If Research in Motion had rolled out the Blackberry Torch a year ago when RIM first began serious work on the device, it would have been a showstopper.

As it was when Mike Lazaridis, RIM’s co-chief executive, unveiled the device at a New York event on Tuesday, there were few if any surprises though some eyebrows were raised by the news that AT&T which already boasts the iPhone in its smarphone portfolio, would be the exclusive network partner in the US.  (AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega was on stage at the launch event to say nice things about RIM and the new device.) Read more

More than a hundred innocuous-looking wallpaper applications for Android handsets have been harvesting users’ phone numbers and SIM card information and sending them off to a Website based in China, researchers said Wednesday at the Black Hat tech security conference in Las Vegas.

The wallpapers–background pictures of ponies, basketball scenes and the like–have been downloaded more than a million times, the researchers said in highlighting growing concern about potential for malicious applications on Android, Apple’s iPhone and other smartphones that are rapidly gaining popularity. Read more

Apple had good news and bad news on the iPhone 4 product front today.

The good: As promised, it started letting previous and current buyers choose from a number of free cases, which insulate and protect the antenna that can drop calls when touched with the human hand.

The bad: Apple said unexplained fabrication issues with the white iPhones would delay their release again, until “later this year”. Those devices have “continued to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected” Apple said in a two-sentence news release–and presumably more challenging than it expected just a month ago, when it promised the models in July. Read more

Apple just called to invite the FT to a press conference “about iPhone 4″ to be held at its Cupertino headquarters on Friday morning at 10 a.m.

The company wouldn’t say anything else, but given the events of the past week, it’s hard to imagine that Apple would be having such a rare audience to announce, say, an upgrade to the FaceTime video calling feature.

No, in the present climate, “about the iPhone 4″ means that Apple finally has something more concrete to say about the reception issues that have been frustrating many buyers of Apple’s latest mobile phone. Read more

Apple’s decision in the past 24 hours to ban links from its customer-support discussion forums to a Consumer Reports post calling for Apple to fix the reception issues in the iPhone 4 predictably backfired today, leading to increased pressure on the company.

With the stock falling 2 per cent on an otherwise buoyant day for the sector, many tech observers and Wall Street analysts said dropped calls in areas of weak reception had been established as an antenna hardware issue and that the easiest solution was to offer the company’s $29 bumpers for free.

That would cost Apple about 1 per cent of its operating profit, estimated Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. Read more

The US has moved ahead of Europe and Asia to become a clear leader in the mobile phone industry, according to the chief technology officer of AT&T.

“I get so tired of hearing that [ we are far behind Europe and Asia],” John Donovan told the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco. Read more

(Adds that one Steve Jobs email was faked and that Apple has pledged a software “fix.”)

Apple may see no serious issues with the iPhone 4′s reception, but several plaintiffs’ lawyers have stepped forward to disagree.

Notwithstanding a number of emails from Apple chief executive Steve Jobs urging disgruntled buyers to keep calm and stay tuned–implying a software amelioration is in the works–customer lawsuits seeking class-action status have begun to hit the courts. Read more

This week saw the release of new operating systems by Apple and Google – iOS4 and Android 2.2 – and the launch of two new phones – iPhone 4 and the second-generation Droid X.

In Friday’s Personal Technology column in the FT, we look at the astonishing growth of the smartphone category and the capabilities of its latest entrants. Read more

Late Thursday, Apple responded to widespread complaints about bad reception on the just-released iPhone 4 with responses to me and others in the media. The bottom line: there’s a problem with the line on the bottom.

Numerous buyers said that when they held the phone in their hand naturally, the 3G cell signal faded or vanished entirely. They posted videos to the Web proving it, though others had no such issues. Read more

If you were lucky enough to get past the technical glitches on the first day of pre-order sales, then you are most likely a proud owner of an iPhone 4, which was shipped to the comfort of your home on today’s launch.

For those of you who chose in-store pick up, we wish you good luck.

 Read more

As lines began to form for the iPhone 4 outside Apple stores on Wednesday, Motorola and Verizon Wireless tried to steal a little of the limelight with their unveiling of the next-generation Droid X.

However, the new smartphone seems more of a competitor to another Android phone – the HTC Evo, sold by Sprint. Read more

As is custom, Apple devotees are camping out in front of Apple stores around the country to get their hands on the latest product at the first possible moment. At San Francisco’s main store, one man brought an inflatable green couch.

Early reviews suggest that the iPhone 4 is worth the wait, with everyone from Engadget to the New York  Times calling it the best smartphone yet.

Is the low-level radiation emitted from cellphones bad for your health?

The scientific evidence is inconclusive, but the debate is nonetheless gaining steam as more and more smartphones fly off the shelves and into people’s front pockets.

The city of San Francisco is expected to pass a law today that will require retailers to display the amount of radiation emitted by the cellphones they sell. And an app that monitors the real-time radiation level of your phone is getting blocked from Apple’s App Store. Read more

The contest among established Wall Street analysts to see who can make the most dramatic bull case for investing in Apple appears to be gathering steam. The newest entry came late yesterday from Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley,  who brings the advantage of having been right fairly often in the past.

Still, her forecast is an eye-popper: Apple had 30m iPhone subscribers at the end of last year, and she said it should have better than triple that number–exceeding the nice, round figure of 100m–by the end of 2011. Read more

Apple’s iconic handset has undergone its most radical redesign with the iPhone 4, unveiled on Monday and going on sale on June 24.

I was among the media given a few minutes to play with the device, after Steve Jobs’ keynote launch, and its look and features are much improved over its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS. Read more

Apple’s normally slick showbiz-style presentations came to a grinding halt on Monday as Steve Jobs found himself without an internet connection to continue his unveiling of the iPhone 4′s capabilities.

The major foul-up and crackdown it forced may give Apple pause to consider how it handles in the future its much-hyped exclusive events, which are not shown live and where the media are afforded few facilities. Read more

Steve Jobs has unveiled the iPhone 4 at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco.

The phone features a new design, improved screen and a camera that allows HD video recording and live video calling with an app called Facetime. Pricing is the same as for the existing iPhone 3GS and the handset goes on sale in five countries on June 24.

Read our early review and look back at our live blog from the event after the jump (all times are Pacific, GMT -7, click on images to enlarge). Read more

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said on Tuesday night that personal computers running rival Microsoft’s Windows operating system are in a permanent decline and that only a fraction of current users will still rely on them in the future.

In a rare onstage interview at the D: All Things Digital conference, Mr Jobs compared the fate of the PC to trucks in agrarian America. The dominant vehicle when farming was the way most people earned a living, they were vastly outnumbered by cars when the country became more urbanised. Read more

Before the main event of Google TV taking on all-comers at the Google I/O developer conference on Thursday, there was an undercard bout of surprising ferocity between Android and Apple devices.

It was an amazing one-sided spectacle, with Android phones throwing frozen yoghurt in the faces of the iPhone and iPad. Blows of scorn and sarcasm rained down on a defenceless Apple from Vic Gundotra, vice president of developer platforms. It seemed all the more shocking considering the two Silicon Valley companies shared so much in common not so long ago that Eric Schmidt , Google chief executive, was a valued member of the Apple board. Read more

If the tech world rumour mill is correct, Apple could unveil the next version of its iPhone – somewhat confusingly dubbed by some the iPhone 4G, or more accurately the iPhone OS 4.0 - at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference which begins in San Francisco on June 7.

Compounding the confusion over what exactly 4G  does or does not stand for, Sprint will begin selling the HTC EVO 4G – the first WiMax-enabled smartphone  - a few days earlier on June 4. Read more