Sprint activates 4G LTE networks in 9 additional U.S. cities

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a fast connection.

According to PC Magazine, wireless carrier Spring revealed on Tuesday that it has begun work on its 4G LTE network in nine new cities. The new markets include:

- Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

- Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, Calif.

- Key West, Fla.

- Fort Smith, Ark.

- Michigan City/La Porte, Ind.

- Bloomington, Ind.

- Eau Claire, Wis.

- Arrdmore, Okla.

- McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas

Sprint debuted its 4G LTE service in July and plans to have 125 cities on its LTE grid within “the coming months.” No more specific dates are being offered by the company at this time.

This number is well behind AT&T and Verizon, with the latter promising to have its entire 3G network converted by mid-2013. On Thursday, Verizon is flipping the switch on LTE coverage for more than 20 cities, including much of Missouri and large chunks of Wyoming and Arizona.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 shipping times improve, device ETA now stands at 2-3 weeks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:59
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Maybe things are getting a little better over at the Foxconn plant…

Per AppleInsider, availability of the iPhone 5 continues to improve, as Apple’s website now advertises that all models ship within two to three weeks.

The latest estimated shipping times are an improvement from the previously advertised timeframe of three to four weeks. The shipping time applies to both the black and slate as well as the white and silver models, in all three capacities.

The improved shipping times corroborate reports from last week that revealed Apple’s supply was catching up with demand for iPhone 5 inventory at its U.S. retail stores. Gene Munster and his team at Piper Jaffray found that 54 percent of 100 Apple Stores had the AT&T iPhone 5 in stock, while 24 percent had the Verizon model, and 84 percent were stocked with the Sprint variety.

Those numbers from last week were a major improvement from the weeks prior, when supplies of the iPhone 5 were severely constrained, particularly for AT&T and Verizon customers.

“We believe this is an important step for Apple as it appears they are finally gaining momentum in being able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5,” Munster wrote. “We believe that if AT&T and Verizon device availability follows the same trend as Sprint, it may only be 2-3 weeks before iPhone 5s are consistently available to customers.”

Also last week, Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said his checks within Apple’s supply chain found that the company had significantly improved its production capacity of the iPhone 5 since the device launched in late September. According to Wu, the supply chain bottleneck for the iPhone 5 moved from components to the assembly of the device itself.

Earlier reports claimed that the iPhone 5′s in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis have caused quality control issues for both Apple and Foxconn. One unnamed source from Foxconn said in October that the iPhone 5 is “the most difficult device” the company has ever been tasked with assembling.

If you’ve gotten word as to when your iPhone 5 is expected to ship, please let us know its estimated delivery time in the comments.

AT&T to offer $100 off iPad Mini with two year contract

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 12th, 2012, 07:13
Category: iPad, News

It’s pretty much the reason you get into a contract in the first place.

Wireless carrier AT&T announced on Friday that it will be offering what it calls a “promotional discount” of US$100 to customers buying a new tablet, LTE-enabled iPad, attached to a two-year service agreement.

Starting today, customers in the market for a new tablet can take advantage of the subsidy as long as they sign on to a qualifying data plan, which can range from US$10 per month to US$50 per month. The iPad can also be added to one of the telecom’s Mobile Share plans, in which a number of devices share data from a single quota, with plans ranging from 1GB to 20GB per month.

The full range of tablet data plan options include:

- AT&T Mobile Share: US$10 to share between 1 GB and 20GB

- AT&T DataConnect 250MB: US$15 for 250MB

- AT&T DataConnect 3GB: US$30 for 3GB

- AT&T DataConnect 5GB: US$50 for 5GB

Unfortunately, legacy unlimited data users are unable to take advantage of the deal.

According to AT&T Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher, the promotion was created to incentivize holiday shopping, however it can be assumed that the launch of Apple’s LTE-connected fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini also played a role in the new pricing.

The second-largest U.S. wireless provider has not set an end date for the promotion, and said it will be available as long as supplies last. No indication was given as to how many units of each tablet are being stocked, but interested customers must visit AT&T’s online store or a brick-and-mortar outlet to claim the discount.

If you’ve seen this discount on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple web site search reveals possible unlocked iPhone 5 units en route

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 10:17
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

This is kind of interesting.

With the U.S. Online Apple Store still showing carrier-specific iPhone 5 delivery dates of three to four weeks, a quick search on Apple’s website may have revealed the pricing of factory unlocked units expected to hit stores later this year.

Per AppleInsider, the alleged unlocked units are anything but official and could merely be placeholders in Apple’s database, however the prices are consistent with identical models being sold in Canada where all iPhones are unlocked.

While not listed anywhere else on the site, a query for “iPhone 5 factory unlocked” in the Apple.com search bar reveals “Apple Store Results” as seen above. The units are priced at US$649 for the 16GB version, US$749 for the 32GB model, and US$849 for the 64GB iteration. While not present in the screenshot, all prices for both GSM and CDMA models can be found by adding the storage size to the search. For example, the price of unlocked 32GB GSM and CDMA iPhone 5s are found by searching for “iPhone 5 factory unlocked 32GB.”

It is unclear how long the purported iPhone 5 search results have been on Apple’s website, but a report in September showed an Online Apple Store iPhone comparison page that revealed the prices of unlocked versions bound for the U.S. and Canada. The prices quoted in that report are in line with the search results found on Apple’s U.S. website.

Currently, Apple does not offer factory unlocked versions of its latest handset in the U.S., however the CDMA version sold by Verizon was found to be compatible with the GSM networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. A subsequent report noted that the AT&T version can be unlocked to operate on T-Mobile’s network via an iTunes reset and nano-SIM card replacement.

Apple is expected to introduce unlocked versions of the iPhone 5 when its worldwide rollout is completed and supply of the handset normalizes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Non-contract, full-priced iPhone can be unlocked via iTunes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you get your money’s worth.

Per TechCrunch, customers who paid full freight for an AT&T version of Apple’s iPhone 5 can easily unlock the device with a quick iTunes reset.

The simple unlocking procedure is said to work with iPhone 5s purchased from AT&T at full price, with the process being quite simple compared to the carrier’s traditional previous method of submitting an online form, sending a fax and waiting up to a week for a restore.

The publication was able to confirm the easy one-step process with AT&T’s technical support and successfully unlocked the device in iTunes.

“After restoring the device in iTunes, the user is prompted with the usual unlocking message: ‘Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked,’” the report said.

From that point, according to TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet, all that was needed to gain access to T-Mobile’s network was the trimming down of a compatible micro-SIM card to fit in the iPhone 5′s nano-SIM tray. The device recognized T-Mobile’s signal within seconds, allowing both calls and EDGE data to go through without issue.

Dillet explained that when an iPhone is purchased, the handset’s IMEI is added to Apple’s database, though it appears subsidized phones hold a different status than those purchased at full price without a contract.

While the publication was able to successfully unlock an iPhone 5 purchased through Apple retail, the procedure could not be confirmed on another pre-ordered unit “even though the device was purchased at full price, it was tied to an existing AT&T account during the pre-order process.”

It was previously reported that Verizon’s iPhone 5 ships unlocked for GSM networks.

If anyone out there has unlocked iPhone 5 that they’re looking to attach to an otherwise-unsupported wireless carrier and are about to try this technique, please let us know how it goes in the comments.

Hack discovered, Verizon iPhone 5 apparently unlockable for use on GSM networks

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:58
Category: Hack, Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Hours after the iPhone 5 hit store shelves across the U.S. on Friday, it has reportedly been discovered that the CDMA Verizon version of the device can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks with a simple GSM micro SIM card modification.

Per the iDownloadBlog, it’s apparently possible to trim down and install a micro SIM card into the new Verizon iPhone 5, which was purchased under contract, and connect to AT&T’s HSPA+ “4G” network.

The publication contacted a Verizon representative who confirmed the handset is indeed unlocked, meaning it can use SIM cards from other carriers even under contract. This is encouraging to travelers who own a CDMA Verizon iPhone 5 but need to hop onto international GSM networks from time to time.

While the installation is anything but elegant, in this case requiring a paper clip and a piece of tape to hold the card in place rather than the supplied tray, AT&T and T-Mobile nano-SIMs are likely to have a better fit.

With the iPhone 5, Apple is implementing new nano-SIM cards that bring a 40 percent reduction in size compared to last-generation micro SIM cards.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T activates 4G LTE networks in 10 additional cities ahead of iPhone 5 release

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:47
Category: iPhone, News

attlogo

It never hurts to launch the network before you launch the product.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has activated its 4G LTE network in 10 new major cities across the U.S. in anticipation of Friday’s launch of the iPhone 5, which is Apple’s first 4G LTE capable smartphone.

In the last week, AT&T has activated its 4G LTE network in the following markets:
- Birmingham, Ala.

- Cincinnati, Ohio

- Fayetteville, N.C.

- Honolulu, Hawaii

- Memphis, Tenn.

- Pittsburgh, Penn.

- Philadelphia, Pa.

- Sacramento, Calif.

- Seattle, Wash.

- Wilmington, Dele.

While the debut of AT&T’s 4G LTE networks coincides with the launch of a new iPhone, which is AT&T’s most popular smartphone, the press releases issued by the carrier make no mention of Apple’s iPhone 5. Instead, AT&T has focused on promoting some of its other 4G LTE capable devices: the Motorola Atrix HD, Sony Xperia ion, HTC One X, Samsung Focus 2, Nokia Lumia 900, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Pantech Element tablet.

The addition of 10 new markets comes only a few weeks after AT&T turned on its 4G LTE network in nine other markets. The carrier has promised that 34 more will gain 4G LTE coverage before the end of the year, including Denver-Boulder, Colo.; Albany, N.Y.; Detroit, Mich.; and El Paso, Tex.

Current iPhone 4S owners on the AT&T network will see their signal advertised as “4G” in many markets. AT&T began advertising its HSDPA network as 4G because it is capable of 4G-like speeds, though it is not a true fourth-generation network.

Apple has addressed this distinction by displaying an LTE symbol in the upper left corner of the iPhone 5 and third-generation iPad when the devices have a true 4G LTE signal.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to cover international LTE standards via three hardware variants

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Date: Thursday, September 13th, 2012, 08:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The iPhone 5 is en route.

And it looks like a nifty feat of engineering.

With the variety of different LTE frequency bands used by various carriers available globally, Apple will be making three versions of iPhone 5, with the potential for additional new models as Apple signs on other carriers according to AppleInsider.



Apple built a single, global model of the iPhone up until the beginning of 2011, when it introduced a CDMA-only iPhone 4 version compatible with Verizon. When it introduced iPhone 4S a year ago, Apple incorporated support for both GSM and CDMA networks, resulting in a “world phone,” albeit still locked by specific carriers.

The new iPhone 5 now comes in three LTE versions, all of which continue to support the global GSM/UMTS services of iPhone 4S (Quad Band 2G GSM/EDGE on 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz, and Quad Band 3G UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA on 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) with new support for “4G” DC-HSDPA (which at up to 42Mbps is as fast as most carriers’ 4G LTE service). Only one of the three versions continues to support CDMA.

To cover its launch carriers’ LTE services, Apple has announced these three different models:

A North American GSM A1428 model for use on AT&T and Apple’s Canadian partners Bell/Virgin, Rogers/Fido and Telus/Kodo provides LTE support for bands 4 (AWS) and 17 (700b MHz) but not CDMA.

AWS-flavored LTE is exclusive to North America, where it was originally assigned for use as wireless cable. In both the US and Canada, it has been reassigned for mobile voice and data networks. While Canadian carriers used it for LTE deployments, T-Mobile acquired large portions of the U.S. rights to AWS and used it to build out its non-standard 3G UMTS service.

This is one significantly reason why AT&T wanted to acquire T-Mobile two years ago. After the U.S. government intervened, T-Mobile was left with its AWS 3G service incompatible with previous iPhones. It now plans to build out LTE service, although that won’t happen until next year, leaving it with the interim option of shifting its 2G GSM service to 3G/4G HSDPA in order to woo unlocked iPhone 4/4S/5 users (which it currently has in place in only a few markets).

A second, CDMA model A1429 will support Sprint and Verizon’s CDMA network in the U.S. and KDDI in Japan. In addition to the standard “EVDO rev A” 800 and 1900MHz support on previous CDMA iPhones, iPhone 5 now also supports the slightly faster and more efficient rev B on 2100MHz. Sprint and Verizon once considered upgrading to EVDO rev B before throwing their support behind 4G networks, but Japan’s KDDI does use rev B networks. CDMA carriers in India and Russia also support rev B.

More importantly, the CDMA iPhone 5 supports LTE Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz), 13 (700cMHz, used by Verizon) and 25 (1900MHz, used by Sprint). The first three bands overlap those used by Apple’s other carrier partners in Europe and Asia (but not AT&T/Canada), although the company also notes that “band support does not guarantee support on all LTE networks running on the same bands.”

Finally, a third model for the rest of the world supports GSM carriers that have added support for LTE on Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz).

This includes Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Everything Everywhere in the UK, Optus/Virgin and Telstra in Australia, Softbank in Japan, SK Telecom and KT in Korea, SmarTone in Hong Kong, and M1 and SingTel in Singapore.

There are several other global LTE carriers Apple could support, either with its existing models or new models, that the company hasn’t announced any deals with yet.

In Japan NTT DOCOMO uses Band 1, and a long list of other European carriers are deploying Band 3 LTE. T-Mobile, Cricket and Metro PCS use Band 4 (AWS) in the U.S., so these carriers could all apparently be supported by Apple’s existing models, given a carrier agreement.

Other carriers have deployed LTE Bands that none of Apple’s existing iPhone 5 versions support. A variety of carriers in Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland are all deploying Band 7 (2600 MHz), while others in Germany and Sweden are using Band 20 (800MHz), and a variety of Middle Eastern carriers have started building out Band 38 (2600MHz).

iPhone 5 is believed to use Qualcomm’s fifth generation MDM9615 baseband chip, which supports both FDD and TDD signaling technologies for LTE.

FDD or Frequency-Division Duplex signaling technology is used by CDMA and WCDMA/UMTS for most modern cellular systems, and is the technology most LTE providers will use, including the networks being built out by AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. Qualcomm owns most of the patents supporting CDMA and WCDMA technologies.

TDD or Time-Division Duplex is an alternative flavor of the LTE standard developed by China, and is being deployed in that country under the name TD-LTE. China developed its own TD-SCDMA and now TD-LTE to avoid paying Qualcomm’s patent royalties. By supporting both FDD and TDD technologies, Qualcomm’s chipset can enable a single device to work on a wide variety of 3G or 4G networks.

It’s not clear if Apple is supporting TDD-LTE (or China’s 3G TD-SCDMA) in its existing iPhone 5 versions. This would dictate whether a separate model would be needed to support LTE service in China and India. Apple’s partner Softbank initially built out TDD-LTE in Japan, but has since augmented its coverage with standard FDD-LTE.

However the MDM9615 does appear to be giving Apple support for new DC-HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev-B, making it likely that Apple’s existing iPhone 5 models will eventually make it to a wider selection of carriers. And even in areas with incompatible LTE networks, iPhone 5 will support very fast HSPA+ networks at similar speeds to today’s LTE deployments.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces iPhone 5, handset to go on sale September 21st

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 10:21
Category: iPhone, News

applelogo_silver

The Apple online store is being updated right now.

And for good reason.

At long last, Apple on Wednesday unveiled its iPhone 5 handset. Per Macworld, the new device features a taller screen, a new dock connector port, LTE support, and other changes.

The new handset, which is now 7.6mm thin and weighs 112 grams, now incorporates a 4-inch display that offers 326 pixels per inch and 1136 x 640 resolution.

Apps that aren’t updated don’t stretch or scale but will display letterboxed on the iPhone, with black borders surrounding the centered app.

The iPhone 5 offers 44 percent more color saturation than the iPhone 4S, Schiller said, and because the touch sensors are integrated right into the display, it’s 30 percent thinner, with sharper imagery, and less glare in sunlight.

New to the iPhone 5 is LTE, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA support. That’s on top of the GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, and HSPA that the iPhone 4S offered. Apple VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said that with LTE, the iPhone 5 can achieve a “theoretical maximum downlink of up to 100Mbps.”

Schiller explained that the iPhone 5 uses one baseband chip for voice and data and a single radio chip. The new phone also improves upon the iPhone 4S’s dynamic antenna, Schiller said, improving its ability to automatically switch to different networks as appropriate.

LTE partners for the iPhone 5 include Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon in the U.S, and Rogers, Fido, Bell, Telus, and more in Canada. Schiller said there are “plenty” of LTE partners in Asia, Australia, the UK, and Germany, with lots of DC-HSDPA support in Europe as well.

The iPhone 5 also gains better Wi-Fi, with support for 802.11 a/b/g/n. The 802.11n standard is 2.4GHz and dual channel 5GHz, up to 150 Mbps, Schiller said.

The processor in the iPhone 5 is the brand new Apple A6, which is twice as fast at CPU and graphics processing compared to the A5 that drove the iPhone 4S, Schiller said. It’s also 22 percent smaller than its predecessor, freeing up more space inside the iPhone, and making it more energy efficient to boot. Schiller said that everything—launching apps, viewing attachments, loading music—would be twice as fast as before.

Schiller explained that Apple wanted “to match the battery life of the 4S in a thinner and lighter design” for the iPhone 5. The company ended up exceeding that battery life; the iPhone 5 will offer eight hours of 3G talk time and browsing and LTE browsing, ten hours of Wi-Fi browsing, ten hours of video, 40 hours of music, and 225 hours of standby time.

The iPhone 5’s camera sports an eight megapixel sensor, 3264 by 2448 pixel images. It’s backside illuminated, with a hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, and a fast f/2.4 aperture. And the camera is 25 percent smaller than the iPhone 4S’s camera. The camera also includes a dynamic low-light mode, which can sense low light and combine elements for two f-stops greater.

The camera also includes, for the first time on an iPhone, a sapphire lens cover, which Schiller said would protect the lens and make images cleaner and sharper.

The A6 chip includes a new image signal processor, with spatial noise reduction and filtering to improve photographs. And the camera’s now 40 percent faster, too.

Also new in the iPhone 5’s camera arsenal is Panorama. You hold the iPhone vertically and sweep your scene; the app tells you at what speed to move. “Even if you’re not perfectly stable,” or if movement artifacts are introduced, Schiller said, the software can compensate in the final image.

Video performance is improved, too. The iPhone 5 offers 1080p HD video, improved video stabilization, face detection for up to ten faces, and can take photos while you’re recording video. The front-facing camera is now a FaceTime HD 720p HD camera with backside illumination, a significant improvement over the iPhone 4S’s VGA-quality front-facing camera.

The iPhone 5 includes three separate microphones, Schiller said: One on the front, one on the back, and one on the bottom. They improve noise cancellation and voice recognition.

The speaker gets improved, too. It now includes five magnets in its transducer, with better frequency response and better sound—while being 20 percent smaller than the speaker in the iPhone 4S. The earpiece is now noise-canceling, too, Schiller said.

With some carriers, the iPhone 5 will support wideband audio. In a typical cell phone call, the frequency of data in your voice is compressed around the midrange, Schiler said. But that doesn’t sounded entirely natural. Wideband audio fills up more of the frequency spectrum to make your voice sound more normal. Schiller said 20 carriers will support the technology at launch, and didn’t mention any U.S. carriers that would.

If you wondered as to whether Apple would adopt a new connector type to replace the Dock connector, the answer is “yes”. The iPhone 5 abandons the familiar 30-pin dock connector port, which first appeared with the original iPod in 2003. In its place is a smaller port, which Apple calls Lightning.

The 8-signal Lightning connector is all-digital, with an adaptive interface and improved durability. It’s reversible (meaning you can orient it either way, like a MagSafe adapter), and it’s 80 percent smaller than the connector it replaces.

Schiller announced that Apple would offer a 30-pin-to-Lightning connector, but didn’t mention pricing.

The iPhone 5 will come in an all black model, and a white model with a bright silver aluminum finish.

The iPhone 5 will be available September 21 in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with pre-orders starting on September 14. It will retail for US$199 for 16GB, US$299 for 32GB, and US$399 for 64GB—the same pricing as the iPhone 4S that preceded it. The iPhone 4S drops to US$99; and the iPhone 4 is now the free, entry-level iPhone. All those prices require two-year commitments.

The iPhone 5 will be available in 20 more countries a week later, and in 100 countries over 240 carrier partners by year’s end.

T-Mobile works to lure iPhone customers via unlocked iPhone 4S handsets, Value Push plan

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iPhone, News, retail

While T-Mobile may not yet be an official iPhone wireless carrier, they’re looking to make what money they can off the iPhone.

Per Engadget, T-Mobile has thrown caution to the wind and is offering unlocked iPhone 4S units into stores, customers being able to sign up for the carrier’s US$70-a-month (amongst others) unlimited plan anyway.

From September 12th, iPhone 4S display units will be rolled out in stores, with helpful sales staff around to swap out your AT&T microSIM for one of its own. You’ll also be able to get hold of network-specific apps like myAccount, Visual Voicemail and T-Mobile TV as soon as they’re ready. In order to make this marvel possible, it’s rolling out 1900MHz HSPA+ access to allow customers access to its wireless service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.