it a different aspect ratio.

“According to our source, Apple will make one major change to the rear casing, adding a metal panel to the central back of the new iPhone,” the report said. “This panel will be flat, not curved, and metal, not ceramic.”

Author Jeremy Horwitz also added that the new iPhone is expected to be partially made from Gorilla Glass 2, which offers identical strength to the original Gorilla Glass with a thinner design. At just 0.8 millimeters thick, Gorilla Glass 2 can withstand 121 pounds of pressure.

Finally, the report also claimed that the next iPhone will have a new, smaller dock connector that will be “a little larger” than the bottom speaker and microphone ports on the existing iPhone 4S. The new port was described as “a pill shape,” and is believed to have just 16 pins, compared to the current 30-pin dock connector.

“It will be used in all upcoming devices, including an update to the iPod touch that’s expected this year, and will almost certainly feature a similarly updated screen and CPU,” the report said.

In March, iLounge reported that Apple was working on a new case for the iPad that would protect not only the front screen, as the current magnetic Smart Case does, but also the aluminum back panel of the device. The site credited a “repeatedly reliable source,” but such a case has not yet been released.

The rumors come on the heels of a new component claimed to be the SIM card tray for Apple’s next-generation iPhone. A home button also purported to be from a prototype Apple handset also appeared, but no components thus far have given any concrete indication that the next iPhone’s design will be a radical departure from the look of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Still, there has been rampant speculation that Apple’s next iPhone will have a redesigned exterior. Rumors of unibody enclosures, larger screens and thinner form factors have all cropped up in recent months.

Early prototyping of the next iPhone is believed to be underway ahead of a launch anticipated this fall, one year after the debut of the iPhone 4S. In March it was said that Apple was reviewing potential components for the new iPhone.

Rumors surrounding the next iPhone have picked up steam in recent weeks, as one report said the handset will feature Qualcomm’s “MDM9615” LTE 4G chip for high-speed wireless connectivity. Reports have also claimed that the next iPhone will adopt in-cell touch panel technology, which will allow Apple to make the next iPhone thinner by 0.44 millimeters, or fit in a larger battery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent patent hints at possible near-field communication feature in upcoming iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s the patents that provide the really interesting hints as to what’s to come in a product line.

According to Patently Apple, a new patent suggests that the company will be introducing a near-field communication (NFC) chip into its next-generation iPhone, which will enable users to quickly send iTunes gifts to one another.

The story reports that the ‘Gifting’ feature will allow users to share iTunes files including Playlists, though at a cost. Users could buy, send and receive files from iTunes between multiple iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

A user could select one or more media files to share with another device, and authorize a gift charge. The gift can then be shared with a second device within close range using the NFC chip’s connection.

Gifts may also be sent via email, for those who are not in close proximity of the device they wish to send files to. This will involve sending en electronic gift certificate that can be redeemed by the recipient. These gift certificates will be capable of sharing multiple files in a single transaction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to incorporate in-cell touch display

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Date: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per the sometimes-reliable cats at DigiTimes, the next-gen iPhone may adopt “in-cell touch panels,” integrating the display and touch layers of the device’s screen into one component, according to DigiTimes’s Taiwan-based supply chain sources late Thursday night. The sources claim that display companies Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display are likely to supply Apple with the parts.

Current iPhones use multiple separate layers to comprise the touch screen, including a transparent conductive layer that sits on top of the LCD display layers and registers touch input. The rumored in-cell touch displays combine these layers into one, resulting in an increase in touch response performance and a reduction in weight and thickness.

Unfortunately, in-cell touch displays are significantly more expensive to manufacture and have a lower yield rate than traditional displays with separate layers.

Apple currently sources iPhone displays from TPK Holdings and Wintek, neither of which have in-cell technology ready for production. TPK is working on implementing a “touch on lens” solution, an alternative to in-cell that can scale up to larger sized displays, but it will not be ready to begin production until later this year. Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display have lines ready to go and are expected to begin production this quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

Qualcomm confirms difficulty in meeting LTE chip demand, next-gen iPhone could see delays

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Date: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 05:30
Category: iPhone, News

Well, the good news is that your iPhone 4S might remain current a little longer than you expected.

Per a report from Reuters, Apple’s LTE chip supplier Qualcomm is having “trouble meeting demand” for smartphone chips and will continue experiencing manufacturing constraints throughout the rest of the year. Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs told analysts on a conference call yesterday, “At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increasing demand we are experiencing.”

With Apple’s next-generation iPhone expected to include LTE capabilities like the recently launched third-gen iPad, many are speculating Qualcomm’s supply issues could lead to delays. It would also make the rumored September or October unveiling and holiday launch all the more likely opposed to June.

Apple recently began internally seeding prototype N96— a faster iPhone with 1GB of RAM and an A5X variant to test the performance of the new chip on iPhones.

Qualcomm’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Keitel told Reuters the constraints have lead to increased operating expenses:

“Demand went so far ahead of availability that we’ve decided to start spending more money to get more supply as soon as possible… Any time we can’t make a customer totally happy I’m going to worry. You don’t want to give a customer a reason to go elsewhere.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.