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iPhone 5 Popularity Benefits Area Companies

Apple Inc.’s new iPhone 5 is a global success with big impact for some local companies.

The smartphone is driving business for a San Diego based chipmaker and for several wireless carriers. An accessory maker is hurrying an iPhone 5 product to market. And a company that helps people dispose of phones is expecting more business because of the popularity of the newest iPhone.

San Diego’s largest public company, Qualcomm Inc., does not talk about its relationship with Apple.

However, Qualcomm chips play an important role in the new iPhone, according to “teardown” analyses performed by specialty publisher UBM. UBM reports the device contains three Qualcomm microchips, models MDM9615, RTR8600 and PM8018.

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The first chip — called the “crown jewel” of the Qualcomm offerings by UBM analyst Allan Yogasingam — provides a radio connection for the phone, tapping into the fast data technology called 4G LTE. (Qualcomm, incidentally, is already introducing a chip for an advanced version of LTE; that chip also allows data to flow faster.)

The second chip in the iPhone 5 is a radio frequency transceiver with GPS. The third is a power management integrated circuit.

The main processor at the heart of the iPhone 5 is a new model from Apple, called the A6.

iPhone Availability

Cricket Communications Inc., a subsidiary of San Diego-based Leap Wireless International, is one of the wireless carriers offering the iPhone 5. It is selling the new smartphone in 59 of its 65 markets, but not in San Diego. That is because Cricket’s local spectrum is not compatible with the iPhone’s electronics, said a Cricket spokesman.

Cricket has rolled out a 4G LTE network in one market: Tucson, Ariz. Cricket spokesman Greg Lund said the company expects to expand its 4G network to San Diego in 2013.

Though there were reports of iPhone shortages in some markets, Lund said Cricket had inventory on hand to supply people who wanted a device.

Cricket sells the handsets for $499.99 apiece, and offers voice and data service at $55 a month. Unlike other carriers, Cricket doesn’t require users to sign a two-year contract.

The company’s monthly plan includes up to 2.5 gigabytes of data. The data speed declines if a user goes over the limit, Lund said. Cricket then sells extra high-speed data by the gigabyte.

Cricket expected less than 10 percent of its new customers would choose an iPhone, Lund said. “It’s selling as we thought it would,” he said.

AT&T Inc. spokesman John Britton reported that some AT&T stores ran out of iPhones on the first morning the device was distributed, Sept. 21. Currently the company has a device for everyone who wants one, he said, though some customers will have to receive their new phones by mail.

New Dimensions

AT&T sells the phone model with the least amount of memory, 16 gigabytes, for $199.99 and a two-year contract. Customers pay more for extra memory.

Britton noted the phone on the 4G networks lets customers talk and consult the Internet simultaneously.

A Verizon Wireless spokesman said Apple would best answer questions about phone availability.

Apple’s new iPhone model has different dimensions than its predecessors, the iPhone 4 and 4S. The new model stands taller to accommodate a 4-inch screen rather than a 3.5-inch screen. It weighs 20 percent less than the iPhone 4S it replaces.

New dimensions mean a new challenge for the people at LifeProof, a local maker of protective cases for smartphones and tablets.

“LifeProof is working on this now,” spokeswoman Valerie Chereskin said of the iPhone 5 case. “We won’t have anything until the end of October at the earliest.” Some of LifeProof’s competitors have cases in stores, though LifeProof asserts its product offers better protection than its counterparts.

A new smartphone coming onto the market means many users will be retiring their old smartphones.

Anticipating the need, San Diego-based EcoATM says it is expanding its network of kiosks that buy back used cellphones, on the spot, for cash. The company announced recently that it was expanding into East Coast markets.

That network will grow to 300 kiosks nationally by the end of this year, EcoATM said in a statement.

D&K Engineering of Rancho Bernardo builds the kiosks.

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