Phone Scoop

printed October 20, 2016
See this page online at:


News New Phones  

iPhone 7 Plus Intel Modem Not Equal to Qualcomm Modem

Today, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Under poor network conditions, the iPhone 7 Plus with Intel inside does not perform as well as the iPhone 7 Plus with Qualcomm inside. Apple sourced the iPhone 7 Plus modem from both Intel and Qualcomm. This represents a major change for the company, which has relied solely on Qualcomm modems for years. The Intel modem (XMM7360) is found in the AT&T and T-Mobile variants of the iPhone 7, while the Qualcomm modem (MDM9645M) is found in the Sprint, Verizon, and unlocked variants of the iPhone 7. Cellular Insights conducted extensive signal tests on the iPhone 7 Plus in LTE Bands 12, 7, and 4 to see if any performance differences exist between the two modems. Under optimal network conditions both the Intel- and Qualcomm-equipped iPhones demonstrated an equal level of performance in speed and maintaining a connection. Under weak network conditions, however, the Intel-equipped iPhone 7 Plus posted speeds that were on average 30% slower than those of the Qualcomm-equipped iPhone 7 Plus. The slower speeds at the cell edge mean the Intel-based iPhone 7 Plus may be more likely to experience dropped VoLTE calls and other, similar behaviors. "In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem," said Cellular Insights in its report. Apple has not said why it selected modems from two separate suppliers for the iPhone 7 Plus.

Google Pixel Hits Verizon Stores Today, But Pixel XL 128 GB Sold Out

Today, 10:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said the Google Pixel and Pixel XL are available at its stores today. The Pixel 32 GB ($650) and 128 GB ($750), and the Pixel XL 32 GB ($770) are in stores in black, white, and blue. The Pixel XL 128 GB ($870) is sold out and not available. Monthly pricing over two years breaks down to $27.08, $31.24, $32.08, and $36.24, respectively, for the Pixel 32 GB, Pixel 128 GB, Pixel XL 32 GB, and Pixel XL 128 GB. Verizon will offer up to $300 for select trade-ins, including the HTC One M9, iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, LG G4 or V10, Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ or Note 5. Customers who buy either Pixel device may also preorder the Daydream View virtual reality headset.

AD       news continues below...

BlackBerry Updates Hub+ and Other Android Apps

Today, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced an update to its Hub+ subscription service for Android devices. Hub+ users will now be able add Facebook Messenger to Hub+ and manage Messenger communications directly in the Hub. Hub+ also makes it easier to save inline images and improves support for admin-defined signatures for business users. Beyond Hub+, BlackBerry updated the BlackBerry Android Keyboard, BlackBerry Launcher, and Password Keeper apps. The Keyboard gains new ways to switch languages and global gesture support. The Launcher now includes a dynamic calendar icon that will show the current date. BlackBerry's Password Keeper adds secure lists and support for fingerprint sensors, and makes organizational changes to the settings panel. In addition to the new features, all the apps gain performance improvements. BlackBerry's own Priv and DTEK50 handsets will see speed enhancements in the camera app. BlackBerry's Hub+ and other Android apps are available from the Google Play Store. Hub+ requires a monthly subscription.

Gboard for iPhone Adds 3D Touch Support

Today, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Gboard keyboard app for the iPhone with new 3D Touch-based features. A hard press on the keyboard puts it in cursor mode, allowing users to more easily and accurately move the cursor around the screen for editing. The refreshed app also gains new themes and contacts search. Last, Gboard now includes all the iOS 10 emoji. Gboard is free to download from the iTunes App Store.

Google Keep Lets Users Pin Notes

Today, 7:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently updated its Keep app for Android handsets, giving it the power to pin notes. A pin icon is now visible within the app and tapping it will pin kept notes to a new section of the app for quick retrieval. Google Keep is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Kodak Ektra Is More Camera Than Phone

Today, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Bullitt Group today announced the Kodak Ektra, an Android smartphone that focuses on providing a steady camera experience. Bullitt is the company behind CAT phones and made another Kodak-branded phone earlier this year. The Ektra more closely resembles a camera than a phone thanks to its large camera module and dedicated shutter button. The Bullitt-made phone has a 21-megapixel IMX230 imaging sensor from Sony with an aperture of f/2.0 and dual LED flash. It includes optical image stabilization, phase-detection autofocus, and can capture 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor. The phone includes a 5-inch full HD screen, MediaTek Helio X20 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and a 3,000mAh battery. The Ektra runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and has an advanced camera application with features such as bokeh, HDR, panorama, and manual mode. The devices goes on sale in select markets later this year for about $500. Bullitt didn't say if the phone will be sold in the U.S.

Google Releases Android 7.1 Developer Preview

Yesterday, 4:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today followed through on its recent promise to make a preview version of Android 7.1 Nougat available to developers. Registered developers can download the refreshed operating system to their Nexus 6P or 5X devices, as well as snag the latest developer tools from Google, including Android Studio and associated SDKs. The most forward-facing new feature for end users is support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. The Android keyboard can interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions or settings that can be reached directly from the launcher. The preview can be downloaded over the air. Google expects to release another developer preview in November with the final build scheduled for December.

Second Round of FCC Incentive Auction Fizzles Out

Yesterday, 3:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The second round of the FCC's reverse auction ended suddenly in just a few hours due to lack of demand. Earlier this month the FCC lowered the targeted clearing cost of the spectrum licenses to $54.6 billion. Today's bids reached about $20.5 billion, falling far short and leaving the round nowhere else to go. The FCC will now have to go back to television broadcasters and renegotiate prices for their licenses before kicking off round three. The FCC said bidding may stretch into 2017 before the auction ends. The original clearing price was an astronomical $86 billion. Television stations have agreed to give up their valuable 600 MHz spectrum licenses and sell them to wireless carriers. So far, carriers haven't been biting very hard.

Verizon Shares Final LG V20 Launch Details

Yesterday, 2:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today finalized pricing and availability info regarding the LG V20 handset. The device will be available for preorder starting 10/20 and reach stores on 10/27. The V20 will cost $28 per month for 24 months, or $672 at full retail. Verizon has several promotions associated with the V20. To start, customers who trade in select phones can receive up to $300 off the V20 when purchased on a payment plan. Further, Verizon customers can score a free pair of Bang & Olufsen H3 headphones with a V20 purchase. Last, customers who purchase a V20 can get the LG Stylo 2 V for just $1 per month for 24 months.

Verizon Adds a 'V' to the LG Stylo 2

Yesterday, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it will kick off sales of the LG Stylo 2 V on Oct. 20. The phone will cost $240, or $10 per month for 24 months. The Stylo 2 V, like the variants already sold by Boost and Cricket, has a 5.7-inch screen with stylus, a 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, memory card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by an octa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon processor, which is a change from the other versions, with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The Stylo 2 V runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

LeEco Breezes Through S3 Announcement

Yesterday, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 2:55 PM

LeEco today quickly showed off the S3 smartphone during an event in San Francisco. This affordable handset boasts a unibody metal design and comes in gold, gray, and rose gold. It has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 652 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 16-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel front camera, 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0, fingerprint sensor, and USB Type-C. The LeEco S3 runs Android with LeEco's EUI user-interface skin. LeEco said the LeS3 will cost $249 and it should go on sale via LeEco's LeMall online retail space in early November.

LeEco Details the LePro3 with Snapdragon 821

Yesterday, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 2:58 PM

LeEco today announced the LePro3 smartphone, an Android-based flagship that includes the Snapdragon 821 processor and a 4,070mAh battery. LeEco says the large power cell provides 33 hours of talk time or up to 49 hours o media playback. The battery supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid charging, and it can ingest a 33% charge in 20 minutes. Other specs include 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage; 5.5-inch full HD display; stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos; 16-megapixel main camera with 4K video capture and 8-megapixel front camera; and fingerprint sensor. The LePro3 is made from brushed aluminum and boasts 2D, curved glass. It will be available in gray and gold. The LePro3 costs $399. It will be available online from LeMall starting Nov. 2.

Apple Releases iOS 10.1 Beta 5 for Devs and Public Testers

Yesterday, 11:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 12:23 PM

Apple today made iOS 10.1 Beta 5 available to registered developers and public beta testers alike. This fifth beta follows the release of the fourth beta by just two days, implying that some urgent bug fixes may be contained within. Apple otherwise didn't say what's new in this beta release. iOS 10.1 primarily adds Portrait Mode (bokeh effect) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Apple still hasn't indicated when iOS 10.1 might reach the public other than to say "October."

T-Mobile Fined by FCC for Limits on "Unlimited" Plans

Yesterday, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today announced a $48 million settlement with T-Mobile over T-Mobile's failure to adequately disclose limits on data plans that they had marketed as "unlimited". The plans actually capped users at 17 GB per month, after which users experienced throttled speeds when and where the network was congested. The FCC felt these limits were inadequately disclosed and fined the company $7.5 million directly. T-Mobile is also required to give up to $35.5 million in discounts to affected customers, and give $5 million to schools. Going forward, the company has agreed to new rules regarding "unlimited" plans. It will be required to advertise such limits more clearly and alert users when they are approaching those limits.

Review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Tuesday, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The BackBeat Pro 2s are an affordable pair of Bluetooth headphones from Plantronics. Features such as active noise cancellation, long battery life, and respectable sound quality make the Pro 2's low price point seem like a mistake. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth report.

continued ›

Microsoft Debuts Skype Sign-In Across Services

Tuesday, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made it possible for Skype users to sign into other Microsoft services with their Skype username and password. For example, people who have Skype credentials will be able to use them to log into Xbox, Office, or OneDrive. Moreover, people will be able to use those services across devices and platforms with this new single sign-in, negating the need to enter separate usernames and passwords for each Microsoft service across their devices. Microsoft is now wholly managing the Skype sign-in screen, password change, and account recovery flow, but none of these changes impact how people access and use Skype. Microsoft says the single sign-in tool will be available in the newest versions of the Skype app across platforms in the days ahead.

Instagram Stories to Show Up In Explore Tab

Tuesday, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today said it will begin to show Instagram Stories under the Explore tab in its mobile app. Instagram Stories, which are ephemeral like Snapchat posts, let people share everyday moments as photos and/or video clips strung together. Instagram is adding Stories to the Explore tab so it is easier to discover the stories being shared across the social network. Moreover, a Suggested Stories section will highlight what Instagram believes are the most interesting stories being told from around the world. Instagram is free to download for Android and iOS devices.

AT&T Roams Into Cuba

Tuesday, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today launched roaming in Cuba. AT&T customers can talk, text, and use data when traveling to Cuba. Roaming in Cuba isn't cheap, however: calls cost $3 per minute, texts cost $0.50 each, MMS messages cost $1.30 each, and data costs $2.05 per megabyte.

Subscribe to Phone Scoop News with RSS Follow @phonescoop on Twitter Phone Scoop on Facebook Subscribe to Phone Scoop on YouTube Follow on Instagram


All content Copyright 2001-2016 Phone Factor, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Content on this site may not be copied or republished without formal permission.