Saturday, July 31, 2010

Apple's iPhone 4 case app now available in Singapore App Store

If you have an iPhone 4, you qualify to get a free case. You'll have to download the iPhone 4 case program app from the App Store, fill in your details, and Apple will ship your case to you.

Here is the link to the app.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

iPhone 4 sold out at StarHub

StarHub has announced that its stock of iPhone 4s have sold out.

In a message on their website and in an SMS it sent out to people who had registered an interest in buying the device, StarHub said those who did not get their iPhone 4 in this round will have to wait for the next shipment.

Those interested can reserve a set at on a special page of the StarHub website.


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Order your iPhone 4 via Apple through this direct link

Update: It's now up on the main site!

You can't see it on the front page yet, but thanks to a friendly iMerlion reader, here's a direct link to the iPhone 4 so you can buy it on the local online Apple Store:

32GB
16GB

Don't all rush at once boys and girls.

(Tip of the hat to TheSacredSoul!)

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iPhone 4 will be in Apple Store today

It's close to noon and there is still no sign of the iPhone 4 on the online Apple Store in Singapore. Worried? Don't be.

Apple Singapore has just confirmed with us that the iPhone 4 will appear in their online store today. Just hang in there.

M1 sells iPhone 4 online

M1 users who missed out on the iPhone 4 launch and want to avoid queuing up in the rain now have another option: they can buy their iPhone 4s from M1's online store.

Delivery is as early as tomorrow, which sounds like a great deal for those of us who don't mind the wait.

The link to buy the iPhone 4 is not obvious on the website so for your convenience, here it is.

(Tip of the hat to @hawshy and Wenhan!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book your iPhone from a Singtel outlet

Singtel has announced on its website that those interested in buying the iPhone 4 can place an order from Singtel retail outlets.

No information is available about when the shops will have stock though.

Singtel's list is here.

(Thanks to Hon Cheng for the tip-off!)

Gothere will finally have an iPhone app

They have been saying it for a while but this time it looks like it will actually happen. Well-known mapping company Gothere has submitted its iPhone app to Apple for approval. They have a video on their blog that shows how the new app works. It looks pretty nifty.

According to the blog post, Gothere worked on five iPhone apps in the last year and a half; this is the only one that they felt was good enough. "This app trumps over our mobile web version, even gothere.sg on the web, and really just about every other thing we have come up with," said the post.

Click here for the video or click here for the blog post that outlines the features of the app.

(Note that the app will not be free. However, pricing has not been released yet.)
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New apps: iOCBC Trade Mobile, My M1, SingTel Xplorer

Because we've been focussed on the iPad and iPhone 4 launch, we've neglected the apps that have appeared in the App Store recently. Here's a quick round-up of what we missed:

iOCBC Trade Mobile allows people who have an account with OCBC securities to do their trading via their iPad. This is the iPad-optimised version of the iPhone app they released earlier. Free.

My M1 allows M1 users to check their bills, find out their data usage and find out whether they can re-contract. Free.

SingTel Xplorer is a turn-by-turn GPS navigation with live traffic information. However, it seems to work only when you are connected to SingTel's 3G network. Free for a month. After that you will have to pay to use the service.

(Tip of the hat to iMerlion readers Zen Yeo, loongshifu and Wei Yu!)

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Meet the first guy waiting at SingTel's iPhone 4 launch

Polytechnic student Dominic Soh is already at Hall F of Marina Bay Sands, waiting for SingTel's iPhone 4 launch at midnight.

The 16-year-old arrived at the venue at 6am this morning, some 18 hours before the launch. Finding no one there, he went for breakfast with his parents and returned at 8am. He is now lurking at the venue, taking photos and tweeting about his experience.

In a phone interview with iMerlion, Dominic said he wanted to get a headstart because he had little confidence in SingTel. "Seriously, I got here early for fear that SingTel will cock-up again like they did with the iPhone 3GS launch and allow people without appointments to queue up as well." He is planning to get the 32GB version, using money he saved up.


We highly recommend you follow him. His tweets and photos are priceless.


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First shots of SingTel's iPhone launch emerging

@iMerlion first shots from the marina bay sands launch. on Twitpic

SingTel has started setting up Hall F at Marina Bay Sands in preparation for tonight's midnight launch. Thanks to @vp2008 for the photos (click for larger image.)

@iMerlion first shots from the marina bay sands launch. on Twitpic
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iPhone 4 completely sold out on SingTel

If you weren't among the many thousands of people hitting reload repeatedly on the SingTel website yesterday afternoon, too bad. SingTel says that their initial stocks are completely sold out and new stock will only arrive in a few weeks.

Bad news for people still stuck on a contract with SingTel and who wanted to upgrade (like me) but perhaps a chance for others to look at M1 or StarHub as alternatives.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

StarHub starts online booking for midnight launch

Missed getting your iPhone 4 from SingTel? Here's your chance to get one from StarHub. The carrier has just sent a mass email to people to get them to book an appointment to buy the iPhone 4 on July 30.

You will have to go down to Plaza Singapura to pick up the phone. There are three slots available, midnight to 2am, 2am to 4am and 4am to 6am. The page is here.

As with SingTel, there will not be any walk-ins. Appointments are needed to buy the phone.

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StarHub announces retail outlets for iPhone 4, unlimited SMS for students

StarHub has just put up its iPhone 4 page proper and has listed 22 retail outlets around Singapore where you can buy your iPhone 4 from July 30.

It has also announced that it will offer free unlimited MMS and SMS for students and NSF for all its iPhone 4 plans.

For the full details, check out the page here.


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SingTel closes iPhone 4 bookings


If you haven't gotten your iPhone 4 from SingTel and you want to get it on launch day, we've got bad news for you. Approximately two hours after opening bookings to buy an iPhone 4 on launch day, SingTel is now saying that all appointment slots are fully booked.

Good luck, however, getting to the page suggested. It is currently as slow as molasses.




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Here's how to get your free case for your iPhone 4

Thanks to a video by SingTel, we now know how iPhone 4 buyers in Singapore will get their mitts on the free case/bumper that Apple is giving away.

In Singapore, the case will be given out by Apple itself. You will have to download the iPhone 4 case program app, fill in your iTunes Store details and pick the case you want. Presumably, the case will be sent by post.

This is the same method as in the US. The app is here but it will only be available for download in Singapore from July 30.

(Details about the free case programme start at the 2:30 mark on the video.)


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SingTel offering waiver of $300 top-up charge for early upgraders

If you're already have an iPhone plan with SingTel, the carrier is doing its best to hang on to you. It is sending an email to existing iPhone owners and offering to waive the $300 top-up charge if they upgrade early to the iPhone 4 with SingTel. This offer appears only to be available for the $95 a month and $205 a month plan. Some people are receiving this email with a note saying that the waiver would only be given to  those who upgrade to a $95 a month or $205 a month plan. Other people have received this email without that condition.

Thanks to @yjsoon and @honcheng for the tip-offs!


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Appointment needed to buy iPhone 4 from SingTel. No walk-ins allowed.

If you're planning to buy an iPhone 4 through SingTel, you will need to book an appointment online first.

The carrier has just started sending out an email asking people to make an appointment to buy the iPhone 4. Bookings will start Wednesday at 2pm from this page.

According to the email, no walk-ins will be entertained. Anyone who wants the iPhone 4 will have to make an appointment. Bookings are limited to two sets per customer.

The email also confirms that the launch will be at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, Basement 2, Hall F. The doors will open at 9pm and the launch will be at midnight.

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Apple Store Singapore now selling iPads

If you missed out on getting your iPad on launch day, you now have the option of buying online.

The online Apple Store in Singapore is now selling iPads. All units will ship between seven to 10 business days.

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Details of Singapore iPhone 4 launch emerging

Details are slowly emerging about what the carriers have up their sleeves to launch the iPhone 4. SingTel is planning a launch at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre (Hall F) while M1 is planning its midnight launch at the M1 Shop at the Paragon.

For those who are eager to get the iPhone quickly, but not so eager as to lose sleep over it, M1 has announced that the iPhone 4 can be obtained at 9am, July 30 from the following retailers:

1. M1 Shop, Paragon
2. M1 Shop, Bugis Junction
3. M1 Shop, Plaza Singapura
4. M1 Shop, Tampines Mall
5. M1 Shop, West Mall
6. Arrow Communication, Ang Mo Kio Hub, #B1-31
7. Handphone shop, Jurong Point, #03-19

Click here to see the spreadsheet of the plans of the three carriers, now sorted by price tiers.

(Tip of the hat to James Yeo for this!)

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iPhone 4: SingTel vs M1 vs StarHub

Spreadsheet updated with SingTel's prices.

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iPhone 4 plans: M1 vs StarHub

M1's rates are close to what StarHub is offering, but M1 is very slightly cheaper. Click here to get to the spreadsheet, sorted by monthly subscription. SingTel's rates are coming in soon.

Note: There was a typo in the spreadsheet for the M1 Ultimate plan. It has been fixed. The monthly subscription is $198 a month, not $108


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StarHub: Free 32GB iPhone 4, unlimited data, $205 a month

Update: Here is a chart to allow comparison between plans. It currently only has StarHub's plans compared with Apple's prices for the iPhone 4. However, as it is a Google spreadsheet, it allows you to sort to find the cheapest option. This will be a more valuable feature once the plans for M1 and SingTel are available.

StarHub has announced its price plans for the iPhone 4 and they are similar to those for the iPhone 3GS.

If you are a heavy data user, the most attractive plan would offer a free 32GB iPhone 4 if you are willing to pay $205 a month. This comes with unlimited data, 2,000 SMS credits and 2,000 outgoing voice call credits.

Those on a budget can choose the cheapest plan. The monthly rate is $38 for 12GB of data. It comes with 100 minutes of outgoing voice credits and 500 SMS credits. Under this plan, a 16GB iPhone 4 will cost $500 and the 32GB version will cost $630. Data usage cost is capped at $30.

The press release is not on the StarHub website but HardwareZone has the press release with the full details here.



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SG Buses getting updated and rewritten

If you rely on SG Buses to tell you what bus to take and when it will arrive, you will soon have two versions to pick from.

Version 2.6 is compatible with OS3.x and above and has been made for people who have not updated their device to iOS4.

Version 3, on the other hand, is almost a completely new version of the app. "80 percent was rewritten form scratch to make it run faster and more responsive," said developer Muh Hon Cheng. In addition, it will also be a universal binary for iPad and iPhone.

Moving forward, Hon Cheng is only planning to improve the Version 3 app with new features. The older version will probably not be updated any more, he said.

Both versions have been submitted to Apple for approval.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

No pre-orders for iPhone 4 on online store says Apple Singapore

You will not be able to pre-order the iPhone 4 from the online Apple Store in Singapore, Apple has confirmed to iMerlion.

In addition, free bumpers (or its equivalent) will be given to buyers here but more details will only be made closer to the launch, said Apple.

Apple Singapore has also confirmed that contrary to the possibility raised by the Straits Times on Friday, only black versions will be available. White iPhone 4s have been delayed until later this year.

Click here for the earlier story and press release.

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Apple Singapore to sell iPhone 4 directly to consumers here

Apple has just announced that it would be selling the iPhone 4 through the Singapore online Apple Store at  store.apple.com/sg from Friday, July 30.

The 16GB model will sell for S$ 888 while the 32GB model will sell for S$ 1,048. An 8GB 3GS is already available for S$ 748.


SIM cutter at work

How do SIM cutters work? Here are some photos courtesy of @honcheng.

A normal SIM card, awaiting its fate.

Carefully positioned in the stapler-like device.

Voila! Smaller, shorter and cut.

Signing up for a multi-SIM plan is one way to use the same data package on your iPad and your upcoming iPhone 4. This saves you from having to get a separate data package for your iPad.

Obviously, the carriers do not recommend cutting your SIM card. Note that if you don't cut it properly, it won't work and you'll have to buy a replacement SIM card. 

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

StarHub says no iPhone 4 pre-orders

According to a message on the StarHub website, people will not be able to pre-order the iPhone 4 from StarHub. Clicking on the link on the home page that says "Register your interest now" takes you to a page with the following message (verbatim):

M1 has cheapest 3G data plans for iPad per GB

Now that the dust has settled, we've had time to look more closely at the 3G data price plans offered to iPad owners by the different carriers. Looking at their offerings, it is clear that for extremely heavy data users, M1 currently has the cheapest 3G post-paid plan.

Apple Singapore: Buyers here can return iPhone 4 within 30 days

Good news and bad news for interested iPhone 4 buyers in Singapore. First the good news: just as in the US, buyers of the iPhone 4 in Singapore will also be given the option to return the phone within 30-days if they are not satisfied with the device, according to CNET Asia.

SingTel stoking interest ahead of Friday's iPhone 4 launch

SingTel began sending out mass emails last night to people who had previously indicated an interest in buying the device.

The email is recommending that people create an account on the SingTel shop to make it easy to collect the  iPhone on launch day. This links to a page that asks people to sign up for an account.


Man lands iPad after 4-hour hunt around Orchard Road

Determined to lay his hands on the 64GB WiFi + 3G iPad, sales executive Bobysen Francisco ended up queueing for four hours at five different outlets around Orchard Road yesterday before finally hitting the jackpot.

Francisco's quest began at 9am and eventually ended at 1pm, and took him from Paragon to Wheelock Place, then Orchard Central and 313@Somerset. He finally got lucky at ION Orchard, according to a report in The New Paper today.


Friday, July 23, 2010

M1 reduces prices on iPad unlimited data plan

M1 has jumped into the fray proper. It has just lowered the monthly subscription of its Data Unlimited plan to $36.38 a month, down from $39.48.

(Update: If you've signed up under the old plan, you will be eligible for the new price.)

This makes M1 technically the cheapest carrier for unlimited data. It is cheaper than StarHub by 30 cents a month. However, SingTel's offer of 50GB of data for $34.50 a month is cheaper and at 50GB it is, for all intents and purposes, unlimited.

(Update: Note that it is conceivable that you could use up 50GB of data a month on your iPad if you download YouTube videos all day and all night. If you plan to do that, M1 is definitely cheaper. SingTel has put a cost cap of $94.16 if you exceed 50GB).

A comparison of available plans is below. Old plans have been struck through so you can see the changes.




Your other options apart from iPad-specific data plans

Blogger Lester Chan notes that SingTel is now offering a micro-SIM as part of the multi-SIM package.

If you want a micro-SIM on SingTel's multi-SIM plan, you have to pay $16.05 a month for two SIM cards, and of the two, only one can be a micro-SIM card.

As he notes, the cheaper option is to pay $5.35 a month for a normal multi-SIM plan and cut one of the larger SIM cards down to size.

See the blog post for the full details. SingTel's microSIM plans are here (look under the Others tab).


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iPads already selling out within an hour of launch

At the end of the 50-deep queue at Multimedia Integrated at Funan Digitalife Mall.

If you haven't gotten your iPad yet, you might have to wait awhile. Reports are coming in that iPads are selling out around the city. I can personally confirm that the Challenger store in Funan has sold out. I've also heard from reliable sources that Challenger and Best Denki at IMM have been cleaned out.

On Twitter, I've seen reports, but have not verified that outlets at Bishan and Great World City are out of iPads.

When I was at Challenger at 10.45am, the sales person told me that they managed to sell over 100 iPads in the 45 minutes they were open. One floor down, there was a queue of about 50 people waiting outside Multimedia Integrated and a sales person there told me they had already processed about 40 people.

Looks like another home run for Apple in Singapore.


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Lines already forming outside iPad retailers

It's iPad launch day in Singapore and all around the city, reports are coming in that lines are already forming outside Apple resellers who are stocking iPads, albeit relatively short ones.

According to HardwareZone, one person has been standing outside EpiCentre's ION Orchard outlet since 6am. Blogger ryuworks is third in line at iStudio Paragon and there are at least 10 other people in line at this time. Dave Chua says he's 20th in line at Best Denki Tampines.

If you're waiting in line for your iPad, drop us a line and send pictures! HardwareZone is apparently doing the rounds to check on the state of the queues. Follow @hardwarezone for the latest line update! Meanwhile, if you're at a TV set, watch out for me on Bloomberg TV. I'll be on at 9.40am!

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War begins: StarHub and SingTel announce new iPad 3G plans

Looks like the price war has begun in earnest. Overnight, both StarHub and SingTel have issued new price plans aimed at iPad 3G owners.

StarHub now has a new microSIM MaxMobile Ultimate plan that costs $36.68 a month for unlimited data, with no contract needed. The old $43.66 a month MaxMobile plan is still being offered. That comes with a mobile broadband modem and a two-year contract. (See StarHub's latest price plans here.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

M1 kicks iPhone 4 efforts up a notch

M1 is getting serious about the iPhone 4 launch next week. It has just started sending out mass emails to people who have previously indicated an interest in getting an iPhone 4 from the carrier.

The email asks recipients to fill up a form by July 25 confirming their IC numbers, mobile numbers and to indicate whether they are seeking a new line or re-contracting.

Buying the iPad tomorrow? Here's what we recommend

Interest in the iPad is still high in Singapore even though Apple fanbois have already picked up their set from Sim Lim. Retailers have been fielding enquiries about the iPad ever since the local launch date was announced. No one knows how many units are in the pipeline but it looks like supply will be tight, at least on launch day. Based on all this, here's what we recommend if you plan to buy your iPad tomorrow:


Which carrier for your iPad's 3G data? A comparison of post-paid plans

If you're in the market for a post-paid plan for your 3G iPad, SingTel currently has the cheapest option for unlimited data. You have to sign up for a two-year contract but you pay $30.50 a month for up to 50GB of data, which is pretty much unlimited. StarHub has the most expensive unlimited plan at the moment at $43.66 a month, but this is expected to change now that both SingTel and M1 have showed their cards.

StarHub's iPad pricing plans trickle out

You won't find it on the StarHub website (or at least I couldn't find it), but StarHub apparently has a single iPad specific plan. For $32, you get to use up to 2GB of data for 60 days. Both Today and My Paper refer to this mysterious pre-paid plan.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

EpiCentre says only 2 iPads per customer

EpiCentre has sent out a mass email to people who had previously indicated an interest in buying the iPad. These customers will be limited to two iPads, and pick-ups have to be done on Friday, between 5pm and 9pm, or Saturday. All reservations have to be picked up at EpiCentre's store in ION Orchard.

Unfortunately, EpiCentre also managed to use the To field rather than the BCC field when sending out this mass email. Oops.

SingTel's iPhone 4 launch plans leaked?

Local blogger MacRyu has a memo, purportedly from Yuen Kwan Moon, the EVP of SingTel's Consumer Group Office, to SingTel staff asking for volunteers for the iPhone 4 launch. According to the memo, it looks like SingTel is planning a midnight launch like it did with the iPhone 3GS.

It is not known if this memo is genuine but it certainly sounds real, right down to SingTel offering a day off to volunteers working on the graveyard shifts. And it won't be surprising for SingTel to do a midnight launch either.

The full memo is here at MacRyu.

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SingTel jumps in with two plans. Cheapest is $30.50 a month but comes with contract

SingTel has jumped into the fray with its plans. Unlike M1, which has a plan for light data use and heavy data use, SingTel's two post-paid plans are both aimed at heavy data users.

The plan without contract costs $34.50 a month. The one with the 24-month contract costs $30.50 a month.

M1's iPad price plans start at $21.40 a month. No contract needed.

M1 is the first local telco to poke its head out of the trenches with its iPad data plans. M1 is offering two post-paid data plans, Data Lite and Data Unlimited.

Date Lite's monthly subscription is $21.40 for 3GB of data, capped at $51.36 while Data Unlimited's monthly subscription is $39.48 with no cap on data.


Round-up: Apple's Q3 and earnings conference call highlights

Here's a quick summary of Apple's Q3 report that was released a few hours ago:

- revenue of $15.7 billion vs $9.7 billion a year ago
- earnings of $3.25 billion vs $1.83 billion a year ago
- EPS of $3.51 vs $2.01 a year ago
- Macs sold, 3.47 million, up 33%
- iPhone's sold, 8.4 million, up 61%
- iPod's sold, 9.41 million, down 8%
- iPads sold, 3.27 million

(via MacDailyNews)

The full press release is here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Friday's iPad launch: 10 things you must know beforehand

If you're dying to buy an iPad on Friday, here is your iMerlion cut and keep guide, based on a few phone calls and some walking around:


Round-up: Inside Apple's relationship with AT&T; and a brilliant machinima take on antennagate

Today's round-up of relevant news:

- Wired has a piece on Apple's fraught relationship with AT&T. Less relevant to us in Singapore but full of interesting nuggets all the same. Money quote: “We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits.”

- Not relevant, but certainly fun, is NMA News' take on antennagate. Machinima at its best.

- Apple has released an updated version of iTunes that fixes a few bugs. (via Macworld)

- RIM, Nokia and HTC: "Grip of death? What grip of death? We don't know nuthin bout no stinkin' grip of death." (via Macworld)

- Via Fortune: What is in store in Apple's Q3 earnings report which will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday, 5am, Singapore time).

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Monday, July 19, 2010

WiFi iPads are cheaper in Singapore than the US

There is very little difference between the US prices and Singapore prices. The difference, at today's exchange rate, does not exceed S$8.

However, while you would expect Singapore prices to be slightly higher than US prices, this is not the case. In fact, based on today's exchange rate, it would actually be cheaper to buy the WiFi version of the iPad in Singapore than it would be in the US.

Here's a comparison based on today's exchange rate (all prices are before sales tax/GST). Prices in red are the lower price when comparing US and Singapore prices.


iPad prices in Singapore

According to reliable sources, Apple's WiFi capable iPads will start at S$728 for the 16GB version. The 64GB version will retail for S$1,028.

The 3G + WiFi version will go for between S$928 (16GB) and S$1,228 (64GB).

All prices include GST.

iPad launching this Friday in Singapore

Apple has just announced that the iPad will be launched in Singapore this Friday. Singapore is one of nine countries to get the iPad in this round.

It will be available at Apple Authorised Retailers.

Local pricing is not yet available but all models will be available.

Full press release here.

Update:

Apart from Singapore, it will also be launched in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands and New Zealand.

The iPad is not currently available in the online Apple Store for Singapore so you still can't order it yet. Which would be a bummer except that the iPad has been available at Sim Lim Square for some time now.

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By October, local telcos either get more bandwidth or more competition

According to a report in The Straits Times, the Infocomm Development Authority is going to auction off three lots of Singapore's unused 3G spectrum by October.

Existing telcos could beef up their bandwidth if they successfully bid for a lot. Alternatively, a new company could come in, sweep up all three lots and compete with SingTel, StarHub and M1.

All three telcos are objecting to the use of an auction as a means of parcelling out the spectrum though, saying it could lead to a bidding war and higher prices for consumers. Isn't it nice to see how these local telcos have the interests of consumers at heart?


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OCBC's iPad app produces charts


Taking advantage of the iPad's bigger screen size, OCBC Bank has produced an impressive looking iPad app that will take your financial data and display it graphically. Pretty neat stuff that, I think, even their website does not yet have.

OCBC is Singapore's smallest bank but it has consistently shown itself to be a leader, at least when it comes to embracing new technology. It was the first local bank to have an iPhone app and its brokerage arm was the first to develop an online trading app.

OCBC Bank iPad Edition is free.

(Tip of the hat to Thye Chean for spotting this!)



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Apple makes Mustafa pull iPads off shelves

Irene Tham had a good story in the Sunday Times yesterday about people who buy grey market Apple products before their official launch in Singapore. In the story, she revealed that Mustafa and a few other retailers have stopped selling grey market iPads in Singapore because of pressure from Apple.

According to the story: ""Apple sent us a warning letter threatening to withdraw distributorship when the iPad launches here," said Mr Rafiq Ahmad, a manager at Mustafa."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Singapore launch date for iPhone 4 is July 30, free bumpers for everyone



Singapore will be one of 17 countries where the iPhone 4 will be launched on July 30, according to Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. He also announced that Apple will also be giving out free Apple bumpers or free cases from case manufacturers between now and September 30 to all iPhone 4 purchases, both in the US and around the world. Those who have already bought Apple bumpers would get a free refund.

Jobs was speaking at a press conference that Apple called in an attempt to deal with antennagate, the swirling controversy around the antenna of the iPhone 4.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Are antenna woes related to software rather than hardware?

According to the New York Times: "One person with direct knowledge of the phone’s design said Thursday that the iPhone 4 exposed a longstanding weakness in the basic communications software inside Apple’s phones and that the reception problems were not caused by an isolated hardware flaw.

"Instead, the problems emerged in the complex interaction between specialized communications software and the antenna, said the person, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

"The person said the problems were longstanding but had been exposed by the design of the iPhone 4. All cellphones can be affected by the way a hand grips the phone, but well-designed communications software compensates for a variety of external factors and prevents calls from dropping, the person said.

"Mr. Jobs did not learn about the software problem until after the iPhone 4 shipped last month, the person said."

Full story.

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Apple releases iOS 4.0.1 for iPhone and 3.2.1 for iPad

Apple has released iOS 4.0.1 that changes the way the signal bar is displayed on all iPhones among other fixes.

It has also released 3.2.1 for the iPad that fixes WiFi connectivity issues.

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Round-up: Antennagate and Apple had tried to bid for Palm

Antennagate: Apple has denied that a senior Apple antenna designer had warned last year that the antenna design could lead to dropped calls. According to Bloomberg, which originally broke the story: "Apple Inc.’s senior antenna expert voiced concern to Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs in the early design phase of the iPhone 4 that the antenna design could lead to dropped calls, a person familiar with the matter said."

In the Wall Street Journal, an Apple spokesman responded that this was not true: "We challenge Bloomberg BusinessWeek to produce anything beyond rumors to back this up. It's simply not true." Bloomberg stands by the original story.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

AXA's iPhone app helps you record details after a car accident

AXA, the third largest motor insurer in Singapore, has just launched what looks like a useful iPhone app to help people file their motor claims. Called SmartClaims, the app helps motorists to record and submit accident details immediately after the incident.

"When an accident occurs, you may not remember what to do next. SmartClaims app is there to guide you – from recording the details to driving to your workshop for filing your claims," said Lucy Loh, the Head of Claims at AXA Insurance Singapore.

SingTel's Price Pal finally in store. Patience needed


SingTel's Price Pal is finally in the App Store. Scan in the barcode on groceries or books and it will pull up a list of places where you can buy the item and the price it is going for. In the case of books, it also links to reviews.

It's finicky to use though. The phone has to be upright and the bar code can't be glossy, which immediately rules out many books.

There is no button to press. You just hold it up the item until the app decides to scan the bar code (or not scan, depending on your luck).

It does have petrol prices, which is useful if you drive.

Price Pal is free.

(Tip of the hat to Veena for alerting me to this app, and for teaching me to use it!)

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Details of local iPad launch emerging

According to My Paper, SingTel has confirmed that it would not be selling iPads while M1 and StarHub had no comment when asked.

All three telcos will have iPad plans though.

(via AsiaOne)

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Round-up: Engadget says most don't have problems, Gizmodo says replacement iPhones fixes issues for some

Engadget collected reports from its staff and industry notables about their personal experience with the iPhone 4 in various cities in the US as well as in London.

Their conclusion? "As you'll see, most of our peers seem to be doing perfectly fine with their iPhone 4s, but the people who are having problems are having maddening issues in an inconsistent way."

And: "Ultimately, we just won't know what's really going on until Apple comes clean and addresses this issue (and the growing PR nightmare it's become), but for now we can say with some certainty that not everyone is affected, and those that are seem to be in the minority."

Gizmodo says some readers are reporting that after exchanging their original iPhone 4s for new ones, the problem went away. (Other readers are saying that this has not happened to them though.)

Macworld reports that Apple is holding a press conference on Friday about the iPhone 4.

Meanwhile, Apple has released a beta version of iOS4 that changes the signal bar display. Cult of Mac has screenshots of other changes in the OS.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

M1 announces iPad plans

According to ZDNet, telco M1 has announced that it will be offering "dedicated iPad price plans...in the coming weeks".

This was announced in a very short, very carefully worded statement. Note that the statement did not say that M1 would sell iPads, only that it would offer iPad-specific plans.

Click here for the ZDNet story.


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SG Buses now iOS4 ready

SG Buses is probably one of the most popular applications in Singapore because it's a handy bus guide that also does bus arrival times. Unfortunately, it was unusable under iOS4 so anyone who upgraded couldn't use it anymore.

Fortunately, an updated version of SG Buses is now in the App Store that fixes the problem. Oddly enough, it's not appearing in the updates list on my iPhone so you might have to download the app manually.

If you used to rely on SG Buses, this update is a must-have.


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Reasons not to buy an iPhone 4: A Singaporean perspective

There's a great post on HardwareZone's iPhone Chat Room that lists why you should not buy the iPhone 4.

Amidst a host of reasonable reasons (Antenna got a problem, It's got proximity issues, Facetime is Wifi only) and some anti-Apple ones ( "I DON'T WANT TO BE SEEN AS AN APPLE FANBOY!"), are some funny gems. Here are a few of the best:

16. Soon, any auntie unkers will be holding one
63. It was rumored to have help Mas Selamat escape.
72. The number 4 is not an auspicious number.
74. I am a Singtel employee, u should not buy this phone cos we cant sell it first this time...i think...not sure

And my personal favourite:

82. I prefer durians.

Get the full list here.


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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Understanding antennas

Thanks to the iPhone 4, I've learned more about antennas in the past two weeks that I've ever learned in the last two decades. For those who can't get enough, this piece in Forbes is an interesting read as the writer explains the complexity of antenna design on mobile phones. Fascinating stuff.

(via MacDailyNews)


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HardwareZone Forum has iPhone app

If you're a fan of HardwareZone's forums, you will be happy to know that they now have an iPhone app. You can now log-in, browse forums and post new threads and replies. All images are re-sized for the iPhone.

HardwareZone Forums is free. Download it here.

(Thanks to @hawshy for the tip-off!)


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Consumer Reports can't recommend iPhone 4 but gives it top ranking

All Things Digital points out that while Consumer Reports can't recommend the iPhone 4, it has still given the phone the top ranking. The iPhone 4 gets 76 out of 100, beating the closest contenders, the iPhone 3GS and the HTC Evo 4G. (The full results from Consumer Reports are only available to subscribers but All Things Digital has a copy of the findings.)

On a separate but related note, Bob Egan, the Global Head of Research and Chief Analyst at the TowerGroup (and former electromagnetic engineer) has written a blog post saying that Consumer Reports has not done a proper study.

"Bottom line. From what I can see in the reports, Consumer Reports replicated the same uncontrolled, unscientific experiments that many of the blogging sites have done."

(The headline for his blog post is a polite "Consumer Report iPhone4 study flawed." The URL of his blog post URL suggests his real feelings. The URL include the following as part of the file name: "consumer-reports-study-is-full-of-crap".)

This is not to say that the antenna on the iPhone 4 doesn't have problems, only that Consumer Reports did not do a good job with its experiments.


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Update to Taxi Booking app available

An update to Comfort Delgro's Taxi Booking app is now available in the App Store. Thankfully, the locate function seems to work and it no longer believes that I am in Toa Payoh all the time. (Thanks to Derrick for the tip-off!)

However, in order to get this to work properly, location services has to be turned on in Settings/General/Location Services. For some reason, this is turned off by default in this app.


Consumer Reports can't recommend iPhone 4

Consumer Reports tested three iPhone 4s and found problems with signal degradation when the hand touches a spot in the phone's lower left side. Duct tape solves the problem though.

"The signal problem is the reason that we did not cite the iPhone 4 as a "recommended" model, even though its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest Ratings of smart phones that were released today.

"The iPhone scored high, in part because it sports the sharpest display and best video camera we've seen on any phone, and even outshines its high-scoring predecessors with improved battery life and such new features as a front-facing camera for video chats and a built-in gyroscope that turns the phone into a super-responsive game controller. But Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4."


It recommends the 3GS instead because of antenna issue on the iPhone 4.


Note: To get the latest about the iPhone and iPad in Singapore, follow @imerlion on Twitter!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Comfort Delgro's Taxi Booking app is badly broken

Comfort's Taxi Booking app perpetually locates me in Toa Payoh.

I give up. I've tried my best to like Comfort Delgro's Taxi Booking app but I can't do it anymore. I think Comfort Delgro's Taxi Booking app is badly broken and Comfort needs to fix it.

I came to this conclusion during the spell of rainy weather Singapore experienced recently. On numerous occasions, I desperately tried to use the app (on a 3GS running iOS4), and about half the time, it would fail. How? Let me count the ways.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

iPhone 4 for sale for much less than S$4,000

I'm doing a favour for a friend who has to unload an iPhone 4 for under S$1,700.

It's a 32GB version from the US, which means it is carrier-locked. The hardworking people on the Dev-Team are working to unlock the iPhone 4 as we speak.

If you are interested in buying this set, please email me at editor at imerlion dot com. I will not reply to you personally, but I will pass your email on to the relevant people.


Note: To get the latest updates about the iPhone and iPad scene in Singapore, follow @imerlion on Twitter!

CNET Asia tests iPhone 4 antenna in Singapore

Using a StarHub SIM card, the guys at CNET Asia tested the iPhone 4 in Singapore and found that they could get the bars to drop indoors but not outdoors. They also have a video that demonstrates the phenomenon.

What CNET Asia has shown is that they can make the bars drop if they hold the iPhone in the death grip if the reception was poor to begin with. This is what we would expect from what we've seen around the web. The question that remains is still -- is the iPhone 4 a better phone? Can it hold calls better? Enquiring minds want to know!



Note: To get the latest updates about the iPhone and iPad scene in Singapore, follow iMerlion on Twitter!
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SG NextBus looking for beta testers


Developer Muh Hon Cheng is looking for people to help him test a new version of SG NextBus, an app that tells you when your bus is arriving.

The new version will use background location to send out alerts about bus arrivals so that when you are near a bus stop, an alert will appear to tell you when your bus is arriving.

SingTel will offer exclusive app for SingTel Mobile subscribers

In an effort to differentiate itself from the competition, SingTel is planning to offer an iPhone app that only SingTel mobile subscribers can access.

Called Price Pal, this app will provide product information, user reviews and prices once a user scans the product's barcode or does a text search. The app will start with books, groceries and petrol. Price Pal is not in the App Store yet, so I don't know how SingTel will ensure that only SingTel Mobile customers can access it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

In quest for iPhone 4 buyers, SingTel is going after M1 and StarHub


Ahead of the July launch of the iPhone 4 in Singapore, SingTel is taking aggressive steps to grab mindshare by buying keywords on Google that involve rivals M1 and Starhub.

Users who type in "iPhone m1" or "iPhone Starhub" into a web search in Google will see SingTel's sponsored link above the search results. The link also appears when local users search for "iPhone 4".


The grip of death: Apple's take and what the experts say

In the face of growing criticism from users about the grip of death, Apple has released a statement that says that all mobile phones suffer from a loss of sensitivity when the antenna part is covered, but that on the iPhone 4, the problem looks worse than it is because of the way the iPhone displays the number of bars.

"To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones," notes the statement.

It notes that the dramatic drop in bars, however, is not because of a faulty antenna but because of a faulty algorithm that makes a weak signal look stronger than it should be.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

iMerlion app now fixed

If you’ve been chomping at the bit because you can’t use the iMerlion app under iOS4, we have good news. An updated version of the app is now in the App Store which fixes the problem that caused the app to crash repeatedly. Many thanks to the good people at 2359 Media for getting the fix out so quickly.

If you have upgraded your OS to iOS4, this new version of the app is a must-have. You can download it here.

If you haven’t upgraded your OS, you should still download the upgraded version of iMerlion because we’ve added a new section for locating Apple retailers in Singapore. If we’re missing any retailers, email us (editor at imerlion dot com) and we will update the database.

Do tell your friends that iMerlion is now fixed and encourage them to download the latest version.

Thanks for putting up with us while we rushed to fix the problem. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and we hope you will continue reading iMerlion on the web, via the app and following us on Twitter.
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More iPhone 4 reviews and antenna discussions

Thanks to the iPhone 4, we are all getting diplomas in antenna design. Anandtech has its usual comprehensive review of the iPhone 4 (highly recommended if you set aside the time for it). The takeaway? "At the end of the day, Apple should add an insulative coating to the stainless steel band, or subsidize bumper cases. It's that simple."

For more on the grip of death, this other analysis comes highly recommended.

Finally, if you want to read more reviews of the iPhone 4, Andy Ihnatko has a 6,000 word review out as well.

Note: To get the latest about the iPhone and iPad in Singapore, follow @imerlion on Twitter!
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