Hunched over a computer at a corporate AT&T store on Wilshire Boulevard Wednesday afternoon, a salesperson named Pedro asked a customer whether Apple had announced the successor to the iPad 2 tablet yet.
“Yep. It’s the iPad, in high definition,” a man in line responded.
“It’s got a retina display,” he said, referring to the tablet’s new ultra-high-resolution display.
The man continued, rattling off some of the other announced features of the next-generation tablet: voice dictation, a better camera, better tools for photo editing.
For AT&T, though, Apple’s inclusion of LTE connectivity in its newest iPad may be the biggest Apple news since the tech giant signed an exclusivity deal with AT&T back in 2007. And it might just be the ticket to stopping the company’s silent all-out war on Apple, which has intensified in recent months.
A Daily Caller tour of 10 AT&T stores — both corporate stores and authorized retail stores — in the week before Apple’s new iPad announcement showed just how far Apple’s stock had fallen in AT&T’s estimation since the launch of the iPhone 4S in October 2011.
“I wouldn’t really recommend the [iPhone] 4S,” said an AT&T representative at a Hollywood store when I asked him what phone I should purchase as an upgrade. “Apple hasn’t really done anything new since the iPhone [3G],” the representative added, before recommending the LG Nitro HD, a Google Android-powered phone, as an alternative.
The iPhone 4S, unlike the Nitro, runs only on 3G and HSPA+ (“4G”) networks and is not compatible with AT&T’s faster 4G LTE system, which promises larger-than-life download speeds.
When asked whether the iPhone had any advantages of any kind over the Nitro HD, the rep was flummoxed.
“Well, actually, it has the screen,” he began. “Well, no, nevermind, you were asking about advantages of the iPhone, right? No, the Nitro has higher pixels. It’s got a higher pixel density.”
Not quite: the Nitro HD sports a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch — an impressive figure, to be sure, but it’s no better than the pixel density of either the iPhone 4 or 4S.
The iPhone hate didn’t stop there. A salesman at a nearby store claimed that the Nitro’s ability to run Adobe’s mobile Flash Player would allow me to watch Netflix movies on the go, which he said was impossible on the iPhone. (In fact, Netflix has a dedicated app on the iPhone that enables users to watch Netflix movies over Wifi or 3G.)
“I was really expecting the iPhone 4S to be something new,” he explained, noting that he had switched to an Android phone in the wake of the 4S announcement. “I wanted a 4G LTE iPhone 4S, but I guess I’ll have to wait for [the iPhone] 5.”
After a bit of prodding, the rep finally thought of a positive for the iPhone 4S: Facetime, a video-chatting feature. He promptly added that it “kind of sucks” that the feature is useless without a Wifi connection, which he said wasn’t required by competing Android apps.
All across Los Angeles, the story was the same. Guy goes into an AT&T store asking about an upgrade, hears various horror stories about Apple’s iOS operating system, and emerges with the distinct impression that AT&T — Apple’s former partner in the smartphone wars — had soured on Cupertino’s flagship device. All of the representatives I spoke with said they were personal converts to the Android operating system, and some even pulled out their phones to prove it.
In another Hollywood AT&T store, a salesman named Bill from phone manufacturer LG approached me within seconds of hearing that I was interested in an upgrade. The two AT&T reps stood by as Bill tried to work his magic.