Everything You Wanted to Know About the iPhone 5 But Were Too Afraid to Ask
With the first reviews pouring in today for everyone’s soon to be most bragged about toy, the iPhone 5, it’s time to take a step back and look at everything we know about the new iPhone, to date.
It’s thinner (the thinnest smartphone in the world according to Apple), it’s taller (a half an inch taller to be exact), it comes in black and white (though that doesn’t matter according to the late Michael Jackson), and of course it’s pretty sleek. Apple has had more than enough time in this business to know what works and what doesn’t and they aren’t messing with the formula now. The iPhone 5 looks like an iPhone, just better.
For the most part, all of the usual upgrades apply. The sound is better, the video is clearer, and everything is supposed to be faster. Of particular note, though, are the new 4G capabilities and Siri functions. The 4G is supposedly as quick as you need it to be, Siri is better than ever, and can perform an array of new tricks from pulling up apps on request, to providing sports scores. Also, the camera is supposed to work better in lowlight, and the battery life is cited as working up to 12-14 hours in some cases with normal usage, which would mean a great improvement over the previous models. However, if you’re looking for the real new feature of the iPhone 5, you have to turn to the new iO6.
The biggest upgrade to i06 is the new Apple Maps features which opposes the popular Google Maps program. Reviews aren’t particularly flattering for the new app, as reviewers cite trouble using it practically in urban environments ,along with being generally behind Google Maps, but with things like Yelp integration, and Siri enabled GPS, a few updates could put the system on the right track. Otherwise, the new operating system is offering up increased Facebook functionality, Facetime compatibility, and a great all in one travelling app called Passbook that also works with some of your payment methods to help create a virtual wallet. Nice.
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Posted in: News
Tags: accessories, adapter, apple maps, Apps, att, black or white, Blogs, CNET, data plans, ellen degeneres, facebook, features, Gadgets, google maps, headphones, iO6, iPhone 5, john elerick, lightning connector, michael jackson, new york times, News, parodies, passbook, previews, price, Reviews, round up, samsung, siri, sprint, Technology, the chive, The Guardian, verdict, verizon
The femtocell situation
After Gizmodo posted a quick review of AT&T’s upcoming Microcell 3G, I wanted to take a look at the femtocell situation as a whole. By and large I think femtocells are a great idea. They provide a relatively low cost method for increasing your cell signal at home. The cost could be lower though, as in free, and would breed a lot of good blood between provider and consumer.
As it stands there are a few options for a femtocell. There’s the AT&T Microcell 3G, which costs $150 plus $20/month if you opt for the unlimited Microcell minutes plan. Without a plan your femtocell minutes will be deducted from your monthly account as usual. You can get Sprint’s Airave, which runs $100 plus $15/month for unlimited calls on one line. MagicJack is also reportedly releasing a femtocell, which will likely be the most reasonable of the bunch, at an undisclosed unit cost and the $20/year service fee.
It’s hard to fault MagicJack for the yearly fee since it isn’t a service provider, and yet it provides the best service out of any of these solutions. It seems odd, in the case of AT&T and Sprint to pay to use your existing broadband connection to send data more reliably than over the cellular network for which you also already pay. It reeks of customer extortion.
Consider an alternative – AT&T says hey guys, we’re really sorry about our crappy network performance, but these femtocells will run you $50 one time, won’t count against your cellular minutes, and will drastically improve your home service since we’ve basically replaced your home phone anyway. Do you know how many people would buy one? Everyone. Every single person with a cellphone would get one of these things, and everyone would be a lot happier with their current service.
You can bet people will flee from AT&T once the iPhone is available elsewhere. This is just another reason to leave.
Palm’s still bleeding money at alarming rates
I’ll start of on a positive note. This is no $500 million dollar hematoma, the likes of which we saw from Palm last year. That’s as good as it gets, though. When you look at the raw numbers, the situation is bad.
For Q2 of fiscal 2010 for Palm, the company sold just 783,000 smartphones, a decrease of 5% from last quarter. Just so you get that, leading up to the holidays and on the heels of the Pixi release, Palm sold fewer smartphones than it did last quarter.
Here’s CEO Jon Rubenstein:
We are continuing to execute strongly against our long-term strategy with the delivery of Palm Pixi, the new carrier launches completed this quarter, and the upcoming opening of Palm’s full developer program. We’re still in the early stages of a long race, and we’re energized by the opportunity to compete in this exciting market.
I hate to be the one to tell you, Jon, but this won’t be a long race at all if you keep losing money and market share. There is no long-term plan. You need to get app development going in a big way. You need to get your devices into the hands of three times as many consumers and hope that half of them like what you sell. You need to have thought of this a year ago, long before the Pre launch.
Unless, of course, your long-term strat is to get bought. That I can actually see happening.
Posted in: Mobile, News
Tags: palm, palm bleeding, palm losing money, palm making money, palm pixi, palm pre, palm stock, pre, quarterly earnings, sprint
Handset Review: Motorola Debut i856
I’ve spent the last two weeks with the Motorola Debut i856, a feature phone on the Sprint network that makes use of iDEN tech with push-to-talk. It’s the slimmest push-to-talk phone I’ve seen and has solid voice quality and a decent music player. Unfortunately, the keypad makes texting feel like a chore and with increasingly cheap smartphones, the i856 might not have enough features to keep your interest.
The i856 is definitely a good looking phone. I’ve always preferred sliders to clamshells, and again, the thin body is a nice addition to the world of iDEN devices. At 4.19 inches long by 2.0 inches wide by 0.59 thick, it’s small enough to tuck into a pocket or a small purse. The front of the phone has a ring with four navigation buttons and a selection button. The left, right, and selection buttons control the media player whenever you have music playing. The rest of the time they’re used for standard browsing. The side of the phone has your volume rocker, the push-to-talk key (which also pulls up the contacts page) and a volume toggle. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, allowing the use of your headset of choice.
One confusing design feature is the placement of the microSD slot. It’s inconveniently tucked under the battery cover – not a huge deal, but a pain if you like to switch out your music regularly.
The keypad design is where the i856 suffers most. It looks good, but the buttons are spongy and close together, making it almost impossible to text with two hands. The keys are raised, so it’s easy enough to dial by feel with one hand, but doing anything else is an exercise in frustration.
With any feature phone, I look for it to do one thing really well. If I wanted something that could multi-task well, I’d step up to a smartphone. The i856 actually has a great little media player. It organizes tracks by artist, album, and genre, and (my personal favorite feature) it supports podcasts. You can set the phone to play music in the background while performing other functions, and the keys that toggle on the front of the phone make it easy to control what you hear. The player supports a wide range of formats, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting what you want on the phone.
The i856 also has a 1.3MP camera. It takes pictures of about the quality you’d expect, worse in low light. There’s a 600 capacity contact list with the ability to group contacts for push-to-talk and customize caller ID photos and ringtones. Beyond that you get the basic downloads for wallpapers, ringtones, and games.
Quality and Performance
I was really impressed with the call quality on the i856. It’s crystal clear on both ends, so much so that my friend thought it was a VoIP call. Speaker phone was good enough for occasional hands-free use. Again, media features are strong and easy to control, just make sure you’re using a headset. The external speakers sound tinny and thin.
Overall, this is a decent phone if you’re really committed to push-to-talk. Beyond that, your $100 could get you a Palm Pre if you’re committed to Sprint (the i856 is also available through Boost), which is a much more flexible device.
Motorola has offered us two of these handsets for a giveaway. As soon as we have details for the contest I’ll post them here. Don’t forget to check out our other reviews at the Gadget Teaser Reviews section.
Posted in: Mobile, Reviews
Tags: feature phone, handset review, headlines, i856, iden, media phone, motorola, motorola i856, nextel, push-to-talk, smartphones, sprint
Sprint Drops The Pre Deal
A couple days ago I posted the latest deal from Sprint – a $100 credit over three billing periods if you bought a Pre and ported your number. Well the deal’s over. In fact, it wasn’t even supposed to begin.
Sprint issued the following statement on the matter:
After further internal review today, the offer of a port-in service credit of $100 to new customers who buy the Palm Pre has been pulled because it was put into the system in error.
That’s a hell of an error. Sprint did say that it would honor the deal for anyone who signed up while it was live, but after that, no dice. I’d be curious to see what the subscription numbers looked like while the deal was running, and whether they looked any different from the usual.
On the upside, maybe Sprint doesn’t need as many customers as I thought it did.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Tags: palm, palm pre, palm pre deal, palm pre price credit, palm pre release, palm pre sales, palm pulls pre deal, pre deal, pre price cut, sprint, sprint $100 credit, sprint pre, sprint pre credit
Sprint Offers Pre Converts $100 Credit
Just three months after launching the Palm Pre, Sprint is offering a $100 service credit to new Pre customers on its network. The credit essentially cuts the price of the phone in half, which isn’t a bad deal. It’s not the first time the Pre has come down to the $100 price point, but it does show just how badly Sprint wants new customers to get the phone in their hands.
I think it’s a decent strat, too. The Pre isn’t my phone of choice, mostly because the differentiators don’t really matter to me. The keyboard, though physical, is way too small for my hands, and I don’t really need multitasking, especially for a phone that doesn’t have many apps. For a first time smartphone owner, though, the Pre is really a great choice. The OS is quick and easy to navigate, includes a decent camera, and has all the basic smartphone functions you need. You can also get a full data plan cheaper than with most Blackberry devices or the iPhone.
It’s no secret that Sprint needs customers, and it needs to retain those customers. Offering solid deals in the midst of a recession is an almost sure-fire way to get a few converts. You can get the deal by signing a two-year contract with Sprint before October 31st. The credit will be spread across three months.
Posted in: Mobile
Tags: palm, palm pre, palm pre deal, palm pre price credit, palm pre release, palm pre sales, pre deal, pre price cut, sprint, sprint $100 credit, sprint pre, sprint pre credit
Palm’s Pre Can’t Plug Sprint’s Leak
Sprint’s just posted their second quarter numbers and it doesn’t look great. The company may be doing better than a year ago today, but they’re still losing customers at what plenty would could a steady flow. Some might venture to say heavy, but I’d spend so little time around that type of individual I’d hopefully miss it.
How bout some numbers then? Dan Heese and company lost $384 million along with 257,000 subscribers. Those are some big numbers to be throwing around, especially since next month won’t likely get much better. That’s when we’ll see the full impact of the Virgin Mobile acquisition and the loss of Pre exclusivity, which may well be the only thing presently keeping Sprint afloat.
If you’re one of those “half-full” types, you’ll no doubt remember that just six months ago, Sprint lost a cool $1 billion along with a million customers. I’d be interested to hear you have to say next month. “At least they’re not Vonage?”
Sprint Picks Up Virgin Mobile
Today, Sprint announced they dropped a cool $483 million on Virgin Mobile. You may remember Virgin as one of the last standing boutique cell providers. They used to compete directly with Sprint’s own Boost Mobile, but no more.
Sprint plans to roll Virgin into its own Boost Mobile network, giving them a corner on the small and ever-shrinking MVNO market. The good news for Sprint is that the acquisition won’t require much work. Virgin already operates on Sprint’s network.
A company press release cited current Virgin USA CEO, Dan Schulman, for his excitement for the new brand. “Virgin Mobile USA redefined the U.S. prepaid segment when we launched seven years ago,” said Schulman. “Sprint is committed to growing its prepaid business and this transaction will provide us with the resources and opportunities to compete more aggressively, and strengthen our position in prepaid.” Let’s hope so, for Sprint’s sake. The company is having enough trouble as it is.
Sprint Takes Their First Shot
Remember how Palm and Sprint weren’t going to position the Pre against the iPhone? Because the Pre isn’t meant to run against the iPhone. Because it was was designed for its own subset of consumers, not iPhone malcontents. Because, because, because.
The world didn’t pay much attention to that plan, though, because frankly, the devices are similar enough for comparison and in the world of cellphones, it’s usually an either/or decision. Either I get an iPhone or I get a Pre. You get the idea.
Sprint has finally caved, taking their first shot straight at Apple’s face. They posted the ad at right on their Facebook page this week, which features the Pre leaning against a chewed-to-the-core Apple. As if they they thought the ad was a little too subtle, it also includes text like, “The Palm Pre does things the iPhone can’t. Run multiple applications at the same time with real-time updates and even save $1200 over two years.”
The ad does seem to be well timed, at least. Original iPhone contracts should be up right around now, and who knows, maybe the Pre will nab a few of those folks away from Apple, but I’m pretty unimpressed with their sales pitch. Run multiple applications? Like…all 30 of them at once? Pitching your multitasking is great if you have some sort of reasonable app selection, but 30? Why not remind people that you’ve got a full keyboard, a flash on the camera, a slick new operating system? Granted, the first two are obvious, but they’re benefits the customer will see immediately, not in six months when you finally release your SDK.
Posted in: Apple, iPhone, Mobile
Tags: iPhone, palm, palm pre ad, pre, pre flash camera, pre full keyboard, pre multitasking, pre vs. iphone, sprint, sprint facebook ad, sprint vs att
Pre Sells 50,000 Units In First Weekend
There were all sorts of doubts surrounding Palm’s Pre Launch. Whether it was a shortage of hardware, a lackluster phone, or the short-term Sprint exclusivity, plenty folks had their reasons for thinking the phone would flop.
According to early reports out of the Wall Street Journal, the Pre was a bigger hit than many expected. According to the WSJ, the Pre sold 50,000 units over the weekend, marking the launch a success, at least for now. By comparison, the iPhone sold 146,000 units at launch, but as we know, the Pre isn’t the iPhone, and 50,000 units is nothing to scoff at. Still, I have to wonder, will today’s WWDC Keynote have an effect on upcoming sales?
And what of inventory? Many stores report being sold out of the phone. Some go so far as to claim the device is sold out nationwide. If a new iPhone announcement doesn’t kill the Pre, how long will consumers have to wait for the next shipment?
A JP Morgan analyst says they’re coming this week. I hope so, for Palm’s sake.
Posted in: iPhone, Mobile
Tags: palm, palm pre, palm pre launch, palm sold out pre, pre launch, pre sells 50000 units, pre sold out, sprint, sprint nextel, sprint palm pre launch, sprint pre, sprint pre exlusivity, sprint pre launch