Tag Archives: iPhone 5S

Locked out from the inside: the prices for iPhone 5s in Brazil are just… no

Gold is best

It’s been almost 5 days since carriers and stores opened at midnight and started to sell the new iPhones 5s and 5c in Brazil. And this is how long it took me to recover from the blow of the incredibly high, borderline offensive prices and disappointment in the entire situation.

Now Brazilians are used to the scenario. Video games, books, gadgets, computers, you name it, we have the most expensive prices for anything down here. News of this sort are as common as soccer scores to the point that they don’t even get that much attention anymore. However, just a few weeks ago the entire gaming community felt like they were being victims of a prank when Sony announced that the Playstation 4, which is being sold in the US for $400 would be sold for R$4000 (or U$1742) down here.

The PS4 is being referred to as PS4K now. People quickly did the math and found out that it is actually cheaper to fly to the US, buy it over there (hotel and food included) and come back with it rather than buy it here. And the rejection was so overwhelming that Sony underwent a press blitz to try and explain the prices, even breaking down financial information and blaming an old enemy of ours: taxes. However they weren’t very convincing, as the Xbox One starts at U$957, which is already an absurd price but became really cheap after the PS4 news.

So, back to the iPhone. We had been really excited, as for the first time we didn’t have to wait too much for the rollout. For the first time we’d have the new iPhones in November instead of December. But as the (unconfirmed) release date got closer, some scary information started to leak. First, the price table from Saraiva, a major retailer in Brazil. The prices for the unsubsidized 5c were U$871 for the 16 GB model and U$956 for the 32 GB. Meanwhile, the unsubsidized 5s would start at U$1174 for the 16 GB, then U$1261 for the 32 GB, and a whopping U$1348 for the 64 GB model.

Oh, before I forget, minimum wage here is U$295. Per month.

As the days went by, all sorts of prices began to hit the news. Some a little lower, some a little higher, but all of them around the same ballpark as the original Saraiva prices. A sense of disappointment began to take over. Even when the release date (which had been a rumor up until last monday) was finally confirmed, people were’t particularly excited about it anymore.

Then, one day before the release, carriers (which historically hold out on the prices until the last second) began to unveil their prices. And that’s when the real mess starts. Because in the US, things are way simpler than down here. You have 2 sets of prices. You have the on-contract price, and the off-contract price. And that’s it. Your service level or data plan has zero influence on the price of the device (thanks for the help, @jasonpbecker).

Here, however, things are a little different down here. You have 4 major carriers (TIM, Vivo, Claro and Oi), and they have an average of 6-8 different plans, ranging from around U$50 (60min of phone use, unlimited SMS, 2GB of data) to U$300 (where everything is unlimited). Now for each plan, from each carrier, iPhones have a different price.

Then came thursday. The big day. Only it didn’t really feel like the big day. If last year things felt a little cold, this year made last year feel like a blast. Traditionally carriers make big events in flagship stores inside malls with music, food and celebrities, as well as huge lines, and when the clock ticks midnight, sales officially begin, and unless you bought a phone within the next 12 hours, you were bound to wait a couple of months until you had a second chance.

This year however, lines were really short. Only the minority that hadn’t been put off by the prices decided to go check things out in person. Some went so they could see and hold the new models for the first time (keep in mind that we haven’t really seen that many around yet). Some went just to see with their own eyes if those were the actual prices. And some went still hoping to buy one, maybe knocking off a few hundred bucks with the help of all the accumulated points with their carrier relationship program.

I stayed home and followed on twitter as people tweeted their current situation. Up until that moment, Vivo (which is my carrier) was the only one who hand’t officially released the prices for the iPhone. And then we found out why.

You see, down here you can choose between a 1-year contract (remember the 6-8 different plans?) or a pre-paid no-contract line. Carriers tend to charge a lot more for the pre-paid, so people feel inclined to get a contract line. When Vivo unveiled the official off-contract iPhone 5s prices, they managed to turn the Playstation 4 into a great deal.  The prices for the 5s were U$1481, U$1743 and U$1960, while the contract prices started at U$763 (5s 16 GB) on a U$159/mo plan.

At around 3am Apple unveiled the prices for unsubsidized iPhones 5s and 5c directly from the Apple Store website:

– 5c: U$871 and U$1046.
– 5s: U$1220, U$1394 and U$1568.

Notice how the 16 GB 5c and the 16 GB 5s prices don’t overlap. We are currently the only country in the world with this U$174 price difference between the two, as far as I know.

The next day I went to my carrier and decided to see how much a space gray 16 GB 5s would cost me, if I renewed my (expired) 1-yr contract and traded all my 39.000 points accumulated in these 4 years that I have been a client. Since LTE isn’t exactly a stable service yet, I decided to stick with my 3G plan. The dude from the carrier started typing on his computer, picked up a calculator, started typing over there as well, and I must confess that I started to feel a little hopeful.

He stopped fiddling with the keyboards looked up, made a dramatic pause (I swear), and said “U$1264“. I thought that he was joking. Only he wasn’t. Turns out that with my carrier, every 5.000 points you get an amazing U$6.50 discount on a new device, and renewing my 1-yr contract would give me $0 discount.

I left the store, and on my way to the car I realized that it would actually be cheaper to buy the unsubsidized iPhone from the Apple Store website instead of the iPhone from my own carrier, and renewing my contract for another year. How insane is that?

I really wish that this had been a different release. Not only this was the fastest rollout ever, but also for the first time retailers and even the Apple Store started selling the new iPhones from day one. Last year it took over 6 months for the Apple Store to start selling the iPhone 5. And this coordinated release might have a positive impact on sales. But I don’t really expect good sales numbers from down here. I looked up and asked around, and there isn’t a single place where any device or any model or capacity is sold out.

Instead of an exciting release that we are used to seeing all over the world and especially in the US, this year we were left with a weird release and an overall sense of powerlessness. It feels like the new iPhone isn’t for regular Apple users or even for early-adopters and tech users, but flat out for people who have got so much money, that ironically they won’t even know how much they paid for it. I was excited to get one, but as it is I guess that I’ll have to wait until I have the opportunity to bring it from the US, or maybe wait for the next version, if that takes too long. Talk about forward thinking.

It’s a shame. I was excited about it.

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Took a while, but here it is: “Why Record iPhone Sales Might be Rotten for Apple”

Yes, that’s exactly the title of a text that appeared yesterday at the ABC News website.

Right off the bat, the author condescendingly asks for the patience and understanding of “Apple lovers pillory me and say that I have no idea what I am talking about“. He repeats the attitude a couple more times during the text, and I did decide to give it a shot and read his text with an open mind. But it didn’t work. Turns out that knowing beforehand that you are about to talk out of your ass doesn’t make it better that you’re talking out of your ass.

In case you have the time, read the entire text, especially if you’re in need of a good laugh. If you’re in a rush, here are the highlights:

“To me though, all this over-the-top fanfare and even the record-breaking first weekend of sales could actually be cause for concern.”

Yes. 9 million phones sold in 3 days are a clear sign that there is something seriously wrong. Just as the 5 million units sold last year were a sign, and so were the 4 million the year before that.

“Let’s face it this new iPhone is just an upgrade, a refresh, dare I say a sequel. I am sure that true tech devotees will tell me how wrong I am, that this new device is smarter, faster, revolutionary, etc. But to me and millions like me it seems a lot more evolutionary. It looks a whole lot like the last iPhone and the one before that and the one before that too.”

Indeed. Except for what’s new, it really is pretty much he same as the last one. I’m glad we got that out of theway. I pity these million tech devotees who, contrary to you and millions like you, think it’s enough to buy products that are faster, smarter and better than their last version. Maybe one day they will realize that uhm… evolution is the enemy of innovation… I think?

“And you know what else looks the same, the way Apple staged the release of the 5S and the 5C. Just like every launch since the first iPhone hit the market we watched people wait in line, sleep outside the store and ham it up for the cameras once they got their hands on their shiny new device. (…)

This is no longer the Apple of Steve Jobs. (…)”

Right. Every single iPhone since Steve Jobs was around was unvelied exactly in the same way, and this is why this is no longer the Apple of Steve Jobs.

“(…) do they find a way to create another “must have” new product, new category, new something that we never thought we needed and we can’t live without?

The ball is now squarely in Tim Cook’s court.”

Sandy, here’s a tip: Tim Cook already answered this question even before you asked it. The ball never left your court.

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iOS 7, 64-bits and TouchID. This is the beginning of a very cool evolution

iPhone 5s

I am truly excited with the iPhone 5s. The term “Forward thinking” seems like a perfect fit, regardless of what aspect of the device you pick to analyze. From the technical point of view, the 64-bit A7 chip is the best example, of course. Although the iPhone 5s will not carry 4gb of RAM, the A7 is the first step to allow the phone to keep evolving in a pace that up until a week ago we didn’t even think was possible.

The TouchID is another really exciting addition. It has opened the door to countless possibilities not only regarding the way we will interact with the phone, but it could change the way we relate to the whole Web – imagine an integration between TouchID and iCloud Keychain, for instance.

Apple has been extremely careful with the way they intend to store and use the information collected by the TouchID sensor. They’ve already explained that it’s not even your fingerprint that is stored, but little coded pieces of information that come from under your skin. They’ve also promised that this information will never leave the phone, and will be stored in an area of the processor that not even the phone or the rest of the processor itself will be able to access.

I don’t think, however, that this is the whole story. Apple didn’t spend millions of dollars buying a company and developing an entirely new piece of hardware just so you can unlock your phone and buy content faster, did they? I don’t think so. I suspect that these first few months will work as a big test to find out how well the information is really kept. Starting this week, millions and millions of phones will be put to this test every day all throughout the world.

I wonder if it’s possible (and if it is, how long it’ll take) for Jailbreakers to figure out a way to extract this information from the chip. Not that a jailbroken phone would automatically become vulnerable to this sort of data theft, but if the user manages to extract this information from his own phone, this will mean that Apple’s security team will be in for long nights ahead of them, until they manage to add a few more security layers to the whole thing.

It’s a very safe and smart (and obvious) idea to limit the TouchID functionalities to somewhat less harmful activities while the whole thing is put to the test in the real world, before making APIs available for developers so you can start linking TouchID to your bank account, for instance.

Anyhow, I see TouchID as the first step for a level of personalization that has been anticipated and expected for ages by iOS users, and that now can finally be implemented in a perfectly seamless way.

Imagine creating profiles for different users in an iPhone or iPad: one profile for you, one for your kid, etc. The kid picks up the iPad, taps the fingerprint sensor, and it’s done. Only the kids apps show up, along with their wallpaper, songs, movies, and so on. Even parental restrictions are already in place. Now imagine locking the iPad, and right after that you wake it up, touch the sensor, and boom®. You’re holding your iPad. All of your apps and contents are there, but your kids games are gone, and so are all the notifications, iMessage texts, etc.

This is something that has been in people’s wishlist for a while now, especially with people who share their iPads with the rest of the family. Of course that Apple would just love if everyone just got themselves their own iPads, and maybe this is why such a big feature has never been really prioritized up until today in Cupertino. But I also believe that they know that something like this is a bit far from the reality that most of us live in.

Obviously it would be great if iOS 7 and the new iPhones had already brought all of that to us. Thinking about this sort of thing just makes me want to flash forward and see what iOS 8, 9 or 10 will look like. If the iPhone 5s is an iPhone with “forward thinking“, it certainly fulfills its purpose: it makes it clear that this is just the first step of a pretty cool and exciting evolution process, and at the same time it goes back to being one step ahead of everybody else in the smartphone business. Samsung has already announced that they’ll be putting 64-bit chips in their next smartphones. They just left out the part that they’ll be adopting the fingerprint sensor as well.

While everybody else will play catch yet again so they can me-too the features that Apple unveiled last week, the folks from Cupertino on the other hand have already laid out the terrain to implement the features of tomorrow. And I really look forward to them.

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The M7 processor in the iPhone 5s was the second best news of the day

Without a doubt, the TouchID was the biggest and most exciting news of the day. But the centralization of all the information provided by the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope in a separate processor is plain genius for two reasons: first, because having a separate chip registering all these inputs will provide continuous, much more precise information much faster. And second because this is accomplished without any need for extra battery.

In fact, this will help spare battery, as the M7 will identify when the user is asleep (taking into account long periods of time when the phone has been left untouched) and will tell the iPhone to access the internet less often in this meantime.

The M7 isn’t just one of the best systems for fitness and health apps such as the Nike+, for instance. Its use will be an excellent trial for future implementation in the so-called wearable devices which a few companies have introduced in a pretty messy way.

I bet that Samsung is pretty pissed about not having thought of something like that for their watch, which has a battery that lasts for about a day. I would never buy a watch that needs to be recharged every single day, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone here. But I’m pretty sure that starting today they will start working on something similar to the M7 for their second generation watch.

This processor is exactly the piece that was missing for this market of wearable devices such as bracelets and watches. And soon millions of iPhone users will be testing it out across the planet, helping this technology get even better in no-time.

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The iPhone 5S and its fingerprint scanner which may or may be not causing delays

9to5 Mac published today that kind of pageview-bait story that shows images of iPhone shells taken somewhere in China, published by some Chinese media channel, and that now will spread throughout all technology news sites in the world as the day progresses.

The second paragraph is some sort of rumor masterpiece, which by now should be hanging on the walls of these rumor websites’ offices:

“Specs for the iPhone 5S from this same leak include NFC reader (which was taken out of the iPhone 5 late in production we’ve heard), a Fingerprint Reader (which may or may not be causing production delays), Sharp 4-inch 1136×640 (and maybe LG) IGZO display for power savings and better image quality and new 12 megapixel backside camera with dual LED flash.”

So the fingerprint scanner may or may not be causing problems? The screen might be Sharp and maybe LG? Talk about accuracy. I don’t know why, but stories like this one still surprise me coming from serious websites. Have iOS 7-related news already stopped giving pageviews? I’ll click on some more if it stops pointless stories like this from being posted.

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Bullshit prediction of the day: An iPhone 5S with fingerprint scanner [Updated]

Update from Sep 10th 2013: Clearly I was wrong. It did seem unlikely back when I wrote it, and I’m glad they did put the scanner there. My very first claim chowder. But the site is young. I’m pretty sure there will be others.

Apple Roadmap 2013

Several websites and blogs [123] posted today this roadmap, whoch foresees the launch of the iPhone 5S in either June or July, and that the device will feature a fingerprint scanner.

I would really like to know where these people get these ideas. When the iPhone 3GS was introduced, the design continued to be exactly as the design of the 3G, and the only new feature that wasn’t plain hardware was the capacity to capture video (which obviously only became possible due to such harware improvements).

When the 4S was released, it kept the iPhone 4 design, having yet again significant hardware improvements, which allowed Siri to exist.

In both cases, a significative hardware improvement allowed a software feature to be rolled out, and the design was kept exactly like its predecessor.

Today this prediction comes out, saying that the iPhone 5S will feature a fingerprint scanner, which is nothing but a guess based on last year’s purchase of Authentec by Apple. In fact, the iPhone 5S by itself is a guess, since there is absolutely nothing that may indicate that it’ll be released other than the weak deduction based on the fact that they released the 3GS and the 4S

To implement a fingerprint scanner, Apple would have to invariably change the internal design of the device, which is something that shouldn’t happen if they indeed release the 5S version.

The prophecy goes on to say that today’s iPhone 5 will infact be 2-year-old-rumored ‘cheaper, entry-level iPhone’, adopting a plastic casing instead of the current one. I can’t find a polite way of counter-argumenting, so I will just say that I disagree because of what I said in another article:

iOS6 runs as far back as the iPhone 3GS. It runs with way less features, for obvious reasons, but it’s there. And you know what? After the release of the iPhone 5, you can get an 8gb iPhone 4 for free. How’s that for entry-level price? If Apple is to invest on a cheaper iPhone that runs the current system, they’ll do that for the iPhone, not for a B version of the device just so it can cost less.

Since we’re talking nonsense rumors, here is one for you: How long until analysts start predicting a plastic-cased cheaper iPad?

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And so it begins: Chinese newspaper goes on about an iPhone 5S

And the season is open for rumors all over again. A chinese newspaper ran a story today saying that the iPhone 5S is supposed to begin a test production in december, to avoid a new surprise with mass production next year, like the iPhone 5 has been facing. The newspaper says that between 50.000 and 100.000 units will be produced.

I was wondering when the next round of rumours would start. But this must be some sort of a record. It doesn’t make any sense to shift the focus from the problematic iPhone 5 production just to make sure that the next model will run smoothly, if not even half the territories have the device for sale yet, and Foxconn has been having trouble to keep up to the demand.

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