How’s this for an undocumented feature? Apple’s newer MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks have a security flaw that can allow hackers to remotely prevent the batteries from charging. Better yet, hackers can exploit the same flaw and remotely cause batteries to explode. Apple laptops’ new “smart” battery technology is intended to provide added control over power management, and it does just that. Unfortunately, it also gives hackers added control because the microcontroller chip that ships in recent Apple laptops can be accessed remotely using a default password shared by each and every notebook. Charlie Miller, the security expert who discovered the vulnerability, plans to showcase the flaw next month at the Black Hat security conference. There, Miller will show that he is able to access the battery controller remotely and cause it to refuse a charge, or even heat up until it catches fire and explodes. “These batteries just aren’t designed with the idea that people will mess with them,” Miller told Forbes last week. “What I’m showing is that it’s possible to use them to do something really bad.” Thankfully, the security expert also intends to showcase a fix for the flaw, which Apple will hopefully implement as soon as possible. More →
According to a report from CIO, BlackBerry users who installed RIM’s latest update for the tablet’s QNX operating system are now experiencing weakened battery life. The recent 1.0.3 software update introduced BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and video chat to the device, but it also appears to have had a substantial impact on battery life, possibly reducing it by 11% or more. RIM addressed the issue by suggesting that users accept the new license agreement for video chat, which may drain the battery if left unchecked, and the company also suggested that users fully charge and discharge the PlayBook battery several times in order to restore full function. Many users report that neither proposed solution has has an impact on the weakened battery life, however. More →
Samsung Russia has confirmed that it will launch a new version of the popular Galaxy S Android smartphone next month. The Galaxy S 2011 edition will ship with Android 2.3 and also feature a new metal back cover. The phone packs a faster 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255T Snapdragon processor — as opposed to the 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird CPU in the original — as well as a 14.4Mbps HSPA+ radio and a larger 1,650mAh battery. The rest of the hardware remains identical to the original; that includes a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, 8GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 3.0, 5 megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD video, and more. The Galaxy S 2011 edition is expected to hit Russia next month for 24,000 rubles ($846 USD). There’s no word if the 2011 edition will ever be available in other countries. Hit the jump for Samsung Russia’s blog post. More →
Software version 4.1.57 for the Motorola ATRIX 4G is now available. The 17MB file, issued by Motorola, adds a number of improvements but is not the expected AT&T update that includes HSUPA support. After downloading the update, Motorola says users should notice the following changes:
- Bluetooth: Improved multimedia experience with Bluetooth devices as well as the ability to use phone with additional headsets.
- Fingerprint reader: Improved fingerprint reader performance.
- Battery: Improved battery performance for longer battery life.
- Screen: Display will turn off automatically now while charging directly on wall charger.
- Phone stability: Improved stability resulting in fewer occurrences of touch unresponsiveness and/of programs quitting unexpectedly.
- Car dock: Improved performance of car dock and 3.5mm jack.
It’s been reported that the update may cause some issues with those who have rooted their phones. AT&T has said that the upcoming HSUPA software update, which should ratchet up upload speeds on the ATRIX 4G and Inspire 4G, will land in April. Hit the jump for instructions on installing software version 4.1.57 on your ATRIX 4G.
With the ThunderBolt, HTC has delivered yet another “first 4G smartphone” following its EVO 4G for Sprint (and the often forgotten MAX 4G introduced in 2008). It’s the first handset to run on Verizon’s brand new 4G LTE network, and it’s an Android smartphone powerhouse that is easily the fastest smartphone on the planet in terms of data speeds. That’s not to say the device is perfect, however. The release of Verizon’s first 4G handset was pushed back several times, spanning almost two months, and I’m not so sure all of the wrinkles were ironed out even after all of the delays. But the ThunderBolt is finally here and I’ve spent some quality time with it over the past week or so. Read on to see if this is not only the fastest smartphone on the planet, but one of the best as well.
An Apple patent uncovered on Thursday describes new technology Apple is experimenting with in an effort to increase the battery life in its device lines. The patent filing, entitled Increasing Energy Density in Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cells, describes a unique multi-pronged approach to the problem of poor battery life in consumer electronics. Apple is investigating the use of a new “multi-step constant-current constant-voltage (CC-CV) charging technique,” which would increase the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of energy-storing material within a battery. According to the filing, this would increase the capacity of a battery without impacting battery size or charge time. Relative to competitive products, Apple’s mobile device and laptop lines are often praised for exhibiting impressive battery life. There can never be enough time in between charges, however, and as more features and better displays are added to future devices, manufacturers will always struggle to ensure battery life is not overly degraded as a result. More →
Competing smartphone platforms might be catching up to iOS when it comes to apps and UI styling — but can your Google phone do this? An iPhone 4 belonging to Omar Huartas allegedly blew up while his wife was holding it. According to Huertas’ video recount of the incident, the Apple smartphone became extremely hot while his wife held the device. The battery apparently swelled, dislodging the rear battery cover and catching fire. Huertas’ wife dropped the device on a table where it left visible burn marks. At some point during the fray, it also allegedly burned Huertas’ hand and expelled enough smoke that it set off his fire alarm. In a tweet to @ceoSteveJobs, a parody account on Twitter that Mr. Huertas may have thought to be real, Huertas writes, “my name omar huertas your iphone 4 blew up in my wife hand battery i spoke with apple i need something done loss data kids pic.” Huertas says he went to the Apple store to get a replacement phone, and it is unclear whether or not the affected handset is still in his possession. Hit the break for a bizarre video reenactment of the alleged incident. More →
Earlier this week, Kaufman Brothers analyst, Shaw Wu, made waves when he asserted that Research In Motion’s highly anticipated BlackBerry PlayBook tablet could be delayed due to “battery issues.” Mr. Wu’s exact statement was as follows: “RIM needs to improve its relatively poor battery life of a few hours compared to 6 hours for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and 10 hours for [Apple’s] iPad.” Today, RIM has fired back with a concrete statement of its own, claiming that the PlayBook battery issues Wu reports are nonexistent.
Any testing or observation of battery life to date by anyone outside of RIM would have been performed using pre-beta units that were built without power management implemented. RIM is on track with its schedule to optimize the BlackBerry PlayBook’s battery life and looks forward to providing customers with a professional grade tablet that offers superior performance with comparable battery life.
There you have it. We would love for RIM to be a bit more forthcoming as to when — approximately — the device will be released, but we’ll just have to take this statement for now. More →
According to Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu, RIM may be forced to delay the release of its first tablet computer, the BlackBerry PlayBook. Wu claims he is hearing that the PlayBook “needs to improve its relatively poor battery life of a few hours compared to 6 hours for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and 10 hours for [Apple’s] iPad.” As a result, Wu writes, the launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook may be delayed until May, 2011. Wu notes that the cause of the battery issues may stem from the fact that QNX, the PlayBook’s operating system, was designed for use in scenarios where battery life is not an issue — such as in automobiles. RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie stated last month that the PlayBook would launch in the first quarter of 2011, with a price tag under $500.
We ran an exhaustive video preview of the BlackBerry PlayBook earlier this month, and called the PlayBook experience as it stands now “fluid, quick, and downright impressive.” With Apple’s iPad 2 and several Android tablets set to launch over the course of the first quarter, however, sales of the BlackBerry PlayBook could be negatively impacted should RIM be forced to delay the tablet’s launch until the second quarter. More →
To be honest, we haven’t heard all that much complaining from DROID X users running Android 2.2, but apparently Motorola has. In a forum post, Motorola listed several issues being experienced and reported by DROID X users who have upgraded their devices to Android 2.2. The list includes: stuck on Motorola logo after boot, random rebooting, Wi-Fi connection stability, Battery Manager “Force Close” error, media not playing, and music files cutting out early. Hit the jump for the full explanation and let us know if you’re seeing any of these issues. More →
The gang over at ifixit have taken Apple’s newest iPod Shuffle and given it a proper tear down. The fourth-generation Shuffle doesn’t contain any mysterious secrets — we’re not sure there is room for them — but the site does list a 51 mAh battery, logic board, click-wheel, and casing. It is pretty remarkable that a 51 mAh battery can last for 15 hours; most smartphone batteries — powering a screen — start at 1,000 mAhs. The site does say that in order to get inside the device you basically have to break it; making self-repair an interesting proposition. Hit the jump to see the tear-down in its full glory. More →
Any Apple fans out there waiting to grab the brand new iPod touch hotness? If so, you’re going to be pleased to learn that Apple’s newest iToy has hit the FCC for certification and has been mercilessly torn down. You’ll find that Apple A4 CPU, an internal antenna, 802.11 b/g/n, and a 3.44 watt-hour battery. Not to mention the Retina Display, front-facing camera for FaceTime, and rear-facing HD-capable shooter. Delicious.
[Via iClarified] More →
Just a quick PSA: Garmin has just announced that they are voluntarily recalling 1.25 million nüvi navigation units due to the possibility of faulty batteries. A press release explains that some devices, with a specific printed circuit board design, could contain defective third-party batteries that, “in rare circumstances, increase the possibility of overheating, which may lead to a fire hazard.” The nüvi models affected include those with the model numbers 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx and 7xxT. If you want to determine if your nüvi is being recalled you can visit garmin.com/nuvibatterypcbrecall to check. We have the full press release after the break. More →