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printed March 26, 2015
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Verizon Not Yet Saying when Galaxy S6 Goes On Sale

Today, 3:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon was the last of the major carriers today to announce pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The company will begin taking pre-orders for the phones on April 1, but Verizon did not provide a shipping or in-store date. The 32GB Galaxy S6 will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, $24.99 per month with an Edge plan, or $599 at full retail. The 64GB model will cost $299.99 with a contract, $29.16 per month, or $699. The 128GB model will cost $399.99 with a contract, $33.33 per month, or $799. Verizon is offering the S6 Edge with similar pricing breakdowns. The 32GB model starts at $299.99 with a contract, $29.14 per month, and $699; the 64GB model runs $399.99, $33.33, and $799; and the 128GB model runs $499.99, $37.49, and $899. (All on-contract prices reflect a $50 mail-in rebate.) Both the GS6 and GS6 Edge will include VoLTE and HD Voice, as well as simultaneous voice and data access.


Sprint Will Be First to Sell HTC One M9 In Stores On March 27

Today, 2:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will begin selling the HTC One M9 both online and in stores on Friday, March 27. Sprint is offering the device for $0 down followed by 24 monthly lease payments of $20. Customers who want to upgrade their device after 12 months can pay $10 more per month. Sprint leases require customers to turn in their device at the end of the leasing period, but they'll be able to lease a new phone with $0 down. For a limited time, customers who buy the One M9 from Sprint will be able to purchase a Harmon Kardon speaker for $99 (savings of $50). Sprint said it is still willing to pay all of potential customers' costs if they switch to Sprint from a competing carrier.

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Verizon Kicking Off HTC One M9 Preorders April 1

Today, 2:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today released pricing and availability details of its variant of the HTC One M9. Verizon is opening up pre-orders for the device on April 1. The phone will reach Verizon's retail stores on April 10. Verizon is selling the M9 for $199.99 with a two-year contract or for $25 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. The One M9 will launch with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities, which enables HD Voice and Video Calling to other compatible Verizon smartphones over LTE. Activating this feature also lets Verizon customers talk and surf the web at the same time.


Sprint Hopes 600MHz Auction Permits Joint Bidding

Today, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently suggested the company might participate in the forthcoming auction for 600MHz spectrum if it is allowed to bid jointly with smaller carriers. Claure made the remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association's Global Expo in Atlanta. "Hopefully the rules of the auction will allow us to participate," said Marcelo, noting the incentive auction will be a "great opportunity for us to lobby together to potentially form a coalition to go after this spectrum together." The 600MHz low-band spectrum is valued highly because of its propagation characteristics. Sprint said CCA members operate regional networks in areas it doesn't provide coverage, and vice versa. Allowing them to bid together would be advantageous to all involved and might let them actually win the licenses. The FCC hasn't finalized the rules for the auction yet, but it is scheduled to begin early next year. Surely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already own vast sums of low-band spectrum, will oppose any rules that might limit their participation or prevent them from competing for the licenses.


Sprint Offering Galaxy S6 and Service For $80 Per Month

Today, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is hoping to attract customers to its network with a combined promotion that includes the Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Sprint Unlimited Plus service plan for $80 per month. The plan includes the 32GB GS6 for "free" after a $20-per-month credit with a 24-month lease; unlimited talk, text, and data; international value roaming; and annual upgrades. Customers who want the 64GB or 128GB models can get them for $85 and $90 per month, respectively, with the same service plan. Families interested in the Galaxy S6 can score four of them with unlimited talk and text, and 20GB of shared data for a total monthly price of $200 per month. Annual upgrades would cost another $10 per line per month. Customers looking for the Galaxy S6 Edge can snag one for $85 per month ($5 per month after $20-per-month lease credit) with the Sprint Unlimited plan. Customers not interested in contracts or leases can pay full price for the Galaxy S6 ($649.99) and pair it with a Boost Mobile plan. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale in Sprint stores April 10, with pre-orders beginning March 27.


Amazon Offering Unlimited Cloud Storage for $60 Per Year

Today, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today debuted two new cloud storage plans that should appeal to consumers looking to store backups of important files online. The Unlimited Everything Plan offers an unlimited amount of online storage for photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive. It costs $59.99 per year. For customers interested in spending less, Amazon is also offering an Unlimited Photos Plan, which lets people store an infinite number of photos in addition to 5GB of additional storage for videos, documents, and other files. The Unlimited Photos Plan costs $11.99 per year. Amazon is offering a free three-month trial of both plans beginning today. Prime members and Fire device owners, who already have access to unlimited photo storage, can choose to sign up for the Unlimited Everything Plan to store videos and files in addition to their pictures.


T-Mobile Asking $780 for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Today, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile was the first carrier today to reveal pricing information for its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. T-Mobile listed the full retail prices at $679.92 and $779.76, respectively, for the two handsets. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge share nearly all specs and features, but the S6 Edge has a display that's curved on two sides. Customers can pre-order the phones beginning at 7:00 AM Pacific on March 27. The S6 will go for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $28.33, while the S6 Edge will require 24 monthly payments of $32.49. T-Mobile customers who order before April 12th can also receive a one-year Netflix subscription at no cost.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Today, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


Google's Keep App Scores Labels In Latest Update

Today, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week pushed out an update to its Keep application for Android devices. The note-taking app adds labels, which users can take advantage of to organize their notes or make them easier to search. The app also adds scheduled reminders (daily, weekly, monthly) for recurring tasks or events. Google Keep is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Twitter's Periscope App Powers Live Video Streaming

Today, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today released a new application for the iPhone called Periscope. The app lets people broadcast live video to their Twitter followers. When Periscope users choose to publish live video, their followers are notified and can view the stream, comment on the video, and send feedback in the form of hearts. Periscope saves broadcasts for up to 24 hours for replay, and permits people to share live video privately if they wish. Periscope will suggest who to follow based on the user's Twitter network, as the app allows people to follow/unfollow other Periscope users at will. Users can easily act on or ignore incoming notifications when others in their network begin streaming live video. The feedback mechanism, which uses hearts, tells Periscope streamers how much love their video receives. Periscope is battling a third-party app called Meerkat, which similarly offers live video feeds via Twitter. Periscope is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Twitter didn't indicate if it will release a version for Android devices.


AT&T, T-Mobile Share HTC One M9 Pricing Details

Today, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Today, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


Motorola Found to Infringe on MMS Patent

Yesterday, 6:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Delaware jury today said Motorola violated a patent held by Intellectual Ventures. The patent pertains to how multimedia messages function on mobile devices. The jury cleared Motorola of violating a second patent related to wireless bandwidth. Damages will be decided later. The two companies faced off in court last year over these same patents, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. Today's decision comes after the case was tried again. Intellectual Ventures is taking Motorola to trial over yet another patent later this week. Intellectual Ventures is a patent-holding firm with some 17,000 patents in its portfolio.


Lumia 640 Landing At T-Mobile In Near Future

Yesterday, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently added the Microsoft Lumia 640 to its web site and described the device as "coming soon." Microsoft revealed the Lumia 640 at Mobile World Congress earlier this month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and Microsoft's productivity apps. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10 later this year. T-Mobile didn't disclose exact availability or pricing, but Microsoft said the phone will reach stores in April for about $180. AT&T and MetroPCS also plan to sell the Lumia 640.


Facebook to Turn Messenger Into a Platform for Apps

Yesterday, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 12:41 PM

Facebook today announced Messenger Platform, an expansion of its messaging application that will let developers tap into key features. Facebook envisions Messenger Platform as new place for people to express themselves and share content. Allowing developers to hook into Messenger means users will eventually be able to do much more with their conversations, such as create animated GIFs. People will soon be able to browse for Messenger apps directly from Messenger. Facebook said 40 apps will be available at launch. Facebook also announced Messenger for Business. The idea here is to allow people to communicate with businesses via Messenger rather than via phone or other means. Facebook views it as a more convenient approach to communications between customers and companies. In an example provided on stage during its F8 developer conference, Facebook demonstrated how Messenger -- rather than email -- can be used by businesses to provide purchasing and shipping details when shopping online. Facebook said apps for Messenger and Messenger for Business will go live in a few weeks.


T-Mobile Tempting Galaxy S6 Buyers with Year of Netflix

Yesterday, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today revealed via Twitter that customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge will receive a year-long subscription to on-demand video service Netflix. T-Mobile didn't provide any other details about the promotion, nor has the company said when the latest smartphones from Samsung will go on sale.


Seniors Wireless Adds Doctor Access to Wireless Plans

Yesterday, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Seniors Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, announced a new service that gives subscribers direct phone access to a doctor at all times. TeleMED Assist provides customers with unlimited calls to doctors for emergency, urgent, or non-urgent purposes 24/7. Over-the-phone medical consultations are included in the service, which costs $30 per month for singles or $40 per month for couples. TeleMED Assist is a separate service and does not require a Seniors Wireless telephone account. Seniors Wireless offers a handful of standard service plans ranging from $10 to $30 per month. The company has several handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5 and Note 3, the Sharp Aquos Crystal, the LG Vigor, and the Apple iPhone 4. Seniors Wireless competes with GreatCall, which also offers access to health professionals over the phone. Both target the over 55 set.


Kyocera Phone Recycling Program to Benefit Soldiers

Yesterday, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kyocera today launched a nationwide 'Take Back' phone recycling program that will provide calling services to deployed military personnel. Kyocera partnered with SecondWave Recycling to handle the logistics. SecondWave breaks phones down and responsibly recycles their raw materials. For every four phones recycled, Kyocera will donate $1 to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, which gives active-duty military personnel and veterans free communications services when abroad. The $1 donation provides 30 minutes of long-distance calling time. Kyocera says only 13% of cell phones are recycled, with the remainder going to landfills or incinerators. The Take Back program will accept any phone, working or not. People interested in recycling their phones can print free shipping labels from Kyocera, which will also provide shipping containers if necessary.

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