See the current flow as you Charge your iPhone or iPad

joltz_pulsating_lightning_cable

The last time I was in Atlanta for Photoshop World  I took an Uber car from the airport to the hotel. I couldn’t help but notice the cable the driver was using to charge his iPhone. The reason it stood out is because it had a stream of pulsating LEDs that animated from the USB power supply to the iPhone. This obviously doesn’t charge the device any faster, it’s just cool to look at. I had forgotten about it for a while and then I remembered the cable and found out who made it. Joltz makes a Lightning cable version of this. On the USB side the connector is longer than usual and I’m guessing it houses a chip to control the animation of the LEDs along the cable.

Here’s how it looks in action:

When the cable is not connected to the iDevice the LED light pattern just sits still and eventually turns off/goes to sleep. I like the cable a lot and my only wish is that Joltz would make a longer version. This one is only 3 feet long.  Charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch in style.

You can get the Joltz Pulsating Lightning cable here.

Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 5/5s

mophie-juicepack-air-red

If you use your iPhone a lot during the day then chances are you’ll run out of battery before you run out of day. While at my desk I keep it plugged in and while in my car I use this car charger. However, when I’m on the road I tend to use my iPhone 5s quite a bit when I’m not near a power source. I also depend on it heavily and can’t afford to run out of juice. I’ve used a variety of external batteries before, but the one that is definitely the most convenient is the Mophie Juice Pack Air. The reason I like this one best is because it doubles as a case for iPhone 5/5s. This means that while your iPhone is in the Juice Pack Air it’s being charged and protected at the same time. Because it is a battery it does add a bit more bulk than a standard case, but not too much. It’s also very light and therefore doesn’t add a ton of weight. The Juice Pack Air charges via a micro USB cable (supplied). At first I was a bit disappointed in this because I had hoped for a Lightning connector pass-thru. However, on the plus side micro USB is more common and easier to share with non-iPhone users. You can charge just the Juice Pack or both the Juice Pack and iPhone at the same time. The Juice Pack Air has a physical switch to turn it on/off and an LED readout to let you know how much “juice” is left. The 1700mAh battery is designed to give you 100% more power effectively doubling your iPhone 5/5s battery life.

The Mophie Juice Pack Air comes in Black, White and PRODUCT (Red). I went with the PRODUCT (Red) one. I keep it charged and available for those “long days”. I’ve used previous models on previous iPhones and they have never let me down.

You can get the Mophie Juice Pack Air here.

FaceTime Over AT&T 4G Cellular For All In 2013 – Finally!

facetime-ATT-cellular

Last November I wrote a post about how AT&T was hinting at allowing those of us who were grandfathered in to unlimited data plans to be able to use FaceTime over cellular. It seemed like a pipe dream as the feature worked for a few, but not for most including me. Yesterday, I saw the news that AT&T was FINALLY going to allow all customers to use video calling features over 4G by the end of 2013. Just for the heck of it, I checked my settings and to my surprise it was already enabled! Just to be sure I turned off WiFi and attempted a FaceTime call over 4G. It worked!

I’m glad that AT&T finally came to their senses on this one. It didn’t make much sense that I could use Skype, Google+ Hangouts, etc, but not the built-in FaceTime. I’m on a corporate dataplan via my employer, however, if I had to buy my own plan I would have definitely considered other carriers. AT&T has restored a little (very small amount) of faith with this move. Thanks!

Long and Short Lightning Cables

monoprice_black_lightning

Ever since I upgraded to the iPhone 5 and got an iPad mini I’ve been slowly but surely replacing my old 3o pin iDevice cables with newer Lightning cables. While the price of Apple’s Lightning cables are a bit on the expensive side, what bugs me more is being limited to a fixed 1m length. While 3rd party 30 pin iDevice cables are a dime a dozen and can be found in many different lengths and configurations, 3rd party Lightning cables are just now starting to become widely available. There were some really cheap knockoffs that appeared early on and as the saying goes you get what you pay for. I tried a few of the different cables and found that either they didn’t work at all, didn’t work reliably or stopped working after a while. One problem is that many of the cheap ones aren’t “reversible.” That’s one of the main benefits of Lighting cables is that there is no front/back up or down. You can plug it in either way and it just works. Many of the cheap ones only worked one way. I did find some 10 foot cheap 3rd party ones that worked properly. However, over time one by one they simply stopped working or started acting very flaky. I decided to wait until some of the trusted brands I’d used in the past. I wanted both shorter cables and longer ones than the 1m Lighting cables that Apple sells.

6 foot and 10 foot Lightning Cables

monoprice_lightningcables

One of my favorite sources for low price, quality cables and gear is Monoprice.com. Monoprice has listed both 6 foot and 10 foot Lightning cables for a while now, but they recently started shipping. Before these cables became available I was using USB extension cables to make my Apple cables longer, but I prefer to have a single cable that’s long enough. I bought a few of each length and as I expected they work perfectly. You can get them in either white or black here.

 

Very short Lightning Cables

LL-situational__34560_zoom

CableJive is known for selling a variety of different specialty cables and as I had hoped they just started selling pocket sized 12cm Lighting cables. This cables are short for a variety of different uses when you don’t want a long cable that you’d have to coil up. They are a bit pricey for the length, but they fit the bill for always having a Lightning cable for charging my devices, in my pocket.

Amazon has them here.

 

Lastly a lower priced 1m Lightning Cable

Amazon has their own brand of cables and they are offering a 1m Lighting Cable for less than Apple sells them for here. Monoprice also has some 1m cables cheaper too, here.

Use a Nano SIM Cutter to Cut Your Micro SIM down for iPhone 5 or iPad mini

I remember when the iPhone 4 came out and it required a NEW SIM format (for GSM based iPhones). It required a Micro SIM. This wasn’t a problem if you were buying a new iPhone because it would have a new Micro SIM already installed. However, if you wanted to use a different SIM from another phone or carrier then chances are it was a full sized SIM that you would have to cut down to Micro SIM size. There were several good Micro SIM cutters on the market and I own a couple of them. I even traved with one in my suitcase in case I got to a country that I wanted to buy a pre-paid local SIM and needed to cut it down for my iPhone 4 or 4s. Once again we are faced with a new SIM format. Now the iPhone 5 and iPad mini uses a Nano SIM. This SIM is even smaller AND thinner than the Micro SIM. That of course poses a problem for those that want to move SIMs between devices. As to be expected there are now a few different Nano SIM cutters on the market. Some even come with sandpaper to sand the back of the SIM down to make it slightly thinner. I used one to cut down my AT&T Micro SIM down to Nano SIM size to use in my new iPad mini. My AT&T SIM is originally from my iPad 2 and is grandfathered in to an unlimited data plan. This is GREAT for streaming video on the road, so I wanted the ability to use this SIM in my iPad mini as well. Although this is not the cutter I used in the video, this is the one I’d recommend here.
Here’s a video on how the cut went:

AT&T May Allow FaceTime Over Cellular For All

I’ve been beating up on AT&T a bit lately for their practices that basically punish users (early adopters) of their Unlimited Data Plans. The most recent punishment was when iOS 6 was introduced, Apple finally allowed for FaceTime calls over Cellular on iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 and iPad 3 (or higher). However, once again AT&T said NO to this if you were one of the original iPhone users still grandfathered in to an unlimited data plan. This is the 3rd time in recent history that AT&T has crippled a feature that the device or os could do, just because you weren’t on one of their “newer” ie. non-unlimited data plans. The first one was when iOS supported tethering. Unlimited data plan users still can’t access or add this feature even if they are willing to pay extra for it without leaving their unlimited data plan. The 2nd one was when the iPad allowed tethering and once again AT&T was silent on this issue for all users. Lastly there was the FaceTime over Cellular feature that once again AT&T said NO to all but those on their newest Shared Data Plans. I get it. AT&T wants users to move off those Unlimited Data Plans and they are trying to force the issue by basically crippling the features that your device can do. Is it fair? NO. Do you have a choice? Yep, you can switch plans or switch carriers and that’s exactly what I did with my iPads. Any cellular capable iPad I buy, I now buy the Verizon version. The irony is that back in the day Verizon was the carrier that played these games by disabling features like bluetooth on certain handsets. However, Verizon has changed their ways somewhat and now they say come on it.

AT&T may have changed their tune too

It appears that at least for some, starting yesterday AT&T has quietly been turning on FaceTime over Cellular for All users (iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 3, etc. on iOS 6). There are several reports that users simply turned their iPhones off and back on again and either the feature was already turned on or they were able to enable it without the familiar blue message I still get above. These users that have it working are all claiming that they are on a grandfathered Unlimited Plan. However, there are just as many users like me where the feature still isn’t enabled yet. So perhaps it will take time for it to roll out to all or perhaps it was a mistake, fluke or still not available for “all” users (ie those on Corporate Unlimited Data Plans), but time will tell. If this feature does roll out to all, It will change my attitude towards AT&T to be a bit more favorable than it is right now, and it truly would be a Happy Tech Thanksgiving.

Does it work for you? Did you power your iPhone down and back on again? Are you on the original Unlimited Data Plan? What state are you in? (keep in mind you have to be on iOS 6 and an iPhone 5, iPhone 4s or iPad 3 or higher).

 

I Went With a Caze Zero 5 for my iPhone 5

When I wrote my iPhone 5 review, I indicated that I was waiting for the case that I really wanted to arrive. Well it did and I love it. I can probably count the number of times that I’ve dropped my iPhone (all models) on one hand. I tend to be pretty careful, but as the saying goes S*it happens. Also the black iPhone seems to scratch more easily than previous models. For that reason alone I tend to protect my devices with either a Gelaskin, a case or both. I will ultimately put a custom Gelaskin on the back of my iPhone, but I also wanted “some” protection in case I drop it too. I’m not a fan of cases that add bulk and weight. Therefore I was looking for something really thin and if possible CLEAR. The Caze Zero 5 iPhone 5 was exactly what I was looking for. This is the thinest case I’ve seen and being clear it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the device. Also being so thin means that it fits in my holster.

You can check out the Caze Zero 5 here on their site.

Review: iPhone 5

Rather than do my usual 1st impressions post I decided to wait a bit and integrate the iPhone 5 (AT&T, 32GB Black) into my daily routine before writing a review.

What did I notice first?

The 1st couple things I noticed with the iPhone 5 was the fact that it definitely felt lighter than the previous iPhone models. The next thing I noticed was a definite feel of faster speeds overall. Apps ran faster, internet functions were faster, it just feels faster. After that It was great having a taller screen with a 5th row of App icons. When you do your restore your icons will be restored to their respective pages/folders, but on each page you’ll have an empty row at the bottom. Also folders can contain 20 Apps instead of 16 Apps. I quickly took advantage of this by consolidating App folders and screens.

What about the bigger screen?

Aside from the App management I mentioned above, it didn’t take long to get accustomed to the larger display. The Apps I use most have been updated or are being updated daily to take advantage of the taller display. Like speed, you get accustomed to more screen real estate pretty quickly. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago when I look at my sister’s iPhone 4 that it really dawned upon me how much larger the display actually is. I like it, it’s great.

What about battery life?

I’ve read mix reviews on battery life and it appears that I’ve lucked out in this area. Not only is my battery life good, but it’s noticeably better than my iPhone 4s. I have not problem getting through full a day on a single charge. Since I charge my iPhone, iPad, etc. every night, having a battery that lasts from the time I wake up til the time I go to sleep is all I need. One thing I will say is that I can see battery life sucking for those in either an area that doesn’t have 4G LTE or or weak coverage. Your iPhone 5 is going to constantly look for LTE service or try to connect to it unless you turn this feature off. Otherwise your iPhone 5 will work harder trying to connect and therefore drain the battery faster. So far I’ve been in areas with AT&T 4G LTE coverage so my battery life has been fine.

What about 4G LTE Speed?

Speedtest.net Mobile Speed Test - Ookla

My iPhone 5 is on AT&T and my new iPad is on Verizon. AT&T’s 4G LTE service in Detroit went live (much to my surprise) the day before the iPhone 5 was available. I was shocked to see my iPhone 5 display the LTE symbol at the top of the display. The speed is definitely FASTER than their faux 4G on the 4s. However, my iPad always tests faster on Verizon than my iPhone 5 does on AT&T. I tested both in Detroit and San Francisco and the speeds on Verizon were about double in both cities. Not sure if that’s a iPhone vs. iPad limitation, but those are the only two 4G LTE devices I have.

What about the new Lightning connector?

My 1st thought was “boy that’s small”. The new connection dwarfs the old 30 pin connector. Small is good the transition is going to be frustrating for a while. While Apple will undoubtedly use the new connector on everything mobile they make from here on out, I like many of you have a large connection of devices, docks, cables, etc. based on the old connector. As of the date of this review I hadn’t received my 30 pin to Lightning adapter yet. So I can’t speak to compatibility issues with that adapter yet (I’ll have to review it separately). At this point I’m going to need to have both cables with me for at least another 6 months to a year. I have no reason to upgrade my iPod touch to the new one and there won’t likely be a new full size iPad until 2013.

What about the cameras?

The rear camera is still an 8MP camera which is fine by me. However, Apple advertises that it does better in low light. Honestly I can’t really tell a difference between the two on my limited low light testing. IMHO smartphone cameras in general have a long way to go to please me with low light photography.

It’s mostly about iOS 6

If you look at most of the things that Apple touts when it comes to the iPhone, many of those benefits are iOS 6 benefits and not specific to the iPhone 5. Things like the new panorama feature, Passbook, etc. are available to users that upgrade their existing iOS devices.

Any problems?

The problems that seem to be making the news are: purple haze from the camera, Apple Maps, scratches and battery life. I’ve already addressed battery life above. I have yet to see a single one of my shots with any kind of purple haze. However, I don’t take a lot of shots directly at the sun 🙂 . I handle my devices with care most of the time. I put the iPhone 5 in a case as soon as I could and before that I carried in my holster and not in my pocket. To date no scratches. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t scratch easily. It does, I just haven’t had any scratches yet. Lastly I’ve been burned by the new Apple Maps too, but that’s not really an iPhone 5 thing as much is it is an iOS 6 thing (See: iOS6 Maps Got You Down?). I also don’t use the built-in Maps app enough for it to be a problem since I use Navigon for my turn-by-turn voice GPS directions and it works great in iOS 6 and iPhone 5. My only issue initially was finding a decent case and having to switch holsters since the iPhone 5 with a case wouldn’t fit in my existing holster. More on my choices of case and holster in a separate post. Reason being, I bought a case that I’m not totally thrilled with and the one I really want hasn’t arrived yet. The only other problem that not many people seem to talk about is the fact that the iPhone 5 uses a new “nano” SIM instead of the “micro” SIM of the iPhone 4 and 4s. This means that you can’t just pop your pre-paid, international, etc. micro SIM out of your iPhone 4/4s and put it in an iPhone 5. Nor can you take your new iPhone 5 nano SIM and put it in a different phone without some sort of nano SIM to micro SIM tray. This will surely frustrate users that move their SIMs between devices until there are solutions out there that let you cut down/shave micro SIMs and trays that let you put the smaller SIM in a larger SIM holder. The good news about the Verizon iPhone 5 is that it has a nano SIM slot that is factory UNLOCKED! This means that you could take your Verizon iPhone 5 abroad and put in a local nano SIM to save money on international roaming.

The Bottom Line – Should you upgrade?

As usual these changes are “evolutionary”, not revolutionary. Faster processors, more ram, thinner body, better cameras, faster internet, bigger displays, better battery life are really what we would expect at this point. The iPhone 5 is a NICE upgrade, but not a game changer. All of these little enhancements make for a better iPhone than any of its predecessors. If you have an iPhone 4s then there’s little reason to upgrade (especially if you have to pay more because of your contract) to an iPhone 5. However, if you’re new to iPhone, on an iPhone 4 or earlier and you are eligible for upgrade pricing then the iPhone 5 is definitely worth upgrading to. Be prepared to also buy new cables/adapters, cases, etc. The combination of new faster hardware and iOS 6 makes the iPhone 5 a great choice.

Also see: “25 New Fun Things To Ask Siri in iOS6

The 25 Apps That I Use Most

iPhone 5: Too Funny Not to Share

Here are a couple videos that made me LOL about the new iPhone 5. The 1st is an actual ad by Samsung and while I’m not sure that it will change the minds of many iPhone 5 buyers, it was definitely well done.

Note: If you’re an iPhone or Android user and you are easily offended or defensive about your choice, you shouldn’t watch these or attempt to use them as “ammo”. 🙂 Lighten up a bit. It’s called humor.

The second one is an iPhone 5 parody. Very clever!

 

Which Rumored iPhone 5/4S Feature Are You Looking Forward To Most?

Today Apple will be announcing a New iPhone 5 or 4S or both. As usual the rumored features have been flying around for weeks. We will soon find out what's real and what's not, but out of curiosity "Which Rumored Feature Are you Looking Forward To Most?"

 

Which iPhone 5 Feature Are You Looking Forward to Most?
 4G Data
 Sprint Service
 Faster Processor – A5
 Larger Display
 8MP Camera
 Better Antenna/Fewer Dropped Calls
 Thinner
 Better Battery Life
 Something Else
 I don't want an iPhone
  
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