O'Grady's PowerPage » iPhone

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.

Rumor: Alleged Sprint leak points to blackout dates, possible iPhone 5 launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news: Further evidence has accumulated that Spring will be joining the iPhone cell carrier network.

The bad news: The company has always been about as exciting as watching a sack of hammers lay in the corner of the room.

Per SprintFeed, an allegedly leaked internal memo has surfaced announcing a temporary vacation ban due to the “possibility of a major phone launch.”

The leaked document mentions that the blackout extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, though it neglects to mention the “major phone” by name. The timeframe surrounds an Oct. 7 “Strategy Update” presentation from the company that was announced late last month.

Recent reports have indicated that Sprint will launch Apple’s next iPhone in mid-October. Responding directly to claim, the carrier issued an internal memo advising its employees not to discuss the possibility of a fifth-generation iPhone launch with inquiring customers.

The carrier then announced plans to raise its contract early termination fee for “advanced devices,” including smartphones, to US$350 starting Sept. 9. The new ETF, which would match AT&T’s and Verizon’s own cancellation fees for similar devices, is meant to prevent customers from ditching the carrier after acquiring new devices for subsidized prices. The move has been perceived by some as an indication that a Sprint iPhone launch is near.

A subsequent report claimed Sprint cellular repeaters are being installed in and around Apple stores, further suggesting Sprint iPhone testing and pointing to the possibility of an imminent iPhone launch.

On Monday, the company sued AT&T and its partners to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The wording of certain complaints made in the court filings has prompted further speculation that Sprint will soon begin selling the iPhone.

Finally, on Friday, Sprint was rumored to continue offering unlimited data plans to its subscribers even after the expected iPhone 5 launch. Comparatively, the other two mobile operators that will carry the device, AT&T and Verizon, will offer tiered, capped data plans to their subscribers.

Weighing in on reports suggesting Apple would partner with the nation’s third-largest carrier to sell the iPhone, analysts estimated the carrier would sell 1.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of the year with Sprint iPhone sales growing up to 6 million in 2012.

Apple is expected to announce the fifth-generation iPhone at an as-yet unconfirmed media event this fall with iPhone 5 sales believed, according to some reports, to begin in early- to mid-October. The device is believed to sport the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera, up from the current 5-megapixel shooter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4 ship times extend ahead of iPhone 5 launch

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 9th, 2011, 02:23
Category: iPhone, News

This might be a bit unexpected, depending on your point of view.

According to AppleInsider, all new iPhone 4 orders in the U.S. now take one to three business days to ship through Apple, a sign that the company is running low on inventory ahead of introducing its fifth-generation model.

Previously, orders of the iPhone 4 for both AT&T and Verizon shipped within 24 hours. That fast turnaround applied to both black and white models, in capacities of 16GB and 32GB on both carriers.

On Thursday, it was discovered that the iPhone 4 now takes one to three days to ship direct from Apple, for all colors, capacities and carriers.

Similarly, the US$49, 8GB iPhone 3GS, only available through AT&T in the U.S., also takes one to three business days to ship. The same applies for those who want to buy the unlocked GSM iPhone 4.

Lengthening shipping times are often an indication that Apple is running low on inventory ahead of a product refresh. For example, in February MacBook Pro shipments slipped to three to five days immediately before new models were introduced.

However, while shipping times for the iPhone 4 have slowed in the U.S., abroad they still have a 24-hour turnaround time. For example, in the U.K. and France, new orders still ship within a day of being placed.

Last year, the iPhone 4 debuted in the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany and Japan, before quickly expanding to other countries. In its first three days of availability, the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units.

This year’s introduction of a fifth-generation iPhone will come with a later-than-usual launch date, as Apple in years past has released a new iPhone in the months of June or July. Apple is widely expected to host an event in the coming weeks to introduce the so-called “iPhone 5” ahead of an anticipated October launch.

The updated handset is expected to include a new, higher resolution 8 megapixel camera, as well as the high-speed A5 mobile processor currently found in the iPad 2. Rumors have been split as to whether the fifth-generation iPhone will sport an all-new design or one similar to the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Foxconn currently assembling 150,000 iPhone 5 units per day

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 8th, 2011, 06:42
Category: iPhone, Rumor


The iPhone 5: it’s probably on the way.

Per DigiTimes, Foxconn Electronics has ramped up production of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone to 150,000 units per day, with shipments expected to reach 5-6 million in September.

The report released on Thursday states that Apple’s iPhone 5 suppliers have geared up production and will soon begin volume shipments of the new device. Industry sources provided the publication with the 150,000 unit per day production figure for OEM Foxconn.

Meanwhile, sources also said lens maker Largan Precision, touch panel maker TPK Holding, reinforced glass supplier G-Tech Optoelectronics and battery vendors Simplo and Dynapack “are all operating at full swing currently,” according to the report.

iPhone 5 shipments are expected to be in the range of 5-6 million this month and top 22 million in the fourth quarter as Apple reduces shipments of the GSM and CDMA models of the iPhone 4.

The report also echoed an earlier claim reportedly from a Chinese source that Pegatron has received orders to produce a 15 percent share of Apple’s new smartphone. However, DigiTimes’ sources said the company may not begin shipping until 2012.

Apple is now believed to be planning to launch the iPhone 5 in October. Recent leaks from retailer Best Buy point to next month, though there is some disagreement about the specific timing of the release.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Purported 8 megapixel image taken with iPhone 5 surfaces

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 08:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The iPhone 5’s camera, it might be looking forward to.

Per PocketNow, a picture has surfaced online that is alleged to have been taken by an Apple engineer with an 8-megapixel camera from the still-unannounced fifth-generation iPhone.

The data associated with the so-called “test photo” states that it was shot with an iPhone 4, but also reveals that the picture, cropped to a size of 5 megapixels, was originally a much-higher resolution just shy of 8 megapixels.

“What’s more, the lens was recorded as a 4.3mm f/2.4, which is closer to that of a point-and-shoot than the iPhone 4’s actual 3.85mm f/28,” the report said.

However, the data could also be bogus, as the site noted it was recently duped by an image taken with an iPhone, then uploaded to an iPad using software that altered the EXIF data associated with the image.

“We suppose that a similar scenario is also possible here,” author Evan Blass wrote, “but there’s one compelling piece of evidence which suggests that this is indeed a genuine iPhone 5 photo: it was supposedly shot by an Apple engineer eating his lunch at work.”

The purported iPhone 5 photo is bolstered by numerous rumors that Apple’s next-generation handset will sport an 8-megapixel camera. This week, a new report claimed that Apple had tapped both Largan Precision and genius Electronic Optical to supply those lenses for the next iPhone.

In fact, the supposed 8-megapixel shooter has been perhaps the only relatively consistent element in rumors leading up to the unveiling of the so-called “iPhone 5.” Reports claiming Apple will adopt an 8-megapixel camera began surfacing earlier this year.

Apple is widely expected to publicly unveil its next iPhone in the coming weeks at a press event. Numerous reports have pointed toward an October launch of the fifth-generation iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts two security-related job openings, looks to be closing holes where present

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:53
Category: iPhone, News, security


If you keep losing an incredibly valuable intellectual property, it might be time to give your security a once-over.

Per PCmag.com, Apple posted two job openings on Thursday for managers of “New Product Security.” While it might be a coincidence that the positions opened up when they did, the job descriptions certainly sound like a response to Apple’s troubles of late for losing test gadgets:

“The candidate will be responsible for overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple’s unreleased products and related intellectual property,” said the post.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Recently, an iPhone was taken into a San Francisco tequila bar in July by an unidentified Apple employee who somehow lost control of the device. The circumstances were strangely similar to an incident in April 2010, when another Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a Bay Area beer garden.

San Francisco Police confirmed last Friday that they assisted an Apple security team to search a home in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood where Apple had electronically tracked the phone. The device wasn’t found there.

While it was easy to draw parallels between those two events, there were other signs that Apple’s problems went beyond iPhones. Apple is also apparently working to retrieve a prototype laptop that is in the possession of Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who said he acquired the unreleased device via a Craigslist ad. He bought the machine thinking it was only good for spare parts.

On the same day that Apple posted the job openings, an Apple store customer was given internal company media and documents by accident after taking his computer in for service in Stamford, Conn. The customer said he was given a hard drive in addition to a computer that was being repaired with the spare drive containing a backup of the store’s internal file server.

This is significant because this is Apple, a company that has forged quite a reputation over the years for effectively keeping its secrets and sticking close to its message.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple taps Largan Precision, Genius Electronic Optical for 8 megapixel camera lenses for iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:41
Category: iPhone, Rumor


If you’re hoping for something good from the next generation of iPhone, at least expect an improved camera.

Per Taiwan Economic News, Apple has secured deals with two suppliers to build 8-megapixel camera lenses for the company’s forthcoming next-generation handset.

Both Largan Precision and Genius Electronic Optical are said to be supplying smartphone lenses for the iPhone. Specifically, both are said to be providing 8-megapixel cameras for “Apple’s newest iPhone 5.”

The report notes that both companies were previously responsible for 5-megapixel lens modules found in the current-generation iPhone 4. Both Largan and Genius are expected to keep ahead of competition as their shipments are boosted by a massive amount of orders from Apple.

Orders from Genius and Largan reportedly pushed both companies to a combined 27.5 percent global market share last year. As sales of the iPhone continue to grow, with a record setting 20.34 million sales by Apple last quarter, both companies’ shares could move even higher.

While rumors about the size, shape and even functionality of Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5” have varied, one relatively consistent element in rumors leading up to the device’s debut has been the camera. For months now, repots have claimed that the new handset will sport an 8-megapixel camera.

Largan was rumored as far back as May to provide the 8-megapixel camera for Apple’s next iPhone.

While Largan and Genius are expected to provided lenses for the 8-megapixel camera, sensors in the shooter were said in June to be ordered from OmniVision. Nearly all of the 8-megapixel sensor orders — 90 percent — were expected to be placed with the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 case pictures leaked, indicate larger design

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 08:35
Category: Accessory, iPhone, Pictures

If you ever wondered about the size and shape of Apple’s upcoming mobile devices, look to what the case makers are developing.

Per Electronista, Italian web site Macitynet.it and MIC Gadget have discovered new iPhone cases, all of them showing a design somewhat like the iPod touch but with the requisite camera, microphone, and speaker connectors. The Macitynet.it sighting compared it against both the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch and found it larger than both, strongly supporting beliefs that it has a larger screen.

A plethora of cases from multiple Chinese manufacturers shown at MIC Gadget bear this out annd suggest that they all got access to leaked blueprints rather than some of the more speculative designs seen a few months ago.

The more recent cases, if shaped around the real design, point to Apple finally taking on a wave of increasingly larger Android phones. It’s now common for even mid-tier phones like the Droid Incredible 2 to have four-inch screens, which are rumored for Apple’s model, and phones like the Galaxy S II regularly use 4.3-inch or even 4.5-inch screens. Apple might not increase the resolution but would still have one of the sharpest screens in the size class.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels 7 upgrade goes live, available via retail on September 6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:30
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software


Upgrading: It’s not always a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Windows virtualization favorite Parallels Deskktop has reached version 7, the new version adding faster performance and new support for Mac OS X Lion, including Windows integration of apps in Launchpad and windows in Mission Control and the ability to run an instance of Lion within Lion itself.

The new update allows users to share iSight or FaceTime HD cameras between Mac and Windows apps, and adds the ability to run Mac OS X Lion as a guest OS. This summer, Apple relaxed its licensing for Mac OS X to allow Lion users to run up to two instances of the client OS on any Mac.

Previously, Apple only allowed Mac OS X Server to run in virtualization, and required that each virtual instance use a different license.

Beginning with Lion and the availability of Mac OS X through the Mac App Store, Server is now an application package that is hosted on Mac OS X Lion, and neither purchase uses serial numbers.

The Mac OS X Lion end user license agreement now states users may “install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software,” something virtualization tools can now take advantage of to offer the ability to host Lion as a guest OS.

Additional new features:
Among a list of 90 other enhancements, Parallels Desktop 7 can also take advantage of 1 GB of video RAM to accommodate high resolutions and color depth.

Parallels says graphics performance is up to 45 percent faster in 3D operations, and Windows start, stop and resume features are as much as 60 percent faster than previous versions. The company also claims that copy operations within Windows are now 120 percent as fast as its competitor’s product.

A new Parallels Mobile app for iOS allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to interact and control their Mac or Windows desktop guest OS instances, remotely (over WiFi or mobile) start or stop apps, play back music and audio remotely, and copy and paste data between their mobile device and Windows programs.

The new version, which will sell for US$79.99 in its standard version, US$49.99 as an upgrade to existing Desktop 5 or 6 users, or US$39.99 in a student edition, will enter the retail channel September 6.

However, upgrades for existing users became available for immediate purchase and download this afternoon.

Parallels 7 requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Apple loses iPhone 5 prototype, manages to locate it within days

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 03:31
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, this is odd.

Remember when an Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar last year and the company was, well, mildly upset regarding the aftermath?

It’s happened again.

In a bizarre repeat of a high-profile incident last year, an Apple employee once again appears to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar.

Per CNET, the errant iPhone, which went missing in San Francisco’s Mission district in late July, sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Last year, an iPhone 4 prototype was bought by a gadget blog that paid US$5,000 in cash. This year’s lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path: it was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for US$200. Still unclear are details about the device, what version of the iOS operating system it was running, and what it looks like.

Apple declined to comment after being contacted this morning. A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department said the company did not file a police report based on the loss at the bar. Craigslist did not respond to requests for comment.

A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco’s Cava 22, which describes itself as a “tequila lounge” that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source. When San Francisco police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

In an interview this afternoon, Jose Valle told CNET that neither the police nor Apple security ever contacted him. Valle, who owns the bar with his family, said however does he remember a man calling multiple times about a lost iPhone about a month ago. He told the man he would call him back if he ever found the phone.
“I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong,” Valle said.

After last year’s embarrassing loss, Apple reportedly has taken extraordinary steps to protect its prototype devices from leaks. Next-generation iPhones are sent to carriers for testing “inside locked and sealed boxes so that the carriers can carry out checks on their network compatibility in their labs,” according to the Guardian.

Apple developers have been given new iPhones with an upgraded processor — the one that is used in the iPad 2 and is expected to appear in the next-generation iPhone. But the device “is virtually identical to the iPhone 4, and there is no way anyone can tell it’s not an iPhone 4 based on the phone’s exterior,” according to a report at 9to5Mac.com. Even last year’s prototype was enclosed in a case designed to make it look like an iPhone 3GS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.