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Apple now selling SIM-free iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

Apple is now selling SIM-free, unlocked versions of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in its online store. This option lets users purchase a phone without immediately tying it to a carrier. The SIM-free iPhones do not come with a nano-SIM card — you have to get a card from a supported carrier. Customers will pay full retail price for these options, of course, which range from $649 for an unlocked iPhone 6s to $949 for a 128GB SIM-free iPhone 6s Plus. We’d prefer that Apple offer this option at launch, but it’s available now.

AT&T opens up Wi-Fi calling for iPhone

Despite FCC related delays last month, AT&T has now opened up Wi-Fi calling to all of its customers. While Wi-Fi calling had been available to users during the iOS 9 beta period, AT&T had delayed wider use due to pending approval on an FCC requirement to ensure that the new Wi-Fi calling feature can reliably accommodate the hearing impaired. The carrier was officially granted the waiver this week, enabling Wi-Fi calling for all subscribers with supported devices, including the iPhone 5c and later, running iOS 9. Following the granting of the FCC waiver, however, AT&T has publicly expressed concern that rival carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint have “flaunted” FCC rules in enabling the feature without approval, and disappointment that the FCC has chosen to simply invite them to apply for similar waivers, ignoring their previous disregard for the rules. Users can now enable Wi-Fi calling by going into the iOS 9 Settings app and enabling the Wi-Fi calling option under the Phone section. Users will be taken through a setup process that will require them to supply an up-to-date emergency address to be placed on file for E911 services. [via 9to5Mac]

Battery impact of Samsung vs TSMC A9 chips overestimated? (Update: Apple response)

After revelations last month that Apple chose to use two different A9 chip fabrications in its new iPhone 6s models, a number of benchmarking tests have surfaced to suggest that the TSMC variant may offer longer battery life than its Samsung counterpart. A new report by MacRumors, however, suggests that many of these tests may have overestimated the impact of the larger Samsung chip on battery life under real-world conditions.

iBooks adds exclusive enhanced editions of Harry Potter series

Apple announced that enhanced versions of all seven of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are now available in the iBooks Store for download on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac. These exclusive editions contain “interactive animations and elaborate artwork” as well as the full original text of the saga. This is the first time the Harry Potter books have been available digitally outside of the series’ own online store, the Pottermore Shop. Each book is currently available for $10 on the iBooks Store in English, with French, German, and Spanish versions of the books coming next month.

“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” J.K. Rowling said.

Apple releases fourth iOS 9.1 beta, third tvOS beta to developers

Less than a week after the last iOS 9.1 beta release, Apple has now released a fourth beta of iOS 9.1 to developers. iOS 9.1 appears to be primarily focused on adding developer-level support for features such as 3D Touch and Live Photos on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, with this latest beta focusing on fixing a number of issues from prior betas. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site; a public version of the beta will likely be following soon.

In addition, Apple has also released a third beta of tvOS for the new Apple TV, intended to allow developers to get a head start on Apple TV App Development prior to the public release of the new set-top box. The tvOS beta is intended only for those developers who have already received a development kit for the new Apple TV, as it only runs on the not-yet-released model.

Apple taking reservations for new iPhones in six European countries

Apple is accepting iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reservations in six of the 40 countries where the new phones are set to debut this Friday. Customers in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands can pick the model, color and storage size they want and reserve a phone for in-store pickup Friday, although iPhone 6s Plus models are still in limited supply at most locations. Reservations are limited to two per customer and valid government-issued ID may be required for pickup.

iPhone 6s more water-resistant than previous models

Photo: iFixit

Apple appears to have improved water resistance in the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, according to an analysis and teardown by iFixit. While the iPhone still isn’t certified as even water-resistant, much less waterproof, iFixit reports that Apple appears to have taken steps to prevent water damage, such as adding a new gasket where the casing fits together and surrounding the logic board and its components with a new silicon seal to prevent shorting and corrosion if water gets into the casing; this new silicon seal design was revealed earlier this year in an Apple patent filing related to waterproofing that was reported by Apple Insider, although the iFixit report notes that the seal is only one part of the overall patent.

Apple releases iOS 9.1 beta 3 to developers

Only a week after the last iOS 9.1 beta was released, Apple has now posted a third beta of iOS 9.1 for registered iOS developers. As with the prior beta, iOS 9.1 appears to be primarily focused on adding developer-level enhancements for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, for features such as 3D Touch and Live Photos. This latest beta focuses mostly on fixing a number of issues from the prior beta. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site; a public version of the beta will likely be coming soon.

Apple releases iOS 9.0.2

Apple has released iOS 9.0.2, the second minor maintenance update since the release of iOS 9 two weeks ago. This latest update fixes problems with turning cellular data usage on or off on a per-app basis, iMessage activation, iCloud backups, screen rotation when receiving notifications, and Podcast app stability. The iOS 9.0.2 update is available over the air via General, Software Updates in the iOS Settings app.

A note on our iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus case reviews

Traditionally, when Apple’s newest iPhone is released, we stop reviewing cases for the previous model. We’ve already received a number of cases for Apple’s newest iPhones, and it’s a bit trickier this time around — because while we’ll likely see some cases marketed solely as iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus cases, we’re currently seeing most companies billing their newest cases as compatible with both iPhone models, as in “6/6s” or “6 Plus/6s Plus.” There is a slight difference between the size of the 6 and 6s, of course, as well as the 6 Plus and 6s Plus. So obviously, these cases will not fit each phone in the exact same way.

Going forward, we will only be testing new iPhone cases on how they fit the 6s and 6s Plus. It’s quite possible that some cases will fit Apple’s last iPhones a bit better than these new models — but for a number of reasons, we’ll only be rating cases based on 6s and 6s Plus compatibility. Thanks for reading.

Size variations found in new iPhone A9 processors

After Apple split orders for its new A9 chip between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung, Chipworks is reporting that Samsung A9 chips are 10 percent smaller than TSMC A9 chips found in the same iPhone 6s models. While Apple has split orders for components to meet supply demands before, this is the first time such a critical component has not come from a single supplier, hinting that Apple faced serious supply issues in obtaining enough A9 chips to meet demand. Tests comparing performance and power use of the two different chips aren’t currently available, but in February sources said that Apple returned to Samsung because the company had a technological advantage over TSMC in its ability to shrink the size of transistors on its chips, allowing for a smaller chip that consumes less power. A Taiwan court has ruled that Samsung used trade secrets stolen from TSMC to construct its own A9 chip in the first place, but how that ruling will affect future A9 chip orders and Samsung’s relationship with Apple is unclear. In recent years Apple has tried to distance itself from Samsung, sending orders for the A8 chip in the iPhone 6 to TSMC before returning to Samsung as the primary manufacturer of the A9. [via 9to5Mac]

Users complain about iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist feature burning through data

Some iOS users are claiming that iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist feature — which uses cellular data to boost browsing speed when an iPhone is connected to a poor quality wireless network — has resulted in large amounts of unforeseen data usage. The feature is automatically turned on when users update to iOS 9, and while the specifics of exactly how much data the feature uses aren’t entirely clear, users without unlimited data plans may want to turn Wi-Fi Assist off to avoid overages. The off switch is somewhat buried, located in Settings>Cellular near the very bottom of the screen, under the cellular settings for all of the apps installed on the phone.

Apple breaks weekend record with 13 million iPhones sold

Including pre-orders, Apple sold more than 13 million iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units last weekend, setting a new three-day sales record for the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the new phones in a statement, saying “Customers’ feedback is incredible and they are loving 3D Touch and Live Photos, and we can’t wait to bring iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to customers in even more countries on October 9.” Apple will begin selling the new iPhones in 40 additional countries starting Oct. 9 with plans to expand that number to 130 countries by the end of the year. Despite initial concerns over supply, no shortages were reported and the new iPhones are currently available for walk-in purchase in the U.S. at Apple retail locations, through cellular carriers and at select Apple Authorized Resellers including Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus: Unboxing + comparison gallery

We’ve received the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and have posted unboxing photos of Apple’s newest iPhones. We’ve also included a few shots comparing the new phones to their predecessors, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Look for our full, independent, comprehensive iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reviews on Monday.

iFixit posts teardowns of iPhone 6s, 6s Plus

As expected, iFixit has posted its complete teardown of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus, confirming some specs while revealing a few new insights. As expected, both devices have the same general outward appearance, although the 6s is a hair larger than the 6, but only by a millimeter or two in each dimension. The iPhone 6s is stamped with a new model number, A1688, while the 6s Plus gets A1687. The new 7000 series aluminum alloy is a noticeable change on both devices, and the report notes that early analysis of the alloy suggests that it’s comprised of around 91.17 percent aluminum, 0.08 percent iron, 7.64 percent zinc, and 0.106 percent tungsten. The 6s is also heaver than its predecessor, coming in at 143 grams, versus 129 grams on the earlier model. The weight increase appears to be primarily due to Apple’s new 3D Touch technology, which increases the weight of the display assembly in both models by about 20g.

Apple releases iOS 9.0.1 to public, iOS 9.1 beta 2 to developers (Update: public beta also)

Apple has released iOS 9.0.1, a minor maintenance update that fixes issues with the setup assistant, alarms and timers sometimes failing to play, video problems in Safari and Photos, and custom APN setups via external profiles. The iOS 9.0.1 update is available over the air under General, Software Updates in the iOS Settings app.

The second beta of iOS 9.1 has also been released for registered iOS developers, continuing the development of the next iOS update to add developer-level enhancements for the upcoming iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Update (Sept. 24): Apple has now also released the same iOS 9.1 beta 2 as a public beta.

New York City, Philadelphia customers may see iPhone delivery delays

Apple has sent an email to some customers in New York City and Philadelphia warning them their new iPhones may not be delivered by the Sept. 25 launch date. Citing “traffic restrictions expected for that day in New York City” — alluding to Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. — the company said deliveries could be delayed, but assured customers that they’ll be making Saturday deliveries in an effort to compensate, and apologized for the inconvenience. New York City and Philadelphia seem to be the only affected areas so far, and at least one San Francisco customer got her iPhone early on Monday.

Customer’s iPhone 6s delivered ahead of release date

Twitter user @MoonshineDesign received her rose gold iPhone 6s a little early, sharing pictures of the new phone and its capabilities in a series of tweets. She ordered the phone through AT&T, and in a tweet of its own, the company congratulated the new owner and didn’t seem to mind they had delivered her new phone earlier than expected. The user posted several 4K videos and Geekbench test results proving the new phone has 2GB of RAM and is markedly faster than current iPad mini and iPad Air models. So far, no other users have reported getting their phones early, but 9to5Mac said some customers are claiming their tracking numbers show delivery dates as early as today, still well ahead of the new phone’s official release on Friday, Sept. 25.

Apple confirms walk-in availability for iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus starting Friday

Apple confirmed that iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units will be available at 8 a.m. local time Friday in Apple retail stores, but recommends getting there early to secure one. Apple notes that those living in tax-free U.S. states will have to make a reservation for their phone, as will residents of China, Hong Kong and Japan. Other U.S. customers can line up and take their chances Friday morning or make an online reservation for in-store pick up starting Saturday. Both models will also be available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, other cellular carriers and some Apple Authorized Resellers, but customers buying the new phone at an Apple retail store will be offered free personal setup.

AT&T delays Wi-Fi calling for iPhone

AT&T’s plans to launch Wi-FI calling for the iPhone in iOS 9 have run into some roadblocks, according to a new report from Phone Scoop. Although the feature was expected to be widely available following the launch of iOS 9, it has now been delayed due to pending approval on an FCC requirement to ensure that the new Wi-Fi calling feature can reliably accommodate the hearing impaired. Traditionally, hearing impaired users have relied on TTY technology, however TTY cannot be used reliably with Wi-Fi calling, and AT&T has proposed to instead implement a new real-time text (RTT) feature as an alternative. Doing so, however, requires AT&T to get a waiver to the FCC’s accessibility rules; the company requested the waiver earlier this year, but it has not yet been granted by the FCC. Those that were selected to beta test WI-Fi calling on iOS 9 were able to use the feature and will be able to continue to do so, according to AT&T, however no timeline has been provided by the FCC or AT&T as to when Wi-FI calling will be approved for use. [via The Verge]

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