A6 processor found to vary speeds for best possible performance

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Processors

They say the A6 processor has some cool tricks up its sleeve.

They A6 processor doesn’t have sleeves, but it does have some interesting performance variations. No sleeves, though.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, one possible reason the iPhone 5 has such great battery life is the clever way the A6 changes its clock speed. While originally thought to be clocked at 1GHz, the chip has been clocked at 1.1GHz as well as 1.3GHz by Current Editorials.

While 9to5Mac saw the chip’s speed drop as low as 550MHz, this seemed to do more with an as-yet-updated Geekbench app testing the chip (which also resulted in the 1GHz assumption). A Geekbench update seems to paint a different picture now. By all accounts it appears the chip can change “speeds,” however, resulting in better battery life and dynamically tuning itself to the demand for CPU.

Nifty stuff…now if Apple could just release a much-improved iOS 6 Maps app, most of its problems would be over and it could sit and relax with a margarita this Friday.

Initial tests show forthcoming OS X 10.8.2 update may help resolve battery life issues

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Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 06:30
Category: News, Software

They may not be scientific tests, but they prove a point.

Per the intensely cool cats at The Mac Observer, a set of tests published on Monday claim to show significant a boost in MacBook battery life using a new developer build of OS X Mountain Lion, with the latest beta showing an 85-minute increase from the current 10.8.1.

The unscientific test from The Mac Observer pitted numerous revisions of OS X, from 10.6 Snow Leopard to 10.8.2 Mountain Lion developer build 12C35, against each other to determine how the operating system effects battery life.

The test used a 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro running a 2.0 GHz i7 processor with 8 GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 6490M GPU and two internal hard drives, an OCZ Vertex 4 64 GB SSD and a Seagate Momentus 750 GB HDD.

Each operating system was tested at full charge, with all applications and services disabled save for Wi-Fi, screen adjusted to 50 percent brightness with display set for continuous use and screen saver disabled. A moderate workflow was simulated using a custom Automator application, which repeated until the battery was fully drained.

Using OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard as a baseline, the compiled test data showed a significant hit to battery performance with the introductions of 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion. Upon release, Lion lost over 40 minutes of battery life and took three revisions to regain Snow Leopard power efficiency. In contrast, Mountain Lion saw a huge 105 minute loss in battery performance when it was released in July, with the latest 10.8.1 version moving the OS only 30 minutes closer to baseline.

With OS X 10.8.2, however, battery life is not just brought back in line with Snow Leopard levels, but the OS actually outperforms its predecessor by eight minutes. This marks an 88.5 minute savings in power consumption from the most recent 10.8.1 version of Mountain Lion.

It was previously reported that Apple’s Mountain Lion was causing battery life issues for many users, with some MacBook Air owners seeing their batteries lasting half as long as when OS X 10.7 Lion was installed. Subsequent tests of the latest public version of OS X, Mountain Lion 10.8.1, showed Apple engineers were working on a fix as battery life was substantially improved. If Monday’s tests are accurate, OS X 10.8.2 will bring further battery life improvements, perhaps besting even the legacy OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

While the final public version of OS X 10.8.2 may not boast power savings identical to the home-brew test, the developer builds are promising and show Apple is taking an aggressive stance in solving the battery degradation issues seen at Mountain Lion’s launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the current OS X 10.8.2 beta and have any feedback about battery life under the forthcoming operating system revision, please let us know in the comments.

Developer cites OS X 10.8.1 beta as substantially improving Apple notebook battery life

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Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2012, 17:54
Category: battery, News, Software

Come the OS X 10.8.1 update, your Apple notebook’s battery life could improve significantly.

Per Softpedia, substantial improvements were discovered by an unnamed developer after installing OS X 10.8.1. Previously, the developer’s MacBook was reportedly showing a battery life of 4 hours and 5 minutes after a full charge, but installing the beta software increased the advertised battery life to over 8 hours.

The details suggest Apple is working to fix battery life issues that some users have reported since the release of Mountain Lion on the Mac App Store in July.

Those complaints were later validated by a series of tests conducted by Ars Technica. Their unscientific data showed that Apple’s new operating system drains batteries significantly faster than its predecessor, OS X 10.7 Lion.

While Apple has not publicly commented on any battery issues with Mountain Lion, a number of users who have posted on Apple’s official community forum have said that company representatives reached out to them and obtained system information in an attempt to fix the issue.

Only certain MacBook models have been reported by users to experience the battery drain issue introduced with the launch of Mountain Lion. Some others have said that their battery life actually increased since updating to OS X 10.8.

The first pre-release beta of OS X 10.8.1 was supplied to Apple’s developer community earlier this month. Documentation accompanying Build 12B13 revealed it aims to correct a display noise issue when using Thunderbolt, but made no mention of battery life.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Ars Technica testing shows evidence of lowered battery life under Mountain Lion for some MacBook Pro users

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Date: Thursday, August 9th, 2012, 05:56
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Well, patches and updates DO tend to exist for a reason…

Per Ars Technica and a test conducted by the web site, there may be evidence that Apple’s new operating system is draining batteries significantly faster than the previous OS X Lion, as the publication’s test unit lost some 38 percent of runtime after having installed Mountain Lion.

In a series of unscientific tests, a MacBook Pro with Retina display was run on battery power both with and without Mountain Lion installed. Ars was able to hit just over eight hours of runtime with Lion and the integrated Intel HD4000 GPU, meaning the computer wasn’t leveraging the discrete and power-hungry NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M. With Mountain Lion installed and using the same settings, however, runtime dipped to around five hours.

The test was conducted a number of times, each using the same applications under what was described as a “daily workload.” Being used actively were Safari, Chrome, Twitter, iChat, TextEdit, Photoshop, Mail and Outlook, among others while Dropbox and gfxCardStatus ran in the background. As far as systems settings, Wi-Fi was activated while Bluetooth was turned off and screen brightness was set to half-strength.

Mountain Lion’s Activity Monitor was used to check CPU usage and, while there were occasional spikes when reading or writing files, loading web pages or other user-initiated operations, the processor was usually below five percent capacity. This is contrary to one account from an Apple Communities forum member who noted a heightened CPU temperature when the computer was idle.

A 49-page Apple Support Communities thread fist started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion was released, chronicles a number of battery issue complaints from users who recently installed Apple’s new OS.

A few forum members suggested the problem lies with one of Mountain Lion’s new features like Power Nap, while others have found limited success with resetting their machine’s system management controller, but a legitimate fix has yet to be discovered.

Interestingly, only certain machines are affected by the purported battery drain issue and some users are even reporting their battery life increased after installing the new operating system.

Apple has yet to release an official statement, but a number of forum members affected by the issue claim Apple representatives reached out to obtain system information in an attempt to remedy the problem.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit repair guide posits $500 estimate to replace Retina Display MacBook Pro battery

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 13:22
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

If you want to replace the battery on your brand new 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro, it’s going to get pricey.

Per MacNN, the newly-published iFixit repair guide for the Retina MacBook Pro breaks tasks down by component, such as the logic board, left and right fans, or the SSD. Of special interest though is the battery, which iFixit estimates could cost US$500 to replace “if technicians follow the safer Apple-suggested procedure and replace the entire upper case assembly along with the battery.”

In an earlier teardown, iFixit called the Retina Pro the “least repairable laptop” it had ever taken apart. This is mostly because Apple has gone to extreme measures to keep the computer thin. The battery, for instance, is glued into the case instead of using screws, and the different parts of the display assembly have been merged together, dropping a glass protection layer. Even opening the chassis can be a problem, since Apple uses an unusual pentalobe screw type to hold the lower case together.

So, yes, the Retina Display MacBook Pro can be repaired by the user, even if iFixit does feel that some trepidation is warranted…

Apple puts third-gen iPad on sale, offers $50 off for refurbished units

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 08:41
Category: iPad, News, retail

You can’t knock a discount and there’s some decent refurbished stuff out there…

Per MacNN, Apple has begun selling refurbished third-generation iPads for the first time, a check of the company’s online store shows. The discount is a flat US$50 for each model, regardless of capacity or 4G support; whereas a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad is knocked down to US$449 as a refurb, for instance, a 64GB 4G iPad only drops to US$779. Each unit includes a one-year warranty as well as a new battery and shell.

The availability of refurbished units tends to mark a later phase in an Apple product’s lifespan, since demand is no longer so intense that fresh units sell as quickly as they can be produced. Apple also tends to let a certain number of refurb units stockpile before putting them online, and often this stockpile can persist after a next-generation device is released. The first-generation iPad continued to be available as a refurb long after the iPad 2 debuted; currently Apple is still selling 32 and 64GB iPad 2s, even though only 16GB iPad 2s are being actively manufactured.

If you were waiting to snag a third-generation iPad, now might be the time and it’ll be interesting to see what’s around the corner.

iFixit posts DIY repair guides for Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks, advises caution during process

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 08:00
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The MacBook Pro with the Retina display is a beautiful thing, but iFixit has been hesitant about repairing the unit.

Per Engadget, iFixit has posted a total of 16 new guides to show users how to disassemble or remove those parts that stand a realistic chance of leaving the system unscathed.

While that does include some key components, iFixit continues to fly some caution flags: getting to one part often requires taking apart others, and removing the battery carries the very real possibility of permanent damage. If you’d still prefer to upgrade the SSD yourself (when an option) than pay Apple more for a custom order, there’s now a helping hand for your thriftiness.

So, yeah, be careful if you’re taking apart your nifty new MacBook Pro with the Retina display, take it slow and iFixit is there to lend you a hand.

Users complain of shorter battery life after Mountain Lion install, Apple reportedly launching investigation of issue

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 12:15
Category: battery, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

This is either the end of the world or a firmware update that may need to happen.

Per AppleInsider, a number of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners who updated to the recently-released OS X Mountain Lion are complaining of battery performance issues, with some reporting their batteries only last half as long as when OS X 10.7 Lion was installed.

Since the first complaints surfaced in an Apple Support Communities thread started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion launched, the number of reportedly affected MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners has grown to the point where Apple has supposedly initiated an investigation. As of this writing the thread, titled “Battery life dropped considerably on Mountain Lion” now stands at 15 pages.

While most users are seeing battery life drops of about one to two hours, some cases claim performance has fallen to less than 50 percent as their machines are only capable of staying on for a little over two hours.

Community members have been trying a variety of methods to remedy the issue, from re-installing the software to turning off some of Mountain Lion’s new features like Power Nap, but the attempts have yet to produce a fool-proof solution. Some members have seen limited success in resetting the machine’s system management controller (SMC), though the battery issue crops up again after continued use.

Many users are reporting heightened CPU temperatures even when the machine is at idle, possibly pointing to a backend program management problem, while others are seeing battery drain when the system is sleeping.

Apple has taken notice of the complaints and, according to one community member, sent out a questionnaire on Friday in an attempt to pinpoint the problem.

OS X Mountain Lion launched last week, bringing with it over 200 new features including tighter iCloud integration, the Messages app, Notification Center, Facebook integration, Dictation, AirPlay Mirroring and Game Center.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And, as always, if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Photos of purported next-gen iPhone surface, show fully assembled state

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 06:40
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

It had to happen sometime.

Per the web blog of Japanese repair company iLab Factory, pictures of an alleged fully-assembled next-generation iPhone hit the web on Sunday, offering what could be the most detailed look at Apple’s upcoming device yet.

The photos depict what is supposedly a complete next-generation iPhone built from leaked parts sourced from China.

The purported unit pieces together previously-seen components including the smaller 19-pin dock connector first rumored in June and 4-inch display and a relocated headphone jack. The site notes that the home button’s finish has been modified and feels to be improved. A report in April found a supposedly leaked home button had been slightly redesigned internally to accomodate changes made to the screen and case.



While all of the external parts are in place, most of the handset’s innards are missing with only power and sensor flex cables and accompanying home button circuitry installed. This lack of integral electronics, such as cameras, logic board and battery, hint the supposedly-leaked parts may have come from an upstream supplier rather than an assembly plant.

Pictures of the unit’s casing show the two-tone aluminum design first seen in early June, though noticeably absent is the nano-SIM card tray purportedly leaked in May.

The unit’s front seems to sit tightly with the uni-body casing which, unlike the current generation iPhone 4S, features a slightly beveled edge. Side shots show the expected volume rocker button assembly and hold switch as well as a sleeker profile compared to existing iPhones.

Making a reappearance is the small hole located beween the camera assembly and the unit’s LED flash, a feature which was rumored to be removed in final production models.

As mentioned above, much of the internals are absent, however what is in place yields some insight into how Apple plans to utilize the cramped space. The site notes three screw anchors on the back plate will likely hold the display in place while four screw anchors located on the unit’s right wall and six on the left will most likely secure integral components as the device can no longer be opened by removing case-back. Also new are four screw holes at the top of the case near the power button though their use remains a mystery.

Overall, the site points out the alleged device boasts a high-quality milled aluminum feel consistent with all Apple products and makes special note of the unit’s thinness.

Apple is rumored to announce a follow-up to the iPhone 4S sometime this fall with one analyst estimating an early-September launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Retina Display MacBook Pro battery more expensive than previous iterations

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Date: Monday, June 18th, 2012, 09:15
Category: battery, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Apple’s new Retina Display MacBook Pro may be snazzy, but it isn’t cheap to fix if the battery fails.

Per Macworld, the battery on the current model has been priced at 54 percent more expensive than the previous iteration. Apple updated the pricing list for MacBook battery replacements, showing that servicing the new model’s battery will run US$199 before tax.

Some MacBook Pro notebooks with built-in batteries require a replacement battery two or three years down the line. Since all of Apple’s latest models do not feature a user-serviceable battery slot, you have to take it to the Genius Bar to get it serviced. This costs US$129 for 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros, but the Retina MacBook Pro features a higher price.

A replacement battery for the Retina MacBook Pro will cost you US$199 before taxes, Apple’s price list shows—54 percent more than that of previous models. In comparison, the cost of servicing the battery on the now-retired 17-inch MacBook Pro, which featured a larger battery than its smaller notebook counterparts, was US$179.

iFixit’s teardown of the US$2200 15-in Retina MacBook Pro gives a few hints on the reasoning behind the price increase. The battery has 95 watt hours (Wh) at 10.95 V, compared to last year’s 77.5 Wh battery, and instead of being screwed into the machine, it’s glued into place, making it more difficult to replace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.