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10/30/2013
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iPhone 5s Battery Issues Confirmed; iPad Air Praised

Apple confirmed a small number of iPhones 5s units have defective batteries, but the iPad Air has scored impressive reviews ahead of its release.

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A manufacturing defect affecting a small number of Apple iPhone 5s smartphones is causing shortened battery life and longer charging times. At the same time, early reviews for the iPad Air tablet suggest it could be a smash hit, and Apple warned that the iPad Mini with Retina display might be in short supply at launch.

Apple confirmed the iPhone 5s battery problem and is putting a plan into action to replace the devices, according to The New York Times.. "We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5S devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life," said Apple spokesperson Teresa Brewer. "We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone."

Apple did not say how many units are affected, but the number measures in the thousands. Apple sold more than 9 million iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c smartphones the first weekend of availability, although Apple did not provide a breakdown on how many of each. Apple also declined to provide details about how the manufacturing defect will be resolved. The iPhone 5s is rated to provide 10 hours of talk time and 250 hours of standby.

[ Which device is a better match for your needs? Read iPad Air vs. Surface 2: 9 Considerations. ]

The first wave of iPad Air reviews should temper the bad news about the iPhones 5s battery problem. A number of tech sites published reviews of Apple's latest full-size tablet and the praise is unanimous. It is lauded for its improved usability thanks to the smaller footprint and dramatically reduced weight.

Time's Harry McCracken wrote, "The iPad Air is such a featherweight that it changes the experience of using Apple’s tablet." Mashable's Lance Ulanoff said, "The new iPad Air is close to everything a consumer tablet should be: Light, fast, fun, beautiful and a little bit like the future."

Other reviewers noted that the A7/M7 processor combo lead to incredible performance gains over older iPads. The iPad Air's A7, which runs at 64 bits, was clocked at 1.4 GHz, which is 100MHz faster than the same processor as used in the iPhone 5s. Primate Labs' John Poole notes that the iPad Air is 80% faster than the iPad 4 and 500% faster than the iPad 2.

The iPad Air goes on sale Friday. Apple Stores are opening at 8 a.m. to accommodate early buyers. The 16-GB Wi-Fi model costs $499.

The iPad Mini with Retina display goes on sale later in November, although Apple has yet to say exactly when. During its most recent quarterly phone call, Apple CEO Time Cook said, "In terms of the iPad Mini with Retina display, we'll start shipping later in November. It's unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not. We know how many we will have, but you really don't know the demand until after you start shipping, and so we'll see how that goes. It's very difficult to forecast exactly when supply and demand will balance there."

Supply-side sources in China believe Apple will fall short of demand for its new tablet. Apparently the Oxide TFT process used by Sharp to manufacture the 7.9-inch Retina panels is seeing low yield rates. Sharp is believed to be responsible for about 40% of the iPad Mini displays in production.

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