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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reviewers swoon over Apple's "flat out lovely" iPhone 5 - Reuters

The iPhone 5 on display after its introduction during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco, California September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

The iPhone 5 on display after its introduction during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco, California September 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:09pm IST

(Reuters) - Apple Inc's iPhone 5 has won rave reviews from tech bloggers and other reviewers who were given the faster, slimmer and lighter smartphone ahead of its release to customers later this week, with CNET describing it as "flat out lovely."

The new connector to link the iPhone to docking stations got the thumbs down because it renders existing speakers and other accessories obsolete, but the phone itself wowed reviewers.

"The iPhone 5 is the iPhone we've wanted since 2010, adding long-overdue upgrades like a larger screen and faster 4G LTE in a razor-sharp new design. This is the iPhone, rebooted," wrote Scott Stein at CNET, a technology website.

"The new design is flat-out lovely, both to look at and to hold".

Britain's Telegraph newspaper swooned that the iPhone 5 is "arguably the most beautiful object Apple has ever produced".

Apple touted the phone as 20 percent lighter than the previous one but Charles Arthur, writing in Britain's Guardian newspaper, said this still comes as a surprise when you first handle it.

"It's really light, making the year-old iPhone 4S feel like a paperweight," he wrote.

"There's also a subtle friction to the edges and the metal back that makes it far less likely to slip from your grasp (a complaint often made of the iPhone 4 and 4S)."

Walt Mossberg, writing in the Wall Street Journal's All Things D blog, labeled it the best smartphone on the market but criticized Apple's new mapping application, which replaced Google's maps used on older models.

"While Apple's maps feature a 3-D "flyover" view of some central cities, they lack Google's very useful ground-level photographic street views," he said.

"They also lack public-transit routing. Apple will instead link you to third-party transit apps," he added, although he praised the addition of turn-by-turn map navigation, something Google had not made available in its iPhone app.

Buyers have embraced the new iPhone too, buying 2 million in the first 24 hours of presales in the fastest iPhone launch ever.

Apple's U.S. online store has imposed a limit of two phones per customer, with projected delivery dates pushed out to 3-4 weeks.

Apple stock hit an all-time high of $703.50 on Wednesday, ahead of the phone's official availability on Friday, before easing back to $701.03, down 0.1 percent.

Time magazine's Harry McCracken said the iPhone 5 compared well with the Galaxy S3 produced by Samsung, with whom Apple is locked in a bitter patent fight.

"The Galaxy does more stuff; the iPhone 5 does somewhat fewer things, but tends to do them better," he wrote.

McCracken said the addition of LTE mobile network connectivity, allowing iPhone 5 users to make use of faster, 4G networks, was worth the price.

However, David Pogue, in the New York Times, questioned whether it was worth breaking two-year phone contracts to upgrade from a year-old iPhone 4S.

"(It's) maybe not worth it for the 5's collection of nips and tucks. But if you've had the discipline to sit out a couple of iPhone generations -— wow, are you in for a treat," he wrote.

The Huffington Post said the design was a generation ahead of others while Bloomberg said the iPhone "retains the title of handsomest phone you can buy."

"The fit and finish really are more like a fine wristwatch, as Apple boasts, than a gadget you might shove into pocket or purse," wrote Bloomberg's Rich Jaroslovsky.

TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler accepted his past liking for Apple products might color the thinking of some readers but said the new phone was fantastic.

"Of course, you're probably expecting me to say that. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong," Siegler argued. "The fact of the matter is, you can either listen to me or lose out. You're going to want this phone."

(Writing by Rodney Joyce; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)


Quad-core Samsung Galaxy Note 2 launches with 5 carriers - CNET

The 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 2 launch will follow in the Samsung Galaxy S3's footsteps in mid-November, and will keep its quad-core processor.

September 19, 2012 6:00 AM PDT
Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Samsung's next-generation phablet.

(Credit: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

The first quad-core LTE smartphone in the U.S. is almost here, and it comes to our shores extra-large. In launching the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung is hoping to repeat its own success with sales on the the Galaxy S3 just a few months before, while also setting a record for the first quad-core smartphone to reach U.S. retail shelves.

The Korea-based manufacturer announced today that it intends to kick off the 5.5-inch Android 4.1 Jelly Bean "phablet," a smartphone with tabletlike proportions, on the same five carriers that initially offered the Galaxy S3 this summer. Moreover, the smartphone will carry Samsung's 1.6 GHz Exynos processor.

Although Samsung didn't share exact dates or prices, it did promise to deliver the premium, stylus-driven smartphones by mid-November on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. Samsung will let individual carriers reveal their own pricing and availability in the coming weeks.

Since Samsung is positioning the Galaxy Note 2 as a more powerful and larger version of the GS3, we can expect it to be pricier than the GS3 is now, or the same price, with the GS3 dropping to promotional figures.

The Note 2's S Pen stylus makes it a different product than the Galaxy S3 (GS3) in many respects, but in others, the Galaxy Note 2 is a continuation of the GS3's young legacy -- the Note 2's design builds on the same physical form as the GS3, but larger, and with the more flexible S Pen and attending software extras.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 hands on (photos)

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Like the GS3, the Note 2 will feature an 8-megapixel camera, a front-facing camera, and support for 1080p HD video. The screen is also HD Super AMOLED. The Note 2 will also hold 2GB of internal RAM; and will come with 16 GB of onboard file storage, plus support for up to 64GB of expandable memory through a microSD card.

We'll offer more details when we get them. In the meantime, get to know the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in our hands-on take.

Apple's iPhone 5 launch weekend: 8 million units or bust? - ZDNet

Summary: The reviews for Apple's iPhone 5 are glowing and now it's time for those launch weekend guesstimates. Anywhere from 6 million to 10 million units will move between Friday's launch and Monday, one analyst says.

iphone5cnetCredit: CNET

The reviews for iPhone 5 are in and the consensus view is that Apple's flagship device is a must have upgrade. As the iPhone 5 launches on Friday the big question is whether Apple will sell 8 million or more devices launch weekend.

According to CNET, which gave the iPhone high marks along with other reviewers:

The iPhone 5 is the iPhone we've wanted since 2010, adding long-overdue upgrades like a larger screen and faster 4G LTE in a razor-sharp new design. This is the iPhone, rebooted.

Fair enough. Now let's translate those glowing reviews into real units and dollars.

More: iPhone 5 16GB costs an estimated $207 to build | 5 reasons I'm passing on the iPhone 5 | First round of iPhone 5 reviews hit the Web | All iPhone coverage | A unique upgrade cycle

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster---among the biggest Apple bulls on Wall Street---said in a research note:

We believe that the reported 2 million iPhone 5 pre-order unit number suggests that Apple could sell 6-10 million phones in the launch weekend. We believe Apple will issue a press release on Monday September 24th about launch weekend sales. The mid-point of our weekend sales total would suggest 100% y/y growth from the iPhone 4S launch. We note that iPhone 4S grew 135% y/y in its launch weekend compared to the iPhone 4. We believe that some investors may have slight concerns regarding Apple's ability to sell 6-10 million phones in the launch weekend given the suggested phone sales per hour at retail given the numbers. While we acknowledge the concern, we remain confident that between continued online pre-orders and expanded retail and country distribution, Apple will be able to deliver on the 6-10 million unit weekend sales expectation.

Take the midpoint of Munster's projections and you get to 8 million units. Munster's "worst case launch figure" is 6 million.

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The wild card here will be supply. Apple's supply chain hums, but shortages are likely.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said:

Apple introduced the new iPhone 5 and we were impressed with the pace of the rollout given concerns around production shortages. Apple aims to distribute the iPhone 5 through 240 carriers worldwide by year-end, making it the fastest iPhone launch yet. Our iPhone unit estimates for the September quarter are unchanged at 23.43 million in case Apple faces product stock outs. However, we estimate iPhone unit sales will surge to 45.21 million, up 22.0% y/y and 93% q/q in the December quarter (F1Q13). We believe production plans call for about 50 million iPhone 5 units alone in the December quarter, not including older models and expect strong sales to continue through the New Year. The main driver of iPhone sales momentum into mid-calendar 2013 could be China, where Apple needs to strike a deal with China Mobile for the first time.

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Sony to sell slimmer PlayStations to help boost sales - BBC News

Sony PlayStation 3Sony says more than 3,300 games have been released for its console on BluRay discs

Sony is launching two slimmer versions of its PlayStation 3 console to boost sales of the ageing games machine.

One version will feature 12 gigabytes of flash memory, allowing it to become the cheapest PS3 to date.

The other has a 500GB hard disk and will be sold for roughly the price of the previous 320GB model.

The PS3 has been outsold by Microsoft's Xbox 360 for 20 months running in the US - the world's biggest games market, according to data from NPD.

Demand for the portable games console - the PlayStation Vita - has also been weaker than expected, forcing Sony to cut sales forecasts.

The firm reported a 24.6bn yen ($314m; £202m) net loss for the April-June period, adding to a 456.7bn yen ($5.7bn; £3.5bn) deficit for the previous financial year.

It also faces the imminent launch of Nintendo's next-generation console.

The Wii U goes on sale in the US on 18 November and in Europe 12 days later, giving its maker an advantage in the busy Christmas shopping period.

Cutting costs

Sony says the revised models are less than half the size and weight of the original PS3 launched in 2006, and a 20-25% reduction on the previous models.

The 500GB version will go on sale on 28 September in the UK and the 12GB device on 12 October.

One industry watcher said the move would help Sony in the run-up to Christmas.

"A smaller form factor is not only more attractive to many consumers, it will cost less to manufacture, ship and stock," Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Screen Digest, told the BBC.

"That is likely to open the door to better margins and will allow Sony a chance to be more aggressive on pricing running into 2013."

Mr Harding-Rolls added that while Microsoft had outperformed Sony in the US, the picture was different elsewhere.

According to data from IHS, Sony sold four million PS3s in the first half of 2012 across Europe, the US, Australia and Japan, while Microsoft sold three million Xbox 360s.

Family friendly?

HMV is offering the 12GB device for £185 - it charged £200 for the 160GB PlayStation Slim.

Sony indicated that the lower price might help the device appeal to families - the same "casual gamer" audience typically targeted by Nintendo.

WonderbookThe Diggs Nightcrawler Wonderbook allows users to investigate Humpty Dumpty's "downfall"

Sony underlined its intention to broaden its appeal to a younger audience with an earlier announcement about its forthcoming Wonderbooks - augmented reality titles that will display interactive content on a screen when the user places a compatible book in front of an attached camera.

The software includes a new Harry Potter title and a Walking With Dinosaurs release based on the BBC documentary series.

"The Nintendo brand is very strong with the family audience but Sony is throwing its weight behind marketing Wonderbooks this Christmas," said Christopher Dring, associate editor of the MCV video games trade news magazine.

"Bearing in mind Sony's hardware will also likely be cheaper and it also has other family stuff like Singstar - a karaoke game that appeals to a young audience - there could be a big fight over the next few months."

Sony to Offer Smaller PlayStation 3 for Holiday Season - Businessweek

Sony Corp. (6758) will sell a smaller, lighter version of the PlayStation 3 console this holiday season as it tries to win back customers flocking to games played on mobile devices and personal computers.

The new consoles, which have more storage capacity than current models, will go on sale Sept. 25 in North America at $249 for 250 gigabytes of storage and $299 for 500 gigabytes, the company said today. Sony will also start the “PlayStation Mobile” service, through which users can download games on their smartphones and tablet computers, on Oct. 3, Andrew House, head of the games business, said in Tokyo.

The games unit is among the focus areas listed this year by Kazuo Hirai, 51, who became Sony’s chief executive officer in April and started reforming the unprofitable television operation and cutting 10,000 jobs. The Tokyo-based company is trying to return to profit following four straight annual losses after the yen gained, the global economy slowed and consumers switched to Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. devices.

“Sony is probably trying to lure consumers with the new model after Nintendo released its Wii U,” said Takashi Oka, a Tokyo-based analyst at TIW Inc. “Still, game-console markets have matured in developed nations and it may be hard to stimulate demand just by making it smaller.”

Nintendo’s Release

The Wii U, Nintendo Co.’s latest console, will go on sale in the U.S. Nov. 18, priced from $300, the Osaka-based company said Sept. 13. Nintendo, the world’s biggest maker of video-game machines, said it will introduce new titles for the player, such as “Super Mario” and “Call of Duty.”

The smaller PS3 will make its debut in Europe on Sept. 28 and in Japan on Oct. 4, Sony said.

The game-console industry faces competition from titles played online and on smartphones from companies including Apple, whose latest iPhone 5 is scheduled to reach stores in the U.S. this week.

Sony is also offering titles for Android-powered devices to extend its reach beyond users of game consoles. Its “PlayStation Mobile” Android service, renamed in June from “PlayStation Suite,” will be available next month in nine nations including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia and Japan, Sony said today. The service allows users to download and play titles made by Sony and third-party developers, it said.

Makers of devices that allow the service include HTC Corp., Asustek Computer Inc., Sharp Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd., said Satoshi Nakajima, a spokesman for Sony’s games unit.

Sony also said it will cut the price for its PlayStation Portable players, by 18 percent to 13,800 yen ($175), from tomorrow in Japan.

Cloud Services

Sony is preparing to offer new cloud-based gaming services, House said today. He didn’t elaborate.

The company agreed in July to acquire Gaikai Inc., a U.S. gaming-platform company, for about $380 million. The transaction was completed Aug. 10, Nakajima said.

Sony, which bought out a mobile-phone venture from Ericsson AB for 1.05 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in February, plans to draw on its skills in games to develop new smartphones and tablet computers, Kunimasa Suzuki, an executive vice president overseeing mobile products, said earlier this month.

Last month, the Japanese electronics maker cut its full- year sales target for handheld game players, including the PS Vita, to 12 million units from 16 million predicted three months earlier. The company also lowered its target for TVs, compact cameras and PCs.

The operating loss, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, at Sony’s game unit was 3.5 billion yen in the three months ended June 30, compared with an income of 4.1 billion yen a year earlier, the company said in August.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

The verdict on the Apple iPhone 5 - Fox News

It doesn't go on sale until Friday but it already has a new nickname and more than 2 million committed users.

The iPhone 5, comically dubbed The Longphone, is the revamped Apple smartphone users have longed for since the iPhone 4 started to show its age. It promises faster downloads and response times, a significantly lighter, rugged body, plus camera, software and speaker upgrades.

But the iPhone 5 may not please everyone with its screen that is no wider, battery that is no larger, and demands for a new SIM card and fresh cables.

I've tested the new iPhone for seven days, loading it with more than 300 apps, testing each new feature, filling its memory with photos, and trying very hard not to drop it.

Below is an account of life with an iPhone 5 to help make your smartphone choice easier.

THAT BODY

You'd think Apple's first 4-inch screen would make the biggest first impression. Nope.

Pick up an iPhone 5 and you're likely to first notice its unlikely lightness. This handset is just under 4 ounces; so light you'll have to adjust your grip to keep hold of it.

It also looks like it's been made by a jeweller: the slender sides have been finely sanded to a shiny edge and the anodized aluminum back cover is reassuringly solid. No more glass sandwich to protect.

WHY THE LONG SCREEN?

It's the most obvious iPhone 5 upgrade: a screen that is 18 percent bigger than before.

Websites now stretch further, revealing three Google results rather than two. Three appointments appear in the monthly calendar view (not one), and a new row of apps fits on each screen. I immediately reorganized my home screen accordingly, following an Idol app audition process.

Exposed: The seedy underbelly of hook-up apps

The long screen is surprisingly practical. Apart from allowing thumb-typing, widescreen movie and TV downloads can now be viewed without a letterbox border, making them more comfortable to watch. Impressively, Apple hasn't stretched resolution to fit the screen. It retains the 326-ppi Retina Display by adding more pixels. The screen is as sharp as ever, even when eyeball-close.

Apple has also boosted screen contrast, which is particularly obvious in photos. Side-by-side with an iPhone 4S, colors look bolder and less washed out. Blacks looks darker and reds richer. This contrast boost comes with a downside, however: Whites also look more yellow. It's only noticeable when compared to another phone's screen, but there is a very slight tint to the iPhone 5 display.

DUDE, WHERE'S MY CHARGER?

Having stared at the screen for hours, restored more than 100 apps and downloaded several photo albums, the iPhone 5's battery says no. I reach for my old cord and think again: the new iPhone has a new connection.

This becomes more frustrating with each charge. Where did I leave that one white cord, different to all the other white cords?

Yet more problems arise when mobile. No one else has an eight-pin Lightning adaptor for me to borrow. I become a battery scrooge to keep to the phone alive. The smaller connection paved the way for a more slender phone and Apple says the pain of adapting will subside. This transitional period is bound to be awkward and frustrating, though.

HOW MUCH FASTER?

Like all new iPhones, this model feels faster than the last.

Leaked photos: is this the iPad Mini?

Reach for the camera app and you can shoot two photos before the iPhone 4S snaps one. Apps also open faster, games load quicker and menus respond with greater speed. Apple claims it's up to twice as fast.

Surprisingly, benchmarking tests support this claim. The Geekbench app placed this iPhone 5 handset just below the Samsung Galaxy S III's benchmark even though that phone has a quad-core processor to this phone's dual-core model. Touche.

4G THAT WORKS

It takes a moment for me to recognize it. It's not the 4G symbol I expected. This iPhone calls its faster Internet connection by its more accurate name: LTE.

With just three out of five 4G bars showing, this phone tears through megabytes. It downloads 12 megabits per second, on average, and can upload 6 mbps: fast enough to download email attachments without consideration and upload Instagram photos before you reconsider.

And remember that "Grip of Death''? It doesn't affect this phone. I tried it.

DO MEGAPIXELS MATTER?

The iPhone 5's front-facing camera is undoubtedly better -- self-portraits and FaceTime video chats are clearer -- but the rear camera's upgrade is more subtle. It's still an 8-megapixel camera but one that features digital tweaks.

Digital noise reduction and low-light modes have been added to make indoor photos crisper, users can capture photos while shooting video, and a panorama option lets you capture 270-degree vistas.

This last offering is perhaps the most notable and it's well executed. Capturing Brisbane's Story Bridge at night was initially challenging -- you must strive to keep a virtual arrow on a line while slowly spinning -- but the results impressed. Cropped and color-boosted afterwards, they became worthy desktop backgrounds.

Does anyone need a resolution greater than 8 megapixels? Sony and Nokia think so. Apple's new camera isn't groundbreaking, but it delivers valuable improvements.

ANNOYANCES

Want bigger apps for that bigger screen? You'll have to wait.

Each app-maker must update their creation to use the iPhone 5's longer display. View the web in Google Chrome and it looks smaller than in Apple's own Safari, for example. This is bound to be a very short-term problem. Expect a weekend rush.

Smart turns a car into a mobile cinema

Want to slip your SIM into an iPhone 5? You'll have to swap it for a Nano-SIM. SIM surgery won't work this time -- you can't cut a Micro SIM down to size -- and you'll have to find an adaptor if you want to switch to another phone. Apple is asking users to commit.

Don't expect a lot of extra battery life from this phone, either. The iPhone 5 battery is no larger, though it will last a touch longer than an iPhone 4S between charges while delivering more screen and a faster Internet service.

VERDICT

The iPhone 5 is a compelling package and certainly enough to keep Apple's many fans hooked. By introducing a 4G Internet connection, bigger screen, faster processor and modest camera upgrades, users will find plenty of reasons to upgrade.

Committed Google Android users, however, are less likely to be swayed. Big screens, fast processors and 4G connections are not new to them.

Apple's newest iPhone is revolutionary, of course ... it's just a modest, modern revolution.

Get more tech news and reviews at News.com.au.

iPhone 5 stock situation worsens: 3-4 week preorder delay - SlashGear

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Tough news if you were hoping Apple’s iPhone 5 supply shortage would ease ahead of the sixth-gen smartphone’s release on Friday. Availability via Apple’s online store continues to tighten, in fact, with new orders now facing 3-4 week delays before their shiny iOS 6 toy can be expected to ship.

That’s up from the 2-3 weeks we saw orders slip to shortly after presales began, with it taking less than an hour in the US for the launch-day stock to be depleted. The 3-4 week delay currently affects orders in Apple’s US store, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see similar extensions impact international stores too.

Although initial reactions to the iPhone 5 were mixed, with some unimpressed by the new handset’s 4-inch display and slender construction, that didn’t appear to affect presale demand. In fact, over 2m preorders were placed in the first 24 hours of availability.

Of course, if you’re still on the fence about whether to order the iPhone 5 (or take a chance at your local store on Friday) we have you covered. Check out our full iPhone 5 review for everything you need to know.