Apple iPhone 6s
Apple made $29 replacement batteries available to owners of older iPhones effective starting today. The drop, announced earlier this week, was originally slated to go into effect in late January. "We expected to need more time to be ready, but we are happy to offer our customers the lower pricing right away," said Apple in a statement provided to Axios. "Initial supplies of some replacement batteries may be limited." Apple uses software to limit the performance of some older iPhones in order to prevent battery-related shutdowns. Replacing the original, aging battery with a new one resolves such issues and leads to better performance of the smartphone. The battery replacement service typically costs $79, but Apple has lowered the cost to $29. The program will run through December 2018 and targets the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE.
Apple today said it will significantly drop the cost of replacing iPhone batteries in order to appease customers upset about their device's performance. "We’ve been hearing feedback about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize," said Apple in a letter posted to its web site. Apple explained that it tweaked some performance parameters in older iPhones in order to prevent battery-related shutdowns. The result is sometimes-slower speeds on devices such as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. Apple maintains that it took steps necessary to account for the behavior of lithium-ion batteries as they age. "We have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades," explained Apple. "Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that." Even so, many customers felt they had been misled over the performance degradation issue, while some have filed lawsuits against Apple. In order to address customer concerns, the company is dropping the out-of-warrany cost of replacing the battery in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, or SE from $79 to $29 beginning late next month through December 2018. Further, Apple plans to issue a software update with new features that will give iPhone owners more visibility into the health of their handset's battery. Apple says this will let people see for themselves if the battery's condition is impacting the iPhone's overall performance. Replacing the battery in an older iPhone should fully mitigate the speed issue experience on some handsets. More information regarding the specifics of the replacement battery program will be available early next month.
Virgin Mobile today announced a promotion that lets new customers receive 12 months of service for just $1 by bringing their number and existing iPhone from a different carrier and activating it with Virgin's Inner Circle plan. The offer was previously only available to customers purchasing a new iPhone from Virgin. After 12 months, the Inner Circle plan costs $50/month for unlimited service. Most iPhones from the 5S and newer are compatible, but potential customers should use Virgin's web site to check specific compatibility first. Through September 29th, SIM activation kits for existing iPhones are free. Virgin customers can also receive six months of service for $1 each time they upgrade to a new iPhone. The Inner Circle plan caps video, music and gaming quality, and can limit all data speeds when Sprint's network is congested. Inner Circle includes promotions for other Virgin-brand companies. Prices exclude taxes and require enrollment in AutoPay. The promotion will be available "for a short period of time".
Apple will for free replace the battery on a small number of iPhone 6s smartphones that are experiencing power loss. "Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down," said Apple on its web site. The phones shut down even when the battery shows that it is half full or more. The issue impacts a limited number of iPhone 6s handsets that were manufactured in September and October 2015. Owners of the iPhone 6s who believe their device may be experiencing the issue can bring it to a local Apple Store or authorized retail facility for evaluation.
Apple recently added iPhones to the list of refurbished devices it sells through its online store. The company has a small selection of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models in varying colors and storage capacities. The average discount is about 15% when compared to new models. For example, a refurbished 64 GB iPhone 6s Plus sells for $589. According to Apple, refurbished iPhones have a new battery, a new outer shell, and are backed by a one year warranty. They are sold unlocked and without a SIM card.
Apple has released a brand new version of its Apple TV Remote application for the iPhone, making it more powerful in the process. To start, the app introduces the same swiping navigation gestures found on the Siri remote and allows for use of the keyboard to input text and passwords. People who own the fourth-generation Apple TV can ask Siri on their iPhone to find and play movies or television shows, as well as control the media being played. The app also lets users play games using the iPhone's gyroscope and accelerometer. Last, the revised remote app can be used to turn on Game Mode for simpler gaming. The Apple TV Remote app is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google has added the ability to plan multi-stop trips to its app for iPhones and iPads. The latest version of Google Maps for iOS allows people to add multiple destinations to a single excursion. Users can reorder the stops whenever needed, as well as search for specific locations, such as gas stations or restaurants, to add to the route. Google says once users plot their multi-stop route, navigation functions as it always has. Google Maps is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Google Maps for Android already supports multiple stops.
T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, is now selling the entire range of Apple iPhones at more than 5,000 of its stores around the country. The prepaid carrier first tested iPhone sales at a limited number of stores in Florida. MetroPCS is selling the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus for $649 and $749, respectively, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s for $349 and $199, respectively. MetroPCS does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
AT&T today made it possible for iPhone owners to use their fingerprint to sign into the myATT app. The personal account tool now supports Touch ID for quick, secure logins. Touch ID is available to the iPhone 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE. AT&T's myATT app is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Olloclip's 4-in-1 lens is one of the first few accessories to work with Otterbox's new Universe modular case system. The case provides rugged protection, while the lenses let you be more creative with your Apple iPhone's camera. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth review of how these two products work together.
T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, today said it will soon sell the entire range of iPhones from Apple. MetroPCS plans to kick off iPhone sales at select stores in Florida on July 1, but will expand to all stores around the nation soon. MetroPCS will sell the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus for $649 and $749, respectively, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s for $349 and $199, respectively. MetroPCS did not indicate how quickly the iPhone will be made available to stores outside of Florida. MetroPCS does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
Google today updated its Google Search app for the iPhone and added several new features. The most significant improvement is support for Google's accelerated mobile pages, or AMP. Articles that make use of Google's AMP technology load much faster than other articles. They are called out by a lightning bolt and are stamped with the AMP signage. Google says Search on the refreshed iPhone app is much faster, and Search now shows video highlights on Google Now cards for the NBA and NHL. Google Search is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Sprint today launched a buy one, get one free promotion for Apple's latest iPhones. The offer includes both the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. Customers must have an eligible upgrade and initiate at least one new line of service in order to qualify for the offer. Sprint said customers may purchase the iPhones on a monthly installment plan, lease the iPhones, or lease one and buy the other. However customers choose to pay for the iPhones, the cost of the second handset will be offset by a service credit applied each month. Sprint is also offering to cut $200 from the price of the latest iPads for customers who buy a new iPhone and iPad together on an installment plan. Sprint didn't say how long the buy one, get one offer will be available. It has offered similar programs for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 smartphones.
Apple today made iOS 9.3.2 available to iPhones, iPads, and iPods. The update mainly addresses bugs. For example, it resolves an issue that impacted Bluetooth audio quality on the iPhone SE. It also fixes a problem that prevented people from searching through the dictionary. The update adds one new function, allowing people to use Night Shift and Low Power Mode at the same time. iOS 9.3.2 is free to download and install over the air.
Apple and partners are making the first wave of CareKit apps available today. Apple announced CareKit at a media event last month. It is similar to ResearchKit and helps healthcare providers and organizations create health-focused applications for the iPhone. The first four apps include Glow Baby for maternity, Glow Nurture fertility tracker, One Drop diabetes monitor, and Start depression medication tracker. CareKit is composed of four modules that interact with one another. It can be used to help people manage wellness, track disease symptoms, log fitness metrics and/or statistics and then share that data directly with their healthcare provider. On the backend, the health data can be managed and viewed through customizable dashboards. While these four CareKit-based apps are being made available to consumers via iTunes, CareKit itself is a developer tool. Apple plans to release CareKit to developers via GitHub.
Apple is now offering consumers the option to select its iPhone Upgrade Program when purchasing an iPhone via the Apple web site. Apple first rolled out the program last year with the debut of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. It packages together the price of an iPhone and AppleCare into a single monthly device payment. After 12 months, consumers can trade in the iPhone for a new one. Pricing for the 16 GB iPhone 6s starts at $32.41 per month, while pricing for the 16 GB 6s Plus starts at $36.58 per month. Prices for higher capacity models are a bit more. The iPhone SE is not included in the iPhone Upgrade Program, but Apple is accepting trade-ins toward the SE that can knock the monthly price to as little as $10.
Apple today made a minor update available to iPhones and iPads in order to fix a browser-based bug. In particular, iOS 9.3.1 addresses an issue that caused apps to sometimes hang or crash completely after users tapped links in the browser or other apps. iOS 9.3.1 is free to download and install over the air.
AT&T customers who have newer iPhones can now make WiFi calls when traveling abroad. The company enabled international WiFi calling with the iOS 9.3 update from Apple and refreshed carrier settings. AT&T says international calls made via WiFi will be charged at its standard rates. The feature also allows people to send text messages via WiFi, which are counted the same as regular text messages. WiFi calling, which must be turned on in the system settings, is available to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus. WiFi calling has been available for domestic calls since last year and can provide voice/messaging connectivity in areas with poor cellular coverage.
Apple said iPhone and iPad owners will be able to download and install iOS 9.3 starting today. iOS 9.3 is a more significant point update than normal. It adds Night Shift to help reduce eye fatigue at night. It reduces blue light on the screen. The platform brings education tools to teachers and school admins, such as Managed IDs, and support for multiple sign-ins on a single device. iOS 9.3 also adds protected Notes, to secure files via Touch ID. Fitness and health data is more accessible thanks to a revised dashboard in Apple Health. The platform expands News functionality by adding support for landscape video playback on the iPhone, as well as more targeted article suggestions. iOS 9.3 is free to download and install over the air, or via iTunes.
iPhone owners can now use Apple Pay to purchase gas at some 6,000 Exxon Mobil stations around the country. Exxon Mobil updated its Speedpass+ mobile app today and added support for Apple Pay. Users need only select Apple Pay as a payment method and can secure the transaction with Touch ID. The app doesn't offer tap-and-go payments; instead, users need to open the app, find the station, authorize the pump (which can be scanned via QR code), and then fill the tank. The app negates the need to pull out a wallet or credit card to pay for the gasoline. Exxon Mobil Speedpass+ is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
The U.S. Department of Justice resubmitted a case against Apple today after a magistrate judge recently sided with Apple. The Justice Department wants a higher-ranking judge to consider the issue. This case involves a suspected drug offender in New York. The magistrate judge said Apple shouldn't be compelled to unlock the iPhone. This is a separate, yet similar, matter to the one being argued in California over the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone. Apple argues in both cases that giving the FBI the tools in needs to unlock these iPhones imperils the safety of all iPhone users.
AT&T is allowing new and existing customers to buy one phone at full price and receive a second one for free. The two handsets must come from the same manufacturer. Qualifying devices include: Apple iPhone 6, 6s Plus; Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, S6 Active, and Note 5; and LG G4 and V10. AT&T says both phones must be purchased via its AT&T Next installment plan. The first phone can be a new line or an upgrade, but the second phone must be a new line purchased with an AT&T Next 24 plan (req's 30 payments). Both phones must be added to a qualified plan, such as Mobile Share Value, which starts at $70 for two lines. Customers will need to pay sales tax on the two phones at the time of purchase and may need to make several monthly payments on both before AT&T credits up to $650 for the second phone spread out over the 30 month AT&T Next 24 plan. Subscribers who leave AT&T before they've made the 30 payments will need to pay for the remaining balance of the phone. The iPhone BOGO deal is running for a limited time, but AT&T didn't provide an end date.
Facebook today increased the set of people able to make use of its live video feature to all iPhone owners in the U.S. Facebook first tested the service with celebrities and public figures before expanding to a small set of iPhone users back in December. Similar to Twitter's Periscope app, live video from Facebook lets people broadcast live video to their friends. Broadcasters see the number of viewers and their names, and a real-time stream of comments. Live broadcasts are automatically saved to users' timelines where they can be kept or deleted. People will be able to see live videos in their News Feed, but may also subscribe to the feeds of their favorite broadcasters. Facebook will send alerts to let people know when broadcasters go live. Facebook said it expects to expand live video to more countries shortly, but hasn't said when Android devices will have access to the feature.
Facebook today announced Sports Stadium, a hub dedicated to sports and the communities that support and discuss them. Sports Stadium is a single place that accumulates all content on Facebook related to sports. Visitors will see live scores, stats, and play-by-play action; posts from friends and their comments on games/plays; posts and commentary from leagues, teams, experts, and journalists; and information on games, such as where they are being televised. Sports Stadium is initially rolling out in the U.S. for American football, but will soon add support for basketball, soccer, and other sports and countries over time. Sports Stadium will first be accessible only from the iPhone. Facebook plans to roll out support for more platforms in several weeks.
AT&T today debuted a buy-one, get-one deal for the Samsung Galaxy S6, iPhone 6s, and a few other handsets. In order to score a free handset, customers have to buy one smartphone at full price on an AT&T Next 24 installment plan. The second (free) handset must be added as a new line of service. AT&T will cover the monthly device payments for the second device. Customers will be responsible for the balance of payments if service is cancelled before the device is paid off. Other eligible phones include the Galaxy S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5. The BOGO deal is available through Dec. 31.
Apple has designed and released its own external battery case for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. The accessory is formed by soft-touch silicone. The battery itself is concentrated in an obvious rectangle on the back surface. The case wraps around the phone entirely and plugs into the Lightning port on the bottom to deliver its charge. Apple says the external power cell is good for 18 hours of LTE web surfing. Both the phone and the case can be charged at the same time. The case works with the iPhone to deliver intelligent battery stats to the notification center. The case, sold in white or gray, is available online for $99.
Yahoo today updated Flickr for iOS 9 and added support for 3D Touch. For example, users can now press the app icon on the home screen and see a handful of suggested actions, such as uploading a photo or viewing Flickr notifications. Within the Flickr app, a 3D press will pop open image, folder, or people previews, as well as allow for navigation to neighboring images/folders by sliding left or right. The app also adds support for Spotlight Search, which lets users search for albums, groups, or recently-viewed photos from the search screen. Last, the app gains support for universal links, which makes sharing photos or albums more seamless by opening in Flickr itself rather than the browser. Flickr for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. The 3D Touch features are limited to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Sprint today said Apple's iOS 9.1 system update enables single-number calling across Apple devices when connected to WiFi. With iOS 9.1 installed, Sprint's iPhone customers will be able to make/receive calls from their primary number on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, or Mac computer. Sprint says the feature requires several steps to enable. Customers must install the latest OS on each device; sign in with the same Apple ID across devices; initiate WiFi calling on the primary device; and assign secondary devices to the account. Calls made over WiFi don't count against plan minutes or mobile data allotments. The feature is free to use. Apple distributed iOS 9.1, watchOS 2.0.1, and Mac OS 10.11.1 earlier today.
Apple today made the final build of iOS 9.1 available to the general public. iOS 9.1 brings aboard support for Unicode 7.0 and 8.0, which adds more than 150 new emoji. The update provides a fix for Live Photos on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which will no longer record video when it senses vertical movement of the iPhone itself. iOS 9.1 also smooths out performance and resolves a number of bugs. iOS 9.1 is free to download.
Apple has released new versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for both its iOS and Mac platforms. The iOS apps gain 3D Touch for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and split-screen multitasking on the iPad. The iPad variants earn new selection gestures and a shortcut bar for reaching select tools more easily. Apple applied a significant amount of polish to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, with improvements to file compatibility, usability, and sharing. The desktop versions of these same apps mostly added new multi-tasking gestures (limited to devices with Force Touch trackpads). Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are free to people who've recently bought a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer. They can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store.
Apple is facing a massive judgment in a patent complaint concerning processors found in the iPhone and iPad. A jury in Madison, Wisconsin, found Apple guilty of using a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) without permission. The patent involves increasing the efficiency of chips. The technology is found in the A7, A8, and A8x processors, which power the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, and the iPad Air 2. Apple sought to have the patent declared invalid, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple's bid. WARF originally filed the lawsuit in January 2014 and just recently filed a second lawsuit concerning the A9 and A9x chips, which are in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus and the forthcoming iPad Pro. Apple could be on the hook for up to $862 million. The trial is now moving to the penalty phase to determine how much Apple owes. Apple maintained its innocence.
T-Mobile has dropped one of the promotions it ran for the iPhone 6s, which means the device is now costlier to lease for some customers. When the device first went on sale in September, T-Mobile offered customers the 16GB model for a lease of $20 per month without requiring a trade-in. That offer is no longer available. "The introductory pricing for iPhone 6s without trade-in has ended," said T-Mobile in a statement, "but customers can still take advantage of our other introductory offer and get a new iPhone 6s for just $5 per month with trade-in of iPhone 6 or other newer model phones, or $15 per month with trade-in of iPhone 5, 5c and 5s among others." T-Mobile customers must trade in a newer, functional device to score these low lease payments. Sprint is still offering the iPhone 6s for a lease price of $1 per month. Sprint has not said if/when that promotion might end.
Facebook today said it is looking to increase the number of ways people can consume video on its platform. The company is testing a revised version of its suggested videos function on the iPhone, which purports to ease the discovery process for related strings of videos. Facebook said this revamped version of suggested videos will now also display ads. The social network is beginning to test this feature on the web and will test it on Android devices in the months ahead. The social network is prepping a picture-in-picture feature, too, that will let people watch video in small windows while looking at other content on Facebook. Further, Facebook is testing a button that allows users to save videos for later viewing. Last, Facebook has created a dedicated section within Facebook for hosting and viewing video. This section will have all the videos that would otherwise appear in users' Newsfeeds collected in one spot, including those saved for later viewing. Right now, it is located under the Videos tab in the iPhone app and in the Favorites section on the web. Facebook said it hopes people will use the new features so it can continue to improve them ahead of their wider release.
Apple has responded to a series of claims that suggest there are palpable differences in battery life produced by the Samsung- and TSMC-sourced A9 processor in its new iPhones. Both Samsung and TSMC are making the A9 processor for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung's version uses a 14nm process and has a slightly smaller footprint than the TSMC 16nm chip. Several benchmark tests (AnTuTu, Geekbench, et al) imply that Samsung's A9 drains the battery up to two hours sooner than TSMC's A9. Apple says such tests aren't realistic and real-world variances are in the order of 2-3% — or about 12 to 15 minutes per day under normal usage. "Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state," said Apple in a statement provided to Techcrunch. "It's a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other." Such variances fall into acceptable norms for most consumer electronics.
Apple has added the option to purchase SIM-free, unlocked iPhones to its web site. The iPhone 6s (model A1633) and iPhone 6s Plus (model A1634) are compatible with a wide range of LTE networks, including those of AT&T, T-Mobile, and can be used on any GSM network in the U.S. or abroad. The devices are sold at full cost, without carrier contracts or obligations.
Apple today said it has resolved the problem that prevented it from offering app slicing when the company first released iOS 9 last month. "The issue affecting app slicing has been fixed, and device-specific versions of apps will be delivered when downloaded by users running iOS 9.0.2 or later," said Apple on its developer web site. App slicing lets users download only the portion of each app that pertains to their particular device. This is important mostly to owners of 16GB iPhones/iPads, which have limited storage capacity. Apple also discontinued the Game Center development sandbox, which has been turned off in favor of the standard production environment.
The Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are more resistant to water damage than their predecessors, according to iFixit. The company tore down the new iPhones and discovered the frame supports a gasket that helps protect against liquid ingress. Moreover, cable connectors on the logic board — a weak link in any electronic device — are sealed with silicon. iFixit notes that Apple did not take any apparent measures to protect the speaker nor the SIM card tray, which still allow some liquid to seep in. The subtle changes made by Apple do appear to help the phone survive quick dunks in water, as evidenced by various videos posted across social media, but Apple is making no claims about the new iPhones being waterproof or even water resistant.
Skype has released updates to its iPhone and iPad mobile applications, adding support for iOS 9 to each. Both apps gain the ability to reply to Skype messages from the lock screen notification. Skype says Skype contacts will now show up in Spotlight queries so users can begin Skype conversations directly from Spotlight search results. On the iPad, Skype gains support for split-screen multitasking. Skype for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple's new iPhone Upgrade program includes a $129 surprise in the form of AppleCare+. Consumers who chose to enroll in Apple's finance plan are forced to also purchase AppleCare+, even though Apple implies the insurance program is included in the deal. Apple's web site reads, "The iPhone Upgrade Program gives you an easier way to get a new iPhone every year, and the security and protection of AppleCare+. With AppleCare+ included, you get up to two years of hardware repairs, software support, and coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage (AppleCare+ for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is $129 when sold separately)." These statements strongly imply that AppleCare+ is part of the iPhone Upgrade program at no additional cost. However, the fine print at the bottom of Apple's web site reads differently: "The iPhone Upgrade Program ... requires a 24-month installment loan, purchase of AppleCare+, and iPhone activation with a national carrier." Consumers who finance their iPhone 6s or 6s Plus through the iPhone Upgrade program will be charged for the phone ($649 to $949), AppleCare+ ($129), and sales tax. Moreover, the initial payment includes the entire sales tax figure, which can push the out-the-door cost to more than $100.
Sprint today said it will lease the iPhone 6s to customers for a monthly payment of just $1. Consumers have to meet several conditions to get that deal. The special lease offer is available for a limited time only at Sprint-branded retail stores. The $1 price is for a 16GB iPhone 6s. Leasing a 16GB iPhone 6s Plus will cost $5 per month. Both lease prices are contingent upon customers trading in an iPhone 6. Sprint has attractive monthly pricing for higher-capacity iPhones, as well. For example, the 64GB iPhone 6s will cost $5.77 per month and the 128GB iPhone 6s will cost $10.53 per month. Similarly, the 64GB and 128GB iPhone 6s Plus models will cost $9.77 and $14.53 per month, respectively. These prices also require an iPhone 6 trade-in. Sprint isn't leaving out customers with the iPhone 5s. Customers who trade in the 2013-era iPhone can lease the 16GB iPhone 6s or 6s Plus for $10 or $14 per month, respectively.