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printed October 19, 2017
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Sprint's 'Safe & Found' Service Lets Parents Keep Tabs On Kids

Oct 13, 2017, 11:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today debuted a new resource for parents called Safe & Found. It allows parents to view their child's smartphone location any time, as well as set controls over apps and usage. The service includes real-time geolocation and geofencing, which allows parents to create safe zones in which their children are permitted to travel. If the child's phone departs the geofenced area, parents will receive alerts. The service includes an SOS button, which will send an emergency alert with the child's location to all family members. Alternately, if the phone is lost Safe & Found lets subscribers find, lock, or wipe it remotely. Parental controls give mom and dad the ability to restrict calls to trusted numbers, install age-appropriate apps, and regulate usage based on the time of day. The service includes content restrictions, too, so inappropriate web content and apps are blocked from kid phones. Safe & Found costs $6.99 per line per month and it is compatible with Android and iOS devices.


Sprint Offers $10 Lease on iPhone 8

Oct 13, 2017, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today rolled out a new lease offer for the Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus that sees discounts up to $350 off the list price with an eligible trade-in. For example, customers can snag the 64 GB iPhone 8 for $0 down and $9.72 per month after bill credits. The same monthly price is available for the 256 GB iPhone 8, but it requires a $150 down payment. Lease prices for the iPhone 8 Plus are a few dollars more at $13.89 per month with $0 down for the 64 GB model and $150 down for the 256 GB model. Device trade-ins must be fairly new and in working order. Eligible devices include the Apple iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, and 7 Plus; the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+; the LG G5, G6, or V20; the Motorola Z Droid, Z Play, Z Force Droid, Z2 Play, or Z2 Force; the Google Pixel or Pixel XL; the BlackBerry KEYone; or the HTC U11. Trades must be owned outright and not under any form of payments. Sprint allows lessees to upgrade their device after 12 monthly payments.


Samsung Reveals Price Points for Gear Sport Watch and Icon X Headphones

Oct 12, 2017, 3:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said its Gear Sport smartwatch and Icon X 2018 headphones will be available for pre-order starting October 13, with general retail availability to follow October 27. The Gear Sport, a fitness-focused smartwatch that runs Samsung's Tizen platform, costs $299.99. It will initially be sold by Samsung.com and BestBuy.com, and will later expand to Amazon, Macy's, and U.S. Cellular. The watch has a 1.2-inch screen, GPS, rotating bezel for controlling the user interface, and waterproof chassis for recording swim workouts. The Gear Icon X 2018, wireless earbuds with heart rate detection and other fitness features, costs $199.99. The Icon X will initially be sold only by Samsung.com, with Amazon, BestBuy.com, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular to follow later. The Icon X 2018 are second-generation Bluetooth headphones that can interact with Samsung's Bixby personal assistant. The devices were announced earlier this year.


ZTE Blade Force for Boost Mobile Boasts HPUE

Oct 10, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Blade Force smartphone for Boost Mobile. This Android handset includes support for Sprint's High Performance User Equipment technology and two-channel carrier aggregation for better performance near the cell edge. The Blade Force has a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 427 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports external storage cards up to 128 GB. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 5-megapixel camera. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and FM radio. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat and is available online starting today for $130.


LG V30+ Exclusive to Sprint, Coming October 13

Sep 29, 2017, 3:07 PM   by Rich Brome

Sprint will offer LG's new flagship V30+ phone starting on October 13th. The V30+ is exclusive to Sprint in the U.S.; other carriers will offer the standard V30. The V30+ has 128 GB of internal storage, twice that of the standard V30. It will also come with LG QuadPlay high-quality earbuds. For a limited time, it will also come with a free Google Daydream VR headset. The V30 is one of the first LG-branded phones compatible with Daydream. Sprint is selling the phone for $912, or leasing it for $38/month. For a limited time, Sprint is offering 2-for-1 on the $38/month lease.


T-Mobile, Sprint Reach Breakthrough On Potential Merger

Sep 22, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and Sprint have made significant progress in ironing out merger terms, according to Reuters. T-Mobile and Sprint have made a "major breakthrough" on a merger between them. As it stands, SoftBank, Sprint's parent, would own between 40% and 50% of the combined company, with Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, owning the majority stake. These terms are near final and will require due diligence before a deal is announced, which may happen as soon as the end of October, according to Reuters' sources. In addition to shareholder and board approval, the deal would face regulatory scrutiny from the U.S. government. SoftBank was forced to abandon an attempted merger with T-Mobile back in 2014 due to government pressure. The combined T-Mobile/Sprint entity would catapult to 130 million customers, putting it just behind rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile and Sprint declined to comment on Reuters' story.


Google Intros 'Zero-Touch' Android Enterprise Deployments

Sep 21, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easier for businesses to configure and deploy Android handsets to employees with a new tool called zero-touch enrollment. Google says zero-touch lets companies configure purchased devices and ship them directly to employees completely preconfigured with corporate policies and controls all in place. Users need only sign in to gain access to their work apps and data. The new zero-touch enrollment tool is available on handsets purchased from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Google is working with Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, HMD Global, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim to ensure a wide selection of devices support zero-touch. Google indicated the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks. Businesses will be able to use a wide range of enterprise device management tools from the likes of BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, Suite, and VMware to configure zero-touch. Google encouraged businesses that are interested in zero-touch to contact their carriers directly.


Essential Phone Now Compatible with Verizon's Network

Sep 18, 2017, 8:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says its smartphone, the PH-1, is now fully able to run on Verizon Wireless's network. The company announced the news via its Twitter account. Essential didn't say what changed, or what it might have updated to make the phone work more properly on Verizon's network. The handset is already for sale unlocked and from Sprint. Verizon does not actually sell the phone. The PH-1 is a high-end Android handset with a bezel-less design. It supports magnetic modules that attach on the back via magnets. It costs $699.


Essential Phone Lands at Sprint Tomorrow

Sep 13, 2017, 2:39 PM   by Rich Brome

Sprint today announced that the Essential Phone will go on sale through all Sprint channels — including stores — on September 14th. The high-end, bezel-free phone is already available unlocked.


Apple Watch Series 3 Supports Carriers' One Number Calling and Messaging

Sep 13, 2017, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with an optional cellular radio. The LTE radio makes it possible for the smartwatch to connect to cellular networks on its own, without a nearby iPhone. According to AT&T, the Apple Watch Series 3 is compatible with its NumberSync service, allowing people to make and receive phone calls from their main mobile number on the wearable. In addition to calls, NumberSync allows people to send/receive text messages from their main number directly on the smartwatch. The phone does need to powered on somewhere in order for the service to work. NumberSync is built into AT&T's network, so it doesn't require third-party apps in order to function properly. AT&T charges a $10 per month fee to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing data plan. NumberSync is included for free. AT&T said it will waive the customary activation fee for the Apple Watch Series 3. Verizon Wireless customers will enjoy similar functionality via Verizon's NumberShare technology, which also allows people to make calls and send messages directly from their wrist over the cellular network. Like AT&T, Verizon is charging $10 per month to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing plan. T-Mobile, too, has a $10 Apple Watch Series 3 plan that includes one-number calling from either the phone or the watch. Sprint has not yet detailed a similar service. The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE goes on sale September 22 for $399.


U.S. Carriers Create Mobile Authentication Taskforce

Sep 8, 2017, 11:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Mobile operators in the U.S. today said they will work together to help customers more easily manage app and account authentication while also protecting consumers' privacy and identity. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, which will create a mobile authentication solution for consumer and business customers alike next year. The carriers are going to pool resources and analyze customer data and activity patterns on their respective mobile networks to accurately predict if people are who they say they are. They'll parse insights such as geo-location, network-based device behaviors, and SIM card recognition to determine identity and authenticate users. The four carriers are taking an open approach to the Mobile Authentication Taskforce and hope third-party organizations and developers will participate. The group didn't say exactly when it expects to roll out the initial offering. Finding new and secure ways to authenticate end users is becoming increasingly important as more personal information is available on mobile devices.


Boost Mobile Bundles Taxes and Fees Into Service Plan Cost

Sep 8, 2017, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint-owned Boost Mobile today said taxes and fees are now included in the cost of its monthly service plans for new and existing customers. Boost's current customers will not need to do anything to reap the benefits of this change, which will be automatically adopted on all bills after September 8. Moreover, Boost Mobile is rolling out a promotion to entice consumers to switch. The company is offering those who port to Boost Mobile four lines for $100 with unlimited talk, text, and data on all four lines. International services will cost extra. Sprint says streaming for all Boost customers is mobile optimized with video up to 480p and music up to 500 Kbps. Games are limited to streams of 2 Mbps. Sprint will slow down speeds when the network is congested. Boost Mobile's plans start at $25 per month.


Sprint, T-Mobile Discount LG G6 and V20

Aug 18, 2017, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and T-Mobile today both introduced promotions that make LG's flagship handsets more affordable. Sprint, for example, dropped the lease price of the G6 from $29.50 per month to $20 per month. That cuts the full cost of the phone from about $700 to $480, or a savings of $220 over time. T-Mobile is offering a buy-one, get-one promo on the G6 and V20. Customers who buy either phone on an equipment installment plan can get a second for free with the activation of a new line. T-Mobile sells the G6 for $20 down and $20 per month, or $500 in total. It sells the V20 for $0 down and $20 per month, or $480 in total. Customers will need to buy both devices and then register to receive a rebate to cover the cost of the second phone. The rebate comes in the form of a prepaid MasterCard for up to $500. LG is widely expected to replace the V20 with its new V30 flagship later this month.


Sprint Taking Preorders for the Essential PH-1

Aug 17, 2017, 11:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today began accepting preorders for the Essential PH-1 smartphone. Sprint is offering the phone at a significant savings through its lease program when compared to buying the phone outright directly from Essential. The PH-1 is available to Sprint customers for $14.58 per month through a Sprint Flex 18-Month Lease, which totals about $260 under the full retail cost of $699. At the end of the lease period, Essential lessees can opt to pay off the balance or turn the phone in for something else. Sprint is also offering the Essential 360-degree modular camera attachment for $199, or $16.67 per month for 12 months on an installment plan. The black version will be available in stores within a few weeks, according to Sprint, with the white model following at a later date. Sprint says the phone supports three-channel carrier aggregation on its network and can hit theoretical download speeds in excess of 200 Mbps. Essential recently emailed customers who preordered the phone and informed them that the PH-1 will ship in about a week. The Essential PH-1 has a bezelless design, a magnetic mod system, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor.


Essential Says Black PH-1 Shipping Within A Week, White PH-1 Not Ready Yet

Aug 16, 2017, 6:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products today began emailing customers who preordered the PH-1 smartphone with news of the device's imminent arrival. "Great news, your phone has been built! We now just need your payment details and we will ship within 7 days," reads the email in part. Customers who've preordered the black version of the phone can expect to receive their phone within a week of paying for it. The white version, however, is not yet ready. Customers who preordered the white model are receiving a different email that says, "As shipment of your Pure White device is still a couple of weeks away, we want to give you the option to change your order from a Pure White to a Black Moon device, which will ship [sooner.]" People who preordered the Pure White model can contact Essential's support team to opt for the Black Moon color if they wish. The phone will also be sold by Amazon.com and Best Buy in the U.S. in addition to Sprint, which is the only U.S. carrier that has agreed to distribute the phone. Essential hasn't yet said when retail units would be available. The Essential PH-1 has a bezelless design, a magnetic mod system, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor. It is priced at $699. Essential told customers who preordered the modular 360-degree camera that they'll be contacted via email separately when the camera is ready.


Boost Mobile Matches MetroPCS Unlimited Offer

Aug 14, 2017, 9:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today rolled out a new "back to school" service offer that gives families less-costly unlimited service. The new Unlimited Gigs plan costs $50 for one line, which includes unlimited talk and text; 8 GB of mobile hotspot; optimized video, gaming, and music streams; and unlimited 4G LTE data for most everything else. Additional lines on the Unlimited Gigs family plan cost $25 each, up to a total of five lines. The pricing matches that exactly of a recent promotion kicked off by competitor MetroPCS. The new Unlimited Gigs offer will be available starting August 22. Boost Mobile continues to offer its 3 GB plan for $35 per month. Additional lines on the 3 GB plan cost $25 each. Boost Mobile is owned and operated by Sprint.


Essential Moves Closer to Phone Debut, But Still No Date

Aug 9, 2017, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says it will reveal the launch date of its PH-1 smartphone within one week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company first said the phone would launch within 30 days of its initial debut, which took place back in May. When the phone hadn't appeared by mid July, CEO Andy Rubin said the Essential Phone would arrive "in a few weeks." That time frame has come and gone and there's still no firm release date for the phone. Beyond the launch date, Essential confirmed to the Journal that the phone will be sold by Amazon.com and Best Buy in the U.S. in addition to Sprint, which is the only U.S. carrier that has agreed to distribute the phone. The Essential PH-1 has a bezelless design, a magnetic mod system, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor. It is priced at $699.


Motorola Moto E4 Plus Goes On Sale Aug. 3 for $180

Aug 1, 2017, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said the Moto E4 Plus, which it announced in June, will reach various sales channels later this week. The unlocked variant will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com starting August 3 for $180. Verizon Wireless plans to sell its own version of the Moto E4 Plus on August 3 too, though Verizon's pricing wasn't immediately available. Sprint, Ting, and other U.S. retailers will stock the Moto E4 Plus beginning August 11, with Republic Wireless to follow August 14. Motorola will also sell an Amazon Prime Exclusive version of the Moto E4 Plus, though pricing on the Amazon model wasn't announced. The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.


Moto Z2 Force Drops 'Droid' Branding On Verizon

Jul 25, 2017, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.


Andy Rubin's Essential Phone to Arrive In 'A Few Weeks'

Jul 21, 2017, 10:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Andy Rubin today provided an update concerning the expected arrival of his new company's Essential PH-1 smartphone. "We’ve been hard at work getting everything ready and the good news is that we’re now going through certification and testing with multiple U.S. and international carriers," said Rubin in an email to supporters. "You might be getting impatient to get your hands on your new Essential Phone (and I’m also impatient to get it to you!) but rest assured that you will have a device in your hands in a few weeks." Rubin said his team is "sweating the details and working long hours to get this device shipped." Rubin had previously committed to shipping the phone by the end of June. It now appears the device will arrive in August. The Essential PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. It includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. It will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat and ship completely devoid of brand names or logos. Essential will sell the PH-1 directly to consumers, though Sprint also plans to carry the phone. It costs $699.


Coral Blue Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go On Sale In US July 21

Jul 19, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said the Coral Blue variant of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets will become available to U.S. buyers starting July 21. According to Samsung, carrier-specific versions for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will be available at Best Buy stores, while the unlocked version will be available at Best Buy and Samsung.com. Customers looking to save some money can take advantage of a promotion at Best Buy stores between July 21 and July 29 that offers up to $400 off the cost of the handset with a carrier activation. Samsung said consumers can save up to $150 of the price of either handset when purchasing the phone directly from Samsung, as well as take advantage of Samsung's trade-on promo. Details concerning the promotions are available from Samsung's web site. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are already available in black, silver, and gray.


Sprint to Open Up Leasing to All Phones

Jul 14, 2017, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2017, 9:33 AM

Sprint plans to expand its phone leasing program to all the handsets in its lineup. Until now, Sprint has reserved its leasing program for Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. The new program, called Sprint Flex, provides customers with several options. The iPhone Forever and Galaxy Forever leasing programs remain in place as-is and offer annual upgrades at no extra cost. For every other device, Sprint will allow customers to upgrade after 12 consecutive on-time lease payments for an extra fee of $5 per month. Those who don't want or need to upgrade each 12 months can revisit their phone lease at the 18-month mark when they can return the device for a new one, pay the phone off in a lump sum to own it, or make six more payments to own it. Sprint is also rolling out a program called Sprint Deals, which offers low-cost monthly payments on Sprint's selection of affordable phones. This program lets people finance handset costs with or without a credit check. Entry-level devices require a $25 down payment and $5 payments per month, while pricer phones will require a $30 down payment and $10 per month. Those with poor or no credit can score a discount on some of these phones if activated on a Sprint Forward prepaid plan. Sprint hopes affordable lease rates on its handsets will entice customers to sign up. "We want to give full flexibility to our customers because you don’t want to get stuck with an old phone," said Sprint SVP of Leasing Robert Hackl in an interview with Reuters. Sprint is the nation's fourth-largest carrier in terms of customers. It has rolled out a number of promotions and changes to its service plans in an effort to gain more subscribers.


Sprint to Sell BlackBerry KEYone from July 14

Jul 13, 2017, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said that the BlackBerry KEYone smartphone will go on sale July 14. It will initially be available online and via telesales. The phone won't reach stores until later this month. Sprint is charging $528 for the handset, or $22 per month on a payment plan. The KEYone, made by TCL, the parent company of Alcatel, combines a 4.5-inch touch screen with a physical QWERTY keyboard. Other features include a Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megapixel camera, 3,505mAh battery, and Android 7.1 Nougat with BlackBerry's DTEK security suite.

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Sprint Gave Its Galaxy S8 a Speed Boost

Jul 12, 2017, 3:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has pushed a firmware update to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and in so doing improved the phone's LTE download speeds by about 20%. According to PCMag, the update resolves a software bug that prevented the S8 from properly connecting to Sprint's Band 41 LTE. Sprint says about 85% of its S8 customers have already applied the update, which was pushed last month. Sprint delivered a similar update to the HTC U11, which also gained a performance boost in download speeds.


Google Now Offering Project Fi to Really Small Businesses

Jun 27, 2017, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today expanded the availability of Project Fi to its G Suite customers. G Suite users are those associated with businesses and use Google's email, calendar, contacts, and other products through their employer. Until today Project Fi has been available to individual users and families or other small groups, but moving forward G Suite customers can sign up for the monthly wireless service. Google says Project Fi is still limited to just six users per group plan, so it is not a viable option for medium or large enterprises. Google said Project Fi will be available to all G Suite users in the U.S. within the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi and LTE service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to find the strongest/best signal. Project Fi only charges customers for data they use, rather than a large bucket. Plans start at $30 per month for talk, text, and 1 GB of data. A Pixel or Nexus Android smartphone is required.


Alcatel Announces the Idol 5S with Stereo Speakers

Jun 27, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.


Virgin Mobile USA Relaunches As An iPhone-Only Carrier

Jun 21, 2017, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 21, 2017, 7:41 PM

Virgin Mobile USA, which is owned and operated by Sprint, transformed itself today into new provider much more closely aligned with the Virgin brand. Significantly, Virgin Mobile USA is now an iPhone-only carrier, meaning Apple's iPhones are the only phones Virgin will sell moving forward. Further, shoppers will be able to buy and activate an iPhone on Virgin Mobile USA at Apple Stores. Pricing for Virgin Mobile iPhones starts at $279 for the 32 GB iPhone SE and ranges up to $969 for the 256 GB iPhone 7 Plus. According to the company's web site, Virgin Mobile does not offer financing for iPhones and customers will have to pay full price. The company now offers only a single service plan. For $50 per month, Virgin Mobile USA provides unlimited talk, text, and data in the U.S. International roaming add-ons start at $5 per month. There are limitations on Virgin's plan: video playback is capped at 480p, music is streamed at 500Kbps, and gaming is streamed at 1.5Mbps. Virgin says mobile data speeds will be suppressed when the network is congested. For a limited time, Virgin Mobile is offering up to 12 months of service for just $1. The $1 yearly service offer is only available to customers buying a new iPhone and activating it on Virgin's network. Customers will have to sign up by July 31, 2017 to score the $1 deal. At the end of the 12-month service plan for $1, customers will automatically be moved to the $50 plan. Last, the $1 yearly plan and iPhone purchase buy customers access to the Virgin Inner Circle. The Inner Circle is a promotional program that provides benefits with other Virgin-branded properties. For example, Inner Circle members who buy one plane ticket on Virgin Atlantic will be given a second ticket for free. Inner Circle members who book two nights at a Virgin-owned hotel will be able to cash in on a third night for free. Virgin says these offers will be made available to Inner Circle members every few weeks. Customers interested in this package can pre-order one of Virgin Mobile USA's iPhones starting today. The phones and Inner Circle will become available starting June 27. Last, Virgin said it will offer "pre-loved" iPhones starting in the fall, allowing customers to take advantage of more affordable prices.


Sprint Offering a Free Year of Service to Those Who Switch

Jun 13, 2017, 10:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today leveled a huge gun at the competition: it will give a year of free unlimited service to people who switch from other postpaid carriers to Sprint. The deal, detailed on Sprint's web site, requires switchers to jump through a lot of hoops and meet a wide variety of conditions. To start, the promotion will provide one year of free talk, text, and data with 10 GB of mobile hotspot per line. People who exceed the 10 GB mobile hotspot allotment will be throttled. Video can be streamed at up to full HD, music can be streamed at up to 1.5Mbps, and games can be streamed at up to 8Mbps. Sprint says it will throttle people during instances of network congestion, particularly those who exceed 23 GB per month. People who earn free service will still be on the hook for taxes and other monthly fees. In order to quality for the free service, potential switchers need to have compatible, unlocked handsets, and they'll need to purchase and activate Sprint SIM cards before porting their number to Sprint. Sprint says the SIM cards cost $3 each, with $10 shipping and handling. The actual SIM activation will be free. People who take advantage of the deal will not be able to upgrade to new devices for at least four months, and Sprint warns that phone features and network experience will vary depending on the handsets being used. Sprint will allow a total of five free lines per account. Tablets are not supported, nor are other connected devices. The promotion is available through June 30. The free service will expire July 31, 2018, after which Sprint will charge its normal rates for multi-line unlimited accounts. Auto-pay is required.


Sprint to Sell Rubin's Essential Phone As an Exclusive

Jun 12, 2017, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products has found a U.S. carrier to distribute its Essential PH-1 handset, and that carrier is Sprint. Essential still plans to offer the unlocked phone directly to consumers online, but the handset will also enjoy retail presence in Sprint stores, according to USAToday. "We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was,” said Essential President Niccolo de Masi to USA Today. "I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future." This isn't the only reason. Sprint is majority owned by SoftBank, and Andy Rubin, Essential's CEO, has a long history with Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's CEO. As recently as early this year, SoftBank was expected to make a $100 million investment in Essential, though it backed out for unknown reasons. "It's certainly conscious for us to work with partners that can make an investment in supporting our brand ambitions," continued to de Masi, "and it's an approach that obviously Andy Rubin has been very successful with in the past as well as a lot of our management team." The PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. It includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. It will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat and ship completely devoid of brand names or logos. The PH-1 is expected to go on sale later this summer for $699.


HTC's U11 Officially Shipping As of Today

Jun 9, 2017, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC said its U11 flagship smartphone is now shipping to those who may have preordered the handset. The unlocked model is available from Amazon.com and HTC.com and Sprint stores are stocking the U11 starting today. The phone has what HTC calls a "liquid surface" glass panel, squeezable Edge Sense actions, and customizable USonic headphones with active noise cancellation. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, and Android 7.1 Nougat. It costs $649.


ZTE Debuts Mobile Hotspot, Home Phone on Sprint

Jun 9, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced two new connected devices for Sprint. The ZTE Warp Connect (pictured) is a mobile hotspot. It supports up to 10 devices via WiFi and has a 2,300mAh battery. Owners can take advantage of the 1.4-inch display to gauge connection strength, battery life, and more. The hotspot costs $144 and supports Sprint's newest LTE technology. The Sprint Phone Connect 4 by ZTE is a home phone replacement device. It lets people add their home phone as another line to their cellular plan. The device connects in the home and makes the landline number available to cellular devices. It costs $122.

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Sprint to Sell ZTE Max XL

Jun 9, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today added the ZTE Max XL to is lineup of big-screened Android handsets. The Max XL, which is already available from Sprint-owned Boost Mobile, features a 6-inch full HD display and 3,990mAh battery. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass. The Max XL supports HPUE for better LTE speeds at the network edge. HPUE is a network upgrade Sprint is deploying this year. The Max XL's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The device runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Other specs include an octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, support for memory cards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM radio. Sprint is selling the ZTE Max XL for $192.


Sprint Takes Control of 100 Stores from Dixons Carphone

Jun 9, 2017, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will acquire 100 retail stores that it has operated in partnership with Dixons Carphone since last year. The two companies created a joint venture in February 2016 that relied on retail know-how from Dixons Carphone to sell Sprint goods and services. The joint venture saw the two firms open some 500 stores around the country, all of which were funded evenly between the two corporations. Now, Sprint is effectively buying out Dixons Carphone's stake in 100 of those stores in order to take full ownership. Sprint says the transaction will not change or impact the individual stores' operations. Sprint and Dixons Carphone will continue to operate the other 400 stores covered by the joint venture together. Sprint has spent the last two years bulking up its retail presence.


Sprint Gifting Customers with 6-Month Tidal Membership

Jun 8, 2017, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it is giving new and existing customers free access to the Tidal music streaming service for six months. The service is known for providing exclusive access to music from select artists. Tidal Premium normally costs $10 per month. After the six-month promotion expires, Sprint customers will need to pay the monthly fee. The promotion begins June 9 and is available to Android and iOS devices. Sprint is still offering switchers up to $650 in restitution to cover fees incurred by porting over. Moreover, Sprint is still offering four lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $90 per month (with autopay), though the cost of that plan will jump to $130 after June 2018. Sprint allows unlimited customers to stream video up to 1080p HD, stream music up to 1.5Mbps, and stream games at up to 8Mbps. Sprint will throttle users when the network is congested.


BlackBerry KEYone Goes On Sale Today for $549

May 31, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced that the BlackBerry KEYone, a smartphone it developed with BlackBerry Mobile, is now available for purchase online. The handset includes a 4.5-inch touch display, full QWERTY keyboard, Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megpixel camera, LTE, and Android 7.1 Nougat with BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Messenger. Both the unlocked GSM and CDMA variants of the phone are available online from BestBuy and Amazon. TCL says a limited number of KEYone's will be at select Best Buy retail stores around the country. Sprint plans to sell its own branded variant of the BlackBerry KEYone later this summer.


Sprint Targeting 2019 Launch for 5G On Its 2.5 GHz Spectrum

May 10, 2017, 7:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it is working with Qualcomm and SoftBank to develop 5G technologies, including the 3GPP New Radio (NR) standard, for Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum (Band 41). Sprint's 2.5 GHz airwaves offer a massive footprint around the country, making it ideal for providing coverage. Similar to T-Mobile's recent announcement, however, Band 41 is not among those being targeted for 5G. The FCC and ITU are looking mostly at high-band wavelengths, such as the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands, for 5G. Sprint didn't say if it will also explore 5G in those bands. Sprint and its partners plan to launch commercial 5G service and devices by late 2019. Sprint's timeline is similar to those of its competitors.


Sprint Intros 2GB Plan for Those Not Interested in Unlimited Data

May 9, 2017, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently added a low-cost 2 GB service plan to its offering. The plan costs $45 per month for a single line ($40 with autopay) and includes unlimited talk and text and 2 GB of data. Sprint says it will throttle users of this plan down to 2G speeds if they exceed the monthly limit. This lower-cost plan may be appealing to people who don't want or need Sprint's $60 unlimited plan, which Sprint claims has attracted more than 90% of its postpaid customers. In a statement provided to Fierce Wireless, Sprint said, "There is a subset of our customers who would like a plan that is a little more affordable and hence we are offering in addition to unlimited, a 2 GB plan for $40 (with autopay). As you’ve probably seen, this plan is not being advertised because our main focus is, and will remain, unlimited. This is what customers really want." The new 2 GB offering is already available from Sprint's web site.


Sprint Likely Switch from Qualcomm to Kodiak for PTT Services

May 5, 2017, 10:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is on the verge of offering a new version of its push-to-talk service, according to the company's web site. Direct Connect Plus, when it becomes available, will allow "a wide selection of feature phones, smartphones, and tablets" to make PTT calls via 3G, 4G LTE, and WiFi. The service will support real-time presence, broadcast calling, desktop-based dispatch operations, corporate administration tools, and Land Mobile Radio interoperability. Sprint's web site says Direct Connect Plus is coming soon. Sprint's existing PTT service is powered by Qualcomm technology, but clues suggest Sprint may be switching to Kodiak Networks as its PTT provider. As pointed out by Fierce Wireless, Kodiak lists Sprint as a carrier partner on its own web site. Moreover, Kodiak plainly says Sprint's Direct Connect Plus service "leverages the Kodiak platform." Neither Sprint nor Kodiak has confirmed the change, but the details shared on the companies' public web sites would appear to spill the beans. Earlier this week, Motorola Solutions announced plans to acquire Kodiak Networks for an undisclosed sum. There's no word if the deal will impact the launch of Sprint's new Direct Connect Plus launch.


Sprint's 'Magic Box' Is An In-Home Small Cell to Help Improve Coverage

May 3, 2017, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the Magic Box, a tool Sprint hopes consumers and businesses will use to help it densify its LTE network. The Magic Box is similar to a signal booster in that owners place it in a window. Sprint says the Magic Box is a plug-and-play, self-configuring small cell that requires no labor or rental costs. The Magic Box does not connect to an in-home broadband or WiFi network; it is fully cellular. It connects to a nearby Sprint cell site and improves coverage both indoors and outdoors. It can provide up to 30,000 square feet of coverage inside, and extends the signal outdoors up to 100 meters from the small cell. The Magic Box provides coverage in the 2.5 GHz band and relies on Sprint's network for backhaul. The Magic Box is not for just the owner, it provides coverage to everyone in the area. Sprint claims the Magic Box will provide immediate improvement to network access, speed, and capacity. Sprint has been testing the Magic Box in Denver, San Francisco, Indianapolis, New York, Chicago, and Houston, and says wireless speeds have improved significantly in areas where Magic Box is deployed. The Magic Box small cell will allow Sprint to improve coverage without forcing it to seek permission for outdoor, public cell site deployments. Consumers or businesses interested in the Magic Box can apply for one on Sprint's web site. Sprint didn't specify what criteria people will need to meet to qualify for the Magic Box.


Unlocked BlackBerry Keyone Goes On Sale May 31; Sprint Version Arrives This Summer

Apr 27, 2017, 5:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced that the BlackBerry Keyone, a smartphone it developed with BlackBerry Mobile, will be available to U.S. buyers starting May 31. The handset includes a 4.5-inch touch display and full QWERTY keyboard. Other features include a Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megpixel camera, LTE, and Android 7.1 Nougat with BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Messenger. TCL plans to sell both the unlocked GSM and CDMA variants of the phone directly to consumers online for $549. The company noted that Sprint will sell the phone with service plans later this summer. TCL said more details about the Sprint version will be shared towards the end of May.


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