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

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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.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone’s glass could be replaced with Liquidmetal component

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Date: Wednesday, April 18th, 2012, 11:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Your next iPhone could be part Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”.

Which, to be honest, was sort of the high point of Robert Patrick’s career.

Per Korea IT News, a new, questionable rumor from Korea claims that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy.

The claim stated that Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone will be made of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper “and so forth.” It also said it will have a “surface smooth like liquid.”

Though the report includes references to a general “liquid metal,” the proper noun Liquidmetal refers to an amorphous metal that Apple purchased the exclusive rights to use in 2010. The company behind the material, Liquidmetal Technologies, revealed in March that it was paid US$20 million by Apple in that deal.

Casting some doubt on Wednesday’s report out of Korea, it goes on to say that the new iPhone is expected to debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June. Last year, Apple opted to hold off on unveiling the iPhone 4S until well after WWDC, and launched its fifth-generation handset in October.

This year, most rumors have suggested that Apple plans to hold to a similar timeframe for the launch of a sixth-generation iPhone. It has been rumored that Apple will unveil its next handset in the months of September or October.

While the WWDC launch reported by Korea IT News is questionable, claims of a metal back for the next iPhone are not new. As far back as last year, there were indications that Apple was working on an all-new iPhone design with a metal back akin to the iPad.

As for the potential use of Liquidmetal, the company that owns the material announced in March that it had begun shipping commercial parts to “several” unnamed customers. Apple’s Liquidmetal gives it the right to exclusively use the material in electronic products, though it is free to be used in other industries like defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers.

The first product Apple created out of Liquidmetal’s material was an iPhone SIM card ejector tool, but since then there has been no indication that any other products have been crafted from the Liquidmetal alloy.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

U.S. government to work with wireless carriers to create national stolen phone database

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: iPhone, News

This could be perceived as sort of “Big Brother”-ish, but also pretty helpful.

Per the Wall Street Journal, four of the largest wireless carriers in the US are working with the US government to create a national stolen phone database. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will develop their own databases and then merge them into a centralized server within the next 18 months. Eventually, regional carriers will also participate in this initiative.

The database will help carriers and law enforcement track lost and stolen phones. Besides tracking phones, carriers have agreed to block both calling and data services for these blacklisted phones. This will be an easy task for Verizon and Sprint, but not so simple for T-Mobile and AT&T.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint already track each subscriber’s phone using the phone’s unique electronic serial number. This lets them easily block any phone that’s been reported lost or stolen. AT&T and T-Mobile do not have a similar service in place, because their GSM phones use SIM cards. As long as you have a valid SIM card, you can use any phone, regardless of whether it is lost or stolen. These two GSM carriers are working on new technology that would let them track and block a phone using a unique ID.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T using iTunes, telephone-based assistance for iPhone unlock process

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Following up on Friday’s story, wireless carrier AT&T began allowing out-of-contract customers to unlock their iPhone for use on other carriers yesterday, and the unlock codes are applied to the device after restoring through iTunes.

Per AppleInsider, customers who were among the first to take advantage told the web site that after dialing 611 to speak with a customer service representative, they were met with a lengthy wait to speak with a technician.

Once that AT&T representative was on the phone, they asked a series of qualifying questions to ensure that the user was eligible for their iPhone to be unlocked.

The unlock process is detailed by AT&T in a PDF document shared by users who request the service. In it, the carrier offers a series of four steps that must be accomplished in order to complete the unlock.

The unlock code actually comes through Apple and is administered through iTunes. AT&T’s instructions tell users to open iTunes on their Mac or PC, connect their iPhone via USB, and backup and restore their handset. Restoring the iPhone will unlock it for use on other carriers.

AT&T’s instructions also include a link to a support document available on Apple’s website. There, users are instructed to reseat the SIM card in their iPhone, restore their handset, or contact their carrier if they experience issues with unlocking via iTunes.

If the authorized unlock is completed successfully, users are met with the message: “Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”

If you’ve been part of the unlock process, please let us know how it went via the comments and thank you.

AT&T to begin unlocking off-contract iPhone units beginning April 8th

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 11:31
Category: iPhone, News

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As much as AT&T may drive you crazy, you might like this.

Per Electronista and Engadget, AT&T will begin unlocking certain iPhones in the (very) near future. As of April 8, customers that are either out of contract or bought contract-free will have the option of derestricting the phone’s SIM slot much like the already-unlocked iPhones sold at Apple retail stores. The only other condition was to have a healthy account.

“Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones,” a spokesman said. “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”

The initiative follows a number of complaints that led to Apple’s Tim Cook taking action and arranging for a handful of case-by-case unlocks. Other carriers worldwide have been offering after-sale iPhone unlocks, most notably in Canada, but AT&T until now has declined to do it, even for customers who paid the unsubsidized price.

More incentive exists for AT&T to unlock phones now that its spectrum refarming gives a real chance that its 3G network, and future 4G LTE network, will work properly with existing iPhones. A SIM unlock was previously only useful for those either willing to limit themselves to 2G data or who were traveling and wanted a much less expensive local SIM card instead of AT&T’s roaming plans.

If you go through the unlocking experience, please let us know how it went and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.