Apple signs iPhone 4, 4S, deals with three additional regional U.S. carriers, announces May 18th launch date

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Date: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 12:21
Category: iPhone, News

If you were hoping for additional regional suppliers for the iPhone 4S, you’re in luck.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has finished several deals with smaller regional carriers in the U.S., as Kentucky’s Bluegrass Cellular, California’s Golden State Cellular, and Kansas’ Nex-Tech Wireless will begin offering the iPhone 4S on May 18.

The iPhone 4S will be available starting at US$149 for the 16-gigabyte model, US$249 for the 32-gigabyte model, and US$349 for the 64-gigabyte capacity. Those prices are US$50 cheaper than with the three major carriers in the U.S.

In addition, all three carriers will also offer Apple’s previous-generation 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$49. Customers can pre-register for their purchase today.

The three carriers’ networks are based on the same CDMA wireless standard used by major U.S. carriers Verizon and Sprint. Bluegrass Cellular is headquartered in Elizabethtown, Ken., Golden State Cellular is based out of Jamestown, Calif., and Nex-Tech operates out of Hays, Kan.

A month ago, a total of five carriers announced they had signed a deal with Apple. Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos all began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 on April 20.

Apple began expanding availability of the iPhone to smaller, regional carriers last October when a deal with C Spire Wireless was announced. That carrier has about 900,000 customers.

Only one of the four major U.S. carriers — T-Mobile — does not currently offer the iPhone, because of technical limitations. But that could change as soon as the end of this year, as the carrier plans to modify its network to allow compatibility with the iPhone’s HSPA+ wireless antenna for high-speed data.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Australian iPhone 4 glowing/fire incident found to be caused by failed screen replacement, not battery

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 11:52
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, remember the Australian glowing/fire/iPhone 4 plane thing from this past November? It wasn’t the battery.

Per AppleInsider, an investigation into the cause of an iPhone 4 that began glowing and emitting “dense smoke” on a flight landing in Sydney, Australia last fall has traced the problem to a battery punctured by a screw misplaced during a botched attempt to replace the device’s screen.



The incident, which occured last November, initially stoked concerns about the safety of high powered lithium batteries in general, given other isolated cases of battery failure including a batch of Sony batteries used in Apple’s iBook and PowerBook G4 notebooks in 2006, and an separate problem with first generation iPod nano units from 2005 and 2006.

However, rather than being a manufacturing defect, a report by ZDnet notes that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the overheating iPhone was caused by a screw left behind during a screen replacement performed by an unauthorized repair center.

The relatively large screw, “from the bottom of the unit, adjacent to the 30-pin connector,” was discovered inside the body of the device in an X-ray, where it punctured the battery pack, resulting in its overheating.

Referencing the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s recommendations, the ATSB’s chief commissioner Martin Dolan stated that “when traveling with mobile phones, laptops and other portable electronic devices — or just their batteries — passengers should, wherever possible, carry them in the cabin, and not in checked-in baggage.”

Dolan also noted that the incident “highlights the importance of good maintenance and repair processes for these devices, and the risk of using non-authorised repair agents.”

Walmart offers discounted prices on iPhone 4, 4S units with AT&T contract

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail

If you were headed to Walmart anyway…

Per The Mac Observer, Walmart reduced the prices for the AT&T version of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on Friday, leading to speculation that new versions of Apple’s combination iPod and smartphone are coming this spring.

The 8GB iPhone 4 was reduced from US$88 to US$34 with a two-year contract, and Cult of Mac learned that at least in one store the 16GB iPhone 4S price had dropped from US$188 to US$114. The Walmart website, however, lists the iPhone 4 at US$117 and out of stock, while tagging the iPhone 4S as “Store pricing may vary.”

If you see this deal in your neck of the woods, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple’s next-gen iPhone to be thinner, incorporate 4-inch screen, utilize metal backing and new dock connector

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Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be some element of truth here…

Per iLounge, Apple’s next-gen iPhone will be slightly taller to accommodate a 4-inch screen with a new aspect ratio, will feature a redesigned dock connector, and will also have a new metal panel on the back side, a new report claims.

The latest rumors about Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone stated that the new iPhone will be about 10 millimeters taller, giving it dimensions of 125 millimeters tall, 5.8 millimeters wide and 7.4 millimeters thick. That’s about 2 millimeters thinner than the current iPhone 4S, with essentially the same width as the current model.

Because the new iPhone will allegedly be the same width, that would mean that new applications would need to be designed to work with the handset. The taller screen would have more pixels at the top and bottom, giving it a different aspect ratio.

“According to our source, Apple will make one major change to the rear casing, adding a metal panel to the central back of the new iPhone,” the report said. “This panel will be flat, not curved, and metal, not ceramic.”

Author Jeremy Horwitz also added that the new iPhone is expected to be partially made from Gorilla Glass 2, which offers identical strength to the original Gorilla Glass with a thinner design. At just 0.8 millimeters thick, Gorilla Glass 2 can withstand 121 pounds of pressure.

Finally, the report also claimed that the next iPhone will have a new, smaller dock connector that will be “a little larger” than the bottom speaker and microphone ports on the existing iPhone 4S. The new port was described as “a pill shape,” and is believed to have just 16 pins, compared to the current 30-pin dock connector.

“It will be used in all upcoming devices, including an update to the iPod touch that’s expected this year, and will almost certainly feature a similarly updated screen and CPU,” the report said.

In March, iLounge reported that Apple was working on a new case for the iPad that would protect not only the front screen, as the current magnetic Smart Case does, but also the aluminum back panel of the device. The site credited a “repeatedly reliable source,” but such a case has not yet been released.

The rumors come on the heels of a new component claimed to be the SIM card tray for Apple’s next-generation iPhone. A home button also purported to be from a prototype Apple handset also appeared, but no components thus far have given any concrete indication that the next iPhone’s design will be a radical departure from the look of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Still, there has been rampant speculation that Apple’s next iPhone will have a redesigned exterior. Rumors of unibody enclosures, larger screens and thinner form factors have all cropped up in recent months.

Early prototyping of the next iPhone is believed to be underway ahead of a launch anticipated this fall, one year after the debut of the iPhone 4S. In March it was said that Apple was reviewing potential components for the new iPhone.

Rumors surrounding the next iPhone have picked up steam in recent weeks, as one report said the handset will feature Qualcomm’s “MDM9615” LTE 4G chip for high-speed wireless connectivity. Reports have also claimed that the next iPhone will adopt in-cell touch panel technology, which will allow Apple to make the next iPhone thinner by 0.44 millimeters, or fit in a larger battery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype iOS app updated to 4.0

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Date: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012, 06:29
Category: News, Software

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Let’s face it: updates never hurt.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Skype has released version 4.0 of its app for iPad and iPhone. The new version lets you pre-position your video preview as you like, provides automatic restarts crashes and offers improved accessibility and overall stability along with some minor UI improvements and bug fixes.

The version change can be found for both Skype for iPhone/iPod touch and Skype for iPad.

Skype 4.0 for iOS requires iOS 4.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Recent patent hints at possible near-field communication feature in upcoming iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s the patents that provide the really interesting hints as to what’s to come in a product line.

According to Patently Apple, a new patent suggests that the company will be introducing a near-field communication (NFC) chip into its next-generation iPhone, which will enable users to quickly send iTunes gifts to one another.

The story reports that the ‘Gifting’ feature will allow users to share iTunes files including Playlists, though at a cost. Users could buy, send and receive files from iTunes between multiple iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

A user could select one or more media files to share with another device, and authorize a gift charge. The gift can then be shared with a second device within close range using the NFC chip’s connection.

Gifts may also be sent via email, for those who are not in close proximity of the device they wish to send files to. This will involve sending en electronic gift certificate that can be redeemed by the recipient. These gift certificates will be capable of sharing multiple files in a single transaction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts $11.6 billion profit for Q2 2012, iOS devices drive strong earnings

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 05:48
Category: Finance, News

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It’s pretty clear at this point: Apple’s not in danger of going out of business.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple reported a net profit of US$11.6 billion on revenue of US$39.2 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2012. Those are respective increases of 94 percent and 59 percent from the 2011 second quarter. Apple’s profit translates to earnings of US$12.30 per share, up from US$6.40 a share last year; analysts were looking for earnings of US$10.06 a share for the quarter.

All told, Apple tallied record March quarter sales for its iPad, iPhone, and Mac lineups. The company also saw record results for its retail stores during what chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer called “the most amazing March quarter that Apple has ever had.”

It was a big quarter for Apple’s iPhone business as the company launched the third-generation tablet on March 16 and cut the entry level price to US$399 for the iPad 2. While those moves came late in the quarter, Apple sold 11.8 million tablets during the quarter, up from 151 percent in the year-ago period.

In terms of revenue, Apple recorded US$6.6 billion from iPad sales, up from US$2.8 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Following its March 16 launch in the U.S. and nine other countries, the third-generation iPad is now available in 40 countries around the world.

Apple executives also noted on Tuesday that the iPad is extending the company’s reach into new markets. According to Oppenheimer, Apple sold two iPads for every Mac bought by one of its K-12 education customers in the U.S.—and that was during a record March quarter for Mac sales. Oppenheimer also touted the iPad’s presence in the enterprise, specifically citing the U.S. Air Force’s deployment of “thousands” of iPads as technical flight bags.

“The iPad continues to open new doors to customers with whom Apple had no previous relationship,” Oppenheimer said.

iPhone numbers were also strong for Apple during the quarter. The company sold 35.1 million phones between January and March, an 88 percent jump from year-ago iPhone sales and a record for the March quarter. That outpaced the growth of the overall smartphone market, in which sales increased 42 percent year over year.

Revenue from the iPhone grew 85 percent from last year’s second quarter to US$22.69 billion.

In particular, Apple did brisk iPhone business in the Far East. Sales more than doubled in the Asia Pacific and Japan markets, according to Oppenheimer. In China, iPhone sales increased five times from last year, helped by the iPhone 4S’s release in that country in January and the addition of China Telecom as an iPhone carrier in March.

Apple ended the quarter with the iPhone 4S available in 100 countries with 230 carriers offering the smartphone.

Oppenheimer says iOS device sales—which include the iPod touch—totaled 50 million during the March quarter. Apple’s cumulative iOS device sales have grow to 365 million units.

The App Store now carries more than 600,000 apps, with a third of those specifically built for Apple’s iPad.

Mac sales also set a March quarter record. The company sold 4 million Macs, an increase of 7 percent from the year-ago quarter. The entire PC industry grew 2 percent during the March quarter, making it six full years that Apple’s Mac business has outpaced the demand for PCs overall.

Notebooks are still the driver for Apple’s Mac business. The 2.8 million portable Macs sold during the quarter represent 70 percent of Mac sales. Besides illustrating the importance of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to Apple’s fortunes, that figure could also indicate that Apple’s desktop lineup is getting long in the tooth. The iMac last saw an overhaul nearly a year ago while the Mac mini has remained unchanged since July 2011. The Mac Pro is approaching the second anniversary of its last update.

The Asia Pacific market saw the biggest jump in Mac unit sales, with a 29 percent rise from last year. Other global markets saw single-digit growth in Mac sales.

Apple’s Mac sales may be outpacing the industry growth rate, thanks in some part to the company’s brick-and-mortar retail efforts. Apple says it sold 826,000 Macs at its retail outlets in the second quarter—about 20 percent of all the Macs it sold during the three-month period. About half the Macs sold at Apple Stores were to customers new to the platform.

Speaking of Apple retail, Apple ended the quarter with 363 stores, after opening two new ones in Amsterdam and Houston. Retail revenue of US$4.4 billion for the quarter was up 38 percent from last year. It was the retail segment’s second-largest quarter of sales, behind only first quarter of 2012, which includes the holiday shopping season.

iPod sales continued their decline. Apple sold 7.7 million music players, a drop of 15 percent from the second quarter of 2011. iPod sales actually came in ahead of Apple’s expectations for the quarter, according to Oppenheimer, with Apple choosing to focus on the fact that the higher-priced iPod touch represents more than half of the iPods sold during the quarter. Even with its declining sales, the iPod remains the market leader among MP3 players, according to Apple’s figures.

The company was much more eager to talk about the growth of its iTunes Store, which also saw record revenue of US$1.9 billion during the quarter. That’s an increase of 35 percent from last year’s tally, with music, video, and app sales driving the growth.

Apple executives revealed a few other interesting details about the quarter during their briefing with analysts. The company ended the quarter with US$110 billion in cash—a situation that figures to change in July when Apple starts paying out a US$2.65 per share dividend to shareholders. Oppenheimer said the company would provide more information about that dividend program in July.

iCloud now has 125 million subscribers, after Apple launched the cloud-based service and MobileMe replacement last October. That subscriber base is up from 85 million at the end of the first quarter. It was only in February that Cook was telling investors that iCloud had topped the 100 million subscriber mark.

Apple continues to do a staggering amount of business in China. Cook told analysts the company recorded US$7.9 billion in sales from that country during the second quarter, three times the amount of revenue it took in during the year-ago period. The US$12.4 billion in revenue Apple has seen in China during the first six months of its 2012 fiscal year nearly matches its revenue from that country for all of 2011. Cook credited pent-up demand for the iPhone 4S and strong iPad 2 demand for much of that growth, which is also creating a halo effect for Mac sales in China.

Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion and earnings per share of US$8.68 for the June quarter. That compares to revenue of US$28.57 billion and earnings of US$7.79 per share for the fiscal third quarter of 2011.

Apple’s forecasted numbers would be a sequential drop from the revenue and earnings the company just reported for its second quarter. Oppenheimer said the company is expecting a sequential decline in iPhone sales, as Apple had ramped up inventory to meet pent-up demand. The company was also able to satisfy demand for the new iPad, thanks to a significant supply of tablets. The lower entry price for the iPad 2 and a stronger U.S. dollar are also factors in Apple’s forecast.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to incorporate in-cell touch display

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Date: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, Rumor

There’s got to be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per the sometimes-reliable cats at DigiTimes, the next-gen iPhone may adopt “in-cell touch panels,” integrating the display and touch layers of the device’s screen into one component, according to DigiTimes’s Taiwan-based supply chain sources late Thursday night. The sources claim that display companies Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display are likely to supply Apple with the parts.

Current iPhones use multiple separate layers to comprise the touch screen, including a transparent conductive layer that sits on top of the LCD display layers and registers touch input. The rumored in-cell touch displays combine these layers into one, resulting in an increase in touch response performance and a reduction in weight and thickness.

Unfortunately, in-cell touch displays are significantly more expensive to manufacture and have a lower yield rate than traditional displays with separate layers.

Apple currently sources iPhone displays from TPK Holdings and Wintek, neither of which have in-cell technology ready for production. TPK is working on implementing a “touch on lens” solution, an alternative to in-cell that can scale up to larger sized displays, but it will not be ready to begin production until later this year. Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display have lines ready to go and are expected to begin production this quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone’s glass could be replaced with Liquidmetal component

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Date: Wednesday, April 18th, 2012, 11:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Your next iPhone could be part Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”.

Which, to be honest, was sort of the high point of Robert Patrick’s career.

Per Korea IT News, a new, questionable rumor from Korea claims that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy.

The claim stated that Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone will be made of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper “and so forth.” It also said it will have a “surface smooth like liquid.”

Though the report includes references to a general “liquid metal,” the proper noun Liquidmetal refers to an amorphous metal that Apple purchased the exclusive rights to use in 2010. The company behind the material, Liquidmetal Technologies, revealed in March that it was paid US$20 million by Apple in that deal.

Casting some doubt on Wednesday’s report out of Korea, it goes on to say that the new iPhone is expected to debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June. Last year, Apple opted to hold off on unveiling the iPhone 4S until well after WWDC, and launched its fifth-generation handset in October.

This year, most rumors have suggested that Apple plans to hold to a similar timeframe for the launch of a sixth-generation iPhone. It has been rumored that Apple will unveil its next handset in the months of September or October.

While the WWDC launch reported by Korea IT News is questionable, claims of a metal back for the next iPhone are not new. As far back as last year, there were indications that Apple was working on an all-new iPhone design with a metal back akin to the iPad.

As for the potential use of Liquidmetal, the company that owns the material announced in March that it had begun shipping commercial parts to “several” unnamed customers. Apple’s Liquidmetal gives it the right to exclusively use the material in electronic products, though it is free to be used in other industries like defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers.

The first product Apple created out of Liquidmetal’s material was an iPhone SIM card ejector tool, but since then there has been no indication that any other products have been crafted from the Liquidmetal alloy.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple internally seeding iPhone unit with 1GB of RAM, upgraded iPod touch device

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 09:48
Category: Hardware, iPod, Rumor

With one iOS device update out of the way for 2012, Apple is working on updates to the iPhone and iPod touch. While these updates are expected, some additional iOS device details have leaked.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple has internally seeded a prototype next-generation iPhone with the iPhone 4 design. The actual next-generation iPhone is specifically said to not include the iPhone 4/4S design, but Apple is testing these new devices in older casings to throw off leaks. The purpose of the prototype iPhone that we heard about is to test a variation of the “A5X” chip in an iPhone. The A5X processor in the new iPad was specifically built to drive the new Retina Display, so that chip wouldn’t make much sense in an iPhone.

Instead, the iPhone prototypes feature a variation of the A5X’s S5L8945X architecture. Like the A5X-powered iPad, these new iPhone prototypes are packing 1GB of RAM. This prototype is labeled N96 internally, so it’s not certain if this internal codename will carry over to the actual next-generation iPhone. Again, this iPhone is an internal-only unit built for testing the performance of a new chip in an iPhone, not an actual phone that Apple will produce.

The iPod touch was an interesting product for Apple last year as it was the only iOS device to not receive internal nor cosmetic changes (save for a new white model). However, it looks like Apple is still interested in the iPod touch and wants a future for it. According to a file inside of an internal iOS 5.1 build, Apple is working on a fifth-generation iPod touch that is labeled iPod 5,1 internally. No specifics have been confirmed regarding the new iPod touch hardware, but the jump from 4,1 (the current internal iPod touch label) to 5,1 indicates major internal changes, at the very least. Perhaps Apple is finally moving to an A5 or A5X-like chip in the iPod touch. After all, the iPod touch is one of the most popular gaming devices on the market, and Apple’s dual-core iOS device processors offer top-of-the-line graphics performance.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.