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Verizon to offer $20/month “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan

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Date: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News

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Verizon Wireless has finally confirmed that it will offer iPhone 4 with a US$20 “personal hotspot” WiFi tethering plan similar to what it currently offers its existing smartphone subscribers.

According to Macworld, Verizon’s mobile hotspot plan allows users, for an extra US$20 option on top of their data plan, to share their mobile 3G service with up to five WiFi devices (such as an iPad, iPod touch, MacBook, or any other WiFi device).

The iPhone 4 tethering plan has its own 2GB monthly cap, according to the report, with each additional gigabyte costing another US$20/month. Previous Verizon tethering plans cost US$30/month but delivered 5GB of data, in addition to the user’s data plan. That means the unlimited plan with tethering will cost a total of US$50, with 2GB for tethering and unlimited use of mobile data.

AT&T’s US$20 tethering plan currently only supports USB or Bluetooth tethering to a single device at once, and rather than offering a separate data pool, the plan counts use against the user’s plan. That means the 2GB data plan with tethering costs US$45 total, but still only offers 2GB of data per month.

Verizon earlier announced that its new CDMA iPhone 4 would only be offered with an unlimited data plan costing US$30, with no option for a limited use data plan as the company now allows its current smartphone users to choose.

In the future, Verizon says it will phase out the unlimited data plan, following AT&T toward tiered service plans. It has not detailed when it will do this, nor how much it will charge.

AT&T also announced earlier this month that it would be simplifying its texting plans to two options: 1000 messages for US$10/month, or unlimited texts for US$20/month.

White iPhone 4 spotted in AT&T database system

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 24th, 2011, 10:16
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve been hankering for a white iPhone and it just might be on its way.

Per Boy Genius Report, the white iPhone has been sighted in AT&T’s online systems, but there is still no indication when the phone will be available.

In a recent sighting, listings appeared for a white iPhone 4 16GB model and a 32GB model. AT&T also has 32GB and 16GB models of the iPhone 3GS, as well as a 16GB white iPhone 3G.
Signs at Apple’s retail stores in December listed the white iPhone as becoming “available spring 2011.”

Apple has never given a specific reason for the delay of the white iPhone 4, other than it has “proven more challenging to manufacture than expected.”

Originally scheduled to be released shortly after the black iPhone, the white iPhone 4 delayed in late July until “later this year,” and again in October until spring 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple swapping in new inaccessible, “pentalobe” screws to new, repaired iPhone 4 units

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 21st, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, News

If you were hoping to buy a new iPhone 4 and tinker with it, you might have some problems.

Per the mighty iFixIt, Apple has begun replacing the standard phillips head screws that hold together most iPhones sold in the U.S. with tamper-resistant “pentalobe” screws. The result is a device that most users are unable to open which also proves difficult for third party battery replacement services to replaces the battery in the device.

The pentalobe screw is a design controlled by Apple, and getting a screwdriver is very difficult, unless you’re an Apple Certified repair technician. Apple is apparently replacing the old screws with the new ones whenever an iPhone is brought into an Apple Store for repair, and users aren’t alerted to the change before or after it takes place.

Pentalobe Screw from iFixIt’s explanatory video

The new screws have begun to surface in recently shipped iPhones and iPhone 4 models shipped with the screw in Japan from the get-go.

These same screws are used on some MacBook Pro and Air models, and are likely to make their way to more Apple products in the future.

A video’s worth a couple thousand words and quite a bit of argument:


Apple’s Diabolical Plan to Screw your iPhone from iFixit on Vimeo.

Rumor: Personal Hotspot feature could come to iPhone 3GS under iOS 4.3

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 19th, 2011, 08:52
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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This could be nifty.

The cool cats at iLounge have received an anonymous tip stating that the Personal Hotspot feature of iOS 4.3 will work on both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS. Per the source, who claims to have tested it using the first beta version of iOS 4.3, the feature works on the 3GS exactly as it works on the iPhone 4, including the ability to share the device’s 3G network connection over Wi-Fi.

While it’ll be up to the individual wireless carriers to support the feature, the feature may be present in the OS but not show up in users’ Settings app unless it has been enabled by their carrier. In addition, while the feature is present in the current 3GS build of iOS 4.3 beta, it is possible that Apple could remove the feature prior to the public release of the update.

Even if it’s just a rumor, this could lead to something useful down the line.

Apple posts $6 billion profit in Q1 earnings call

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 18th, 2011, 14:56
Category: Finance, News

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Apple Inc. announced Tuesday that first quarter profits rose more than 77% to US$6 billion, or US$6.43 per diluted share, driven by record sales in three of its four major product categories, thereby beating analysts’ predicted earnings in the process.

Per AppleInsider, the company also posted record revenue of US$26.74 billion for the three-month period ended December 25, 2010, or more than US$2 billion above consensus estimates. The results compare to revenue of US$15.68 billion and net quarterly profit of US$3.38 billion, or US$3.67 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during the quarter, a 23% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The company also sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 86% unit growth over the year-ago quarter. iPod sales during the quarter totaled 19.45 million, representing a seven percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter, while iPad sales came in at 7.33 million units.

“We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,” said Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs. “We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.”

Gross margin was 38.5% compared to 40.9% in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 62% of the quarter’s revenue.

“We couldn’t be happier with the performance of our business, generating $9.8 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2011, we expect revenue of about US$22 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about US$4.90.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

White iPhone 4 unit appears in Vodafone Germany’s SKU system

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 18th, 2011, 04:20
Category: iPhone, News

Wireless carrier Vodafone Germany was the source of minor attention on Monday with a spotting of white iPhone 4 listings in its inventory system. Per Engadget, entries for both the 16GB and 32GB versions of a “weiß” (“weiss,” or white) version showed up alongside the usual black (“schwarz”) versions. The source who leaked the images claimed these weren’t just placeholders and would have a launch “soon.”

The timing should be treated with caution as Apple has officially delayed the alternate color scheme until spring 2011. A spring debut even in March could have it on sale for three months or less before it was replaced with the iPhone 5. A white iPhone 4 isn’t thought likely to co-exist with the iPhone 5 as Apple has never had more than one previous-generation iPhone on sale at a time.

Unofficial reasons for the virtual cancellation of the white iPhone 4 have been broad. Most have pinned it on inconsistent coloring for the iPhone’s glass. In one circumstance, it was claimed that the white hue combined with the iPhone 4’s design interfered with the camera, but this hasn’t been proven so far.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve been hankering for a white iPhone 4 since June, I’m not sure what to say.

iOS 4.3 beta code points towards Verizon iPad 2, iPhone variants and camera app for iPad

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 06:54
Category: News, Software

The developers got the iOS 4.3 beta yesterday.

And they found some nifty stuff in it.

Per Engadget and 9 to 5 Mac, discoveries in the iOS 4.3 beta have revealed that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone and second-generation iPad will come in native editions for Verizon along with camera functions. Mirroring the iPhone 3,1 and 3,2 entries that represent the iPhone 4 for GSM and CDMA respectively, device listings now exist for iPhone 4,1 and iPhone 4,2 as well. The appearance suggests Apple plans to synchronize its iPhone launches rather than stagger GSM and CDMA by a wide margin.

A third iPhone 4 variant (iPhone 3,3) has also appeared, which seems unusual and the device may be a version for GSM carriers on 1,700MHz 3G in North America, most notably including T-Mobile in the U.S. but also a slew of new Canadian carriers such as Wind Mobile, Videotron and Mobilicity. Without an iPhone 4,3 listed, though, it’s possible that either the third iPhone 4 variant will never ship or else that its iPhone 5 equivalent will ship sometime later.

The next iPad is also on show in the code and shows the newly promised Verizon model. Along with Wi-Fi (iPad 2,1) and HSPA 3G (iPad 2,2) variants, an iPad 2,3 version has tipped up and is almost certainly an EVDO version to give CDMA carriers one with internal 3G.

Separately, discoveries in the iOS 4.3 SDK have shown iPad-sized graphics for a camera app. The images show the camera iris effect as well as icons for both still photo and video modes, confirming movie recording. The full iris image tops out at 1024×768 and casts doubt on rumors of a higher resolution display unless Apple is deliberately keeping higher resolution graphics out of beta releases to avoid spoilers.

Verizon deal could open doors for other carriers to carry iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 12:07
Category: iPhone, News

If there’s a domino effect with the iPhone coming to Verizon, this could get interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook revealed on Tuesday that his company’s agreement with Verizon for the CDMA iPhone is non-exclusive, meaning the new handset could also appear on Sprint’s CDMA network.

When asked if the new CDMA iPhone is exclusive to Verizon, Cook called the deal “multi-year” and “non-exclusive.” That means the other major CDMA carrier in the U.S., Sprint, could also offer Apple’s smartphone, if it were to reach a deal with Apple.

Of course, the non-exclusive deal also leaves open the possibility of a future GSM iPhone offering compatibility with the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile.

T-Mobile’s U.S. network relies on different frequencies in the AWS 3G spectrum, supporting the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, while AT&T supports 850MHz and 1900MHz. The current iPhone hardware does not support the 1700MHz frequency, meaning a modification of the hardware would be necessary.

Another possibility could be regional wireless provider MetroPCS, the fifth-largest carrier in the U.S. Like Verizon and Sprint, it too operates a CDMA network.

Prior to Tuesday’s news, some had speculated that Verizon could pay Apple extra in their deal to keep the iPhone away from other carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint, leaving Apple’s smartphone only available from AT&T and Verizon.

Outside of the U.S., the new CDMA iPhone will likely also allow Apple to make the iPhone available on other carriers like China Telecom. Last October, it was rumored that Apple and China Telecom were already in talks to offer a CDMA variant of the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon announces iPhone, will begin selling units on February 10th

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011, 12:45
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve been hankering for it for over a year.

And now it’s less than a month away.

Per Reuters, wireless carrier Verizon will begin selling a version of the phone on February 10 at the same prices as AT&T Inc.

“I’m going to switch right away. I’m going to go back to Verizon,” said Raheem Noble, 24, a New York City rapper, who was on his way to buy the device before being told that pre-orders would not begin until February 3.

The new phone puts an end to AT&T’s three-year-old status as the exclusive U.S. provider for the iPhone — but leaves questions over how much Verizon Wireless would be able to capitalize on the deal with Apple.

For one, Verizon did not say on Tuesday what it would charge for its iPhone data and service plans when the phone goes on sale. There were expectations that it would trump AT&T by offering the device with unlimited data service plans.

Verizon likely will announce those prices before pre-orders begin on February 3, said Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Daniel Mead. He said he was prepared for “unprecedented” demand.

The phone will not work all around the world because it runs on the CDMA network, which is not supported in many big markets such as the United Kingdom and France.

In addition, Verizon’s first iPhone customers may buy a phone that is outdated only months later if Apple upgrades the iPhone on its typical early summer launch schedule.

“Some buyers may want to wait for a new iPhone that is likely coming in June. I already had people coming to me asking, ‘should I wait?'” said BGC partners analyst Colin Gillis. “On the other hand, a surprising number of people just don’t want to wait.”

Some analysts, pointing to years of pent-up demand among Verizon Wireless customers, expect it to sell 9 million to 13 million iPhone 4 units this year.

Verizon, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, said the phone would be available at 2,000 of its stores. Prices with a two-year agreement for US$199.99 for the 16-gigabyte model or US$299.99 for the 32-gigabyte model — comparable to what AT&T charges.

Still, there are some provisos to consider: A CDMA iPhone will not allow users to simultaneously support voice and data connections, the same limitation that faced users of the original iPhone connecting to AT&T’s EDGE network.

Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst with Fort Pitt Capital Group, which holds shares in Verizon, said she believes there are many people who have been reluctant to buy an iPhone because of worries about the quality of AT&T’s network.

As an example she cited her home town of Pittsburgh: “A lot of people in Pittsburgh are really excited about the prospect of having a Verizon iPhone. I don’t believe they are alone. I don’t think we are a unique market,” she said.

On the other hand, AT&T is expected to face its toughest year since 2004 as a result of the Verizon deal with Apple.

AT&T, which has come under fire for patchy wireless service in some cities, nonetheless added an estimated 15 million new iPhone customers in 2010. It has tried to reduce its dependence on the iPhone by adding other devices to its service.

“For iPhone users who want the fastest speeds, the ability to talk and use apps at the same time, and unsurpassed global coverage, the only choice is AT&T,” an AT&T spokesman said following the Verizon announcement.

One problem for Verizon Wireless may be the high cost of selling Apple products, which come at a premium to other smartphones, analysts said.

Like AT&T, Verizon Wireless will have to shoulder part of the cost of the devices to convince people to sign long-term contracts.

Verizon Wireless will have to pay a US$400 subsidy for each iPhone it sells if it keeps the price in line with AT&T’s, UBS analyst John Hodulik estimated.

Apple follows suit, drops iPhone 3GS handset price to $49 with AT&T contract

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:39
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Without a ton of fanfare, Apple has dropped the price of its entry-level 8GB iPhone 3GS handset to US$49 with a new two-year contract with AT&T, matching the new low price that last week was offered exclusively by the carrier.

The 8GB iPhone 3GS now retails for US$49, down from its original price of US$99. The price change came quietly, without an announcement from Apple, just a few days after AT&T revealed it had reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS as well.

Per AppleInsider, last week, AT&T made it clear that the price of the iPhone 3GS sold in Apple’s own channels, such as its retail and online stores, were determined by Apple itself, suggesting the US$50 price cut was solely AT&T’s doing. At the time, Apple’s official iPhone site still offered the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

The current-generation iPhone 4 models still carry the same price with a two-year AT&T contract. The 16GB model sells for US$199, while the high-end 32GB model has a price of US$299.

AT&T’s chief rival, Verizon, is widely expected to announce on Tuesday that it will carry a CDMA version of the iPhone in just a matter of weeks. While reports have said Verizon will offer the iPhone 4, no mention has been made of the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009. If Verizon’s deal is only for the iPhone 4, the US$49 iPhone 3GS could remain an AT&T exclusive.

Starting with the launch of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple began selling the previous year’s model with a two-year AT&T contract in the U.S. for US$99. While the initial US$99 handset from Apple was the iPhone 3G, last year that was upgraded to the 8GB iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 launched.