Rumor: Apple gearing up supply chain for September launch of next-gen iPhone

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Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

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When there are rumblings in the supply chain, it sometimes leads to cool new stuff.

Per AppleInsider, a key Apple supplier has revealed that its largest North American customer is gearing up for the launch of a next-generation smartphone, suggesting Apple could be in the midst of preparing for a September launch of its next iPhone.

The comments come from Avago Technologies, the maker of custom wireless chips featured in Apple’s iPhone lineup. Analyst Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities interpreted them on Thursday as “signs of life” in Apple’s supply chain, and an indication of a likely September launch for a so-called “iPhone 5S.”

“Avago noted it is already seeing an initial ramp of a new product transition (we believe iPhone 5S) and expects a greater ramp in the following quarter (October quarter),” Um wrote in a note to investors. “We anticipate more positive supply chain news from Apple suppliers through the summer and as we get closer to product launch.”

The details put Apple’s next iPhone on track to launch a year after the iPhone 5, as that device was officially unveiled on Sept. 12 of last year. While some optimistic market watchers had hoped that Apple would launch its “iPhone 5S” at a sooner date, company CEO Tim Cook softened those expectations with comments made last month, when he signaled that major new products would arrive this fall.

Wells Fargo has maintained its “outperform” rating for AAPL stock, with a share valuation range of US$485 to US$525.

As for Apple’s next-generation iPhone hardware, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has claimed that Apple plans to embed a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button on its next handset. This addition would allow users to bypass manual password entry, and could even open up the possibility of new functionality such as secure e-wallet transactions.

Apple first signaled its interest in fingerprint scanning technology when it acquired Florida-based AuthenTec last year. That company’s flagship product was a “Smart Sensor” component that reads fingerprints and can be embedded into devices such as smartphones.

Beyond that, numerous reports have claimed that Apple’s 2013 iPhone will come with more color options beyond the current black and white offerings, while still other reports have claimed the device will include an improved camera that could capture pictures up to 12 megapixels in size.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple building GPU team from former AMD engineers according to LinkedIn profile spot checks

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Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013, 07:24
Category: Hardware, News

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This could lead to something interesting.

Per MacRumors, Apple has hired at least a dozen former AMD graphics engineers for its Orlando offices in recent months, according to a spot check of employees’ LinkedIn profiles.

The majority of hires, which include a graphics architect, hardware engineer and others, occurred in January of this year.

AMD laid off a number of employees last year in a corporate reorganization, and fired more in January. It seems likely that Apple hired a number of the laid off Orlando AMD engineers for a new team it’s building in the region.

The company has also posted new job listings for Site Managers to head GPU teams in both Orlando and Cupertino.

These hires and new listings are in addition to job listings posted last month for chip engineers for its Orlando Design Center.

Apple’s interest in GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) and CPUs coincides with an effort to develop more of its technology in-house. Apple is a licensee for ARM and Imagination Technology, which power the company’s iPhones and iPads.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone screen to feature “doubled” pixel count

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Date: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You know that pixel count you love on your iPhone 5?

It could double with the next generation of the iPhone.

Per Weiphone and Unwired View, Apple is planning to increase the resolution of a future iPhone model to 1.5 million pixels — double that of the pixel count on the current iPhone 5.

The details come from a report by Chinese-language Weiphone, which claims that the next-generation Retina display will be featured on Apple’s next-generation handset, whether it be known as the “iPhone 5S” or “iPhone 6.” The report claimed that the next iPhone will continue to have the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5.

In addition, the report claimed that the iPhone 5 will have an even thinner bezel than its current design, suggesting Apple will borrow design elements from its popular iPad mini. Finally, it was claimed that Apple’s next iPhone will begin shipping in September.

The current iPhone 5 has a pixel count of nearly 730,000 thanks to its screen resolution of 1,136 by 640 pixels. That works out to 326 pixels per inch on the 4-inch display.

Apple introduced the “Retina display” branding for its screens with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. That handset featured a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels, double that of its predecessors.

At the time, Apple’s Retina display was a market-leading feature for the iPhone. But since then, devices like the HTC One, with a 468-pixel-per-inch display, have provided intense competition.

The HTC One crams a 1080p-resolution screen, the equivalent of a full-fledged high-resolution television, into a 4.7-inch space. That’s more than 2 million pixels, putting it at a density substantially higher than Apple’s iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy to begin $50 discount off iPhone 5 beginning this Sunday

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 24th, 2013, 06:59
Category: iPhone, retail

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The shall be SAVINGS this holiday weekend!!!

Per AllThingsD, retailer Best Buy will be extending a US$50 discount on every current iPhone offering when purchased with a 2 year contract starting this Sunday. This promotion is said to make a 4 week run and will drop the price of an iPhone 5 down to just US$150.

Historically speaking, iPhones do not typically see many discounts until they near the end of their life cycle when retailers try to clear old stock. But the iPhone 5 has been on sale a couple times already, as low as US$127 from a Walmart in-store promotion. It’s believed that increased competition from low-cost smartphones and retailers attempting to drive traffic into stores are catalysts for these promotions.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen any spiffy Mac discounts for the holiday weekend, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad to receive rear-facing mic, thinner, lighter design

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Date: Friday, May 24th, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

A rear-facing mic might be in the next-gen iPad’s future.

Per Macotakara and AppleInsider, the fifth-generation iPad is expected to ship after Apple’s anticipated “iPhone 5S.” Reports have pegged Apple’s next iPhone for launch around September, which would be around a year after the iPhone 5 went on sale.

According to author Danbo’s sources, the next 9.7-inch iPad will gain a rear microphone next to the camera, much like Apple added to the iPhone 5 in 2012. The report noted that prototypes of the iPad mini also included rear microphones, but were not included in the final shipping product introduced last October.

While Apple apparently opted to remove the rear mic from the iPad mini in late stages of development, thus far it appears the microphone will remain on the next 9.7-inch iPad.

Earlier reports have claimed that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad will adopt many of the same design elements Apple adopted with the iPad mini, including a thinner bezel around the screen and more rounded edges. Those changes are expected to make the device 25 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner than its predecessor.

Among the internal changes expected is a “GF2” touch panel, which would make the touchscreen component of the iPad thinner. And improved power efficiency could also allow Apple to reduce the size of the iPad’s internal battery, which currently accounts for most of the device’s weight.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Repair costs for iPhone repairs on the rise, component prices cited

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Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, now this is interesting.

An article over on MarketWatch points out that Apple’s repair costs to fix an iPhone 5 with a broken screen have jumped to US$229 – more than the US$200 price of the device with a two-year contract, and more than a third of the US$650 cost of the phone without a contract. Select Apple stores offer the option of a US$149 repair. And for those who paid US$99 for AppleCare insurance, the replacement is just US$49.

The piece then cites that the replacement components for the iPhone 5 are much more expensive than similar parts for prior models — so expensive in fact that many independent repair services cannot compete. “Due to the high cost of replacement parts, we are not yet offering iPhone 5 repairs,” according to a statement on ComputerOverhauls.com, an online repair shop. “Currently, the Apple Store is the least expensive option for repairing damaged iPhone 5s.” Other services charge as much as US$250 for the repair.

Given current numbers, nearly one-third of iPhone users damaged their devices during 2012, according to a recent study by gadget insurer SquareTrade. Repairs have cost consumers nearly US$6 billion since the iPhone was launched in 2007 and apparently iPhones get abused more than iPads, only 10% of which were damaged, per the survey.

Despite this, iCracked — an independent firm that has technicians across the U.S. — charges half as much to fix an iPhone 4S screen (US$79 to US$99) as to fix an iPhone 5 (US$169 to US$199) thanks to tight control on iPhone 5 components in the market, Forsythe says. “Market forces determine the price,” he says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”

“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. As the iPhone 5 is larger than the 4, the cost for replacement parts rises, he says. “Apple is trying to get people to sign up for Apple Care for US$99 and to rely on their services at the Apple store,” he says, “If you don’t, that cracked screen could cost you at least US$230.”

Thanks to do-it-yourself kits, it’s possible to replace the screen on an iPhone 4 for less than a quarter of that price. Adam Carey, a New York-based mobile development consultant, bought a DIY kit on Amazon.com for US$25 and followed instructions on iFixit.com, an online repair manual. The procedure took him two hours. “It’s not like snapping on a cover,” he says. “It’s like performing surgery. You need pretty steady hands.”

If you’ve been repairing iPhones and noticed a jump in component prices, please let us know about your experience in the comments section.

Google to incorporate voice search feature into iOS Chrome app

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 06:34
Category: iOS, News, Software

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This could turn into something pretty nifty.

Per 9to5Mac, Google announced on Wednesday via its Chrome blog that a new update will soon be rolling out to its Chrome app for iPhone and iPad that will allow users to access voice search features previously limited to the Google Search app. Using the same omnibox currently included in the app, Google will soon allow users to tap a microphone icon to search using only their voice with a UI similar to the recently redesigned voice search on Mac.

Google said the updated Chrome app should be landing on the App Store in the coming days.

Google also noted that the updated iOS app would provide faster reloading of web pages and an option for third-party apps “to open links in Chrome and then return to the app with just one tap.”

Earlier today Google began rolling out revamped voice search functionality in the Chrome app for Mac users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Xbox One to feature improved iOS device, SmartGlass integration

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Date: Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013, 06:25
Category: Hardware, News, Software

Microsoft announced its upcoming Xbox One console yesterday.

And threw in some interesting iOS cooperation with it.

Per Mac|Life and Wired, Microsoft’s new gaming console will be “fully integrated” with Xbox’s SmartGlass application, thus allowing users of iPhones and iPads to connect seamlessly with the next generation of Microsoft’s popular console series.


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Introduced last year and allegedly downloaded by over 10 million people, SmartGlass currently allows users to interact with their Xbox 360 consoles in a number of limited ways, such as using the iPhone’s keyboard to type onscreen (a significant improvement over the hunt-and-peck nature of gamepad-based input), watching videos, and navigating menus.

Currently, it’s not too clear what Microsoft’s “fully integrated” service entails. Future versions of SmartGlass will apparently let users turn their iPhones or iPads into a “skeuomorphic remote control, able to emulate any other control device.” The Xbox One will also supposedly allow more devices to connect at once for multiplayer and shared experiences”.

Further details are expected to be revealed at this year’s E3 conference in Los Angeles from June 11-13.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to offer FaceTime connections over cellular for all LTE-compatible iPhones by end of 2013

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013, 06:59
Category: iPhone, News

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This could prove useful.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and The Verge, wireless carrier AT&T has indicated that all iPhone subscribers will be able to use FaceTime via a cellular connection by the end of 2013, as stated below:

“For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps. And by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers. Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end. Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the internet, such as Skype.”

AT&T was initially reluctant to enable FaceTime over cellular connection due to bandwidth concerns.

This past January, AT&T announced that it was enabling FaceTime over cellular to subscribers of its tiered data plans. Now, with its most recent announcement, iPhone users on AT&T who have grandfathered-in unlimited data plans will also be able to FaceTime to their hearts content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5S component photos leaked, could indicate more colors to choose from

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Date: Friday, May 17th, 2013, 06:18
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

A couple pictures may indicate a lot about the next-gen iPhone.

Over on Boy Genius Report, a number of leaked high-resolution photos of assorted components may indicate that Apple is looking to expand the color scheme the next-gen iPhone handset will be available in.

Earlier rumors have suggested that the iPhone 5S will include several internal changes such as a faster processor, a better camera and possibly even a fingerprint scanner that makes use of Apple’s AuthenTec acquisition. Nothing has been confirmed at this point, but leaked photos of redesigned internal components suggest that Apple is indeed planning an internal overhaul to improve various iPhone features and likely to make room for new components as well.


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BGR has obtained high-quality images of several internal iPhone 5S components from a source that asked not to be identified. The parts include the loud-speaker bracket, ear speaker bracket, vibrating motor assembly, Wi-Fi flex cable ribbon and SIM card tray from Apple’s upcoming seventh-generation iPhone.

The next-generation iPhone is also rumored to include a redesigned ear speaker bracket and a new loud-speaker bracket, which can be seen in BGR’s gallery.

Apple’s next-generation iPhone 5S is expected to launch this fall alongside iOS 7, which will reportedly feature a substantial user interface overhaul that does away with most textures in favor of flatter design elements.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.