Analyst: iPhone 5 shortage a result of new manufacturing techniques, in-cell displays

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 07:09
Category: iPhone, News

If you were wondering why it’s a bit hard to get your mitts on the new iPhone 5 you want, there’s been an update.

Per Bloomberg, Apple’s adoption of in-cell touchscreen panels for the iPhone 5 is the primary reason supplies of the new smartphone are constrained.

Analyst Ben A. Reitzes with Barlcays said in an note to investors that constraints on in-cell touch displays have been the “key issue” with iPhone 5 shipments. He said that iPhone 5 display supply is estimated to be just 10 million screens for the current, September quarter, while a “significant ramp” is expected to begin in the next, December quarter.

“We still believe Apple is facing significant production constraints due to a move toward in-cell display technology, which pushes a significant amount of units into the December and March quarters — a factor which limited sales this past weekend according to our checks,” Reitzes wrote.

When production of in-cell displays does pick up in the fourth quarter, Reitzes believes Apple will sell more than 45 million iPhones, resulting in 22 percent year over year growth.

The in-cell touch panels used in the iPhone 5 are believed to be manufactured by LG Display Co. and Japan Display Inc. Bloomberg reached out to those two companies, as well as Apple, but all of them declined to comment.

Apple announced on Monday that sales of the iPhone 5 exceeded 5 million in its first three days of availability. That represented a new record for the company, but also came in below Wall Street expectations.

In a statement, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook acknowledged that demand for the iPhone 5 is outstripping supply, and that his company is working to catch up with demand. Apple’s sales figures also do not take into consideration orders that are en route to customers, as Apple must deliver an iPhone before it can be counted as a sale.

The new iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor thanks in part to the in-cell touch display that Apple has adopted. Previous versions of the iPhone relied on glass-on-glass solutions that were thicker and heavier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hack discovered, Verizon iPhone 5 apparently unlockable for use on GSM networks

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:58
Category: Hack, Hardware, iPhone, News

Ok, this is interesting.

Hours after the iPhone 5 hit store shelves across the U.S. on Friday, it has reportedly been discovered that the CDMA Verizon version of the device can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks with a simple GSM micro SIM card modification.

Per the iDownloadBlog, it’s apparently possible to trim down and install a micro SIM card into the new Verizon iPhone 5, which was purchased under contract, and connect to AT&T’s HSPA+ “4G” network.

The publication contacted a Verizon representative who confirmed the handset is indeed unlocked, meaning it can use SIM cards from other carriers even under contract. This is encouraging to travelers who own a CDMA Verizon iPhone 5 but need to hop onto international GSM networks from time to time.

While the installation is anything but elegant, in this case requiring a paper clip and a piece of tape to hold the card in place rather than the supplied tray, AT&T and T-Mobile nano-SIMs are likely to have a better fit.

With the iPhone 5, Apple is implementing new nano-SIM cards that bring a 40 percent reduction in size compared to last-generation micro SIM cards.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users reporting scuffs, scratches on new iPhone 5 handsets

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Date: Monday, September 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You can’t win ’em all.

Per AppleInsider, an increasing number of iPhone 5 owners are reporting scuffs and other signs of damage to their newly-purchased smartphones right out of the box, with some miffed customers taking to the web in what is being dubbed “scuffgate.”

According to complaints posted to various forums and social media sites, a limited number of launch-day iPhone 5 units are being delivered straight from the factory with scuffs and dings.

While the exact percentage of affected iPhones is unknown, the issue appears to be significant enough to warrant its own hashtag on Twitter. The tongue-in-cheek “#Scuffgate” is a callback to the iPhone 4’s “antennagate” controversy which saw the then-new handset ship with an antenna design flaw that affected cellular performance.

Most of the reports are coming from users who bought the black and slate iPhone 5, which some claim is due to the anodizing process that colors the handset’s aluminum backplate. The speculation may be unfounded, however, as a number of white and silver units have also been affected. A more likely explanation is that both versions are affected equally, but the damage is more noticeable on the black and slate model as the scratches reveal the underlying silver-colored “raw” aluminum, a stark contrast to the anodized outer layer.

The cause of the damage is unknown, however similar reports of dings and scratches surfaced when the new iPad was released in March, possibly hinting at a manufacturing process flaw.

Not to be outdone, the cool cats at iFixit posted the following video to test the scuffability of the new handset:

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen scuffs on your new iPhone 5, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit, iLab Factory post initial iPhone 5 teardown reports

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Once again, the lunatics over at iFixit got their mitts on the new iPhone, got to work dissecting it and posted the results faster than anyone could believe it.

And, once again, they found some really cool stuff inside Apple’s newest handset.

Per iFixit’s full teardown report, the repair firm managed to snag a “black and slate” copy of the device in Australia, the first country to see official iPhone 5 availability, within the first hour of sales and proceeded to disassemble the device for its usual comprehensive teardown.

The first steps of revealing the innards of Apple’s most advanced smartphone include removing the small proprietary pentalobe screws that attach the unit’s 4-inch display to the aluminum “uni-body” back casing. A suction cup was used to easily lift the screen assembly away from the rear housing, a departure from the involved removal procedure seen with the iPhone 4 and 4S.

“Compare this to the iPhone 4s, where it took 38 steps to isolate the display assembly, and this iPhone may be the most repairable iPhone we’ve seen in a while,” iFixit wrote.

Next to be removed was the larger 3.8V, 5.45WH battery, which holds slightly more juice than the 3.7V, 5.3Wh part found in the iPhone 4S. In comparison, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III uses a 3.8V, 7.98Wh battery.

To the right of the larger power cell is the the logic board, which contains the high-performance A6 chip, baseband system, storage and a litany of other essential components.

With help from Chipworks, the logic board’s packages were identified:
– Skyworks 77352-15 GSM/GPRS/EDGE power amplifier module

– SWUA 147 228 is an RF antenna switch module

– Avago AFEM-7813 dual-band LTE B1/B3 PA+FBAR duplexer module

– Skyworks 77491-158 CDMA power amplifier module

– Avago A5613 ACPM-5613 LTE band 13 power amplifier

– Triquint 666083-1229 WCDMA / HSUPA power amplifier / duplexer module for the UMTS band

– STMicroelectronics LIS331DLH (2233/DSH/GFGHA) ultra low-power, high performance, three-axis linear accelerometer

– Texas Instruments 27C245I touch screen SoC

– Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controller

– Apple A6 Application processor

– Qualcomm MDM9615M LTE modem

– RTR8600 Multi-band/mode RF transceiver

According to iFixit, “many of the components that came out with the logic board are held in place with screws and brackets.”

Apparently Apple is very concerned with making sure that all the connectors are firmly seated and won’t rattle lose over time.

On the reverse is Apple’s A6 processor, which is said to be twice as fast as its A5 predecessor. A recent test using the SunSpider JavaScript benchmarking tool confirmed Apple’s new SoC is utilizing a different memory interface than normal ARM Cortex A9 chips as it outperformed identical processors based on the same ARM-patented technology.

The A6 is also though to be Apple’s first attempt at designing an ARM core in-house, however the internal architecture has yet to be investigated.

Wrapping up the teardown is a look at Apple’s new Lightning connector. There has been mixed emotions with the new plug, as the move away from Apple’s 30-pin design means the iPhone 5 may not work with legacy aftermarket accessories without an adapter. The company claims there was no way to make such a thin handset without the new connector, however, and said the standard is expected to be used for foreseeable future.

Overall, iFixit gives the iPhone 5 a “7 out of 10” score for repairability.

Since a video’s worth more than a thousand words, take a gander at what iFixit had to say:

Over on the Asian end of things, iLab Factory (via Mac Otakara) posted the following iPhone 5 teardown video:

Stay tuned for additional details and please let us know what you make of the iPhone 5 in the comments.

Analyst: Apple’s new Lightning connector should have product lifespan of 5-10 years

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 21st, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, News

If you’re irked about having to buy a new Lightning adapter for your iPhone 5 or updated iPod, at least it’ll be around for a while.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s new Lightning connector, introduced alongside the iPhone 5 last week, is thought to be a key longterm investment for the company, and will possibly have a lifetime of ten years.

In a research note shared with clients, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo broke down the cost of components used in the iPhone 5, and found the Lightning’s ASP (average sales price) to have risen the most compared to parts in the iPhone 4S.

Kuo notes the new Lightning connector’s cost of US$3.50 represents a huge 775 percent rise in ASP compared to the legacy 30-pin dock connector’s last price of US$0.40. Concurrently, the Lightning cable’s US$6.00 ASP is a 233 percent jump from the previous standard’s US$1.80 model.

The spike is to be expected as Lightning is a new technology, replacing the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector first introduced with the third-generation iPod.

While Apple’s new plug is similar in size to the Micro USB standard, Kuo believes the Lightning’s specs are higher, making the connector more difficult to manufacture. Included in the new high-tech part is a unique design which the analyst says is likely to feature a pin-out with four contacts dedicated to data, two for accessories, one for power and a ground. Two of the data transmission pins may be reserved for future input/output technology like USB 3.0 or perhaps even Thunderbolt, though this is merely speculation.

As for Lightning’s expected lifespan, the format is estimated to be in use for the next five to ten years, almost identical to the now-defunct 30-pin standard.

While ASP may be high in the first one to two years following deployment, the cost is acceptable as Apple will likely make back its investment in royalties from accessory sales. Apple is thought to be using a Texas Instruments chip for accessory authorization, making it difficult for third party manufacturers to build and sell Lightning-compatible products without paying royalties.

Looking at other critical parts in the iPhone 5, Kuo notes Apple’s quest to make high-quality products has boosted the ASP of other components as well, including the sapphire camera lens cover, upgraded baseband system, the A6 processor and the 4-inch in-cell touch panel. The second-highest ASP rise comes from the iPhone 5’s all-aluminum back casing’s $17 price which represents a 240 percent increase from the US$5 “metal band” design seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some iOS 6 users reporting Wi-Fi issues, Apple may have fixed bug

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:01
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Whenever you release a major new operating system for millions of active devices, there might be a few bugs to sort out…

Per AppleInsider, just hours after Apple released iOS 6 to the public on Wednesday, users are already complaining of Wi-FI connectivity issues on the company’s Support Communities website, possibly stemming from a network verification system flaw.

A number of users reported a “page not found” error when trying to browse in Safari on iOS 6. While the exact cause of the connectivity issues is unknown, it seems the problem started sometime after Apple rolled out the new mobile OS, as multiple reports poured in at nearly the same time.

It appears the problem is rooted in how iOS 6 handles network verification. In order to test whether an accessible Wi-Fi connection is present, Safari is led to a special page, which apparently has gone down.

Currently, Apple’s Support Communities site has a 6-page thread discussing the matter, and with every passing minute a new user seems to confirm that they too are having difficulties. One forum member claims his iPhone was working fine when he first downloaded iOS 6, only to find hours later that his handset was unable to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

Both iPhone and iPad users who upgraded to the new OS have reported experiencing the same issue.

Based on the claims, the issue has arisen from a network verification process baked into the software, wherein the OS attempts to load a dummy page on to detect if a users is connected to a paywalled network. Unfortunately, however, the verification page seems to lead to a 404 error, resulting in an inability to connect to Wi-Fi for many users.

Apple has been contacted regarding the alleged issue and may have resolved the issue by reactivating the webpage iOS 6 uses for network verification purposes.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T activates 4G LTE networks in 10 additional cities ahead of iPhone 5 release

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:47
Category: iPhone, News


It never hurts to launch the network before you launch the product.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has activated its 4G LTE network in 10 new major cities across the U.S. in anticipation of Friday’s launch of the iPhone 5, which is Apple’s first 4G LTE capable smartphone.

In the last week, AT&T has activated its 4G LTE network in the following markets:
– Birmingham, Ala.

– Cincinnati, Ohio

– Fayetteville, N.C.

– Honolulu, Hawaii

– Memphis, Tenn.

– Pittsburgh, Penn.

– Philadelphia, Pa.

– Sacramento, Calif.

– Seattle, Wash.

– Wilmington, Dele.

While the debut of AT&T’s 4G LTE networks coincides with the launch of a new iPhone, which is AT&T’s most popular smartphone, the press releases issued by the carrier make no mention of Apple’s iPhone 5. Instead, AT&T has focused on promoting some of its other 4G LTE capable devices: the Motorola Atrix HD, Sony Xperia ion, HTC One X, Samsung Focus 2, Nokia Lumia 900, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Pantech Element tablet.

The addition of 10 new markets comes only a few weeks after AT&T turned on its 4G LTE network in nine other markets. The carrier has promised that 34 more will gain 4G LTE coverage before the end of the year, including Denver-Boulder, Colo.; Albany, N.Y.; Detroit, Mich.; and El Paso, Tex.

Current iPhone 4S owners on the AT&T network will see their signal advertised as “4G” in many markets. AT&T began advertising its HSDPA network as 4G because it is capable of 4G-like speeds, though it is not a true fourth-generation network.

Apple has addressed this distinction by displaying an LTE symbol in the upper left corner of the iPhone 5 and third-generation iPad when the devices have a true 4G LTE signal.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.0 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 09:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

The wait is over.

On Wednesday, Apple released its long-anticipated iOS 6.0 update. The new operating system, a 912 megabyte update available through iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Apple designed vector based maps.
– Turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation).
– Real-time traffic information.
– Flyover for photo-realistic, interactive 3D views of major metro areas on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation), and iPod touch (5th generation).
– Local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews, and available deals.
– Siri integration for requesting directions and finding places along a route.

Siri improvements:
– Sports: scores, player stats, game schedules, team rosters, and league standings for baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey.
– Movies: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts.
– Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information.
– Send a Tweet.
– Post on Facebook.
– App launch.
– Eyes Free in supported automobiles.
– Local search available in Siri supported countries (availability may be limited during initial rollout).
– Additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish).
– Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation).

Facebook integration:
– Single sign-on from Settings.
– Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Center and Siri.
– Add location and choose audience for any post.
– View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts.
– View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar.
– Like content and see your friends’ Likes in App Store and iTunes Store.

Shared Photo Streams
– Share selected photos with the people you choose.
– Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV.
– Friends can like and make comments on individual photos.

– One place for boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets and other passes.
– Barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into movies and other actions.
– Passes displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location.
– Passes can be automatically updated.
– Supported on iPhone and iPod touch.

FaceTime improvements:
– FaceTime over cellular support for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation).
– Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch.

Phone improvements:
– Do Not Disturb to suppress incoming calls and notifications.
– ‘Reply with message’ option when declining a call.
– ‘Remind me later’ option based on time or location when declining a call.

Mail improvements:
– VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from important people.
– Flagged email mailbox.
– Insert photos and videos when composing email.
– Open password protected Office docs.
– Pull down to refresh mailboxes.
– Per account signatures.

Safari improvements:
– iCloud tabs to see open pages on all your devices.
– Offline Reading List.
– Photo upload support.
– Full screen landscape view on iPhone and iPod touch.
– Smart app banners.
– JavaScript performance improvements.

App Store and iTunes Store improvements:
– Updated store design.
– iTunes Preview history.
– Complete my season.
– Complete my album.

Game Center improvements:
– Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements.
– Post high-scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter.
– Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends.

Accessibility improvements:
– Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen.
– VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom.
– Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

– Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth.

– Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app.

– Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone.

– Clock app for iPad.

– Clock alarm with song.

– Search all fields in Contacts.

– Automatic movie mode for improved video sound quality.

– Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

– New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic.

– Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud.

– Bluetooth MAP support.

– Global network proxy for HTTP.

Features for China:
– Baidu web search.
– Sina Weibo integration.
– Share videos to Tudou.
– Share videos to Youku.
– Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin.

– Bug fixes.

iOS 6.0 requires an iPhone 3GS or newer, or a third-generation iPod touch or second or third-gen iPad to install and run.

As always, please let us know how iOS 6.0 works for you, no matter what the feedback may be.

Initial iSuppli report estimates production cost of 16GB iPhone 5 for $207

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The exact cost of an iPhone 5 is still under wraps until the handset’s release on Friday, but there’s still a pretty good guess in the meantime.

Per a report released by iSuppli on Tuesday, Apple apparently pays an estimated US$207 to build the base model 16GB iPhone 5, a cost slightly higher than last year’s iPhone 4S.

The market research company noted in its report that while previously-expensive NAND flash memory prices have dropped, the iPhone 5’s display technology and 4G LTE wireless components brings the build cost up to US$207, or US$8 more than consumer pricing after wireless carrier subsidies. In comparison, the bill of materials, or price without labor costs, for last year’s iPhone 4S was estimated to be $188.

In total, the iPhone 5 is estimated to have a BOM of US$199, while the 32GB model rises to US$209 and the 64GB version jumps to US$230. With a manufacturing cost of US$8 across the line, the final cost comes out to US$208, US$217 and US$238 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively.

A report last Friday from UBM TechInsights pegged the 16GB iPhone 5′ BOM to be around US$168, substantially lower than the IHS estimate.

The most expensive part in the iPhone 5 is the new 4-inch display which comes in at US$44. Apple is sourcing its screens from multiple suppliers, including LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp, as manufacturing the cutting-edge in-cell displays is complex and results in relatively low yield rates.

“The iPhone 5 makes a big evolutionary step in technology that we have not seen elsewhere with the use of in-cell touch sensing,” said IHS Senior Principal Analyst, Teardown Services, Andrew Rassweiler. “Most other smartphones LCDs use a completely distinct capacitive touchscreen assembly that is physically separate and placed on top of the display. The iPhone 5 partially integrates the touch layers into the display glass, making the product thinner and reducing the number of parts required to build display that senses touch without the need for a separate capacitive touch layer.”

Instead of sandwiching the touch sensing layer between glass substrates, Apple’s in-cell technology integrates the capacitive components with the LCD array, thus doing away with at least one layer of glass.

The company is expected to be using a US$34, LTE-capable wireless system from Qualcomm similar to the one found in the iPad 3. However, the new iPhone’s subsystem swaps out the first-generation MDM9600 baseband processor for the more advanced and power efficient second-generation MDM9615.

In previous years, NAND flash memory was one of the more costly components, however current prices have nearly halved in less than one year.

“NAND flash continues to come down in price as manufacturing processes for these memory chips become more advanced,” Rassweiler said. “And because it is the world’s largest buyer of NAND flash, Apple gets preferential pricing. Apple’s massive leverage in this market is reflected in our price estimate.”

Finally, the firm is estimating Apple’s new A6 processor is a bit more expensive at US$17.50 than the A5 found in the iPhone 4S, which cost US$15 in 2011.

A more comprehensive analysis of the new handset’s internal parts is expected to be completed later this week, when the iPhone 5 hits store shelves on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

2012 model iPod touch, iPod nano, third-party Lightning adapters begin to appear on Amazon

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 10:56
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, News

Even if Apple’s Lightning connector adapter pre-orders sold out in only a few hours, there’s always third party models to choose from.

Per AppleInsider, third-party adapters for Apple’s new Lightning connector have begun to appear online. In addition, the new iPod touch and nano can also be preordered from Amazon.

As of Monday, resellers on Amazon were offering a pair of new Lightning to 30-pin adapters made by third parties. The US$17.95 Nanotch adapter features a male Lightning port on one end, with a female legacy 30-pin device port on the other. The two are connected by a 20-centimeter cord.

Also available is the US$9.99 iTronz USB Sync Data/Charging adapter. It features a male Lightning plug on one side, with a female 30-pin port on the other, and the two are connected by a single solid plastic piece rather than a wire.

Apple sells its own first-party Lightning to 30-pin adapter and cable, but those accessories quickly sold out once they went on sale late last week.

In addition, as of Monday, Amazon began taking direct preorders for Apple’s updated iPod lineup. Available for purchase are the new fifth-generation iPod touch, the seventh-generation iPod nano with multi-touch display, and the fifth-generation iPod shuffle.

The new iPod lineup is advertised to ship anywhere between two and five weeks from now. Apple has said its new iPods will ship in October. The latest iPod touch and iPod nano, along with the iPhone 5, use the new Lightning port, which is 80 percent smaller than the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.