Sprint's prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today announced plans to sell the LG K3 handset. The phone is available from both carriers' web sites today and will reach Boost Mobile stores next week. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and features a 4.5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor clocked at 1.1 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a 1,940mAh battery. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with flash, while the front camera has a VGA sensor and a selfie light. Both cameras include LG's shooting tools, such as Cheese Shutter and Gesture Shot. The LG K3 costs $79.99.
A U.S. appeals court said law enforcement does not need to obtain a warrant before obtaining location data from wireless network operators. Today's decision stems from an appeal based on a Baltimore case involving armed robberies from 2011. Citing a decades-old idea suggesting consumers routinely allow their phone service provider to know their location, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, reversed a divided opinion from last year. The majority (12-3) opinion held that "Anyone who has stepped outside to 'get a signal,' or has warned a caller of a potential loss of service before entering an elevator, understands, on some level, that location matters." A ruling last year from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court agreed that no warrant is needed. The Supreme Court has refused to review similar cases. A lawyer for the ACLU argued that the matter has not been finalized by the courts.
Sprint today said its customers will be able to stream all the 2016 Copa América Centenario soccer matches on their phones of free. The tournament, which is being held in June, will be streamed via the fuboTV app. Sprint is giving its postpaid and Boost/Virgin prepaid customers free access to the fuboTV app for 60 days. After the trial ends (60 days for Sprint, 30 days for Boost/Virgin), customers can continue the subscription for $9.99 per month, or drop the app. In addition to free access to the live matches, Sprint will not count streamed games against customers' data buckets. Sprint is sponsoring the tournament, which is taking place in the U.S. for the first time, and will have an on-site presence at all the games. The sponsorship includes several giveaways and awards that customers can access through the fuboTV app.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge. It is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. The Hydro Reach is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device has a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Hydro Reach will go on sale April 15 from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. It will cost $99. Boost and Virgin also plan to add the LG Stylo 2 and Samsung Galaxy J7, both announced earlier this year, to their rosters. The Stylo 2 will reach Boost stores April 15 and Virgin stores May 9. It will cost $179.99. The Galaxy J7 hits Boost stores on April 15 for $229.99, and Virgin on April 19.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both confirmed plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy S7 to their prepaid customers. Boost will kick off sales of the flagship handset on March 11, with Virgin to follow March 18. Both companies are asking for the full retail price, which is $649.99 for the 32 GB model. They are selling only the black variant. Boost has a promotion for families right now that offers 10 GB per line, while Virgin offers free music streaming via LTE. Boost and Virgin, which operate on Sprint's network, do not require contracts and offer low-cost service plans.
Sprint is today discontinuing its PayLo and Broadband2Go sub-brands, which were operated through Virgin Mobile. The move comes mere days after Sprint said it was "de-emphasizing" the Virgin brand. PayLo chiefly offered talk/text plans to feature devices and Broadband2Go mainly sold data-only devices and services. Virgin said the PayLo brand attracted people seeking "burner phones" and it wants to move away from that association. The company is also adjusting the service plans available from Virgin Mobile. Starting today, Virgin will offer three plans. The entry-level plan costs $30 and includes unlimited talk/text and 500 MB of data. Stepping up to the $40 plan boosts data to 4 GB, while the $50 plan includes 6 GB. Sprint doesn't charge overages, but does throttle people who exceed their data limits. "We've kind of transitioned to focusing on those monthly unlimited plans, which are the more engaged, higher-ARPU subscribers," said Angela Rittgers, VP of Sprint's prepaid services, to Fierce Wireless. "I think what we'll find is that the net amount of money we get from customers will be the same, but these are just more attractive price points to subscribers." Sprint said it remains committed to its prepaid brands and customers. Sprint's other prepaid brand, Boost Mobile, recently revised its pricing, too.
Sprint says it has a new strategy in mind for its prepaid brand Virgin Mobile. During a call with analysts today, Sprint execs said the company is de-emphasizing Virgin at the moment in favor of Boost Mobile, and has gone so far as to pull Virgin advertising ahead of a the new strategy's debut. Sprint did not say what it plans to do with Virgin, though it did admit it is not pursuing the pre-paid space as aggressively as rivals Cricket and MetroPCS. "You've got to figure out where do you want to fight and where do you want to grow," said CEO Marcelo Claure. "We are keeping the customers that matter." Claure also took the opportunity to reassure investors and customers that its network improvement plan will not be disruptive. "This is not a rip-and-replace strategy," said Claure, calling the implementation a "progressive build" that will make changes for the better. The company is expected to relocate some cell towers and make greater use of small/macro cells to densify its network. It may also shift some backhaul operations to microwave in order to cut down the fiber carriage fees it pays to AT&T and Verizon. Claure still believes Sprint can become the No. 1 or No. 2 network in terms of absolute performance in 80% of the country's markets within two years.
T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS is targeting Sprint customers with new service and handset discounts. Starting January 21, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who switch to MetroPCS can save up to 50% off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing. For example, a single ported line can save between 22% and 48%, while two or more lines can save between 23% and 50%, depending on a number of variables such as existing plan cost, new plan pricing, and local taxes. Customers who switch can keep the low rate plans as long as they remain with MetroPCS. The promotion includes unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, Data Maximizer and mobile hotspot. MetroPCS is offering switchers a free LG Leon LTE, Kyocera Hydro Wave, Samsung Core Prime, LG K7, or $50 rebate that can be applied to any phone sold by MetroPCS. Last, MetroPCS is offering its existing customers a $20 discount when adding an extra 5GB line. T-Mobile said the promotion will be available for a limited time, but didn't provide an end date.
Sprint today said its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will soon sell the Samsung Galaxy J3. This inexpensive Android handset includes a 5-inch 720p HD screen, a 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and a 2-megapixel selfie camera. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and carries 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 128 GB. The phone ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop and includes Samsung's Easy Mode for novice users. It packs a 2600mAh battery. The Galaxy J3 reaches Virgin Mobile stores today and Boost Mobile stores next week. It costs $179.99.
Boost Mobile today said customers can now stream music from several different services over its cellular network without impacting their monthly data allotment. Unlimited music streaming is available through Pandora, iHeartRadio, 8tracks, Slacker, and Samsung Milk Music. Customers who subscribe to Boost's 2GB, 5GB, and unlimited data plans can stream as much music from these providers as they wish each month. Boost said song downloads, video content, non-audio content, and other data sent via the music services (ads, images) will count against monthly data caps. Virgin Mobile, which has offered free music streaming from several services since October, added 8tracks and Samsung Milk Music to its supported streaming apps. Moreover, Virgin is now selling the LG G Stylo and the Tribute 2. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile are both owned and operated by Sprint.
T-Mobile today said Sprint customers can score $200 when porting their lines to T-Mobile during the holidays. T-Mobile will give Sprint, Boost, and Virgin subscribers an extra $200 for every line they switch to a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan, with no trade-in required. T-Mobile is also targeting subscribers to Sprint's unlimited plan. These customers can get access to T-Mobile's unlimited LTE plan for $45 per line for a family of four. These offerings will be available starting Nov. 26.
Virgin Mobile USA today announced Data Free Music, a program that lets customers stream an unlimited amount of music over the cellular network with no impact on their data plan. The idea is similar to one from T-Mobile. The feature is being added to Virgin's $35, $45, and $55 plans, which offer 1GB, 3GB, and 8GB of high-speed data, respectively. Customers who have these plans will be able to listen to as much music as they want from iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Slacker Radio. Virgin said it may add more music providers over time. Data consumed via these music streaming providers will not count against customers' monthly data limits. Data Free Music will be available beginning Oct. 9.
Virgin Mobile today updated its service plans with more 4G LTE data. The entry-level $35 plan bumps the monthly high-speed data bucket from 250MB to 1GB, the $45 plan improves from 1GB to 3GB, and the $55 plan improves from 3GB to 8GB. Virgin throttles data speeds down to 2G once the data bucket is exhausted in a single billing period, but customers can purchase more high-speed data for $5 per 1GB. Virgin also announced availability of the LG Tribute 2, a $100 Android smartphone. Boost Mobile, run by Virgin parent Sprint, has sold the Tribute 2 since July.
Motorola has revealed there will be at least two variants of the Moto G handset for the U.S. market. The first model, XT1540, is the GSM model that includes EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE. This model is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The second model, XT1548, is the CDMA model, though it also supports GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE for world roaming. Motorola specifically said the Moto G will be offered by Sprint Prepaid, U.S. Cellular, and Virgin Mobile. None of these carriers has yet voiced support publicly for the Moto G. The Moto G, now in its third generation, has a 5-inch 720p screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 13-megapixel camera, and support for memory cards. It costs $179 and is available directly from Motorola.com.
Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Wireless USA brands today made available new data packs for customers seeking a bit more data. The $5 pack provides 1 GB of high-speed data and the $10 pack provides 2 GB of high-speed data. Boost's existing plans offer unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, but limited buckets of LTE 4G data. Virgin's plans offer a variety of talk, text, and LTE data buckets ranging from 1 GB to 3 GB. The $5 and $10 data packs can be added to any of Boost's or Virgin's plans.
Sprint today announced the LG Tribute 2 is now available from Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid. The Tribute 2 has LG's signature rear-placed buttons, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's Knock Code, QuickMemo, and selfie camera tools. The screen measures 4.5 inches and offers 854 x 480 resolution. The Tribute 2 also includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of ROM. Virgin Mobile is selling the phone as the LG Tribute 2, but Sprint Prepaid has rebranded it to the Tribute Duo. It costs $99. Sprint-owned Boost Mobile is already selling the Tribute 2.
HTC today revealed a new family of Desire handsets. The 626 series (pictured) and 526/520 series share many features, though the former is a bit more mid-range and the latter is decidedly entry-level. Traits common to the 626, 626S, 526, and 520 include Qualcomm's 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor; 2,000mAh batteries; single-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS/GLONASS; support for 2 TB memory cards; and Android 5.1 Lollipop with HTC Sense.
- 626/626S: In keeping with prior Desire designs, the 626/626S are formed of polycarbonate and have variable color combinations. These larger Desire handsets have 5-inch 720p HD screens and 8-megapixel main cameras with 720p video capture. The 626 has 16 GB of storage, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The 626S has 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera.
- 526/520:The 526 and 520 share most design features, but differ in some key specs. They have a simple appearance and cheaper materials. The 526, intended for Verizon, has a 4.7-inch qHD screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1.5 GB of RAM. The 520, intended for Cricket Wireless, has a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM.
Helio, an MVNO that shuttered its doors years ago, is back. The company announced its return via Twitter and is once again offering prepaid service. The company operates on Sprint's network. Unlike before, however, Helio has a roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless, too, so customers will have greater network access when out and about. The basic service cost $29 per month, which includes unlimited voice, unlimited messaging (including international text), and unlimited 2G data capped at 128Kbps. Helio's web site does not say if or when it might offer 3G or 4G service. The $29 monthly plan includes all taxes and fees. The company supports a BYOD program, but requires handsets compatible with Sprint's network. It also sells a handful of older smartphones on its web site, including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, for $249 and $299, respectively. Helio said it will sell its own branded handsets soon. Helio is offering the first month of service for free with no commitment. Helio was originally launched in 2006 as a joint venture between SK Telecom and Earthlink. It was folded into Virgin Mobile, another Sprint property, in 2008. Helio ceased all operations in 2010. Helio is now backed by a company called UBI.
T-Mobile has filed a petition with the FCC in an attempt to prevent AT&T from purchasing select 700 MHz spectrum licenses. AT&T filed a request to transfer the licenses, which cover portions of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, last month. The Lower 700 MHz C Block licenses are owned by East Kentucky Network and cover 20 counties in three Cellular Market Areas. If approved, AT&T stands to hold 113 to 145 MHz of spectrum in total, and 43 to 55 MHz of below-1-GHz spectrum in these three CMAs. T-Mobile wants the FCC to deny AT&T's request on the grounds that it believes AT&T already owns too much low-band spectrum. "The license assignments sought would result in AT&T holding more than one-third of the spectrum below 1 GHz in the Huntington-Ashland and Lexington-Fayette CMAs. Although six entities currently hold low-band spectrum in these Markets, this transaction, if approved, will eliminate one of them entirely," argued T-Mobile. The Uncarrier has about 42,000 customers and ranks last in the areas involved. AT&T responded by saying, "AT&T will not exceed the Commission's spectrum aggregation screen and — because the spectrum at issue currently sits completely fallow and unused — the deal will not reduce any actual competition." AT&T also accused T-Mobile of under-investing in rural markets, including the ones at stake. "T-Mobile has only limited plans to invest in the rural markets covered by these licenses, particularly those in West Virginia. T-Mobile has 20-30 MHz of AWS spectrum in all of these markets that it could use to serve these rural communities if it chose. Finally, if T-Mobile wants low band spectrum for these markets, it could buy the 700 MHz A block spectrum and deploy it. Yet, T-Mobile chooses to do none of these." The FCC hasn't said if it will approve the deal or not, but because the spectrum in question falls below 1 GHz it will apply look more closely at the proposed deal.
Virgin Mobile today announced the Data Done Right promotion, which kicks off May 16 at Walmart stores. The new plans offer 300 minutes, unlimited texting, and 3GB of high-speed data for $30 per month, or unlimited voice, texting, and 3GB for $40. These prices are $5 lower and each option includes 500MB more data. Accounts with more than one line have been improved, too. Two lines will have access to unlimited voice, unlimited messaging, and 6GB of data for $65; three lines get 10GB for $90; and four lines get 14GB for $115. The promotional plans are available to seven different handsets, including the Samsung Galaxy S6. Virgin did not say how long the promotion will run.
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 plans to sell the Motorola Moto E from Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid this month. The Moto E, which has a larger screen and supports LTE 4G, is available in white from Boost Mobile beginning today for $99.99. The black model is available today from Sprint Prepaid at Best Buy and RadioShack stores. Sprint said Virgin Mobile (via Walmart) will offer the Moto E beginning March 9. The device has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Sprint today launched LTE service in 24 new markets and Spark service in an additional 24 markets. The company's LTE footprint now reaches 270 million POPs, while its Spark footprint reaches 125 million POPs. Some of the new LTE markets include Flagstaff, Ariz.; Maui and the Big Island, Hawaii; Terra Haute, Ind.; Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria, Calif.; and Washington, D.C., Arlington, and Alexandra, Va. Some of the new Spark markets include Camden, N.J.; Nashua, N.H.; New Haven and Milford, Conn.; Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News, Va.; Peoria, Ill., Providence, R.I.; and Spokane, Wash. Sprint said it will add Spark coverage to Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Nashville, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. later this month.
RadioShack today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed an agreement to sell approximately 1,750 of its stores to Sprint. Under the terms of RadioShack's Chapter 11 filing, RadioShack will sell the stores to Sprint and General Wireless, a subsidiary of one of RadioShack's major investors. Moving forward, these stores will be co-branded Sprint and RadioShack, with Sprint being the primary brand. Sprint will own about 30% of the real estate within each store to sell Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA products. The remaining 70% will be set aside for RadioShack to sell its own branded gear and other electronics. Sprint did not say what will happen to the AT&T, GoPhone, Net10 Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Tracfone phones that are currently offered by RadioShack. Presumably they will be no longer be sold. Sprint currently has more than 1,100 company-owned retail stores, which would more than double if the transaction is approved. RadioShack listed about $1.2 billion in assets and $1.39 billion in debts. A bankruptcy court will have to approve RadioShack's plans before Sprint can make its purchase official.
Virgin Mobile today announced the pending availability of the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime smartphone. The device, which was approved by the FCC in late December and is the same as Boost Mobile's Galaxy Prevail 2, features a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and Android 4.4 KitKat. The Core Prime will go on sale Jan. 17 — the same day as Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans — for $129.88.
Virgin Mobile today announced a new plan available exclusively to Walmart customers that includes sharable data without contracts. The plans are available to four specific phones for between two an four lines per account. The two-line plan costs $65 per month and includes unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of shareable data. The three-line plan costs $90 per month and boosts shared data to 8GB. The four-line plan costs $115 per month and includes 12GB of shared data. Users can manage their shared data with Virgin Mobile's account application. Top-ups costs $10 per 1GB. The plan includes parental controls and low-cost international options. Virgin is also offering an add-on that provides unlimited monthly access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pandora for $5 per month per line. Using these apps/services won't impact subscribers' monthly data allotments as long as they subscribe to the add-on plan. The four handsets capable of accessing the shared data service are the HTC Desire 510, LG Tribute, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. More devices will be compatible with the plan by the end of February. Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans will be available beginning Jan. 17. Last, Virgin announced two revised single-line plans. For $35 per month, Virgin customers get 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed of data. For $40 per month, users get unlimited voice and messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed data.
Sprint today said fans of Windows Phone will soon have the option to buy the Lumia 635 through several different Sprint brands. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will begin selling the Lumia 635 online on Dec. 23 and in stores Jan. 9 for $99. Sprint postpaid customers will have a shot at the Lumia 635 starting on Jan. 16, though pricing for the postpaid version has yet to be determined. Sprint says the Lumia 635 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 handset to grace its retail shelves. Moreover, it's the first Lumia Windows Phone to be sold by Sprint's prepaid brands. Microsoft first announced the Lumia 635 in April. It features a ClearBlack 4.5-inch LCD screen, interchangeable back panels, 5-megapixel shooter, and Nokia's two camera apps. There is no user-facing camera. It is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and includes 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and support microSD cards up to 128GB.
Cricket Wireless is hoping a $100 bill credit will convince customers of Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and T-Mobile to hop on over to Cricket. New customers must switch from the aforementioned carriers, purchase a new device, and activate a new line of service on a qualifying rate plan in order to receive the credit. The credit will be applied at the end of the first billing cycle. Cricket's service plans cost $40-$60 per month, depending on options. Cricket offered a similar promotion over the summer months, but only targeted Sprint and T-Mobile. The current promotion runs through Dec. 31.
Virgin Mobile USA recently made the LG Tribute available on its web site. The Tribute is a low-cost Android smartphone that features a 4.5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 5-megapixel camera, LTE and LG's Knock Code. The device runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Virgin is selling the Tribute for $80 without a contract. The device is also being sold at Best Buy, RadioShack, and from Amazon.com, QVC.com, HSN.com.
Virgin Mobile USA today made some changes to its service plans. To start, the company added a new, low-cost plan for $20 per month. It includes 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, but no data. The $35 plan now gives customers a choice. They can opt for unlimited voice minutes with 250MB of high-speed data, or 300 voice minutes and up to 2.5GB of 3G/4G data access (speeds throttled once allotment reached). Both $35 options include unlimited messaging. Virgin also offers a $45 plan, which includes unlimited minutes/messages and up to 1GB of data, and a $55 plan, which includes unlimited minutes/messages and up to 3GB of high-speed data. The new plans are available beginning today and can be paired with most devices sold by Virgin. Customers may also choose to pay another $5 per month for unlimited voice minutes to Canada and Mexico, or another $10 per month for 1,000 minutes to more than 200 countries.
Sprint today announced it and its prepaid brands will all soon offer the HTC Desire 510. HTC announced the 510 last month. It is an entry-level handset with LTE 4G on board. It features a 4.7-inch display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of built-in storage. The main camera captures 5-megapixel images, and the user-facing camera captures VGA images. Connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and DLNA for sharing media. The 510 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes HTC Sense and Blinkfeed. Sprint plans to sell the device with its postpaid service. It will reach Sprint stores on September 19. It will cost $9 per month with Sprint Easy Pay. The full retail price is $216. Sprint didn't spell out the contract price. Boost Mobile will begin selling the Desire 510 on September 22 for $100, and Virgin Mobile will begin selling it on September 23 for $100. Neither Boost nor Virgin Mobile requires contracts. The Desire 510 is also being sold by Cricket Wireless.
Sprint's branded prepaid service, called Sprint Prepaid, today dropped the cost of its service plans. The three new plans mirror those offered by Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA brands, but are available under the Sprint name. All three include unlimited talk and text, but vary in the amount of data available each month. The $35 plan includes 1GB of data, the $45 plan includes 3GB, and the $55 plan includes 6GB. The new plans are available to Sprint Prepaid beginning today. Sprint Prepaid does not require contracts.
Sprint today announced a new service that will allow customers to add animations and avatars to their voicemail messages. The service is available to Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA customers with select Android handsets. The base service includes 12 free avatars and 12 free backgrounds that can be paired together in any combination along with voice effects in order to create unique animations. The avatars are lip-synced with the caller's voicemail (up to 20 seconds for free, up to two minutes with premium subscription). According to Sprint, the content library will be updated often, with new free and paid avatars and backgrounds appearing each week. Sprint customers can use their own voice, or an optional voice effect with variable pitch to make the message more fun. The avatar messages can be shared via voicemail, email, SMS, and even posted to Facebook. Further, messages can be sent to any user on any network, and can also be viewed on the web from desktops or tablets. Devices compatible with the service will receive an update to the visual voicemail application beginning this month. The initial list of compatible devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, and Note 2; the HTC EVO 4G LTE and HTC One. Sprint said more devices will be made compatible with the service over time.
Sprint today announced the Sharp Aquos Crystal, a mid-range handset that it will sell later this year. The Sharp Aquos features a nearly bezel-less design, with narrow edges running along the top and sides of the phone. The screen measures 5 inches and offers 720p HD resolution. The device offers a handful of software features developed by Sharp, including Clip Now, which takes screen shots with a swipe and makes them easily sharable via link. Speaktoit Assistant is a natural language assistant that can perform a number of tasks, such as answer questions, open apps, place calls, and send texts. The device comes with Harman Kardon Clari-Fi and LiveStage audio technologies for improved music reproduction, and Direct Wave Receiver technology, which uses the display panel to create sound for phone calls. The device runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes the usual suite of Google services, in addition to OfficeSuite for editing Microsoft documents. Other hardware features include a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The Aquos supports microSD cards up to 128GB. The camera captures 8-megapixel still images and 1080p HD video. It also has a 1.2-megapixel camera for selfies. The Aquos will cost $240 at full retail, or $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $10 with Sprint. Sprint subsidiaries Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will also sell the device at the price of $150. Virgin and Boost do not require contracts.
HTC today expanded the availability of the Desire 816 and Desire 610 in the U.S. First, Virgin Mobile has committed to selling the Desire 816, which will be available beginning August 12 for $299. The 816 is an inexpensive phablet, which features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, plastic shell, and BoomSound speakers. Virgin Mobile does not require contracts. Second, HTC is making the Desire 816 and Desire 610 available to U.S. consumers directly via its web site. The 610 has a 4.7-inch screen and BoomSound speakers. The 610 is also available from AT&T's GoPhone prepaid brand for $200. Both devices run the latest version of Android and HTC Sense 6.0.
Virgin Mobile USA's Custom plans launched at Walmart stores today. The plans, which were announced last month, allow customers to add only the service they want and alter their service day-by-day if they need to in order to manage their expenses. Virgin Mobile Custom allows families to activate up to five lines on a single account starting at $6.98 per line. The Base plan includes 20 texts and 20 voice minutes per month. Customers can choose to add unlimited texting for $10 or unlimited voice for $18. The Unlimited talk and text plan costs $35 per month. Customers can also choose select add-ons, such as unlimited access to Facebook or music streaming, which can be added monthly at as needed. Virgin Mobile Custom plans are available to three devices, including the ZTE Emblem, the LG Pulse, and the LG Unify, at select Walmart stores.
Virgin Mobile USA today announced a new plan that gives customers more flexibility in managing their account. Virgin Mobile Custom is based on the ItsOn platform, which was used by Zact Mobile, a Sprint-based MVNO. ItsOn is what gives customers the power to change the features of their plans any time they want or need to. Virgin Mobile Custom allows families to activate up to five lines on a single account starting at $6.98 per line. The Base plan includes 20 texts and 20 voice minutes per month. Customers can choose to add unlimited texting for $10 or unlimited voice for $18. The Unlimited talk and text plan costs $35 per month. Customers can also choose select add-ons, such as unlimited access to Facebook or music streaming, which can be added on a recurring or non-recurring basis. These plans can be adjusted at any time during the month, even daily, directly from the customer's device. Customers can add or subtract the amount of voice, text or data they use with real-time price adjustments so customers know exactly what they'll be spending. Virgin Mobile Custom will be available on three devices at launch, including the ZTE Emblem, the LG Pulse, and the LG Unify
- ZTE Emblem: The ZTE Emblem is similar to the Savvy, which is being sold by TracFone. It has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2GHz processor, and it runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. It costs $80
- LG Pulse: The LG Pulse is a U.S. variant of the L70, which was announced earlier this year. It has a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2GHz processor, LG's QSlide and QuickMemo apps, and it runs Android 4.4 KitKat. It costs $100.
- LG Unify: The LG Unify is a variant of the Optimus F3, which is already being sold by Virgin Mobile. It has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and LG's VuTalk and Q-Translator apps. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and costs $130.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA subscribers will soon have access to PlayPhone's socially-connected gaming portal, says PlayPhone. The platform will allow Boost and Virgin subscribers to find and play mobile games with their online friends, and share scores and achievements across various social networks. Boost and Virgin's prepaid subscribers will be able to make in-game purchases through their account, rather than with credit cards. Purchases will be billed directly to their wireless plan. The platform will be available later this summer, though Boost and Virgin declined to say exactly when it will launch and which devices will support it. Verizon adopted PlayPhone's platform earlier this year.
Zact Mobile, an MVNO that resold access to Sprint's network, plans to shut down at the end of August. Zact launched in 2013 and was notable because it allowed customers to adjust their voice minutes, messaging, and data allotments on the fly to suit their needs. The company stopped signing up new customers on July 4. Customers can keep their device and transition to Sprint if they want, or walk away free and clear. Zact is not going to reimburse customers for their devices. Zact uses a platform called ItsOn. Sprint recently adopted ItsOn and plans to launch a new prepaid service in the coming months that will offer flexibility similar to Zact's. Sprint did not say exactly when the new service will launch, nor what it will be called. Sprint already operates several prepaid brands, including Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA.
Paylo, the low-cost provider run by Virgin Mobile USA, today announced a pair of unlimited plans that cost $20 per month. The plans are meant for basic phones, not smartphones. The first offers unlimited voice minutes and 50 messages for $20 per month, while the second offers unlimited messaging and 50 voice minutes. In addition to the two $20 plans, Walmart customers can also choose the existing $30 talk and text plan or the $40 unlimited plan. The new $20 plans will be available beginning June 21.