AT&T has begun to roll out its 850MHz spectrum in hopes to improve its 3G coverage in densely populated areas. Mobiledia reports that the company has said it will start the rollout in Atlanta, eventually adding more than 540 cell sites to increase network capacity and coverage. Keith Holmes, AT&T’s vice president and general manager, said, “We’re enhancing our network every day to help customers do more with and get more from their wireless connections.” An anecdotal report from TechCrunch indicates that upgrades may also be underway in San Francisco, as editors and contacts have seen improved coverage in that area; an AT&T representative told the publication that “improvements are underway,” and that “[m]ost of this is 850MHz spectrum being added.”
Apple is currently investigating reports of an exploding iPhone and iPod touch in Europe, according a European Commission spokeswoman. Reuters reports that Apple told the EU it considers the reported incidents isolated. “Apple have come back to us ... and what they’ve said to us is that they consider these are isolated incidents. They don’t consider that there’s a general problem,” Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said during a news briefing. “They’re trying to get more information on the specific details of those incidents (reported in the media) and they will do tests as necessary to investigate the possible cause.” While Apple did not comment on Kearns’ remarks, an Apple Europe spokesman did say that “[w]e are aware of these (media) reports and we are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers. Until we have the full details, we don’t have anything further to add.”
Last week a report emerged claiming that a French teen was injured when his girlfriend’s iPhone exploded nearby; this followed a report from earlier this month that a U.K. girl’s iPod touch exploded after being dropped.
Apple and its carrier partner AT&T have been hit with two separate yet identical class-action lawsuits over the iPhone’s current lack of MMS support in the U.S. Although filed by different groups in different U.S. District Courts—the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Louisiana—both suits use identical language, alleging that Apple heavily advertised both the iPhone 3G and 3GS as offering MMS, “in and on television, the Internet, radio, newspapers, and direct mailers.” The suits also claim that they downloaded the iPhone OS 3.0 update expecting MMS support to be included, despite a very clear statement from Apple Senior Vice President of iPhone Software Scott Forstall, who said during the company’s 2009 Keynote, “MMS requires carrier support as well. Twenty-nine of our carrier partners in 76 countries around the world will support MMS at the launch of iPhone OS 3.0. in the United States, AT&T will be ready to support MMS later this summer.” The Louisiana suit claims at least 10,000 individuals are to be included the complaint, while the Illinois suit claims at least 100,000; both are requesting individual plaintiff damages for the iPhone 3G or 3GS purchased, between $100 and $500 each.
A French teenager has been injured by an “exploding” iPhone, less than two weeks after a report emerged accusing the company of trying to silence the victims of a similar incident involving an iPod touch. The teen’s mother claims that her son was near his girlfriend’s iPhone when it began to make a hissing noise, after which the screen suddenly broke, sending pieces of glass flying, at least one of which struck the teen in the eye. “My son was frightened but he did not lose an eye,” Marie-Dominique Kolega told AFP. The woman has contacted Apple over the incident, but it is unclear whether the company has responded.
China Unicom has reached an agreement with Apple to buy 5 million iPhones, with the first units set to go on sale in mainland China in September. Citing a CBN news article, International Business Times reports that the carrier has already paid Apple 10 billion yuan, or roughly $1.46 billion, for 5 million WCDMA iPhones, in both 8GB and 16GB varieties. The September rollout has been confirmed by Zhou Youmeng, vice general manager of China Unicom, who said the phone will initially be available at China Unicom 3G sections in retail partner Carrefour stores, and some large retail outlets run by the company. As to pricing, Yu Zaonan, general manager of customer development for China Unicom, said, “[t]he price of the 8G standard iPhone is set at about 2,400 yuan and the 16G may be sold at 4,800 yuan.” Currently, 2,400 yuan is the equivalent of roughly $350, making 4,800 yuan the equivalent of about $700.
More evidence of an upcoming 8GB iPhone 3GS model has appeared on Rogers Wireless’ website. Under the “iPhone Comparison” tab on Rogers’ iPhone 3GS mini-site, the company has posted a comparison chart for the iPhone 3G and 3GS which shows an 8GB option listed for both models. Curiously, the chart appears to be the only current reference to an 8GB iPhone 3GS on the site, which otherwise notes that the 3GS starts at $199 for a 16GB model. Screenshots published last week suggested that the company is working to sell out its existing stock of 8GB iPhone 3G units in preparation for the arrival of the new low-end 3GS. [via Mac Rumors]
Korean network operator KT has confirmed that it plans to offer the iPhone in the country. Kim Yeon-hak, KT’s Chief Financial Officer, said during a conference call that the “Apple iPhone will be in our smartphone line-up. [We expect that the] iPhone will help to expand the smartphone market and will contribute to increasing the ARPU” (average revenue per user).” Telecoms Korea reports that Kim declined to offer any more details on the agreement, such as whether it will offer both the 8GB iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, pricing, or a release date. Competing Korean carrier SK Telecom recently said it too has been in contact with Apple over the phone, although no deal has been announced. [via MacNN]
A new bug found in iPhone OS 3.0 has led some users to take pictures that were rendered invisible on the device. According to a lengthy Apple Discussions thread, the bug appears to pertain only to photos with the name IMG_10000 or higher, as the built-in Photos application refuses to acknoledge their presence or show them in the Camera Roll. Users are reporting, however, that the pictures are indeed still on the device, and can still be imported to iPhoto on the Mac or the selected program on Windows. This bug appears to be independent of another OS 3.0 photo-related problem, in which pictures are taken by the device and then reported as missing by iPhoto during the import process.
Apple is planning to add an 8GB iPhone 3GS to its lineup, potentially replacing the current 8GB iPhone 3G, according to a new report. Based on screenshots from an internal Rogers Wireless memo, Boy Genius Report states that the company is in the process of shipping black 8GB iPhone 3GS units to its stores. While pricing is not mentioned in the partially obscured memo, it does inform readers to continue selling through available stock of the 8GB iPhone 3G while receiving the new handsets, and refers to a “smooth transition over to the new piece,” indicating that Apple may plan to replace the 3G model with the lower-capacity 3GS at the same price point of $99.
O2’s exclusivity deal for the iPhone in the U.K. is set to expire on October 9th, according to a new report. Claiming to have seen “documentation” regarding the deal, Mobile Entertainment reports that although the exclusivity agreement runs out in 2009, the carrier has the rights to sell the iPhone until 2012. In addition, the report sites unnamed sources that say the carrier may also retain sole rights to the recently launched iPhone 3GS. In recent weeks, rival carriers Orange and T-Mobile have reportedly been in talks to offer the iPhone 3G in the U.K.; T-Mobile also recently began offering iPhone 3G units imported from other countries where the phone is offered unlocked to disgruntled, high-paying customers threatening to leave the company. O2 has been the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.K. since its launch in the country on November 9, 2007. [via Macworld UK]
The latest beta version of iPhone OS 3.1 released to developers contains configuration settings for what is thought to be both a prototype and release-ready version of an as-yet-unannounced Apple product. Found in the updated USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file, which lists details about the USB configurations of various hardware models along with their Device IDs and product names, were two listings for a mysterious “iProd.” The first, iProd0,1, was first discovered in a beta version of iPhone OS 3.0 in March, and given its 0,1 designation, was thought to be a prototype. It has been joined in the latest 3.1 beta by iProd 1,1, the preceding “1” typically standing for a first-generation shipping product. In addition, the iProd 1,1 listing includes the a different ConfigurationDescriptor than the 0,1 model, but one it shares with iPhone models—“standardMuxPTPEthernet.” This suggests the product may have gained high-speed network capabilities, although Ars Technica states that the iPhone uses this interface for tethering capabilities. Notably, the presence of the “iProd” in the iPhone OS USB listing suggests that the device—believed by some to be a new Apple tablet—will run iPhone OS rather than or in addition to Mac OS X, however, the specific features of the device remain unclear.
Senior Apple officials are expected to visit China this week to work on the final stages of iPhone negotiations with China Unicom, according to a Fortune report. Citing an unnamed source quoted on the Chinese-language Sina.com, the report claims that the visit is to meet with senior China Unicom executives and discuss how the iPhone should enter the Chinese market. The International Business Times reports that Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing, is expected to lead the negotiations; Joswiak was reportedly on hand for a round of negotiations this past March, as well. Although the source is unnamed, it is worth noting that Sina was also the original publisher of photos showing a WCDMA iPhone 3GS running on China Unicom’s network, which appeared last week following a separate report that the two companies had reached a preliminary agreement on sales of the handset in China.
Apple has added two new iPhone 3GS television advertisements to its online gallery. The first, “Share,” highlights apps that allow users to share pictures and contacts wirelessly, and wireless gaming, while “Travel” highlights a variety of apps that one might use when visiting a foreign city such as Paris, including a city guide, subway app, and postcard application. Both ads available for viewing on Apple’s website.
Apple has made a couple of small changes to its iPhone Dev Center that partially address issues developers have raised since the launch of the App Store over a year ago. It has added an App Store Review Status graphic to the site, giving developers a general idea of the wait time that all developers are facing for application approvals. The Status is based upon “current app submissions,” and offered as a percentage approved within a timeframe, so its accuracy will vary on a case-by-case basis. The site has also begun to publicize a new “all issues” escalation email address, allowing developers with urgent bug fixes in need of priority service to get their questions answered. [via TUAW]
New photos published by Sina Technology show a WCDMA version of the iPhone 3GS ready for use on China Unicom’s network. The pictures show the phone connected to Unicom’s 3G network, and appear to confirm that the device lacks Wi-Fi, as its menu option is notably missing from the Settings application. iPhone in China reports that the phone displays a message on boot up that, roughly translated, says “Dear user, you are welcome to use the China Unicom’s business,” and that it is unclear whether the country will be receiving the 32GB 3GS or 8GB 3G models as well; the phone pictured is a 16GB model. A report from earlier this week stated that Apple and China Unicom had reached a preliminary agreement for exclusive sales of the iPhone in China, but a Unicom spokeswoman quickly released a statement saying that “[d]iscussions are still ongoing, we have not reached any formal agreement.”
As part of its ongoing probe into cellular operators and phone exclusivity deals, the Federal Communicaitons Commission will focus on areas where the iPhone and/or Palm Pre aren’t available. “There are markets in the country where if you wanted an iPhone, if you wanted a Pre, you just couldn’t get it—from anyone,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in an interview with Bloomberg. “So one question is, is that consistent with broad consumer interests?” He declined to say what the next steps will be in the investigation, which was spurred on by a letter from four U.S. senators asking the regulatory body to review exclusivity agreements like the one between Apple and AT&T that keeps the iPhone locked to one domestic carrier. An AT&T executive told a June 17 hearing the deals spur innovation and help lower prices, while Verizon recently sent a letter to a U.S. representative announcing that it would offer any exclusive phone to carriers with less than 500,000 subscribers just six months after launch. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has released the iPhone OS 3.0.1 Software Update for the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS. According to the release notes, the new update fixes the SMS vulnerability publicized yesterday by cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner which would allow a series of mostly invisible SMS bursts to give a hacker nearly complete control over the phone’s functions, including dialing the phone, accessing the Internet, turning on the camera and/or microphone, and sending more text messages to further propagate the hack. iPhone OS 3.0.1 is available now through the Update feature in iTunes.
A patch to fix the SMS vulnerability publicized yesterday by cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Colin Mulliner is to be patched in an update that will be released on Saturday, according to an O2 spokesperson. “We will be communicating to customers both through the website and proactively,” the spokesperson told BBC News. “We always recommend our customers update their iPhone with the latest software and this is no different.” According to Miller and Mulliner, the vulnerability would allow a series of mostly invisible SMS bursts to give a hacker nearly complete control over the phone’s functions, including dialing the phone, accessing the Internet, turning on the camera and/or microphone, and sending more text messages to further propagate the hack. [via Mac Rumors]
Apple has begun offering its AppleCare Protection Plan for the iPhone in Canada. The plan extends Canadian iPhone users’ warranties to two years from the original purchase date of the phone, including technical support and hardware repair coverage — both parts and labor — for any iPhone 3G or 3GS, its battery, included accessories, and an iPhone Bluetooth Headset. Mac Rumors notes that the launch occurs just after the one-year cut off date for early Canadian adopters of the iPhone 3G, and says reader reports indicate that Apple Canada is not providing an extension for the affected customers. The AppleCare Protection Plan is available now from the Canadian Apple Store and sells for $79 CAD.
Slumping sales of the iPhone in Russia have forced one of the country’s “big three” carriers to sue a major retail partner, according to a C-News report (Translated link). Mobile Telesystems (MTS) recently won a 279 million ruble (roughly $8.85 million) claim against retailer Euroset, which failed to sell the iPhones it agreed to, and which MTS had given it. To further complicate matters, MTS rival VimpelCom acquired a 49.9% stake in Euroset last autumn. Overall sales of the iPhone in Russia have been disappointing, with the three major carriers—MTS, VimpelCom, and MegaFon—agreeing to sell 3.5 million units within two years, but having collectively sold only 250,000 through the first quarter of 2009. The carriers stopped buying iPhones at the beginning of the year, according to the report, and are working with Apple to renegotiate their contracts. [via Cult of Mac | via Profy]