Tagged: Mobile

Apple now offers a free month of iCloud storage, which still isn’t enough

One of the most frustrating things about being an iPhone owner is the lack of expandable storage. Once you have chosen your model, be it 64GB or 256GB, you’re stuck with that storage until you buy a new phone. Of course, you can alleviate that with iCloud, but Apple only provides 5GB of cloud storage for free. If you want an amount that you can actually use, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $0.99 or more in order to access it.

It appears that Apple has finally taken at least a half measure to resolve this issue, as AppleInsider discovered this week that Apple has begun offering customers who have reached their 5GB limit a month of any upgraded iCloud storage plan for free. The only caveat is that you can’t currently be subscribed to an iCloud plan.

According to AppleInsider, users who have hit their free limit and attempt to perform an iOS device backup will now receive a pop-up message that promotes that 50GB plan as well as the new one-month free trial:

You do not have enough space in iCloud to back up your iPhone. A 50 GB plan gives you plenty of space to continue backing up your iPhone. Your first month is free and it’s just $0.99 each month after.

If you tap on the big blue button in the pop-up, you will be redirected to the Change storage plans menu, which can otherwise be found under Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Manage Storage. If you opt to take advantage of the free trial, be aware that you will automatically be charged for the next month unless you cancel.

This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it’s still ridiculous that 5GB of cloud storage is all that Apple is willing to give away for free. Between high-resolution photos, 4K videos, and all the massive documents that we carry with us on our devices, 5GB just isn’t cutting it anymore, and Apple needs to make a change.

Some iPhone X owners are experiencing camera lens cracks they can’t explain

The iPhone X is made of glass, which means it’s more likely to crack after accidental drops than aluminum models. In fact, we’ve seen a large number of test that show that, invariably, the front or back glass panel is basically guaranteed to be damaged if dropped the right (by which we really mean the wrong) way.

But it looks like some iPhone X users are experiencing strange camera lens cracks they can’t explain that don’t seem to have anything to do with dropping the device, and Apple won’t repair them under warranty.

You’ll have to pay $99 to have the issue fixed if you have AppleCare, or the full $549 if you only have the standard warranty. First reported by 9to5Mac, the issue was detailed on Apple forums and on Reddit in previous months.

It’s unclear what is causing all these camera lens cracks, especially considering that the lens should be extra sturdy given that it’s made of sapphire crystal, rather than regular glass. Some people have linked the accident with weather conditions, including extreme cold but also hot and humid weather. Most of these accounts were posted online in winter months, although the most recent one is from early April, which doesn’t suggest extreme weather.

Many claim they have not dropped their devices, and say they’ve been using the iPhone X with cases since they purchased it. While some might not necessarily be truthful about the way their expensive phone was just damaged, especially if they don’t have AppleCare, it seems unlikely that everyone who described the very same issue is lying. Here’s how these cracks on the lens look, according to an Apple forum user:

It’s unclear how many people have experienced the same issue, and Apple doesn’t have a repair program for it, so it can’t be that widespread. That said, it’s certainly annoying to discover that one of the main features of the iPhone X is damaged, and not have an explanation for it.

What, no ‘game-changing’ Essential Phone 2 this year?

If you have absolutely no idea what an Essential Phone to begin with that perfectly explains why a “game-changing” Essential Phone 2 might never become a reality.

But die-hard Android enthusiasts and tech fans already know that Essential is Andy Rubin’s hardware company that launched an all-screen smartphone with a notch last year before Apple’s iPhone X. That Android handset failed to get any traction, and it looks like Rubin and Co. are looking for a way out.

Rubin, of course, is the creator of Android, but he hasn’t been involved with Google’s mobile operating system for years now. His startup is now seeking to sell the entire business, according to Bloomberg’s findings.

The company reportedly canceled the development of a new smartphone, the report says, and it’s looking to sell itself. Apparently, Credit Suisse is advising on a sale, and there’s at least one suitor interested in Essential’s business.

The company last year raised some $300 million in funding from several investors, including Amazon, Foxconn, and Tencent, and it was valued between $900 million and $1 billion last summer.

The company hasn’t made a decision, but a sale would include the entire company, all its patents, all its past and future products, and all the engineers.

Essential did not confirm the sale talks, but Rubin posted this response on Twitter:

We always have multiple products in development at the same time, and we embrace canceling some in favor of the ones we think will be bigger hits. We are putting all of our efforts towards our future, game-changing products, which include mobile and home products.

He addressed the matter in an email to employees on Thursday, which The Information obtained.

Rubin said that “no one (including me at this moment) knows what the best thing for the company will be,” adding that the company is working with bankers to raise money, and acquisition discussions are taking place.

Rubin said that Essential isn’t shutting down, but complained about the Bloomberg article saying that it “will not position us well for optimizing” the fundraising effort. “I’m going to focus on winning and not whining,” he added, though, technically, he did whine about Bloomberg’s piece.

Qualcomm’s new processor means next year’s cheap Android phones will suck a little less

Not every smartphone buyer out there goes for the most expensive smartphone in town, as the price is still a significant factor when buying a new handset. But that doesn’t mean that going forward, you have to sacrifice performance if you decide to purchase a mid-tier Android handset.

That’s because Qualcomm just unveiled a brand new processor targeting mid-range Android devices, the Snapdragon 710, and it’s supposed to bring several high-end smartphone features to cheaper devices.

The Snapdragon 710 packs a bunch of improvements over the Snapdragon 660 that currently powers some of the more affordable handsets out there, mostly related to artificial intelligence, cameras, display, battery, and connectivity.

The Snapdragon 810 is built on 10nm architecture, which means you’re going to get both performance improvements and better battery life. The phone is supposed to be 20% faster than the Snapdragon 660, and deliver 25% faster web browsing, and 15% faster app launch times compared to the previous mid-tier chip. When it comes to power consumption, you can expect up to 40% reduction in energy consumption for gaming and 4K HDR playback, and up to 20% reduction in power consumption when streaming video.

Speaking of streaming, the Snapdragon 710 comes with a built-in Snapdragon X15 LTE modem that supports up to 800Mbps speeds. “Cutting edge Wi-Fi” and Bluetooth 5 are also included in the chip.

Snapdragon 710-powered phones will get 4K HDR playback support, as well as displays that support wider color gamut and color depth. The Snapdragon 660 already powers one Android phone you may have heard of, the Galaxy S Lite Luxury Edition (Galaxy S8 Lite), so you can expect the 710 to do an even better job on all-screen devices.

Camera-wise, the new platform brings support for 32-megapixel single-lens cameras, or 20-megapixel dual-lens cameras. That’s because the chip includes the new Qualcomm Spectra 250 image signal processor, which can support, among other things, features like deep portrait modes (bokeh) and “Face ID / unlock with active depth sensing.”

AI is also about to get a major boost, as the new chip will deliver up to two times better performance in AI apps, Qualcomm says.

Expect Snapdragon 710 smartphones to hit the market this quarter, although we don’t have any actual product examples for you just yet.

T-Mobile tool let literally anyone with your phone number find your full address

An unsecured T-Mobile tool potentially gave access to millions of customers’ details to anyone with a URL and a phone number, according to ZDNet. The bug exposed an internal T-Mobile tool to anyone who knew where to look, the report says, needing just a phone number to expose the customer’s full name, billing address, account number, and in some cases tax ID info.

The flaw was exposed by a security researcher, Ryan Stephenson, who first reported the bug to T-Mobile’s bug bounty program in return for $1,000. T-Mobile pulled the website soon after the bug was reported in early April.

In a statement, T-Mobile said: “The bug bounty program exists so that researchers can alert us to vulnerabilities, which is what happened here, and we support this type of responsible and coordinated disclosure. The bug was patched as soon as possible and we have no evidence that any customer information was accessed.”

Although this is clearly exactly the kind of thing a bug bounty program is designed to find and fix before it can be exploited, the data breach is worrying in the context of increased “port-out” fraud on mobile accounts in recent years. As phone numbers are increasingly used as a recovery tool for highly valuable services like online banking or email, a common scam involves an attacker calling your wireless provider to port out your service to a different provider, or switch a particular phone number to a new SIM card. Once that is done, any recovery info for banking, email, or anything else will be sent to the attacker rather than the victim. Unless a wireless account is secured with a strong PIN or a second authentication method, providers often use ZIP codes, birthdays, and account info to verify the caller — exactly the kind of data this breach would have exposed.