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Sprint says iPhone is 50% more network efficient than Android

Friday, October 28, 2011

During the company's earnings call on Wednesday, Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse said the iPhone is more than 50% more efficient on Sprint's network than Android devices. “iPhone users are expected to use significantly less 3G data than the typical user of a dual-mode 3G/4G device,” Hesse added, noting that his company has found that iPhone applications take better advantage of offloading data onto Wi-Fi networks and that Android apps are “more chatty” with its network. “If Sprint's claims are true, this could become a new key differentiator in Apple's relationship with the operators that subsidize its phones versus Apple's competitors HTC, Samsung Motorola,” BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk explained, noting that Sprint's report is “short on evidence” and that his firm will continue to test those claims.

iPhone 4S launch drives record number of BlackBerry trade-ins

Gazelle, a website that specializes in buying, selling and recycling gadgets, said on Tuesday that BlackBerry trade-ins recently reached an all-time high. Speaking with CNET, Gazelle chief gadget officer Anthony Scarsella said his company saw a “spike” after Research in Motion's recent BlackBerry service outage, which spanned three days in some areas, but that Apple's latest iPhone is mostly to blame for the surge. “In the grand scheme of BlackBerry growth over the past month, it can be pretty much entirely attributed to the launch of the iPhone 4S,” Scarsella explained. Additionally, Android trade-ins jumped 72% during the past month, the majority from Sprint customers, although Scarsella said he couldn't put his finger on an exact event that caused the increase.

Sprint says iPhone deal is worth $15.5 billion

Sprint on Wednesday stated that it has entered into a four-year deal valued at $15.5 billion to offer Apple's iPhone line of handsets, the GSMA's mobile business blog reports. Additional details were not revealed, but the carrier said it expects iPhone-related revenue to outperform the deal. ”We expect the lifetime value of a typical iPhone customer to be at least 50 percent – yes, at least 50 percent – greater than a typical smartphone user, driven primarily by more efficient use of our network and lower churn,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said during the company's third-quarter earnings call. Sprint also said it expects to sell more than 1 million iPhone handsets in the fourth quarter of this year. AT&T revealed earlier this week that it activated 2.7 million iPhones last quarter while Verizon Wireless said it sold 2 million iPhone 4 handsets over the same period of time.

HTC likely biggest loser from Sprint iPhone deal

Sprint finally began selling two iPhone models earlier this month, and while anxious subscribers can now finally get their hands on Apple's sleek cell phone, not everyone will come out of this deal a winner. Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst William Power told clients recently that HTC's market share in the United States will likely suffer from the deal in the near future. And considering Sprint will be selling iPhones for at least the next four years, the Taiwan-based smartphone maker is likely none too happy. The success of Sprint's flagship EVO 4G ushered in a new era of supersized smartphones and its successor, the EVO 3D, continued to attract subscribers with class-leading specs and fast 4G speeds. Sprint's shelves have been lined with HTC smartphones over the past few years in fact, and quite a few have found success according to various sales estimates. Power also notes that Sprint's shift from WiMAX to LTE may hurt HTC's sales, though HTC is currently a 4G LTE device leader in the U.S. and is expected to be among Sprint's premier LTE device partners moving forward.

Unlocked iPhone 4S Goes on Sale Across The World

Unlocked, the iPhone 4S costs the same as the iPad 3G

The iPhone 4S begins its second international wave today, going on sale in much of Europe. And unlike the stateside iPhone 4S, this one can be had unlocked.

Customers in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland can now head to their favorite carrier and sign their lives away for the next year or two.

Here in Spain, the carrier deals aren't bad (from around €35 per month with 1GB data that you can also share with an iPad using a free extra SIM), but the interesting part is the price of an unlocked iPhone, which starts at €600.

€600 is $850, and that's for the 16GB model. It goes up in €100 step to top out at €800, or $1,133 for the 64GB model. For comparison, those are the exact same prices as the 3G iPad lineup, which will give you a rough guide to what the U.S prices will be when the unlocked phone goes on sale there, probably some time in November. Up in Canada, the unlocked prices run at $650/$50/$850 (thanks, Jon!), which should also let you see where things are headed.

I have a feeling that there may be another press release from Apple on Monday, announcing another few million units sold. If this damn rain will stop, I might just head over to the Apple store to check things out.

UBS: Apple to ship 42.5 million iPhones in Q4

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spurred by the iPhone 4S launch, several analysts expect sales of Apple's iPhone lineup to explode during the fourth quarter of this year. “The timing of the 70 launches could have some impact on sales ahead of the launch, the US/International split, and hence, our estimates look conservative,” UBS analyst Maynard Um said in a recent note to investors. “A similar 27.5 percent U.S. / 72.5 percent international split from this quarter would imply 42.5 million units in CY4Q or an upside of 14.5 million iPhones.” Apple shipped 17.1 million iPhones during the fiscal fourth quarter, and the lower-than-expected sales were blamed on rumors and anticipation ahead of the iPhone 4S launch. Um predicts a huge turnaround for Apple in the fourth calendar quarter, and of course he isn't alone. The “resoundingly successful” iPhone 4S launch is expected to result in a big holiday season for the Cupertino-based company, Ticonderoga Securities said in a recent note.

‘Tremendous demand' for free iPhone 3GS, AT&T CEO says

During AT&T's third-quarter earnings call on Thursday, CEO Ralph de la Vega discussed the continued success his company still sees from the iPhone 3GS. ”We have another device that I think is going to dramatically change those people that are on smartphones and quick messaging devices, the 3GS, which is free with a 2-year contract,” de la Vega explained. “We've seen tremendous, tremendous demand for that device even though it's a generation old. And actually, we're getting more new subscribers coming on to the 3GS on the average than other devices. So we have an inventory sold out on that device.” Pretty impressive for a phone that made its debut in June, 2009. AT&T said it sold a total of 4.8 million smartphones during the third quarter, 2.7 million of which were iPhone activations. After the introduction of the iPhone 4S, Apple announced the 3GS was free with an AT&T contract and that the iPhone 4 would fall to $99 with a contract. 

Apple iPhone 4S Now Available In 22 More Countries, Preorder Yours Now!

Soon after its release, the device was made available for preorder in 7 countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK and US where it scored as many as 1 million preorders on day one. By the end of the week, Apple proudly announced that it was their best iPhone launch ever.

To much demand, the iPhone 4S will now be available to millions of others in countries including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The device will retain the same original physical factor that was showcased during its announcement at the “Let's talk iPhone” event but will certainly come with support for regional carries according to the geographic locations.

Throughout the globe, it will be available in either black or white colors in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB models while it carries the dual-core A5 processor, enhanced gaming graphics, 8 megapixel camera with enhanced optics, Siri – the assistant and much more.

As of this writing, the delivery times for your preordered device to ship is listed as “1-2″ weeks, however you may confirm that on the online store from here.

Apple also released the first-ever iPhone 4S commercial entitled as “Assitant” showcasing the mettle of your new digital friend “Siri” and how it works on the iPhone 4S.

First-Ever iPhone 4S Commercial Talks About Siri and Siri Only!

People say, it's magical and we too, to an extent, believe it is. Even before we have heard anything about the commercial, I made a point that Siri could be the marketing point for iPhone 4S. Lo, it is. Officially.

We've included the iPhone 4S TV ad after the jump where you'll see people talking their new iPhone: from a girl asking “how does a weasel look like?” to “I'm locked out…”, the Siri has to offer you help on almost everything.

We are sure this is what makes the iPhone 4S the most amazing iPhone till date. Wouldn't you want to give it a glance? We thought so.

Video : The First Official iPhone 4S Commercial!

As a refresher, Apple released the iPhone 4S as a direct successor to iPhone 4 on 4th October, a day before Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away. The new iPhone launched to much demand in 7 countries(so far) and sports the same aesthetics as the iPhoe 4 but with a faster dual-core  CPU, doubled graphics performance and of course, our personal favorite, the voice assistant Siri.

This is certainly the first in the series of iPhone 4S commercials that we are likely to see sometime soon. As time advances, Apple is expected to reveal several such commercials highlighting things that make its new iPhone, well, the new iPhone.

We will keep you posted as more details surface.

Meanwhile, click here to know more.

Spy on nearby keyboards with your iPhone 4's accelerometer

Ever plopped your cellular down next to your laptop? According Georgia Tech researchers, that common scenario could let hackers record almost every sentence you type, all thanks to your smartphone's accelerometer. They've achieved the feat with an impressive 80 percent accuracy using an iPhone 4, and are dubbing the program they've developed, spiPhone. (Although the group initially had fledgling trials with an iPhone 3GS, they discovered the 4′s gyroscope aided in data reading.)

If the software gets installed onto a mobile device it can use the accelerometer to sense vibrations within three-inches, in degrees of “near or far and left or right,” allowing it to statistically guess the words being written — so long as they have three or more letters. It does this by recording pairs of keystrokes, putting them against dictionaries with nearly 58,000 words to come up with the most likely results.

The group has also done the same with the phone's mics (which they say samples data at a whopping 44,000 times per second vs. the accelerometer's 100), but note that it's a less likely option given the usual need for some form of user permission. Furthermore, they explained that the accelerometer data rate is already mighty slow, and if phone makers reduced it a bit more, spiPhone would have a hard time doin' its thing.

The good news? Considering the strict circumstances needed, these researchers think there's a slim chance that this kind of malware could go into action easily. Looks like our iPhone and MacBook can still be close friends…

iPhone 4S pre-orders start in 22 more countries ahead of October 28 release date

The iPhone 4S is already available to buy in 7 countries, and it's been like that since its official release date of October 14. These countries are the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.

And now the iPhone 4S can be pre-ordered in 22 additional territories, where it will be released on October 28, which is next Friday. These 22 countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

If you are in one of these countries and it doesn't have an online Apple store, you should contact your local Apple distributor or your carrier of choice as you may be able to place a pre-order there.

The international Apple online stores all seem to report shipping times of 1 to 2 weeks at the moment, which isn't exactly in line with the date when the iPhone 4S will be available in stores. Still, if you don't like (literally) waiting in line, pre-ordering is probably your safest bet.

Studio Neat Glif iPhone 4x4S Tripod Mount and Stand Review

The Glif from Studio Neat is a handy little gadget for iPhone 4x4S owners that are aspiring photographers and videographers. It allows you to attach your iPhone to any standard tripod and also doubles as an easily adjustable stand. Let me show you how it works.

Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.

The Glif is made of semi flexible recyclable rubberized plastic that has been molded specifically for the iPhone 4x4S.

There's a trough to hold the iPhone securely.

And a 1x4″-­20 threaded socket so that you can attach it to a tripod.

Your caseless iPhone is held in place in either portrait

or landscape orientation as seen here. I have a protector on both sides of my iPhone and it still works with the Glif.

Here we see the Glif attached to the top of a tripod.

It's very handy to be able to use a tripod with your iPhone. I have been using my phone to take short product demo videos and have found the Glif to be the perfect thing to allow me to shoot video easier when it's attached to a tripod.

When you're not using the Glif with a tripod, it doubles as a stand that can be used in portrait orientation as long as you keep the Glif as low as possible. Placing it higher up on the iPhone's side will cause it to tip over to one side.

The stand works best with the phone in landscape orientation as seen above.

The Glif is a simple product that is very useful. It's made well enough that it should last longer than you'll probably own your iPhone. It's handy to keep in your gear bag to use as a stand and for those times when a tripod will help you get that perfect shot or capture video.

T-Mobile's Andrew Sherrard: 'the iPhone is not the only option'

Remember when T-Mobile CMO Cole Brodman splashed a bucket of cold water on our hot iPhone 4S dreams? Yeah, well the carrier's back to clarify its glaring lack of the handset in its lineup, and it appears the choice wasn't the company's to make. In a statement released today, SVP of Marketing Andrew Sherrard expressed the operator's desire to play host to Apple's latest device, but claims Cupertino's omission of an AWS-friendly radio is the true culprit. In order for that phone to run competently on T-Mo's 4G network, those 1700MHz bands would need to be serviced. In its stead, the exec points to other more capable phones currently on offer - namely, those bearing Android - while referring to the 4S' apparent network issues. Fighting words or just a case of the sads? Follow past the break for the full quote straight from Magenta's mouth.

T-Mobile thinks the iPhone is a good device and we've expressed our interest to Apple to offer it to our customers. Ultimately, it is Apple's decision. The issue remains that Apple has not developed a version of the iPhone with technology that works on our fast 3G and 4G networks. We believe a capable version of the iPhone for our 3G and 4G networks would offer an additional compelling option for our customers on a fast 4G network. However, the iPhone is not the only option to experience the benefit that smartphones offer.

T-Mobile's 4G smartphones stack up against competitive smartphones in terms of functionality, speed, features offered and overall experience – including the iPhone 4S. Reports continue of iPhones not operating well on some carrier networks, while our latest 4G smartphones offer many advantages vs. the iPhone 4S:

  • Capable of faster speeds
  • Bigger screens
  • Compelling service pricing
  • More advanced camera on the HTC Amaze 4G
  • More choice
We firmly believe that T-Mobile's portfolio will give any iPhone a run for its money. We offer the increased processing power and faster 4G speeds achieved by our fastest smartphones, the most advanced camera of any smartphone on the HTC Amaze 4G, and our industry-leading 4.52" super AMOLED display offered on the Samsung Galaxy S II.

With our portfolio of Android, Windows, and BlackBerry smartphones, fast 4G network, and competitively priced worry-free unlimited talk, text, and data plans, we believe it's a great time to be a T-Mobile customer.

Get A $30+ iPhone 4S Case For Just Under $1.5 Now (Legally)!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good folks, hurry up! This is no joke. BoxWave, the company that hit headlines after launching a physical keyboard for iPhone 4 is now offering an absolutely irresistible deal on iPhone 4S cases. All of the new product cases on the company’s website are surprisingly listed under $1.50 after discount from their original prices of about $30+.

Some of these cases are priced at just $1 like the Crystal iPhone 4S shell or the Rhino DuroForm iPhone 4S case, etc which despite such low price claim to offer tough protection. And there are several others which are priced at an unbelievably low-price of $1.50 despite claiming a nice of features to their credit.

The amazing thing is that all these cases look really decent and amazing. There are plenty of them, in different designs and textures. Since they are designed for iPhone 4S, they should work perfectly well with iPhone 4 as well which gives you another reason to jump past the break and buy yourself one or some.

The best part is that there are no shipping charges (or at least we were not billed any ), so a brand new case for your new iPhone should cost just a dollar and half. That’s it. There are plenty of types and cases to choose from. For instance, there’s this iPhone 4S Shell case with KickStand (featured below) or other cases with interesting themes like candy coating, color splash, rain drops, azure glimmer and velvet pouches among others.

Most of these have soft fiber coating on the inside to keep your glossy iPhone smooth and shiny for ever. Of course, you can pick your own color. You see, there are options always. Almost, always.

There are no details on the last date for the deal. But, why wait when you can pull the trigger now? Click here to select an iPhone 4S sleeve/case of your choice. Oh and one more thing, if you are looking for some relatively expensive and best-of-the-class cases, you may see our post on 5 best places where you can get one.

We’ve already placed our order and it’s will be with us soon. How about you?

We hope this post was helpful.

You may follow the author of this story by clicking here.

Disclaimer: The author of this story of Tnerd have no commercial interest in the product or its resellers/partners whatsoever. This story for written for the sole purpose of sharing knowledge with our readers. Tnerd or its associates are no way involved in the deal.

Siri Made To Work On iPhone 4, Still Needs Some Polish!

The feature is new in iOS 5 and if you had noticed, it was designed particularly for the iPhone 4S that sports a faster dual-core processor with an enhanced graphics GPU, making all your affairs with Siri possible. Smoothly.

Even as the (now old) iPhone 4 supports the new iOS, it will not be able to run Siri officially (that's putting it nicely). While that has upset many of us, 9to5Mac in collaboration with developer Troughton-Smith has worked to get Siri to work on iPhone 4. It's working now. Head past the break to catch it in action.

At first, the Siri for iPhone 4 wasn't working as smooth as expected. It was rather sluggish, in performance which, by 9to5Mac, is due to the absence of a special graphic driver that's present in iPhone 4S and missing in the iPhone 4.

According to 9to5Mac:

The iPhone 4 hardware can support the Siri artificial intelligence system, as the A4 processor is said to be powerful enough. We are not entirely sure why Apple is making Siri an iPhone 4S exclusive but it could be due to special microphone support, or because the A5 may allow it to run slightly quicker.

However, hard work yielded and Siri was later reported to work almost perfectly fine. Sad, there's no tutorial of how that's done. Nevertheless, we now know that running Siri on iPhone 4 is possible albeit unofficially.

According to a report, Siri for iPad 2 is already in the pipeline. It should render as good performance as the iPhone 4S since both the devices have the same A5 dual-core chipset under the hood.

In the meantime, we are going back to chat with Siri. It's really fun to use and amazing. If you too have been using Siri on your new iPhone, share your experiences or any witty questions that you've asked Siri. We'd love to hear from you, as always.

You may follow the author of this story by clicking here.

Unlocked iPhone 4S (Contract-Free) Already Selling In The United States!

You may either use the AT&T SIM card that comes boxed with the device or push in a SIM card of your choice. But, this special iPhone will cost your $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB and $849 for 64GB. While that's a good sum of money, you will certainly have some exclusive benefits for that price.

For instance, you are not bound to any carrier contract when you buy a contract-free iPhone 4S. Getting an officially unlocked iPhone 4S means having nothing to worry about. Right out of the box, the iPhone will be entirely yours.

If you have purchased one already (though it's not easily available as of now),  to unlock your iPhone 4S, just need to connect your iPhone 4S to your computer, launch iTunes and a pop up message will appear on the screen with a “Congratulations, Your iPhone has been unlocked” message.

According to the report:

“Users can activate the contract-free iPhone 4S by simply plugging the device into iTunes. Once plugged in, the above iPhone 4S unlocked popup will appear. Troughton-Smith's unlocked iPhone 4S in the United States successfully connected to T-Mobile's EDGE network via an O2 SIM-card on roaming. The contract-free, unlocked iPhone 4S included an AT&T SIM card, which is of course removable. Apple sells this special iPhone 4S for $649, $749, and $849 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, respectively.”

Right now, the iPhone 4S is currently available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint at a subsidized price. The 16GB iPhone 4S will cost $199 while the 32GB and 64GB models cost $299 and $399 respectively.

As a refresher, the iPhone 4S features a 3.5″ Retina Display like the iPhone 4, a faster dual-core processor with enhanced performance, improved graphics support, amazing new optics with an 8 megapixel camera that also records HD videos, iOS 5 and of course, Siri – a highly-acclaimed real-like digital voice assistant among other things.

Click here to know more about the new iPhone.

You may follow the author of this story by clicking here.

5 Good Sites That Offer Amazing iPhone 4S Cases/Covers!

Okay, so you’ve got that shiny new piece of hardware from Apple. Yeah, the iPhone 4S, It’s not that new in design but it’s still new and precious because you invested in it, right? If you haven’t already ordered a good iPhone 4S case alongside, here’s our list of 5 good sites that have some amazing iPhonne 4S cases on the shelves.

Oh yes, even you have ordered one already, you may want to check these out. Some of them are accompanied by a nice demonstrative video. Perhaps, that should change your opinion. Here we go:

1. Case-Mate: Yes, you know that brand. It’s been there in this arena since long and with the release of the new iPhone, Case Mate has also released their iPhone 4S cases and protective covers. There are seven of them. Case Mate has named these seven cases as Gelli, Vroom, Pop!, Tough, Brushed Aluminum, Barely There, Emerge cases.

Each one is distinct in its own right and their build involves eye-catching colors and fashion-forward designs. You can also make your own iPhone 4S case by uploading a picture at Case-Mate. When it comes to iPhone cases, Case-mate certainly knows how to play it well.

Check out CaseMate iPhone 4S cases from here. Prices range between $14.99 to $34.99.

2. Otterbox iPhone 4S Cases: Folks at Otterbox have your iPhone 4S cases ready. There are two types of cases here : Otterbox Commuter Series Strength Case which is made up of durable silicon and has high-quality polycarbonate shell. When you purchase this case, 10% of the gains will be donated to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which is why the case is also available in Pink color.

The other case, known as Otterbox Defender Series marries amazing durable design with belt clip for carrying your device. It’s priced at $59.99 and provides heavy duty treatment from rugged environments. You should check it out from here.

3. iSkin: iSkin also has some decent cases. The most interesting thing about their cases is that there is a special transparent protective cover called “Durable ViSOR (Visually Intact Solid Optical Resin)” that protects your device’s screen from scratches, and it lets you answer phone calls without removing the visor mask. It comes in six amazing colors . Prices start at $39.99, which seems worth considering that it comes with a life-long warranty. Check it out here.

4. GroveMade: Now, these guys have gone an extra mile to stand out in the race. You will find all kinds of hand-made wooden cases for iPhone 4S. Basic or the simple handcrafted models start from $69 while custom-designs can cost $119 or more. But, it’s definitely worth checking out. Not only do these cases look good but with bamboo wood they offer superior protection naturally. Check them out here. There are plenty of them to match your varied tastes.

5. Proporta: Proporta is offering some decent iPhone 4S hard shell cases. The good thing is you don’t have to make the distinction since the cases are already classified separately for both men and women. There are waterproof cases for the device as well and they are for everyone. Prices start from $19.95. Check them out here. It’s quite a good array of them and are unique in variety including the Time Table case, the Doodle Pad Hard Case, Aluminum Lined iPhone 4S Leather Case, etc – to name a few.

Of course, you may also want to check out Griffin Technologies offerings. They have some good iPhone 4S accessories on the showcase. also some has pretty nice deals. It is worth noting that not all iPhone 4 covers/cases are compatible with iPhone 4S even though the two have the (almost) same design. due to slightly different placement of volume buttons but iPhone 4S cases will certainly be compatible with iPhone 4.

Which brand/case type did you purchase for your new iPhone 4S? Know of any good cases that we can add to our list? Feel free to drop a comment below and share it with our readers. We’d appreciate that.

We hope this post was helpful.

You may follow the author of this story by clicking here.

AT&T subscribers complain of delayed, canceled iPhone 4S pre-orders

Apple's iPhone 4S became available to the general public today, and the launch appears to have been an overwhelming success. Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe believes Apple could close out the weekend having sold as many as 4 million new iPhones. We've been hearing from proud new iPhone owners across the country all day - and we've also been hearing about all the crazy things they've been asking poor Siri - but we've also heard from an unhappy minority that seems to have fallen victim to fulfillment problems. Read on for more.

Updated with comment from AT&T.

Beyond an odd complaint here and there, things seem to be going well for Verizon Wireless and Sprint subscribers who emailed us today. We've also heard from plenty of happy AT&T customers, but there appears to have been an issue with pre-sales in some cases, and a number of AT&T customers have emailed us with war stories.

“ confirmed phones would be shipping to customers for arrival on 10x14, but when nothing in my account changed I spoke with 2 others who confirmed all phones will be shipping with a 2 to 3 week delay,” one reader told BGR in an email. “For someone who purchased early the morning of 10x7 this is a complete let down.”

Several more BGR readers offered similar complaints, saying that orders placed early in the morning on October 7th are now being delayed by two or more weeks. A few other readers found that their orders had been canceled with no explanation given.

As it turns out, customers who had their orders canceled often found themselves in a better position than subscribers with delays. Those who tried to cancel their delayed orders with the intention of going to a retail store to purchase a new phone have often times been unable to do so, according to multiple emails we received. Due to the pending order status, customers would be forced to pay full MSRP for new iPhones since their accounts are no longer eligible for subsidized upgrades.

Dealings with customer care have been mixed to this point, according to accounts given by BGR readers. Several emails recount lengthy conversations that led nowhere as customer service was unable to determine the status of iPhone orders. At least one BGR reader said that AT&T offered to waive the $18 upgrade fee on his account, however he was still unaware of the status of his order at the time this article was published.

Customers with war stories always shout louder than those for whom orders have gone smoothly, and considering AT&T took in more than 200,000 pre-orders on October 7th alone, there were bound to be some bumps in the road. AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: AT&T provided the following statement to BGR via email: “We are fulfilling orders on schedule in nearly every case.  We are aware of a small number of customers who have questions about their delivery timing and are working with one-on-one with each to answer questions.”

iOS 5: Exploring 7 Hidden New Features

iPhone 4S owners are poised to become members of an elite class. Their new phones boast an improved camera, dual antennae and an unpaid personal intern named Siri — all relevant talking points in “Who's got the real iPhone?” one-upsmanship battles.

Luckily, though, even 4S have-nots can enjoy the benefits of iOS 5, one of the new phone's best features. Released Wednesday, Apple's new mobile OS is a no-brainer download (we gave it an enthusiastic 8 verdict). It's also entirely free, and compatible with iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, the 3rd- and 4th-gen iPod touch media players, and iPad and iPad 2.

Downloaded the new OS? Good. The blogosphere is teeming with iOS 5 feature guides, but aside from exposing Easter eggs hidden in Siri voice recognition, many sites are glossing over some of the OS's most hidden or novel new features. Here we explore some of the more notable or quirky additions to grace our iPhone and iPad interfaces.

At first glance, iOS 5 does nothing to address the pain and embarrassment of auto-correction mistakes. But go to your Settings menu, and navigate to General>Keyboard. Scroll to the bottom, and you'll find a prompt to add a new shortcut. Just type in the word or phrase that deserves a shortcut, and then plug in the shortcut itself.

Now, for example, when you type in “fwiw,” iOS will provide an auto-correct prompt for “for what it's worth.” It may not be a Twitter-friendly tool that's compatible with character count requirements, but it can help ease the pain of constantly miss-typing (or miss-tapping, rather) long or vexing words.

And the fun doesn't end there. I see great potential for mischief too: Grab your pal's iOS 5 device, and begin entering shortcuts for common words like “hi” or “siri,” as in the screenshot above. Hilarity abounds as your friend suspects his or her iDevice is suffering demonic possession.

You're in a high-powered business meeting. Your phone volume is mute because you don't want to offend the client. But you really need to receive that critical phone call from your pilates instructor scheduling a rain check. By assigning a unique vibration sequence to any contact, you can leave your iPhone on the table and listen for the sweet euphony of a customized “zizip, zizip” as your device resonates against the table top.

Interested? Go to Contacts, choose a contact and tap Edit. Navigate to Vibration>Create New Vibration. You'll be greeted by the screen above. Simply tap out a new vibration rhythm, save it, and prepare for near-stealth notifications of when special people are trying to reach you.

We all have different preferences when it comes to how we receive iOS notifications. Some people like audible alerts, some like vibrating alerts, some like no alerts at all. But the more flamboyant among us may prefer a new visual alert buried in the Accessibility menu in General settings. Toggling on “LED Flash For Alerts” will prompt your iPhone to trigger your camera's LED whenever you receive a message or email when the phone is set to silent mode.

This feature offers great utility to anyone who can't hear, but we also see great potential for multiplayer gamers who like to create a chilly-spooky vibe in darkened rooms. Huzzah! says the flash. Your pizza has arrived!

Much has been made about iOS 5's new text formatting options. You can select a word or text string, and then make it bold, italic or underline. That's well publicized. But check out all the other options that become available when you hold down a selection of a word.

The Suggest function provides a list of other words you may have preferred to type. Quote Level either increases or decreases the number of vertical lines that appear before text — helpful when you're annotating a threaded conversation. But one of the niftiest options is Define, shown here, which provides a tight (but surprisingly robust) dictionary entry for the selection, complete with a definition, usage examples, and often information on word derivatives and origin.

The new iOS includes a number of key features that foster more private, secure use. In Safari's settings menu (shown above), you can toggle on Private Browsing. Once enabled, Safari will refrain from building a history of your browser activity (hey, we all have something to hide).

Over in the new Message app, which provides for seamless transitions between traditional carrier-hosted text messaging and Apple-hosted iMessages, you can define whether to allow Read Receipts, which notify your friends when you've read their messages. So, if you want to continue the charade of, “Oh, did you send me a message? Never saw it,” then head to Settings>Messages, and turn Send Read Receipts to off.

Finally, you can put an end to those awkward conversations that occur when you leave your iPhone on the table, and someone reads the first few sentences of one of your text messages or emails on the lock screen. Go to Settings>Notifications and turn off Show Preview for both Messages and Mail.

If you fear your iDevice is approaching the limits of its storage capacity, head on over to Settings>General>Usage, and start surveying your worst offenders. Clicking on an app name will provide a bit more detail — specifically, the footprint of the document and data files associated with the app. You'll also see a button to delete the app entirely.

Views of alternate routes have always been available in the desktop version of Google Maps, and now they're finally available on iOS devices too. After defining where you are and where you want to be, just tap Route 1, Route 2, etc., to toggle between Google's recommended directions.

Did I leave out any hidden features that really blow your mind? Please comment below, or tweet me with suggestions. I, meanwhile, will be parsing through the 190-odd other new features released in iOS 5.

Apple's iPhone 4S now available in the U.S.

It's 8:00 a.m., do you know where your iPhone is? The day is upon us and Apple's fifth-generation iPhone is now available for purchase on the East Coast of the United States. Apple Stores that fall in the Eastern time zone are now open for business, and online pre-orders are out on delivery trucks en route to hundreds of thousands of homes across the country. As the sun moves west, retailers will open early and, in all likelihood, quickly sell through their limited launch day inventory. Did you pick up an iPhone today? Are you waiting in line for one right now? Post a comment below or shoot us an email and let us know how things are going. And if you already snagged a new iPhone 4S this morning, feel free to have Siri send that email for you.

iFixit reveals inner workings of iPhone 4S in new teardown

The crew at iFixit has given the iPhone 4S its proper tear-down, revealing the phone's inner workings and hardware. iFixit noticed that the battery offers an extra 0.5 WHrs over the one found in the iPhone 4, which is likely the reason Apple is able to advertise an additional 1-hour of 3G talk time on the iPhone 4S compared to its predecessor. The phone is equipped with a Qualcomm RTR8605 radio, an Avago ACPM-7181 power amplifier and of course a dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 processor, which has been downclocked to 800MHz. Be sure to hit the jump for a few more images of the iPhone 4S teardown. Deliveries of Apple's new smartphone begin on Friday, and in the meantime be sure to check out our hands-on with the iPhone 4S.

Apple iPhone 4S hands-on

We managed to get our hands on a brand new Apple iPhone 4S a little early, and while we haven't spent enough time with the device to write a full review yet, here are some initial impressions:
  • The iPhone 4S is noticeably faster. Having used an iPhone 4 since launch day, the experience now closely matches the iPad 2 in terms of UI speed. Apps open faster, browser performance is improved, and other system functions like installing apps from the App Store while you navigate to another app are much snappier.
  • The camera… is amazing. As noted above, the camera app opens much more quickly and taking pictures is faster as well. More importantly, the photos that are captured look worlds better than what the iPhone 4 offers, which was already quite good. We'll dive deeper into the camera in the review, but if photography is important to you, this is something that's incredibly impressive.
  • Siri: mind-blowing. Not because Siri can answer anything you throw at it, but because every other voice input system we've ever used has been command-driven, and Siri breaks that mold. Apple repeatedly mentioned that Siri can understand the meaning of your request, the context and more, and that the system will only get better. It's already leaps and bounds above anything Google offers, which is a pretty impressive solution on Android handsets.
  • The iPhone 4S uses the same vibrate system as the Verizon iPhone 4 but it's not quite as aggressive. It still does the job as well as the iPhone 4, just with a bit less force. It's just a little thing, but something we've noticed nonetheless.

Pegatron iPhone 4S order volume greater than expected

Pegatron has received a greater volume of orders for the iPhone 4S than originally expected, Commercial Times said on Wednesday. Reportedly, Pegratron had originally expected to build and ship 10 million iPhone 4S units, but it is now serving an order for 15 million units, DigiTimes said. Pegatron could ship 2-2.5 million iPhone 4S units during the fourth quarter of this year according to the report. The Taiwan-based manufacturer hopes Apple will bless it with iPad 3 orders as well, and has supposedly boosted its ability to build the metal chassis required for the device.

Sprint's iPhone 4S Will Come Unlocked for Roaming

Sprint may have the edge on its CDMA iPhone 4S when it comes to international roaming as MacWorld reports the carrier will be offering its version of the iPhone 4S, which will be released this weekend, with an unlocked micro SIM card slot. No need to worry about voiding your warranty by unlocking the phone, but you are still bound to Sprint's contract for two years anyway.

This bit of news, if it turns out to be true, will please iPhone users who travel outside the United States a lot. Now all they need is a foreign micro SIM card or get a full-sized SIM and cut it to micro proportions to avoid hefty roaming charges.

The big question now is whether this unlocked Sprint iPhone 4S will also work with a domestic AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card. Although that would be nice, that is unlikely to happen.

Sprint explains iPhone 4S unlocking policy: phones will be unlocked, then locked, then unlocked again

Yeah, that makes just as much sense to us as it does to you. Following yesterday's PR debacle, the final word from Sprint appears to be as follows:

"Sprint's policy is to have the iPhone 4S SIM locked to our network domestically and internationally. At launch, the International SIM will be unlocked. We do expect a SIM lock to be pushed to the devices shortly after launch. We will then allow existing customers in good standing to unlock the SIM for international use if needed in the future."

So, if we're reading that correctly, the iPhone you purchase and activate will be unlocked. Then, a SIM lock will be "pushed" to your device. But, if you've been a good, policy-abiding customer, your iPhone can then be unlocked manually by Sprint. Who knows what'll happen if you buy your phone and flee to a non-extradition country before Sprint comes knocking at the door, shackles in hand. Will you be left to live in peace with your newly-acquired international Micro SIM? Will you need to plead your case before a tribunal of mobile carrier overlords? Only time will tell, we suppose, or perhaps further clarification from Sprint. Jump past the break for the complete announcement.

iPhone 4S gets teardown treatment by iFixit

We've been expecting this to happen, but we didn't expect it to be so fast. Sure, plenty of folks are still waiting for their shipments to arrive, but Apple's latest magical handset is already baring its innards, courtesy of the screwdriver-wielding mad scientists at iFixit.

The good folks over at iFixit have finished mucking about the iPhone 4S's innards and have confirmed the handset's packing 512MB of DDR2 RAM, an updated Qualcomm MDM6610 chip and 16GB of NAND flash memory courtesy of Toshiba. There's no indication that the A5 processor is clocked at 800MHz as claimed by Anandtech though.

Idle hands will be happy to know the phone's been awarded a six out of ten repairability rating — it's not quite amateur territory, but you don't have to be a pro to get your hands dirty.

Traffic Brings iPhone 4S Activations, iOS 5 Downloads to Standstill

With the launch of iOS 5 on Wednesday and the iPhone 4S today, excited iOS users have queued up to make the transition to Apple's latest and greatest. Unfortunately for many, the transition hasn't been as smooth as they'd hoped.

A number of early adopters who tried to upgrade to iOS 5 late Wednesday and Thursday experienced errors due to a massive influx of traffic on Apple's servers. And this morning, Verizon and AT&T's activation servers appear to be having a similar issue. Luckily, repeated attempts, or just waiting a while until server loads go down, fixes the issue for most upgraders.

Many users who tried to update on Wednesday afternoon got "Error 3200" or "Internal Service" errors because their devices weren't able to make a connection to Apple's servers. The issue became widespread as iOS users across the globe decided it was time to update, and Apple's servers couldn't keep up with the crushing volume of traffic.

At least one iPhone user who attempted the iOS 5 upgrade ended up bricking his phone after getting the Error 3200 message.

Twitter searches for Error 3200 or AT&T activation reveal complaints from quite a few iOS users, and there are additional reports of Verizon having server problems Friday morning. "Error 3200" became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter by Wednesday evening.

On AT&T, the error message reads: “Your activation is still pending. You will receive an email notification once your activation is complete.” Below that it reads, “We're sorry. There was a problem connecting to the server. Please try again later.” Some suffering from this issue have already deactivated their previous iPhones (including our own editor, Jon Phillips). These folks are now left without any cell service until server loads die down.

If you want to avoid such issues, it may be best to hold off a few days or weeks to make the jump. Although Apple has an extremely robust beta program — iOS 5 has been available to developers since May — there is also still a possibility of system bugs, which would inevitably be ironed out within the next few weeks. To wit: When the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 launched last summer, Apple issued the iOS 4.1 update that fixed problems like sluggish performance on the 3GS and proximity-sensor issues.

Another thing to consider: If you've jailbroken your device, when you upgrade to iOS 5 you will lose your jailbreak (there is a tethered jailbreak already available, though). Regardless, with iOS 5, you may not even feel the need to jailbreak, as some traditional jailbreak-only features — like having the camera button on the lock screen and better notifications — are now built-in.

Have you been experiencing iOS 5 download or iPhone 4S activation-related issues? Share your experiences in the comments.

Image: Brian X. Chen/

iPhone 4S review

This isn't the iPhone 5. No matter how badly you wanted something slim, sleek and wedge-shaped, this isn't it. If you went ahead and got your hopes up ahead of Apple's "Let's Talk iPhone" event, hopefully you've gotten over the pangs of discontent by now, because this device pictured front and center is the iPhone 4S. It's a new spin on an old phone that will shock none, but give it half a chance, and it will still impress.

The iPhone 4S comes with a faster processor, a better camera, a smarter virtual assistant and twice the storage of its predecessor - if you don't mind paying for it. Like the iPhone 3GS did before to the 3G, the 4S bumps the iPhone 4 down to second-class status, leaving those Apple fans who must have the best aspiring to own its decidedly familiar exterior. Apple says this is the most amazing iPhone ever. Is it? Yes, of course it is, but read on to see whether it's really worth an upgrade.

Hardware Familiar is a good term for the exterior of the iPhone 4S. When the 4 was unveiled in the summer of 2010 it was a strikingly different design from anything else on the market - glass on the front and back, exposed screws holding together a deliciously clean ring of stainless steel. It was kind of chunky and industrial, like a tastefully refinished factory loft - a big contrast to the smooth and nondescript models that came before. The iPhone 4 was something truly new and, for the days and weeks after its release, just spotting one in the wild caused a sensation. It was so different that people wanted to touch and hold the thing, to see how it felt in the hand.

Few are going to go out of their way to touch and hold the iPhone 4S, but that's not to say it isn't very nice to grasp. The iPhone 4 felt like a finely crafted piece of machinery and there's no doubt this one walks in those very same footsteps. Compared to your average modern Android wunderphone the 4S feels small, dense and heavy, a very different sensation than the occasionally lighter but frequently more plasticky competition. The 4S does actually have slightly more heft than the 4, but only by carefully holding one in each hand can you notice the increase from 137 grams (4.83 ounces) to 140 (4.94 ounces).

Save for a few tweaks that even the most dedicated Appleista wouldn't be able to spot at a distance, the 4S is identical from the exterior. A few of the controls have been shifted by fractions of a millimeter and this uses the same exterior antenna layout as the CDMA iPhone 4 that hit Verizon earlier this year. Rather more significantly, though, how it works with those antennas has changed.

The iPhone 4S can now intelligently and instantly switch between those exterior antennas, in real-time, even while you're in the middle of a call. Will this successfully put to rest the iPhone's reputation as a call dropper? That we're not able to say conclusively at this time, as you really need masses of people hammering on a device to bring out its worst. ("Antennagate" didn't come to light until a few days after the iPhone 4's release.) But, in testing a Vodafone 4S against a 4 we found the 4S to be consistently one bar higher, and did a far better job of holding on to 3G data. Here in the States, our Sprint 4S kept right up with another device we had handy from the same carrier: the Nexus S 4G.

There have been a fair number of other tweaks on the inside. In fact it's safe to say Apple threw out the lot of the iPhone 4's guts and stuffed in a whole new batch, starting with the A5 processor. Yes, it's the same dual-core chip that powers the iPad 2 and, while Apple isn't saying, it's running at 800MHz - a bit of a step down from the 1GHz it's clocked at in the tablet. RAM unfortunately stays the same, at 512MB, but maximum available storage has doubled, matching the iPod touch by maxing out at 64GB.

The other major change to the internals comes in the wireless network support. This is a quadband UMTS / HSDPA / HSUPA (850, 900, 1,900, 2,100MHz) and quad-band GSM / EDGE (850, 900, 1,800, 1,900MHZ) device, while also offering dual-band CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (900, 1,900MHz). All that naturally means you'll be getting 3G data on nearly every carrier in these lands and abroad, though those providers are still being cagey about just how much success you'll have at porting the 4S from one to another - at least until the unlocked model shows up in November. There's no 4G on offer, though AT&T's 14.4Mbps HSPA+ service will leave you feeling a bit less out of touch.

Up front is the same 3.5-inch, 960 x 640 Retina display that wowed us 16 months ago on the iPhone 4. That 326ppi density is still quite a lovely thing to behold, surely one of the highest quality panels currently available today in a phone, but in nearly a year and a half the world has moved on. Smartphones are bigger than they were in 2010 and 3.5-inches seems on the small side of average. It's a great size for those with moderately proportioned hands, and opinions certainly differ when determining what is the optimal girth for a smartphone (if, indeed, there is such a thing as optimal) but, after living with a 4.2-inch or larger device, looking at the digital world through a 3.5-inch portal feels just a bit... narrow.

Software (Siri)

Though it comes a few days after its release, the iPhone 4S ushers in the world of iOS 5. This latest revision of Apple's mobile operating system helps to clean some of the dust off of what was starting to feel a bit dated without actually changing any fundamentals. iOS 5 introduces a slew of improvements and enhancements, some minor and some rather more major. We've already posted a particularly comprehensive iOS 5 review, so we won't blather on about it any longer here except to say it's a very solid update that will make your smartphone an even more seamless, integral part of your life.

The one thing we will blather on about quite a bit more here is Siri, your own digital helper. Siri is an evolution of the Siri Virtual Assistant, a spin-off of a DARPA project called CALO. Apple bought the company in early 2010 and now that functionality is baked right into the OS. Sort of.

Siri can only be found on the iPhone 4S, a curious and seemingly arbitrary shunning of the other iOS devices. We've heard that's due to the processor demands required for voice recognition, but since you need an active data connection to use Siri we have to imagine that the heavy lifting for voice recognition is happening somewhere inside Apple's massive data center, which would seemingly allow lower-spec devices to do the same. And, since the iPad 2 is running the A5 at an even higher clock speed, there's just no good reason we can think of for putting Siri exclusively on the 4S. Let the poor girl out, we say.

Should you find yourself owning the requisite hardware to give Siri a shot, you'll probably be pretty impressed with what she can do. Of course, "she" is a characteristic bit of anthropomorphism that we'll apply to the same voice you've probably heard in a half-dozen GPS devices in the past, but still, calling her an "it" just seems a little wrong. Siri herself, though, wouldn't mind. Ask her "Are you a man or a woman?" and her response is a curt "I was not assigned a gender." We think she's just playing hard to get.

Siri can do a huge number of things, from sending texts and emails to finding restaurants and getting directions from one place to another - things that, it must be said, could largely be done before by voice on other devices and platforms. It's really the enhanced ability to understand casually spoken English mixed in with the notion of context that sets this apart.

Let's talk about the context bit first. Say you want to send a text to your wife to remind her to pick up the dogs from boarding on the way home from work. You can just say, "Tell my wife don't forget the dogs." Siri will send your wife a message saying, "Don't forget the dogs." How does Siri know who your wife is? Well, she doesn't at first, but she'll ask, and once you tell her she'll remember - until the end of time.

That context works in other situations, too, like receiving a text message from someone, asking Siri to check your calendar, and then just saying "Reply, I'll see you then." You don't need to say who to reply to, Siri will remember. For the first time we feel less like we're giving stiff commands to a device and more like we're actually having a conversation. That said, you can still be as commanding as you like. Siri won't mind.

And then there's the other part that makes Siri good: you don't have to remember the commands. At least, not as much as you do with Android. If you want directions on Google Navigation you have to specifically say "Directions to X." With Siri you can say "Get me directions to X," or you can say "Tell me how to get to X," or even "Directions to X." It's a minor difference but it feels more like Siri is smart enough to figure out what you want, whereas the voice recognition elsewhere feels more like you have to be smart enough to remember to say what it wants. (Even so, we'd certainly prefer to use the far more polished Google Navigation than IOS's Maps to get around.)

Still, this isn't exactly unprecedented, apps like Vlingo do similar things elsewhere. Also, it should be noted that Siri isn't necessarily any more accurate than other offerings. We did a side-by-side comparison of the dictation abilities of iOS 5 vs. those built into Android and Windows Phone and found them to be similar. Android's dictation services, though rather less friendly than Siri and requiring a few more taps on the display, were every bit as accurate. Windows Phone, however, struggled to provide consistently accurate transcriptions, often missing words and getting more complex statements wrong. For example, the spoken text "Kurt Vonnegut lived near Schenectady, New York," one time resulted in the message "Could I get laid in your Schenectady New York." An interesting message that Mr. Vonnegut would have likely approved, but wasn't exactly what we had in mind.

It's in going the other way that Siri has even more potential, saying that you have a new message and then promptly reading it to you - then letting you reply by voice. The biggest issue here, though, is that you can't have emails read to you, which means you can't fully reply by voice. (You can do voice dictation, but you'll need to trigger that with your fingers.)

This potentially could be a boon for people who would rather listen to their inbox than NPR on the commute home from work, and indeed it is, but the functionality here is a little more limited than we'd like. For example, you can tell Siri to look up something on Wolfram Alpha, and that she'll dutifully do, but she won't read you the response. You have to look at the phone, likely thanks to Wolfram Alpha rendering its results as images rather than plain text.

A truly good assistant will look up whatever you ask and promptly tell you the answer - not print it out and make you read it. Having to still fish your phone out of your pocket for some things makes Siri rather less wonderful than she could be, but she's very impressive nevertheless. And, more importantly, this signals that Apple is taking a real interest in improving voice recognition and hands-free device interaction. That should mean some amazing progress from here, and we can't wait to talk to the next generation Siri.

We also hope that Siri's siblings will be able to run offline, because today's girl requires a 3G or WiFi connection to do anything. Even the simple voice commands that were available in iOS before no longer work offline, and if you happen to be one of the few who actually used those commands to change tunes while offline, you're sadly going to have to find another way. We also hope that she broadens her horizons a bit, as much of Siri's functionality (directions, looking up businesses) doesn't work in Europe.

Battery life and performance

The teardown of the iPhone 4S revealed a new battery pack that's just a wee bit bigger than that found in the 4 (5.3Whrs vs. 5.25) so the promised increase in longevity found here must come from more efficient internals. And that's a very good thing - we'd prefer to see phones get more frugal than simply progressing on to bigger and heavier batteries.

Apple promises up to eight hours of battery life on an active 3G connection, which is up one hour from the 4. Curiously, though, standby time has dropped from 300 hours on the 4 to 200 on the 4S. (This phone is, apparently, something of a restless sleeper.) Other stats remain the same: 14 hours on GSM, 10 hours of video watching and 40 hours of listening to tunes. Alas we've not yet been able to complete our full suite of battery tests (we'll update this when we do).

When you're less concerned about longevity and more concerned about outright speed, the 4S won't disappoint when compared to its predecessors. On the SunSpider 9.1 JavaScript benchmark, a good test of overall ability to render the best the web has to offer, the phone scores a 2,200ms on average. That's well lower (quicker) than the 3,700 the iPhone 4 manages and faster than any other smartphone we've tested. In fact it ranks right up there with tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (2,200), but still the iPad 2 leaves it behind with its score of 1,700.

But it's not all about the benchmarks, and we've been overall quite impressed by the performance of the 4S in general tasks. We remain continually impressed by the performance of the iPhone 4 - despite its aging assets, it still performs like a young smartphone in its prime. In other words, we're not seeing a particularly strong difference between day-to-day usage of the two devices. Yes, your apps will load a little more quickly and react more responsively and your webpages will render more snappily, but Apple already did such a good job of ensuring solid performance on the 4 that this upgrade seems rather less than necessary.

Of course, that could all change when we start to see some games able to make use of the extra firepower the iPhone 4S has at its disposal. At the phone's coming out party Epic showed off Infinity Blade 2 and wowed us with very impressive graphics. The problem is, that game isn't due out until December, and we're not aware of other similarly eye-popping 4S-exclusive titles in the pipeline that will be dropping before then.

The final aspect of performance is network speed and, as ever, your mileage can and will vary greatly depending on the relative strength or weakness of carriers in your area. But, regardless of carrier, the lack of LTE here is a definite disappointment. Top-tier phones on Android almost universally feature a fourth gee and, with Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all finally onboard the LTE train to 4G Town, it's about time the iPhone hitched a ride too. Its omission surely helps battery life but hurts this device's status as a world-conquering wunderphone.

We tested a Sprint version of the phone and found that, with full bars on 3G, download speeds were averaging about 1Mbps down and .9Mbps up, with pings hovering around 70ms. Comparing that to a Nexus S 4G (with WiMAX disabled), also running on Sprint, we found download speeds to be quite comparable. Signal strength between the two phones was comparable as well.

Camera Apple is quite proud of the iPhone 4's status as the most popular camera on photo sharing sites like Flickr, and now the company is finally giving all those guerilla photogs something good to capture pictures with. As was long rumored, the iPhone 4S steps up to an eight megapixel, backside-illuminated sensor that sits behind a new lens array with an f/2.4 aperture (improved from the old phone's f/2.8). More megapixels certainly don't equate to better pictures, but it's safe to say the new camera package here impresses.

But, what will impress you first is the speed. Apple is quite proud of the speed improvements for bringing up the camera app and taking the first picture, and it is a noticeable improvement over the 4 - except when using the HDR mode that was introduced in iOS 4.1. Here it doesn't seem to be much if any quicker at all. Leave that off, though, and you'll be hopping from one shot to the next like someone who hasn't got time for shutter lag.

In our initial camera testing, we put ourselves into tourist mode: walking around, taking random pictures of things that tourists would. The quality of the resulting shots is definitely good, among the top top tier of shooters we've tested. The phone doesn't seem to be bothered by big differences in contrast (like the Galaxy S II) and does a good job focusing quickly and accurately - we only had one or two missed macro shots.

Video quality is also top-notch. The iPhone 4S will record at 1080p30 and we found the footage to be clear and bright. Auto-focus happens quickly and we didn't detect any obnoxious focus-hunting.

Overall the improvements on the camera are tangible and appreciated, but there's one thing Apple sadly failed to fix here: its location. The peep-hole for the lens is still too close to the edge of the device for our tastes, which resulted in many a stray finger sneaking into our shots. We'd have liked to see it sneak its way a little further toward the center of the phone.

Wrap-up Is this the best iPhone yet? Yes, of course it is. The iPhone 4S takes the previous king, gives it some more pep and adds on a better camera to boot, all without really gaining any extra weight. This is, then, the best iPhone on the market, but that still leaves us with two unanswered questions: is it the best phone on the market, and is it worth the upgrade?

The first question is hard to answer. If you're into iOS, have a wealth of App Store purchases you'd like to keep using and in general are down with the Apple ecosystem then, yes, this is the best phone out there. If, however, you've been shopping around, or are already tight with Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry or Meego (hey, the N9 is pretty great) then it's hard to see this as a truly forward-looking device. The 3.5-inch display and abject lack of 4G connectivity alone make this phone feel a little too conservative to really tickle the fancy of those looking for something a bit more progressive.

So, then, is it worth the upgrade? Well, if your contract happens to be up and you want an iPhone and you haven't already jumped on the iPhone 4 then yes, this is the one you want. It does come at a $100 premium over its predecessor, but in the long run that premium will be worth it as the 4S will surely be supported by Apple for a good bit longer than the 4 (as the 3GS continues to be, while the 3G is now fading into obsolescence). But, if you're mid-contract or haven't quite yet been wooed by all that iOS has to offer, we'd recommend sitting this one out. The iPhone 4S does everything better than the iPhone 4, but it simply doesn't do anything substantially different.

Zach Honig and Mat Smith contributed to this review.

Siri ported to an iPhone 4, old phone learns a new trick

Apple's iPhone 4 may not have the fancy dual core CPU of its successor, but thanks to the efforts of developer Steven Troughton-Smith and the folks at 9to5 Mac, it may soon have Siri. The port of the sultry voice assistant was accomplished by using the 4S Siri and Springboard files, and some serious elbow grease, no doubt. As you can see in the video below, it's far from perfect, but it can recognize spoken commands without issue. Currently, the hack is missing an iPhone 4 GPU driver that keeps things running buttery smooth on the elder phone, and Cupertino won't authenticate Siri's commands coming from it either. So, it isn't quite ready for primetime, but it should only be a matter of time before all you iPhone 4 owners can tell Siri what to do, too.

Slider Bluetooth Keyboard For iPhone 4S

You know how incredibly popular a certain device is when accessories for it are being introduced in the market before the very device is yet to be made available to the public. This seems to be the case for the upcoming Apple iPhone 4S. While the iPhone 4S is yet to reach consumer's hands, there are already accessories like this Slider Bluetooth Keyboard being made available and ready for those future iPhone 4S owners.

The Slider Bluetooth Keyboard from Concord Keystone is designed to give the iPhone 4S a phone case that comes with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for those who wish and yearn for the more traditional way of typing on their device. It can be paired with the iPhone 4S wirelessly via Bluetooth. The keyboard also comes with its own rechargeable battery so that it won't be sharing power use with the smart phone. The Slider Bluetooth Keyboard is available at Concord Keystone for US$50.

Apple iPhone 4S now available for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon

Today, October 14th, is the big day. The Apple iPhone 4S is now available at the three major US carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. All three carriers have their own advantage. Sprint is the only one with an unlimited iPhone 4S data plan, while AT&T claims to have the highest download speeds thanks to its HSPA+ network. If you choose Verizon, you'll be getting the best nationwide call coverage.

Specs wise, the iPhone 4S spots that same 3.5-inch Retina display we saw on the iPhone 4, but with better hardware this time around. It has a better 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording and the same dual-core A9 processor found in the iPad 2. The iPhone 4S runs on Apple's latest mobile OS, iOS 5.0. Probably one of the coolest new features is Siri, your own personal assistant. Basically, you give Siri a task and she completes it. You can check out our in-depth look at Siri by our own Staska here.

If you were lucky enough to be one of the many who pre-ordered their iPhone 4S through Apple or through a carrier, congrats. If you weren't as lucky, we have a full list of the places you'll be able to go and grab an iPhone 4S . The obvious choice would be the Apple Store, although we don't know how long it will take until they are sold out. Your next best bey is the carrier of your choice, although all three have been sold out online, they have all stated that they will carry some stock. RadioShack, BestBuy, Sam's club, and Target are all good retail alternatives. If you plan on getting your iPhone 4S today or already pre-ordered yours, let us know how long it took you to get it and what your initial thoughts are on the device.

What's so smart about the new iPhone 4S's antenna?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

With the iPhone 4S, Apple says it will deliver an iPhone that works anywhere in the world, and with fantastic reception. So...  How did they do it? One word: antennas.

Apple's marketing guru Phil Schiller said the iPhone 4S “intelligently switches between two antennas to receive and send.” Brilliant! But vague. How exactly does a smart antenna act?

When you have a small, thin device that needs to receive and send multiple types of signals without interfering with one another, you need to get creative. As we learned from the iPhone 4 “antennagate,” even the best engineers and designers can't always come up with perfect antenna scheme.

But antenna gurus have plenty of tricks up their sleeves, it's just a matter of finding the best recipe - and sometimes inventing a spanking new technology. Read on to find out what they think about the new antenna.

“What [Apple] seemed to allude to was a switching or selective processing technique: taking the better signal between two antennas and using it,” said Aaron Vronko, co-founder of Rapid Repair, in Portage, Michigan.

That's one step in the right direction, but there are many other antenna hurdles to clear. On a cell phone, antennas have to be placed close together simply because cell phones are little. And antennas close together tend to interfere with each other. One way phone makers can address that is by placing antennas at opposite ends of the phone, a technique called spatial diversity.

In the AT&T version of the iPhone 4, however, both cell antennas were at the bottom. So if you happened to grab the phone too close to both of them simultaneously, you would experience signal attenuation. Antennagate!

But Verizon requires that the antennas on their phones be separated at the top and bottom of the device. That way, if you're holding the phone at the bottom, you likely have a free antenna at the top.

Still, since a cell phone is so small, simply separating the antennas won't prevent all interference. You need a space between them of at least one full wavelength. At the lowest wavelength, about 900 MHz, that would be 13 inches. Not even Gordon Gekko's phone was quite that big (his DynaTAC was 9.8 inches). So engineers use other “antenna diversity” approaches, like polarity - placing the antennas at varying angles, or pattern diversity - using antennas with different radiation patterns.

Going back to the improved Verizon iPhone 4 for a second, it did have better reception, but the service provider's antenna requirement only applied to received calls. Outgoing calls could go out on the same antenna.

For the iPhone 4S, Apple probably implemented spatial diversity for both incoming and outgoing calls, according to Spencer Webb, CEO of AntennaSys, an antenna design and integration consulting firm. It's yet another improvement, but it's not enough to get a hardened antenna expert excited.

“I do not think any special magic is going into this design whatsoever,” Webb said.

What Webb finds a bit more interesting is imagining how Apple and other cell phone makers pass the FCC requirements for radiofrequency emissions. All of this antenna switching uses a lot of energy, and all handheld devices have to stay below a specific (and quite conservative, according to Webb) level for transmitting heat to human flesh - and don't forget they have to cram the GPS and Wi-Fi antennas in there too. So to create a device that won't heat up your head (and to prevent excessive battery drain), Webb thinks Apple may have come up with a fancy algorithm for distributing antenna signals - which might be Apple's secret.

Another bonus facilitated by the iPhone 4S antenna design is no more choosing between AT&T GSM phones for traveling abroad and Verizon CDMA versions for better reception but no service outside of the United States. Vronko guesses that Apple created a true world phone with an entirely new processor. And he can't wait to rip one apart on October 14 to try to find out for sure.

“The biggest limitation in the past was the cost and availability of the baseband processor, which processes specific radio signals,” Vronko said. “Its job is to send and receive radio transmission going to cell towers.”

But you needed a discrete chip for CDMA and GSM, and two chips in one phone would be bulky and expensive. Vronko says Apple probably called on a company like Broadcom or Marvell to build a new processor. “That has been done before, but it's not done that often,” Vronko said. “There are not that many true world phones because they're expensive.”

If reception with the iPhone 4S works as great at Schiller claims, I might be convinced to upgrade from my iPhone 4 AT&T model. But who are we kidding? The iPhone 4S could require you to carry your own bunny ears around to make the thing work and people would still line up to drop their $500.

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