September 18, 2018

Tesla ends free Supercharger access for new Model S and Model X buyers

It may seem like ages ago, but one of the longstanding knocks against electric cars used to center on "range anxiety," the idea that an electric car owner could potentially find themselves completely out of juice and stranded without a charging station in sight. With that said, one of the smartest things Tesla did was rapidly roll out a network of charging stations at strategic locations all across the United States and, more recently, across the globe. As a result, Tesla owners these days can easily travel across the country without having to worry about where they'll be able to charge up mid-journey. Over the past few years, though, Tesla sales have exploded. In turn, Supercharging stations have become increasingly congested, despite Tesla's best efforts to significantly expand its network. Indeed, Tesla just last year announced a plan to double its charging network in order to accommodate the Model 3. With demand for fast-charging on the rise, Tesla last year relayed that Model 3 owners would not have access to unlimited charging. And though Model S and Model X owners have long enjoyed free charging, Engadget is reporting that free charging is no longer an option for all new Tesla buyers. The report reads in part:
The end to the offer isn't surprising, even with Tesla's repeated extensions. Superchargers may cost you less than filling up a gas-powered car, but they're still expensive to operate -- Tesla had to factor the cost of Supercharging into every sale when the perk was free for every buyer. And when the automaker is still bleeding cash, it's likely determined to cut costs and boost revenue whenever possible.
To be clear, current Tesla owners who previously enjoyed unlimited charging will still be able to do so as long a they hold onto their vehicle and don't sell it. As Tesla notes on its website: "Free unlimited Supercharging and Supercharging credits will only apply to the original vehicle owner and only for the duration of original vehicle ownership."
September 18, 2018

Report sheds light on why the iPhone XR won’t launch until the end of October

Last year, Apple's flagship iPhone -- the iPhone X -- didn't launch until early November, a good month and a half after the company's iPhone 8 models hit store shelves. This year, we heard rumors that Apple was planning to start mass production earlier than usual as to launch all three of its new iPhone models at the same time and avoid frustrating delays. Alas, the delayed launch bug hit Apple yet again this year, with the company last week revealing that the iPhone XR -- a device which will likely be the most popular iPhone model -- won't hit store shelves until the end of October. The iPhone XR launch date caught many by surprise, if only because the XS models boast more advanced technologies that presumably require a more complex assembly process. That said, it's only reasonable to wonder why the iPhone XR in particular will launch later than both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. As it turns out, the answer is quite simple: Apple's manufacturing partners already have a full year of experience with respect to manufacturing devices with edgeless OLED displays. The iPhone XR's nearly edgeless LCD display, meanwhile, posed a unique set of challenges. Touching on this point, The Verge recently spoke to Ryan Reith of IDC who relayed that Apple had to work out some last-minute software issues which impacted the quality of the displays along with the issues involving production of the panels themselves.
Everything we’ve been hearing, it’s been an issue on the software side. There’s a lot of software involved with the LCD screen, as it’s the first [LCD display] with a notch and full screen. Apple could not get enough of these displays. It’s run into last-minute kinks with the contact manufacturer.
In short, the iPhone XR's LCD display is the apparent cause for the delay. Once the devices hit store shelves, we can only hope that supply is plentiful enough such that consumers can pick up the exact model they want no matter the color. iPhone XR pre-orders will open up on October 19 ahead of an official launch on October 26.
September 17, 2018

Top Apple insider: iPhone XS interest is weaker than expected as Apple Watch S4 demand soars

Not even a week removed from Apple's special event, Ming-Chi Kuo is already out with a new investor note (via MacRumors) detailing how pre-orders for Apple's newly unveiled devices are stacking up. Staring out with the iPhone, Kuo relays that demand for the iPhone XS has been somewhat lackluster thus far. Hardly a major point of concern, Kuo explains that most consumers are either opting for the iPhone XS Max or the far more affordable iPhone XR. Incidentally, iPhone XS Max demand is reportedly in line with Apple's internal projections. As a quick aside, it's a shame the iPhone XR isn't launching until October as the device offers most of the iPhone XS' feature set at a much more affordable price point. For what it's worth, the XR launch was delayed amid rumors that Apple just recently managed to rectify early production issues involving the device's LCD display. That said, hopefully supply won't be much of an issue once the device hits store shelves in just a few weeks. Kuo's note reads in part:
There is strong Chinese demand thanks to the gold casing, dual-SIM, and large display. The XS Max average shipping time is shorter than the 2H17 iPhone X (1–2 weeks vs. 2–3 weeks), which we think is due to supply improvements. We maintain our forecasts that the XS Max will account for 25–30% of 2H18 new iPhone model shipments.
All told, Kuo believes that Apple's iPhone XR will account for upwards of 60% of Apple's iPhone sales. In other words, the iPhone XS could very well be the least popular iPhone model this year. Beyond the iPhone, the new Apple Watch Series 4 appears to be resonating with consumers in a big way. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that a) interest in the Apple Watch has been steadily increasing with each passing year and b) the Apple Watch Series 4 represents the most significant redesign to Apple's wearable since the device first launched a few years ago. Truth be told, the Apple Watch Series 4 is so compelling that I'm a little bit surprised Apple kicked off last week's keynote with it. Arguably, the updated wearable -- which features a significantly larger display, significantly faster internals, ECG support, and more -- is such an improvement over previous models that it could have justifiably been unveiled with Apple's iconic "one more thing" introduction.
September 14, 2018

LG will help supply OLED panels for Apple’s iPhone XS models

Samsung's reign as the sole supplier of OLED panels for Apple's iPhone X models has reportedly come to an end. According to a report from The Korea Herald, Apple has tapped LG as a secondary supplier of OLED panels for the recently unveiled iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Hardly a surprise, there have been a few reports over the past few months indicating that Apple was keen on lessening its reliance on Samsung. Indeed, Apple reportedly wanted to use LG panels for last year's iPhone X before finding that the company's panels weren't up to par with Samsung's. With word that LG is now a partner with Apple, it stands to reason that the company's OLED panels have improved such that they can now pass Apple's rigorous technical requirements. The report reads in part:
The sources said LGD’s sixth-generation flexible OLED panels recently passed a series of Apple’s quality tests. In addition, the display company is preparing to begin mass-production of OLED panels at two manufacturing lines of its E6 plant, which have been operational only for a test run until recently.
With displays typically comprising the most expensive part of a smartphone, Apple's new OLED partnership with LG should help the company keep costs down. Equally as important, having two OLED suppliers means that Apple won't be stuck in as much of a bind in the event that production issues arise at either Samsung or LG. Incidentally, a speculative report that surfaced this past July claimed that LG will initially supply Apple with upwards of 5 million OLED panels. In other words, the OLED split between Samsung and LG will certainly not be anywhere close to 50/50 anytime soon as Samsung will continue to do most of the heavy lifting.
September 13, 2018

Tim Cook: iPhone XR and XS pricing is designed to ‘serve everyone’

Apple yesterday, as expected, released a trio of new iPhone models, a lineup which includes the 6.1-inch iPhone XR, the 5.8-inch iPhone Xs, and the massive iPhone Xs Max. As to how the devices are priced, the entry-level Xr is priced at $749, while the more premium Xs models are priced at $999 and $1099, respectively. Of course, the prices really get crazy if you're keen on maxing out your storage, with the 512GB model of the iPhone Xs Max boasting a jaw-dropping sticker price of $1,449. While the entry-level price on the iPhone Xr is a tad higher than some analysts were anticipating, it's still low enough as to not price out current iPhone owners interested in upgrading. And while the Xs models are certainly expensive, the success of last year's iPhone X clearly demonstrates that many iPhone users are more than willing to pay a premium for Apple's more advanced technologies. Speaking to Apple's 2018 pricing strategy, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently explained that Apple overarching goal is to offer iPhone models in a wide range of price points. "We want to serve everyone," Cook explained in a somewhat short interview with Nikkei. "We understand that there is a wide range of what customers are looking for and a wide range of prices that people will pay." It's worth noting, though, that Apple yesterday discontinued the iPhone SE, and in turn, did away with its cheapest iPhone option. Recall, the compact iPhone SE retailed for just $349. With Apple's current iPhone lineup, the cheapest model available is the 2016 iPhone 7 which now starts at $449. As for the pricey iPhone Xs models, Cook's answer was on-brand per usual: "We always thought ... that if you provide a lot of innovation and a lot of value, there is a segment of people who are willing to pay for it. For us, it's a large enough group of people that we can make a reasonable business out of it." Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if Apple next year will be able to break its existing iPhone sales record of 231.2 million units which was set back in 2015.
September 13, 2018

Apple just killed the iPhone X, the iPhone SE, and the iPhone 6s

Apple's special media event is now in the books and, per usual, there's a whole lot to pore over. From the intriguing new design of the Apple Watch Series 4 to Apple's 2018 iPhone lineup, Apple today set the table for what may very well be the company's most lucrative holiday quarter in history. The only potential hiccup to a record-breaking quarter is the fact that the iPhone XS won't launch until October. Apple's new products aside, it's worth noting that Apple today seemingly axed a number of existing iPhones from its product lineup. When Apple's online store came back online following today's keynote, a number of devices were conspicuously missing, including the iPhone SE, the iPhone 6s and the iPhone X. Now the fact that the iPhone 6s was removed from Apple's online store is certainly no surprise given that the device is now about three years old. Even the fact that Apple discontinued last year's iPhone X shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that the new iPhone XS seemingly serves as an entry-level option for consumers eager to pick up a new device without necessarily breaking the bank. What's more, reports going back a few months relayed that Apple had plans to completely eliminate the 2017 iPhone X from its product line. What is surprising, though, is Apple's decision to eliminate the iPhone SE altogether. Though the iPhone SE is more than two years old at this point, the device is beloved by a small but vocal user base who simply prefer a smaller form factor at an extremely affordable price point. Indeed, even Apple executives remarked that the iPhone SE was markedly more popular than they initially anticipated when the device first launched back in March of 2016. While Apple will hopefully release an iPhone SE 2 some time within the next few months, there's certainly no guarantee. There have been rumblings that Apple is primarily focused on ramping up production of the XS and XR models and that an update to the iPhone SE is the least of the company's worries at the moment. In a worst-case scenario, the iPhone SE will mark the last compact iPhone model to ever appear in an Apple store.
September 12, 2018

The iPhone Xr, Xs, and Xs Max will not include a Lightning to headphone jack adapter

Apple's iPhone 7 famously shipped without a 3.5mm headphone jack, a design decision that was incredibly controversial at the time. Though Apple categorized the decision as "courageous," many loudly protested that the design was decidedly user-unfriendly and that Apple's obsession with creating increasingly thinner devices had gone one step too far. While the distress caused by the iPhone 7 design was understandable, the removal of the tried and true headphone jack didn't really do much to impact sales. This was due, in part, to the fact that Apple shipped a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter with every iPhone 7, thus providing users who can't stand Apple's proprietary headphones with an easy way to still use their existing headphones. Now, two years since the iPhone 7 first shipped, Apple will no longer be providing iPhone buyers with a free 3.5mm headphone jack adapter. In the wake of Apple unveiling the iPhone Xr, Xs, and the Xs Max, prospective buyers quickly began scouring Apple's updated online store for tidbits of information the company didn't have time to cover in-depth during today's keynote. That said, the "In the Box" section for all three devices reads as follows:
  • iPhone with iOS 12
  • EarPods with Lightning Connector
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation
Conspicuously absent, of course, is Apple's Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter. Now if you have an existing pair of headphones you want to keep using, rest assured that you'll still be able to pick up an adapter from Apple for $9.
September 10, 2018

Everything we know about Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup

This coming Wednesday, the collective eyes of the tech world will be laser focused on Apple’s media event where the company will introduce its 2018 iPhone lineup for the first time. This year’s event will be particularly intriguing because Apple is poised to unveil not one, not two, but three brand new iPhone models. Predictably, Apple hasn’t been able to keep rumors about its next-gen iPhone lineup under wraps, which is to say we already have a pretty solid idea of what we can expect Tim Cook and co. to announce when they take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater this coming week. Apple this year is expected to introduce three brand new iPhone models, a lineup which includes a revamped version of the iPhone X, a 6.5-inch iPhone X variant, and a 6.1-inch iPhone with a nearly edgeless LCD display. As far as product names are concerned, a massive leak recently revealed that Apple plans to slightly shake up the naming scheme it uses for new iPhone models. Specifically, Apple’s next-gen iPhone X will reportedly be called the iPhone Xs while the larger 6.5-inch model will reportedly be called the iPhone Xs Max. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what Apple calls the 6.1-inch model. Incidentally, some sketchy reports have indicated it might be dubbed the iPhone XR or even the iPhone XC. There's also a possibility, however slight, that Apple may simply call it the iPhone 9. iPhone nomenclature aside, what really matters is what Apple’s next-gen iPhone lineup will bring to the table in terms of overall performance and price. With that said, let’s dive right in and start with the LCD model.

6.1-inch iPhone

While last year’s iPhone X — with its $1,000 price tag — was positioned as premium device, Apple’s 6.1-inch iPhone will be much more affordable. Some analysts are even predicting that upwards of 50% of all iPhone sales next year will come from the 6.1-inch model. Apple’s ultimate goal here is to provide current iPhone owners interested in upgrading the opportunity to pick up a phone with a brand new form factor with Face ID without necessarily having to break the bank in the process. Of course, with a cheaper price point comes a few tradeoffs. Right off the bat, the 6.1-inch iPhone will incorporate an LCD display as opposed to an OLED panel. What’s more, the 6.1-inch model will reportedly not include support for 3D Touch and will feature an aluminum frame as opposed to stainless steel. Camera wise, the device will likely feature a single 12 megapixel sensor on the rear, which is to say you’ll have to spend a bit more money if you want to enjoy the dual camera system Apple introduced on last year’s iPhone X. We’ve also seen speculative reports claiming that the 6.1-inch iPhone will introduce a new “Cover Glass Sensor” that will see the device’s touch module moved from the display panel right up to the surface of the glass. According to reports, this will make the display less likely to shatter when dropped. Apple’s 6.1-inch iPhone may also offer a wide variety of color options. Over the past few weeks ago, we’ve seen reports claiming that the device will be available in 5 colors, with some of the possible options being white, black, yellow, red, bright orange, electric blue, gold, and even in pink. Now before you get too excited, there’s a strong chance a gold option will only be available on the pricier Xs models. Some purported photos of 6.1-inch iPhone prototypes can be viewed below. As far as hardware is concerned, the 6.1-inch iPhone will include Apple’s next-gen A12 processor, 3GB of RAM, and with respect to storage, will likely be available in 64GB and 256GB configurations. While Apple will undoubtedly tell us more about the A12 later this week, some alleged Geekbench scores suggest that Apple's next-gen chip, coupled with the performance-focused update that is iOS 12, will deliver truly jaw-dropping performance. Price wise, there are rumblings that Apple is planning to aggressively price its 6.1-inch iPhone model as a means to combat longer upgrade cycles. Though we’ll have to wait until Wednesday for specifics, most analysts anticipate that the device will be priced somewhere in the $650 to $750 range.

5.8-inch iPhone Xs and 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max

As an S-cycle upgrade, you probably shouldn’t expect to see any radical changes with Apple’s next-gen 5.5-inch iPhone X and the Xs Max. Per reports, both devices will boast 4GB of RAM, a nice bump from the 3GB of RAM on last year’s models. As for other features, both the Xs and Xs Max will have a gold color option, as evidenced from the leaked marketing photo below. Further, both models will reportedly offer users a 512GB option for storage, a welcome choice given how easy it’s become to run out of storage space these days. The biggest changes to Apple’s premium iPhone models could very well focus on camera technology. Though early reports claimed that the iPhone Xs Max would incorporate a triple-lens camera scheme, the feature will likely not arrive until 2019. Price wise, Apple’s iPhone Xs models will likely set you back quite a bit. As evidenced by last year’s iPhone X, Apple has no qualms about extravagant pricing. What’s more, the success Apple saw with last year’s iPhone X suggests the company won’t be tweaking its pricing matrix anytime soon. That said, a recent — and likely misguided — analyst note claimed that the iPhone Xs and Xs Max may be priced at $999 and $1,049, respectively. While there have also been rumblings that the devices might be priced at $799 and $999, that seems somewhat unlikely. The most likely price points are the ones we've been hearing for months: The iPhone Xs is likely to start at $899 while the new Xs Max occupies the current-generation iPhone X's price points at $999 and $1,149. Interestingly, the photo below -- which claims to show off the glass panels from Apple's 2018 iPhone lineup -- illustrates how the bezels on the 6.1-inch model may be slightly thicker than on the more premium models.

Batteries, adapters, Gorilla Glass and other odds and ends

Though far from a deal breaker, it’s worth mentioning that Apple’s 2018 iPhone models may not include a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box. On another note, we’ve also seen reports that Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup will support faster charging. Meanwhile, there’s a good chance that both the Xs and Xs Max models will boast more powerful batteries than their predecessors along with dual SIM card slots. There’s also a possibility that this year’s iPhone models could feature Gorilla Glass 6, a new formulation that was reportedly designed to focus more on reducing the incidence of shattered displays than on scratch resistance.

When will they launch?

The good news is that all of Apple’s new iPhone models will reportedly launch in September. In other words, the November launch of last year’s iPhone X was hopefully the exception, not the rule. We’ve also heard reports that Apple is starting mass production a tad earlier as to avoid any frustrating supply shortages at launch. Suffice it to say, you will hopefully be able to pick up the iPhone of your choice, no matter the model, in just a few weeks. Incidentally, there are rumblings that the 6.1-inch model might be supply constrained at launch. If history is any indication, iPhone Xs pre-orders will open up on Friday, September 14 ahead of a release on September 21.
September 10, 2018

What to expect from the upcoming Apple Watch Series 4

Although Apple still refuses to release sales figures for the Apple Watch, it’s no secret that the device has become incredibly popular in recent years. With the Apple Watch Series 3 — which saw the inclusion of LTE functionality — sales of Apple’s wearable truly exploded. In a revelation that didn’t come as a surprise to many, Tim Cook a few months ago revealed that Apple Watch sales during the 2017 holiday season were record-breaking. Since then, Apple executives have made a number of cryptic yet revealing remarks about the ever-increasing popularity of the Apple Watch. Though most people will be naturally focused on Apple’s iPhone announcement this coming Wednesday, there’s a strong chance Apple will also take some time to unveil the Apple Watch Series 4. Suffice it to say, the next-gen Apple Watch is poised to boost sales even further. And while we know a bit less about the next-gen Apple Watch as compared to Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup, the few Apple Watch rumors we’ve seen thus far are reason enough to get excited. The most exciting aspect regarding the next-gen Apple Watch is that it will usher in the most significant redesign to the device since its inception. Specifically, the next-gen Apple Watch will boast noticeably smaller bezels and, in turn, will boast a significantly larger and nearly edgeless display without requiring a larger casing. About two weeks ago, a marketing image of the upcoming Apple Watch leaked online, thus providing us with an extremely vivid look at what the next-gen Apple Watch will look like. Right off the bat, you can notice a huge reduction in the size of the bezels. And with the extra screen real estate, you can’t help but notice a bump in the number of complications on the display, thus providing users with even more information at a quick glance. Beyond that, Apple has mercifully gotten rid of the hideous red dot that signified the LTE-enabled Apple Watch model and replaced it with a much more subtle and tasteful circular red ring on the digital crown. We’ve also seen reports that the next-gen Apple Watch design could feature solid state buttons, a design which would further serve to improve the device’s overall water resistance. Even more intriguing is that such a design would free up some internal space and, as a result, allow Apple to incorporate a slightly larger battery in the process. While this particular design choice is said to be on Apple's roadmap, it remains unclear if we’ll see it in 2018 or on the Apple Watch Series 5. On a related note, watchOS 5 should also usher in some interesting new features, including the ability to activate Siri simply by raising one's wrist to their face, native podcasts support, a walkie-talkie mode, and automatic workout detection. As far as a release date is concerned, new Apple Watch models typically become available shortly after their unveiling. So if history is any indication, you will likely be able to pick up an Apple Watch Series 4 sometime in September. Some Apple Watch mockups that made the rounds a few weeks ago can be viewed below.
September 7, 2018

Tesla Semi demand shows no signs of slowing down

Nearly a year after Tesla introduced the Tesla Semi to the world, demand for Tesla's all-electric semi-truck shows no signs of slowing down. Less than four weeks after the unveiling, Tesla was already fielding pre-orders from a range of Fortune 500 companies, including UPS which put in an order for 125 units. Since then, Tesla Semi pre-orders have continued to roll in, with the Financial Post reporting that Walmart recently placed an order for 30 additional vehicles, on top of the 10 they already reserved late last year. The move comes as Walmart aims to reduce its overall carbon footprint. Indeed, Walmart is aiming to utilize electric vehicles exclusively within the next 10 years. Before then, 20% of Walmart's Canadian fleet may be comprised of electric vehicles within the next few years. "We are always looking for innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment and lead the industry in the drive for sustainable change," Walmart's John Bayliss told the Post. Tesla Semi production is slated to begin sometime in 2019, with the entry-level Tesla Semi model said to boast a range of 300 miles (priced at $150,000) with a more premium model boasting an impressive range of 500 miles (priced at $180,000). As for the underlying interest in the Tesla Semi, environmental awareness is just one part of the equation. Large companies are also interested in the Tesla Semi because it promises to improve overall safety on the road and improve overall profitability. To this point, DHL Supply Chain president Jim Monkmeyer recently said that while a Tesla Semi may be more expensive than a diesel truck at the time of purchase, the difference in cost can quickly be made up within two years thanks to "savings on maintenance and fuel." "The maintenance savings can be enormous," Monkmeyer added. "Just because the engines are much simpler in terms of the number of parts and the complexities of the parts." Meanwhile, Elon Musk has boasted that the final specs of the Tesla Semi may be even more impressive than what the company initially announced. Of course, the looming question with respect to the Tesla Semi is whether or not Tesla can actually ship it on time.