Apple introduces Retina iPad mini, aims for November release date

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Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 00:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, News

Now THIS is the thing you’ve been hankering for.

Per Macworld, Apple announced a new iPad mini with Retina display at its press event on Tuesday, the company also lowering prices for the original iPad mini, giving its smaller tablet much-anticipated upgrades to its screen, processor, cameras, and more.

As hoped and expected—the new iPad mini with Retina display ups the screen resolution to Retina quality, going from 1024 by 768 pixels to 2048 by 1536 pixels at the same 7.9-inch (diagonal) screen size. This change raises the iPad mini’s pixel density from 163 pixels per inch to 326 pixels per inch—a density almost identical to that of the iPhone 5s.


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The new mini gets some upgrades on the inside, as well. Whereas the original mini used the same dual-core A5 processor, at the same clock speed, as the two-and-a-half-year-old iPad 2, the new mini line bumps its horsepower significantly by using Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor, similar to the one in the iPhone 5s. During Tuesday’s media event, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said that the new processor makes the Retina iPad mini up to four times as fast as its predecessor for processor-intensive tasks, and up to eight times faster for graphics-intensive tasks. Like the new full-size iPad, the iPad mini with Retina display also features Apple’s M7 motion coprocessor, which can monitor the device’s various motion sensors (accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope) without having to wake the main processor.

The new mini also gains upgraded wireless capabilities thanks to dual Wi-Fi antennas and support for MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. Apple says this change allows the new iPad mini to communicate at up to twice the bandwidth: 300 MBps (megabytes per second). The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad mini also include expanded LTE capabilities, allowing them to work on more LTE networks around the world.

Apple has also upgraded the iPad mini’s cameras slightly. Though the resolution of those cameras hasn’t changed (5 megapixels for the rear camera, 1.2 megapixels for the front FaceTime HD camera), the company says the new iPad mini gains larger pixels and improved backside illumination sensors in order to take better low-light photos. In addition, the improved image-signal processing of the A7 processor should provide better overall camera performance.

Apple says the new iPad mini with Retina display offers the same 10-hour battery life as the original iPad mini. However, it appears that accomplishing this feat while adding the additional power drain of a Retina display required Apple to increase—ever so slightly—the size and weight of the new iPad mini. The new version is exactly the same height (200mm) and width (134.7mm) as the original, but it’s a tiny big thicker (7.5mm compared to 7.2mm) and a little bit heavier: 331 grams versus 308 grams for the Wi-Fi model, and 341 grams versus 312 grams for the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.

The iPad mini with Retina display will be available in silver/white or Space Gray/black “later in November,” according to Apple. The Wi-Fi versions will retail for US$399 for 16GB, US$499 for 32GB, US$599 for 64GB, and US$699 for 128GB—a first in that capacity for the iPad mini. Cellular versions add US$130 to each: US$529, US$629, US$729, and US$829, respectively.

By all accounts, the original iPad mini has been a big hit for Apple, even though other small tablets, such as the latest Nexus 7, have debuted with better specs or lower prices. The new iPad mini line should blunt some of that spec-sheet-based criticism.

Along with the new iPad mini units, the company is keeping the original iPad mini around—in a single configuration—as a lower-price option. Specifically, the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad mini is now priced at US$299, rather than its original price of US$329, with the Wi-Fi + Cellular version at US$429. The cellular version is available for the U.S. networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Apple did make one minor change to the original iPad mini: It’s now available in Space Gray or Silver, rather than the original black or white. It is available now.

Both iPad mini versions (Retina and non-Retina) ship with iOS 7 installed, and—as with all devices running iOS 7—allow you to download Apple’s iLife and iWork suites for iOS free of charge.

Finally, Apple announced new cases for its new Retina iPad mini. The new iPad mini Smart Cover, made of polyurethane, will sell for US$39. A new leather iPad Smart Case will cost US$69.

As always, let us know what you make of this and if Apple delivered what you wanted or if improvements could be made.

Apple releases updated MacBook Pro notebooks, offers $200 drop from previous price points

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Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 00:59
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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If you were hoping for a cool new Apple notebook from today’s media event, this might be it.

Per Mac|Life, Apple VP of Marketing Phil Schiller announced significant updates for the 13- and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros. Schiller announced that the 13-inch version is now both thinner and lighter, clocking in at 3.46 pounds and .71 inches thin.

The new notebooks also feature a Haswell chip, Iris graphics, all of which makes it up to 90 percent faster. All total, that deliver nine hours of battery life, enough, Schiller said, to watch Christopher Nolan’s entire Dark Knight saga in one go. But with all those improvements, Schiller had some other good news. The new MacBook Pro will sell for US$1,299, marking US$200 drop from before, and it’s even shipping today.

Schiller then moved on to discuss the 15-inch version, which has 2.4GHz Core i5, 4GB ram and a 128GB SSD, which is also shipping today. The new unit includes Crystalwell chip with Iris Pro graphics with the option to add a GeForce 750M. Additional specs include around 8 hours of battery life, PCIe Flash, 802.11ac, and Thunderbolt 2. The 15-inch unit also saw a price decrease–it now sells for US$1,999, down from US$2,199, and is also shipping today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Pro notebooks in late October, next-gen Mac Pro in mid-November

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, October 19th, 2013, 22:36
Category: Hardware, iPad, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The upcoming MacBook Pro and Mac Pro rumors are coming in thanks to the French.

Per French web site MacG.co, Alleged availability dates for some of Apple’s anticipated upcoming products were reported on Tuesday, pegging new MacBook Pros to launch in just over a week, with the revamped Mac Pro desktop apparently set to debut in mid November.

The site has stated that the new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will be available for sale either Oct. 24 or 25. It’s expected that Apple’s new professional-grade notebooks will feature Intel’s latest-generation Haswell processors, which offer significant savings in power consumption, thus improving battery life.

As for the new Mac Pro, which Apple already gave a sneak peek at earlier this year, the site claims that the new desktop will be available for delivery on Nov. 15.

The site also claims that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will go on sale either Oct. 30 or 31. It’s unclear whether that would be the date orders would begin, or if the devices would be available to physically have in hand.

The iPad dates are somewhat suspect, as Apple traditionally launches new iOS products on Fridays. For example, last year the Wi-Fi-only versions of the first-generation iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad went on sale Nov. 2, on their way to total sales of 3 million total units in the first three days of availability.

Apple is expected to announce dates for multiple new products at a media event anticipated for Oct. 22. With that date just a week away, it’s likely that invitations to members of the press will be sent out later today.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases SMC firmware updates for 2012, 2013 notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013, 07:35
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

The firmware fixes for your recent Apple notebook arrived yesterday.

Per Macworld, Apple released SMC Updatesfor the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Retina MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Air SMC Update v1.9 is available as a 1.09 megabyte download for MacBook Air notebooks released in 2012 and 2013. It fixes a “rare” problem where the battery stops working, the battery is no longer recognized, or the system hangs when the battery has a charge that’s less than one percent.

The MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.7 is available as a 1 megabyte download for non-Retina MacBook Pro laptops released since 2012. Apple says that the update fixes a “rare” problem where a battery that has over 1,000 charge cycles shuts down or stops working.

The MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update v1.1 is available as a 504 kilobyte download that fixes a few problems, including Power Nap bug fixes, and a “rare” issue with slow frame rates in games on the 15-inch model. This update is for Retina MacBook Pros only.

All of the updates can be obtained using the links above or by running Software Update.

If you’ve tried the firmware updates and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

iFixit completes iPhone 5s teardown, finds interesting new changes in current handset

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Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:14
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

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The gents at iFixit got busy again.

Granted, they were a little behind the Aussie teardown, but they still found some pretty cool stuff within the new iPhone 5s.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the iFixit teardown revealed the following:

- The confirmation of AuthenTec as the company behind the fingerprint sensor, which was expected since Apple acquired the biometric hardware company last year. The sensor uses a CMOS chip and requires 5 to ten images to create a complete profile of your fingerprint ridges.

- iFixit also noted that the display in the 5s should be familiar to everyone as it is “no bigger, better, or badder than the [iPhone] 5.” In fact, it is the same 326 ppi Retina display assembly.

- iFixit has reported that the teardown is done and has given the iPhone 5s a 6 out of 10 for repairability. It gets a lower score for using pentalobe screws, a battery with a more sticky adhesive and an all-in-one front panel that includes the front glass, digitizer, and LCD.

- Other goodies include the potential identification of the camera module as a Sony component and the sighting of 1GB of RAM.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Aussie-based tech shop iExperts performs initial teardown of iPhone 5s, reports findings

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Date: Thursday, September 19th, 2013, 14:56
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

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The Aussies completed an initial teardown of the iPhone 5s and there are some impressive components inside.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Australia-based tech shop iExperts, the guys at iExperts were able to remove the standard pentalobe screws holding the handset together, then used a suction cup to remove the screen. The team noticed that there’s a special cable that connects the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s to the charging port assembly — not sure of the reason, but some speculation has indicated that it’s for grounding the sensor when the iPhone is docked and charging.

The batteries on the new devices have higher capacities than the one on the iPhone 5 (5.45 Whr), with the iPhone 5s coming in at 5.92 Whr and the iPhone 5c at 5.73 Whr. Those batteries, according to iExperts, are made by Apple Japan, something they’ve never seen before on iPhone batteries.

The logic boards for the new iPhones are quite compact in comparison to the one in the iPhone 5, and iExperts noted that the 5s and 5c boards share a similar design. The team also marveled at the “incredible functionality for such little circuitry” found in the Touch ID sensor on the 5s (below).

If you’re one of those people with an iPhone 4, iPod touch, iPod nano (sixth generation) or iPhone 5 that had a power switch failure, you’ll be happy to know that the switch assembly has been changed in the new iPhones.

The iExperts team will be posting more information on the chips located on the logic board later, so bookmark the page for additional information as it becomes available.

FCC filings hint at larger battery for iPhone 5s, 5c handsets

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Date: Thursday, September 12th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

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If you were hoping for a larger, longer-lasting battery on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c handsets, it looks like it’s on its way.

Per AnandTech and 9to5Mac, the FCC filings for the new iPhones to reveal that the iPhone 5s battery offers approximately 10 percent more capacity than its predecessor, while the 5c battery offers a more modest 5 percent gain.

Actual battery-life for the iPhone 5s will be interesting to see. While the handset’s beefier A7 CPU will consume more power, the M7 coprocessor that handles some of the background tasks should reduce battery consumption. How the two balance out is not yet known, though Apple did promise better battery-life than the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds Mavericks Developer Preview 6 to programmer community, include minor fixes

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Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013, 07:41
Category: News, Software

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Mavericks is still en route, folks.

Per MacNN, on Wednesday, Apple seeded the sixth Developer Preview of the next major upgrade of OS X, known as “Mavericks” (10.9) to developers. Apple appears to be back on its normal development cycle following the disruption of the Developer Center due to a security intrusion in July. The latest update comes two weeks after the fifth DP, which introduced iBooks for the Mac to the upgrade. Registered developers can download the software from the Mac App Store or Software Update. The final version is expected to arrive in September.

The update arrives with no significant reported enhancements, just bug fixes and minor tweaks. The final version will include new additions such as Finder Tabs, Apple Maps for OS X, and a number of processor-management enhancements that should further extend battery life for portable users, among other features.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen low cost iPhone may not include Siri, could replace iPhone 4 as base model

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Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 07:37
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The plastic low-cost iPhone may become Apple’s new overall base model.

Per AppleInsider, in a research note issued to investors on Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts Apple may scale back iOS 7 on a rumored low-cost iPhone, possibly hobbling the handset by deactivating features like Siri.

Recognizing recent rumors of a Sept. 10 iPhone announcement, Munster took the chance to update investors on his Apple product pipeline predictions for the rest of the year and into 2014.

The analyst’s expectations for the next-generation iPhone, dubbed by many as the “iPhone 5S,” are very much in line with rumors and reports coming from a multitude of sources. Aside from incorporating a fingerprint sensor into the home button, which Munster believes will be limited to user authentication, the 5S will feature the usual “S-series” component upgrades. These include increased processor performance, extended battery life, more memory, and other spec bumps.

While his iPhone 5S outlook is in line with mainstream rumblings, Munster’s thoughts on the rumored less-expensive “iPhone 5C” are a bit unconventional. Like others, he predicts the 5C will have a plastic casing, 4-inch display and slightly lower end internal components than the iPhone 5S. However, the analyst believes Apple will exclude software features when the handset launches, specifically the Siri voice recognizing virtual assistant.

Curiously, Munster cites the lack of Siri on the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 in his iPhone 5C prediction, but fails to mention the service was never part of iOS until Apple incorporated the feature in the iPhone 4S. Apple purchased Siri, which was formerly an iOS app, in April 2010, ultimately baking the technology into iOS 5 over a year later.

Siri was never officially activated on the iPhone 4 or earlier models, though a jailbreak proved the service could run on older hardware. It is thought that special noise cancellation tech implemented in certain A5 processors, used in the iPhone 4S, iPad mini and fifth-generation iPod touch, is needed for Siri to work optimally. Even with the latest iOS 6, Siri is still absent in the iPhone 4 and below.

As for Apple’s low-end handset offerings, Munster believes “it may make sense” for the company to discontinue the iPhone 4S product line instead of carrying the model over as a free-on-contract device. This would bring parity to the lineup, the analyst says, with the iPhone 5S, current iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C all sporting similar designs and screen sizes.

In this configuration, Munster sees the iPhone 5C as selling for an estimated US$300.

Finally, Munster agrees with the September iPhone event rumor, and sees October as a likely launch timeframe for both a new iPad and iPad mini. Further out, he predicts Apple to debut a new TV product before the end of 2013, while a larger-screened iPhone and so-called “iWatch” should hit store shelves by mid-2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mid-2013 Haswell-based MacBook Air owners cite volume fluctuation issue

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Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

This is why they invented firmware updates…

Per Macworld UK, a number of MacBook Air owners have taken to Apple’s Support Community forums to express concern over unexpected, and unwanted, changes in volume when viewing video content.

According to numerous posts, the issue presents itself in both first-party and third-party applications, such as QuickTime and Google’s Chrome. It is unclear whether the issue extends into other areas of OS X, though many of the replies to the thread started on June 21 pertain to watching videos.

A trigger or cause has yet to be discovered, though some users have found third-party volume control and enhancement apps like Boom can serve as a temporary fix while Apple works to resolve the problem.

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air lineup in June, concentrating on a significant boost to battery life instead of focusing on performance. With the new Airs, Apple also introduced the first Macs to boast 802.11ac “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” a next-generation wireless protocol that promises speeds up to 1300Mbps with the also new AirPort Express.

Previous to Friday’s news, both MacBook Air models were found to be running 802.11ac at speeds far less than advertised. It is thought that OS X is to blame for the artificial speed cap, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and it remains unresolved.

If you’ve seen this issue with your own mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.