iPad Air now available in the U.S. through Apple’s Online Store and carrier websites, shipping November 4th

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The Apple Online Store has just come back online after about two hours of downtime in preparation for the iPad Air launch in the United States. All four major carriers are also offering the fifth-generation iPad on their own stores.

The iPad Air is the newest version of Apple’s iconic tablet. The latest model features the same 64-bit A7 processor found in the new iPhone 5s, improved cameras, and a new form factor that’s thinner and lighter than the previous generation. It ships with Apple’s new iOS 7 software. Pricing starts at  $499 for the Wi-Fi model with 16 GB of storage and goes up to $929 for the 128 GB LTE-equipped model.

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Why iPhone longevity means iOS carrier activation share doesn’t resemble sales

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There was a lot of confusion yesterday when Verizon’s results were discussed, with more than one commentator confusing activations and sales. For the record, what Verizon announced was that 51 percent of its activations were iPhone, not 51 percent of its phone sales.

If you doubt the importance of this distinction, I have one word for you: T-Mobile. As of 11th April, the carrier had two million iPhone activations. Its iPhone sales as of the same date? Zero: T-Mobile didn’t start selling iPhones until the following day.

The difference between the two numbers is particularly dramatic with high-end handsets like the iPhone …  Read more

iPhone takes 51% share of smartphone activations at Verizon in Q3, unit sales flat compared to Q2

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Graph by Benedict Evans.

Verizon has just reported their results for the third quarter, with smartphone sales topping 7.6 million units. While the press release does not disclose details about iPhone performance, on Verizon’s conference call, the company announced that iPhones were responsible for just over half of all Verizon’s smartphone activations, compared to about 43% in Q2. It is important to remember the distinction between activations and sales, with activations including passed-down devices to spouses or children as well as the strong iPhone reseller market.

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iPhone 5s takes top slot from Samsung Galaxy S4 at U.S. carriers; good showing by 5c too

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The iPhone has long been the best-selling phone on AT&T, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 has for some time held that slot at Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, with the iPhone 5 in second place. No more. September sales figures from Canaccord (reported in Fortune) show that the iPhone 5s now has top billing on all four major U.S. carriers, with the iPhone 5c also beating Samsung on AT&T and Sprint. While the news isn’t unexpected, the numbers do seem to put the lie to one rumor …  Read more

What you need to know about pre-ordering the iPhone 5c from major carriers and stores

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While it appears there will not be any preorders available for the iPhone 5s, many retailers and carriers are announcing their iPhone 5c pre-order plans. Starting tonight at 12:01 am Pacific Time tonight, you’ll be able to place your pre-order directly with Apple and have it delivered right to your door on the 20th – as long as you’re able to beat out the other customers (potentially millions) to the punch.

As a result, it may be better to work out a pre-order with a carrier or retailer as the demand could be much more sporadic, as it has been in past years. On the other hand, these outlets usually receive less stock and Apple supplies their own stores more quickly than they do for third-parties. We’ll be watching the shipping times as these pre-orders roll out so check back frequently.

Below you will find all of the current announcements, but you should definitely also take a look at how to get the most money for your current iPhone:

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Walmart iPhone pre-orders start tomorrow, 5c at $79, 5s at $189

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Walmart has announced that it will be offering both of the new iPhone models in their 16Gb versions, the 5c at $79 (a $20 saving) and the 5s at $189 (a $10 savings). Walmart offers the phones on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

What’s interesting here is that Apple Stores usually do price matching so it might be worth a try after waiting on line on launch day. Best Buy will also price match often, so this could trigger markdowns all over …  Read more

Case-Mate’s iPhone 5C designs ‘evleak’ out, including September 20th ship date

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Update: A bunch more cases have been added below.

Evleaks, a source with an excellent reputation for reliability, has tweeted two photos of aftermarket iPhone 5C cases, together with a very specific shipping date: 8am on 20th September.

It’s widely expected that Apple will announce the 5C (along with the iPhone 5S) on 10th September, and that it will go on sale on the 20th. Both T-Mobile and Verizon have blocked employee vacations around this date.

The photos as posted were rather small – we’ve enlarged them to give a better look …  Read more

iPhone closes gap on Android during May, grabs 31% of T-Mobile smartphone sales

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Following stats from comScore late last month for smartphone market share by vendor and OS, research firm Kantar Worldpanel is out today with its own numbers for the three month period ending in May. While Kantar puts Android at the same 52% of the market during May as comScore, it has Apple slightly higher at 41.9% of the market (up 3.5% from the same period last year) compared to the 39% comScore reported:

Through the 3 month period ending May 2013, Android continues to lead smartphone sales at 52%. Close behind is iOS with 41.9% of sales.

Kantar notes that Apple’s increase is thanks to T-Mobile picking up the iPhone 5, which is now the best selling smartphone at the carrier despite only being available since mid April. Thanks to iPhone, T-Mobile could soon increase its share of smartphone sales in the US, as Kantar notes all iPhone models counted for 31% of the carrier’s smartphone sales during the quarter. Currently the carrier holds just 10.1% behind Verizon (34.6%), AT&T (29%), and Sprint (12.7%).

The report notes T-Mobile has been attracting a lot of first time smartphone buyers since getting the iPhone with around 53% upgrading from feature phones: Read more

Walmart reportedly slashing iPhone 5 price indefinitely to $129 beginning Saturday

Walmart is set to dramatically cut iPhone prices starting Saturday, according to Mashable, which points to an impending iPhone hardware refresh in the coming months. Walmart will reportedly slash the already low iPhone 5 cost from $189 to $129 and the iPhone 4S will go from $89 to $39 on contract with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon (Uncarrier T-Mobile, which Walmart doesn’t support, is not included in the deal).

Walmart isn’t the only retailer jumping on the discounted iPhone wagon. Best Buy will reportedly offer substantial discounts to iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 customers offering in-store credit or credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone. Such promotions tend to hint at upcoming hardware refreshes as retailers look to move out existing inventory. Read more

AT&T explains its new 61 cent/month administrative fee policy

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Thanks reader Kory for screenshot

AT&T started this month charging an administrative fee of $.61/month/user for its mobile customers in addition to its current fees. While the fee may be small, as the Verge notes it adds ‘up to hundreds of millions of dollars’ over 24 month contracts and millions of customers. What gives?  An AT&T spokesperson told us:

Consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers, the monthly fee of 61 cents per line will help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance

The fee applies to consumer mobility lines as well as IRU lines –  the kind of business lines where the employee pays the bill directly.

AT&T isn’t alone in this endeavor. Verizon charges admin fees of $0.91 and Sprint charges $1.99.  (Plus more for regulatory fees.)  T-Mobile’s combined regulatory programs fee is $1.61.  On this basis, AT&T’s is still the lowest of all carriers.  It still sucks though. “expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance” seems like it should be part of the current fees and that fee is easier to raise because it isn’t part of the publicized rate plan.

Update: TheTechBlock notes that you may be able to cancel your plan because of this fee. A nice way to slip out of your subsidized plan? Read more

‘Zact’ launches customizable, no-contract data plans on Sprint, coming to iOS soon

Earlier this month we told you that Verizon-backed ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, was planning on introducing a new mobile service that takes advantage of its software. Today ItsOn has officially announced Zact, a mobile service that provides flexible, adjustable data plans that allows users to pay for only what they use, customize voice, text, and data plans in real-time at any time, and share data on an unlimited amount of devices: Read more

Verizon’s ‘ItsOn’ MVNO and AT&T’s ‘All in One’ to take on simplified billing/pre-paid space

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ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, last year announced plans to partner with one of the big U.S. carriers for its launch early this year. We’ve since learned that the carrier is likely Verizon, and that ItsOn will be launching as a consumer facing MVNO later this month (Verizon and Vodafone who both share ownership of Verizon Wireless are both investors).

There’s no word on exactly what the announcement will consist of or what the ItsOn service will include, but based on the company’s software we expect to see flexible pricing plans that, of course, run on Verizon’s robust LTE network. Despite executives expressing doubts about the service running on iOS devices in previous interviews, we also believe that an iOS version of the service is indeed coming, but at launch the service will initially be limited to other smartphones (likely Android-based). Read more