iPhone 4S / 5 appears in Apple’s inventory system, iPod touch may see price drops

Yesterday we reported that tweaked iPhone 4 models and white iPod touch models have appeared in Apple’s internal inventory systems ahead of the October 4th Apple event. Today, though, comes the big news: the next-generation iPhone has made its way into Apple’s inventory system. This new iPhone is the N94 device that we found in the iOS SDK many months ago. This device is confirmed to pack Apple’s dual-core A5 processor, and is likely the device we described with an 8MP camera, 1GB of RAM, Nuance Dictation speech-to-text, and the groundbreaking Assistant feature.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new iPhone appearing in the inventory system is that the model number is similar to the one from a purported ‘iPhone 4S’ packaging label we spotted yesterday on a Chinese forum. We quickly dismissed the label as fake due to its unknown origin, but it is now possibly real. The model number from the label is MD239 (a 16GB unit), while the model number for the “better” (likely 32GB unit) is MD234. According to Mr. X, this sequence is sensible, but could  just be a coincidence. If legitimate, the next-generation iPhone will be marketed as the iPhone 4S, but we definitely would not call that anywhere near confirmed. Another tidbit: IMEI and MEID being together on the label would seem to confirm this new iPhone to be GSM+CDMA (thanks @rokorre!).

Following up on our report yesterday that two new tweaked iPhone 4 models have appeared in the system, we are now hearing that the two models represent black and white units. The N90A is likely an 8GB iPhone 4 that comes in black and white.

iPods too!

We are also hearing that all three iPod touch capacities will be seeing price drops in certain international countries. The price drops for the 32GB and 64GB models will be minimal – perhaps due to currency fluctuations – but the 8GB pricing will change substantially. Translated, the 8GB iPod touch may even reach the $199 price point or below again in the United States, but that is unconfirmed. With the release of the $199 8GB Kindle Fire yesterday, a move like this from Apple makes sense.

Thanks, Mr. X!

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How the teardrop iPhone design wound up in the hands of every case maker in China

The idea of a next-generation iPhone shaped like a teardrop dates back to a report published by This is my next in late-April, describing a 3.7-inch iPhone with edge-to-edge glass and striking new design shape akin to the late-2010 MacBook Air, meaning thicker to thinner from top to bottom. Piggy-backing on the story, agile Asian vendors followed up with teardrop-shaped cases. Or so we thought.

While we will ‘talk iPhone’ next Tuesday, M.I.C. Gadget reveals that an iPhone 5 prototype had recently gone missing from the Shenzhen district. “This should explain why we are seeing a whole lot of iPhone 5 cases in China today”, the publication concludes.

Much like the widely publicized iPhone 4 prototype that had gone missing at a German beer bar in California, the missing handset was camouflaged in an iPhone 4-like case (strange because the teardrop phone is wider and taller). Inside: A test model with a finalized iPhone 5 chassis sporting the teardrop design. The publication then builds on this tip by speculating that the device houses “slightly modified iPhone 4 electronics” plus the A4 chip “and even the same amount of memory”.

If this is true, then the tear drop iPhone may be the low end device, and the one inside the iPhone 4 case might be the high end.

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Macworld: for simple tasks, a decked out Mini beats a base iMac handily (or SSDs rule)

Macworld decided to put a decked out Mac Mini Mid-2011 against a current baseline iMac 2.5GHz to see what kind of performance could be gotten from Apple’s diminutive little machine when an SSD is added.

When we say “decked out”, we’re referring to the $100 2.5->2.7GHz CPU improvement + $600 SSD upgrade which almost doubles the price of the $799 ($769) high end Mini and pushes it above the price of the base model iMac. Minis start out at around $568.

The results are pretty apparent: when running simple tests, especially ones that rely only on CPU and disk access, the Mini beat the iMac handily (above). That’s almost entirely due to the added speed of the SSD compared with the iMac’s 3.5-inch HDD. When doing more graphics intensive tests (below), the iMac and its more powerful GPU took over.

The takeaway on this however is that a HDD to SSD upgrade can make a heck of a lot of difference in performance. For those handy out there, adding an SSD to a Mac Mini doesn’t have to be a $600 proposition either. Reasonable SSDs can start out at $100 and can be added to the new Minis’ hard drive configuration (not swapped) with a simple kit.

Another important tweak not detailled in these tests is adding 8GB of RAM to the Mini which will run you somewhere south of $40. Added RAM really improves performance when lots of windows or applications are open at the same time.

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Apple to release sub-$1000 21.5-inch iMac geared at education customers (Update: Released!)

Update (Aug. 8th): Following our report, Apple has gone ahead and released it!. Interestingly, no Thunderbolt and RAM not upgradable?!

Apple is gearing up to launch a new addition to the iMac lineup later this month that appears to be geared towards education/volume customers. The new iMac has less power than the current line of all-in-one Apple desktop computers and also has less storage space. The computer packs a last generation 3.1 GHz dual-core processor (3.06 GHz rounded up), 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, 250 GB of hard drive storage space, and the AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 256 MB of dedicated memory.

This lower-end iMac obviously has much less horsepower than the current iMac line and should be priced as such. For comparison, the entry level 21.5-inch iMac features a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, and the same AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor but with double the dedicated memory at 512 MB. This entry level 21.5-inch iMac is priced at $1,199, so don’t be surprised to see this less-powerful machine with a sub-$1000 price tag. For reference, Apple’s last education-geared iMac was priced at $899. A similar (more RAM, worse graphics) refurbished model is currently priced at $929 (pictured below).

Apple is expected to silently release this new machine later this month. As always, thanks Mr. X.

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Kingston 256GB Internal 2.5″ SSD: $280

From 9to5Toys.com

Amazon offers the Kingston SSDNow V-Series 256GB Serial ATA 3Gbp/s 2.5″ Internal Solid State Drive (SSD), model no. SV100S2/256GZ, for $299.99. The $20 mail-in rebate cuts it to $279.99. With free shipping, that’s $1.09/GB, and the lowest total price we could find by $128. (It’s also the best price we’ve seen for an SSD of this size since Black Friday) Rebate expires July 31.  Reviews here and here.


AnandTech benchmarks
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Speed Test: Lion vs. Snow Leopard

Lifehacker has conducted a series of tests to see which is faster: Lion or Snow Leopard. As you can see in the video above, the two operating systems do about the same in almost every category tested, but Snow Leopard weasels out the win almost every time. To be fair, most categories were won by a very small margin. Lifehacker summarizes:

Boot 1:32 1:25
Compress a ~900MB File 0:51 0:59
Decompress a ~900MB File 0:10 0:09
Duplicate a ~900MB File 0:09 0:09
Encoder a Movie for iPhone in Quicktime X 0:56 0:53
Launch 9 Applications 0:59 0:37
Open 10 Tabs in Safari 0:15 0:17
Total Time 4:43+ 4:29

Snow Leopard was built for speed and Lion was built to add functionality. It’s great to see Lion isn’t exactly slipping away on the speed end of things. How’s the speed on your end?

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