Apple SIM: Sidestepping Carriers?

AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile US and UK operator EE support a new SIM card for Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 that lets customers switch between carriers. With an unlocked phone or tablet you can change your service provider by changing the SIM card, but with Apple’s new SIM card, you won’t need to buy a second (or third) SIM card.

Apple’s SIM card enables customers to easily switch service to a different carrier. As GigaOM notes, it’s unclear how the provisioning process will work if customers want to switch between carriers. While Verizon Wireless will provide wireless service for Apple’s new tablet, it is not listed as a supporter of the new Apple SIM card, notes Fierce Wireless.

The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models,” Apple explains. “The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you–with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.”

The Subscriber Identity Module stores your International Mobile Subscriber Identity number (IMSI), which is a unique serial number (ICCID), along with security and network data, your PIN, and a personal unblocking code. The SIM allows you to connect to the network and identifies you.

The International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number (IMEI), on the other hand, is on the phone itself and identifies the device. It’s like a VIN number on a vehicle and can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing the network by calling a network provider to “blacklist” the phone using its IMEI number.

[The Stingray is a brand name of an IMSI/ESN catcher sold to law enforcement. Burner phones (prepaid phones) aren't untraceable but don't require the user’s personal data at the point of sale or by the service provider. The NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls, according to Glenn Greenwald. Makes you wonder if (or how many) people have been killed because they picked up a discarded phone that was interrogated by an IMSI Catcher on a Drone. ]

It’s easy to see how a SIM that supports multiple carriers simultaneously could disrupt the mobile industry, says Dan Frommer.

“Imagine booting up your iPhone for the first time and seeing four competing offers for your business from different operators—with short or no contract duration.”

Apple’s new tablets are thinner, faster and golder.

The Pad Air 2 delivers faster connectivity with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) at data rates up to 866 Mbps. iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular integrates even more LTE bands and comes with expanded LTE for up to 50 percent faster cellular connections, plus support for Dual Carrier HSDPA (for carrier aggregation in the downlink) and HSDPA+ (with MIMO).

The iPad Air 2 has full support of most LTE bands.

But Apple’s iPad Mini 3 page shows only support for LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, and 26, but not Sprint’s band 41.

The new iPad mini 3 is powered by the Apple-designed A7 chip and M7 motion processor compared to the newer A8X and M8 chips incorporated into the iPad Air 2 as well as a similar A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6+ which support Band 41 (2.5 GHz) for LTE on Sprint, as well as China and elsewhere.

Clearly, if Apple hopes to move many iPad minis in the Chinese market, they will need Band 41 support (and perhaps an A8X chip). Apple launched its latest iPhone 6 in China today. According to China Mobile, subscriptions reached 799.13 million, compared to 755.19 million a year ago. That included 244.5 million users of 3G services, and 40.95 million largely on their new TD-LTE network using band 41.

The Nexus 6, by contrast, supports virtually all LTE bands world-wide as well as all three commercially used US 700MHz bands (bands 12, 13, and 17), making the Nexus 6 the very first device to be fully interoperable on the 700MHz band, completely eliminating the interoperability problem with this phone. Sprint plans to support 700 MHz Band 12, and expand its LTE network partnerships to new locations, making it comparable in size and coverage to AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks.

Verizon and AT&T both told the FCC that compliance with the lower “A Block”, which smaller carriers use in the United States, would not be practical or cost/effectice. Guess that problem was solved when Dish lowered their potential power on the single channel “E Block”. Perhaps adding FirstNet compliance (on Band 14) may also be comparitively easy. Of course they’d have to deal with Motorola Solutions, the part of Motorola not sold to Lenovo.

Motorola Mobility consists of the Mobile Devices business which produces smartphones and the Home business which produces set-top boxes and cable modems. Google sold most of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

iPhone 6 Approved for China

Apple® today announced that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be available in China beginning Friday, October 17 for all three major carriers. With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, the new iPhones will provide access to the 4G/LTE networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom across mainland China.

Reuters reports the phones received regulator scrutiny requiring Apple to reassure the Chinese government that the smartphones did not have security “backdoors” through which U.S. agencies can access users’ data.

In July, Chinese state media accused Apple of providing user data to U.S. agencies and called for ‘severe punishment’. Apple responded by publicly denying the existence of backdoors.

Apple won approval to sell the phones after also addressing risks of personal information leaks related to the operating system’s diagnostic tools, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on its website on Tuesday.

Apple earlier this month was hiring a head of law enforcement in Beijing to deal with user data requests from China’s government, reports Reuters, after it began storing private data on Chinese soil for the first time last month.

Apple iPhone 6 & Apple Watch Announced

Apple is livecasting their product announcements this morning — but not for Windows users — you’ll need a Safari browser or Apple TV to see it.

Apple is expected to unveil the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 alongside the iWatch, and will likely provide updates on iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

Live coverage is available at C/Net, Engadget, The Verge, MacRumors, Apple Insider, NY Times, Gizmodo, Business Week,, USA Today and others.

Apple’s fall product announcements included two new iPhones running IOS-8, the iPhone 6, with a 4.7-inch Retina display at 1334 x 750 resolution, and the the iPhone 6 Plus with an even bigger 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution.

The iPhone 6 Plus features optical image stabilization that compensates for hand shake in low light and works with iOS 8 to reduce subject motion. High-definition video on iPhone gets faster frame rates up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo at 720p. With second generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture, the all-new A8 chip offers faster performance and is more energy efficient. With Metal, a new graphics technology in iOS 8, developers can take performance of the A8 chip even further to bring console-class 3D games to iPhone.

The new phones do not appear to support LTE Band 12, or 700 MHz Block A. The phones support LTE Band 13 (700 MHz Upper C Block ) and LTE Band 17 (700 MHz Lower B Block), which are used by Verizon and AT&T Mobility, respectively. When there’s poor cellular reception, people will be able to make regular calls over Wi-Fi. The handoff between the two networks will be seamless. In the U.S., this feature will initially be available through T-Mobile.

iPhone 6 will cost $199 (US) for the 16GB model, $299 for the 64GB model and, for the first time, a new 128GB model for $399 with a two-year contract, while the 6 Plus will cost $299 (US) for the 16GB model, $399 for the 64GB model and $499 (US) for the new 128GB model with a two-year contract.

The new Apple Watch is a new category for Apple. It features a Digital Crown to scroll, zoom and navigate, without obstructing the display. The Digital Crown also serves as the Home button and a convenient way to access Siri. The Apple Watch starts at $349 and will be available early next year in three versions: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition, the last a premium line made of 18-karat gold.

The Retina display on Apple Watch features Force Touch, a technology that senses the difference between a tap and a press and introduces the Taptic Engine and a built-in speaker that together discreetly enable an entirely new vocabulary of alerts and notifications you can both hear and feel. Apple Watch features Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 4.0 to pair seamlessly with your iPhone.

In March Google unveiled Android Wear, their modified version of Android for wearables. The platform runs on Samsung Gear Live, LG’s G Watch, and Motorola’s Moto 360, among others.

Like the $250 Moto 360, the $350 Apple Watch features wireless inductive charging. While Apple’s watch can’t make phone calls untethered, like Samsung’s Gear S, it has a variety of unique features with the “Digital Crown” providing innovative navigation.

The market for wearable bands such as Fitbit increased 634% worldwide in the first half of 2014 compared with the first half of 2013, according to the analysis firm Canalys. Apple custom-designed its own S1 SiP (System in Package) to miniaturize an entire computer architecture onto a single chip.

Apple Pay was introduced with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It’s an easy way to securely pay for physical goods and services in stores or apps with just the touch of a finger. Users can pay securely and conveniently in stores by simply holding the phone near the contactless reader while keeping a finger on Touch ID. It can also be used with the watch.

The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display compared to the 5.1-inch display on the similarly priced Galaxy S5, perhaps Apple’s biggest smartphone competitor. Resolution on the smaller iPhone 6 is 1334 x 750 compared to 1920×1080 pixels on the Samsung S5.

The 5.5-inch display on the larger iPhone 6 Plus has 1920×1080 pixels, compared to 2560×1440 resolution on the 5.7-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, announced last week. The Note 4’s pixel density is 551ppi, compared to “only” 401ppi on the Apple’s 6 Plus (not that anyone could see the difference unless you have a VR hood on).

The iPhone 6 uses an A8 64-bit processor with 2 billion transistors – double that of the previous A7 and claims 25 percent faster CPU and 50 percent better graphics performance. The new M8 motion-sensing co-processor can estimate distance, track elevation, and has a barometer sensor.

No new desktops or laptops were introduced by Apple today. TechMeme has the latest posts from bloggers and news organizations.

This year, electronics vendors will ship about 175 million phablets, according to IDC, passing the 170 million laptops expected to ship during the same period. Next year, phablet shipments will top 318 million units, surpassing the 233 million tablets forecast to ship in 2015.

Dualing Webcasts from Apple and Intel

Dualing webstreams are expected Tuesday, reports The Oregonian. Apple is livecasting their new line of laptops, phones and wearables — but not for Windows users — you’ll need a Safari browser or Apple TV to see it.

Forty miles north, Intel will have its own livestreaming keynote by chief executive Brian Krzanich at the big (but overshadowed) Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Krzanich takes the stage at 9 a.m. Tuesday, an hour before Apple CEO Tim Cook begins speaking at 10 a.m. This is the second straight year that Apple has jumped in with their iPhone show on the same day.

Intel has already made a flurry of announcements leading up to its keynote, showing off a fashion-conscious smart bracelet, a tablet designed for seniors, a smartwatch development deal with Fossil and formally launching its Core M processor – the company’s first chip based on 14-nanometer circuitry.

Intel shares are up 35 percent this year, fueled by unexpected strength in PC sales, its nascent contract manufacturing business, its growing tablet business and Krzanich’s efforts to diversify into wearable technologies and “the Internet of Things.”

Tablets with Core M could be priced as low as US$699, but the initial batch of detachable tablets introduced at IFA last week are priced much higher. Lenovo’s 11.6-inch ThinkPad Helix 2 starts at $999, Dell’s 13.3-inch Latitude 13 7000 starts at $1,199, and Hewlett-Packard’s 13.3-inch Envy X2 starts at $1,049.99. Those products are expected to ship in September or October.

The new Core M processors will likely be included in Apple’s iMacs and MacBooks this year. Perhaps Apple will offer both OSX and IOS functionality in a 2-in-1 device. Unfortunately, OSX doesn’t have the touch capability of Windows 8.

VR Cinema: Killer App?

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, a 5.7″ phablet announced last week, is even bigger than premium flagship phones like the LG G3 with a 5.5″ display, the Sony Xperia Z3 with a 5.2″ display, and Samsung S-5, with a 5.1″ display, notes C/Net. The Note, with a Snapdragon 805, is also more powerful.

The 5″+ phablets should make tomorrow’s rumored 4.7″ iPhone 6 look downright dainty, but a 5.5″ iPhone 6L might fit right in.

The Note 4’s killer app may be VR. The Note 4-powered Gear VR headset was developed by John Carmack at Oculus, who has spent the last year spearheading this effort.

When docked, the Gear VR uses the Note 4 display and its processing power for full-immersion games and movies. The headset has its own magnetometer and accelerometer to calculate movement, as well as a proximity sensor. Built-in lenses with a 96-degree field of view sit between your eyes and the screen, and there’s a touchpad on the headset for navigating menus.

It’s expected to be available this fall in the U.S. for around $200. Whether VR cinema on an $800 phone and $200 headset will catch on is an open question.

Maybe a 5″ Huawei Ascend P7 will offer VR competition for half the cost.

Of course there’s Google Cardboard. Essentially, it’s a cardboard housing for a smartphone. You get a $10 lens kit, about $7 in off-the-shelf magnets, $3 worth of velcro, a rubber band, and an easily programmable $1.50 Near-Field Communication sticker tag for launching the companion mobile app. It lets you cruise through a landscape or city street in Google Earth, watch YouTube videos in a virtual theater or Chrome Experiments, visiting the Great Barrier Reef in a helicopter, or riding a roller coaster. The spherical videos are provided by AirPano.

Hop in the virtual pedicab. Let’s travel along the Champs-Élysées tonight!

Apple’s Wearable Faces Massive Competition

Apple’s upcoming wearable device, based on iOS, will run third-party applications and may come with an App Store, reports 9-to-5 Mac. To be revealed on Tuesday, the wrist-worn Apple wearable is not expected to be released until early next year. It will boast a fashionable appearance, but still function as a smart watch with fitness-centric features.

Rumors say the device includes a miniaturized system-on-a-chip with a multitude of sensors ranging from sweat detectors to pulse readers to motion sensors. The device is also expected to include an NFC chip to act as a conduit for Apple’s upcoming mobile payment system. One of the developers with access to the pre-release SDK is Facebook. The social network is also experimenting with ways it can leverage the new Notification Center widget APIs. Apple likely wants to demonstrate some third-party wearable apps at Tuesday’s event. The wearable device will make good use of the new Continuity, Handoff, and Widgets features for iPhone users to be able to easily transfer content from the smartphone to the wearable and vice versa.

Of course Apple will have lots of wearable competition. Here’s a rundown of the smartwatches announced at the IFA show in Berlin last week:

  • The Moto 360 went on sale last week for $250 via Motorola’s site, and it would seem the Android Wear-powered smartwatch is already backordered. On board is standard Android Wear, and that piece of software is being powered by 512MB of RAM and a TI OMAP 3 processor. All of it is displayed on a round 1.56-inch display with 320 x 290 resolution, and it should last up to a full 24 hours with its 320mAh battery. It remains to be seen whether the TI OMAP chipset can keep up with the Snapdragon 400 found in competing models.
  • The Samsung Gear S can make calls without being teathered to a phone, unlike previous versions. It features a heart rate monitor and a nanoSIM card slot, and a UV sensor which will keep an eye on radiation levels for you. Samsung Gear S specs; Tizen OS, 2-inch Super AMOLED (360x480p), 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of ROM, 300 mAh battery, IP67 rating. Text input capabilities are provided by Fleksy keyboard.
  • The LG Watch R, LG’s attempt a circular smartwatch will hit stores on October 14th, though it’s unclear which markets will see the watch first. Specs include a 1.3-inch POLED display with resolution of 320×320, 245PPI, Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, Bluetooth 4.0, Sensors: 9-axis, PPG, Barometer, heart rate monitor.
  • Sony’s Smartwatch 3 is an Android Wear device. The interface is strongly reminiscent of Google Now for Android with its card-based approach to delivering notifications and data gathered from the device’s sensors. Sony added to the experience by connecting the watch to its Lifelog app.
  • Sony’s original SmartBand was upgraded to the new SmartBand Talk, a wearable that does many of the same physical activity tracking and life logging functions, but also handles calls and control your phone with your voice, and there’s also things like notifications and more. It has a 1.4-inch e-paper display. The display has a resolution of 288 x 128, and other specs include an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU, 2MB memory and a 70mAh battery that will give up to 3 days of battery life — at least according to Sony. There’s also Bluetooth, NFC and Sony’s now-standard IP68 waterproof tech
  • The Asus Zenwatch sticks to the “standard” rectangular design and is made primarily from stainless steel and has a slightly curved display. The display uses AMOLED technology and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with genuine stitched-leather strap and quick-release clasp by an Italian designer. It runs Android Wear, features over 100 built-in watch faces, double-tap on the watch face to find your phone, and automatic phone unlock. Other features include the ability to trigger a camera shot via the watch, and a heart rate monitor.
  • Alcatel’s Wave Smartwatch offers notifications, step counts, heart-rate monitoring, music controls, and remote camera control. Plus a variant version will soon include a translucent solar panel on the face for drip recharging. Really inexpensive; €99 ($129 / £78 / AU$137)
  • Huawei is said to be prepping another wearable they’ll launch next year — this time running Android Wear.

This list was compiled from articles on PocketNow, Android Authority, Phone Arena, Phone Scoop, Phandroid, C/Net, and Engadget