ETSI selects Apple’s nano-SIM design for new 4FF standard?

We already knew that Apple is pushing hard to have the European Telecommunications Standards Institute select its nano-SIM card design over competitors like Nokia and Motorola, who proposed their own alternative design with RIM. While it was rumored that Apple had support from the majority of European operators, the ETSI confirmed today that it has selected a form factor for the new 4FF SIM Card:

The fourth form factor (4FF) card will be 40% smaller than the current smallest SIM card design, at 12.3mm wide by 8.8mm high, and 0.67mm thick. It can be packaged and distributed in a way that is backwards compatible with existing SIM card designs. The new design will offer the same functionality as all current SIM cards.

The announcement from the ESTI does not flat-out confirm Apple’s design was chosen, but we are able to confirm that the new form factor does match up nicely with measurements of Apple’s proposed design thanks to a little bit of investigative work courtesy of The Verge. Unfortunately, Nokia and Motorola’s proposed design had almost identical dimensions. We will have to wait for more official information on the new standard from ESTI before we know for sure that Apple’s design was selected.

The ESTI explained the standard would be published in its TS 102 221 specification:

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How to unlock an iPhone 4S in 12 easy steps

Weiphone’s Hacker Loktar_Sun just unearthed how to unlock an iPhone—including the iPhone 4S.

To complete Weiphone’s step-by-step unlock tutorial, the latest version of iTunes and a jailbroken iPhone is required. For those unaware, unlocking is the process of modifying an iPhone’s software so that it can operate through carriers other than its official carrier in a given country. Also, a jailbroken iPhone simply means it is freed from the limitations imposed by Apple for safety measures.  In other words, continue at your own risk.

The following process is straightforward for anyone familiar with unlocked or jailbroken iPhones: Read more

Is Apple falsely advertising 4G on its iPads in Australia?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking to have Apple drop the “4G” from the advertising/website of its new iPad products with cell modems…

The ACCC alleges that Apple’s recent promotion of the new “iPad with WiFi + 4G” is misleading because it represents to Australian consumers that the product “iPad with WiFi + 4G” can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case.

Optus and Telstra do not use the compatible LTE radio frequencies as Apple’s iPad; therefore, new iPads are not compatible with the LTE 4G networks in Australia. Both mobile carriers already dropped the “4G” naming on the new iPad on their websites. However, Apple does display “iPad +4G” on the Apple.com.au website.

The speed that the iPad gets in Australia is pretty solid…

Importantly, Apple has the subtext:

The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S. and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada.

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More importantly, it does not look like Australians play high and fast with marketing terms like “4G” as we do here in the United States, which now describes HSPA+ on AT&T iPhone 4S’s. Read more

Micro-SIMs arriving at AT&T, perhaps in anticipation of 4G LTE iPhone and iPad 3 (update: nope for Pantech Burst/Element)

Update: We’ve been told by a source at AT&T that those micro-SIMS are for the forthcoming Pantech Burst and Element which are also on the way to AT&T this week.


A regular AT&T SIM card (left) and a 4G LTE Micro-SIM (right). Click for larger.

A new batch of Micro-SIMs arrived at AT&T stores. We would normally pass on the news—if those were normal non-miniaturized 4G LTE Micro-SIMs. Based on an anonymous tip, Phone Arena noted AT&T now getting LTE Micro-SIM cards “could be an indication that the next iPhone will finally support 4G LTE connectivity.” If you ask us, those are likely for the Nokia Lumia 900 that is hitting the AT&T network on March 18.

Granted, it is not entirely out of question that AT&T LTE Micro-SIMs are in anticipation of a sixth-generation iPhone that is presumably scheduled for an announcement this summer. Apple was the first major handset maker to switch to tiny 3G SIM cards with iPhone 4, which was a move born out of necessity due to space constraints in the 9.3mm device. The iPhone 4/4S are the only Apple products compatible with the Micro-SIM standard.

What about the iPad 3, you ask….

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Apple online store now accepting orders for unlocked iPhone 4S as Sprint begins SIM-locking them

Apple’s US online store today began accepting orders for the unlocked iPhone 4S, priced at $649/$749/$849 for the 16/32/64GB version, making good on its promise to provide the unlocked handset in November. The company advises:

The unlocked iPhone works only on supported GSM networks, such as AT&T in the U.S. When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier. The unlocked iPhone will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

An unlocked iPhone 4S is of particular interest to those traveling abroad as they can just pop in a local carrier’s SIM card to avoid paying exorbitant roaming fees.

Meanwhile, carrier Sprint today begun SIM-locking all iPhone 4S devices purchased Friday, November 11, 2011 and onwards, SprintFeed noted. According to SprintFeed:

Starting tomorrow, all iPhone 4S devices will have the SIM locked. The locking occurs during the activation process and is invisible to the customer (no extra action is needed by customer or rep).

9to5Mac discovered mid-October that Apple Stores in the United States were selling contract-free iPhones. Any GSM phone that was sold off contract was unlocked and we’ve confirmed that they’ve stayed unlocked, even after the 5.0.1 update (below). Read more

Are you having issues activating your AT&T iPhone?

Readers are writing in to tell us that AT&T is backlogged on their iPhone activations while Verizon and Sprint appear to be handling the load a little better.

One reason is likely sheer numbers. Our survey (below) shows that US users are picking AT&T over Verizon and Sprint by a significant margin (mostly for the Data speed). We’ve also heard that Apple was expecting this and stocking up to five times as many AT&T iPhone 4Ss as Sprint or Verizon iPhones.

So which iPhone did you pick up?

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