Child Labor Watch points toward initial low-cost iPhone production at Pegatron factory

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 10:14
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the iPhone, but at a lower cost…and plasticky.

Per AppleInsider and China Labor Watch, a new plastic iPhone is currently being tested Apple supplier Pegatron, and will soon go into mass production and hit the market, one factory worker claims.

Details of Apple’s anticipated low-cost iPhone were revealed in a report published by China Labor Watch on Monday. A section of the report details “A day in Pegatron,” with a worker detailing their activities on July 9.

On that day, the worker’s job was “to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines.” The worker revealed that the plastic iPhone will “soon be released on the market by Apple.”

“The new cell phone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important,” the worker wrote. “This makes our job more slow paced than in departments that have begun mass production schedules.”

In addition, China Labor Watch’s company profile notes that Pegatron is responsible for building “low-priced plastic iPhones” for Apple, in addition to the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

The report accuses Pegatron of violating labor regulations in China, as well as international labor laws and Apple’s own standards. Specifically, Pegatron is said to have work weeks that exceed Apple’s 60-hour limit, while some employees have allegedly had their pay withheld for working short shifts.

The details also come as an image published over the weekend claimed to show the retail packaging for a product called the “iPhone 5C.” Some have speculated that the “C,” if the name is accurate, could refer to “color,” as the device is expected to come in a range of colors.

Well-connected insider Ming-Chi Kuo revealed last week that Apple is on track to launch its so-called “iPhone Lite” in early September. The device is expected to be essentially a slightly thicker iPhone 5 with a plastic body.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Purported “iPhone Lite” case video surfaces

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Date: Friday, July 26th, 2013, 09:56
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The rumors never really stop and if there’s video to go with them, even better.

Per MacRumors, a recent posting of the purported “iPhone Lite”/”iPhone Plastic” has surfaced wherein Michael Kukielka shows off what he claims is the actual shell for the low-cost iPhone and places it next to several previous iPhone models, revealing that the budget phone may have roughly the same dimensions as the current iPhone 5.

The shell Kukielka handles in the video is white, although we’ve previously covered another rumor that alleges the phones will come in a variety of colors, including navy blue, gold, gray, pink, green, blue, yellow, and orange. It’s also slightly thicker than the existing iPhone 5 shell, well in line with supposedly leaked designs that suggest the dimensions sit at around 8.5 mm thick, 124.4 mm tall, and 59.2 mm wide.

The long-rumored low-cost iPhone is said to be primarily intended for countries overseas, such as India, where Apple’s popular smartphone has yet to secure as steady of a foothold as devices carrying Google’s rival Android system. The unit is expected to sell for around US$300-US$500, and MacRumors relates that carrier subsidies could bring that price down to around US$99 where such subsidies are offered.

And now, for your consideration, the video in all its glory:



As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple advises Chinese customers to avoid counterfeits, opt for genuine Apple products after charger-related incidents

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 25th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s best to stick with the genuine article.

After a pair of iPhone-related electrocutions in China allegedly caused by unauthorized third-party chargers, Apple has added a section to its Chinese website helping users identify official iOS device chargers as well as advised users to charge its devices with genuine Apple chargers according to CNET.

The page offers a look at official charger designs for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, and iPad 2.

The website notes that Apple “always” puts the safety of its users first, and that products are “subject to stringent safety and reliability testing.” The official chargers that come packaged with new iPhones and iPads are also designed to meet government safety standards from around the world.

The site comes after a pair of dangerous charger-related incidents occurred in China this month. In the more serious example, a woman died while using an iPhone 5 that was plugged into the wall to charge with a non-Apple adapter.

In the second incident, a man ended up in a coma after he was accidentally electrocuted using a third-party charger with his iPhone 4. It was said that the man was using a “counterfeit” adapter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint partners with Raketu Communications, works to bring caption calling feature to iOS devices via app

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

This could be interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Sprint on Tuesday announced the availability of a new accessibility feature aimed at helping iPad and iPhone owners on that network with hearing loss better use their devices.

Partnering with Raketu Communications, Sprint has developed Wireless CapTel for installation on the phones and tablets of the hearing-impaired. Wireless CapTel allows users to read conversations with real-time word-for-word captions displayed on the screen of their phone.

Users download the Wireless CapTel app from the iTunes App Store. The app is free with an Everything Data plan on Sprint.

After installation of the app, calls to the device will automatically connect to the CapTel service when an outgoing call is made. The service listens to what the caller on the other end says and automatically transcribes that into text the user can read.

The service does require that users give out the special number that routes calls through CapTel in order to have all calls transcribed.

Wireless CapTel is a Sprint-exclusive feature, and the carrier is rolling it out for some Android devices as well.

The CapTel app requires an iOS device running iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new Wireless CapTel service on your iPhone and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Q3 2013 numbers, cites $35.3 billion in revenue, $6.9 billion profit

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Finance, News, retail

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There wasn’t massive growth, but the numbers were still good.

Per Macworld, Apple reported sales of US$35.3 billion, with net profit at US$6.9 billion for its third fiscal quarter. That translated to earnings of US$7.47 per diluted share. Apple’s revenue marked a record for the June quarter, ticking up 1 percent from the $35 billion Apple posted in last year’s third quarter. Still, profits fell 22 percent year-over-year, down from US$8.88 billion in 2012. Apple also reported a drop in profit during its fiscal second quarter of 2013.

With a tiny increase in revenue but a drop in profit, you’d rightly conclude that Apple’s gross margin dropped: For the quarter, it was 36.9 percent, versus 42.8 percent on the year-ago quarter. That’s because Apple’s most popular products now have lower margins than the top-sellers a year ago.

The company also says it has issued US$18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

While Apple generally keeps a tight lid on future product announcement, company officials did reiterate a point made during its second-quarter earnings announcement in April—that the company plans to roll out new products starting this fall and into the next year. “We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products,” CEO Tim Cook said in an statement accompanying Apple’s earnings announcement.”

Apple says it sold 32.2 million iPhones—a record for the June quarter. That’s up from 26 million iPhones in the year-ago period. For the U.S., iPhone sales rose 51 percent year-over-year, Apple says.

The picture was less rosy for iPad sales, but Apple has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the 14 percent drop in tablet sales from last year’s third quarter. A year ago, Apple introduced the third-generation iPad and enjoyed a full quarter’s worth of sales to the tune of 17 million units. This quarter, sales fell to 14.6 million iPads.

Still, Apple has plenty of reason to remain bullish on the iPad. Company chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that the iPad ranked tops in a 2013 U.S. tablet satisfaction survey by JD Power and Associates. And during the quarter, the company inked a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S., to roll out iPads to 640,000 students.

In fact, the iPad got the bulk of the credit for a strong quarter of sales to U.S. schools. According to Oppenheimer, the last three months generated the highest quarterly revenue ever for Apple’s U.S. education institution business.

Mac sales also fell in the quarter, down 7 percent from last year to 3.8 million units. Still, Oppenheimer pointed out that the 3.8 million Macs sold beat Apple’s own expectations. And Apple’s sales still were ahead of the total PC market, which saw sales contract by 11 percent according to estimates from research firm IDC. By Apple’s math, the Mac gained market share during the quarter.

The Mac was one of the few product lines to see any changes during the quarter, with Apple updating its MacBook Air lineup at the beginning of June by adding new Intel processors. Company executives had little to say about any impact those new laptops had on overall Mac sales, but Oppenheimer did call it the most successful MacBook Air launch to date, adding that customer response was great.

But during the call, executives implied that there were better things to come. Oppenheimer noted that June’s Worldwide Developers Conference included previews of both the Mac Pro and the next version of OS X, code-named Mavericks.

The iTunes Stores—which includes the App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore, and the music, movies, and TV sections of iTunes—generated $4.3 billion in billings, Oppenheimer said, culminating in the best week and best month ever for App Store. That translated to quarterly revenue of US$2.4 billion, up 29 percent year over year. Total quarterly revenue from iTunes, software, and services generated US$4 billion in revenue.

Oppenheimer said that Apple now has over 320 million iCloud accounts, and 240 million Game Center accounts.

As for brick-and-mortar retail efforts, the Apple Store saw revenue of US$4.1 billion for the quarter, virtually unchanged from the year-ago quarter. Oppenheimer reported that Apple saw 16,000 visitors per store each week.

For the quarter, Apple had an average of 405 stores, with average revenue per store at US$10.1 million, down US$1 million from the year-ago quarter. Apple opened six stores across five countries during the quarter, giving it 408 stores around the globe; 156 of those outlets are outside the U.S.

The company plans to open nine new stores during the September quarter, giving it 27 new openings during the 2013 fiscal year. It’s not just about new stores, however: Apple says that it relocated four of its stores to more appealing spots; it will complete 23 such relocations before the end 2013 fiscal year in September.

Where stockholders are concerned, the company’s Board of Directors has announced another cash dividend, this one at US$3.05 per share of common stock, payable on August 15 to any shareholder as of August 12.

For the next quarter, Apple is predicting revenue between US$34 billion and US$37 billion, with gross margins between 36 and 37 percent. That sales figure would put Apple’s performance in line with the US$36 billion in revenue it reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the coming quarter, Apple also predicts operating expenses will be between US$3.9 billion and US$3.95 billion, with a tax rate of 26.5 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst sees late September launch date for iPhone 5S, earlier launch dates for next-gen iPads, Haswell-based Retina Display MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013, 06:06
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

The guesses as to when the next-gen iOS devices are out.

Per AppleInsider, according to a research note obtained by the web site, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S” is seeing setbacks in the production of “numerous components,” as well as handset assembly, meaning the next-gen smartphone will be available in limited amounts following a late September launch.

“While shipments forecasts may still grow sharply in 4Q13, we are concerned iPhone 5S may face the same problem as its predecessor, namely that by the time supply matures, demand will already have waned, hurting shipments,” Kuo writes.

The analyst also sees shipments of the much-rumored low-cost iPhone being below expectations, though the device will be available sooner than the iPhone 5S due to a less complicated manufacturing process. Kuo sees the model being priced at US$450 to US$550, with shipments capped at 26 million units for 2013. Market consensus had shipments at 30 to 40 million units.

As for Apple’s tablet plans, Kuo notes a redesigned 9.7-inch version will be the “highlight of iPad in 2013,” as no new iPad mini model is set for release this year. The analyst says Apple is unlikely to debut an anticipated Retina display version of the 7.9-inch tablet with A7 SoC this year. Due to higher energy demands attached to the Retina panel, as well as the components required to improve power efficiency in such a small form factor, Apple will likely shoot for a launch in March or April 2014.

Interestingly, Kuo points to a possible cheaper iPad mini running a legacy A5 processor. That device could still see release by the end of 2013, December at the earliest, but given the model is unlikely to see a substantial price cut compared to the current iPad mini, Apple will most likely debut the tablet next year.

Finally, the Mac lineup will see continued upgrades to Intel’s Haswell silicon in the coming months. Apple’s Retina display MacBook Pro is looking at a mid-September refresh, while the iMac will get the chips in late August.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple testing larger-screen versions of upcoming iPhone, iPad devices

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Date: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

Maybe there’s money to be made in the larger display market.

Per the Wall Street Journal and 9to5Mac, Apple and its suppliers are reportedly testing versions of the iPad and iPhone with larger displays.

Apple and its Asian component makers are testing larger screens for iPhones and tablets, officials at the company’s suppliers say.

Due to mounting competition from hardware competitors like Samsung, a larger-screened iPhone has long been expected and rumored. However, this is one of the first specific claims for a larger sized iPad. In March of this year, an unverified claim emerged for a 12.9-inch iPad model being in the works with a rather unlikely name. The report pointed to a display “measuring slightly less than 13 inches diagonally.”

A June report claimed that Apple and its suppliers are testing versions of the iPhone with both 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch screens. With Apple likely releasing a new iPhone with the same design as the iPhone 5 later this year, it seems likely that Apple’s 2014 iPhone will include significant design changes. The WSJ report does not specify screen sizes for the future iPhones.

The 2013 iPhone update, likely known as the “iPhone 5S”, will include an improved camera system, better chip, and potentially a slow-motion camera mode and fingerprint sensor.

As for today’s larger iPad claims, as Apple moves forward in its post-PC initiative, and as Mac sales dwindle, larger iPads that could replace more Mac features seem plausible.

In 2012, Apple slightly enlarged the iPhone display size by increasing the screen to 4-inches diagonally. Apple also shrunk the iPad by debuting a 7.9-inch model called the iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon follows trend, announces Edge smartphone upgrade program

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 07:46
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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If you’re a Verizon aficionado, this isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Per AppleInsider, in response to similar offerings from rivals AT&T and T-Mobile, Verizon on Thursday unveiled its new Edge smartphone upgrade program, offering subscribers the ability to upgrade to a new handset after six months.

Verizon Edge is pitched as a “flexible equipment payment plan,” allowing customers to spread the retail price of a new phone over a 24-month period. If users pay 50 percent of the retail cost of their smartphone, they can upgrade to a new phone in as soon as six months.

The new program is available for any smartphone that Verizon offers, including Apple’s iPhone lineup. Customers choose the phone they want along with a month-to-month service plan.

The full retail price of the handset is then divided over two years. Customers pay the first month of that plan at the time of purchase.

When a customer upgrades to a new phone after six months, the 24-month payment period starts over again. Verizon Edge, which launches for Share Everything customers on August 25, does not include any service contracts, finance charges or upgrade fees.

The announcement comes only a few days after Verizon’s main rival, AT&T, announced its own similar plan, dubbed Next. With AT&T Next, customers can upgrade their smartphone or tablet every 12 months with no down payment and no activation or upgrade fees.

Starting July 26, AT&T will allow customers to spread the cost of a new smartphone or tablet over a 20-month period as part of their monthly wireless bill. Subscribers will have the option to trade in their device and upgrade to a new model after one year.

Both AT&T and Verizon followed in the steps of T-Mobile, which unveiled its own program called Jump last week. That service allows customers to upgrade their smartphone as often as two times per year at an added cost of US$10 per month.

T-Mobile Jump allows customers to pay the same subsidized price for a new smartphone as a new customer. Subscribers are required to wait at least six months after enrollment, after which they will be able to trade in their phone and upgrade to a new model twice a year.

Verizon’s announcement on Thursday leaves out only Sprint as the only carrier among the “big four” wireless providers in the U.S. that does not offer an early upgrade subscription program.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases native Outlook Web Application for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 08:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

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You may not love it, but your workplace does and Microsoft finally released a native version for iOS.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released two different native versions of its Outlook Web Application for iOS, one for iPhone and one for iPad. OWA for iOS connects to the email, calendar, and contacts of Office 365 of business subscribers giving them complete access to their Outlook on the go. Beyond those basic tools the app features push notifications and a powerful voice search that can access your contacts or bring up your calendar.

iOS for iPhone and iPad requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Top three Russian wireless providers drop iPhone over subsidies, other costs

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:29
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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If you’re headed to Russia and need to pick up an iPhone, your options may have become a bit more limited, comrade.

According to Fortune, three major Russian wireless providers have stopped carrying Apple’s iPhone, with the largest telecom, MTS, dropping the handset due to the high subsidy costs associated with being an Apple partner carrier.

As reported last week, Russia’s largest provider by subscribership, MTS, announced that it would be dropping the iPhone from its lineup, saying subsidies and marketing costs were to blame.

“Apple wants operators to pay them huge money, subsidizing iPhones and their promotion in Russia,” said MTS CEO Andrei Dubovskov. “Now it’s not beneficial for us. It’s good we stopped selling the iPhone as these sales would’ve brought us a negative margin.”

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt speculates three factors played a part in the “big three’s” decision to ditch Apple’s handset. First, Russian carriers are limited by the federal agency Rospechat, which does not allow subsidies on the same level as seen in the U.S. For example, MTS is not able to offer an iPhone 5 for US$199.

Duties and taxes are also higher than normal for Europe, with an unlocked 16GB iPhone 5 selling for roughly US$925 on on the just-opened Russian Online Apple Store, or US$276 more than an identical U.S. variant. Apple says US$140 goes to Russian VAT, while the remaining US$129 is for foreign exchange rates, import duties, and channel mark-up.

Finally, Apple’s contract requirements, specifically those pertaining to marketing, are said to be extremely stringent. Because the contract terms are unknown, it is impossible to tell whether Russian carriers are subject to any special clauses.

The future of the iPhone in Russia is unclear, though estimates from IDC suggest that demand for the handset was already on the decline, dropping to 8.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013, down from 9 percent in 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.