It is becoming more and more likely that the iPhone 5 will feature a dual-mode GSM and CDMA radio to eliminate the need for two separate models for the different networks. The latest piece of evidence is a report from TechCrunch in which at least one developer found evidence that Apple is testing the iPhone 5 with App Store apps with logs from a device suggesting an iPhone 5 with a dual-mode radio. The log reported a device with two different mobile network codes (MNC) and mobile country codes (MCC) which are used to uniquely identify mobile carriers.
Sure enough, some registrations for the app – which the developer also asked not to be named – were logged from a new Apple device, using the MNC/MCC codes from both Verizon and AT&T.
The Verizon iPhone 4 and iPad 2 actually already contain a Qualcomm chipset that actually supports both the GSM and CDMA standards – Apple chose not to enable that capability (a SIM card slot would have also been required). Rumors of the iPhone 5 throughout this year have however been consistent in suggesting that one model will support both standards – even the Verizon CFO made comments earlier this year that their belief was that the next iPhone will be a “global device”.
As noted by ZDNet, Verizon reported its second quarter earnings today, delivering strong results and reporting revenue of $27.53 billion. The company added 1.3 million postpaid customers, with data revenues up 22.2 percent year-over-year and 189,000 FiOS Internet and 184,000 FiOS TV net additions. As with the iPhone, the earnings reveal Verizon activated 2.3 million iPhone 4 units in the second quarter, a 100,000 units increase from the 2.2 million iPhone 4s they activated in the previous quarter after roughly two months of availability in the US since the February 10 launch.
Verizon’s relatively flat growth rate with activated iPhone units doesn’t surprise when compared to AT&T’s similar trend – AT&T activated 3.6 million iPhones in the last two quarters. The difference, however, is that Verizon only has access to the CDMA iPhone 4, both in black and white, whereas AT&T sells both the black/white iPhone 4 and the older iPhone 3GS model, which is still on sale and considered a good entry option for new iPhone users that don’t want to spend a ful $200 on an iPhone 4 with a two-year contract. AT&T’s offer is diversified, Verizon Wireless doesn’t have a cheaper iPhone 3GS to sell to its customers.
Moreover, with increasing rumors of a new iPhone coming out in September (allegedly confirmed by Apple’s “product transition for the September quarter” revealed at the Q3 earnings call), it’s likely customers are holding off new purchases (and thus, contracts) as they wait for a new device to become available in the Fall. The iPhone 5 has been rumored to have worldphone capabilities with an integrated GSM/CDMA chip, and most recent speculation has also claimed Apple could be considering a new, cheaper iPhone to sell off contract at less than $200 to attract the masses of the pre-paid market.
[ZDNet - PRNewswire]
In a lengthy report published earlier today, TechnoBuffalo shares some of the interesting details behind the launch of the Verizon iPhone 4, which went on sale in the United States in February. In the months leading to the launch of the CDMA device, speculation was running wild on the Internet as to whether Apple was really ending AT&T exclusivity to release an updated version of the iPhone to support Verizon Wireless’ CDMA infrastructure; citing a source “close to the action”, TechnoBuffalo says only top executives at Verizon knew about the device, which internally used to be mentioned as “ACME device” to avoid other employees would hear the “iPhone” name and leak information outside of the company. Public testing of the CDMA iPhone 4 began at Apple Stores (and obviously, Apple’s own campus, where Steve Jobs said they had installed Verizon and AT&T towers) six months ahead of the official launch, meaning in summer 2010 shortly after the release of the AT&T iPhone.
Though key employees and executives were in the loop, everyone else at the carrier knew little more than the rest of the public. And it would seem the higher ups wanted to keep it that way. No one talked about the Apple smartphone externally, and even internally, it was still a hush-hush operation. In fact, says the source, the word “iPhone” was never uttered; only its codename was referenced: It was called the “ACME” device.
Between NDAs to sign, corporate secrets and internal discussions about field-testing and cooperation with Apple, the most interesting tidbit details how, rather than installing geo-location software (like Find my iPhone) on the prototypes to make sure they wouldn’t end up in the wrong hands (as the AT&T iPhone 4 did), Verizon testers were required to text a PIN code every 12 hours as a confirmation the device was being used internally for testing purposes only.
Our source describes a unique protocol requiring staffers to text a secret PIN code to a dedicated phone number every 12 hours. This served as ongoing confirmation that the handset was still in the proper hands. So no PIN code, no functionality.
Unlike the original iPhone 4, Apple managed to keep the Verizon iPhone closely under wraps until the official announcement, not even allowing Verizon to tease anything at CES 2011 in Las Vegas a few weeks before. The security measures taken by Apple to ensure devices were only used internally are particularly interesting, and a sign Apple must have reconsidered its testing process after the AT&T iPhone got leaked to Gizmodo.com in Spring 2010, months before the WWDC announcement.
Reuters reports China Telecom, the smallest mobile operator in the country with 17.84 million 3G subscribers as of April 2011, is “in touch” with Apple to get the CDMA version of the iPhone, currently only sold by Verizon Wireless in the United States.
China Telecom Corp Ltd, the smallest of the country’s three wireless carriers, has contacted Apple Inc to introduce the popular iPhone based on CDMA (code division multiple access) technology, Chairman Wang Xiaochu said on Friday.
“We’re not denying that we’re in touch with iPhone (Apple), but I cannot comment on the progress,” Wang told reporters after a shareholders’ meeting.
As the exclusive agreement between Apple and China Unicom, the largest carrier in China, expires later this year, China Telecom is looking forward to revamp its CDMA infrastructure to be able to offer the CDMA iPhone to its subscribers. No additional details have been provided by Reuters in the report, though a rumor posted back in January suggested Apple was on track to ship the CDMA iPhone 4 to China, Japan and Korea during 2011, with international carriers getting a version of the device produced by Pegatron, with Foxconn remaining the sole supplier for the CDMA iPhone to Verizon Wireless in the US. The release of the CDMA iPhone in more countries would certainly help Apple address more market segments and subscriber bases.
Research group NPD released its Mobile Phone Track consumer tracking service for the first quarter of 2011 today, and according to the data gathered by the company the release of the Verizon iPhone helped Apple gaining market share in the U.S. smartphone market at the expense of Google’s Android operating system which, however, in spite of Apple’s growth is still accounting for 50% of smartphone sales in the United States in the quarter. Apple’s mobile phone sales have reached 14% in Q1 outranking RIM, Motorola and HTC, placing the company in the third spot of smartphone sales behind Samsung and LG. NPD claims the Verizon iPhone “solidified” Apple’s position with the top-selling phone in the US — something that doesn’t come as a total surprise considering Verizon Wireless already announced the CDMA iPhone 4 launch was the most successful ever for the company, with 2.2 million activations in 2 months for the “most acquired” smartphone in February.
Apple and Verizon had a very successful launch of the iPhone 4, which allowed the iPhone to expand its market share that was previously held back by its prolonged carrier exclusivity with AT&T,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD. “While some of that growth came at the expense of Android operating system (OS), Android models still accounted for half of all smartphones sold in the quarter.”
According to NPD’s “Mobile Phone Track” consumer tracking service, for the first time a majority (54 percent) of all new mobile-phone handsets purchased by U.S. consumers were smartphones. Driven by increases in smartphone sales in Q1 2011, average selling prices for all mobile phones rose 2 percent over the previous quarter to reach $102; however, average prices for smartphones actually declined by 3 percent (falling to $145).
While Android lost ground for the first time since Q2 2009, a report by Digitimes earlier today about Pegatron’s Q1 results suggested Apple was lowering orders for CDMA iPhone following low sales under expectations. Verizon Wireless announced 2.2M activations, but Apple didn’t disclose numbers behind AT&T and Verizon iPhone sales at the Q2 2011 earnings call.
In an article focused on Pegatron’s first quarter financial results for 2011 (in which the company posted net losses of $19.38 million), Digitimes reports an interesting tidbit about CDMA iPhone orders and the fact that, perhaps following sales under expectations, Apple lowered the estimated shipments for 2011 from 10 million to 5 million units.
Market watchers were originally optimistic about Pegatron’s performance in 2011 as the company landed orders for CDMA iPhone 4 from Apple, but as the company reported losses for the first quarter of 2011, the market watchers are turning conservative about CDMA iPhone 4 shipments in the future as volumes may not be as strong as expected.
Meanwhile, Pegatron originally expected to ship 10 million CDMA iPhone 4s in 2011, but sources from upstream component makers pointed out that Apple’s orders already saw a significant reduction and the volume is estimated to drop to only five million units.
There might be a few reasons behind slow CDMA iPhone sales: first off, the device was introduced on Verizon (a CDMA network in the United States) in February, by the end of the iPhone 4 lifecycle, and was never released on other CDMA networks worldwide, although Apple repeatedly confirmed its interest to expand the iPhone’s brand to other international markets. More importantly, slow Verizon iPhone sales had already been reported a few days after launch, although the company later announced 2.2 million activations in 2 months, and a report claimed the Verizon iPhone was the most acquired smartphone in the United States in February. Then why lowering orders from 10 million to 5 million? It is possible Digitimes’ report is incorrect, and the CDMA shipments mentioned in the article referred to CDMA iPhones on other carriers, which might have been delayed to late 2011 — when the iPhone 5, supposedly a universal GSM-CDMA handset, is set to come out. Digitimes’ article doesn’t mention Verizon Wireless, so there’s the possibility Pegatron was asked to lower shipments for iPhone 4s destined to international carriers. You can read the full report on Pegatron’s first quarter here.
When iFixit tore down the Verizon iPhone 4 back in February, they found a Qualcomm Gobi that’s dual-mode GSM/CDMA capable, which indicates to us that the next iPhone on the CDMA spectrum would go global. During yesterday’s conference call, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo indicated that the next iPhone to be released on the network would be a global phone, allowing the next iPhone to become a world-phone as GSM capabilities are enabled. From Barron’s,
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo, asked about the sluggishness of the company’s ARPU growth in Q1, when the iPhone was introduced — growth was just 2.2%, compared to 2.5% in Q4, remarked:
The fluctuation, I believe, will come when a new device from Apple is launched, whenever that may be, and that we will be, on the first time, on equal footing with our competitors on a new phone hitting the market, which will also be a global device.
While Verizon could be poised to obtain an iPhone that was world-phone enabled, it might be a good time to rehash the universal SIM. Previously, Bloomberg reported that Apple is working on the ability to toggle between CDMA and GSM networks with a single SIM that would allow customers to willfully switch between CDMA and quad-band GSM. The iPhone 5 is also rumored to have a bigger display, NFC capabilities, but otherwise is expected to utilize a similar design to the iPhone 4 as a product refresh amongst other reports of an aluminum design with an internal antenna.
[Barron's via MacRumors]
Image source: iFixit
Almost 10 months after the original release date in the United States, carriers Bharti Airtel and Aircel have confirmed that they will bring the iPhone 4 to India “in the coming months”. No details about pricing and availability have been provided, but at least this should be good news for Indian users that have been waiting for the device to launch on their local networks (assuming they didn’t go ahead and imported an iPhone 4 months ago, that is). India isn’t new to these delayed launches: the iPad 1, for example, was released a year after the announcement from Steve Jobs.
Furthermore, India has always seen an unexpected rise of iOS devices’ prices in the past — something that Apple never addressed specifically but that’s likely linked to the different economy of the country (smartphones have a 5% market share) and issues with international shipments. It’s also worth remembering that last year a rumor suggested India’s Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices were in talks with Apple for a CDMA iPhone 4 — which has been released on Verizon and it’s now awaiting an international expansion.
Last, as noted by 9to5mac the iPad 2 has been cleared for sale in China and should be launching soon:
The product obtained the license after passing a series of tests. It has a validity of five years, expiring on April 8, 2016. This move signals that the iPad 2 is set to make its official entry in the Chinese mainland market soon.
Apple’s Chinese website still has a “Notify Me” page as you can see here. The iPad 2 was released in 25 countries on Friday, March 25th.
If you’ve been intrigued by what exactly is different between the WiFi, GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) versions of the iPad 2, well iFixit has you covered yet again with some very nice comparisons of the internals of those three base models. The above photo shows you the logic board of the three (WiFi up top and 3G below the ruler) but iFixit also documents the other key vitals of the iPad 2 on their site from the various antennas, 3G chips and the headphone jack.
The key differences to note are that the CDMA model has an additional antenna compared to the GSM variety and it also uses a Qualcomm Gobi dual-mode radio with integrated GPS that actually supports both CDMA and GSM, but the GSM compatibility is unused by the iPad. As for the GSM models, they use an Infineon GSM chip and a Broadcom GPS chip. Interestingly the hardware for both the CDMA and GSM iPad 2 follows the iPhone 4, in which the GSM versions used that Infineon and Broadcom chips whilst the Verizon CDMA version used the single Qualcomm one.
Want to see more? Jump through to the iFixit site and don’t forget to have a look at the full iPad 2 teardown and Smart Cover teardown that they also did earlier this month.