Apple confirms C Spire Wireless as fourth U.S. iPhone carrier

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Date: Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 09:39
Category: iPhone, News

The south shall rise again.

This time, with its own wireless carrier for the iPhone.

Per Macworld, C Spire Wireless will join Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T as the fourth U.S iPhone carrier. The company, which functions as the largest privately-held cellular carrier in the country, announced on Wednesday that it will begin offering the iPhone 4S “in the coming weeks.”

C Spire is a regional carrier; until last month, it did business as Cellular South. The company accepts customers primarily in the southeast, focusing on Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. Dave Miller, C Spire’s Media Relations Manager, stated that he couldn’t yet comment on whether the company would also carry the iPhone 4 or 3GS, though he did say “more details will be coming out soon about all the Apple devices we will offer.” C Spire is a CDMA carrier, like Sprint and Verizon.

Like Sprint, C Spire currently offers plans that include unlimited data. Miller indicated that he couldn’t yet confirm what plans the company would offer for the iPhone 4S, but declared that C Spire offers “what we consider the best plan in the industry, the 80/40 plan.” That plan offers unlimited minutes, text, and data for US$80 per month for your first line, and US$40 for additional lines.

An Apple spokesperson also confirmed that C Spire will carry the iPhone 4S soon.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you have any feedback from your experience with C Spire, please let us know in the comments.

Apple now requiring customers to go through online reservation system before purchasing an iPhone 4S at an Apple Store retail location

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News, retail

You’re going to need to call ahead.

Per AppleInsider, Apple said on Monday that customers looking to purchase a new iPhone 4S from its US or Canadian based retail outlets will first be asked to make a reservation online, suggesting that record-setting sales of the device coupled with an upcoming international expansion are straining availability.

Apple’s “how-to-buy” iPhone webpage now advises that customers can check back online after 9 p.m. where they can attempt to make a reservation for pick up the following day. Customers can check stock availability at each store before they make a reservation, and must select which carrier, color, and capacity they require.

“The iPhone 4S is available in store by reservation only. Reserve yours after 9:00 p.m. tonight for pickup tomorrow. When you come in, you’ll choose a carrier and plan, and we’ll get your iPhone up and running before you leave the store.”

Apple is instituting the restrictions in other countries as well, noting that only on-contract phones are available to walk-in customers, while both on-contract and SIM-free models can be purchased by reserving the night before.

Apple’s in-store reservation requirement is nothing new and underwent significant re-engineering alongside the release of the second-gen iPad.

A source familiar with Apple’s retail operations stated this week that the new shipment of iPad 2 stock sold by some stores on Tuesday was actually delivered on Monday. Apple is said to have elected to hold the inventory for a next-day sale to grant its inventory control specialists the time to “calmly and accurately” process new shipments.

It was suggested that the change could be a “lesson learned” following the launch of major in-demand products in 2010: the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. For those launches, Apple’s reservation system was said to have been plagued by a myriad of problems, including technical glitches that caused reservations to disappear, and resellers attempting to “game” the system.

Apple’s previous strategy was to get products from the pallet to the shelf as fast as possible. But that approach was said to have caused “utter havoc” for Apple’s retail employees, and led to inventory inaccuracies.

Under the revised strategy, Apple retail stores know exactly how many units it has to offer up for reservations the following day, allowing it automatically accept a specific number of reservations that it can guarantee to customers.

In years past, any excess iPhones or iPhone reservations that go unclaimed by the end of the day are made available for sale to walk-in customers.

The iPhone 4S is currently available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K., with availability coming to 22 more countries by Oct. 28, and more than 70 countries by the end of the year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any feedback on your iPhone 4S purchase experience, please let us know in the comments.

iLounge review finds iPhone 4S battery less robust for 3G data, media when compared to iPhone 4

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 10:25
Category: battery, iPhone, News

The good news is that the iPhone 4S is out and is being regarded as fairly spiffy.

The bad news is that its battery may not be the greatest thing in the known universe.

Per the iLounge review, the site compared the iPhone 4 battery to the iPhone 4S battery to test comparative better times given various functions.

For tests with 3G Data, Audio Playback, Video Playback, and Video Recording, iLounge found that the iPhone 4S came in under the iPhone 4′s battery life times. For Wi-Fi and FaceTime testing they found it to be similiar to the iPhone 4, and on cellular calls, they found the iPhone 4S slightly better.

One interesting finding with 3G data was that while their Verizon 4S unit ran for the same time as the AT&T model (~ 5 hours and 54 minutes), they found the Sprint model to lag at 5 hours and 23 minutes. Comparisons across mobile providers may not be completely fair due to differences in signal strength which could impact battery life.

In voice calls, they found the AT&T iPhone 4 and AT&T iPhone 4S to have comparable times of around 7 hours and 6-16 minutes. The Verizon 4S model, however, showed a surprising 8 hours and 27 minutes, while the Sprint 4S again lagged at 6 hours and 27 minutes. iLounge notes that the Verizon model may have shown 4 bars more often than the other two.

Both media playback and recording has taken a hit on the iPhone 4S as compared to the iPhone 4. For video recording, of course, it should be noted that the iPhone 4S is recording much higher resolution video than the iPhone 4.

Ultimately, their conclusion on iPhone 4S battery life is based on what your exact usage model is:

If you spend much of your day near a Wi-Fi network and only rely upon the iPhone 4S for web browsing and phone calling, you won’t notice a major difference—unless you’re thinking of switching to Sprint, in which case we’d be a little concerned. Similarly, if you use 3G data, plan to record or play videos, or want to listen to hours of audio during the day, you can expect greater battery drain from the iPhone 4S.

There may be some confounding data due to regional signal strengths, but given the other complaints about Sprint’s data speeds, it still seems to be the worst choice amongst the iPhone carriers.

In other news, some users have reported dramatically decreased battery life on their iPhone 4S. One solution to that is said to be the calibration of the battery, in which case you drain your entire battery once and then charge to full. Some have found their battery gauge to be inaccurate until this is performed. Apple includes other tips on their site about improving your battery life on the iPhone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve had a few days to tinker with the new iPhone 4S, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple sells over four million iPhone 4S units in first weekend of availability

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 06:48
Category: iPhone, News

If you were alive on Friday, you probably made an effort to snag a brand new iPhone 4S.

So did several million other people.

Per AppleInsider, Apple sold a total of 4 million units in its first three days of availability.

“iPhone 4S is off to a great start with more than four million sold in its first weekend—the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “iPhone 4S is a hit with customers around the world, and together with iOS 5 and iCloud, is the best iPhone ever.”

Sales of four million iPhone 4S units in three days more than double’s the company’s previous record of 1.7 million iPhone 4 units sold in the summer of 2010.

Apple also revealed that more than 25 million customers are already using iOS 5, the latest mobile operating system upgrade for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Those 25 million customers have made the upgrade in just five days of availability.

More than 20 million customers have also signed up for iCloud, the set of free cloud-based services offered by Apple for iOS and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion users. iCloud will remotely store users’ data and push it to all of their devices, automatically.

The iPhone 4S is currently available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. Apple will launch its new iPhone in 22 more countries on Oct. 28, and it will be available in more than 70 countries by the end of the year.

A week ago, Apple announced that it had sold a million preorders of the iPhone 4S on its first day of availability. That provided the first hint that the iPhone 4S was on pace to have a record-breaking start when it went on sale.

The sale of four million iPhone 4S units at launch exceeds Wall Street expectations, which had called for Apple to sell around three million units over the weekend. Analysts have also called for Apple to sell around 25 million total iPhones this holiday quarter, which concludes in December.

If you snagged an iPhone 4S over the past few days and have any thoughts about it, please let us know what you make of Apple’s newest handset via the comments.

Sprint clarifies iPhone 4S unlocking/roaming terms

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 14th, 2011, 09:18
Category: iPhone, News

With the launch of the iPhone 4S, Sprint cleared up its policy regarding international roaming on the new handset, announcing its intent to lock the phone’s micro-SIM slot and then unlock it for good customers only by request.

Per Macworld, on Thursday, Sprint spokesperson Michelle Leff Mermelstein issued a new statement to me regarding the iPhone 4S and international unlocking for Sprint customers.

Here’s the deal:

Indeed, the Sprint iPhone 4S will ship with its micro-SIM slot unlocked. However, Sprint now says that it will be locking that slot “shortly after launch” via an update pushed to those devices. After the slot has been locked, Sprint says that it will allow customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use in the future.

Mermelstein’s verbatim statement went as follows:

“Sprint’s policy is to have the iPhone 4S SIM locked to our network domestically and internationally. At launch, the International SIM will be unlocked. We do expect a SIM lock to be pushed to the devices shortly after launch. We will then allow existing customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use if needed in the future.

Customers can sign up for one of our international rate plans and use this phone all over the world. When traveling internationally, there is a setting that must be turned on within the device to connect to GSM. The phone will work with a SIM that is provided within the device out of the box. International voice and data charges are on a pay-as-you-go basis and vary based on the country where the customer is using their phone; a list of rates is available at www.sprint.com/international.”

Sprint offers two international voice plans that customers can subscribe to for discounted voice rates:

The Canada Roaming add-on is US$2.99 per month and all calls placed from Canada are only 20 cents per minute. Without this add-on, calls from Canada are 59 cents per minute.

The Sprint Worldwide Voice add-on is US$4.99 per month and offers discounted rates in countries around the world. For example, calls from Italy are US$1.69 per minute with this add-on or US$1.99 per minute without the add-on; calls from Peru are US$2.29 per minute with the add-on or US$2.49 per minute without it.

If you have your own take on this, please let us know in the feedback and comments.

iFixit completes full teardown of iPhone 4S, posts results (updated)

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 09:48
Category: iPhone, Pictures

With only one day (uno dia) remaining before the iPhone 4S officially goes on sale in brick and mortar locations, the supremely cool cats at iFixit have performed a full teardown of the long-awaited handset. Beyond the 1GHz A5 dual-core processor and 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, here’s what else they stumbled across:

- The iPhone 4S also has an upgraded Qualcomm MDM6610 radio chipset, plus flash memory provided by Toshiba.

- The Retina Display on the iPhone 4S hasn’t changed from its predecessor, Apple stuck with the linear oscillating vibration motor that was standard in the Verizon iPhone 4 (the AT&T version contained a rotational electric motor).

- The teardown confirmed the process of 512 MB of RAM.

- Yep, there’s a larger battery. And that’s never a bad thing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.0 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Software

After months of anticipation, speculation and generally looking forward to it, Apple has released iOS 5.0 for its current iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models.

The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:

Notifications:
- Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Center

- New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen

- View notifications from lock screen

- Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app

iMessage:
- Send and receive unlimited text, photo, and video messages with other iOS 5 users

- Track messages with delivery and read receipts

- Group messaging and secure encryption

- Works over cellular network and Wi-Fi*

Newsstand:
- Automatically organizes magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen

- Displays the cover of the latest issue

- Background downloads of new issues

- Reminders for managing to do lists

- Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook

- Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

Built-in support for Twitter:
- Sign-in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube

- Add location to any tweet

- View twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts

Camera improvements for devices with cameras:
- Double click the home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)

- Volume Up button to take a picture

- Optional grid lines to line up shots

- Pinch to zoom in the preview screen

- Swipe to camera roll from preview screen

- Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure, iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock

- Photo improvements for devices with cameras

- Crop and rotate

- Red eye removal

- One tap enhance

- Organize photos into albums

Mail improvements:
- Format text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts

- Indentation control

- Drag to rearrange names in address fields

- Flag messages

- Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Customize mail alert sounds

- S/MIME

Calendar improvements:
- Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch

- Tap to create an event

- View and add event attachments

Game Center improvements:
- Use personal photos for your Game Center account

- Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends

- Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends

- Discover new games with custom game recommendations

- AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

Multitasking Gestures for iPad:
- Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen

- Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar

- Swipe left or right to switch between apps

- On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant

- Software updates available over the air without tethering

iCloud support:
- iTunes in the Cloud

- Photo Stream

- Documents in the Cloud

- Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history

- Backup

- Contacts, Calendar, and Mail

- Find My iPhone

- Redesigned Music app for iPad

- Hourly weather forecast

- Real-time stock quotes

- Wireless sync to iTunes

Keyboard improvements:
- Split keyboard for iPad

- Improved autocorrection accuracy

- Improved Chinese and Japanese input

- New Emoji keyboard

- Personal dictionary for autocorrection

- Optionally create keyboard short cuts for frequently used words

Accessibility improvements:
- Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

- Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone

- New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices

- Option to speak a selection of text

- Custom element labeling for VoiceOver

- Exchange ActiveSync improvements

- Wirelessly sync tasks

- Mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Improved offline support

- Save a new contact from a GAL service

- More than 1,500 new developer APIs

- Bug fixes

iOS 5.0 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

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

Sprint, Verizon iPhone 4S units to allow for unlocked SIM cards

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 07:52
Category: iPhone, News

If you wanted an unlocked iPhone 4S, you’re in luck.

Per Macworld, both Sprint and Verizon have confirmed that consumers will be able to have the GSM side of their iPhone 4S handsets unlocked.

On Wednesday, Sprint announced that it plans to sell all of its iPhone 4S units with the micro-SIM slot unlocked, while Verizon’s will be locked initially, but can be unlocked if the customers are in good standing for 60 days. The latter has been Verizon’s policy for all world phones, according to the report.

The change may make it more affordable for iPhone users with Sprint or Verizon contracts to use their devices when abroad than those on AT&T, since AT&T’s iPhone 4S units will arrive locked, forcing users to pay AT&T’s international roaming fees, while Sprint or Verizon iPhone 4S users can simply pop in a new micro-SIM from a local carrier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4S A5 GPU tests at 73% faster than iPhone 4, other improvements noted

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 06:04
Category: iPhone, News

Even if the iPhone 4S is rumored to contain the same amount of RAM as its predecessor, the clock speed might be worth the upgrade.

Per AnandTech, the new Geekbench scores of the forthcoming iPhone 4S show that its custom-built A5 CPU is clocked at 800MHz, while the dual-core processor gives it a 73 percent performance boost than the iPhone 4.

The new figures from AnandTech show the iPhone 4S with an overall Geekbench score of 623, easily besting the 800MHz A4 CPU found in the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S processor is clocked slower than the 1GHz A5 CPu found in the iPad 2, which earned a score of 751.

In terms of its graphics processing capabilities, the iPhone 4S lived up to claims of being seven times faster than the iPhone 4. In one test, the iPhone 4S earned a score of 73.1 while the iPhone 4 took 11.2, and in another the iPhone 4S clocked a score of 122.7, compared to 15.3 for the iPhone 4.

GPU scores for the iPhone 4S, like the overall CPU score, were slightly slower than the iPad 2. But they also easily bested the competition, including the Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Infuse 4G, and Motorola Droid Bionic, all of which feature processors with higher clock speeds.

The site noted that while lowering the clock speed of the A5 from 1GHz in the iPad 2 to 800MHz in the iPhone 4S results in a “marginal loss” in performance, but “yields a greater-than-linear decrease in power consumption,” offering the handset even greater battery life.

“At a lower operating frequency than its Android competitors, Apple does have to exploit its strengths in software to avoid any tangible performance penalties,” authors Anand Lai Shimpi and Brian Klug wrote. “Apple has traditionally done this very well in the past, so I don’t expect the loss of frequency to be a huge deal to the few who cross-shop iOS and Android.”

The testing also correlated with earlier results that showed the iPhone 4S will offer a huge leap in performance over the iPhone 4 in its Mobile Safari Browser. In SunSpider Javascript Benchmark tests, where a lower score is better, the iPhone 4S earned 2222, compared to 3921 for the iPhone 4 and 5785 for the iPhone 3GS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 4S RAM to remain at 512 MB, same as iPhone 4

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 04:15
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news is that the iPhone 4S comes out this week.

The bad news is that it may contain the same amount of RAM as the iPhone 4 model, this component showing no improvement.

A new report this week lends support to earlier claims that Apple’s new iPhone 4S does not include more on-board RAM than its predecessor.

Donald Mustard, creative director for Epic Games subsidiary Chair Entertainment, recently let slip in an interview detailing Infinity Blade 2 that the iPhone 4S will sport 512 MB of RAM according to Eurogamer.

Given that a demo of Infinity Blade 2 was prepared for and unveiled as part of Apple’s iPhone 4S keynote presentation last Tuesday, Mustard’s comments are likely a result of first-hand knowledge of the iPhone 4S specifications, as Apple was reported to have provided select game developers with early versions of the iPhone 4S hardware for their development purposes.

Separately, a poster on a Chinese-language blog claims to have taken possession of the iPhone 4S, which he also says has 512MB of RAM. Both reports appear to confirm an earlier article that first reported the information in early September.

With the move to Apple’s A5 chip and dual-core graphics, the iPhone 4S’s underpinnings now largely mirror that of the iPad 2, which also contains 512MB of RAM.

For the past two years, Apple has used the iPad to usher in a new mobile architecture before transferring those rights to a new iPhone. As such, the iPad 3 stands to become the most likely iOS device to first receive an upgrade to 1GB of RAM when it hits the market early in the second quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.