No T-Mobile iPhone a Blessing in Disguise?

No iPhone's A Blessing for T-Mobile Customers
T-Mobile USA management has long made it known that it has wanted to sell the recently released iPhone 4S. Apple flirted with the idea of granting T-Mobile access to the latest installment of its beloved iPhone series but, despite awarding Sprint the rights to the smartphone, chose to not let T-Mobile sell the phone.  Is this a blessing in disguise for T-Mobile customers, as other carriers struggling to handle the huge amount of data traffic and network congestion from iPhone customers?  iPhone slow on Sprint, iPhone slow on Verizon or choosing a carrier for iPhone 4S.

To add insult to injury, regional carrier C Spire, formerly Cellular South, recently began offering the iPhone on its network, likely leaving the brass at T-Mobile bewildered and their customers frustrated.  T-Mobile’s desire to obtain the iPhone is understandable – the 4S which went on sale on October 14, sold 4 million units in the first three days on sale. These numbers broke all previous records and secured the iPhone 4S’s status as the most popular Smartphone on the market.

However, all is not lost for T-Mobile USA customers looking to take advantage of all the perks the iPhone has to offer. Apple offers an unlocked version of the iPhone 4S – this means that the phone isn’t SIM-locked to any particular wireless carrier. Thus, T-Mobile customers can purchase mini SIM cards from T Mobile to insert into their iPhone. Millions of T-Mobile customers are jail breaking the iPhone 4.  Unfortunately, the unlocked phones aren’t compatible with T-Mobile’s speedy HSPA 3G+ network and users will therefore have to be content with the old 3G network instead.

Predictably, the unlocked phones don’t come cheap. The 16GB version is being sold by Apple for $650 a pop, the 32GB version for $750, and the 64GB for $850. Despite these obstacles, T-Mobile enjoys more than a million iPhone customers, an impressive feat for a carrier that doesn’t even carry the iPhone. Alternatively, you can hope that AT&T is successful in their bid to take over T-Mobile. That would make things a whole lot easier.

Choosing AT&T, Verizon, Sprint for iPhone 4S

The newest addition to the iPhone line, the iPhone 4S, was released on October 14th and is selling like hotcakes. Now, for the first time ever, the iPhone is not only available through AT&T and Verizon, but on the Sprint network as well. This, of course, begs the question – which provider has the best plan?

Choose Sprint for Heavy iPhone Data Users
That depends on the type of data user you are. Each of the three major carriers offer data consumption plans that are geared toward specific subsets of Smartphone customers. For those of us who consume data like it’s water, Sprint is the best bet. Sprint is the only service to still offer unlimited data plans. It costs $80 a month but, no matter how many texts you send or how many web pages you download, that number will remain $80.

Choose AT&T for Heavy iPhone Voice & Text Users
If you’re not really one for weathering constant streams of data, and you know you’re mobile communication will likely be limited to voice calls, AT&T is probably the wisest choice. For only $55, which is $15 less than any other carrier’s plan, AT&T provides 450 voice minutes and 2 GB of data. In terms of texting, however, AT&T becomes rather steep. Their texting plans are comprised of two options – a 20 cent per text plan or unlimited for $20 a month. Either way, the liberal texter will find himself saddled with a hefty monthly bill.

Choose Verizon if You Are A Heavy Domestic US Traveler
Verizon’s plan was designed as a medium between these two extremes. For a relatively reasonable $75 a month, Verizon customers are allocated 450 voice minutes, 250 texts, and 2 GB of data – a substantial amount that, at the same time, isn’t gluttonous.

In terms of speed, AT&T retains a slight edge. Apple engineers have found a way to harness AT&T’s HSDPA bandwidth and apply it to the iPhone 4S. However, while AT&T refers to this standard as “4G,” it is more like 3G+, and improvements in speed are minimal. Verizon has consistently tested as the most reliable network overall, and is thus often the carrier of choice for customers whose main concern is sheer workhorse dependability.

In addition, if users of the new iPhone on any carrier have cell reception problems, there are excellent cell phone signal booster options that work extremely well with iPhones.

Good luck choosing your carrier.

New Android Ice Cream Sandwich Features

Google Ice Cream Sandwich is Android's Answer to the latest iPhone

List of new features on Google's new Ice Cream Sandwich Android OS.  
  1. Face recognition unlock phone technology
  2. Google+ with hangout & messenger technology
  3. Panoramic photos built into camera
  4. Time lapse photo features built into camera 
  5. Live effects for changing photos 
  6. Galaxy Nexus will be Google's featured phone from Samsung
  7. Respond to a call by swiping a quick message text 
  8. Improved fonts 
  9. NFC Near Field Communications aka "Beam" 
  10. Real time text for voice to text input aka "Siri" 
  11. Better copy, paste, drag and drop by holding down power & volume buttons
  12. Improved notifications
  13. Recent apps for better multi-tasking
  14. Data usage notifications and graphs for each application

While we discover new features, please enjoy looking at this tasty desert below.  The SDK is now out and available for developers to start working on their applications.  

WiFi Only iPads Cannibalizing Apple Margins

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) disappoints Wall Street in their latest earning call beating guidance but not matching street expectations.  After looking at Mary Meeker's latest Awesome Web 2.0 presentation about the "State of the Web", this slide struck me the most as I listened to the Apple earnings call.

Apple's stock has risen over the last few years due to their close business relationships with the carriers and booming iPhone sales.  Have iPhone sales topped out due to insanely booming iPad sales?   iPads carry lower margins for both Apple and the carriers and have a incredibly better user experience than an iPhone.  Once you start using a tablet or an iPad you might only use your smartphone for tethering and essential messaging functions.  No longer are the thousands of iPhone applications relevant as the iPad has become the focus of my WiFi content data usage experience.   And yes its FREE!

Apple investors have also been expecting the iPhone 5 which technically is 2 years behind the curve on 4G standards. LTE and 4G phones have been on the market for a long time and Apple has not even announced the iPhone 5 yet as it just launched the iPhone 4S.  Surely Apple's inability to keep up with the pace of 4G data speeds on phones will catch up with them.

Carriers pay Apple handsomely for the right to sell the iPhone because the payback for the customer's data subscription is only in a few months.  Consumers are paying $50 to $100 for monthly data plan subscriptions and are NOT doing the same with iPads.  WiFi only iPad users are growing much quicker than the 3G iPad.  This translates into lower margins for Apple with a one time only sale price of $500 that will likely be lowered soon.  The current iPad selling at $500 will likely be forced to drop in price due to competition.

Amazon announced the Kindle Fire Android tablet at $200 and plan to make most of their money on data / content subscriptions.  Other Android tablet manufacturer including Google have grander visions of making money off of location based advertising which Apple is behind on as well.

This is the first earnings call since the passing of Steve Jobs where Tim Cook was alone at the helm.  Is he setting himself up for a great Holiday quarter? Apple could be sandbagging their next quarter before they release the iPhone 5 or have they run out of momentum?

Why is iOS 5 iPhone Update Draining Battery?

The iOS 5 iPhone upgrade seems to be having a fair share of about poor battery life after the upgrade is performed.  This is not surprising considering most people have lots of application that run in the background and the iPhone is constantly looking for your location and notifications.  This is less of a problem on the iPad that has a 10+ hour battery life.  The iPhone requires lots of processing power and bandwidth to operate and will ultimately result in few apps being used on the iPhone.  This is one of the reasons why we think that the on deck iPhone application industry will start to consolidate and gravitate further to HTML5.

Here are some suggestions to fix the iOS 5 battery draining issue we recommend the following:
  1. Turn off Bluetooth
  2. Deactivate unused applications using location service
  3. Turn Ping off
  4. Deactivate unwanted apps and notifications
  5. Reset your WiFi network settings
  6. Deactivate  Timezone location services to off
  7. Deactivate diagnostic and usage reports. 
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iOS 5 Fixes iPad WiFi Signal Dropping

iOS 5 Fixes iPad WiFi Signal Dropping

iOS 5 on my iPad has finally fixed the annoying iPad WiFi signal dropping issue.  iPad customers have been dealing with the WiFi dropping issue for many months by changing settings on the iPad and the router and none solved the problem up until now.   Some customers would find themselves hitting the Renew Lease button under settings multiple times per day without changing the location or leaving the network.

The good news is I upgraded my iPad to iOS 5 recently which was free but comes with a price.  The upgrade itself will take about an hour and may delete some of your downloaded applications if you are not careful.  We recommend that you sync the iPad apps with a Mac or PC first before doing the operating system upgrade.  The upgrade comes with a lot of new bells and whistles but the most notable feature is the new Safari tabbed browser which is nice instead of flipping between open pages.

I am still a believer in the iPad WiFi or iPad 2 WiFi only versions because I mostly use the iPad at home or in the office.  The costs simply do not make sense at this time when carriers have tiered data plans and caps.   Compare data plan pricing here.  When I need to use the iPad out and about I simply tether the iPad to my T-Mobile phone

Is The iPhone 4S 4G?

The iPhone 4S is not 4G but it does support both GSM (AT&T & T-Mobile) and CDMA (Sprint & Verizon) networks that are HSPA+ compatible. HSPA+ is much faster than 3G when you are used to a 3G network, however, it is not technically 4G. One thing to note is the iPhone 4S only supports one network at a time and is not 4G. 4S is not technically 4G and does not support LTE nor WiMAX.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) have done a masterful job of planed obsolescence and also confusing customer about what 4G.  It continually amazing me that Apple loyalist continue to buy the iPhone, even though its processor and data connection speeds are clearly two plus years behind other phone manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola who use the Android operating system.  These manufacturers were out with 3G HSPA+ phones 2 years ahead of Apple and are already working on LTE phones.  

Obama Helps to Prevent Cell Phone Bill Shock

Thanks to some hard work by the Obama administration, the FCC it will now require carriers to alert customers who are about to exceed data plan or text limits on calling plans. They are also required to inform customers who may be about to incur large roaming charges. The new cell phone billing notification rules would require cellular carriers AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile & Sprint to send text messages or voicemails to users as they approach their plans’ data or voice limits.  These regulations would also apply to international roaming charges. The messages would be automated and occur immediately without the need for a mobile application or opt-in. President Obama praised the industry announcement, saying

“Our phones shouldn’t cost us more than the monthly rent or mortgage. I appreciate the mobile phone companies’ willingness to work with my administration and join us in our overall and ongoing efforts to protect American consumers by making sure financial transactions are fair, honest and transparent.”

Sprint iPhone Unlimited Data Plans Winning

Sprint (NYSE: S) is winning lots of new customers with its unlimited data plan offering at $79.99 per month.  Sprint reported today that their sales Apple (iPhone sales are booming and the best in the company's history.

Sprint today reported its best ever day of sales in retail, web and telesales for a device family in Sprint history with the launch of iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. We reached this milestone at approximately noon CT/1pm ET. The response to this device by current and new customers has surpassed our expectations and validates our customers’ desire for a truly unlimited data pricing plan.
Its not surprising to see since unlimited data plans are a hot button for mobile phone consumers.  Other carriers including Verizon and AT&T will charge you extra for going over your data plan, whereas T-Mobile will simply slow you down at the 2GB cap. Most sophisticated iPhone users keep track of their data plan usage through the month.  However, there are still very few tools and not much transparency to measure your data usage on phones.  Applications are constantly running in the background and using data without your knowledge.  More tools and applications needed to be provided. 

Shopping Guide for Cellular Network Options

Until recently, two advanced network models dominated the US cellular market: CDMA and GSM (we’ll stick with the acronyms for now; the words they stand for are technical and boring). These are essentially two different standards, requirements that a given network must meet in order to qualify. Verizon Wireless, Virgin Mobile USA, and MetroPCS all use CDMA-approved 3G networks. AT&T, T-Mobile, and many Cellular One networks operate on the GSM standard.

So what’s the difference? For the consumer, there isn’t much. Primarily, GSM is widely used globally while CDMA is more popular in the US. International travelers can more easily adapt their phones to foreign GSM networks. The other significant difference lies tucked in the phone itself, usually just under the battery. GSM phones store information on portable SIM cards, allowing you to keep all the settings and contacts from one phone and slip them all into another. You transfer all your data between phones simply by exchanging SIM cards. This is very convenient for upgrades, replacement phones, or if you just happen to like carrying different models depending on the occasion. CDMA stores that information in the phone itself and cannot save or transfer it between devices.

People wonder whether a choice between CDMA and GSM affects their coverage. Within their networks, the standards operate equally well. The difference lies in the reach of each network. Some regions of the country are within close reach of CDMA towers but far from GSM towers and vice versa. For those regions, it’s important to determine which carrier (i.e. which network) works best and to go with it. Coverage varies by region and availability, not network standard.

Only within the last year, really the last few months, have these network models become increasingly insignificant. These are 3G systems including (HSPA and HSPA+) we’ve been describing, but the next level, 4G networks, are popping up quickly. In fact as we begin to transition, 3G/4G Routers, phones and cell boosters are becoming increasingly common. Verizon has been rolling out its 4G LTE network, already in 140 markets and counting. AT&T has responded with its own 4G LTE network, currently operating in 5 cities. This “next-generation” standard improves data speeds so that you can download or stream as much music and video as you can muster, and do it instantly. 4G systems make smartphones worth it. So, CDMA and GSM are quickly becoming relics of the past. But, for those of us without an iPhone or Droid, they’re still significant and worth knowing more about.

How to Extend iPhone Battery Life & Signal

iPhone & smartphone users can get very frustrated with the fact that their phones must constantly be hooked up to a charger. Unfortunately, while computer and phone processing power have advanced lightyears ahead in the past fifty years, battery design has only improved slightly. So that's why after one decade into the twenty first century, we still tether our devices to walls or dashboards, still grounded in an atmosphere filled with wireless gadgets. While we can try to picket R&D departments or protest at engineering labs, the best option for now is to try to preserve a smartphone battery power as much as we can.

Most people are well-versed in the basic methods of battery preservation and know which smartphones have the longest battery life. Just like any valuable commodity, rationing power on a need basis is always effective. Lowering screen brightness, shortening backlight operation, and keep your calls short. Keeping WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS capabilities switched on puts a greater drain on batteries even when they're not in use. There're some other useful tips out there that might be more novel - switching a phone from vibrate to a ringtone preserves greater battery power, as well as displaying a black background whenever possible.

But in the age of smartphones, we don't want to curtail the use of our special apps and programs. We want to use WiFi, 4G, and Bluetooth, want to download movies and songs at top speeds, and rely on fast connections indiscriminately. There are other ways to boost power without compromising phone operations. A phone uses up a significant amount of power when it's searching for a signal or operates on only a couple of bars. The stronger a signal is, the less power a phone must put into communicating through it. Boosting your signal strength, rather than limiting your phone usage, is a great way to save power. Signal boosters amplify weak signals from the tower and rebroadcast it within a narrow range, kind of like having your own cell tower in your home, office, car, or boat. Not only do boosters improve battery life, they enhance call quality, eliminating dropped calls and fuzzy connections. Use your phone to the max, the way it was meant to be and never accept batteries as forever frail and shivery.

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