Sprint now offering $100 trade-in credit for iPhones from competing carriers

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to offer an incentive.

In an effort to drum up subscribership and advertise its unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4S, Sprint revealed on Friday that it will begin offering a US$100 credit to any customer who trades in an iPhone from another carrier.

Per AppleInsider, the carrier said that it would be offering non-Sprint users at least US$100 for their iPhone to be used towards a new iPhone 4S if they start a line of service with a minimum two-year contract.

Sprint’s announcement comes on the heels of reports earlier this week that revealed Verizon would be pushing to end unlimited data usage for its smartphone users come this summer when the company rolls out new shared data plans. The top U.S. wireless company issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that only subscribers upgrading to a subsidized handset would no longer be able to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat service.

Both Verizon and AT&T have come under fire for slowly squeezing grandfathered customers out of their unlimited plans, represented by Verizon’s upgrade policy and AT&T’s March decision to throttle heavy data users after they pass a 3GB per month threshold.

When it became the last of the big-three telecoms to offer the iPhone, Sprint announced plans to offer unlimited data to new customers when the top two wireless providers killed off their respective uncapped services in a move toward more profitable tiered solutions. AT&T was the first to axe unlimited iPhone data in June 2010, and recently CEO Randall Stephenson admitted that he wished the company had never offered the option. Verizon followed AT&T’s lead in July 2011, a mere six months after the device launched on its network.

In a move to stand out from the competition, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced in April that his company will continue to offer unlimited data for the next generation iPhone sight-unseen, which means that users can utilize uncapped bandwidth even if the handset supports 4G LTE.

Earlier this week Hesse said that Sprint wouldn’t make a profit from the iPhone until 2015, but has no regreets in making a bet-the-company move to ink an agreement to sell the handset that was later revealed to be worth US$15.5 billion over the next four years.

“We believe in the long term,” Hesse said. “And over time we will make more money on iPhone customers than we will on other customers.”

To take advantage of the offer, interested parties must activate a new line by July 3 and trade-in their non-Sprint iPhone before Aug. 14.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon issues follow-up clarifying statement on unlimited data/upgrade announcement

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Sometimes things require additional explanation.

Per an email sent to the New York Times, Verizon on Thursday issued a statement clarifying the position it will take with customers who currently have grandfathered unlimited data plans, reiterating that the all-you-can-eat option will only terminate when upgrading to a new subsidized smartphone.

The statement quelled specious reports that claimed current unlimited data subscribers would be forcibly moved to the upcoming capped shared data plans expected to launch this summer.

Customers with unlimited plans will continue to be grandfathered in to the new pricing model that allows multiple users to share data on a single contract. Once the new plans debut, subscribers who choose to take advantage of subsidized phone pricing when upgrading will no longer have the option to continue their all-you-can-eat service.

The emailed statement:
– Customers will not be automatically moved to new shared data plans. If a 3G or 4G smartphone customer is on an unlimited plan now and they do not want to change their plan, they will not have to do so.

– When we introduce our new shared data plans, Unlimited Data will no longer be available to customers when purchasing handsets at discounted pricing.

– Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan.

– The same pricing and policies will be applied to all 3G and 4G LTE smartphones.

Contrary to erroneous reports around the web, it will likely take years to phase out unlimited data plans, though Verizon is definitely urging customers away from that model.

On Wednesday, the carrier’s CFO Fran Shammo caused confusion by saying, “when [customers] “migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share.” While this might be true in some cases, the company’s stated policy clearly allows for the continuation of unlimited data access if customers pay full price for new handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to end unlimited data plans in migration to 4G LTE, move towards shared data plans

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, News

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You might not like this.

Per Fierce Wireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo announced on Wednesday that the company will discontinue existing unlimited data plans when users move to the carrier’s faster 4G LTE network, pushing current 3G subscribers toward data share plans expected to launch later this summer.

At the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference Shammo said that current unlimited users, whose data plans were grandfathered in when Verizon made the switch to tiered plans in July 2011, would lose the all-you-can-eat option if and when they move to 4G.

Verizon is leveraging its speedier 4G LTE network to attract customers away from their US$30 per month unlimited plans to new data-sharing tiers which are scheduled for a mid-summer rollout.

“A lot of our 3G base is on unlimited,” Shammo said. “When they migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share. That is beneficial to us.”

In their quest to garner the highest possible revenue per user, carriers have quickly moved away from the unlimited data plan, which was first introduced as an enticement to enter the then-nascent smartphone market. With the rise of data-hungry handsets like the iPhone, wireless companies found that a capped and tiered pricing model was the most lucrative solution.

Currently, unlimited customers pay US$30 per month on Verizon’s network, identical to the price paid by grandfathered users on other networks like AT&T.

Unlike Verizon, AT&T extended its legacy plan to 4G LTE customers, but at the same time instituted speed throttling for users who pass a “threshold” of 3GB and 5 GB each month for 3G and 4G users, respectively. Earlier in May, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said that he wishes his company never offered unlimited data.

Verizon’s upcoming data share plans are meant to streamline the management and offer an attractive price structure to contract owners who own multiple smartphones, such as small businesses or families. Shammo noted that the industry has crippled the smartphone market by restricting data usage to individual devices.

“If I can add as many devices as I want, that is more efficient from a family perspective and a small business perspective,” Shammo said.

Carriers have promised shared data plans for nearly a year, though the nation’s top providers only recently firmed up strategies and possible launch windows.

Shammo noted that as carriers implement shared plans, they will have to move from studying average revenue per user metrics to average revenue per account.

Pricing for Verizon’s data share plans have yet to be announced, but Shammo made it clear that the company is pushing hard for the new model.

“Everyone will be on data share,” Shammo said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

U.S. government to work with wireless carriers to create national stolen phone database

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: iPhone, News

This could be perceived as sort of “Big Brother”-ish, but also pretty helpful.

Per the Wall Street Journal, four of the largest wireless carriers in the US are working with the US government to create a national stolen phone database. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will develop their own databases and then merge them into a centralized server within the next 18 months. Eventually, regional carriers will also participate in this initiative.

The database will help carriers and law enforcement track lost and stolen phones. Besides tracking phones, carriers have agreed to block both calling and data services for these blacklisted phones. This will be an easy task for Verizon and Sprint, but not so simple for T-Mobile and AT&T.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint already track each subscriber’s phone using the phone’s unique electronic serial number. This lets them easily block any phone that’s been reported lost or stolen. AT&T and T-Mobile do not have a similar service in place, because their GSM phones use SIM cards. As long as you have a valid SIM card, you can use any phone, regardless of whether it is lost or stolen. These two GSM carriers are working on new technology that would let them track and block a phone using a unique ID.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

nTelos regional wireless carrier to carry iPhone 4, 4S units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 07:33
Category: iPhone, News

nTelos Wireless, a Virginia-based wireless company with more than 400,000 subscribers, will become the fifth U.S. carrier to sell Apple’s iPhone when it launches on April 20.

Per AppleInsider, nTelos is the second regional carrier to partner with Apple, as the company began expanding to smaller U.S. carriers last October when it struck a deal with C Spire Wireless, which has about 900,000 customers.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will be available through nTelos for US$50, while the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S can be had for US$150, 32 gigabytes for US$250, and 64 gigabytes for US$350. Those contract-subsidized prices are all US$50 cheaper than the offerings from the company’s competitors.

nTelos offers unlimited voice, text and data for one line for US$100 per month. Two lines can be purchased for US$140 per month, and additional lines after that cost US$50 each.

Availability of the iPhone to nTelos is possible because the carrier relies on a CDMA network, similar to the technology that powers Verizon and Sprint’s wireless networks.

As of Wednesday, the iPhone 4S is listed as “coming soon” on the nTelos Wireless website. Sales will officially begin at 7 a.m. on April 20 through nTelos retail stores, at the company’s website, or by calling 1-888-427-8858.

nTelos offers nationwide voice and data coverage for subscribers based in Virginia and West Virginia, along with portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky.

When the iPhone launches with nTelos, it will join AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and C Spire as one of five official U.S. carriers. The one glaring omission from the list of official Apple partners is T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 34 million customers.

T-Mobile’s lack of access to the iPhone is a result of the company’s 3G service relying on the uncommon 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, which are not supported by Apple’s smartphone. Users who operate an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile’s network are restricted to much slower “EDGE” speeds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple insists iPad 3 battery functions as designed, disputes charging analysis claims

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Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012, 05:43
Category: iPad, News

This may be someone’s fault, but Apple insists everything’s hunky dory.

Concerns about the iPad’s battery arose last week when an analysis was publicized claiming that the new iPad “prematurely” reports that it is fully charged by two hours. Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate claimed that the iPad actually finished its charging cycle some two hours after it reports a full charge.

That’s by design, Apple’s Michael Tchao said to All Things D on Tuesday. All iOS devices, including the new iPad, will display that they are 100 percent charged just before the device reaches a fully charged state. The device will then continue charging, then discharge a bit, and recharge once again — a cycle that will continue until the device is unplugged.

“That circuitry is designed so you can keep your device plugged in as long as you would like,” Tchao said. “it’s a great feature that’s always been in iOS.”

Apple’s battery percentage display is simplified so that users are not confused by the constant cycle of charging and discharging while a device is plugged in. But Apple’s approach allows all of its iOS devices to maximize their potential battery life.

Apple has boasted that the new iPad offers the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, even with the inclusion of a new quad-core graphics processor and 3.1-million pixel Retina Display. The new high-speed 4G LTE model also offers 9 hours of battery life when using a wireless network.

In particular, the Verizon model of the new 4G LTE iPad can serve as a mobile hotspot for more than 24 hours when sharing a high-speed data connection with external devices over Wi-Fi. That’s upwards of five times longer than most standalone 4G LTE hotspots.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AnandTech tests show that Verizon iPad 3 can act as a mobile LTE hotspot for more than 24 hours

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012, 06:33
Category: iPad, News

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If you’re somewhat irate at AT&T this fine day, this might be the thing that switches you over to Verizon where your new third-generation iPad choice is concerned.

Per the cool cats at AnandTech, the new Verizon LTE-equipped iPad currently boasts the exclusive capability of sharing its high-speed mobile broadband connection with other devices for upwards of five times longer than most standalone LTE mobile hotspots.

Anand Lal Shimpi recently revealed that his tests of the new Verizon iPad found that it could act as a mobile hotspot by sharing its LTE connection with other devices — such as a notebook — for approximately 25.3 hours under the proper conditions — namely that the device’s display remained turned off. That’s roughly 5 times longer than the 4 hours and change of popular LTE MiFi hotspots from Novatel and Samsung.

Those claims were backed up Monday by independent tests conducted by the Verge, which configuring a notebook to utilize the new iPad’s LTE connection, running tests that continuously cycled through web content for more than 24 hours before exhausting the battery of the iPad, which similarly had its screen turned off in addition to notifications and push email accounts.

“Best of all, we saw no evidence of dropped or stalled connections,” the gadget blog reported. “That’s not to say there aren’t caveats here: LTE reception in our Manhattan office is top notch, and it remains unclear how things would fare in areas with weak signal.”

The largely unpublicized hotspot feature remains exclusive to the Verizon models for the time being, as such capabilities are not yet available with the AT&T models. A spokesman for the carrier indicated earlier this month that it was “working with Apple” to enable the hotspot feature on the new AT&T iPad “in the future,” but offered no timetable for when it might become available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Barclays report hints at components for next-gen iPhone, highlights 4G LTE elements

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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There’s always a next generation of a product.

And there’s always speculation as to what components will be used in it.

The next-generation iPhone is no different.

Per AppleInsider, investment firm Barclays reported Wednesday in a research note that among the parts Apple is expected to utilize are Qualcomm’s “MDM9615″ LTE chip, which supports both voice and data connections on high-speed 4G networks.

That chip would be a change from the new iPad, which features Qualcomm’s “MDM9600″ modem. But that hardware only offers data connections over 4G LTE, not voice.

Like the iPhone 4S, the next iPhone is expected to be a “world” device compatible with a variety of 4G LTE networks. That’s different from the new iPad, which comes in two different models compatible with Verizon and AT&T wireless networks in the U.S.

In addition to Qualcomm, companies that are said to be supplying potential components to Apple are chipmakers Skyworks Solutions, TriQuint Semiconductor, and Avago Technologies.

Barclays sees Skyworks Solutions emerging as a likely winner with Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone, which it expects will launch this September. For Apple, the addition of a 4G LTE radio is expected to cost between US$3 and US$10 extra versus the 3G radio in the iPhone 4S.

The timeframe presented by Barclays aligns with a report from last month which indicated that the next iPhone will arrive in September or October of this year. That would be about one year after the arrival of the iPhone 4S, which marked the change of Apple’s typical iPhone launches in June or July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

FaceTime connections on iPad 3 to be limited to Wi-Fi networks, won’t function over 4G LTE networks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2012, 06:24
Category: iPad, News

It looks like your new iPad 3 won’t allow FaceTime calls over a 4G connection.

And it might not paint your living room as promised.

Per some testing performed over at The Verge, the new iPad will need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime. Though the news hardly comes as a surprise, since Apple’s 3G-enabled iOS devices are unable to use FaceTime over 3G, it does put to rest questions about whether the added download speeds from LTE might open up the feature for 4G cellular networks.

Report author Dieter Bohn found the LTE FaceTime restriction to be “doubly frustrating” because Verion LTE iPads can generate Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi networks that would presumably allow other iOS devices to make FaceTime calls via the same LTE connection.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled FaceTime alongside the iPhone 4 in 2010. The video calling service launched as Wi-Fi only, but Jobs promised that Apple would “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of bringing it to mobile networks.

Early reviews of the iPad show that LTE service on the device is significantly faster than previous-generation 3G networking. Journalist Walt Mossberg said he averaged download speeds of 17 megabits per second on Verizon, while a colleague averaged 12 mbps on AT&T’s network. The mighty David Pogue tested the iPad in three cities and got speeds ranging from 6 to 29 mbps.

The new iPad goes on sale at 8 a.m. local time in 10 countries on Friday. The device will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad 3 to go on sale at 8 A.M. this Friday

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iPad, News, retail

Once again, that time is upon us.

Yes, once again, you shall stand in line for the brand new iPad.

And, per the weather reports, I get to do it in the rain.

Again.

On Wednesday, Apple announced that the third-generation iPad will go on sale at 8 A.M. local time this Friday in the U.S. and nine other countries.

The third-generation iPad will be available at Apple’s retail stores and the company’s online store this Friday at 8 a.m. in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K. It will also be available in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to Apple’s retail stores, the new iPad will also be available in the U.S. at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart on Friday’s launch day. 4G LTE versions will also be available at AT&T and Verizon retail stores in the U.S.

Officially announced a week ago, the new iPad has a high-resolution Retina display powered by the new A5X chip that features quad-core graphics processing. The third-generation tablet also sports a 5-megapixel iSight camera with advanced optics capable of recording 1080p video.

The new iPad also offers a 4G LTE model capable of connecting to high-speed data networks in the U.S. and Canada, as well as 3G networks around the world based on HSPA+ and DC-HSPDA.

In addition to the new iPad, Apple has also continued to sell last year’s iPad 2 in a capacity of 16GB, starting at US$399 for the Wi-Fi-only model. A 3G-capable version is also available for US$529.

New iPads purchased at an Apple retail store come with free “Personal Setup” service, which helps customers customize their iPad by setting up e-mail, installing software from the App Store and more. Apple also offers its “Personal Pickup” service at U.S. retail stores, allowing customers to shop and buy from anywhere, then pick up their purchase at any retail store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.