iPhone 5 reviews released: ‘Impossibly light but solid feel, iOS is speedy on the expansive screen’

Engadget:

The iPhone 5 is a significant improvement over the iPhone 4S in nearly every regard, and in those areas that didn’t see an upgrade over its predecessor — camera, storage capacity — one could make a strong case that the iPhone 4S was already ahead of the curve. Every area, that is, except for the OS. If anything, it’s the operating system here that’s beginning to feel a bit dated and beginning to show its age.

Still, the iPhone 5 absolutely shines. Pick your benchmark and you’ll find Apple’s thin new weapon sitting at or near the top. Will it convince you to give up your Android or Windows Phone ways and join the iOS side? Maybe, maybe not. Will it wow you? Hold it in your hand — you might be surprised. For the iOS faithful this is a no-brainer upgrade. This is without a doubt the best iPhone yet. This is a hallmark of design. This is the one you’ve been waiting for.

The Loop:

Many of us have experience with LTE from using the iPad. I’ll tell you it’s great to see it on the iPhone. I actually use LTE more on the iPhone than I do on the iPad, simply because I use the phone a lot more. The speed is incredibly fast, especially when compared to what the iPhone 4S could do.

Like the faster processor and graphics, LTE gives you the feeling of never waiting for anything. Apps open fast and you are ready to work or browse the Web right away.

The Telegraph:

Specificationists will say that with the iPhone 5 Apple is now behind its rivals in terms of features but in truth it’s hard to think of a feature offered elsewhere that the average person – as opposed to the tech obsessive – really needs. NFC is not sufficiently widely used, wireless charging is nice but still requires a charger plugged into the wall and most people get along fine without removable storage. The iPhone 5 is a great smartphone made even better. It’s fast, lightweight and backed by the largest application store for any device. It’s also probably the most beautiful smartphone anyone has ever made.

More reviews below:

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AT&T refutes report that employees were instructed to sell Android and Windows devices over iPhone

Update: AT&T seemed none-too-pleased with the allegations and gave us the following statement:

The idea that we would steer any customer away from a particular device couldn’t be more farfetched.  Our reps do what it takes to align customer needs with the best device for them.  iPhone remains one of our most popular devices, which doesn’t happen by steering people away from it. Our reps are encouraged to try all devices so they are more knowledgeable on our industry-leading smartphone lineup.

We heard reports in the past that retail employees at other carriers were instructed by higher-ups to push Android and other alternative smartphone options to customers interested in the iPhone. However, BGR claimed today that AT&T’s slow 3 percent growth of iPhone activations in the second quarter was likely the result of a similar strategy. Although iPhone activations made up roughly 73 percent of smartphones in AT&T’s Q2 report, the initiative has apparently been confirmed by three independent sources:

Regional retail sales managers at AT&T have been instructing store managers to pump the brakes on Apple’s iPhone. Instructions handed down from corporate state that customers seeking smartphones at AT&T retail stores should be steered away from Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and towards Android phones or Windows Phone handsets like the Nokia Lumia 900 instead. BGR has confirmed the directive with three independent sources

The report also claimed that one source indicated iPhone sales dropped from 80 percent to 50- to 60- percent of smartphone sales, at least in one region, since the initiative began. BGR also claimed retail staffs at AT&T in some regions are forced to choose an Android or Windows device over the iPhone for their company phone. We reached to AT&T for a comment and will update this post shortly when we hear back.

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Nielsen: Android and iOS are over 90 percent of US smartphone market, and growing

…For the first time ever, two-thirds of new phone acquirers are buying smartphones.

Smartphone use is exploding in the United States, while PC sales are dropping. If 66 percent of mobile phone buyers purchase smartphones, and 36.3-percent of them get the iPhone, then that means almost a quarter of all phones bought in the U.S. are iPhones. That also means 36 percent of the purchased phones run Android OS.

More from Nielsen, including the incredibly skewed graphic, is below—which gives Symbian, Palm and Windows 7 devices almost the same amount of “fill” at 2.8-percent as Apple’s 34 percent.

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Will Microsoft try to take on Apple by manufacturing its own tablet?

Microsoft is allegedly prepping to directly compete with Apple in the tablet market

The Redmond, Wash.-based Company scheduled an event in Los Angeles on Monday to make a “major announcement.” AllThingsD reported earlier this week that the event would unveil Microsoft’s tablet plans:

  • After signaling for months that it would attack the market only through its traditional hardware partners, Microsoft has decided to enter the tablet business more directly. [...]
  • Sources say that Microsoft concluded that it needs its own tablet, with the company designing both the hardware and software in an effort to better compete against Apple’s strengths. Microsoft’s tablets may include machines running ARM-based processors as well as models running on traditional PC processors, sources said.

Perhaps more interesting: The Wrap claimed Microsoft will self-manufacture the device, which is an assertion that AllThingsD supports. The move is certainly plausible, because Microsoft snatched a 17.6-percent stake in Barnes and Noble’s Nook eReader business last month for $300 million. One could speculate that Apple and Amazon’s dominating presence in the market causes companies like Microsoft and Barnes and Noble to join forces.

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Carriers and bankers not liking Nokia’s chances against iPhone/Android. Is it over? (Poll)

Although Nokia may or may not be having some success in the United States with its heavy Lumia 900 marketing campaign under AT&T, it does not appear to have made any headway on its home turf in Europe. AT&T will give you $50 to take one of its Lumia 900 phones in the United States, but it has already fallen off the Best Selling list at Amazon.

Yesterday, the credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded Nokia’s debt to near junk level citing a “sharp decline in first-quarter cell phone sales that led to a 35 percent fall in revenue.” Standard & Poor’s announced a similar downgrade in March. Nokia’s share prices plunged another 20 percent in recent days on news that it would not come close to its forecasts.

Things do not seem to be looking up, either. Reuters talked to four European carriers that said Nokia phones simply could not compete with Apple’s iPhone and the Android devices already available.

“No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone,” said an executive in charge of mobile devices at a European operator, which has sold the Lumia 800 and 710 since December

When the Nokia 900 launched, we asked: “What question does the Lumia 900 answer? Why would you buy a Lumia over an iPhone or Android device?” Read more

Siri alternatives and knockoffs also land in Windows Phone Marketplace

We showed you some Siri clones available in the Android Market last week that use official Apple icons, and they are even promoted as “Real Siri for Android” and “Siri for Android.” Now, the first round of Windows Phone Siri alternatives seem to be popping up in the WP Marketplace.

If you are craving Siri like functionality for Windows Phone and more, look no further. Ask Ziggy is your Personal Assistant that goes beyond Siri functionality.

The first app is called “Ask Ziggy” from developer Shai Leib and it is not exactly a rip-off like the Android Siri alternatives. As you can see in the video above from WP Central, the app takes inspiration from the Siri UI and seems to work rather smoothly in comparison to Windows Phone’s built-in TellMe voice control features. It does not borrow Apple’s icons, but has an overall similar feel to Siri. The app apparently utilizes Nuance voice-recognition (same as Siri), but the developers handled everything else themselves. It is available for free now, and the updated version seen in the video should be landing soon.

Another Siri alternative for Windows Phone currently available in the Marketplace isn’t really a functioning voice control app, but it is marketed as “Siri for Windows Phone”. The name “iSiri Faker” also seems to be associated with the app. This app will allow you to “fake Siri conversations on your Windows Phone.” We are not sure exactly what that means, but according to the app’s description you can “program custom responses” using speech recognition, text to speech, data compression, and voice effects. The app is available for $0.99 in the Marketplace. Screenshots are available after the break.
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iPhones beat out Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone in browser benchmark, despite earlier reports

359gsm (via My Nokia Blog) recently pitted the iOS 4.3-based iPhone 4 and the iOS 5-based iPhone 4S against a Windows Phone 7.5 Mango-based Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone in various benchmark tests. In every test, both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S significantly outperform one of the best Windows Phone options on the market. This is in contrast to reports in April, prior to Mango’s release, that claimed Window Phone’s IE 9 on Mango devices beat mobile Safari in similar browser benchmark tests.

You can view the results in the video above or get the full results below (via 359gsm). As you can see, the iPhone 4S significantly passes the Lumia 800 in all tests, including: Browsermark tests, Speed Reading test, Sunspider, Acid3, and HTML5. The iPhone 4 also outperforms the Lumia in most tests, although by a narrower margin.

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Little bug in Windows Phone 7: An SMS message can crash the phone and break the messaging hub, more

According to Winrumors, you can take out a Windows Phone 7 device (they say various Windows Phone 7s on any carrier) with a single, solitary SMS message with a [redacted at request of Winrumors].  Worse (or better?) yet, it doesn’t have to be a text, it can be a Facebook message or Windows Live chat.

The flaw works simply by sending an SMS to a Windows Phone user. If the SMS contains a particular string of text then Windows Phone 7.5 devices will reboot and the messaging hub will not open despite repeat attempts. We have tested the attack on a range of Windows Phone devices, including HTC’s TITAN and Samsung’s Focus Flash. The attack is not device specific and appears to be an issue with the way the Windows Phone messaging hub handles particular characters. The bug is also triggered if a user sends a Facebook chat message or Windows Live Messenger message to a recipient.

And you don’t just get a reboot.  When your phone comes hobbling back to life, the Messaging hub no longer works.  And other parts of the OS are wonky.

If a user has pinned a friend as a live tile on their device and the friend posts a particular string of text on Facebook then the live tile will update and causes the device to lock up.

The fix? Hard reset of the device.  Ouch.

In a totally unrelated note, the head of the Windows Phone 7 division was fired today.  Read more

Microsoft exec: Siri is nothing special, we’ve had it for over a year

Microsoft and Apple tackled touch interfaces in diametrically opposing ways. As Apple set out to bring multitouch on mobile devices to the masses with the 2007 release of the original iPhone, Microsoft created a blown up version with its Surface multitouch tabletop (which can now be yours for a cool $8,400, shipping in early 2012).

Microsoft also progressed natural user interfaces with the Kinect motion controller for the Xbox 360 console while Apple charted its way into the future with an artificial intelligence-driven personal assistant dubbed Siri.

So, when Microsoft’s chief strategy and research officer Craig Mundie sat down with Forbes’ Eric Savitz to talk the company’s planned expansion of the new user interface, he did what Microsoft executives typically do when challenged with a cool tech developed outside the Windows maker’s labs: He stuck his foot in his mouth over Apple’s groundbreaking digital secretary exclusive to the iPhone 4S.

In the above clip, he said (mark 1:45):

People are infatuated with Apple announcing it. It’s good marketing, but at least as the technological capability you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced.

Windows Phones, seriously? Mundie couldn’t acknowledge Siri as an ace up Apple’s sleeve and barely accepted that Microsoft could learn a lesson or two about “productizing” technology. He then went on to describe how their version of Siri works on Windows Phones:
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