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

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

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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

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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.

AT&T to require Mobile Share plan to use FaceTime under 3G, 4G connections

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Date: Monday, August 20th, 2012, 07:55
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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You’ll be able to do FaceTime over 3G and 4G connections, you’ll just need the right kind of account to do so.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&T on Friday announced it will be limiting FaceTime over 3G and 4G networkds to iPhone who sign up for the carrier’s upcoming Mobile Share plans, which are slated to launch later this month.

While the wireless carrier will be providing FaceTime for free over its network, the catch is that subscribers will have to add sign up for the new Mobile Share data plans announced earlier in August.

Oddly, AT&T said iPhone owners can still use FaceTime for free on Wi-Fi networks, though that particular feature is not under the control of wireless providers.

From the statement:
“AT&T will offer FaceTime over Cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans, which were created to meet customers’ growing data needs at a great value. With Mobile Share, the more data you use, the more you save. FaceTime will continue to be available over Wi-Fi for all our customers.”

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in July said it was “too early” to talk about FaceTime over the company’s network. The statement was made in response to a error message discovered in Apple’s iOS 6 beta, prompting speculation the service would be fee-based.

In a subsequent report, Sprint noted it would be offering the feature for free when the next-gen iOS 6 launches this fall.

Speculation that FaceTime would be offered over cellular networks first began when a warning message in iOS 5.1.1 regarding 3G network data settings appeared to hint at the unannounced service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may begin selling next-gen iPhone in late September

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Date: Monday, August 13th, 2012, 12:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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The next-gen iPhone, it’s probably coming a lot sooner than you expect.

Per the cool cats at Boy Genius Report, Apple, which is expected to formally introduce its latest iPhone to the world on September 12th, could begin shipping the device to customers and selling the handset in retail stores just a week or two later, according to a new report.

Citing a trusted AT&T source, BGR reported Monday that the “carrier is currently planning to launch Apple’s next-generation iPhone during the third or fourth week of September, with an all-hands-on-deck policy in place for employees that will extend through to the middle of October.”

A second source reportedly added that a large training event for regional AT&T employees has therefore been rescheduled from the first week of October due to a conflict with a “huge announcement.”

A rapid go-to-market strategy that would have customers clutching Apple’s latest handset just days after being announced by the company is impressive but not unprecedented.

After repositioning its iPhone introduction from the summer timeframe to the fall, Apple last year introduced the iPhone 4S on October 4th and began shipping the device to customers and retail stores on October 14th — Just 10 days later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Apple to price match retailers’ discounts, offer $49 iPhone 4, $149 price points on iPhone 4S models

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 14:23
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t knock a decent deal…

Per MacRumors, Apple has instructed its retail stores to match the iPhone discounts being offered by major retailers including AT&T, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target, Sprint and Verizon when customers present competitive offers.

Apple’s publicly advertised prices for the iPhone 4 and 4S are US$49.01 higher than a variety of retailers and carriers are currently offering, as the entire retail channel prepares to sell off existing models to make way for the upcoming iPhone 5.

Now, Apple Retail stores are authorized to match prices when customers request the discount and indicate where they saw it.

Apart form the already “free with contract” iPhone 3GS, this makes the 8GB iPhone 4 just US$49.99 rather than US$99, and drops the iPhone 4S price range from US$199, US$299 and US$399 for the 16, 32 and 64GB models to US$149, US$249 and US$349.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to begin offering shared data plans starting August 23

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Date: Monday, August 6th, 2012, 09:17
Category: iPhone, News

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Competition’s a good thing.

Wireless carrier AT&T said Monday that it will join rival Verizon Wireless later this month in offering shared data plans to its subscribers, allowing them to spread their monthly data plans across multiple devices for an additional fee.

Per AppleInsider, the previously announced plans, dubbed “Mobile Share,” include unlimited text, talk and a pre-set data plan for a single device at a fixed price. Additional devices can then be added to share the data plan for between US$10 and US$30, depending on the type of device.

For instance, a 4GB iPhone data plan (US$40) with Unlimited Talk & Text (US$70) and an additional iPad (US$10) will run US$120 per month, while a 10GB iPhone data plan ($30) with Unlimited Talk & Text (US$70) (US$120) and an additional MacBook Pro (US$20) will fetch US$210 per month.

AT&T says that subscribers can adopt the new plan without modifying their contract but says subscribers must tie the plan to an active smartphone subscription, meaning the shared data plans won’t be available for purchase without voice and text.

Unlike Verizon, however, the carrier says it plans to continue offering its existing mobile plans to customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy now offering iPhone 4 for $50 with 2-year contract

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News

You can’t argue with a cheap price.

Per AppleInsider, Best Buy is now selling Apple’s 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49.99 with a new two-year contract.

The new price is half that of the regular US$99 price for the iPhone 4 with a new service contract. Reseller Best Buy is offering the US$49.99 upgrade price on both the GSM iPhone 4 model, compatible with AT&T, as well as the CDMA variants, available for both Verizon and Sprint.

Best Buy’s website does not identify the new price as a temporary sale. The new price is the same that Best Buy charges for a refurbished iPhone 4, and the discount is available in both black and white models.

The price cut comes only days after Apple announced it sold 26 million iPhones in the June quarter, representing 28 percent growth over the same period a year prior. Investors viewed that number as disappointing, and AAPL stock took a hit as a result.

Apple executives said during their quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that they believe the growth slowdown, particularly with respect to iPhone sales, was at least somewhat attributable to rumors of new products. The company is widely expected to launch its next-generation iPhone with a slightly larger 4-inch display later this year.

The iPhone 4 was first released in mid-2010 and marked the debut of the high-resolution Retina display, as well as the forward-facing FaceTime camera. It is currently Apple’s mid-range handset, resting between the newest model, the iPhone 4S, and the low-end iPhone 3GS, available for free with a two-year contract. Verizon and Sprint do not offer the iPhone 3GS, which means the iPhone 4 is Apple’s entry-level handset with those two carriers.

So, yeah…an iPhone 4 for 50 clams. Not the worst thing that’s ever happened…

AT&T to launch shared data plans in late August, offer base price around $45 per smartphone

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

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You can’t argue with a bit of competition.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&T on Wednesday announced its new shared data plans, ranging from 1 gigabyte to 20 gigabytes of cap space, and starting at US$40 for 1 gigabyte of data plus an additional US$45 per smartphone.

The cost per gigabyte and smartphone decreases as customers add more data to their plan, so 4 gigabytes of data has a base price of US$70, plus US$40 per smartphone, all the way up to US$200 for 20 gigabytes of data per month and US$30 per smartphone.

Cellular capable tablet-style devices like Apple’s iPad are less expensive, and will cost US$10 per month to add to a shared data plan. Laptops and mobile hotspot devices are another US$20 each month, while basic and messaging phones can get shared data, unlimited talk and text for US$30 each month.

The new shared data plans allow customers to choose open of AT&T’s existing individual or family plans, and current customers are not required to switch to the new plans. Those who decide to switch to AT&T’s shared data plans can do so without a contract extension, and the rates are also available for business customers.

Customers can choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, and at least one of those devices must be a smartphone. The plans include tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones.

Competing U.S. carrier Verizon launched its own shared data plans on June 28, called “Share Everything.” With it, line access for smartphones like Apple’s iPhone run US$40 per month, while tablets like the iPad are US$10 per month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: T-Mobile could receive iPhone in 2013

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Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, 06:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It had to happen sometime.

Per BusinessWeek, fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile could use a sales agreement from its parent company Deutsche Telekom AG to carry Apple’s iPhone on its network sometime in 2013 which may help the network turn around slumping profits.

In a note to investors on Tuesday, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett said Apple and Deutsche Telekom are “increasingly likely” to strike a deal for T-Mobile to offer the iPhone in the U.S. next year.

The iPhone may help T-Mobile retain lucrative post-paid or contract customers after the telecom lost 510,000 monthly subscribers in the first quarter. Contrasting the massive loss was a combined 688,000 gained customers seen by iPhone-carrying networks AT&T and Verizon over the same period. In February T-Mobile blamed a fourth quarter 2011 loss of 706,000 contract customers on not having access to Apple’s smartphone.

“IPhone (sic) availability at T-Mobile USA would likely reduce contract losses at that company, and push Deutsche Telekom U.S. to a net revenue growth position much sooner than the market expects,” Moffett wrote.

T-Mobile was originally looking to bring Apple’s handset over to its network as part of a merger with the nation’s second-largest carrier AT&T, though the agreement fell through in December. As a result of the breakup AT&T was forced to give Deutsche Telekom US$3 billion in cash along with a transfer of US$1 billion worth of spectrum to the German company’s U.S. arm.

With the additional bandwidth T-Mobile plans to upgrade its network to iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ by expanding operations in the 1900MHz spectrum. Tuesday’s report is consistent with the carrier’s expansion plans and solves the frequency issues that CEO Philipp Humm referred to as the “key reason” why the company doesn’t currently offer the iPhone.

A deal to sell the iPhone through an agreement with T-Mobile’s parent company would be a change to Apple’s normal operating procedures as the Cupertino tech giant usually makes first-party agreements with carriers. For example, the recent addition of the iPhone on Sprint’s network was a US$15.5 billion commitment for the telecom. It was reported in June that, while AT&T and Verizon retained the most iPhone customers, Sprint gained the most switchers using Apple’s handset.

Representatives from both Apple and T-Mobile declined to comment and no official statement regarding the situation has been issued.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.