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AT&T offering 1K rollover minutes free via text?

AT&T is offering iPhone users a free gift of 1,000 rollover minutes via a text message, according to a new report. Citing reader submissions, 9 to 5 Mac reports that some iPhone users have received a text from AT&T stating, “You’re a valued AT&T customer. We’d like to add 1000 bonus rollover minutes to the mobile number ending in [blank]. There’s NO cost or obligation to you. It’s our war of saying thank you. To have your minutes added, reply YES by 3/31/2011.” AT&T has yet to post on its site or Facebook account any details of the promotion, but it appears to work: iLounge has confirmed that sending a text message of “yes” to the number 11113020 does result in a reply that states, “Thank you for accepting our free 1000 bonus Rollover minute offer. Please allow up to 4 weeks for processing.” While we provide this information to readers for their information, there’s no guarantee that the promotion is a bona-fide AT&T offer that will work as expected, so try it at your own risk. We have contacted AT&T for confirmation and will update if and when we hear back from the company.

Update: AT&T has confirmed the offer, saying “it’s a way of thanking our customers.”

Need Verizon iPhone 4 help + best apps? Grab our 2011 Buyers’ Guide + Book!

If you just purchased or received your first iPhone this week, congratulations! You probably have lots of questions—including what it can do—so we’re here to provide really easy pointers to great sources of information.

Our Free iPod/iPhone/iPad Book walks you through the ways you can stuff your new iPhone with all sorts of goodies—and how to make the most of its capabilities. If you need help with repairs, understanding accessories, or other major questions, you’ll find great advice inside. It’s a free download, so get it here!

Our 2011 iPod/iPhone/iPad Buyers’ Guide shows all of the year’s best accessories and apps for the iPhone. If you’re suddenly looking to sell off an old Apple device for some spare cash, there’s a full guide inside to getting the right price for your prior gear, too, plus a full history of Apple’s digital media product line. Just like our Book, the Buyers’ Guide is completely free to download. Grab it now!

Other questions? Just want to show off your new iPhone to the world? Our Discussion Forums are a great place to visit. Stop by and say hi, and don’t forget to take a picture of yourself with your new phone and post it to our iPhones Around The World gallery!

Report: Apple working on smaller, cheaper iPhone model

Apple is working on a smaller, more affordable iPhone model aimed at narrowing the price gap between the iPhone and cheaper models running Android. Citing a person who has seen a prototype of the phone, Bloomberg reports that the new model would be roughly one-third smaller than the iPhone 4. The report also states Apple has considered selling the new model at $200 off-contract, which could allow some carriers to offer it for free, and has also aimed to unveil the new iPhone near mid-year, while noting that the introduction could be delayed or scrapped. In addition, it notes that Apple is working on a dual-mode iPhone which would work on both GSM and CDMA networks, as well as a technology called Universal SIM that would allow users to switch between carriers using software as opposed to needing to swap physical SIM cards.

Echofon adds iPad support, streaming and mute features

Naan Studio has released a major update to its popular Twitter client, Echofon adding native iPad support to the free version as well as several other new features for both the free and paid versions. Echofon 4.0 is now a universal application supporting the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad; previously only Echofon Pro offered native iPad support. Version 4.0 on the iPad also introduces support for Twitter’s real-time user streams providing instantaneous updates of new tweets without having to rely on a refresh cycle. A new mute feature allows users to filter out specific users, clients or hashtags from their Twitter stream and global push notifications have now been made available to users of the free version. In addition, Push Notifications have been expanded to include not only mentions, replies and direct messages but now also include new followings, favorites and native Twitter retweets. Account settings for features such as mute filters and push notifications can also now be synchronized automatically across multiple iOS devices. Echofon is available from the App Store in two versions: Echofon (free) and Echofon Pro ($5). The free version is ad-supported but as of version 4.0 otherwise includes the same features of Echofon Pro.

Apple releases iOS 4.2.6 update for Verizon iPhone 4

Apple has released its iOS 4.2.6 update for the Verizon iPhone 4. Posted online early last week ahead of the device’s launch, iOS 4.2.6 “fixes a bug to ensure Personal Hotspot data usage is accurately reported (for Verizon iPhones),” according to a listing on MacUpdate. Notably, iLounge’s test Verizon iPhone 4 arrived with iOS 4.2.6 pre-installed, so it is unclear how many units will actually require the update. iOS 4.2.6 for the Verizon iPhone 4 is available now through the Update feature in iTunes. [via Wired]

Verizon iPhone 4 launch sees smaller crowds

The Verizon iPhone 4 officially went on sale this morning at Apple, Verizon Wireless, Best Buy, and select Walmart retail stores across the U.S. Based on early reports, it seems that Apple’s and Verizon’s strategy of tiered pre-orders—existing customers on February 3, all others on February 9—seems to have kept launch day lines at retail outlets manageable. The International Business Times reports that only eight people were in line outside a Bryant Park, New York store an hour prior to opening, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells of roughly two dozen customers who lined up in the cold outside a Verizon store in northwest Atlanta to be part of the launch. The Orlando Sentinel reports that roughly 30 people were lined up outside a Verizon store in Orlando prior to opening, despite that fact that a nearby store in Winter Garden store had one woman arrive for the iPhone at 4:00 p.m. yesterday. Additional reasons behind the modest lines may be the fact that Apple is expected to launch its fifth-generation iPhone in just a few months, the fact that the launch is taking place early in the morning on a weekday, when many potential customers likely have to work, and the fact that it is February, which means many areas of the United States are still prohibitively cold. For more information on the Verizon iPhone 4, see our full review.

[Photo courtesy of Jason Hiner]

AT&T to launch unlimited calling to any mobile number

AT&T has announced that starting tomorrow, select customers will get unlimited mobile calling to any mobile number in the U.S., regardless of carrier. According to the announcement, the new feature will be free for any AT&T customer who is on a qualifying Nation or FamilyTalk plan and who is also signed up for an unlimited messaging plan. Existing customers will need to visit a special website—www.att.com/anymobile—tomorrow to activate the feature. Notably, AT&T has yet to specify which Nation and FamilyTalk plans will qualify for the feature; we will update this story as soon as that information is available.

Update: AT&T has posted a brief comment to its Facebook post saying that customers “need to be on a qualifying voice plan, either AT&T Nation 450 & 900 Or AT&T FamilyTalkNation 700 and higher.” [Thanks, Michael S]

Update x2: AT&T has announced further details of the feature. To sign up, eligible customers need to sign in to their online account, remove their existing unlimited messaging plan, and add the new unlimited messaging plan that includes “Mobile to Any Mobile” calling. More information is available from the company’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Walmart to offer Verizon iPhone 4 starting tomorrow

Walmart has announced that it will offer the Verizon iPhone 4 in select stores beginning tomorrow, February 10. According to the company’s release, the Verizon iPhone 4 will be available at nearly 600 of the retailers in-store wireless service areas and will start at $199 for the 16GB model. “We’re excited to bring iPhone 4 on the Verizon Wireless network, one the most anticipated mobile phone launches in recent history, to Walmart customers,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment, Walmart U.S. “As customers continue to embrace smart phone technology, we’ve added nearly 20 smart phone models to our assortment, including the new Verizon Wireless iPhone 4.” Walmart will also be offering a variety of iPhone 4 accessories, including cases and car chargers, and joins Best Buy as a launch day retail parter for Apple and Verizon Wireless. Customers considering purchasing a Verizon iPhone 4 from Walmart should contact their local store to confirm availability. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple, Verizon open iPhone 4 orders, cite Feb. 18 ship date

Apple and Verizon Wireless are now accepting pre-orders for the CDMA iPhone 4 online. While Verizon is offering to ship the orders to customers, users ordering through Apple’s Online Store have the choice between shipment or reservation for in-store pickup. Notably, Apple is already citing a shipment date of “by February 18,” indicating that it may have already sold through its entire early allotment of units set aside for online sales. Both companies will be opening their retail stores at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning for sales to customers on a first-come, first served basis; in the past, Apple has reserved a large number of units for brick-and-mortar launch-day sales.

Google Translate comes to the iPhone as a native app

Google has released a native iOS application for its Google Translate service. The Google Translate service has been available as a web application since 2008, but previously only offered an iPhone-optimized version of the normal online service, allowing users to enter or paste in text that could then be translated into alternate languages. In addition to the features of the web app, the new native iOS application allows users to speak into the iPhone to perform translations and listen to the translated text read back to them. The application will accept voice input for up to 15 languages and the results can be spoken in one of 23 other languages or transcribed in text into more than 50 languages. The iOS application also provides a full-screen mode to allow users to enlarge translated text for easier readability. Users can also view dictionary results for single words, accessed starred translations and translation history even when offline. Google Translate requires an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

Verizon iPhone 4 antenna problems persist (video)

In the course of conducting our standard suite of iPhone 4 performance tests, iLounge has discovered that the Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 suffers from signal attenuation problems similar to ones discovered in the original GSM version of the iPhone 4. As seen in this Verizon iPhone 4 antenna attenuation video, the CDMA iPhone 4 can still lose substantial cellular signal strength when held in the prior “death grip” position, as well as Wi-Fi signal when held in a different position, in each case noticeably slowing or completely stalling the reception of data.

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The problem with Wi-Fi reception appears when the device is held snugly in landscape orientation with two hands, a position common when playing games or using the widescreen keyboard. Prior to the Verizon iPhone 4’s launch, sources told iLounge to be on the lookout for the issue, which was being referred to as the “death hug.” It should be noted that although early Apple-sanctioned reviews of the Verizon iPhone 4 claimed that the antenna problems had been fixed in the CDMA model, the same reviewers failed to notice the antenna problems in their original coverage of the GSM model. iLounge’s testing so far has found that the Verizon iPhone 4’s issues appear in the same geographic location as the AT&T iPhone 4’s, indoors with an average of three bars of signal strength. Once again, use of a protective case appears to fix the antenna issue, and antenuation may not be noticeable in areas with stronger signal strength.

 

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Updated: We’ve added pictures above showing how a normal grip on the bare phone can reduce Verizon’s four-bar signal down to one bar, along with the Speedtest results—a 1.1Mbps download speed gets cut down to 0.1Mbps, and uploads are cut from 0.5Mbps down to 0, or no uploading capability.

Read our detailed review of the new Verizon iPhone 4.

Verizon iPhone 4 reveals small differences in CDMA model

iLounge has received its Verizon iPhone 4 for review purposes and is busy putting the revised handset through its paces, but there are several small differences between it and the GSM model that we’d like to share. Apple has notably removed all the markings below the text on the rear of the CDMA model, including the CE and FCC logos; the text itself has changed to reflect its new FCC ID of BCG-E2422A—GSM models carry an ID of BCG-E2380A or B. The ringer switch of the CDMA model has been shifted notably downwards to accomodate the fourth antenna divider, something that may cause incompatibilities with some cases, as may a tiny shift downwards in the placement of the volume buttons. Also, the front and back of the box have changed to reflect the revised antenna design and different networks, respectively; Apple has added a reference to the CDMA model’s hearing aid compatibility rating to the sticker on the rear, but includes no such reference on GSM models. We’re continuing to test the new handset, but for now, feel free to see our Verizon iPhone 4 Unboxing photoset on Flickr.

Rogers outs new data sharing options

Rogers has outed its new data sharing options, with a special option for iPhone users on the 6GB/$30 a month plan. Under this new option, users who are already paying $30 for 6GB of data a month on their iPhones will need to pay an extra $30 a month—plus the Government Regulatory Recovery Fee—in order to share that data with an iPad. As iLounge editor Jesse David Hollington notes, Rogers offers a standalone 5GB/$35 a month data plan for iPads, making the new $30 option a poor deal for users wanting to share data with their iPad 3G units. iPhone in Canada speculates that with the launch of these new data sharing options, Rogers may be preparing to charge for iOS 4.3’s Personal Hotspot feature, despite the fact that they haven’t charged for USB/Bluetooth tethering in the past. Unless Rogers was able to disable the Wi-Fi sharing feature of the Personal Hotspot individually, this would actually take away existing free functionality from current users by disabling Bluetooth and USB tethering. Users who aren’t on the $30 for 6GB of data plan can share their data with other devices for a charge of $10-$15 per month.

$10 million in counterfeit Apple products seized in LA

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More than $10 million in counterfeit iPods, iPhones, and other electronics have been seized in downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reports that the items were taken from a downtown warehouse operation as part of a theft case started by the Los Angeles Port Police. “This was a well-funded operation, and the counterfeits looked very authentic,” said Ron Boyd, chief of the L.A. Port Police force, who added that a buyer might not have noticed anything was amiss until he or she got home and tried to hook up with iTunes. Some of the products, which were shipped from Asia, were designed to resemble older Apple products such as non-touchscreen iPod nanos. Boyd said the case highlighted the lengths counterfeiters go to in hiding their activities, as the fakes arrived as parts meant to be reassembled and labeled before being sold. “Our layered, multi-agency approach to security and theft investigations led to success,” Boyd said. “We’re proud of the teamwork that happens on a continuous basis to thwart consumer fraud, keep our port safe and enable our agencies to pursue cases to fruition and criminal prosecution.”

Verizon stalls iPhone 4 business shipments, sends empty box

Acting on an earlier tip, iLounge’s editors have now confirmed that Verizon Wireless business customers who pre-ordered Apple’s iPhone 4 have been de-prioritized in favor of consumer orders for the device. Reader reports, as well as a call to Verizon’s business customer service line, established that Verizon has not shipped phones that were ordered and paid for by business customers early on February 3, despite having delivered units earlier today to non-business “consumer” accounts.

“We never got any emails with tracking info,” reader Scott told us. “Our order status only shows this: Order Status: COMPLETED. The Verizon rep said my order is ‘Paid Pending Shipment,’ which means it hasn’t shipped yet. They are telling people that it doesn’t matter when they ship our orders because the phones can’t be activated until the 10th. But that’s not true.”

“Ordered mine on the business site,” said reader Neil, who reported that he succeeded at 3:49AM, roughly an hour after the pre-order system began accepting orders earlier than expected. “[Verizon’s] website says that the order is completed but I have not received a shipping confirm… Not cool treating business customers like this.”

“Ordered mine at 3:30am on the 3rd through my business account,” confirmed Nick, another reader. “No sign of tracking info or that it is in inventory (Status says completed as of Sunday but waiting for inventory). Why would they put their largest financial contributors behind consumer purchases? I called my rep on Friday to ask and they told me that no one would be getting their phone before Thursday.”

Another report concerns a reader who received an empty box instead of the iPhone 4 he had ordered and paid for. “I received an empty sealed box today,” explained Ric. “I got charged for the phone. I called Verizon and they told me that someone else got the phone and already activated it. They have suspended that phone but they do not know when I will get my phone. I am very PO’ed.”

Numerous readers who ordered through Verizon’s consumer division have received and activated their iPhone 4s without issues, contradicting the Verizon customer service claims that pre-ordered phones could not be activated until February 10.

Verizon iPhone 4 teardown shows GSM-compatible chip

iFixit is in the process of completing its teardown of the Verizon iPhone 4, and has found several curious differences between it and the GSM model. Most notably, the Qualcomm MDM6600 cellular communications chip inside the new handset—the same as found inside the Droid Pro world phone—is capable of handling both HSPA+ data rates of up to 14.4 Mbps and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A/Rev. B, meaning that it is technically able to support both the CDMA2000 and GSM standards, although the phone obviously has no SIM card slot. The absence of a SIM card slot precludes the device from being used primarily on a GSM network; the report suggests that the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 lacks the necessary antennas required to operate on GSM networks, although this has yet to be independently confirmed.

Interestingly, the MDM6600 was introduced alongside several other “Gobi” chips, including the MDM9600, which could allow a future iPhone model to support LTE data rates of up to 100 Mbps and backward compatibility with both dual carrier HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev. A/Rev. B networks. Apple has moved and completely redesigned the vibration motor, found in the upper corner of the GSM model, but in the lower left hand corner in the CDMA version, and while the battery of the CDMA model is listed as having the same 5.25 watt-hour capacity as its predecessor, it carries a different model number and weighs slightly less—25.6 grams versus the GSM version’s 26.9 grams. We will update this story should iFixit’s teardown reveal any other noteworthy changes.

Apple holds second place in Q4 smartphone shipments

According to new data from research firm IDC, Apple held its second place spot in the worldwide smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2010 amid strong market growth overall. Nokia maintained its overall lead in the smartphone market, with 28.3 million units shipped in the fourth quarter and a 28 percent share, down from its 38.6 percent share of the market in Q4 2009. Apple’s market share actually remained flat year-over-year at 16.1 percent with shipments of 16.2 million units, as its 86.2 percent unit shipment growth nearly matched the 87.2 percent growth seen in the overall market. RIM placed third in overall market share with shipments of 14.6 million units and a 14.5 percent share, down from 19.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, while Samsung and HTC took fourth and fifth places with impressive year-over-year growth of 438.9 percent and 258.3 percent, respectively. For the year, Apple finished in third place with shipments of 47.5 million units and a 15.7 percent share of the market, trailing second-place RIM by 1.3 million units shipped and less than half a percentage point in market share.

Abvio releases major updates to Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter

Abvio has released updates to Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter, its trio of iPhone GPS-based fitness apps for tracking exercise performance. The three applications are built from the same foundation, each optimized for running, cycling and walking, respectively. The apps allow users to track their workouts recording such data as time, location, distance, elevation and speed and then view their results on maps and graphs organized by routes and activities with a summary for different time periods. Users can also automatically post workout-related status updates to Twitter and Facebook and hear responses from their online friends during their workout using the built-in text-to-speech engine. Version 5.0 adds integration with leading social community dailymile.com allowing users to automatically sync and share their workouts in real-time with the dailymile community and hear messages of encouragement from dailymile friends during workouts. The new version also introduces a Virtual Competition feature that allows users to import a route to add a virtual competitor to run, cycle or walk against. Routes can be imported from previously recorded workouts, friends’ workouts, social fitness sites, or any other GPX-compatible data source.

Additional new features in the latest update include an enhanced text-to-speech engine with a new and improved built-in voice. An additional 16 voice options and dialects for the text-to-speech feature are also available via in-app purchase, including male and female voices in American and British English, German, French and Canadian French. The update also includes 25 configurable voice announcements for distance, time, speed and more with improved voice quality. Additional enhancements include a configurable stopwatch display with up to 40 different statistics, the ability to enter notes before and during a workout, improvements to the responsiveness of speed and pace displays, support for tracking descent, grade and energy burn in kilojoules and more. The three applications Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter are sold separately in the App Store for $5 each. Text-to-speech voices are available via in-app purchase for $1 per voice.

Apple adds Genius to iPhone iTunes Store

Apple has added the ability for iPhone and iPod touch users to view iTunes Store Genius recommendations directly on their devices. The new option can be found inside the iTunes Store app under “More” and then “Genius.” Recommendations are available for music, movies, and TV shows, and of course require that you have Genius turned on for your iTunes account. Users are able to rate individual recommendations by swiping across them and tapping on either a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icon.

First Verizon iPhone 4s arrive: biz orders later?

While some early Verizon iPhone 4 pre-orders are beginning to arrive, other early pre-order customers have reported to iLounge that their phones have yet to ship. FedEx deliveries are beginning to arrive today for customers who received e-mail confirmations that their iPhone 4s had been shipped late last week, with one report including images from a reader who received his phone. On the other hand, we have received multiple reports of unexpected delays, including ones from customers who got their pre-orders in to Verizon’s business account system at 3:45 a.m. on February 3, but have yet to receive shipment notifications, suggesting that Verizon may be fulfilling standard consumer orders prior to those of business customers. If you pre-ordered a Verizon iPhone 4, please share your current order status and where you pre-ordered your device—Verizon consumer site, Verizon business, or Apple Store—in the comments below.

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