iNews Review

iOS 6.0.1 Released, iPad 4 and Mini Teardowns, 10 Ways Surface Beats iPad, and More iOS News

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.11.12

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

Purchases made through links to Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes/iBook/App/Mac App Store support Low End Mac.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

The Competition

Apps & Services

Accessories

Presentation & Protection

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

iOS 6.0.1 Software Update

iOS 6.0.1 Software Update contains improvements and bug fixes, including:

  • Fixes a bug that prevents iPhone 5 from installing software updates wirelessly over the air
  • Fixes a bug where horizontal lines may be displayed across the keyboard
  • Fixes an issue that could cause camera flash to not go off
  • Improves reliability of iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation) when connected to encrypted WPA2 WiFi networks
  • Resolves an issue that prevents iPhone from using the cellular network in some instances
  • Consolidated the Use Cellular Data switch for iTunes Match
  • Fixes a Passcode Lock bug which sometimes allowed access to Passbook pass details from lock screen
  • Fixes a bug affecting Exchange meetings

For information on the security content of this update, visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

This update is available via iTunes and wirelessly.

System Requirements

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPad (3rd generation)
  • iPad 2
  • iPod touch (4th generation)

The update is available via iTunes on the Mac/PC or on the device via Settings > General > Software Update.

iPad mini's A5 Chip Built by Samsung

Chipworks says:

"Remember the past, when Apple launched the Apple A5X to great fanfare? When the A5X launched, Apple also snuck in a change to the process generation in their A5 chip by putting a new 32nm version inside the iPadÊ2 and Apple TVÊ3. Apple (likely) plays it this way because they don't want people evaluating their products based on commodity technical specifications, but based on the overall experience with the device....

"When we looked at the A5 package markings found in the iPad mini, we saw that it had the exact same package markings as that found in the latest (fifth) generation iPod....

"The foundry for the A5 is confirmed to be Samsung...."

Paul Thurrott Posts Glowing Review of iPod touch and iPad mini

WinSuperSite's Paul Thurrott says for the past several weeks, he's been using the new iPod touch, and, for a shorter interval, the new iPad mini.

"Both products are demonstrably better than the competition," Thurrott declares. "Heck, the iPod almost has no competition - despite my long-time complaints about the underlying iOS software on each. There's no way to overstate this: The new iPod touch and iPad mini are just incredibly desirable tech devices. They're almost without peer."

That's pretty convincing praise for competitive products from outside the Microsoft ecosystem coming from a Windows guy.

Thurrott goes on to enthuse that the new iPod touch is "arguably the sexiest product Apple has ever made" and "a pointer to where the iPhone must be heading."

Who knew? iPods tend to get short shrift in the Mac oriented media and blogosphere.

As for the iPad mini, Thurrott declares it "the ideal iPad," and, it may be "the ideal mini tablet," noting that what you've heard about the vaunted build quality is true, and the iPad mini is "a gorgeous, gorgeous device" - "the BMW of the tablet world, nicer looking and better made than the competition, and in this case, you really do get what you pay for."

And while he agrees with punditry consensus that Apple will release a Retina display-based iPad mini by next year, in the meantime "the screen on this new iPad is in fact beautiful .Ê.Ê. in fact not limiting at all."

Thurrott summarizes that the quality of these devices leaves him speechless (well, almost) - beautiful, thin, light, and remarkably well-made.

Larger Display Sets iPad mini Apart from Other 7" Tablets

IHS iSuppli Display Materials and Components Service notes that the iPad mini stands apart from competitive 7.x" media tablets with its larger display, which is intended to offer a user experience that is closer to full-sized tablets - along with its use of the 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes it suitable to capitalize on the existing iPad ecosystem. However, the mini display falls short of other comparable 7.x" tablets in terms of its display resolution.

"Apple has thrown its hat into the ring for smaller-sized media tablets with the iPad mini, putting it into direct competition with alternative devices such as Google Nexus 7, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Barnes & Noble Nook HD," says Vinita Jakhanwal, director for Small & Medium Displays at IHS. "However, by using a bigger display with a larger viewing area for the iPad mini, Apple is trying to offer a media tablet that's physically smaller than other iPads, but doesn't totally compromise the user experience delivered by the larger members of the iPad line. But, it differs by sticking with the 4:3 aspect ratio used in other iPads, rather than the wider aspect ratio of 16:10 employed by competitors - a dimension that can be better suited for displaying high-definition video content in the landscape mode.

Big Sales for Small iPad Predicted

Despite the tradeoffs, Apple historically has been extremely shrewd in picking which features will appeal to consumers for its media tablet and smartphone products, and IHS believes the mini will continue the company's winning streak with the 7.9", 4:3 aspect ratio design, ready to tap into the existing base of applications already developed for the iPad 2.

iPad mini display specs vs. competition

Some experts were expecting the mini to be less expensive, and downgraded their shipment forecasts based on Apple's announced pricing. However, the pricing conformed with IHS iSuppli expectations, and continued Apple's pattern of offering premium-priced media tablets and smartphones that are highly successful in the market.

Display Rundown

The iPad mini comes equipped with a 7.9" display. In comparison, the other brands have displays nearly 1" smaller, at just 7.0", as presented in the table below.

The larger screen size of the mini leads to a bigger display viewing area - 35% greater than the other media tablets with 7" displays

Furthermore, the bezel width on two sides of the mini's display has been reduced, decreasing the breadth of the device. The overall size of the mini is only 13% larger than the Google Nexus 7, but the minis display area is 35% bigger. When compared to the Kindle Fire HD, the total size of the mini is about the same. But similar to the Nexus 7 comparison, the display area of the mini is 35% bigger - again, a case of clever designing to offer more viewing real estate without impacting the device form factor.

Resolution Comes into Focus

The mini's display has a pixel format of 1024 x 768 pixels, resulting in a resolution of 163 pixels per inch (PPI).

This is lower than the other 7.x" displays, whose resolutions are greater than 200 PPI. The Nook HD, for instance, has a resolution of 243 PPI, putting it closest to the 264 PPI Retina display resolution of the new iPad and the newly launched fourth-generation iPad. The resolution of the iPad 2 is 132 PPI and with the same pixel format as the iPad mini. Although the resolution is lower for the mini, the smaller iPad offers compatibility with the multitude of apps developed for the iPad 2 that continue to be sold in the market.

Another Aspect

All the iPads including the mini use an aspect ratio of 4:3 for their display. The other brands like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google use a 16:10 aspect ratio. The recently launched iPhone 5 moved to a 16:9 aspect ratio. In a 4:3 aspect ratio display, HD video content that isn't letterboxed will be displayed with black bands above and below the video. The wider aspect ratio (16:10) improves viewing experience of video and game-based multimedia content, making such displays more suitable for devices meant primarily for the consumption of video content.

Viewing content in the portrait mode is better supported by a 4:3 aspect ratio, however, and may be better suited for multiple-use devices employed in viewing web pages, books and magazines. The 4:3 aspect ratio also increases the screen area on a same-sized display when compared to a wide aspect ratio display, and may require less scrolling to view the content.

Skinny Mini

The iPad mini is also a much thinner device compared to the other tablets in the 7.x" category. The devices thickness is only 0.28", or 7.2mm, compared to 0.41" for the Google Nexus 7 and 0.45" for the Kindle Fire.

The display technology for the mini continues to be in-plane switching liquid crystal display (IPS LCD), which is used in most 7.x" branded tablets. However, improvements have been made from the previous-generation iPad displays to make the minis screen slimmer and lighter.

The mini's slim design is partly due to its battery, the thinnest single-cell battery ever made by Apple. However, its also likely that changes have been implemented in the touch screen design. IHS believes that the glass layer that houses the touch sensors in the larger iPads has been replaced with plastic film for the mini.

In terms of device weight, the mini at 0.68 pounds is the lightest among the other top 7.x" tablets, despite having a larger screen size and area. The Nook HD isn't that far behind at 0.69 pounds, but it uses a smaller 7.0" display.

Mini Display Suppliers

The main display suppliers for the iPad mini are likely to be LG Display of South Korea and AU Optronics (AUO) of Taiwan. LG Display has been supplying panels for the entire iPad line since the launch of the first iPad, and is likely to be the main supplier for the iPad mini displays.

The other suppliers for iPad, Samsung Display, also of South Korea, as well as Japans Sharp, at this point are not in the iPad mini panel supply chain.

AUO, meanwhile, is a new supplier for Apple iPad products. It remains to be seen how quickly AUO will be able to ramp up production of 7.9" IPS LCD panels in order to meet demand. With an aggressive initial rollout for the mini that includes Asian regions like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan, any display manufacturing and yield issues could impact the availability of the mini iPad for the remainder of the year.

iPad mini Geekbench Benchmarks Posted

iPad Geekbench results

Primate Labs' John Poole says that with the iPad mini now available in stores, Geekbench results for it are appearing in the Geekbench Browser. How does the new iPad mini perform compared to the other iPads? Poole has collected Geekbench benchmark results from the Geekbench Browser for the five different iPad models to answer that question and observes that if you're thinking of buying a new iPad, the question of which iPad you choose will largely depend on whether you want a small iPad or a powerful iPad.

iFixit Tears Down iPad 4

PR: We got our hands on the fourth generation iPad. The way we figure, the iPad 4 is kind of like a fourth book added to a trilogy: its release was a bit sudden and unexpected, but it's part of the group nonetheless. This fourth iteration of the iPad shares a lot of similarities with the previous version, so instead of our traditional, exploratory teardown, we focused our efforts on spotting the differences between this generation and the last.

iPad 4 Lightning connectorIf you're kicking yourself because you just bought an iPad 3, we've got some welcome news: not too much has changed in the iPad 4. The most striking addition to the fourth generation is the Lightning connector. The iPad 4 also features a slightly thicker, upgraded 1.2 MP FaceTime camera, and the upgraded A6X processor. Other than those differences, the iPad 4 remains the same in terms of design and repairability, earning a 2/10 on our repairability scale - the same score as the iPad 3.

The highlights:

  • One of the major differences between the 3rd and 4th generation iPads is the connector. The 3rd gen has the 30-pin dock connector, while the 4th gen has the Lightning connector. But Apple didn't save any space by switching to the smaller Lightning connector; rather they let the Lightning cable sit in a frame the same size as the 30-pin dock connector.
  • iPad 4Continuing the trend of previous generations, this iPad is glued shut. This isn't our first adhesive-riddled iPad, and we've been working to figure out how to make the painful opening process a lot easier. Our new iOpener tool lets us apply heat just where it's needed, softening the troublesome adhesive. Once we've snuck a few guitar picks in the seam, we're nearly home-free.
  • As opposed to the Samsung display we found in the iPad 3, the new iPad LCD is manufactured by LG. Apple has reportedly been working to move away from Samsung as a primary supplier, so this LG display is not surprising. However, Apple often relies on multiple suppliers for a single component, meaning there are likely other LCD manufacturers lurking inside other iPad 4s.
  • The battery is labeled with the same model number (A1389) as in the last round, so it's no surprise that it's another 3.7 V, 43 Whr package. Like the iPad 3, the battery is adhered very securely to the rear case. Since batteries are consumables that wear out, the trend of glued-in, hard-to-access batteries in iPads and other Apple devices is unfortunate.
  • Chips inside include:
    • Apple A6X Processor
    • Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash
    • 2 x 4Gb Elpida LP DDR2 = 1 GB DRAM in two packages
    • Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec
    • 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC
    • iPad 4 teardownApple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier
    • Broadcom BCM5974 Touch Screen Controller
    • Broadcom BCM5973A1 Touch Screen Controller
    • Texas Instruments CD3240B0 Touch Screen Line Driver
    • 2 x Fairchild BCHAH/FDMC Voltage Regulator / Reference
    • Murata 339S0171 Broadcom BCM4334 WiFi Module
  • Repair techs, DIY-ers, and clumsy iPad-users, rejoice! The Lightning connector is on its very own ribbon cable, meaning that procuring a replacement connector should be fairly inexpensive.
  • We found a 1.2 MP FaceTime HD camera lurking inside, with the ability to shoot 720p HD video. That's a big improvement from the .3 MP FaceTime camera in the iPad 3. Compared to the iPad 3, this camera is actually slightly thicker (an extra .4 mm), but it still manages to fit into the same space.

iFixit Tears Down iPad mini

PR: Apple is filling out their touchscreen device lineup just in time for Christmas. The iPod touch has been extremely popular with families, and we expect the iPad mini will be a big hit with kids. But what will happen to the glass when they hit it with the full force of their childlike glee? We took apart the new Mini to find out just how durable and repairable it is.

This product continues Apple's design pattern of creating devices with built-in consumables that are challenging to replace. Relative to the $329 price, Apple's $99 battery replacement program is very expensive. Without regular battery replacements, the iPad mini is doomed to the same 2-3 year maximum lifespan that the iPad has. Apple has not stated whether the iPad mini's battery has the same 1000 cycles rating as the iPad or the 400 cycle (12-18 month) capacity of the iPhone.

With that in mind, we're working on improved techniques to disassemble iPads, as you can see in the teardown.

What we found:

  • inside the iPad miniWe can confirm the iPad mini has stereo speakers, no matter what Amazon says.
  • We had to do some sleuthing to find some of the screws on this thing - several tiny screws were hidden underneath covers and inside crevices.
  • In an odd typographic quality lapse, the kerning of the laser-etched serial number on our unit is quite poor.
  • Apple wasn't joking about "mini"; this iPad contains some of the smallest screws we have ever seen!
  • Apple has reportedly been working to move away from Samsung as a primary supplier, so it's somewhat surprising to see a Samsung chip driving the LCD. We cannot 100% confirm that this display is made by Samsung, although it seems likely. Apple could be multi-sourcing this component, since supply chain reports indicate that AU Optronics and LG are providing displays.
  • iPad mini teardownThe battery is a large, single 16.5 Whr cell.
  • Components:
    • Apple A5 processor - same as the latest iPod touch, with 512 MB RAM
    • Murata 339S0171 WiFi, same as the iPhone 5.
    • Multichip Broadcom BCM5976 touchscreen controllers
    • Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

Repairability score: 2 out of 10. The screen is glued to the case. The battery is glued down. The logic board is really glued down. The headphone jack is glued in. The only good news is that the LCD is not fused to the front glass.

This iPad was delivered a bit early up the road from us in Berkeley. We'd like to thank friend-of-iFixit, the ever perspicacious Jeff Atwood, for helping us get our hands on it.

iPad mini Teardown Video Posted

DirectFix, a specialist in "Do It Yourself iPad Repairs", has announced that shortly after the release of the iPad mini being available to the public they have a teardown repair video and directions showing how to install and replace the screen.

The video is available for free on their YouTube channel.

"The iPad mini is one of the most difficult iPads we have taken apart. There is a lot of glue used in it and keep that heat gun handy. The directions show step by step how to repair a broken iPad screen, touch panel, battery and other parts," says Robert Stanley, founder of DirectFix.com.

Just like in the past DirectFix was the first to offer a full HD video of directions on how to properly take apart the iPad mini. For the DIY people parts will be available on their site soon for the iPad mini. For those that don't think they can repair the iPad mini themselves DirectFix will soon offer a mail in repair service."

Even with no retina display the iPad mini is a cool device but being small makes it susceptible to dropping and breaking" says Stanley. "Just like in the past the manufacturers charge an outrageous amount of money for a repair. "By following our video direction you can save money by fixing it yourself," he notes.

IHS iSuppli: 16 GB iPad mini Components Cost $188

The base model of Apple's new iPad mini with WiFi only and 16 gigabytes of NAND flash memory, carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $188, according to a preliminary estimate from the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. When the $10 manufacturing expense is added in, the total cost to manufacture the iPad mini rises to $198.

iPad mini bill of materials

IHS iSuppli cautions that this teardown assessment is preliminary in nature, accounts only for hardware and manufacturing costs and does not include additional expenses such as software, licensing, royalties or other expenditures.

Based on the ratio of cost to retail price, IHS has concluded that the iPad mini is slightly more profitable on a percentage basis than the comparably equipped version of the New iPad when it was released in March 2012.

"With the iPad mini, Apple is sticking to the premium-brand strategy it has always used for its media tablet and smartphone products," says Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. "Apple's strategy entails offering differentiated hardware that justifies higher price tags than comparable products. This differs markedly from Amazons 7" Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7 tablets, both of which are essentially low-margin or no-margin giveaways at a $199 retail price. Apple makes healthy margins on its hardware, while Amazon and Google employ different strategies with their 7" tablets."

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7 have set new consumer pricing expectations for 7.x" media tablets, starting at the $199 point. These low-priced tablets pose a competitive challenge to Apple's media tablet dominance.

"Amazon and Google want to put tablets in consumers hands - seven if it means doing so at a minimal hardware profit with the intent of making their money on the content users buy, and/or the advertising and paid content they will be exposed to by buying the devices," Rassweiler observes.

With the iPad mini, Apple continues to garner even greater profits from sales of the higher-end tablet models that have greater amounts of flash memory. Because Apple provides consumers no option to expand the iPad minis storage capacity with any sort of removable memory card, the only way users can upgrade the amount of flash available on the product is to buy the higher-end 32 GB and 64 GB models.

These higher-end models - with or without 4G wireless capabilities - are priced at $100 intervals, at $429 and $529. However, the incremental cost of the additional NAND flash memory to Apple is only $9.60 for the additional 16 GB of memory and $19.20 for an additional 32 GB of memory. This means that compared to the 16 GB model, the 32 GB version of the iPad mini generates about $90 in additional profit for Apple for every unit sold. For the 64 GB model, Apple's profit is about $171 higher than the 16 GB version.

The individual iPad mini dissected by IHS included only a WiFi connection, with no 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless hardware included. Based on the preliminary teardown analysis, the addition of the 4G LTE module hardware would cost approximately $34. This cost excludes essential intellectual property (IP) licensing fees, such as those for CDMA/WCDMA/LTE wireless technology.

The defining feature of the iPad mini is its 7.9" display, larger than comparable 7.x" tablets, whose displays are nearly 1" smaller, at just 7.0". The iPad mini employs GF2 multitouch touchscreen technology, which allows the touchscreen module to be thinner than competing tablets. However, the new GF2 technology also makes manufacturing more challenging during initial production by reducing manufacturing yields.

This drives up pricing for the touchscreen module. The initial cost of the display and touchscreen module is preliminarily estimated at $80, representing a hefty 43% of the total BOM for the low-end iPad mini.

The main display suppliers for the iPad mini are likely to be LG Display of South Korea and AU Optronics (AUO) of Taiwan. LG Display has been supplying panels for the entire iPad line since the launch of the first iPad, and is likely to be the main supplier for the iPad mini displays. The IHS iSuppli Teardown analysis service identified Samsung as the supplier of the display in the individual New iPad that was dissected in March. It is important to note that Apple has multiple sources for many key components, such as the display.

With the high price of the display module, Apple needed to reduce expenses in other sections of the iPad mini. The most notable example of cost cutting is in the processor: an A5 chip manufactured with a 32-nanometer process technology. The A5 used in the mini is a part that has been used in two other Apple products, including the latest Apple TV model, with that version using only one of the cores in the A5 32nm, as well as the latest version of iPad 2. Because of this, the A5 processor costs just $13, accounting for only 4% of the total BOM. This compares to $16.50 for the Texas Instruments Inc. OMAP processor used in Amazon's Kindle Fire HD.

"The use of the A5 is a great example of Apple leveraging a common component in as many devices as possible in order to increase purchasing volumes and keep costs to a minimum," Rassweiler says.

Despite the well-publicized legal battles between Samsung and Apple, Samsung remains the manufacturer of the processor, the same as in the iPad 2 and New iPad. The A5 is based on Apple's own design, and Samsung simply serves as the parts foundry manufacturer, rather than as its supplier.

Other notable suppliers in the iPad mini include:

SK Hynix and Elpida, which respectively supply the NAND flash and DRAM, which are collectively estimated to cost $15.50

Dynapack, the maker of the $13.50 battery

STMicroelectronics, which sells the gyroscope used in the user interface and sensor combo module.

Rumor Roundup

Retina iPad mini Rumored for Next Year

Chinese-language blogsite DoNews' Xue Fei reports that according to a DoNews reporter, panel maker and Apple supplier AUO is to develop a Retina panel with resolution of up to 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution and a dot pitch of "up to 497 ppi" for use in the next generation iPad mini - which would far exceed even the new 4th-generation iPad's 264 pixels per inch (ppi). Actually, a 7.9" panel with 2048 x 1536 resolution would have a (still impressive) pixel density of 326 ppi.

Xue Fei projects that the Retina mini will be announced in the second half of 2013, with volume shipment beginning in the fourth quarter of next year.

Other rumors suggest that Apple will incorporate Sharp's advanced IGZO screen technology in the iPad mini 2.

Microsoft Office Sort of Coming to iPhone, iPad, and Android in 2013

The Verge's Tom Warren reports Microsoft's Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android is a reality, having learned through several sources close to Microsoft's plans that the company will release Office versions for Android and iOS in early 2013.

Warren says Office Mobile will debut in the form of Free apps that allow Android and iOS users to view Microsoft Office documents on the move and will require a Microsoft account, with very basic edit functionality be enabled by an Office 365 subscription, which will be purchasable within the app.

The Competition

32 GB Surface RT Has Just 16 GB of Available Storage

Microsoft touts its base $500 Surface tablet PC's 32 GB of memory as a better value than the 16 GB that comes with Apple's similarly priced iPadÊ4. However, the advantage is somewhat illusory.

The Register's Rik Myslewski notes that according to Microsoft specs, half of that 32 GB will be used by the Windows 8 operating system and unavailable for your files, and moreover 32 GB is actually 29 GB. It all depends on your meaning of gigabyte.

On the upside, unlike with the iPad, Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space by slipping a microSD, microSDHC, or microSDXC memory card of capacities up to 64 GB into the Surface RT, or to connect a flash drive or hard drive through the Surface's standard USB port.

iPad User: 10 Things That Work Better on Microsoft Surface

Tech.Pinions' Patrick Moorhead says his primary tablet of choice for years (well, a couple anyway) has been Apple's iPad, and before Microsoft's new Surface tablet PC he used his iPadÊ2 primarily in productivity mode with a Logitech keyboard in fridge toaster mode and his iPadÊ3 as his primary entertainment device paired with the HumanToolz stand.

However, he says that after using Microsoft's Surface for about a week, there are some usage models he prefers to do on the Surface over the iPad, although he still prefers the iPad in other contexts, of which there are many. But the Surface excels at:

  1. Email
  2. Random, Unplanned Web Browsing (thanks to Internet Explorer in Windows RT being a full-featured PC browser with access to the system's file system and peripherals, as opposed to the iOS's crippled browsers and file system user lockout)
  3. Writing Research and Blogs ("so much easier with the type cover with a trackpad," and "for research papers, there is no substitute for Word .Ê.Ê. the gold standard of productivity"
  4. Wireless Printing - it actually works
  5. Task Switching
  6. Instant Access to Information without Opening Apps
  7. Rental Videos
  8. Anything that Really Requires a Mouse
  9. Group Music Listening
  10. Sharing Anything

Microsoft Surface RT More Profitable than iPad

PR: Microsoft's Surface RT model with the minimum 32 gigabytes of NAND flash memory and an optional black Touch Cover carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $271, according to a preliminary estimate from the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. When the $13 manufacturing expense is added in, the total cost to manufacture the Surface rises to $284.

Bill of materials for 32 GB Microsoft Surface RT

IHS iSuppli cautions that this teardown assessment is preliminary in nature, accounts only for hardware and manufacturing costs and does not include additional expenses such as software, licensing, royalties or other expenditures.

In terms of its size, feature set and pricing threshold, the Surface RT is clearly designed to compete with the full-sized iPad.

"The Surface represents a key element in Microsoft's strategy to transform itself from a software maker into a devices and services provider," says Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst, teardown services, for IHS. "Key to this strategy is offering hardware products that generate high profits on their own, similar to what Apple has achieved with its iPad line. From a hardware perspective Microsoft has succeeded with the Surface, offering an impressive tablet that is more profitable, on a percentage basis, than even the lucrative iPad based on current retail pricing."

At an estimated total BOM and manufacturing cost of $284 and a retail price of $599, the Surface RT generates hardware and manufacturing profits that are, in percentage terms, higher than the low-end iPad. Even at a price of $499 without the Touch Cover, Microsoft will generate a profit margin that is greater than the low-end iPad, in percentage terms and on a per-unit basis.

One key differentiating hardware feature of the Surface hardware is the optional Touch Cover, which is essentially a cover that also acts like a full-function keyboard, but uses only capacitive touch sensing to operate. The keyboard works very well and even has a touchpad at the bottom, making the device feel and operate very much like a notebook PC when the Surface sits on its kickstand and the Touch Cover is laid flat.

"The Touch Cover represents a best-of-both-worlds approach for the Surface, giving it the most attractive features of both notebook PCs and media tablets," says Rassweiler. "This feature differentiates the Surface from the iPad. The end result for Microsoft is a very compelling product that is impressive. It's also clearly more Microsoft friendly, so enterprises and major users of Microsoft Office likely will gravitate to this very competent product as a possible substitute to conventional notebook PCs when used for travel."

The Touch Cover serves as an example of a feature that can encourage users to upgrade to a higher-end model that generates more profits for a company, similar to premium-priced tablets that feature larger quantities of memory. With options like the Touch Cover or extra flash, a manufacturer can offer a low-end model at a base price that meets a psychological threshold$499 in this case, with the hope that consumers will impulsively opt for extra features or memory upgrades that generate major profits.

IHS estimates preliminarily that the Touch Cover costs Microsoft $16 to $18 per unit. The Touch Cover accessory integrates a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly with numerous chips, including a Freescale microcontroller and an Atmel touchscreen controller.

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is the biggest design winner in the Surface, based on our teardown sample. Various divisions of Samsung supply components or complete subsystems for many of the most expensive portions of the individual tablet dissected by the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service: the display, the NAND flash and the battery pack. However, most of these parts are available from multiple sources, and other suppliers are likely utilized in other individual Surface tablets.

Another major winner is Nvidia Corp., which supplies the Surface's processor. The Surface RT is based on an Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor, which uses the ARM architecture. The Tegra 3 costs an estimated $21.50, accounting for 8% of the Surface RTs BOM.

Also scoring some major wins in the Surface RT is Atmel, which supplies multiple touch controllers in the Surface itself as well as in the Touch Cover.

Apps & Services

James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters App

James Bond posters appPR: DK has announced that the James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, is now available to download for $4.99 from the App Store.

Bond posters appCelebrate 50 years of James Bond films in fine style with this app, created in collaboration with EON Productions, producers of the James Bond movies. Browse through a spectacular gallery of posters from 1962's Dr. No to 2012's Skyfall, the app features a unique collection of Bond images that capture, distill, and define the lasting appeal of cinemas most compelling superspy.

Features

  • James Bond poster app105 posters with captions by Bond expert Alastair Dougall, drawing on insights provided by celebrated Bond film Production Designer Dennis Gassner
  • Rare, valuable, sought-after, and unpublished posters from all over the world promoting every Bond film
  • Photo gallery featuring posters, teasers, and lobby cards showcasing Bond's incredible 50-year movie history
  • Slideshow viewing and the ability to set favorites to view again and again

The James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters app provides a kaleidoscope of imagery that is sure to leave all James Bond fans shaken and stirred.

Price: $4.99

Accessories

New Belkin Accessories for Lightning Connector

PR: Belkin has announced that it will launch two new accessories designed for Apple's Lightning connector, a hardwired car charger and Charge + Sync dock. These new accessories will be the first third-party Lightning accessories available in market and are the first of several new Lightning accessories from Belkin that will launch this year.

"Belkin was the first third-party manufacturer to develop accessories for the 30-pin connector back in 2003, and we are thrilled to be first to market again with solutions for the new Lightning connector," says Martin Avila, general manager of Belkin's core division. "People are eager for Lightning accessories and Belkins give them a reliable way to keep their new iPhone 5, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini or iPod touch charged, protected, and ready to go."

Belkin Car Charger for Lightning (F8J075) $29.99

  • Updated version of Belkin's best-selling, slim-profile car charger
  • Hardwired 4' Lightning cable included
  • Over-voltage protection to protect device
  • MFi certified
  • 10 watt, 2.1 amp
  • Available in Black

Belkin Charge + Sync Dock (F8J057) $29.99

  • Case-compatible
  • Cable not included; for use with Apple-branded Lightning connector cable only
  • Foldaway AUX jack
  • Cable channel for easy cable feeding
  • Removable magnetic base
  • EarPods audio-out port for headphones or speakers

Lightning accessories from Belkin are available for preorder now on Belkin.com and will be available starting in mid-November.

Presentation & Protection

An iPhone 5 Case for Bond - James Bond

PR: Agent 007 would be happy to know that in addition to his slick cars, guns, and gadgets, now he can protect his iPhone 5 with a super-stylish leather wallet case from iGearUnlimited.com.

Slim Leather Case for iPhone 5The new Slim Leather Case is a multipurpose wallet-in-a-case made for the iPhoneÊ5, something James Bond would surely love. While it doesn't hold quite as much stuff as a full-size wallet, it's excellent for those short trips or weekend errands when a fat wallet in the back pocket is pure overkill. The main feature, of course, is the leather pouch on the back of the phone case.

Nicely stitched and affixed on a sliding back plate, this case comfortably holds a couple of credit cards and some cash. A soft-touch rubberized black bumper frame offers excellent protection around all four sides and corners of the phone, while the leather back plate protects the entire back.

The iPhone 5 is taller and thinner than the previous generation, yet the vast majority of cases on the market add lots of bulk to the phone, defeating one of the most important features of Apple's new gadget. The Slim Leather Case solves this problem with advanced engineering and materials, combining beauty with functionality.

"The iGear Slim Leather Wallet Case is unlike any other iPhone 5 case on the market," says Jimmy Sun, president of iGearUnlimited.com. "The case has a stylish look, offers full-body protection for the iPhone, while doubling as a convenient wallet."

The Slim Leather Case can be ordered from iGearUnlimited.com for immediate shipping. For full details, click this link.

Priced at $49.99

Your iPhone 5 Case Can Never Be Too Pretty or Too Thin

PR: You can never be too pretty or too thin (the late Duchess of Windsor, née Wallis Simpson, originally had it "too rich or too thin"), and the same goes for your iPhone 5 case according to iGearUnlimited.com, which just released its new Diamond Case that offers good protection, an awesome look, while keeping the bulk to a minimum.

Diamond Case for iPhone 5The new Diamond Case is a super slim case made for the iPhone 5, made of clear polycarbonate for durability, with a soft-touch rubberized back plate that holds a dazzling array of sparkling diamonds. The wrap-around case also protects the phones screen from scratching when placed face-down on a table. iGearUnlimited.com claims it's one of the thinnest yet prettiest cases for the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 is taller and thinner than the previous generation, yet the vest majority of cases on the market add lots of bulk to the phone, defeating one of the most important features of Apple's gadget. The Galaxy cases solve this problem with advanced engineering, combining beauty with functionality.

"It's love at first sight with lady customers," says Jimmy Sun, president of iGearUnlimited.com. "It protects all four sides and all four corners of the iPhone 5, while keeping its slim profile."

The Diamond Case is available in black, pink, blue, and light blue, and can be ordered from iGearUnlimited.com for immediate shipping.

Priced at $29.99

DomeSkin Announces 3D Skins for iPad mini, iPhone 5, and 13" Retina MacBook Pro

PR: DomeSkin, made in California, are protective 3D skins for mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and more. DomeSkins feature a very unique 3D dome design giving any device a exceptional look and feel. The patented technology and advanced engineering used in construction make DomeSkin the highest quality skin on the market. Created to enhance and improve device style with modern designs and bold statements, DomeSkins provide a unique look, slim profile and enhanced device gripping which prevents slippage and adds protection.

DomeSkin iPhone 5 caseDomeSkin Director of Sales and Marketing, Grant Vollmer, says he's excited for the launch of iPad mini DomeSkins along with the popularity and uniqueness of the new DomeSkin line. "With the clear 3D top coating and the advancements in quality engineering to produce the DomeSkin has reach a new level of quality and design with the launch of the iPad mini DomeSkin. The DomeSkin line is highly reusable and adds great protection to mobile devices. We are proud to offer our customers a large variety of designs and a huge device selection," says Vollmer.

The new collection of DomeSkin for iPad mini debuts today online and is available in unique, stylish and popular designs to match all individual personalities.

The website also highlights the new collection of skins for the iPad mini and also the iPhone 5 which are all making a splash in the accessory market with a sophisticated style and advanced quality engineering.

All DomeSkins can be easily removed from the device and come off totally clean thanks to the patented 3M technology used in the construction of the skins. Removing the skin will not damage the skin, device or design.

DomeSkin is scratch-resistant and much more durable than other skins on the market. For this reason, the DomeSkin warranty will not expire during the lifetime of the device to which it is initially applied. The DomeSkin offers the advantage of a soft layer of skin to gently protect the device without unnecessary bulk - the result is a smooth, form fit which mobile device users love.

The DomeSkin product assortment starts at retail price of $19.99 for most devices.

DomeSkins come in hundreds of designs suitable for everyone's personal style, while providing excellent value. DomeSkins are a blend of protection and contemporary style and are available for immediate purchase.

Speck CandyShell Flip Named Best Case for iPhone 5 by iLounge

PR: Following in the footsteps of its predecessor for iPhone 4S/4, Speck's CandyShell Flip for iPhone 5 has been named iPhone 5 Case of the Year by iLounge. The case combines Specks patented, dual-layer CandyShell design with a flip-back panel that gives easy access to the iPhone 5s Lightning port and headphone jack.

Speck CandyShell Flip Case for iPhone 5"Specks CandyShells keep winning Best of the Year Awards because they deserve them," says Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief of iLounge. "Having tested thousands of cases over the years, we really appreciate the fact that each new version improves in some way on its predecessors, and CandyShell Flip is the best iPhone 5 case yet. Slim, resilient, and very attractively designed, it provides excellent protection and works with every accessory around - important features that can't be taken for granted."

This is the third consecutive year Speck has been honored by iLounge. Last year, Specks CandyShell Flip for iPhone and CandyShell Wrap for iPad were both recognized. In 2011, Speck was awarded iPhone Case of the Year for the ever-popular PixelSkin HD.

"Being recognized by iLounge is one of the rewards for the time and energy we put into making the worlds best cases," says Irene Baran, CEO of Speck Products. "We very much admire iLounge for their commitment to coverage of, and excellence in, the industry, and I would like to thank them for this recognition. I'd also like to thank the team here at Speck for continuing to deliver the very best cases for protecting and personalizing the gadgets we love."

Speck's CandyShell Flip features a clever flip-back panel that lets you easily dock your iPhone or use accessories like Apple's Lightning to 30-pin adapter and DJ headphones without taking off the case. And just like the CandyShell case, it combines two layers of protection in a single-piece, pop-in construction. The strong exterior of the case guards against impact, while the soft, rubbery interior absorbs shock from occasional bumps and drops. A raised bezel keeps the screen safe and pristine, and rubberized covers shield buttons.

MapiCases Announces New iPhone 5 Leather Cases

PR: MapiCases announces 12 new styles of protective cases for the iPhone 5. Joining a wide selection of existing iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S cases, MapiCases introduces a variety of premium leather snap-on, belt holster, wallet, pouch and ultra slim cases specifically designed for the iPhone 5.

"With the launch of the new iPhone 5, we are excited to offer a new selection of protective, durable and stylish cases to our customers," says Emre Sener, CEO of MapiCases. "The new designs are made from moisture and dirt resistant leather that gets better with age and use. Our product line is truly leather like no other, making MapiCases stand apart from any other brand in the market."

The MapiCases iPhone 5 lineup consists of 12 new cases and one combo set:

  • Ainos Wallet Flip Case: The Ainos wallet case flips open to reveal an edgeless cover that allows complete access to the screen, making typing and texting easier than ever before. Three cardholder slots on back of the case store ID, cash, keys or cards safely and securely. The flip feature allows for both protection and complete access while your device is still secure inside the case.
  • Alinda Leather Belt Case for iPhone 5Alinda Leather Belt Case: The Alinda belt case is a sleek holster style cover with a sturdy leather bound belt clip that rotates 360¡ so users may orient the device at any angle. Strong magnets flap forward to secure your iPhone safely inside the soft, lined case.
  • Fits Slim and Soft Leather Pouch: The Fits is a leather pouch style case with a slim, sleek design that hugs tight to the iPhone 5 with easy access at any time. The leather pouch is lined with soft material to protect against bumps and scratches.
  • Myra Wallet Snap Case for iPhone 5Myra Wallet Snap Case: The Myra is an all-in-one wallet-style case with three pockets for conveniently holding money, credit cards and identification cards, as well as your device. It's a functional and stylish way to keep everything you need within reach without sacrificing complete access to your iPhone screen and controls.
  • Nais Belt Case: The Nais is a holster style belt clip case that provides convenient, safe and secure storage for your iPhone. The Nais sturdy and leather bound belt clip rotates 360¡ for easy access to the phone at any angle.
  • Nicea Book Case: The Nicea Book is a wallet-style, leather case that is lightweight and slim enough to be stored comfortably in most pockets. The Nicea opens like a book and reveals a pocket that is perfect for money and several business, banking or identification cards.
  • Olbia Slim Cardholder Case: The Olbia Cardholder is a slim pouch with the addition of three card/identification slots conveniently located on the back of the case. The premium leather outside and soft lining inside protects the iPhone from shocks and scratches.
  • Orion SmartCase: The smartest iPhone case yet, the Orion, offers a Smartcase style screen cover that rolls up into a phone stand to provide multiple viewing positions. Orions pivoting stand offers a handsfree portrait mode for video chatting or landscape mode for watching a video.
  • Parion Strap Case: The Parion is a slim, leather case that is sleek enough to slip into most pockets. The textured leather is accented with a fashionable cross-stitching and is lined with a soft fabric to prevent scratches and abrasions. The case comes with a ribbon strap that allows for easy access to the iPhone 5.
  • Simena Slim Pouch Case: The Simena pouch is an elegant slim case designed to fit into pockets and small bags. The saddle stitching along the seams matches the color of the leather for added style.
  • Smyrna Case: The Smyrna case features soft, glossy premium leather that provides protection of the device with a professional look and sleek, slim design.
  • Tion Wallet Slim Case: The Tion is a wallet case created for convenience with three slots on the back of the case to hold your credit, debit or ID cards firmly in place. Tions open face design offers easy viewing and access to all phone controls with the added convenience and utility of storage.
  • Alinda + Smyrna Combo Pack: The Alinda + Smyrna cases are designed to be used in conjunction for sleek, protective and functional coverage of the iPhone 5. The Smyrna fits tight to your phone, while the Alinda acts as a sturdy, holster-style case for further functionality.

MapiCases uses 100% high-quality European cowhide leather in all of its products, which are manufactured in Istanbul, Turkey. Cases are also available for other smartphones, as well as the iPad and many popular tablets.

The new MapiCases iPhone 5 cases are now available for preorder on MapiCases.com and through retailers such as Amazon.com. Prices range from $30 to $90.

LifeProof Frē Case Gives iPhone 5 Users Rugged Protection

PR: LifeProof have announced the LifeProof Frē, a waterproof, dirtproof, snowproof and shockproof case for the Apple iPhone 5. The most recent in a line of industry-defining cases, providing protection from Mother Nature as well as from drops, scratches, sweat, dirt and other hazards of daily living.

LifeProof Frē case for iPhone 5The LifeProof Frē was custom engineered to protect and enhance the thinner, more sensitive iPhone 5 and to optimize every feature and function, including the speakers, volume controls, larger touch screen, and enhanced Front and back cameras. The case protects the headphone jack and charge port, while ensuring they are fully accessible. Additionally, the case protects the speakers and microphones while actually improving the speaker sound, and the clear window on the back showcases the beauty of the AppleDesign.

LifeProof claims that the Frē went through independent lab testing to meet military standards for shock and impact protection, and has an IP-68 rating for water, dirt, and snow protection. In addition, every single LifeProof case is water-tested at the factory before shipping to customers. Yet the LifeProof case adds only 1.5mm of thickness to the footprint of the phone.

"Thanks to an army of engineers working 24/7 on three continents, the LifeProof Frē for iPhone 5 is our sleekest, most elegant case yet," says Gary Rayner, CEO of LifeProof. "We're extremely proud to be able to offer a first-class iPhone 5 case to the millions of users who want the Freedom to take their iPhone 5 everywhere their life, adventures or work takes them."

The LifeProof Frē comes in both black and white colors and is priced at $79.99. The LifeProof Frē is available exclusively at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile specialty stores nationwide and at lifeproof.com

LifeProof Frē for iPhone 5 Features:

  • Lightweight and sleek, weighs only 1.05 oz / 29.8 grams
  • Waterproof and fully submersible down to 6.6 feet / 2 meters.
  • Ingress protection rated to IP-68 and completely sealed from water and dust particles.
  • Shock proof to Military Standard 810F-516 to withstand drops from 6.6 feet / 2 meters.
  • LifeProof's CrystalClear double antireflective (AR) coated camera-grade glass lens delivers the sharpest images possible, with perfect camera flash operation.
  • LifeProof's ClearVoice system takes full advantage of the iPhone 5 microphone and Siri voice activation while in the case.
  • LifeProof's patent-pending Sound Enhancement System (SES) improves the bass and mid-frequency speaker response by utilizing the back of the case as a subwoofer for a richer, fuller sound.

Vitreo Tempered Glass Screen Protector Shields iPad 2-4 from Extreme Drops, Scratches, and Fingerprints

PR: Seidio has released one of its most protective screen guards yet: the Vitreo. Developed from tempered glass, this advanced iPad (3rd and 4th generations) and iPad 2 screen shield guarantees ultimate protection against everyday objects that could damage the device.

Vitreo offers extreme protection. It won't shatter, crack or bubble.

The high-grade tempered glass has a 9H hardness rating which means it prevents damage in the event of drops and scratches. Vitreo will absorb any impact thus safeguarding the iPad. Additionally, the oleophobic coating is resistant to the marks and smudges every iPad owner encounters on a daily basis. With the Vitreo, fingerprint marks will be greatly reduced leaving the glass shiny and clean.

Advanced technology combined with a thoughtful design ensures full protection but not at the expense of touch sensitivity or screen clarity. The tempered glass covers the entire iPad screen but will never interfere with functionality. Vitreo actually enhances the visual appearance and clarity of the screen.

Unlike those flimsy, plastic screen shields on the market, Vitreo will not bubble or lift at any time. It's easy to install or remove, and only adds .55mm in thickness. The Vitreo attaches to the iPad screen with a silicone adhesive. To install, simply push down on the center and it slowly adheres outward to the edges. The Vitreo does not leave behind any sticky residue when removed. The shield is compatible with Seidio's ACTIVE and EXPERT cases.

"Vitreo offers extreme protection. It won't shatter, crack or bubble," says David Chang, CEO of Seidio. "We [Seidio] put this shield through rigorous testing in order to ensure the safety of our consumers devices. It's got our own stamp of approval, and were confident you will give yours, too."

Vitreo retails for $69.95.

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