AT&T CEO drops hints at smaller SIM card format

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:50
Category: iPhone, News

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Prior to all the Worldwide Developers Conference hubbub, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview this week with All Things D that a smaller SIM card is a “no-brainer” and his company is looking into it, but declined to make the direct connection to Apple that the France Telecom CEO made last week.

When asked by All Things D’s Ina Fried whether AT&T is interested in the smaller SIM card that Apple and France Telecom have reportedly agreed upon, de la Vega acknowledged that the carrier is “working with the industry” to look at the possibility of smaller SIM cards. “I think that probably will happen,” he said.

In late May, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard said in an interview that Apple and wireless carriers had reached a compromise to use a smaller SIM card format instead of an embedded SIM chip that Apple had expressed interest in. According to Richard, the next iPhone will be “smaller and thinner,” partially due to a reduction in the SIM card footprint.

Per another executive at Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, Apple in May submitted a new requirement for a smaller SIM form factor to a European standards institute. The iPhone 4 and iPad currently utilize a micro-SIM solution.

Like Richard, de la Vega expressed a preference for a smaller SIM card over an embedded SIM. “We think that making the card smaller and shrinking the size is a no-brainer and we should be able to make that happen,” he said, in response to a question about the possibility of an e-SIM.

During the interview, de la Vega expressed disappointment at Windows Phone sales. “We actually like [Windows Phone 7] very, very much,” he said. “It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to.”

Despite the lackluster sales, the AT&T CEO remained optimistic about Microsoft’s prospects. “I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good,” he said. “I think they just need to make it better… Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone–I think that is all that it needs.”

For de la Vega, the iPhone and Google’s Android have been “positive surprises,” while sales of Research in Motion’s devices have dropped off. “Android and Apple are really the hot products right now,” he added, noting that customers have been “choosing other products rather than traditional BlackBerries.”

The executive also challenged tablet makers to continue to raise standards in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. According to de la Vega, all the manufacturers who make smartphones are also offering AT&T tablets. “The question is which ones of those are good enough to stand up to the iPad. That’s a very high bar,” he said.

Speaking at the D9 conference earlier this week, de la Vega confirmed that AT&T is working on a shared data plan that would allow users to pool minutes and data plans between devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

WHO study finds AT&T iPhone 4 emits “medium” amount of radiation

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Date: Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 02:25
Category: iPhone, News

I’m not sure if this is comforting or otherwise.

In the wake of the World Health Organization’s report on cell phones and radiation, the Environmental Working Group has released a database of cell phone models with the highest and lowest rates of radiofrequency energy according to a CNN report. Per the report, Apple’s iPhone 4 (the AT&T version; the Verizon model wasn’t tested) falls in the middle range of emissions, which are measured using a Specific Absorption Rate of energy by the body written as “watts per kilogram.”

Cell phones sold in the U.S. cannot exceed a measure of 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiofrequency energy, but there is no study that shows an increased risk — or any risk — in using phones that emit higher or lower amounts. The WHO announcement, which was a change from their previous, more neutral position, comprised a review of hundreds of other peer-review studies — a compilation of known data — and concluded that cell phone radiation is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Often omitted from reports of the meta-study is that its principle recommendation was that the issue needed further study.

The database of phone radiation showed that Motorola had the model emitting the most energy per kilogram of energy, AT&T’s Bravo at 1.59 W/kg — just under the legal limit. The phone with the least amount of exposure was AT&T’s LG Quantum at 0.35 W/kg. Apple’s iPhone 4 tested at 1.17 W/kg, which ranks it about average. Samsung had a number of phones that were among the 10 lowest, while Motorola had the most phones in the top 10 highest, along with the Palm Pixi, the Blackberry Bold and the HTC Magic also ranking very high in energy absorbed by the body.

Cell phones, by their nature, emit and receive small amounts of microwave energy at all times while they are on — communicating with cell towers, updating GPS coordinates and of course being used for communication. Studies have been unsuccessful at establishing a clear link between cell phones and specific medical issues, even when the unit is held next to the head for prolonged periods. Radiation is naturally present in the atmosphere and from other sources, but how much the human body can absorb on a low-but-constant level without ill effects remains unclear.

Stay tuned for more on this as we get it.

Rumor: Apple to release fifth-generation iPhone with 8MP camera, SIM-free design between July and August

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Date: Monday, May 30th, 2011, 12:20
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Per Japanese web site Macotakara, Apple is rumored to be releasing a fifth-generation iPhone with an 8-megapixel camera and a SIM-less design that will not be a major departure from the current iPhone 4 design.

Citing an anonymous source, the web site reported Monday that the next iPhone will have the same form factor as the iPhone 4, and will use an ARM Cortex-A9 processor. The report said it is “not confirmed” whether the new processor will have a single CPU or is dual-core.

The report also said the handset will have an 8-megapixel camera, and a SIM-less design along with 3-4 internal antennas that will allow the device to serve as a “world phone” compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks. That would allow the same hardware to run on both AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S.

The report claims that the device, which will include a Qualcomm chipset, will be released at the end of July or in early August. While later than usual, that release date would be sooner than the fiscal 2012 claim the same site made back in March.

Finally, the report claims that Apple’s next “major new handset” will arrive in the spring of 2012. A spring release for a so-called “iPhone 6″ was previously suggested in April, in a Japanese newspaper report that said Apple had selected Sharp to create next-generation low-temperature poly-silicon LCD displays for a thinner and lighter design.

The details in Monday’s latest report restate and help to reinforce rumors that have previously surfaced. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with Concord Securities stated in April that the next iPhone will feature “slight modifications” from its predecessor, including a new 8-megapixel rear camera. Other reports have suggested the next-generation iPhone will include both CDMA and GSM radios, making it a world phone.

As for the SIM-less design, last week the CEO of carrier Orange said that Apple will introduce a new, smaller and thinner SIM card in its next-generation iPhone. There were reports last year that Apple was working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone, but it was claimed that those plans upset carriers who felt they could be marginalized by such a move.

Picture quality on the new iPhone is also expected to be improved with a separate component for an improved LED flash. Various reports, including one earlier Tuesday, have suggested the flash will be moved farther from the camera lens to reduce red eye.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to introduce 4G LTE network to 15 markets by end of 2011

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Date: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPhone, News

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Though reports have suggested Apple’s next iPhone will not support the 4G long-term evolution standard, AT&T will roll out its new high-speed network to more than 70 million customers by the end of 2011.

According to AppleInsider, Details for AT&T’s 2011 LTE plans were detailed by the company’s chief technology officer, John Donovan, in a post on his company’s web site. AT&T’s 4G network will debut this summer in five markets: Dallas, Tex., Houston, Tex., Chicago, Ill., Atlanta, Ga., and San Antonio, Tex.

“We plan to add another 10 or more markets in the second half of the year, and cover 70 million Americans with LTE by year-end,” Donovan wrote. “We also have plans to add 20 4G devices to our robust device portfolio this year, with some of those being LTE capable.”

He revealed that AT&T has invested US$75 billion in its wireless and wired networks in the last four years and that the company also plans to invest US$19 billion in wireless and wireline networks, along with other capital projects, this year.

The launch of AT&T’s LTE network will come well after rival Verizon, which debuted its fourth-generation high-speed network last December in 38 metropolitan areas and more than 60 commercial airports across the U.S.

AT&T has been hyping its forthcoming LTE network, and last week showed off download speeds of 28.8Mbps, along with 10.4Mbps uploads. The download rate is more than seven times faster than the 3.77Mbps rate that can be reached on AT&T’s current HSPA network, while uploads were more than eight times the current 1.21Mbps rate.

Verizon says its LTE network has real-world data rates of between 5Mbps and 12MBps downstream and 2Mbps to 5Mbps upstream. Verizon’s LTE network will be nationwide by the end of 2013, while AT&T has said its own LTE deployment will be “largely complete” by the same time.

Recent rumors have pegged an LTE-capable iPhone to come from Apple in 2012, and not this year. Verizon’s chief executive said earlier this year that Apple understands the “value proposition of LTE,” and that they will be “a part of” the technology’s future.

At the official Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 unveiling in January, executives revealed that Apple chose not to include LTE technology because it would require design changes. Officials from Verizon indicated they wanted the iPhone as soon as possible, so Apple obliged with a modified version of the GSM-based iPhone 4 released in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon ending unlimited data plan, will introduce tiered pricing plans for heavy data users

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iPhone, News

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The good times/unlimited data can’t last for ever.

Per Reuters, a Verizon executive said today that the company will be kicking off the summer by eliminating smartphone plans that allow unlimited web access for a flat fee. Those will be replaced with tiered pricing that will make heavy data users pay more for mobile data. It was also mentioned that Verizon will release the next iPhone at the same time as AT&T.

Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo mentioned the company’s plans at the Reuters Global Technology Summit. However, they are aiming to ease the pain by offering more options, such as family plans for data services.

“We had individual minutes for individual users. Then we eventually got to what we call family share where everyone in the family shares the same minutes,” said Shammo.

“I think it’s safe to assume that at some point you are going to have mega-plans (for data) and people are going to share that mega-plan based on the number of devices within their family. That’s just a logical progression,” he continued, but failed to mention when said mega-plans would actually come to fruition.

Shammo also cited that when the next iPhone model comes to light, Verizon will be able to offer it at the same time as AT&T. The handset would also have global coverage, just like AT&T’s version.

Much speculation has been bantered about as to whether or not the next iPhone would support LTE, but Verizon isn’t concerned, saying they have enough high-speed alternatives to sell.

“I think it’s a bigger issue for Apple than it is for us,” he notes. “Depending on where Apple plays, that’s where we’ll sell.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T demonstrates 28.8 Mbps download speeds on forthcoming Long Term Evolution network

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 05:43
Category: iPhone, News

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During a media tour at an AT&T research lab, the carrier demoed its upcoming 4G Long Term Evolution network, which appeared to be significantly faster than rival Verizon, reaching download speeds of 28.87 Mbps and 10.4 Mbps for uploads.

According to GigaOM, during a tour of AT&T’s Foundry space in Plano, Texas on Wednesday with Jon Summers, the company’s senior vice president of application and service infrastructure.

The lab’s LTE download speeds were more than seven times faster than the 3.77 megabits per second rate reached on AT&T’s current HSPA network. Uploads over LTE posted an even more impressive improvement, with more than eight times the current speed of 1.21 Mbps over HSPA.

The test was conducted using a Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna setup and two swaths of spectrum: 700 MHz and the Advanced Wireless Spectrum band. AT&T hopes to acquire more AWS band from its proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA.

AT&T engineers noted that the 28.87Mbps data rate is meant to model “real-world situations” for the Foundry lab, rather than the merely theoretical 150 Mbps speeds often demoed by carriers. However, the report did note that “sharing those speeds with others on a cell tower will bring them down.”

Earlier this year, AT&T revealed plans to accelerate the deployment of LTE so that the network will be “largely complete” by the end of 2013.

By comparison, Verizon says its LTE network, which launched late last year, will have real-world data rates of between 5 and 12 Mbps downstream and 2 to 5 Mbps up. Verizon has also said its LTE network will be nationwide by the end of 2013.

Recent reports have suggested that Apple pushed back the launch of LTE-enabled iPhones to 2012 due to production issues with LTE chips and limited customer access to LTE. China Mobile announced Thursday that it had “reached consensus” with Apple to implement support for the carrier’s 4G TD-LTE in a future version of the iPhone, but specific timing details remained unclear.

Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said in February that Apple is working on an LTE iPhone. “You’ll see more coming from Apple on LTE,” he said. “They understand the value proposition of LTE and I feel very confident that they are going to be a part of it.”

Rumor: AT&T rep says iPhone 5 may come after typical June/July launch period

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

A potentially awesome new iMac just came in, now you might have to wait a bit for the next generation of iPhone.

Per a report on MacRumors, an AT&T representative has asserted that Apple has informed the carrier that it does not plan to release a new version of the iPhone in June or July of this year.

The article cited that AT&T customer care representatives claim to have heard directly from Apple that the launch of the next-generation iPhone will miss the company’s usual early summer timeframe.

“Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe, though there will be a newer version in the future,” the report noted the AT&T representative as saying. “Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for the new phone. We will release this information on our website when it is available to us.”

The representative made the comments after a reader allegedly called AT&T over concerns that his upgrade eligibility had been pushed back several months.

The rumor should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt. The report’s author Eric Slivka warns that he is “always skeptical about such information shared by customer-facing representatives of Apple or associated companies.”

However, Slivka add that “due to the specific nature of the claim and its presentation in a matter-of-fact manner expressly citing Apple as the source of the information, the tidbit is worth sharing.”

Apple has traditionally unveiled a new iPhone at the annual Worldwide Developer Conference in June. However, this year’s WWDC, which takes place from June 6 to June 10 at San Francisco’s Moscone West, is expected to be a software-centric event. In its announcement, Apple teased that this year’s show will “unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS.”

Reports have suggested that the so-called iPhone 5 will feature only minor upgrades to its form factor and features, though the device has been rumored to house an 8-megapixel camera and may feature a larger display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, resellers release white iPhone 4, offer unit for sale on web site stores

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Date: Thursday, April 28th, 2011, 04:30
Category: iPhone, News

Hours after the white iPhone 4 went on sale internationally, the long-awaited handset is now available through the U.S. Apple Store, as well as AT&T and Verizon’s websites. As mentioned earlier, the unit should be available at Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores when they open later today. Per The Unofficial Apple Website, Apple’s front and iPhone pages has yet to be updated with the now-available status of the phone, but will most likely mirror the “finally” ads that are appearing on AT&T and Verizon’s sites.

If you’re waiting in line, it might help to bring the following along for a respectable place in the white iPhone 4 (or any) line…

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use it, just brandish it.

Apple to launch white iPhone 4 in U.S., other countries on April 28th

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Date: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011, 05:40
Category: iPhone, News

This just in from the horse’s mouth: Apple will release the white iPhone 4 model on Thursday, April 28th.

Per Apple’s PR announcement, the white iPhone 4 will finally debut in stores worldwide on Thursday, April 28. For those of us in the United States, that includes Apple’s online and retail stores, AT&T and Verizon Wireless as well as the usual Apple Authorized Resellers.

“The white iPhone 4 has finally arrived and it’s beautiful,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we’ve worked to get every detail right.”

The other nations receiving the white iPhone 4 will be Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and the UK, with “many more countries around the world” also promised “soon.”

So…what’s a 10 month wait between friends?

Leaked photos surface of supposed T-Mobile-compatible iPhone prototype

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Date: Monday, April 25th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make life interesting.

A series of leaked photos of a supposed iPhone prototype indicate that Apple may be testing the smartphone on the T-Mobile USA network.

Per Boy Genius Report, a series of photos allegedly of a white iPhone prototype “with T-Mobile USA 3G bands.” The device appears to be code-named as N94, just two numbers up from the Verizon iPhone 4, which was reportedly called N92.

According to the report, the prototype runs a test version of Apple’s iOS that resembles that of another prototype discovered in a video earlier this week. The fact that the N94 device has Apple test apps scubas Radar and the company’s employee directory app may also serve to substantiate its authenticity.

The front of the prototype looks “a little different” from recent leaked photos of the retail white iPhone 4. “Specifically, the proximity sensor has changed on the retail version,” the report noted. On Friday, photos of an official retail white iPhone 4 from Vodafone U.K. emerged, though Vodafone has reportedly halted sales of the device until next week.

The lock screen of the prototype device contains the message: “Confidential and Proprietary. If Found, please contact +1 408…”, but the rest of the number has been whited out in the photos.

The report goes on to speculate that Apple is “just testing the new T-Mobile-friendly radio with its current iPhone 4 hardware, possibly in preparation for integration in a future device. It’s also entirely possible the internals on this iPhone prototype are being disguised in an iPhone 4 shell, though we doubt it.”

AT&T announced last month a US$39 billion deal to acquire T-Mobile USA from parent company Deutsche Telekom. A subsequent “>FAQ from T-Mobile suggested that the carrier would hold off on offering the iPhone until at least after the acquisition is completed in “approximately 12 months”

A T-Mobile FAQ regarding last month’s announcement of AT&T’s US$39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA explained that T-Mobile does not yet carry the iPhone and will remain independent for up to a year. According to one official at the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T faces a “steep climb” ahead of it to obtain approval for the deal, which would make AT&T the largest wireless provider in the U.S by a large margin.

We’ll see how this plays out and if you have two cents to hurl in on this, please let us know in the comments.