Apple begins taking iPhone 4S preorders, reveals that unlocked model won’t work on CDMA networks

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Date: Friday, October 7th, 2011, 06:31
Category: iPhone, News

Apple on Friday began taking preorders for the iPhone 4S, and also revealed its next-generation handset will be sold unlocked and contract-free in November starting at US$649.

Per AppleInsider, the unlocked iPhone 4GS will only work on supported GSM networks, like AT&T in the U.S. But it will not work with any CDMA carriers, including Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

Customers who buy an unlocked iPhone 4S will be able to use the handset internationally on GSM networks. They must obtain a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier to put in the handset.

When it was announced on Tuesday, the iPhone 4S was unveiled as a “world phone,” meaning it is compatible with both CDMA and GSM networks. But customers who want to operate the handset on a GSM network, like Verizon, the largest carrier in the U.S., will need to buy Apple’s latest smartphone with a new two-year contract.

“The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment,” Apple’s description reads. “You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.”

The contract-free iPhone 4S is available in all three standard capacities, and is priced at US$649 for 16GB, US$749 for 32GB and US$849 for 64GB. It will be available in both black and white.

When the iPhone 4S is delivered in November, it will arrive without a micro-SIM card. By inserting a card and turning on the phone, users will be able to activate the device by following the onscreen instructions without tethering to a Mac or PC, a new feature made possible by the PC-free setup in iOS 5.

Apple has warned that a credit check may be required for customers who purchase the unlocked GSM iPhone 4S in November. In addition, customers must be at least 18 years of age to buy.

The unlocked iPhone 4S will arrive only a few months after Apple began selling the GSM iPhone 4 unlocked in June. The contract-free iPhone 4 also carried a starting price of US$649.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Sprint confirms unlimited data plan to be available for iPhone subscribers

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Date: Thursday, October 6th, 2011, 04:58
Category: iPhone, News

With Sprint being added to the U.S. iPhone carrier list along with AT&T and Verizon, it’s time for some competition.

Per AllThingsD, Sprint will indeed offer unlimited data plans when it starts taking iPhone orders later this week.

“We will be offering the benefit of our unlimited plans that start at just US$69.99,” said spokeswoman Michelle Leff Mermelstein. Sprint’s US$69.99 plan includes unlimited data and 450 voice minutes as well as unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling. Unlimited calling and data retails for US$99.99 a month, these prices not including a $10 per month surcharge for smartphones, so iPhone users will really be paying US$79.99 and US$109.99 for their unlimited plans.

Sprint is counting on unlimited pricing to help it stand out from AT&T and Verizon — which will also carry the very same iPhone 4S. In addition, Sprint and Verizon will have the iPhone 4, while only AT&T will have the older iPhone 3GS to offer for free with a new contract.

Both AT&T and Verizon offered unlimited data plans for the iPhone in the past, but have since shifted to tiered pricing for new customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Live Blog: Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” media event

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 4th, 2011, 09:46
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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Ok, here are the touch points so far, as noted via the cool cats at Mac|Life:

- iOS 5 will be released on October 12th and continue to be free.

- iOS 5 will function on the iPhone 3GS, 4, iPad, iPad 2, and the two recent generation iPod touches.

- Contacts, calendar items and events will all be backed up with iCloud.

- Users will be able to turn location finding on and find friends with a “Find My Friend” feature.

- The iPod app is gone in iOS 5 and has been replaced with the iPod touch’s Music app icon.

- iCloud will debut on October 25th.

- Apple has apparently announced an updated iPod nano with FM radio, pedometer and larger buttons.

- The updated iPod nano will be available at the following price points: 8GB US$129 and 16GB for US$149.

- The updated iPod touch will be available at the following price points: 8GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299 and 64GB for US$399.

- The iPhone 5 will be available in both black and white upon release.

- The iPhone 4S will be powered by the A5 processor.

- The iPhone 4S will feature dual-core graphics, be 2x faster and function as a much better gaming device.

- Apple is citing eight hours of 3G talk time with the iPhone 4S.

- 50 hours of listening to your favorite tunes on the new battery…

- A new antenna system will switch between transmitting and receiving functions, Apple citing this as more reliable than the current iPhone 4 antenna.

- Apple is citing 2X faster downloads with the iPhone 4S.

- The iPhone 4S will function on both GSM and CDMA networks.

- A new 8 megapixel camera will offer a 3264 x 2448 resolution (Apple is stating that this is 60% more pixels than the current camera resolution).

- Camera: f/2.4 aperture, 30% more sharpness due in part to five element lenses.

- Better white balance and facial detection on the iPhone 4S camera.

- The A5 processor allows for speedier shots, Apple citing that the camera can go from the first shot to the next shot in half of a second.

- The new camera will feature 1080p HD recording, temporal noise reduction and video image stabilization.

- AirPlay mirroring will allow your iOS’s apps to be mirrored to a larger monitor via your AppleTV.

- The iPhone 4S looks exactly the same as the current iPhone 4.

- A “Siri” feature will allow you to give spoken commands (such as “What will the weather be like today?” to the device).

- Siri will allow you to reply to texts while the device is in a pocket and will allow for a reply text with a Bluetooth headset.

- Siri’s interface is both onscreen as well as audio, the feature being hardware-dependent and running on the iPhone 4S only.

- Siri will apparently read a text message to you and ask you questions as to how you’d like to reply.

- Siri can do dictations for emails too, the app placing a microphone next to the space bar in the keyboard. The app will start as a beta in the U.S., U.K., Australia, French and German with more languages and services coming.

- The iPhone 4S apparently features an identical screen size to the current iPhone 4.

- And now, your long-awaited pricing and capacities for the iPhone 4S: 16GB for US$199, 32GB for US$299 and 64 GB for US$399.

- The iPhone 3G can now be purchased new for US$49.

- Sprint has now been added to the list of iPhone wireless carriers along with AT&T and Verizon.

- Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin Friday, October 7th.

- The iPhone 4S will be released on Friday, October 14th.

- The iPhone 4S will be available in 22 additional countries on October 28th and reach 70 countries by the end of 2011.

That’s all for now and let us know what you think via the comments.

AT&T to raise iPhone insurance rates by $2/month on October 4th

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011, 10:45
Category: iPhone, News

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It never hurts to be protected…and you can take that any way you want.

Per Electronista, AT&T has confirmed that insurance costs will be going up for AT&T iPhone owners on October 4th, as rumored, a page on the carrier’s website reveals.

Come October 5th, insurance rates are scheduled to jump from US$5 to US$7, affecting new and existing customers alike. The hike is happening in conjunction with the creation of a new device tier, covering the iPhone and “other devices” for which a US$199 non-refundable deductible will apply.

The switch is clearly meant to coincide with Apple’s iPhone press event on the 4th, at which time the company will announce one or more new iPhone models. Potentially significant is that AT&T is increasing rates in tandem with the hardware’s introduction, and not at a later date when devices will presumably go on sale. It could imply that Apple is planning a rapid turnaround, opening up orders within the space of a week if not immediately.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone 5 case image surfaces from AT&T store, speculation grows

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011, 06:30
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

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It’s the leaks that make things interesting.

Per MacRumors, a picture showing iPhone 5 cases entered into the carrier’s inventory system, more evidence has emerged that AT&T has begun stocking third-party iPhone 5 cases days before Apple is expected to unveil its next handset.

An alleged store employee at an AT&T retail store sent to MacRumors photos of newly arrived silicone sleeves for the as-yet-unannounced “iPhone 5.” The product appears to be a low-end generic case, as it carries no distinguishable brand, is simply labeled “cell phone accessory” and comes in oversized packaging.

The sleeve features a tapered design with the mute switch on the right side of the device, resembling purported iPhone 5 cases that have proliferated in China for months.

However, the publication took care to note that the cases run against the “growing feeling that Apple may not be releasing such a device” because of recent evidence suggesting that Apple’s design for its next iPhone may be “nearly identical to the iPhone 4.”

Earlier on Thursday, a leaked photo allegedly of AT&T’s inventory system surfaced, showing entries for iPhone 5 hard case, soft case and skin products from Case-Mate. The case maker had previously posted its case designs on its website, but took them down shortly after they went up.

Anticipation for the next-generation iPhone reached a fever pitch after Apple sent out invitations to an event next Tuesday, Oct. 4, with the tagline “Let’s talk iPhone.” The tagline has prompted renewed speculation that Apple will include voice recognition features on its fifth-generation smartphone. The next iPhone is widely believed to feature the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera.

There has been some disagreement, however, about whether Apple will introduce a redesigned iPhone 4 in addition to a new model. It had been suggested that Apple was looking to release a cheaper iPhone 4S alongside the iPhone 5, but recent reports have poured cold water on the rumor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AT&T blocks vacation days in mid-October, hinting towards iPhone 5 release

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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It’s when companies stop employee vacation time that things get interesting.

Per the cool cats at Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly blocked its employees from taking vacation days in mid-October as the carrier gears up for the launch of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone.

Employees at AT&T retail locations have allegedly been blocked from taking vacations during the first two weeks of October, BGR reported on Tuesday. Employees have reportedly been told they cannot request time off between Monday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 14.

In addition, it was said that AT&T’s internal inventory system lists a total of six new product placeholders. The entries are said to be “most likely holding space” for the iPhone models Apple is expected to announce at its event next Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Reports emerged last week that Apple has begun blacking out vacation days for retail employees at some of its stores during the second week of October. Specifically, Apple employees in some locations are said to have been barred from taking time off work Oct. 9 through 12, and Oct. 14 and 15.

Earlier this month, it was said that Sprint also began blacking out staff vacations for the first half of October. The iPhone is currently exclusive to AT&T and Verizon, but Sprint is widely expected to offer Apple’s next iPhone at launch.

As of yet there has not been any word of Verizon employees being barred from vacation time in October. Rumors have pointed toward a sale date of Friday, Oct. 14 for Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Apple’s fifth-generation handset is expected to become the first iPhone to launch on multiple carriers simultaneously in the U.S. Last June, when the iPhone 4 launched on AT&T alone in America, the carrier was forced to suspend preorders after experiencing demand ten times greater than for its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.

Verizon eventually gained access to the iPhone 4 more than six months later, in February of this year. Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray said on Tuesday he expects that demand for the so-called “iPhone 5″ will be large at Verizon, as a recent poll conducted by his investment firm found that 74 percent of Verizon iPhone buyers said they are waiting for Apple’s next model rather than buying the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked town hall meeting notes point toward T-Mobile not receiving iPhone 5 in 2011

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 09:26
Category: iPhone, News

It’s turning into a weird year for T-Mobile.

Per TmoNews, an image has surfaced from an internal news posting with T-Mobile USA sharing word from Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman that the carrier will not be offering the iPhone 5 this year. Brodman’s comment apparently came as part of a September 15th company town hall meeting.

“Our business is working very hard to improve performance over the last couple of years and we’ve had some great success,” said Brodman. New products and value plans are fueling customer response, he added, and Brodman expects the excitement to continue into the holiday season as T-Mobile introduces two new smartphones. Note: “We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” Brodman said.
Brodman’s comment does not eliminate the possibility of T-Mobile offering the iPhone 5 at some point in the future, but it seems that the carrier will not be a launch partner for the device.

Several mainstream media reports have claimed that Sprint will become the third major U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone with the debut of the iPhone 5 next month, but the fate of the iPhone on T-Mobile USA has been less clear. Despite a few claims of a T-Mobile iPhone coming this year and evidence of prototypes for testing on the carrier’s network, there had yet to be any solid reports of an launch from mainstream sources.

T-Mobile’s status is of course complicated by AT&T’s efforts to acquire the carrier, and effort that is being opposed by the U.S. government, Sprint, and a number of other groups.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon announces “network optimization”/bandwidth throttling for heaviest data users

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:00
Category: iPhone, News

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After first notifying customers of the upcoming practice in February, Verizon has now put “network optimization practices” into effect that will throttle the bandwidth of the top 5 percent of data users on its network, just weeks ahead of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Per DroidLife, the wireless carrier has notified customers that, beginning Thursday, the practice has gone into effect.

“Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

Users marked for the periodic speed reduction will have the limitation last for the remainder of the current billing cycle and into the following. According to Verizon, the top 5 percent of data users on its network use 2GB or more of data each month.

A FAQ on the company’s website indicates that full implementation of the program may take several weeks.

Verizon representatives are reportedly being told to recommend that customers either upgrade to a 4G Long-Term Evolution device, migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan or use Wi-Fi more often in order to avoid throttling.

In response to criticism over the policy, Verizon alleges that it is not throttling the same way as its competitors AT&T and T-Mobile are, as it is only slowing connections when users are on a congested cell site. In July, AT&T announced that it would begin reducing the speeds of the top 5 percent of its heaviest data users.

The new policy comes into effect within weeks of the expected launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. Verizon has said it expects to participate in a simultaneous launch of the so-called iPhone 5 alongside AT&T, and possibly Sprint. The iPhone 5 is widely believed to sport a faster A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

GoPhone:
AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.

Rumor: Alleged Sprint leak points to blackout dates, possible iPhone 5 launch

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Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news: Further evidence has accumulated that Spring will be joining the iPhone cell carrier network.

The bad news: The company has always been about as exciting as watching a sack of hammers lay in the corner of the room.

Per SprintFeed, an allegedly leaked internal memo has surfaced announcing a temporary vacation ban due to the “possibility of a major phone launch.”

The leaked document mentions that the blackout extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, though it neglects to mention the “major phone” by name. The timeframe surrounds an Oct. 7 “Strategy Update” presentation from the company that was announced late last month.

Recent reports have indicated that Sprint will launch Apple’s next iPhone in mid-October. Responding directly to claim, the carrier issued an internal memo advising its employees not to discuss the possibility of a fifth-generation iPhone launch with inquiring customers.

The carrier then announced plans to raise its contract early termination fee for “advanced devices,” including smartphones, to US$350 starting Sept. 9. The new ETF, which would match AT&T’s and Verizon’s own cancellation fees for similar devices, is meant to prevent customers from ditching the carrier after acquiring new devices for subsidized prices. The move has been perceived by some as an indication that a Sprint iPhone launch is near.

A subsequent report claimed Sprint cellular repeaters are being installed in and around Apple stores, further suggesting Sprint iPhone testing and pointing to the possibility of an imminent iPhone launch.

On Monday, the company sued AT&T and its partners to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The wording of certain complaints made in the court filings has prompted further speculation that Sprint will soon begin selling the iPhone.

Finally, on Friday, Sprint was rumored to continue offering unlimited data plans to its subscribers even after the expected iPhone 5 launch. Comparatively, the other two mobile operators that will carry the device, AT&T and Verizon, will offer tiered, capped data plans to their subscribers.

Weighing in on reports suggesting Apple would partner with the nation’s third-largest carrier to sell the iPhone, analysts estimated the carrier would sell 1.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of the year with Sprint iPhone sales growing up to 6 million in 2012.

Apple is expected to announce the fifth-generation iPhone at an as-yet unconfirmed media event this fall with iPhone 5 sales believed, according to some reports, to begin in early- to mid-October. The device is believed to sport the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera, up from the current 5-megapixel shooter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.