AT&T advances upgrade dates for some iPhone customers in anticipation of fourth-gen handset

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Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 10:58
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T wants to sell some iPhones.

And they’re taking steps to do so.

Per MobileCrunch, AT&T has begun modifying some customers’ upgrade dates, shortening them in some cases by months to allow customers to buy a new, subsidized, fourth-generation handset in June.

This week, a reader contacted MobileCrunch to say that his upgrade date was moved from Nov. 21st, 2010, to June 21st, 2010. The reader said they bought an iPhone 3GS in 2009 on the device’s launch day.

“As a valued AT&T customer, we can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price, along with a 2-year commitment and an US$18 upgrade fee,” the customer’s account profile reads. “Please proceed with the online upgrade process for pricing details. You may qualify for a full discount on a standard iPhone upgrade on 6/21/2010.”

The same changes have appeared for some other customers as well. AT&T has revealed in the past that generally speaking, the more a customer spends with AT&T, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than US$99-a-month per line are generally eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.

The revised dates will likely pave the way for AT&T to offer some customers reduced prices on Apple’s fourth-gen iPhone, expected to be announced in June. AT&T also took the same approach last year when the wireless carrier offered early iPhone 3G adopters the opportunity to purchase an iPhone 3GS as the same US$199 and US$299 price points as new customers.

In years past, Apple has introduced its annual iPhone upgrade at the Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, WWDC 2010 will be held June 7th through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West. Tickets for the event sold out just eight days after Apple announced the dates.

Another rumor has suggested Apple could sell the next-generation iPhone as soon as it is announced on June 7th. That approach would be a change from years prior, when a new handset was announced a few weeks before its sale date. AT&T has also blacked out the month of June for its employees, preventing them from taking vacation days.

Fourth-gen iPhone could record high definition video

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 05:55
Category: iPhone, News

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Even with the hunt to find the missing fourth-gen iPhone over, some cool stuff may still be around the corner. Per MacRumors, new evidence in the iPhone OS 4 SDK suggests the camera in Apple’s next-generation handset could record 720p high-definition video.

Preset values for video capture in the latest beta of the software development kit show a supported resolution of 1280×720 pixels. That’s the same progressive-scan resolution used for high-definition 720p content.

Last week, a report claimed that the iPhone would have a 5 megapixel camera supplied by LG Innotek. While the megapixels account for the size of still images, the they offer no clear insight into the video recording capabilities of the handset.

In its hands-on with the obtained next-generation iPhone prototype, Gizmodo noted that the camera on the device’s back side was “quite noticeably larger” than the one on the current-generation iPhone 3GS. The prototype device also had a forward-facing camera, but neither lens could be tested and picture quality could not be determined, as the hardware had been deactivated.

Previous rumors had indicated the new iPhone would be known as the “iPhone HD,” and would feature a double-resolution 960 x 640 pixel display.

In addition to a 5-megapixel camera with possible support for HD video recording, this year’s iPhone model is also expected to gain a camera flash. Camera flash functions were also found referenced in pre-release builds of iPhone Software 4.0.

The next-generation iPhone is expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. The conference is scheduled to kick off on June 7th, and runs through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West.

Sources cite leaked fourth-gen iPhone prototype as close to final product

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Date: Friday, April 23rd, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPhone, News

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There could be a reason that Steve Jobs is madder than usual about the leak of the fourth-generation iPhone prototype; it may have been fairly close to the final product.

Citing sources familiar with Apple’s fourth-generation iPhone, Daring Fireball revealed that the barcode affixed to the prototype device obtained by Gizmodo, which read “N90_DVT-GE4X_0493,” gives insight into how far along Apple is in the design of its next-generation phone.

“‘N90′ is Apple’s codename for the fourth-generation GSM iPhone, slated for release this June or July,” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote. “‘DVT’ stands for ‘design verification test,’ an Apple production milestone. The DVT milestone is very late in the game; based on this, I now believe that this unit very closely, if not exactly, resembles what Apple plans to release.”

Gruber went on to say that although Apple is extremely secretive about unreleased products, it simply must let the units be used off of its Cupertino, Calif., campus to be tested. Apple reportedly distributes dozens of near-final units for field testing months in advance. Gruber said this practice is even more widespread with the iPhone than other Apple-developed products, because of the extensive nature of cellular network testing.

“The same was true for the 3GS a year ago, and the 3G the year before that,” he wrote. “The original iPhone was announced six months before it went on sale; in the interim between the January announcement and its debut in stores at the end of June, limited numbers of them were used for field testing.”

Even Apple co-founder Steve Jobs himself was spotted with an iPhone in public before the device was formally released to the masses.

The fact that the next-generation prototype iPhone was smaller and more compact than the current iPhone 3GS handset gave Apple the ability to wrap the prototype with an outer casing that made it appear to look like a current-generation device. The person who allegedly found the handset at a bar didn’t realize it was wrapped in a case until the next day.

The design of the iPhone has been largely unchanged from when it was first introduced in 2007, but the lost prototype and its near-final state would suggest Apple intends to modify the look of its handset. The discovered device abandons the curves of the previous-generation models, instead adopting a flat back made of new material to improve reception. It also sported a more angular look with an aluminum border. The prototype also replaced the volume rocker with two separate buttons.

Even greater changes were found inside the device, where Gizmodo discovered shrunken components to accommodate a battery that was 19% larger than the current-generation model’s power supply. The logic board in particular was drastically reduced in size, just one-third the size of the current model.

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

Gizmodo tears iPhone prototype apart, posts findings

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Date: Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPhone, News

The plus side: Gizmodo tore apart and studied the iPhone prototype, revealing some interesting things and proving you can find some amazing things at a bar.

The down side: Steve Jobs is probably angry about this and several buildings on Apple’s campus have already been destroyed thanks to his eye lasers.

Per Gizmodo, the prototype iPhone was disassembled, revealing a tightly packed interior with much smaller components, allowing the device to be thinner than its predecessor while also making space for a much larger battery.

The teardown found that the main logic board of the prototype iPhone was about one-third the size of the board that controls the current-generation iPhone 3GS. “Basically, the guts have shrunk drastically,” author Jason Chen wrote.

Those smaller components allowed Apple to cram a battery that is 19% larger than the current iPhone’s power supply into the prototype device. And while the discovered hardware was thinner, it also reportedly weighed 3 grams more than the current-generation handset, thanks to the larger battery.

Disassembling the handset proved to be interesting, with between 40 and 50 screws inside the prototype iPhone. Chen also dispelled a rumor that the battery on the handset is user-removable (the tightly packed case must be disassembled to access the battery).

“Everything fits in here like an intricately-designed jigsaw puzzle,” the report said. “This is definitely laid out like a final product. To think that there’s more room left for any components for this case is unreasonable. Unless Apple decides now to go with a larger case so they can fit more things in there, this is the most that we’re going to see this summer.”

As to whether the device sports a custom-built Apple processor, like the iPad’s A4 CPU, that remains a mystery. The main logic board was encased in metal and could not be removed without breaking the device, and did not feature markings to indicate where its components originated.

The new hardware featured a forward-facing camera, high-resolution 960×640 pixel display, camera flash and a secondary mic for noise cancellation.

The prototype’s design also proved different from the iPhone we’ve become familiar with, which has looked largely the same since the device was first unveiled in 2007. Apple changed the back of the device to be completely flat, with a material said to be made either of glass or plastic to improve reception.

The device was allegedly found at a bar in Redwood City, Calif., where an Apple software engineer reportedly left it by mistake. It was wrapped in a casing that disguised it as an iPhone 3GS.

Gawker Media paid US$5,000 to an unknown party to receive the device. After it was disassembled and revealed to millions of Internet readers, Gizmodo reportedly returned the device to Apple.

Apple demands iPhone 4G prototype be returned from Gizmodo

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Date: Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, 05:37
Category: iPhone, News

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Following up on Apple’s discovered iPhone 4G prototype: Apple wants it back.

Per Macworld UK, Gizmodo editor Brian Lam has posted an official letter he received from Apple requesting that the device be returned immediately.

Gizmodo believes that such official communication proves the device is real. However, it should be noted that this does not necessarily mean that the device is the next iPhone and could simply be a prototype.

The device was reportedly found by an anonymous bar-goer at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a German beer garden in Redwood City, near San Francisco. The phone was discovered on a barstool at midnight on Thursday, March 19th.

The person who found the phone asked around the bar to see if anyone had lost an iPhone 3GS (the phone had a case on it that made it look like a 3GS), but nobody claimed it. The person then unlocked the phone and found the Facebook page of Apple software engineer, Gray Powell, still signed in. The person decided to try to return it in the morning.

Gizmodo says that the person woke up to find the phone dead thanks to Apple’s MobileMe service, which allows users to wipe their stolen iPhones of all data, remotely. The person then noticed the phone looked different from other iPhones (for instance, the unit’s front-facing camera) and managed to remove the “disguise” case. Upon discovering that this iPhone was not like any other iPhone out there, this person promptly forgot their promise to find Gray Powell and return the phone, and started selling to the highest bidder.

Nick Denton, the head of Gawker Media and publisher of Gizmodo, tweeted earlier Monday, “Yes, we’re proud practitioners of checkbook journalism. Anything for the story!” and “Does Gizmodo pay for exclusives? Too right!”

Per AOL’s Daily Finance, web site Engadget was offered the chance to bid after the site published the first photos of the prototype, but declined. Engadget editor in chief Joshua Topolsky says he doesn’t believe in checkbook journalism as “it encourages awful behavior in tipsters.”

Rumor: Fourth-Gen iPhone likely to use primarily Apple-created processor

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Date: Monday, April 19th, 2010, 12:45
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

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The rumored fourth-generation iPhone (now being tagged the “iPhone HD”) will apparently use Apple’s own custom processor according to the Korea Times, which has quotes anonymous executives close to the story.

Where the iPhone 3GS and earlier models were using primarily Samsung-designed chips with an Apple influence, the next iPhone will supposedly use a primarily Apple-created chip. Features weren’t discussed with the contact, but a variant of the iPad’s A4 processor is the most probable candidate.

A move of the sort was already expected but may be important for Apple, which may be pushing for an HD focus with its new smartphone. The A4 is already capable of 720p video playback and could see that feature, as well as better battery life become present in the iPhone version. It’s uncertain if Apple will have to underclock the A4 or otherwise make significant changes to accommodate the tighter spaces and power requirements of a handset.

The A4 is known to be a modified, system-on-a-chip design based on ARM’s Cortex-A8, much like the processor found in the iPhone 3GS but with a newer PowerVR SGX535 graphics core, a higher clock speed and other optimizations.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Fourth-Generation iPhone prototype discovered, analyzed

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Date: Monday, April 19th, 2010, 05:19
Category: iPhone, photos, Rumor

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A series of new photos of an alleged fourth-generation iPhone prototype surfaced over the weekend, the device sporting dual cameras with flash, a high-resolution screen, and a slot for a MicroSIM card.

Per Engadget, the device was allegedly found laying on the floor of a San Jose bar and sports a front-facing camera, 80GB of storage, and aluminum sides. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber spoke with sources who reaffirmed to him that the device is legitimate, and “Apple is very interested in getting it back.”

“I am not certain this is the actual production unit Apple intends to ship to consumers,” he wrote. “I think it’s a testbed frame — thicker, with visible (un-Apple-like) seams, meant to fit into 3GS cases so as to disguise units out in the wild. It’s hard to tell from the photos. But I think it is the real deal in terms of the internals and the display being next-gen hardware, and the new glass back.”

He also went on to mention a patent regarding radio-transparent zirconia CE casings. Such casings could allow wireless signals to pass through an enclosure uninhibited and could improve reception on future iPhone models. Gruber theorized that the glass-looking back seen on the iPhone prototype could be a “high-durability” ceramic enclosure, similar to what was mentioned in the patent, as having glass on both sides of the new iPhone would make it very fragile if dropped.

The alleged prototype iPhone, reportedly dubbed “iPhone HD,” sports a double-resolution 960 x 640 pixel display. Previous reports suggested the new handset would, like the iPad, sport a custom-built processor from Apple.

The back of the device has Xs in place of certain numbers, such as the amount of storage and Federal Communications Commission ID number. It was also said to be previously running with a “decidedly new” operating system, though it is no longer booting. The device also has a “button” on its side, which sources told Engadget is for holding a MicroSIM card for connectivity with a GSM network, suggesting it is not the CDMA compatible model Apple is purportedly working on.

When Apple introduced the developer preview of its forthcoming iPhone OS 4 mobile operating system, users found references to iChat and frameworks containing the strings “front facing” and “back facing,” providing even more potential evidence of a new model with video chat. Apple was also said to be looking to secure large quantities of LED camera flash components for a forthcoming iPhone, and data discovered in the iPhone OS 4 beta suggests that the next-gen device will indeed include a camera flash.

Apple is expected to introduce the fourth-generation iPhone at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Last week the head of a Canadian wireless carrier said Apple will ship the device that same month, while AT&T employees have been restricted from taking vacations in the same month.

Jobs denies future upgrades for original iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, April 13th, 2010, 04:56
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve got to hand it to Steve Jobs: he’s getting to the point pretty quickly these days.

Per iLounge, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has replied to a customer’s e-amil with the statement that the original iPhone won’t be supported by future software updates.

In the exchange, Twitter user Ven000m asked Jobs in a tweet if Apple would be “supporting/updating” the original iPhone in the future, to which the regularly terse Jobs replied, “sorry, no.” Apple made no mention of the original iPhone or the first-generation iPod touch during its iPhone OS 4.0 special event last week, where it announced that the new multitasking features would be limited to the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch, with the iPhone 3G receiving a stripped down upgrade

Jobs would later offer comments during a Q & A session that suggested the company was ceasing support for its oldest iPhone OS devices.

On the plus side, the newer handsets are fairly awesome and will look great with the torches and pitchforks you’ll be holding as you stand outside 1 Infinite Loop…

Apple debuts iPhone OS 4.0 in San Francisco

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Date: Thursday, April 8th, 2010, 12:22
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Over in San Francisco, Apple gave iPhone developers and the media a sneak preview of its upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 operating system, announcing major changes in multitasking capabilities, changes to the Mail application, and a built-in advertising system highlight the features that make up iPhone OS 4.0.

Per Macworld, developers could get their hands on a preview of the 4.0 update on Thursday although users will have to wait until at least the summer. Owners of the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch users will be able to take advantage of all the features, while second-generation iPod touch and iPhone 3G models will only support some of the update’s enhancements. iPhone OS 4.0 won’t be available for the iPad until the fall.

The iPhone OS 4.0 update will reportedly introduce 1,500 new application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers and more than 100 new user features, including playlist creation, 5x digital zoom in the camera app, tap-to-focus for video, auto photo-geotagging, and support for Bluetooth keyboards. During the preview, Apple focused on seven new aspect that it called “tentpole” features: multitasking, folders, Mail improvements, iBooks for the iPhone, enhancements for business users, a social gaming network, and iAd.

iAds, perhaps the newest thing, functions as Apple’s new advertising platform designed specifically for the iPhone OS. The architecture allows developers the functionality to build ads directly into their apps; the ads, written using the HTML5 standard, are designed to provide a rich promotional environment, complete with what are essentially mini apps-inside-the-app.

“Geohot” reveals untethered hack for iPhone, cites method will “probably” work for iPad

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Date: Friday, March 26th, 2010, 07:46
Category: News

Over in the hacking domain, George Hotzhas demonstrated a new method to permanently “jailbreak” the iPhone 3GS, and he said the hack will “probably” work on the iPad, which goes on sale next week.

Per AppleInsider, Hotz, known online as “Geohot,” posted a recent blog entry including video which demoed a jailbroken iPhone 3GS being rebooted. The handset had been hacked via the first untethered method to date.

“The jailbreak is all software based, and is as simple to use as blackra1in,” Hotz said, referencing his previous iPhone 3GS crack that employed a method known as a tethered jailbreak. “It is completely untethered, works on all current tethered models (ipt2, 3gs, ipt3), and will probably work on iPad too.”

Late last year, Apple quietly updated the BootROM in the iPhone 3GS to thwart potential hackers. The change marked the first time ever that the handset maker had modified its hardware in the middle of a product line, without a new model released.

The new BootROM, known as iBoot-359.32, has proven challenging for hackers, who have only been able to implement the tethered jailbreak, which requires users to connect their iPhone to a computer via USB every time they reboot the device. Hotz claims his latest hack will not require a USB connection.

While iPhone users can rely on jailbreaking to unlock their handset for use with unauthorized carriers, the 3G-capable version of the iPad, scheduled to arrive in late April, ships unlocked by default. However, its 3G frequencies are only compatible with AT&T in the U.S.

Apple and the jailbreaking community, led by Hotz and a separate group of hackers known as the iPhone Dev Team, have gone back and forth for some time, as the Cupertino, Calif., company has looked to close avenues used by hackers. One of the main concerns about jailbreaking is piracy, as the procedure can allow users to steal software from the App Store.