Child Labor Watch points toward initial low-cost iPhone production at Pegatron factory

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 10:14
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the iPhone, but at a lower cost…and plasticky.

Per AppleInsider and China Labor Watch, a new plastic iPhone is currently being tested Apple supplier Pegatron, and will soon go into mass production and hit the market, one factory worker claims.

Details of Apple’s anticipated low-cost iPhone were revealed in a report published by China Labor Watch on Monday. A section of the report details “A day in Pegatron,” with a worker detailing their activities on July 9.

On that day, the worker’s job was “to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines.” The worker revealed that the plastic iPhone will “soon be released on the market by Apple.”

“The new cell phone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important,” the worker wrote. “This makes our job more slow paced than in departments that have begun mass production schedules.”

In addition, China Labor Watch’s company profile notes that Pegatron is responsible for building “low-priced plastic iPhones” for Apple, in addition to the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

The report accuses Pegatron of violating labor regulations in China, as well as international labor laws and Apple’s own standards. Specifically, Pegatron is said to have work weeks that exceed Apple’s 60-hour limit, while some employees have allegedly had their pay withheld for working short shifts.

The details also come as an image published over the weekend claimed to show the retail packaging for a product called the “iPhone 5C.” Some have speculated that the “C,” if the name is accurate, could refer to “color,” as the device is expected to come in a range of colors.

Well-connected insider Ming-Chi Kuo revealed last week that Apple is on track to launch its so-called “iPhone Lite” in early September. The device is expected to be essentially a slightly thicker iPhone 5 with a plastic body.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple advises Chinese customers to avoid counterfeits, opt for genuine Apple products after charger-related incidents

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

Sometimes it’s best to stick with the genuine article.

After a pair of iPhone-related electrocutions in China allegedly caused by unauthorized third-party chargers, Apple has added a section to its Chinese website helping users identify official iOS device chargers as well as advised users to charge its devices with genuine Apple chargers according to CNET.

The page offers a look at official charger designs for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, and iPad 2.

The website notes that Apple “always” puts the safety of its users first, and that products are “subject to stringent safety and reliability testing.” The official chargers that come packaged with new iPhones and iPads are also designed to meet government safety standards from around the world.

The site comes after a pair of dangerous charger-related incidents occurred in China this month. In the more serious example, a woman died while using an iPhone 5 that was plugged into the wall to charge with a non-Apple adapter.

In the second incident, a man ended up in a coma after he was accidentally electrocuted using a third-party charger with his iPhone 4. It was said that the man was using a “counterfeit” adapter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Top three Russian wireless providers drop iPhone over subsidies, other costs

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:29
Category: iPhone, News, retail

russianflag

If you’re headed to Russia and need to pick up an iPhone, your options may have become a bit more limited, comrade.

According to Fortune, three major Russian wireless providers have stopped carrying Apple’s iPhone, with the largest telecom, MTS, dropping the handset due to the high subsidy costs associated with being an Apple partner carrier.

As reported last week, Russia’s largest provider by subscribership, MTS, announced that it would be dropping the iPhone from its lineup, saying subsidies and marketing costs were to blame.

“Apple wants operators to pay them huge money, subsidizing iPhones and their promotion in Russia,” said MTS CEO Andrei Dubovskov. “Now it’s not beneficial for us. It’s good we stopped selling the iPhone as these sales would’ve brought us a negative margin.”

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt speculates three factors played a part in the “big three’s” decision to ditch Apple’s handset. First, Russian carriers are limited by the federal agency Rospechat, which does not allow subsidies on the same level as seen in the U.S. For example, MTS is not able to offer an iPhone 5 for US$199.

Duties and taxes are also higher than normal for Europe, with an unlocked 16GB iPhone 5 selling for roughly US$925 on on the just-opened Russian Online Apple Store, or US$276 more than an identical U.S. variant. Apple says US$140 goes to Russian VAT, while the remaining US$129 is for foreign exchange rates, import duties, and channel mark-up.

Finally, Apple’s contract requirements, specifically those pertaining to marketing, are said to be extremely stringent. Because the contract terms are unknown, it is impossible to tell whether Russian carriers are subject to any special clauses.

The future of the iPhone in Russia is unclear, though estimates from IDC suggest that demand for the handset was already on the decline, dropping to 8.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013, down from 9 percent in 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple vows to aid investigation surrounding electrocution of 23-year-old woman using charging iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Legal, News

applelogo_silver

It’s hard to say where this will go.

Per Reuters, Apple has said it will aid in the investigation of the death of a Chinese woman who was allegedly electrocuted when she answered a charging iPhone 5.

Apple announced the company is “deeply saddened” by the “tragic incident” that killed 23-year-old Xinjiang woman Ma Ailun. Apple vowed to “fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.”

Police say Ma was killed when she answered a call on her charging iPhone 5. The story gained traction when her sister wrote on the microblog Sina Weibo to warn other users to be careful.

Prior to the incident in China, there have been no widespread claims about faulty charging with the iPhone 5. Apple did recall iPhone 3G power adapters back in 2008 over a shocking risk that affected just a “very small” number of adapters.

Negative publicity in China regarding warranty policies prompted Apple to issue a formal apology in April. Since then, the company has been more aggressive in publicly responding to negative reports from the Chinese media.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Beta code hints at 120 frames-per-second camera feature for iOS 7

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 06:42
Category: iOS, News, Software

This could lead to something really interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, a new camera feature referred to as “Mogul” was allegedly discovered in the third beta of iOS 7. Tests suggested that the new software feature will allow video recording of 120 frames-per-second (fps) at an unknown resolution.

The addition of 120fps video would allow a future iPhone to offer crisp detail when playing videos back in slow motion. Such functionality is popular with sports cameras such as the wearable GoPro Hero3.

While the 120fps feature remains a secret, Apple has already revealed to developers that iOS 7 will give them the ability to record 60fps video with their iPhone applications.

There are currently applications on the iOS App Store, such as SloPro, which simulate high framerates in recording. However, in iOS 6, developers are not able to capture raw video at anything greater than 30 frames per second.

The addition of 120fps video in this year’s anticipated iPhone upgrade would allow Apple to stay on par with Samsung’s latest flagship handset, the Galaxy S4. That handset also offers super-slow-motion video capture capabilities with 120fps recordings.

This year, Apple has run an ad touting the fact that the iPhone is the most used camera in the world. And last year, the company promoted the new panorama capture feature that debuted in iOS 6.

However, hints of 120fps support in iOS 7 are not necessarily proof that the feature will appear in the next iPhone. For example, elements of an unfinished panorama feature were discovered in iOS 5 in 2011, more than a year before Apple would actually add it.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches Back to School promotion, throws in $50 and $100 iTunes gift cards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013, 07:49
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, News, retail

Never look a back to school promotion in the mouth.

Per the Mac Observer, Apple kicked off its annual Back to School deals on Tuesday for educational buyers and includes iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore gift cards worth up to US$100 with new Mac, iPhone and iPad purchases. The special deals are available now and run through September 6, 2013.


Apple-2013-Back-to-School

The offer reads as follows:
“Buy a Mac for college and get a $100 gift card to spend on apps and more — and also save with education pricing. Or buy an iPad or iPhone and get a $50 card.
Qualifying products include Macs other than the Mac mini, plus the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and the iPad 2, fourth generation iPad, and iPad mini.”

Not a bad thing and where a US$50 or US$100 iTunes gift card are concerned, it’s hard to go wrong there.

Rumor: Next-Gen iPhone to incorporate LTE-Advanced support, could operate at 150 Mbps data rate

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 08:46
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s just a rumor, but it could indicate that something really cool is en route for the next-gen iPhone.

Per The Korea Times, Apple is allegedly in talks with SK Telecom about launching an LTE-Advanced phone later this year. “LTE-A” is an upgraded version of the long-term evolution wireless standard currently found in the iPhone 5.

Citing an unnamed executive with SK Telecom, the report said that Apple is in the midst of negotiations with the carrier. Currently, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the only device to take advantage of the LTE-A standard with SK Telecom.

LTE-A is capable of theoretical download speeds reaching 150Mbps, which is double that of basic LTE. The executive cited in the story reportedly said there is “no reason” for Apple not to adopt LTE-A with its next iPhone.

The possibility of LTE-A functionality on the next iPhone is believed to be possible because of new chipsets from Qualcomm. A potential “global LTE” chip candidate for Apple was released in February, boasting truly global connectivity support.

The Qualcomm RF360 Front End Solution would enable an iPhone that supports all 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and LTE Advanced networks. Currently, the iPhone 5 is sold in three variants — two GSM and one CDMA — to offer compatibility with various networks across the world.

But Qualcomm’s RF360 would mitigate this problem, and even add support for the obscure TD-SCDMA network used by the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile. Apple does not currently have a deal in place to offer the iPhone through China Mobile, though rumors of a deal have persisted for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone case hints at thicker, rounder design for upcoming low-cost iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:15
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

Sometimes the upcoming case designs give it away.

Per AppleInsider and Macotakara, case makers in the Far East have begun to produce accessories they hope will fit a new low-cost iPhone model from Apple, featuring a slightly thicker design and rounded edges.

The appearance of a case alleged to fit a new iPhone would suggest that schematics for such a device, legitimate or not, are in the wild.

The case designed by Japan’s MGM Corp. shows rounded edges, and a slightly thicker frame than the iPhone 5. It includes space for a rear-facing camera with flash, as well as volume buttons and mute switch on the left side.

According to the report, the case for the low-cost iPhone is about 2 millimeters thicker than a similar accessory designed for the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 case also has squared off edges, while the low-cost iPhone case has rounded sides.

Rumors have persisted throughout 2013 that Apple plans to build a new, low-end iPhone model that could be used to target customers who prefer not to sign a new service contract. Currently Apple does not serve the low end of the smartphone market, where the most industry growth is being seen.


case-130618-2

In recent weeks, reports have claimed that suppliers are now shipping parts for such a device. One alleged part claimed to show a plastic rear shell with rounded corners allegedly intended for the device.

Market watchers believe Apple could sell a low-cost iPhone for US$399 without negatively affecting the company’s margins. It’s also been suggested the device will be available in an array of colors, taking a cue from the company’s iPod lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T updates carrier settings, pushes Wireless Emergency Alerts

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:39
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software, wireless

attlogo

This was a weird thing that popped up, but it’s hard to argue with the Emergency Alert System.

Per The Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T began pushing an update to iPhone users over the weekend that adds support for Wireless Emergency Alerts. The WEA system sends text messages to smartphone owners alerting them to physical threats like earthquakes and tornados, man-made disasters, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential alerts.


carrierupdate

The update is being pushed to the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, and doesn’t require any action on the user’s part since it’s delivered over the air. Once installed, alerts will appear as special text messages and are delivered based on your location. For example, if an AMBER alert is issued for a missing child and you’re in the same city, you’ll see the notification.

The update is free, and since it’s a carrier-supplied update, it won’t appear in iOS 6′s built-in Software Update feature.

Adobe releases Lightroom 5

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 07:35
Category: News, Software

lightroomlogo

A spiffy program just got a hefty upgrade.

Per AppleInsider, Adobe on Monday announced the availability of the latest version of its prosumer photo editing software, Lightroom 5, bringing improved workflow features and functionality highlighted by a new perspective-correcting “Upright” tool.

First released as a beta in mid-April, the final version of Lightroom sports a new Healing Brush and an Upright tool that automatically corrects perspective for images with skewed elements. Adobe has also added a new Radial Filter and the ability to create off-center vignettes.

In addition, the latest Lightroom features new tools to improve user workflows. A Smart Preview function allows users to edit offline images when away from their primary image storage device by keeping a smaller version of the image locally. When a user edits the Smart Preview version, those changes are saved and automatically applied to the original once the user reconnects to the primary image repository.

The new version also adds PNG file support, a true full screen mode, and assorted drag and drop capabilities for moving pictures between folders. It also gives users the ability to publish directly to Behance, as well as assorted new keyboard shortcuts to ease transitions between regularly used features.

Lightroom saw its last major version change in March of last year with an update that added geotagging support, as well as improvements to handling highlights and shadows. The latest iteration builds on its predecessor, Adobe reps said, by adding features that the Lightroom community continually requested.

Lightroom 5 is available for both Mac and PC platforms. Mac users will need a multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support, running OS X 10.7 or later along with at least 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended) 2GB of available HDD space, and a 1024×768 resolution to install and run.

The software is available from Adobe’s website for US$79 when upgrading from an earlier version, or US$149 for new users. Those already subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud service will find that the new software is included in their memberships.

If you’ve tried Lightroom 5 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.