Sprint today announced launch details regarding the LG G4 smartphone, which will be available in stores and online beginning June 5. Sprint is offering a wide range of purchasing options for the phone. First, via the Sprint Lease the G4 will be available for $0 followed by $18 per month for 24 months. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the G4 in for another handset, or buyout the remaining value of the lease. Alternately, customers can use Sprint Easy Pay to finance the device over 24 months. Sprint Easy Pay doesn't require a down payment, but costs $25 per month for 24 months. Sprint will also sell the G4 for $199.99 with a standard two-year contract, or for the full retail price of $599.99 without a contract. Sprint plans to offer the plastic gray back plate or the black leather back plate. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, and a 16-megapixel camera. Customers who preorder may receive a second 3,000mAh battery with charging cradle and a 32GB memory card for free. Preorders begin today.
Google's Project Fi, its WiFi-and-cellular wireless offering, is moving forward slowly. Google emailed those who signed up for the project and said it won't be able to accommodate everyones' requests for months. "Over the past few weeks, we've been happy to bring the first customers onto Project Fi and the initial feedback has been very positive," said Google in the email. "We're sending invites as quickly as we can, while ensuring a high-quality experience. Given the number of requests we've received, we currently estimate that it will take until mid-summer to get to everyone." Google concluded by saying it will provide a way for people to check the status of their invites in a few weeks. Project Fi requires the Nexus 6 handset and runs on WiFi and the cellular networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, adjusting on the fly in response to the best possible connection. The service is priced at $10 per gigabyte, and Google will refund customers for the unused portion of their data allotment each month.
A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved the sale of RadioShack's name and certain customer data to an affiliate of Standard General for $26.2 million. One of the key issues resolved over the last seven days concerned AT&T and Apple customer data. AT&T, Apple, and several state attorneys general disapproved of the sale of the customer data, and argued RadioShack had agreed to never sell it. Under the terms of the agreement, Standard General agreed to limit its own customers to email data generated over the last two years, as well as to only provide access to seven of 170 fields of data that RadioShack kept on its customers. The sale gives Standard General access to 67 million names and email addresses, rather than the full list of 117 million. Earlier this year Standard General purchased 1,734 RadioShack stores, which it plans to operate in cooperation with Sprint.
Sprint says 16 of the 30 companies who've agreed to participate in its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program have launched their LTE networks. The Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program is similar to Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America initiative. Both programs lease spectrum to small, regional providers who build out coverage in their home market areas. Under the terms of the agreement, the larger carriers' customers can roam onto the regional LTE network and vice versa. The idea is to bring coverage to areas where the larger operators might not necessarily like to commit resources to build out their own network. Sprint would not say which of its partners have launched their LTE networks. Some of the partners include SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Phoenix Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, and United Wireless. "Our partners use a variety of LTE bands, including bands 4, 5, 12 and 25," said Sprint's Adrienne Norton. "We're continuing to work with our device OEMs to enable additional LTE bands to expand coverage for our domestic and international roamers." Sprint's LTE footprint covers about 280 million POPs. T-Mobile, which recently disclosed that it too has leased spectrum to regional operators, also covers about 280 million POPs. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both claim to cover about 308 million POPs.
AT&T today said some of its retailer partners are going to offer only AT&T Next plans beginning June 1. These retailers, like Walmart, may have national footprints, but the change is only being made in some locations that AT&T would not name. AT&T itself will continue to offer contracts at company-owned stores, as well as via its web site, telesales, and most other third-party retailers. "We regularly consider any number of offers that might appeal to our customers," said an AT&T spokesperson to Phone Scoop, "but [we] can share that two year contracts remain a part of our portfolio of offerings." AT&T said it believes customers prefer to have choice. While many of its customers are moving to AT&T Next plans -- which break up device payments over time -- some of its customers still want subsidized handsets and don't mind signing contracts to get them. The change being made by some of AT&T's retail partners does not represent a change in strategy for AT&T. AT&T Next plans are the carrier's response to T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which forgo contracts and also break up device payments over time. Sprint and Verizon have their own device payment plans, too. The device payment plans have become popular with consumers because they don't require contracts and often allow people to upgrade to new phones at a faster rate.
Sprint today said its Direct 2 You home delivery and setup service is now available to all customers in Kansas City, Chicago, and Miami. Sprint initially launched the service in those markets in April, but it was limited to existing customers. The expansion now means any potential customer in Chicago, Dallas, and Miami can schedule a Sprint house call. Further, Sprint said it is expanding the service to New York City, San Francisco, and Denver in early June, with more markets to follow throughout the year. With Direct 2 You, a Sprint technician will bring the store experience directly to customers who purchase a new phone. Customers can still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up the phone, transferring content from the old phone to the new one, and tutorials to ensure the customer understands how to use their new device. Techs will also be able to teach customers how to learn a new operating system if they're switching from an Android device to the iPhone or vice versa. Sprint's Direct 2 You service is offered free of charge.
Sprint today added seven countries to its International Value Roaming program. The program lets Sprint customers roam on 2G networks in select countries for free and offers reduced-rate voice minute calling for 20 cents per minute. The new countries are Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Paraguay, and Sweden. These join more than a dozen others, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K. The 2G roaming may be free, but customers who want 3G speeds or better when abroad will need to purchase a 1-, 7-, or 14-day Speed Pass. The 1-day pass starts at $15. Customers can add International Value Roaming to their service plan for free.
Apple and AT&T have filed legal objections to RadioShack's planned sale of customer data. RadioShack sold products from both AT&T and Apple and originally agreed to keep customer data private. RadioShack is going through bankruptcy and hopes to use any potential proceeds of selling customer data to third parties in order to pay off creditors. "Not only is AT&T committed to protecting the privacy of its customers -- it is required to do so by federal and state laws and regulations," said AT&T. Several state attorneys general have also filed objections. A judge is expected to rule on the matter May 20. Earlier this year RadioShack sold the bulk of its stores to Sprint, which is in the process of rebranding them.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the company's LTE 4G network now covers 280 million POPS. That's a slight improvement from the 275 million POPs T-Mobile said it covered at the end of April. With 280 million people blanketed by its 4G network, T-Mobile's coverage footprint is on par with that of Sprint, which also coves 280 million. AT&T and Verizon both claim to cover 308 million POPs. Ray offered a few more details about T-Mobile's progress. It is still on track to cover 300 million POPS by the end of the year. It plans to shutter its legacy CDMA MetroPCS network on June 21, and there are fewer than 300,000 customers still using that network in Dallas, Miami, and New York City. T-Mobile said it has 15x15 MHz LTE deployments in 150 markets, which the company will expand to 200 by the end of the year. T-Mobile charted an aggressive path for building its LTE network and has met or exceeded most of its goals over the past two years.
Boost Mobile today announced the immediate availability of the LG G Stylo. The G Stylo, also being sold by T-Mobile, features a 5.7-inch 720p HD display and a stylus. It also carries a 8-megapixel camera main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 processor with 1 GB RAM, and 8 GB of internal storage. The Stylo supports memory cards up to 32 GB and packs a 3,000mAh battery. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user interface, which includes Knock Code and QuickMemo. Boost Mobile is selling the phone for $199.99. Sprint Prepaid will also sell the device at $199.99 beginning June 7.
The FCC today said Sprint and Verizon Wireless have agreed to pay $158 million to settle charges that they fraudulently charged customers for third-party services -- a tactic referred to as cramming. Specifically, Sprint will pay a total of $68 million, $50 million of which will go back to customers, $14 million of which will go to state governments, and $2 million of which will go to the federal government. Verizon will pay $90 million, with $70 million to go to consumers, $16 million to states, and $4 million to the fed. In addition to the fines, Sprint and Verizon agreed to a slew of other enforcement actions. They will no longer be allowed to offer premium SMS services. For all other services, they must: obtain clear consent before initiating charged, clearly mark charges on bills, and make it easy for customers to block such third-party services. The FCC has been on a tear this year, coming down hard on companies that take advantage of consumers.
TextNow Wireless today announced new pricing for its service plans and added two handsets to its lineup. TextNow Wireless offers all customers unlimited talk and text and up to 500MB of data for $18.99 per month. Similar to Google's recently-announced Project Fi, TextNow runs on Sprint's cellular network but defaults to WiFi connections whenever possible. The service is available to most any device (phone, tablet, PC) for WiFi-based calling and texting, and customers can use their TextNow number no matter which form factor they choose. Customers can upgrade to 1 GB of cellular data for $26.99 per month, 2 GB for $39.99, or 4 GB for $59.99. All plans include taxes and fees. In addition to the reworked plans, TextNow Wireless now sells the Google Nexus 5 ($249) and Motorola Moto X ($149). TextNow Wireless already offers a number of new and refurbished Sprint devices, including the Moto G, LG Optimus F3, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Sprint today announced a new partnership with Boingo that will give its customers free access to Boingo's WiFi hotspots in 35 U.S. airports. Sprint subscribers should be able to connect their WiFi-equipped handsets to Boingo's airport WiFi networks automatically and securely with no log-in required. Sprint says the WiFi connection is secure enough for business customers to use for accessing corporate VPNs. Sprint didn't say which airports are covered. Sprint today also announced the Sprint WiFi Connect, a consumer router that prioritizes Sprint's WiFi Calling service over any other traffic on that particular hotspot. Sprint says the Sprint WiFi Connect includes Smart Connect technology that dynamically manages 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands for optimal WiFi data performance. Sprint's WiFi Connect is available free of charge to qualified customers. WiFi Calling is available to most of Sprint's Android handsets as well as the Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5, and 5s.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless followed Sprint and T-Mobile today in announcing plans to sell the LG G4 later this year. Neither of the nation's two largest carriers said exactly when the phone will go on sale nor how much they'll charge for the new phone. Verizon did say its variant of the G4 will support VoLTE and HD Voice.
Sprint and T-Mobile followed LG's debut of the G4 smartphone with details of their own launch plans. Sprint said it will offer the G4 in black leather and metallic gray. T-Mobile didn't specify which colors it will offer, but is kicking off a preview program for the phone that will let consumers try the device for free. The program is officially a sweepstakes being run by T-Mobile, and it will give away a G4 once per day until the phone reaches stores. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile said how much they'll charge for the LG G4, but said the device isn't expected to reach carrier stores until June.
A handful of wireless companies and public policy groups have formed an alliance meant to pressure the FCC as it drafts rules for the upcoming 600MHz reverse spectrum auction. The alliance is called SaveWirelessChoice.com. Some of the companies include Sprint, T-Mobile, and Dish Networks, and some of the groups include the Competitive Carrier Association, Public Knowledge, Rural Wireless Association, among numerous others. The alliance hopes the FCC will hold the auction in early 2016, rather than mid-2016; and it wants a larger block of spectrum (at least 50%) reserved for smaller carriers. The alliance web site urges consumers to "stop AT&T and Verizon Wireless from controlling your wireless future," which it claims will lead to bad service, higher prices, and less innovation. In the most recent spectrum auction most of the winnings went to AT&T, Dish Networks, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued for a long time that the two largest carriers have too much market power, necessitating the need for the FCC to provide more opportunities for smaller carriers. "Creating an adequate reserve of quality spectrum for companies who don't already own more than one-third of the low-band spectrum in any given market will go a long way toward leveling the playing field for a competitive market that will benefit consumers for decades to come," said the group.
Defense Mobile, an MVNO that targets military personnel, is coming out of beta status today with more coverage and more devices in its arsenal. During its beta trial, Defense Mobile resold access to AT&T and Sprint's networks. Now, it offers Verizon, too, and is in talks with T-Mobile. The company's service is meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Individual plans start at $30 per month and have names such as Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Family plans start at $95 per month with names such a squad, platoon, and battalion. The handset selection varies from entry level phones such as the Motorola Moto G up to today's premium handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The company offers bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. The company sells devices and services directly from its web site, but hopes to reach 25,000 retail distribution points around the country by the end of the year.
Google today announced Project Fi, which relies on a combination of cellular and WiFi networks to keep users connected wherever they roam. Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile to provide the cellular component. Google says Project Fi can automatically connect to over one million verified WiFi hotspots around the U.S, and all connections are encrypted. The goal is to make communicating simple no matter what device or network is being used. Calls made through WiFi connections will seamlessly hand-off to cellular networks with no interruptions. Google says Project Fi users' phone numbers "live in the cloud," so they can talk and text from just about any phone, tablet, or laptop. Project Fi takes a new approach with respect to billing. The basic plan costs $20 per month and includes talk, text, WiFi tethering, and international coverage in 120 countries. Google then charges $10 per gigabyte of cellular data in the U.S. and abroad. So, 1 GB of data costs $10 per month, 2 GB costs $20 per month, and so on. The unique idea here is that Google will refund people for the data they don't use. For example, subscribers who pay $30 for a 3 GB plan, but only use 1.4 GB, will receive a $16 refund from Google for the unused data. Google is offering Project Fi through an early access program. It requires the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which Google says was developed with Project Fi in mind. Nexus 6 owners can request invites starting today.
Google is prepared to launch its wireless service as soon as tomorrow, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google's wireless service will rely on the mobile networks operated by Sprint and T-Mobile, in addition to WiFi. The service will only be available to the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which will be able to dynamically weave from network to network in order to find the strongest signal for calls, messaging, and mobile browsing. In what the Journal calls a key development, customers of Google's wireless service will only pay for the actual data they consume each month, rather than fork over money for buckets of data. Google confirmed last month that it is preparing a mobile service, but has not verified the Journal's details. Google's Sundar Pichai said during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona the company's wireless service will be offered on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Specifics such as pricing are still unknown. Sprint and T-Mobile both have large MVNO programs, which is, in effect, how Google's service will operate. Sprint and T-Mobile may renegotiate with Google if its service gets too big.
HTC is pushing out a system update to AT&T's version of the One M9 that improves performance of the camera. In addition to the camera, the update also fixes bugs and resolves some overheating issues. The new build number is 1.32.502.31. HTC warned that the update will reboot the phone several times and may take up to 20 minutes to complete. HTC has already pushed a similar update to the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the One M9.
AT&T today announced it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on April 24. The handset will be available at a variety of price points. The full retail cost of the phone is $708.99 and the two-year contract price is $299.99. Customers interested in monthly payments can snag the G Flex 2 for $23.64 per month with an AT&T Next 24 plan, $29.55 per month on a Next 18 plan, or $35.45 on a Next 12 plan. The G Flex 2 is a second-generation curved phone. It has a 5.5-inch full HD screen that is semi-flexible. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 810 processor and has a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Sprint has been selling the G Flex 2 since March.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless are limiting Microsoft's attempt to bulk up use of its mobile applications. Last month, Samsung agreed to preload Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype applications on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Verizon, however, won't pre-load any of the Microsoft apps on its versions of the S6 and S6 Edge. AT&T will include OneNote and Skype, but not OneDrive. The Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S6 and S6 Edge are shipping with all three Microsoft apps aboard. Neither AT&T nor Verizon commented on their stance against the Microsoft-made apps. Even though the trio of apps won't be pre-loaded, people who buy the S6 and S6 Edge from AT&T or Verizon are free to download the apps, as well as Microsoft's Outlook email and Office productivity apps, from the Google Play Store for free on their own.
Sprint today announced a new service called Direct 2 You, wherein a Sprint technician will bring the store experience to customers who purchase a new phone. According to Sprint, some customers prefer to shop from home, but are uncomfortable setting up their new device on their own. With Direct 2 You, customers can make purchases from afar and still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up the phone, transferring content from the old phone to the new one, and tutorials to ensure the customer understands how to use their new device. Sprint said customers can choose to receive their Direct 2 You service at home, job site, or other location. The company is launching the service in its home market of Kansas City today, with plans to expand to Chicago and Miami on April 20, and the rest of the country by the end of the year. At launch 30 techs will be working in the field, but Sprint is preparing an army of about 5,000 technicians to perform the service. Techs will also be able to teach customers how to learn a new operating system if they're switching from an Android device to the iPhone or vice versa. Sprint said eligible upgrade customers will receive a message from Sprint with an offer to try Direct 2 You when it's time for them to update devices. Customers can then choose to respond and set up a Direct 2 You appointment. Sprint's Direct 2 You service will be offered free of charge.
Sprint today announced a new program called International Value Roaming. Customers who add International Value Roaming to their plan will be able to use mobile data and send/receive text messages for free in select countries. The data roaming may be free, but like T-Mobile's offering Sprint is limiting roaming speeds to 2G. Customers who want access to 3G and higher speeds when roaming will need to purchase a 1-, 7-, or 14-day Speed Pass. The 1-day pass starts at $15. The International Value Roaming program also includes reduced charges for voice minutes, which cost 20 cents each. Eligible countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K. Customers can add International Value Roaming to their service plan for free.
Sprint said it will re-open 1,435 RadioShack stores tomorrow that it acquired from General Wireless. The move will double the number of company-owned stores and give Sprint a much wider retail footprint around the country. The stores will be co-branded Sprint-RadioShack, but Sprint will be the main brand associated with each location. Sprint plans to build a store-within-a-store covering approximately one third of the retail space in each location. It will use this space to sell Sprint-, Virgin-, and Boost-branded hardware and service plans. Sprint said RadioShack's products and accessories will also be available at each location. General Wireless is holding into about 310 RadioShack stores. Sprint acquired the stores as part of RadioShack's bankruptcy restructuring.
Sprint today said it is bringing WiFi Calling to Apple's iPhones. The carrier will push out a small system update over the next few days that will allow owners to make phone calls over WiFi. The feature is available to the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus. Calls made via WiFi will not count against customers' voice plan minutes. Sprint said traveling customers will be able to make free WiFi calls from more than 200 countries around the world. According to Sprint, 25 of its handsets are now capable of using its WiFi Calling service. WiFi Calling is available at no additional charge when calling to a U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico phone number.
Cricket today said new customers who switch to Cricket from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Boost, and other competitors will receive one free month of service after completing two months of service. In order to qualify, customers must subscribe to a $50 or $60 rate plan. The offer will only be available for a limited time.
A U.S. judge has given RadioShack permission to sell its 1,740 stores to Standard General, a hedge fund that plans to operate the stores with Sprint. One of RadioShack's creditors, Sulas Capital Partners, had opposed the sale. RadioShack declared bankruptcy in February after spending more than a year attempting to rebuild its business. Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will own about 30% of each store's real estate, in which it will sell Sprint wireless goods and services. The remaining 70% of the stores' footprints will be used to sell RadioShack's branded electronics. RadioShack hopes to close the deal as soon as April 1.
Sprint today settled a class-action lawsuit regarding its 2005 acquisition of Nextel for $131 million. Investors claim Sprint executives defrauded shareholders by inflating stock and bond prices after Sprint closed its acquisition of Nextel. The merger was troubled from the start, as Sprint struggled to integrate the two companies and lost hundreds of thousands of Nextel subscribers. At the same time, executives claimed the company was receiving billions of dollars in benefits and improving its subscriber base. Sprint was eventually forced to write down $29.7 billion in lost value. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay out $131 million. The settlement still needs to be approved by the court.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
U.S. Cellular today said it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on March 26. Customers can choose from several different payment options. The phone costs about $630 at full retail, but U.S. Cellular is also offering contract pricing ($150 with two-year commitment) or monthly payments ($31.50 for 20 months). U.S. Cellular will have both the silver and red models on hand. The device features a curved design, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and Snapdragon 810 processor. Sprint is already selling the G Flex 2, but other carriers have yet to announce their plans.
Sprint today announced a smartphone/tablet bundle that combines the Samsung Galaxy S5 or S5 Sport and the Galaxy Tab 4, plus service, in one monthly payment. The offer costs $100 per month, which includes a Sprint Easy Pay lease on the smartphone and the tablet. The service includes unlimited talk, text, and data on the smartphone line, and up to 2GB of data on the tablet line. Sprint says the deal saves customers as much as $300 over a two-year period.
Sprint today announced the availability of the Alcatel OneTouch Retro, a simple flip phone with accessibility features on board. The device, which is also sold as the Speakeasy and Fling, is being marketed to senior users as well as those who are hard of hearing or visually impaired. The phone can verbally describe the user interface so visually impaired users can navigate through the menus. The text-to-speech engine offers variable speeds and can read notifications and messages, too. The Retro features large buttons, multiple font sizes, hearing aid support, and has a high-contrast black-and-white screen. The phone also includes a music player, 2-megapixel camera, and Bluetooth. The Alcatel OneTouch Retro is available at Sprint stores today for $4 per month with Sprint Easy Pay or for the full retail price of $96. Retro is also available through Sprint Prepaid for $19.99.
Sprint today launched a new effort to sway consumers to give up their current carrier in favor of Sprint with a promise to reimburse them for all the costs associated with switching. Sprint said it will cover the early termination fees and the remaining installments on phone payment plans for anyone who ports their number to Sprint. In order to get the reimbursement, prospective customers will need to activate a new device on Sprint Easy Pay, iPhone for Life, Sprint Lease, or pay full retail price for a new phone. They'll also have to turn in their existing handset in good working condition. Switchers will have to upload a copy of their final carrier bill to Sprint's web site within 60 days of activation, and the reimbursement will be sent in the form of an American Express Award Card. Sprint said it has created a prepaid return kit to make the process easier. Sprint will send the reimbursement within 15 days of receiving the completed forms. Sprint's move highlights the competitive nature of the wireless industry and the lengths to which companies will go to attract and retain new customers.
Sprint today said owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can expect to update their devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop over the next few days. The update adds Material Design, support for Android TV, improved multitasking, actionable lock screen notifications, and improves battery efficiency. The update is free and can be downloaded and installed over the air.