fake 12W Apple A1401 charger

I recently bought a 12W charger for my iPad mini which was said to be an “Original Apple” product. Being the nerd I am, I had to take a closer look on this item upon arrival and quickly realized that it is well made, but unfortunately FAKE charger. Well made, as it comes with a nice print and metal connector.

After posting this on Instagram and adding some notes, I realized that I should instead turn this into a blogpost as it may be useful to someone out there:

fake Apple A1401 charger

  • The font is a bit too bold.
  • Apple nerds will notice the even spacing between “Designed by Apple in California” and “Assembled in China” as well as between “A1401” and “TM and ©” and “2012 Apple Inc.”.
  • “For use with information technologie equipment.” (technology)
  • “materiel” instead of “matériel”
  • The (measured) output is just 5V/0.8A.
  • The plastics have a very similar glossiness to the original, but you will still note some bad quality issues here and there. Like the cover on the USB port as pictured below or the uneven gaps between the two plastic covers.
  • There is a serial number inside the USB port, but the port itself is of low quality (the plastic tongue inside is poorly shaped).

fake Apple A1401 charger

fake Apple A1401 charger

As someone who used to sell polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) for a French mineral oil company some years ago, the plastics often are the biggest hints why something is of lower quality and probably fake. For a device that can not be opened and thus requires the user’s trust (that the inside PCB / circuit is of higher quality), the external appearance often is the only criterion we can rely on.

And as someone on Instagram also noted: the only method of buying chargers these days is going for 2nd hand gear that is proven to be original. THIS very auction, however, was one of those “let me buy a used item via eBay to make sure it’s original”-approaches, but which also failed.

Mchimba kisima hungia mwenyewe*

Going by how much iOS4 slowed down the iPhone 2G and 3G, I am still undecided whether I should update iOS 5.1.1 on my iPhone4 to iOS6. I did update the iPad2, though. Just out of curiosity (of course, everyone does it for this reason) and to convince myself of the following situation:

Nokia Maps
Google Maps
OpenStreet Map
Apple Maps with iOS6

Maps are important. You may have a choice of what is to run in a native map app or within the browser, but many apps actually make use of the map system. So chances are that your favourite app will also be forced to use Apple maps.

I also just couldn’t update all apps at once on my iPad2 16GB – because there’s ONLY 2.6GB left. With GarageBand taking up 1.1GB alone, iOS6 refused to update. Now, after manually updating GarageBand, it’s reduced from 1.1 GB to 734 MB. I hope that Apple removed Retina graphics for those devices that don’t come with Retina displays (like my iPad2). In any case, many Apple apps are horrible memory hogs – and it seems that no one really cares about it, which imo is the worst part.

Atm, I don’t really see a benefit in updating iOS 5.1.1 to iOS6 on the iPhone4 (not4S) except for some minor improvements. I may change my mind on this, but would only do it if it really improves performance of the phone. And you?

* Mchimba kisima hungia mwenyewe = He who digs a pit will fall into it himself.

AOB: the first iFixit teardown

iPhone 5 teardown, via iFixit.com

The first iFixit teardown of the iPhone5 comes with a least two good messages: a) the iPhone5 is opened front-to-back and b) the home button appears to be easily replacable. That’s extremely good news, imo. Not so nice is the excessive amount of glue underneath the lightning connector cable – which also tells me that it may be prone to damage. Huh, “Scuff Gate“? Apple fanboyz and their luxury problems.

 

Hey Apple, this is your chance!

You may have followed today’s news via iFixit or Mashable that the new Apple Mac Book Pro with the Retina Display will contain almost no repairable parts. Much like the iPads, I believe, even though there are still spare parts available for those.

I am always blown away by the amount of engineering found in Apple products, especially compared to the “modular” competitors (i.e. Dell, Lenovo and HP) whose spare parts are still available on eBay & Co. long after their laptops are out of production. Parts fail, displays break, rubberised touchpad buttons wear off, hinges and keyboards wear out and so on.

the opened new MacBookPro Retina, image via iFixit.com

Not so the new MBP Retina (pictured above) which seems to have no repairable parts at all. In case of a hardware fault, most customers are supposed to return it to Apple. My DIY-heart of course yells at this (“I will fix it anyways!”), but I also understand that this step is part of their marketing and quality management.

The battery? Well, as far as I understand there are two main reasons why it would need to be replaced: heat and constant overcharging. And as far as I am informed, this overcharging is prevented by a circuit otherwise only found with previous ThinkPads from IBM/Lenovo. So it seems like there is no reason to have the battery replaced during the first 2-3 years of use.

Ok, and then? What happens after 2-3 years of use when the next generation of MacBooks is waiting on the shelves? That’s the time when most gadgets are turned in for repairs, I think. Repairs that are expensive because they often won’t be covered by a manufacturers warranty.

Here’s the idea

Given that Apple already introduced this “no maintenance required – if broken, we’ll fix it for you”-concept in the past but only nailed it with the almost non-repairable iPad, Apple customers are assumed to be mainly users – instead of tinkerers*. So, obviously, many customers are already used to this concept and would have no problems exchanging their beloved machines for a new one (except for extra costs where applicable).

Now, instead of selling the hardware, the idea would be to only lease out the hardware to customers for a given time frame of 2-3 yrs and then have them return it to Apple.

The benefits

  • Apple could start using better / more expensive materials because all hardware is returned to the manufacturer, remains in a technical loop
  • A recycling is possible = less material costs, less dependency on rare earth metals from China & Co
  • Apple benefits from real world scenarios, has complete control over usage (I know they like that), design teams can pick up on this for further improvements
  • Customers won’t have to cough up USD 1000-3000 at once but pay monthly installments instead (by default!)
  • Apple has the financial resources to take this “risk”
  • Customers get a new machine every 2-3 yrs, consistent market
  • User data is more attractive than hardware: care for home folder, everything backed up in the Cloud
  • Software is the bigger market than hardware (I think): make them stick to an OS and then provide them with apps (see the iPhone – works like a charm on iOS!)
  • Customers won’t have to worry about the hardware as it will be replaced

Heck, if Apple doesn’t do that, someone else should do it. Not the leasing as such but this whole model of ownership – because, after all, with Apple’s latest design we are just users, not tinkerers anymore. Just as we stopped buying complete music albums and go for single mp3 tracks instead, this concept of “ownership” is totally different to the one we had in the past. Maybe not for you or me, but for those a few years younger than us.

I believe that Apple has the right approach and I would like to encourage them going a step further with this Cradle-to-Cradle-inspired proposal. It’s all about having a sound business and still doing good.

*tinkerers: most Apple users I know bought their Apple products because they don’t want to mess with the system or any components. So while they may just be into that DIY-stuff as I am, their Apple products often remain as they are. Not because they couldn’t, but because they don’t want to.

(this Mashable post on G+ inspired me to this blog post)

Six reasons for the change of…

A final blog post for the end of the past year 2011 which unfortunately saw too many deaths of beloved people and only a few posts on this blog – also due to the Posterous / Facebook / Twitter competition and not many actually willing to read longer blog posts as a result of the information overflow.

It’s not that I am only into tech stuff, but I am passionate about these gadgets and that’s also reason enough to note down the following motivation.

iphone4-Defy
The Apple iPhone 4 vs. The Motorola Defy

There are three four five six reasons why I’m planing to skip the freedom that comes with Android and switch (back) to an iPhone 4 (not 4S) in 2012:

1. There may be great Android phones and my Motorola Defy (“Jordan, MB525”) is a lot of  phone for the money, but it’s a few millimeters too small for my fingers which means that typing on the screen is easier and quicker on the iPhone.

2. Both cameras on both phones have 5mpx sensors, but there’s some magic to the iPhone 4 camera that the Defy camera just does not have. And I’ve tried all cameras on the Android market, am using MIUI on the Defy which also includes the CyanogenMod7 camera app and…well, I just don’t like the results. It always takes several attempts to get a decent, not blurry picture and if the flash is activated, then it’s even worse. It could also be the software processing, less the hardware.

Defy camera test, outside
A somehow blurry snapshot, shot on a cloudy/rainy day in October. Not really what I expected to receive from the camera.

I take a lot of pictures with the phone, I knew that the camera on the Defy wouldn’t be that great and I’ve learned my lesson. If a decent camera on the phone is important to you, then go for an iPhone. Also compared to what Nokia used to produce – it’s imo better to use a 50-60% camera that “just works” than one that only delivers blurry images or blinds people with an aggressive flash (hello, Nokia N95!).

3. The dock connector. I am using a docking station on my desk and next to my bed. When I fall asleep, I just want to drop the phone into the docking station where it’s being recharged etc. – and not manually open a flap on the side of the phone and plug in a mini USB cable. I’m used to this procedure now, but I also know that these things are easier with the iPhone and a bit more complicated with the Defy (which is why I sold/gave away both docking stations I had for the Defy).

4. I got a very generous offer from a friend that I just have to accept and which enables me to make the swap to the other phone. The irony is that the iPhone is currently locked to ze Görmän Terrorkom (T-Mobile) network and will only be unlocked in the middle of 2012, but all of these limitations don’t matter to me for the above mentioned reasons. Another motivation probably also is that iOS 5 finally brought the changes that I requested iOS to have (and which I preferred on Android).

5. Not a real reason, but still: my sister, who always refused iPhones (“I don’t need them…”), suddenly surprised me in mid 2011 with the purchase of an iPhone 4 32GB. Which comes with FaceTime! All these years of introducing Skype within the family were rather unsuccessful, but this (stupid) FaceTime app now suddenly introduced video telephony within the family. Yeah, well…. whatever.

6. Payment options on the market. I really like Android but there’s this one thing where the iTunes store is just more advanced: payment options on the iTunes store include the use of vouchers. Now, this may not be an issue in the US, but in Germany, a) you only get a credit card when you’re 18 (so many consumers do not have one, or use someone else’s card, or use a prepaid one) and b) with many banks (who issue these cards), you have to pay an extra charge of 1,85% of the complete transaction fee for foreign apps. Which means that app purchases cost extra and more than expected. Sure, we’re talking about Euro cents here, but still it’s more – and the purchase / availability of prepaid vouchers, available at local supermarkets like they are for iTunes, would imo be the perfect solution for the Android market. So until this issue is solved, the iTunes store is a bit more sophisticated to me. This is imo also why the “for free”-culture is much more alive on the Android and Nokia ecosystems than it is with the Apple ecosystem (where hardware is already expensive enough). Payment options are key!

Android: What I will certainly miss is the removable battery (haha, just kidding – the only reason to remove it is to reset the phone – seriously) and the microSD card which – and I differ here with experts like Eldar Murtazin – I think is very great because it enables you to keep your user data in one place. Water damage with the iPhone? You’re doomed! But not so with phones where microSD-cards keep most of your data. I think that’s pretty convenient and a valid argument pro microSD-cards. Also because not everyone trusts iCloud, though it’s a step in the right direction. In 2011/12, hard- and software should be independent from each other. If a device (phone/laptop/car, etc.) fails, I’d like to exchange the hardware, type in my credentials and continue on a new device where I left the old one. Another great convenience of course is that you just type in your gmail address and it will automatically setup your phone. Totally awesome. Or alternative app stores like AppBrain – so many more options (except payment) than the iTunes store. The best part about Android certainly is how apps are connected within the OS and how they offer a level of connectivity I am yet to find on iOS (e.g. saving a page to ReadItLater).

As I said, Android is good, attractive and my preferred OS of choice. The Defy is a very nice phone but I’ve realized that for my own daily needs, the iPhone just does a slightly better job.

Half of my geek friends are from the “there’s-no-other-smartphone-than-the-iPhone” group, and the other group is more like “Android-is-better-because-iOS-is-worse”.

So the bottom line probably is that it takes a longer test of all available systems and a small set of important apps that just need to work in order to see which phone suits the user.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the redesign on this blog here: I’ve updated WordPress to 3.3 and that somehow destroyed my blog template – which I had been meaning to change since 2006! Again, it probably takes some interaction from the outside to make the switch. Thx, @alipasha!

Everyone, please have a peaceful and happy New Year 2012!

Life’s too short for crap

I may be late to the party, but I just couldn’t resist and ordered an iPad 2 (16GB, 3G).

It’s a strange situation because I am already an Android user these days for the phone side and really appreciate the freedom (and costs!) that come with it despite Androids downsides (my main criticism is that there are no vouchers available for the Android app market as opposed to the iTunes store => +1.85% on each app purchase while using my EU credit card).

tc4400-ipad2-flytouch3
My beloved HP tc4400, the iPad2 on iOS5 and a FlyTouch 3 Android 2.2 tablet that still lacks a PDF reader because it’s already on auction. The FlyTouch btw also has a 1024×600 screen – as opposed to the other two that offer a 1024×768 screen resolution. Good for movies, bad for PDFs.

No, there’s much more to an iPad, obviously, and probably also more than enough reasons why over 29 million (!) iPads have already been sold till now. A “tablet revolution”? No, but a tablet revolution based on the iPad – that’s for sure.

I am used to buying second hand hardware and this time I am glad I had found a way to finance this purchase (via a mobile phone contract = subsidized hardware) and with the sudden loss of a dear family member earlier this year, I also realized that life is indeed too short for crappy products. Why should I waste time with stupid hardware if instead I can also go for the real thing?

This very emotional reason probably is the most honest excuse for this purchase, but you know what? Clicking that “buy” button felt damn good. Whatever they say about Apple products and their fanboyz – it’s true, it’s a *feel-good-world*.

So why should I still blog about this purchase if 29 million out there have already made this buying decision? Because I have a smart list that matters to me. Here’s my TOP5 reasons for the purchase:

Passion
After watching this documentary earlier last month about former Microsoft employees, it eventually occurred to me that most MS products just lack passion .

This is exactly what I like the most about these portable Apple products: a meticulous CEO that demoed his products and also looked at the smallest details.

Or Linux developers who create stuff out of passion. Not because they have to, but because they want to. That alone is a totally different approach and a sign of quality to me.

I am yet to see that on MS products. And I am a Win7 user most of the time, along with this crap called Outlook 2007 (HTML rendering, bollocks!).

And it’s not just the software you can buy. Just yesterday I read through this publication from Microsoft Research on the need for meta data to be implemented in future generations of filesystems. Very valid points and I understand that MS Resarch are doing good work, BUT! – again – the paper was much longer than necessary. So much blablabla and yet the important stuff could have been said on one single page. This out-of-focus-approach is so typical of MS, I think. As a customer and user of MS products, I don’t feel any passion in their products and meanwhile also believe that many lines of code on their OS & apps are just random data.

Hence: any company that shows a passion with their products is highly appreciated. A passion to deliver good quality.

Reader
I think the iPad is the best reading device. Why? Because I can not display most of my PDFs on a 7″ eInk display without constantly zooming in and out. So as long as eInk readers aren’t running a bit faster for this purpose, the iPad is the better alternative to me at the moment although I am sure we’ll soon see more 7″ devices.

The Amazon tablet(s) would have been an interesting alternative to me, but their 7″ Fire tablet isn’t even available here! In my opinion as a customer, if you can’t launch/ship global, then don’t even launch it for a single country. You can do that for Japan, maybe, but not for the US that are so connected with the rest of the world.

Apps
There are SO MANY apps available for the iPad. In fact, most publishing houses in Europe ONLY offer iPad apps for their print products. No Android app, only iOS. Sad, but still the bitter reality. Because I’d also be happy with a competitve (and available) Android tablet.

Talking of Android tablets, my friend Dave recently got an Asus eeePad Transformer TF101 and – as a pilot for an international airline – tried to pick the better alternative. Unfortunately, his tablet already broke after only two month and his biggest complain was the lousy App situation for Android Honeycomb (as compared to the iPad, of course, which is hard to beat). Dave – go and get your iPad. Now!

Adrian – I missed my chance to get an HP TouchPad for 99 EUR. I reckon that it would have been an interesting PDF reader and surfing device for me.

Runtime
Battery runtime on the iPad is just totally crazy. It’s long enough to get me through a day at a BarCamp and that’s all that matters to me.

Also, 29 million customers enable a fabulous aftermarket. You’ll find plenty and cheap chargers as well as other accessorries on eBay, on FocalPrice and so on.

Portability
I remember when Eric told me about his daily trips to the office through Nairobi traffic and mentioned how the iPad actually is the solution to his mobile office.

Just look at how many of us laughed about the iPad and its limited capabilites back when the iPad1 was launched. And now we are even using it to have a mobile office and a quick device for that daily “lemme google that”-moment.

Sure, the iPad2 is heavy and we’ll probably all complain about the size once there are more 7″ readers/tablets, but after my previous experience with a 8.9″ and a 10.1″ netbook, I know for sure that 12″-14″ is the best laptop size for me and that this 10″ tablet does it for me atm.

tc4400-ipad2
HP tc4400 vs. Apple iPad 2
(the HP tc4400 tablet pc also serves as my backup machine)

———————————-

I am not yet ready to fully convert to the Apple world (+ Ubuntu is cheaper anyways :-), but this lack of passion on MS products certainly is a very valid reason for me. It’s also kind of ironic that Bill Gates himself is very passionate about his philanthropic foundation for this passion has already enabled so much good work (the BMGF are imo doing a very good job by financing smaller projects). I wish some of this passion could also reflect back on Microsoft and that their future tablets with Windows 8+ will provide a suitable alternative. But atm, I highly doubt that.