GSM Stories August 22, 2014

china-telecom

If you thought things were messy with U.S. networks, Verizon and Sprint using CMDA and AT&T and T-Mobile using GSM, things are even worse in China – with WCDMA, CDMA2000, CDMA1X, GSM, TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE all in use by different carriers in different combinations.

The iPhone 6 may be about to make life a whole lot easier, though, with Sina (via ZDNet) reporting that the model sold by China Telecom at least will support all of the wireless networks in use in the country, based on a Weibo post by the carrier. Admittedly the image used in the Weibo above looks a little different than the general consensus we’ve seen before – they were created by Tomas Moyano and Nicolàs Aichino, and China Telecom likely downloaded them from Bēhance.

That aside, the message they are sending might be more interesting…

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GSM Stories July 21, 2014

Light-up logo rumors for iPhone 6 likely have a more mundane explanation

While we can’t say for sure that rumors of a MacBook-style glowing logo in the iPhone 6 are false, the evidence for this idea is rather … ah … thin.

We first saw photos of what appears to be an ultra-thin rear casing more than a month ago, with some sites then claiming this would facilitate a light-up logo. A new claimed leaked photo is doing the rounds today apparently showing a cut-out logo aperture with a plastic backing thin enough to allow light to shine though.

Those images fuelled speculation that the logo would light up when new mails, SMS messages or updates arrived, allowing owners to put their handset on its front and still be made aware of people contacting them. Today our snaps, which we worked with leaks-world lynchpin Sonny Dickson to source, could offer conclusive proof that this is indeed the case.

Possible? Sure. Conclusive proof? Um, no. Exhibit A, the logo cutout on the iPad:

The reason the logo is cut out in this way is that while people love metal casings, radio signals don’t. Apple positions the wifi antennas behind the plastic logo to allow the radio signals to pass easily through.

On the iPhone 5s, Apple allows GSM, LTE, Bluetooth and wifi signals to pass through the casing by topping-and-tailing the metal rear casing with glass sections:

With the iPhone 6 visuals we’ve seen, there are breaks in the metal casing which are likely to be for radio signals, but they are much thinner than the end-caps on the 5s.

Positioning some of the antennas behind a plastic logo would be one way to make that work.

We’re not saying a glowing logo on the iPhone 6 is impossible, just that we certainly haven’t seen anything close to proof.

GSM Stories December 13, 2013

(via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbtaylor/5725362250/in/photolist-9HVYJf-dUa6Vv-9p5wzz-dktAoT-8zr6jL-8niyxG-ahWGGU-ahWGHh-ahWGHm-ahWGH3-8oqttH-dnDryR-8nfrfD-9HFdUX-c83Cah-7JfazN-e2xr5t-bURuKH-e1kDuL-9MSHjY-adVi2Z-aptqJu-ccdK8C-bmKsbu-bURuWi-ccdKcf-ccdKi5-e1faCa-8SdCBv-8MmowQ-dMm3Uk-dMrBxA-fmgSPT-dFmKF4-dFmqQ4-cCuqoG-ccdKb9-e1eY4P-8jshhM-e1eYeV-9GDiuc-9GGb4A-9MSF1E-dLUyCK-8niyGq-8nixJY-8nfrBp-g2sFSy-g2t57H-9Tufzo-9Trpo6/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>)

Almost two years to date since AT&T pulled its bid for T-Mobile USA, rival carrier Sprint is reportedly preparing its own offer to purchase the fourth largest carrier in the US.

That’s according to a The Wall Street Journal report which claims Sprint is currently looking into regulatory concerns that could be voiced if the third largest US carrier acquired the company which runs the fourth largest US carrier.

Sprint hasn’t yet decided whether to move ahead with a bid. Going forward despite regulators’ concerns would be highly risky. Any pursuit of a bid by Sprint could be aimed at testing antitrust officials’ reaction to a deal, and a bad reaction could put an end to the effort. expand full story

GSM Stories November 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 9.51.53 AMApple today released an unlocked GSM version of the iPhone 5s on its online store for the United States. This version of the iPhone 5s includes the same exact capabilities of the non-unlocked models, but does not include a SIM card. Users who buy this version of the iPhone will need to supply their own SIM card. The central benefit of an unlocked iPhone is that it can work on many GSM networks across the globe with no contract. For frequent world travelers, this option is worth looking into…

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GSM Stories July 8, 2013

Tweak enables free iOS hotspot tethering on T-Mobile without jailbreak

A new tweak available without a jailbreak claims to enable free hotspot tethering on devices running iOS 6 and 7 for at least T-Mobile in the US. It comes to us from iTweakiOS, the same people providing hacked carrier profiles enabling features such as wideband audio and faster data speeds for various US carriers. In theory the hack could work for other GSM carriers, but there is still some work to be done to get it up and running on AT&T. On it’s website the guys explained exactly how the tweak works:

Many of you may remember a story I put out awhile back talking about how CommCenter blocks edited carrier.plist files and I may have found a work aroun to get things like personal hotspot enabled. Well, I’ve found the solution, but first, let’s talk about why CommCenter blocks plist editing. This happens because of the very thing we’re doing right now, which i suspect will likely be patched quickly by iOS 7 GM release time. People were enabling tethering by modifying the original carrier.plist files and this stopped entirely when Apple implemented signatures into the carrier.plist files and creating what we all know as CommCenter which is the process that checks these signatures. So, the challenge was finding a way to enable hotspot without CommCenter checks and verifications. After months of research and digging, I’ve finally found a genuine workaround to enable this great feature and its quite simple, really.

Step-by-step instructions are available through the iTweakiOS website now, but the process is a little more in-depth than some of the other hacks released through the website in the past. The post warns that the tweak has only been tested on T-Mobile and that AT&T users “will need to tinker around and test a bit to get it operational.” If you’re up for a bit of .plist editing and likely some trial and error if you’re on AT&T, you can find the full instructions here.

GSM Stories November 1, 2012

AT&T and T-Mobile begin initiative to discourage theft by merging databases of stolen devices

AT&T and T-Mobile recently announced they would start to share a combined database of stolen mobile devices that aspires to discourage theft and shield customers.

All the major carriers, through their wireless association CTIA and the Federal Communications Commission, first revealed plans in April to merge their respective databases, but AT&T and T-Mobile were the first to do so yesterday.

CNET specifically elaborated on how the joint database works:

The database went live yesterday, and allows either AT&T or T-Mobile to block a device from being used on either network. In order to do that, the companies ban a device’s IMEI number — a unique identifier that tells networks what the device is and who owns it — and effectively stop it from being able to place calls.

In the past, stolen smartphones were blocked by eliminating the use of a SIM card. However, in the GSM world, a phone can be used with any SIM card. So, if a thief stole a device and popped in a new SIM card, it would still work. By targeting the IMEI number, that’s no longer the case.

Sprint and Verizon are expected join the initiative by November 2013.

GSM Stories September 23, 2012

Developer Chronic offering up some free AT&T iPhone 5 unlocks

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While being the source of much iOS news (and entertainment), Chronic is also a hardworking developer/hacker who helps iOS users get out of jams. His latest foray is into iPhone carrier unlocking. GSM carriers —such as AT&T in the U.S., or Fido and Rogers in Canada, or others such as Koodoo or Telus— can be unlocked including the just released iPhone 5. Since each carrier requires a different process, the fees vary widely.

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As a special incentive to 9to5Mac readers, Chronic is offering four free iPhone 5 unlocks for those on AT&T. If you are interested, just put your name in the comments. Everyone else can go here for prices and availability for their GSM carriers (obviously—Verizon and Sprint users need not apply)

[tweet https://twitter.com/chronic/status/250024461624029184]

GSM Stories September 13, 2012

Unlike Verizon’s lineup of LTE Android smartphones, we just confirmed with the carrier that the new iPhone 5 would not support simultaneous voice and data over its LTE network.

A Verizon spokesperson told us:

“The iPhone 5 was designed to allow customers to place a voice call on the Verizon Wireless network, while simultaneously letting customers access the Internet over the WiFi.”

We confirmed with AT&T, however, that the feature will work on its GSM model of the iPhone 5. AT&T told us:

“AT&T customers can talk and surf simultaneously on the new iPhone 5.”

We know Apple is shipping the same CDMA model iPhone 5 to both Sprint and Verizon, so it is probable that Sprint’s iPhone 5 will not support simultaneous voice and data as well.

Some Android devices do simultaneous voice and data on Verizon, so it is probably Apple’s baseband processor choice that led to the situation.

Update: According to the New York Times, the change is due to Apple. An Apple spokesperson explained:

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GSM Stories June 14, 2012

T-Mobile details progress of 4G network rollout, continues testing iPhone compatible 1900MHz HSPA+

Following a keynote from T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray at the NGMN conference this morning, Senior Vice President of Technology Dave Mayo provided an update today regarding the company’s $4 billion 4G-network plan.

We already knew T-Mobile would be make its 4G HSPA+ in the 1900 MHz band available to iPhone users later this year as its new network equipment gets installed. It recently confirmed that it began testing the network on a small scale. Today, we get an update on the progress of the carrier’s 4G rollout with Mayo confirming installations of new equipment at the first 400 modernized GSM / HSPA+ sites, which will be complete by the end of June, with the number growing to 2,500 sites a month after. He also noted the carrier was approved for 19,500 additional sites. This indicates the LTE network is on track for its 2013 rollout.

GSM Stories May 1, 2012

Industry expert sees Apple becoming a mobile operator

At a recent presentation in front of international wireless operators at the Informa MVNO Industry Summit in Barcelona, wireless industry analyst Whitey Bluestein claimed Apple will soon move to provide wireless service directly to users of its iOS devices. Specifically, he said Apple will beat Google to become a mobile virtual network operator. While noting Apple’s distribution through retail stores and the 250 million iTunes accounts with credit cards, Bluestein said Apple’s biggest barrier is the subsidies paid by carriers to offer consumers iPhones at their current prices on contract. We already know former Apple CEO Steve Jobs wanted to “replace carriers” and worked on it leading up to the iPhone launch, but Bluestein said Apple would soon be the “first mover” as Google struggles to compete with the iTunes ecosystem.

Here are the main points:

  • Apple will in the near future begin providing cellular service, data, voice and roaming, directly to its customers.
  • Apple will begin by offering mobile data plans bundled with iPads (vs. current practice of selling GSM iPads with AT&T data and CDMA iPads with Verizon data plans).
  • Apple will then offer iPhone customers activation, data and international roaming plans through the iTunes Store.
  • Apple will provide voice, data and messaging plans directly to its iPhone customers, on an ala carte basis as an alternative to their current mobile operator and then as wireless service provider directly to customers.
  • Google, while behind Apple in technology, distribution and back-office capabilities, will nevertheless follow in lock-step behind Apple and provide wireless data services directly to its Google Tablet customers.

The big problems obviously include the mobile industry’s resistance to Apple becoming an MVNO. Also, Apple becoming a carrier would be a difficult transition and would leave customers with two-year contracts stranded on previous carriers.

GSM Stories December 15, 2011

As the rumored early 2012 iPad 3 release draws closer, Cydia Blog discovered a part for the iPad 3 on TVC Mall’s website. What you see above is apparently a replacement part for the microphone on the iPad 3, and shows some pretty major changes compared to the iPad 2’s microphone — namely the shape. The apparent dock connector and ribbon cable for the iPad 3 also leaked this summer. Cydia Blog reports:

The new part, when compared with iPad 2, shows a different arrangement in internal circuitry, hinting a major re-design. The tail end of the part makes a “U-turn”, whereas the iPad 2′s Microphone Mic Flex Cable makes almost 90-degree turn both ways. Except for few details, the leaked part so far doesn’t offer a tantalizing tease.

The iPad 3 is rumored to launch early 2012 — maybe February — with a rumored higher res display and thicker form-factor. Other specs are rumored to be a dual-mode wireless chip for both CDMA and GSM, Apple’s A6 processor, and more RAM. Citi’s analyst Richard Gardner says he’s heard from sources that a February launch is coming, but some have pointed to mid-summer. The updated mic form-factor above could point to pretty major internal changes. It should be worth noting, however, that manufacturer replacement parts aren’t always in the final version. (via MacRumors)

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GSM Stories November 11, 2011

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). expand full story

GSM Stories October 7, 2011

AT&T plans a “4G upgrade” for the iPhone in name only

Perhaps looking to differentiate its service from the other two US carriers, AT&T is working with Apple to get a “4G” icon on the iPhone 4S when it hits its HSPA+ network according to The Verge. The move would seem to try to further differentiate AT&T’s network which is already significantly faster than Sprint or […]

It’s interesting that you can’t take your unlocked iPhone 4S over to Sprint or Verizon to enable service, at least explicitly. Also, it appears that you can take your unlocked iPhone 4S over to T-Mobile (Apple says “GSM Networks” but doesn’t mention T-Mobile specifically), but only expect to use the EDGE 2G speeds.  Being unlocked also means swapping out micro SIMs when travelling internationally is possible.

The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment. You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.* The unlocked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.

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GSM Stories October 1, 2011

While we have independently been expecting the new iPhone to feature little exterior differences from the iPhone 4, there still has been some debate over the new iPhone’s design. Today, rumors of a re-design can essentially be put to rest. Inside the latest iTunes beta is a specific mention of the “iPhone 4S.” Along with the new iPhone name of “iPhone 4S” comes an image, and it is of a CDMA iPhone 4.

Unless Apple still has the CDMA iPhone 4 as a placeholder image until the new iPhone is announced, we’re fairly confident that the iPhone 4S will pack the CDMA iPhone design. iTunes only holds two iPhone 4S references: black and white versus the four iPhone 4 references of black/GSM, black/CDMA, white/GSM, and white/CDMA. This may also confirm the rumors of the new iPhone being a dual-mode/CDMA + GSM handset.

iPhone 4S confirmed as N94 (iPhone 4,1) that showed up in Apple’s inventory system:

The new iPhone will likely feature the dual-core A5 processor from the iPad 2, and eight megapixel camera, 1GB of RAM, Nuance-based speech-to-text Dictation, and the breakthrough Assistant feature based on Apple’s purchase of Siri. Everything you need to know can be read here.

Thanks, Ron!

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GSM Stories September 14, 2011

Apple and Sprint have completed work on a version of the iPad for Sprint’s data network. This Sprint compatible iPad appears to be ready for public consumption and will join the family of GSM (AT&T) and Verizon capable Apple tablets before the holidays. With Apple soon launching a Sprint version of the iPhone – which we independently confirmed in June – we suspect that the Sprint iPad will come alongside or soon after that release. The iPhone 5 release is still scheduled for October 7th according to our source (and others), but changes/delays are always possible.

The first week of October date for the new iPhone’s availability fits nicely with our report about AT&T’s major early October changes: data throttling and a new insurance plan for $199 devices.

The Sprint version of the iPad is completely separate from the CDMA Verizon model.  We can’t confirm that this new iPad will run on Sprint’s powerful 4G WiMAX network, but the question begs to be asked: Why would Apple build a new iPad for Sprint and not use the CDMA iPad that Verizon already carries?  A report yesterday from TUAW seemed to imply that a 4G iPad from Sprint would be happening at some point.

What’s perhaps most enticing about the Sprint iPad (besides the possibility of 4G) is that Sprint is a lot more generous with its data plans, perhaps offering iPad users once again a truly unlimited data option.

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GSM Stories August 31, 2011

Here’s something interesting that appeared in our inbox this evening. According to our tipster SulfoDK, the middle iPhone antenna below will be the new ‘iPhone 4S’ antenna band. It appears to simply be the current CDMA antenna with a SIM card tray cut out in a similar spot as the GSM iPhone 4 (and as such could be faked or prototyped fairly easily). With the amount of advertising on these images and the easy in which it could be faked, we are wary.

But the idea works out on some levels and here’s why: If Apple were to build only one ‘iPhone 4S’ for 2011-2012 season, they could sell what is basically the Verizon iPhone 4 with its worldphone Gobi chip and an added SIM tray to every carrier. It would make sense to keep that overall same antenna design since it already works well on Verizon. Earlier cases seem to indicate the same thing.

For clarification below, the frame on top labelled ‘4G’ is the current GSM iPhone 4. They are using ‘4G’ in the AT&T/T-Mobile sense.

Top and bottom views below:

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GSM Stories July 12, 2011

One of the advantages of AT&T’s GSM iPhones (and iPads) is that they  can roam just about anywhere in the world fairly easily.  For that convenience, AT&T charges a hefty – some would say exorbitant – fee (illustrated above, left).

Today, AT&T has announced a significant (2.5-5x) drop in international fees.

You get 2.5 times the data for $25 which is now set at 50MB.  At the high end, you get 4x the data, 800MB, for $200.  And overages used to cost $5/MB(!!); now it is ‘just’ $10/10MB.

It is still far from cheap and smart travelers will continue to pick up a Mifi, unlock and use a local SIM or just stick to Wifi hotspots.  But it is something, right? expand full story

GSM Stories May 5, 2011

…in fact, if Apple turned on the HSPA part of the Gobi 14.4 chips in its Verizon iPad and iPhone, they’d already be 4G, at least according to AT&T.

Chris Ziegler noticed today that AT&T has started calling regular old 14.4Mbps HSPA devices 4G in its latest marketing materials.  Until recently, the pseudo ‘4G’ was reserved for HSPA+ on T-Mobile which tops out at 21Mbps.  However, with the release of the HPalm Veer 4G, HTC Inspire 4G and  Motorola Atrix 4G, AT&T has extended the ‘4G’ down to speeds of  14.4 Mbps, the same speed as those Qualcomm chips that Apple loves.

Most industry watchers expect the next iPhone to run on some version of the Qualcomm chip that the Verizon has which would let it do double radio duty and be operable on all US networks.

As Ziegler notes, AT&T is paving the way to charge extra for the benefit of using the newly branded ‘4G’ which doesn’t sound good to us. expand full story

GSM Stories April 25, 2011

Since BGR broke the news that Apple is testing, or has tested, a version of the iPhone that works on T-Mobile USA’s network, we started thinking about the future of the iPhone. Specifically, the fifth-generation product that is not too far off from public consumption. Right now, the iPhone 5 – or whatever Apple ends up calling it – does not seem to be such a big hardware upgrade. Sure there are reports that peg a gesture-based home button and 3.7 inch display (which we would love), but more reports are talking an iPhone 4 design, an A5 chip, and possibly a better camera.

What could Apple throw into the purported iPhone 5 package to make it a better device and a device that more people would buy? Right now, the general consensus is that Apple is going to use a Qualcomm chip within the iPhone 5 that can connect to both Verizon (CDMA) and AT&T (GSM) networks around the world. What about T-Mobile? Apple is obviously testing the T-Mobile iPhone (4S?) and with the technology available for Apple to create an antenna system that supports both types of GSM networks, what stops Apple from making an AT&T+T-Mobile iPhone 5? We received an unconfirmed report, from a connected individual, that Apple is actually testing a device that runs on both networks…

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GSM Stories January 17, 2011

A company called Vaveliero has developed an iPhone 4 case that gives you easy access to two different mobile accounts.

The kit replaces the iPhone 4’s microSIM tray with an external dual SIM adapter to give the iPhone 4 the capabilities of using two phone accounts from two different carriers. The external SIM is attached inside of the case, making the extra SIM appear like it isn’t even there. The two numbers can be switched in the settings or set on a timer to change as you wish.

Unfortunately, both can’t be used at the same time.  We’re also uncertain from the literature if you need to be unlocked to use this with non-supported networks.  Vaveliero operates in Europe where locking phones and other douchebaggery is frowned upon.  Perhaps in the US, this could be used for a separate AT&T Work and personal account.

There had been some sketchy rumors that the iPhone 5 would do this natively but we’re doubtful Apple has anything like this cooked up.

This case works with UMTS, HSDPA, WCDMA, GSM, GPRS, and EDGE. Head on past the break for more images. expand full story

GSM Stories January 10, 2011

Park Chan-wook is one of South Korea’s best directors, and he’s generated a huge story with the revalation that his latest short film was shot entirely on an iPhone 4. expand full story

GSM Stories December 10, 2010

Apple has been looking for CDMA engineers since 2008 (not since yesterday!) but Apple has just started looking for Verizon iPad engineers in New York this week.  Aren’t Verizon iPads just Wifi iPads with Mifis – there isn’t any special skills that are required by Verizon are there?  Why is there a need for a special ‘Verizon version’?

Certainly Verizon’s business customers need SE help with the iPad that Verizon sells now.  However, Apple is likely engineering up for April as well.

Apple is building a version of the iPad 2 that will work on Verizon’s wireless network either in conjunction with GSM networks with a Gobi-like Chip (just like the Google ChomeOS CR-48) or as a seperate product/version.

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