Apr 12 2010

RR Interviewed by Mobile Magazine

Now that the iPad has been unveiled to the public and in the hands of an elite few, what more speculation can we conjure about those crazy kids at Cupertino?  It just so happens that I got a call from Aaron Vronko at Rapid Repair.  As the service manager, Aaron and his team dissect roughly 500 iPhones and iPods per week.   Who better to speak on mythical Apple products than someone who rips their guts out all day?

He has a few thoughts on what the blogosphere has been creating, have a read after the jump.

MM: Hey Aaron, thanks for taking my call today, can you give me a bit of background info on you and Rapid Repair?

AV: Hey Fabrizio, I’m the service manager for Rapid Repair, our company was founded 6 years ago and we repair mobile devices, gadgets, ipods, iphones, zunes, video game consoles and handheld consoles. We get shipments from all over the world and repair close to 500 a week. We also contribute to our general knowledge-base by buying the latest gadgets, taking them apart, and putting out repair guides on our website.

MM: That’s great, thanks. So lets get down to business, what do you think Apple will do with the iPhone 4G?

AV: I think that the big changes to expect for the iPhone 4G (4G meaning 4th generation, not the network), in contrast to the iPhone 3GS, will be the exact opposite. The iPhone 3GS changes were focused on the hardware, the horsepower, the core of the device and the kind of performance it can offer. It was basically 95% the same phone as the 3G, just a faster version of it. With the iPhone 4G it will be more or less with the same hardware capabilities, but totally revising the design of it and heavily tweaking, revising and adding to the software functionality but not necessarily in the core applications, but in the most common periphery apps.

MM: Can you tell me more about what you think the direction will be with software?

AV: The thing that made the iPhone successful in the first place was that it did about four applications that everyone who wants a smartphone wants, and it did it better than anyone else ever had. Those four or five applications will be about the same, its just the next 80 or 90 they will improve functionality on.

MM: How do you think the iPhone 4G will be compared to the iPad in terms of platforms and hardware? Will there be any cross-platform integration?

AV: I think its interesting to see to what extent they want to integrate iBooks, they probably most likely want to avoid that. They’ve got another market they are trying to create with the iPad, trying to offer the same functionality on the iPhone, and with that small of a screen size is not that effective for reading books (even though I think they might bump the screen size on the iPhone 4G). I wouldn’t be surprised to see it more focused on reading periodicals, daily news, weekly news. Perhaps expanding on the content delivery that the iBooks content delivery will use. Which I think is a great move, that’s one big piece that the iPad is missing is just one killer app and that it’s not way better than any other device that has come before it.

MM: Well we don’t know that for sure just yet.

AV: Yeah, based on what was shown. It’s not a better e-Reader than Amazon’s Kindle, its not a better computer than the MacBook Air, so far there is not one thing that’s better than everything else.

MM: How about hardware?

AV: I do think the iPhone 4G will use the same processor that is in the iPad. The new Apple A4 as they call it, or it may be called the A3, when it comes down to the hardware it will be the same basic design. The CPU inside that application processor will be an ARM Cortex-A9, the graphics processor will be a PowerVR SGX, probably a 535 or 540. But what they will do, instead of running that CPU at the same clockspeed as the iPad, they will just underlock it to about 600Mhz on the iPhone 4G. The reason they would do that is to save significantly on power.

By comparison, the processor that is in the iPhone 3GS is also running at 600Mhz, the new processor set could easily be 25% more powerful even if they ran it at the same clock speed. In fact, they could even slow it down to 500Mhz and it would still be a more powerful processor set, and it would use maybe half the power as the iPhone 3GS processor and still get just as much done. And thats a result of using a newer and more powerful processor design. Largely due to using a smaller manufacturing process.

MM: Do you think Apple would open up the iPhone 4G for multitasking?

AV: No, I would say not. They didn’t indicate it in the iPad so I would think not. They won’t want to change it from the iPhone 3GS. They have a pretty good history in doing this with the iPods. In one cycle they change the design, the next cycle they beef up the hardware with kind of the same design, and then the next cycle they change the design again. The really good reason for that, which makes a lot of sense for phones, is every 2 or 3 years peoples contracts expire and they can get a new phone when that expires. So it makes sense for Apple to make a device with substantially different capabilities, but nothing more than that. If you make phones with substantially different capabilities every year, then you end up with too many classes of applications and too much confusion of compatibility.

MM: What do you think about these “touch-sensitive case” rumors?

AV: The touch sensing case rumors are interesting. A design concept I think Apple might be playing with, but not an enhancement that would be in the next iPhone, this sounds like something what would more suit the iPad. I believe they will however tweak multi-touch, so you can come up with new gestures, but nothing changed at the core. The case should be an aluminum uni-body.

MM: How about hardware specifics, what will be inside this iPhone 4G that we haven’t talked about?

AV: Memory will be at 512MB, the cost is right and I couldn’t see Apple staying at 256MB for the cost differences. I think storage capacity will be in the options of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. No removable battery, if the iPhone is thought of as having a 2 year life cycle. On a 2 year basis most people are reasonably happy with their battery life.

MM: When do you think Apple will release the iPhone 4G?

AV: I would expect it to be close to the typical annual release, unless there is something groundbreaking that no one would expect there’s no reason that it couldn’t be out. The iPad is going to be out in March with that processor already on display, so processor production shouldn’t really hold them up. But they will need more for iPhone’s, I would say early June to mid-July. Whoever the fabricator is for the iPad A4 chip, will be the fabricator for the iPhone A4 chip. OLED screens are already available in the size Apple would want to use, the only thing they may want to be waiting on is Samsungs newer generation of OLED screens which are 25% brighter. They are in the mobiel handset form factor where you might get a reasonable level of performance in direct sunlight.

MM: What will it cost?

AV: It’s going to be the same or less. Certainly not more, $99, $199 and $299 are the most likely targets. Going any lower to that doesn’t net them any additional sales and thats the price point for most mobile phones, and they could make a killing on it because they are not upgrading most of the hardware inside, its a year later and a year cheaper and for the same price.

MM: There are rumors of video conferencing, what are your thoughts on that?

AV: I don’t think Apple is convinced that the customer they design for (North Americans) demand this feature.  Our mobile networks, (especially the beleaguered AT&T) are nowhere near ready to handle the heavy network demand and usage of these technologies, meaning it would be a WiFi only app and Apple doesn’t want to make their headline feature one that “just works… sometimes.”

MM: Anything else you might want to touch on, perhaps gaming, whats it all really about?

AV: I think its more about design and form factor, not performance on this. They are using newer chips, but thats mainly to increase battery life. Thats the trade off, you can increase battery life and increase performance with some level of trade off. I think you could see some pretty awesome games and battery life. If they use an OLED screen with the A4 chip, clock it all the way down to 500 or 600MHz, you could double the battery life in pretty much all applications from what the iPhone 3GS was. Or they could make the battery smaller and take it off the size and weight of the device with still a 50% increase.

MM: Well Aaron, thank you for your time and our readers will definitely appreciate your thoughts on this.

The original article can be found here.


Apr 3 2010

iPad Repair Guide

Stay tuned for a shocking tear down of the new Apple iPad.



Mar 2 2010

RR Owner Talks iPhone 4G

Aaron Vronko

With all the hype over Apple (NSDQ: AAPL)’s iPad announcement now behind us, Apple-eyes have now turned their attention to what might be on the docket for the anticipated release of iPhone 4G. We’ve torn down and rebuilt thousands of iPhones over the last few years and talked with scores of customers about how they’re using it and what’s important—and not important—to them. Based on Apple’s past patterns of gadget refreshes plus the design and hardware unveiled in the iPad, here are our predictions for what we can expect from the iPhone 4G, which is likely to drop sometime early this summer.

Redesigned aluminum unibody styling

Starting with its iPods, Apple has settled into a fairly predictable pattern of releasing a physical redesign one year and hardware performance upgrade the next. The venerable iPhone 3G embodied the total design overhaul (while keeping hardware performance nearly unchanged.)  A year later, the 3Gs came as an identical twin, but with a surge in performance due to a faster CPU, graphics processor and upgrades to even the minor chips. Since third-party iPhone apps and users are just starting to really take advantage of the new power from the 3Gs, it’s unlikely Apple is ready splinter it’s market again by upgrading performance in the 4th generation iPhone (aka iPhone 4G.)   The 4G’s new cutting edge energy sipping chips will instead be used to make a slimmer and sleeker exterior design of the Mac unibody styling, similar to the iPad with a single piece of aluminum casing with single glass front panel.

Chip change

Apple will likely integrate its new A4 chip into the iPhone 4G, albeit a clocked-down version to meet performance demands without unnecessarily sapping battery power. The 1Ghz A4 for iPad will likely be underclocked to around 600Mhz—ample horsepower for a device that doesn’t support multitasking. Besides, from a marketing perspective, Apple must leave a market segment for the iPad to have a unique purpose. To launch an iPhone with nearly identical hardware capabilities would undermine the company’s own market leadership and complicate the app store with three tiers of iPhone/iTouch app performance.

OLED screen

As much as they might have liked to put an OLED on board the iPad, the technology and manufacturing was at least six months away in displays of 7 inches or more. For the iPhone 4G, however, an OLED screen makes perfect sense. OLED screens up to 5” have been popping up in most of the latest class of new gadgets since late 2009.  While the current class of OLEDs can be hard to view in direct sunlight, Samsung has announced the first production runs of its new Super AM-OLED screens that are 25% brighter and may finally be a solid option for daylight use. Samsung has been a major supplier for Apple’s mobile devices in recent years and may be keen to preserve that revenue stream and showcase their lead in OLED screen tech with Apple as the first OEM customer with its new screen.

Improved secondary/tertiary app performance

The iPhone’s 4 or 5 headline functions (docked apps) likely won’t change much on a 4G version, but we are likely to see some changes to the secondary apps (the ones that come with every phone, but aren’t docked.)

A revamped developer’s kit

Apple’s been wise about cultivating the app industry it’s created, so last year Apple was careful not to alienate older iPhone users when they unveiled apps with superior performance on a 3Gs.  This cautious step forward left many developers content to code for the lowest common denominator (iPhone 2G) for an easier. The iPhone 4G launch will likely bring with it a focus on tweaking the developer’s kit and store so that app developers are empowered and encouraged to leverage the 3Gs and 4G capabilities for more powerful, engaging, and useful apps.    This year Apple will be keen to retain its leadership position by putting the focus on apps that require a 3Gs or better for full function.

Not going to happen

No discussion of predicted iPhone 4G features would be complete without the one it likely will not have: a front-facing web cam. Yep, you read that right: despite lots of rumors that video chat is coming, it just doesn’t seem plausible—yet. The fact is that North American networks simply are nowhere near capable of handling the demand. AT&T (NYSE: T) already takes considerable heat for its lack of capacity to handle iPhone traffic. When it debuts, video chat will be a headline feature for the iPhone, but Apple won’t do that if, “it just works… sometimes.”

There is, however, much greater demand and capacity for video chat in the European and Asian markets to the extent that phones without it may be seen as old tech. This begs the question: could an international version of the iPhone be on the horizon?

Editor’s note: We’ll know more about the iPhone 4G – or whatever Apple decides to call their next-generation iPhone – in the coming months. Stay tuned!

About the Author

Aaron Vronko is the founder and service manager at Rapid Repair, the most well-known and reputable national online repair service for digital electronics, including the iPhone, iPod and more. The company dissects more than 500 devices every week at its repair shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. For more information, visit www.rapidrepair.com.

The original article can be found here.


Jan 28 2010

Apple iPad Repair Parts

After the Apple iPad announcement, we received a lot of questions about the potential of this device to be repaired. We are not sure how complex this device is, or how modular the replacement parts will be. What we do know is that we will support all models of the Apple iPad for repairs and diagnostics. Judging by the design, we are sure that there will be several replaceable parts such as the iPad LED back-lit screen, iPad mainboard, iPad battery, and more.

iPad repair, iPad screen repair, iPad parts, iPad battery upgrade, iPad memory upgrade, iPad headphone jack replacement.

As you can see, the iPad looks like an iPod touch on steroids.   Just a larger version with the assumption that most parts inside will be serviceable.

Check back for our tear-down guide when the iPad is released, we will have detailed info on how to repair the iPad Wifi + 3G model & the iPad wifi only model.

Please discuss the iPad in our forums: http://www.rapidrepair.com/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=41

iPad repair parts will be located on our site: http://www.rapidrepair.com/shop/apple-ipad-repair.html

Here’s a list of the iPad’s features:

  • Storage: 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive
  • Size: 9.5 x 7.5 inches; 0.5 inch thick
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds Wi-Fi + 3G model
  • Battery: Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer 10 hour battery
  • Processor: 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
  • Network: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
  • External Monitor: Support for 1024 x 768 with Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Composite A/V Cable, 576i and 480i with Apple Composite A/V Cable
  • Audio: supported formats include AAC (up 320 Kbps), Protected AAC, MP3 (up to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • Processor: 1GHz Apple A4 high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
  • Display: 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • Input and Output: Dock connector, 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack, Built-in speakers, Microphone, SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)


Jan 16 2010

Talking Tablets with Rapid Repair

As the clock ticks slowly towards the introduction of the Apple tablet, a lot of people are speculating on what the device design will be like. TUAW recently spent some time interviewing Aaron Vronko, Service Manager for RapidRepair. RapidRepair, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has repaired and provided parts for all sorts of electronic gadgetry over the last six years, but Apple iPhones and iPods make up the bulk of their business.

As an expert in the technology used in Apple’s products, Vronko has gleaned information from various sources — including component suppliers, industry trends, and just plain rumors — and has come up with his best estimate of what we’ll see in an Apple tablet.

What will it be used for, and what kind of OS will it run?

Aaron’s comments in this area mirrored my personal thoughts about the tablet. “It just doesn’t make sense as a ‘larger iPhone’,” said Vronko. “Considering the size and the expense of the device, the tablet will need to converge towards light productivity functions and replace a netbook or compact laptop. To do this, the device must be able to run Office-type apps that are accessed in a meaningful way, and the only way a tablet can do this is through easy user input. People buy solutions, not devices, and the tablet is going to have to fulfill a need that the target market has.”

Aaron continued, saying “User input will have to be the biggest surprise from Apple. Perhaps we’ll see 3D gestures for more useful input, or some sort of split on-screen touch keyboard. The virtual keyboard was the real innovation of the iPhone; the tablet needs to bring this to the next level.”

Vronko doesn’t think the Apple tablet will include a stylus. “Steve Jobs made the comment during the 2007 iPhone introduction that the stylus is the caveman’s tool for data entry. That being said, to date a stylus is the fastest, most efficient input method you could use, but you’d have to back it up with a very strong word-and-phrase-based handwriting recognition engine, so the system learns you, not the other way around. I personally hope that Apple comes out with something totally different and unexpected,” Aaron said.

The idea of a hybrid OS, “about 70% iPhone OS, about 30% Mac OS X,” made sense to Vronko. “From the standpoint of applications and app distribution, Apple’s in love with the iPhone model app model for its smooth and simple user experience and quality control. But for the light productivity functions we’re talking about, the tablet will need a more Mac OS X-like model for multitasking and the file system.”

The profile of the tablet

First, Vronko believes that the device will be slightly thicker than an iPhone. “Given chip components packed onto a single board, the size of the battery required, and the thickness of the display module, the profile can easily be in the 15 – 20 mm range,” noted Vronko. The iPhone 3GS is 12.3 mm thick by comparison.

Weight-wise, he believes that the device would be just under 2 pounds [0.9 kg] for a 10 inch [25 cm] model, about 1.5 pounds [0.7kg] for a 7 inch [18 cm] unit. The weights assume that Apple continues to use aluminum casings for their products.

“A two-pound tablet isn’t something that you’re just going to be able to put into a pocket, so there’s going to be a big market for carrying cases that are smaller than laptop cases,” Aaron noted. “You’d almost want an integrated stand built into the tablet for certain purposes, but if it’s not used all the time, it’s unlikely that Apple would add it to the tablet. They’re all about making sure that the ‘headline’ features of the device are built-in and don’t require a separate accessory or add-on.”

The display

Vronko thinks that there will be two different models. However, “judging from the availability of display components, there’s a good possibility that one could launch before the other. A 7″ model with an OLED display suitable for a touchscreen device could launch as soon as March, while it would take until the 3rd quarter of 2010 before large quantities of 10″ OLED screens for mobile use become available,” said Vronko.

OLED (Organic LED) displays make some sense. Vronko noted that using current LCD technology, a tablet would achieve battery life in the 4 to 5 hour range during video playback. OLED technology reduces power consumption by anywhere from 40 to 75% depending on the usage, which would stretch battery life significantly. Vronko continued, “The device OS would need to play to the strengths of the OLED technology. Using dark backgrounds with white lettering for an e-reader app, for example, would make more sense than a paper-white background with black lettering.” OLEDs are substantially more expensive than the older tech, though.

Vronko cited Pixel Qi’s screens as a breakthrough technology that Apple could be considering for the tablet. These screens, which are now in their first production run in a 10″ size, have the readability of the E Ink displays currently available on most e-reader devices, but have the fully-saturated color and video refresh of LCD displays as well. “Using a technology of this type for an e-reader application, the tablet could easily reach 25 – 30 hour battery life,” said Vronko.

The only problem with this theory is that industry buzz doesn’t indicate that Apple has hooked up with Pixel Qi or another manufacturer with an e-paper technology of this type.

I wondered aloud if the tablet might have a removable battery pack. Since RapidRepair does a lot of iPod and iPhone battery replacements, Aaron had some thoughts on that possibility. “With the iPod and iPhone, about 80% of people feel that they still have adequate battery life up to about two years. After that point, many want to have the battery replaced. For an inexpensive device like an iPod or a bi-annually subsidized iPhone, many choose to replace the device instead of just the battery. A more expensive tablet might need to have either a user-replaceable battery pack or a way of quickly replacing the pack in a store, since people won’t want to replace the tablet and will be less apt to want to be separated from the device.”

The processors

The core hardware of the device is extremely important, says Vronko, since the existing CPU / GPU combination used in the iPhone 3GS simply doesn’t have the power to drive the larger display of the tablet. “If the tablet is going to be used for productivity tasks,” noted Aaron, “it’s going to need multitasking and that will take at least 1–2 GB of RAM, much more than the 256 MB currently in the iPhone 3GS.”

Instead, something like the NVIDIA Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip with two ARM Cortex A9 CPU cores would most likely power the tablet. “Of course, we have to remember that Apple bought PA Semi, and it could be the perfect time for this division to unveil Apple’s own System-on-a Chip (SoC) design based around the ARM Cortex A9 CPU and Imagination PowerVR SGX545 GPU,” said Vronko. “The SGX540 or SGX545 would be the minimum GPU to drive the number of pixels in this size display, and would allow 3D gaming without clipping or slow frame rates.”

Vronko called for the tablet to have hardware acceleration for HD video with HD encoder and decoder processors likely integrated into the SoC. In his opinion, 720p record / display is a given, and even 1080p could be within the realm of possibility. However, “It’s not likely that Apple would build in mini or micro HDMI output to an HD display, but this could be a solution supplied by a third party.”


“I can’t see the tablet being used as a phone,” said Aaron. “First, the size is out of proportion to what people are used to. Second, if it’s being used for light productivity tasks, it will be used for a longer amount of time than a phone. Without having to have the radio be in constant contact with the 3G network for voice purposes, the battery should last much longer.”

That being said, we agreed that Wi-Fi would be the predominant form of network connectivity for a tablet, but that an option for 3G with a data plan is a must. “This device will provide a really incredible mobile browsing capability, the full internet,” noted Vronko. “A 3G plan is going to be needed for downloading books, newspapers, apps, and music while on the go.”

We also agreed that an announcement by Apple of a cloud-based iWork could be another piece of the puzzle, providing the “light productivity tools” that Aaron was describing, while making ubiquitous access to the resulting documents easy. Vronko noted that this could be something that Apple or a wireless carrier could easily build into the monthly cost of a data plan.

The final word

Aaron’s obviously feeling confident that the tablet is imminent, as the RapidRepair website has a link for “Apple tablet iSlate repair” accompanied by a forum for discussing the device.

As with any conjecture like this, there are some places where Aaron Vronko will be right on the money, and some others where his ideas will be way off base. However, he’s agreed to do a followup interview to talk about the real tablet whenever it is finally announced. At that time, we may consider a liveblog so that you can ask Aaron your questions about the new device.

The original article can be found here.


Oct 14 2009

RR Offers Cash for your iPhone!

Leading iPod/iPhone Repair Company Pays Top Dollar for Fully Functional, First-Generation iPhones; Guaranteed Prices, Shipping Included KALAMAZOO, Mich., Oct. 14

KALAMAZOO, Mich., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ — Rapid Repair, the most well-known and reputable national online repair service for portable electronics like the iPod, Zune and iPhone, has unveiled its iPhone Buyback Program, giving first-generation iPhone owners a new option for generating the
funds needed to trade up to the new 3G Apple iPhone — or just for turning their iPhone into cash.

“Lots of 1G iPhone owners are excited about the 3G — but they don’t know what to do with their current device,” said Aaron Vronko, CEO, co-founder and service manager of Rapid Repair. “Our iPhone Buyback Program is a unique alternative to eBay, Craig’s List or other self-directed sales channel. It’s fast, simple, and best of all, our prices are both fair and guaranteed.”

Rapid Repair’s iPhone Buyback Program pays top dollar for fully-functional iPhones. Current prices range from $100 for the 4GB model to $200 for the 16GB (prices subject to change). Upon contacting Rapid Repair and qualifying for the program, an overnight shipping label is immediately sent to the seller to cover the cost of mail-in.

Furthermore, Rapid Repair guarantees its buyback price for up to 14 days. “If for any reason our price changes, either up or down, during the two weeks after the seller contacts us, we will still pay them the higher price,” stated Vronko.

Currently there is no trade-in option for iPhone owners at any iPhone retailer. “Apple and AT&T do not accept trade-ins. Best Buy is not expected to accept 1G iPhones either,” said Vronko. “To our knowledge, Rapid Repair’s Buyback Program is the only such program from a reputable company.”

To take advantage of the Rapid Repair iPhone Buyback Program, interested individuals should go to the program Web page at http://www.rapidrepair.com/iphonebuybackprogram.html. After filling out a
short form, a Rapid Repair sales associate will contact the individual with the information he or she will need to mail in their device. Rapid Repair will accept all standard accessories included with the original iPhone device; no offers are currently available for aftermarket accessories.

For those individuals with a broken or damaged iPhone, Rapid Repair offers an iPhone repair service as well as a full line of iPhone replacement parts. The company also buys damaged iPhones and will soon begin selling used, fully-functional iPhones equipped with 90-day unconditional warranties. To
learn more about Rapid Repair’s sales and service programs for iPhones, iPods and other handheld devices, go to http://www.rapidrepair.com.

About Rapid Repair:
Rapid Repair is dedicated to the service, repair, and modification of all iPod, iPhone, Zune, and other small electronic devices. The national company specializes in small electronics repair, with quality workmanship, speed and efficiency, and offering customer service that is second to none. Rapid
Repair is headquartered in a 3,000 square foot building in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with 15 employees.

iPod and iPhone are registered trademarks of Apple. Other products and trade names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE Rapid Repair

The original article can be found here.


Oct 6 2009

Inside a PSP Go


The folks at Rapid Repair recently took apart a new PSP Go, and took a look at its insides.  The instructions are on their website complete with a bunch of pictures.  You can click on them and see all the details.  If you are doing a repair on your PSP Go (read this statement:  IF YOU ARE DOING A REPAIR, YOU WILL INVALIDATE YOUR WARRANTY), check there for the step by step on how to crack it open without busting it.


The original article can be found here.


Sep 21 2009

Teardown Provides Close Look Inside Microsoft`s Zune HD


Rapid Repair is generally in the business of fixing iPods. But when Microsoft released the slick little Zune HD music player on Sept. 16, Rapid Repair promptly tore one apart to take a look at its insides. The Zune HD’s most highly touted features are its touch-screen—which Rapid Repair advises against marring up with fingerprints, once you pull it off its frame—HD Radio, a Web browser with an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, wireless connectivity, a Quickplay feature that offers shortcuts to favorite apps, and support for 720-pixel HD movies, TV and videos. The 32GB model is capable of storing 8,000 songs or 10 hours of HD video from the Zune Marketplace. In all, Rapid Repair found the Zune HD to share a few features with the Apple iPod Touch and Nano, and applauded its very replaceable parts—perfect for butter-fingered users.

Please see link below for full video of teardown.

The original article can be found here.


Jun 30 2009

“Small number” of iPhone 3GS users complain of overheating handsets

One user said he was surprised but not overly concerned by his “warm-to-pretty-hot” iPhone, while another said her 3GS got so hot that she was afraid to hold it up against her face. Is a recall in order?The story first cropped over the weekend, with a few owners of the white iPhone 3GS noticing that their handsets were running a bit too hot—so hot, in fact, that brownish patches (scorch marks?) were starting to appear on the glossy white backs of their phones.

Then a few tech editors began feeling the heat. Melissa J. Perenson of PC World wrote that her black iPhone 3GS got “very, very hot” if she used it while it was plugged into its AC charger—indeed, “toasty doesn’t even describe hot surprisingly hot it got … it was too hot to even put the phone against my face.”

Next, cranky PC World columnist David Coursey noticed that his iPhone felt “warm-to-pretty-hot” on “several occasions,” although he doesn’t feel the overheating problems are “terribly serious, just surprising.” Meanwhile, a MacNN writer with a white iPhone 3GS “encountered the [overheating] problem independently,” and confirmed some “discoloration” on the back.

Wired’s Gadget Lab talked to Aaron Vronko of Rapid Repair, who thinks “faulty battery cells” are the problem and that a recall might be necessary. “If you have a problem in the design of a series of batteries, it’s probably going to be spread to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, and maybe more,” Vronko told Wired.

OK, but how widespread is the problem, really? Hard to say. For its part, Wired pegs the figure at a “small number.” I have the black 32GB iPhone 3GS, and so far I haven’t noticed any overheating problems at all (or at least nothing out of the ordinary). I also did a quick check of the support forums on Apple.com and Macrumors and only found a few sporadic threads—in fact, I’d say people are more upset about the 3GS’s battery life than overheating issues.

Still, you never know, and the problem might blow up in Apple’s face—literally—if someone’s iPhone 3GS battery explodes.

As Coursey writes, “A mass iPhone recall isn’t likely, but it isn’t impossible, either. Just see what happens if an iPhone catches fire.” Well said.

So, any iPhone 3GS owners out there having any overheating problems? Seeing any brown discoloration on the while model? Let us know.

The original article can be found here.


Jun 29 2009

RR Discusses iPhone 3G S Battery Issues

Just a week after the release of Apple’s new iPhone, a few owners have complained about the handset’s high temperatures, which in some cases are high enough to start browning the white plastic on the back of the phone.

Only a small number of iPhone 3GS customers have reported their handsets are reaching very high temperatures. But because more than a million iPhone 3GSes were sold in the first weekend, the issue could put tens of thousands of new iPhones at risk, a component specialist told Wired.com.

Aaron Vronko of Rapid Repair, which performs teardowns of iPhones and iPods, said overheating is likely an issue due to faulty battery cells, and said he expected it could spur a recall of up to hundreds of thousands of iPhone 3GS units.

“My guess is there’s going to be a whole lot of batteries affected because these [iPhones] are from very large production runs,” Vronko said. “If you have a problem in the design of a series of batteries, it’s probably going to be spread to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, and maybe more.”

Apple has not returned phone calls and e-mails requesting comment on the reports.

Of all hardware-related failures, overheating batteries have historically posed the greatest safety risks — in extreme cases causing fires, exploding and even killing consumers. The issues of overheating batteries are typically traced to faulty battery cells provided by a component supplier.

Apple products in the past have had battery-related woes. In 2006, Apple issued a recall for iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 notebooks, because their batteries contained cells provided by Sony that were causing some batteries to explode.

Also, Apple in August 2008 issued a recall for defective iPod Nanos, which caused three fires in Japan. In that incident, Apple said only 0.001 percent of iPod Nanos were affected. Even so, that’s still a large number of consumers, considering the millions of iPods sold.

Over the past weekend, a small number of iPhone 3GS owners reported in forums and on blogs that their handsets were reaching oddly high temperatures. The issue was most visible in white iPhones, which were turning brown as a result of the high heat (right).

“At some point, I became aware the handset had become very hot,” wrote Melissa Perinson, senior editor of PC World, who felt high temperatures while gaming and browsing the web on her iPhone 3GS. “Very, very hot — not just on the back, but the entire length of the front face, too…. Toasty doesn’t even describe how surprisingly hot it got. It was too hot to even put the phone against my face.”

Vronko said the iPhone 3GS’s heat problem is evidently tied to the battery, because the pictures of discolored white iPhones reveal the outline of the battery. He noted that although thousands of iPhone 3GS users probably own defective handsets, the risk of causing fire or explosion is low because the iPhone’s battery cell is extremely small.

“[An overheating iPhone] is much less dangerous than a laptop,” Vronko said. “It’s extremely rare for a cellphone battery to explode. A little bit of smoke eventually is probably the best bet.”

He stressed, however, that overheating will more likely cause complete failure of the iPhone 3GS over time. When a battery overheats, it’s getting a runaway reaction that produces gas, causing expansion to occur inside the sealed battery. This expansion puts pressure on components, damaging them and eventually killing the iPhone.

Wired.com polled iPhone 3GS owners via Twitter asking if they were experiencing any problems with their new handsets. Only one out of 21 respondents said his iPhone 3GS felt like it was overheating.

Eleven of those respondents, however, reported the iPhone 3GS had poor battery life — even shorter than its predecessor — a different topic Wired.com will investigate soon.

Wired.com will continue examining the iPhone 3GS’s battery issues and keep you posted. Look forward to a battery test comparing the new iPhone to its predecessor in the near future. Meanwhile, e-mail any of your iPhone 3GS-related problems to Brian_Chen [at] Wired [dot] com.

The original article can be found here.