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.
Virgin Mobile USA today announced a limited-time offer that drops the price of its entry-level smartphone plan to $25 per month. The Unlimited Talk and Text plan is available to select Android smartphones, including the LG Volt, LG Optimus F3, Kyocera Hydro Vibe, and several others. The plan provides unlimited domestic voice minutes and domestic messaging, but no data. Virgin says the devices all include Wi-Fi and can access data through hotspots. The idea is to give customers many of the benefits smartphones offer without the associated monthly cost. The plan is available to new customers only through September 2. Virgin is also offering a $5 Daily Mobile Hotspot plan that allows select handsets to act as mobile hotspots for up to five devices. The plan provides 250MB of data access and is compatible with the HTC Desire and EVO V 4G, iPhone 4s/5/5s, Kyocera Hydro Vibe, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Customers need to subscribe to Virgin's Beyond Talk monthly plan in order to use the $5 Daily Mobile Hotspot feature.
Virgin Mobile USA's low-cost arm, payLo, today added the Kyocera Contact (sold as the Verve by Sprint) to its prepaid roster. The device costs $40 online and can be used with payLo's $40 monthly plans. The Contact is a simple messaging phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Both Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today announced the immediate availability of the LG Volt (also known as the LG F90). LG announced the Volt earlier this year. It features a 4.7-inch qHD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, NFC, removable 3,000 mAh battery, tri-band LTE (Sprint Spark), IR remote control, and a memory card slot. The Volt runs Android 4.4 KitKat and has LG software such as QSlide, Knock Code, and Smart screen. The phone is available online and in stores beginning today for $179.99. The Boost model is blue, while the Virgin model is white.
Beginning in June, Sprint will slow down the browsing speeds available to the top 5% of its customers in congested regions. The change applies to Sprint's post- and pre-paid customers. Some customers have already received text messages explaining the change. Sprint explained the change will affect the top consumers of mobile data, but only when they are in a congested area. This change "will enable us to provide more customers with a high quality data experience during heavy usage times," said Sprint in a statement provided to FierceWirelessTech. "Once the customer is no longer connected to a congested cell site, or the site is no longer congested, speeds will return to normal." Sprint has long marketed "unlimited data" as a way to differentiate itself from its competitors, all of which sell data but the bucket. Sprint's pre-paid arms, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, have long throttled customers who exceed certain usage amounts. This marks the first time Sprint will throttle its own-branded customers. According to Sprint, it developed "fairness algorithms" on both its CDMA and LTE networks to "dynamically allocate available bandwidth in a way that is fair to all users." Sprint further noted that the change isn't being implemented due to sudden spikes in traffic, but instead reflects a continuing increase in usage.
Sprint and Virgin Mobile USA today announced the pending availability of the Hydro Vibe, a new water-resistant Android smartphone from Kyocera. The phone can withstand a 30-minute bath in waters up to 1 meter deep and has a break-resistant 4.5-inch qHD screen. The device is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The Vibe includes an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash and HDR/panorama shooting mode, and has a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The Vibe offers some Kyocera-specific features, including its Smart Sonic Receiver audio technology and Eco-Mode and MaxiMZR power-management apps. The Hydro Vibe also offers NFC, wireless charging, 8GB of internal storage, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. The Kydro Vibe is compatible with Sprint Spark in markets where available. Sprint will begin selling the Kyocera Hydro Vibe May 9 for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $9.59. Virgin Mobile USA will begin selling the Vibe May 27 for $150.
Sprint recently indicated via its support site that it will devise a way to unlock its phones by February 2015. According to Sprint, none of the SIM-equipped phones it has sold during the past three years - including Apple's iPhones - can be unlocked for use on competing networks. The company said it will unlock the SIM card slot of devices that have one, but this will only apply to devices launched after February 2015. Sprint said phones purchased through its subsidiaries Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Assurance Wireless will not be compatible with Sprint's network, even if unlocked. Further, customers need to meet certain criteria in order to be given the unlock code. For example, the phone must be paid for and no longer attached to a contract. The change in Sprint's policy is a voluntary action, though the Federal Communications Commission threatened all network operators with regulation if they failed to act on their own. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all have to implement their own unlocking policies, too, but have yet to announce the details thereof.
Kyocera announced the Verve today, which will be sold by both Sprint and Boost Mobile. The Verve is a feature phone that has a traditional number pad on the front and slides sideways to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard underneath. Some of the hardware features include a 2.4-inch display, 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1, speakerphone, and a stereo headset jack. The feature phone operating system is ideal for heavy texters, according to Sprint. The phone is limited to CDMA 1X-Advanced and does not support LTE. Sprint is offering the Kyocera Verve for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $5.42. Sprint's Framily plans start at $55 per month for the Verve. The Sprint model can be ordered online and via telesales beginning April 11. Boost Mobile will sell the Verve for $50 and offers no-contract plans starting at $50 per month. It will reach Boost stores May 6. Sprint said that the Verve will also be sold by Virgin Mobile's payLo brand, beginning May 13, as the Kyocera Contact. It will cost $40 from payLo.
Ciao, an MVNO that resells Sprint service, kicked off today with low-cost, no-contract plans. Ciao is offering monthly service options that fall in line with other Sprint prepaid properties, such as Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile. The entry-level plan costs $35 per month and includes unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text messaging, and unlimited MMS. The mid-tier plan costs $45 per month and adds 500MB of data. The top-tier plan costs $60 per month and boosts the monthly data allotment to unlimited. Ciao will soon, however, offer an unlimited smartphone plan that costs just $10 per month. The catch is that Ciao will install an app that displays advertisements on the lock screen. Ciao sells a single phone, the HTC EVO, for $199. Ciao Mobile is owned and operated by Ciao Telecom, which is based in Dallas.
Boost Mobile announced the LG Optimus F3 is available beginning today for $129.99. The F3 runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and has a 4-inch IPS LCD screen with Gorilla Glass; a 1.2GHz dual-core processor; Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LTE 4G; and a 5-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture. It comes with LG apps such as VuTalk, QSlide, QuickMemo, and Q Translator. Sprint and Virgin Mobile have been selling the F3 since last summer. Boost Mobile says LTE plans compatible with the F3 start at $55 per month. Boost does not require contracts.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile have begun informing customers that they'll soon further restrict the data speeds of those who exceed 2.5GB of combined 3G/4G data during a single billing period. Neither Boost nor Virgin have data caps, but they have throttled data hogs' speeds to less than 256Kbps since May 2012. Customers can continue to use their data service without being charged extra, but will do so at slower speeds. Beginning May 16 of this year, however, those who use more than 2.5GB of data will see speeds reduced to 128Kbps. Sprint representatives confirmed to Phone Scoop that customers can top up to re-start their month if they need access to faster data. If they don't, 3G/4G speeds will become available once the customer's billing period ends. "This change comes about because of the enormous data usage driven by the increasingly sophisticated smartphones we make available, and the more extensive uses customers are finding for these devices," said Sprint in an email. "We want to be able to serve customers who use our unlimited plans for their daily activity — email, surfing the Web, social networking, photo uploading, location-based apps, etc. Our goal is to ensure our products perform at the best possible level and that we have the best possible experience for all subscribers."
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today both announced plans to sell the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Both companies, which are owned and operated by Sprint, said the GS5 will be compatible with Sprint's Spark LTE service. Pricing was not discussed, but the prepaid carriers said the GS5 will arrive during the second quarter with contract-free, flexible service options.
Sprint today announced a new type of multi-line plan that allows customers to combine accounts even if they are not family members. The basic service costs $55 per month for one line with unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data. Each device added costs $5 less than the one before it, so a second device would cost $50, a third would cost $45, a fourth would cost $40, and so on. Sprint says each individual line can be customized to suit that person's needs. For an additional $20 per month, Framily Plan subscribers can get unlimited data and upgrade to a new phone once every 12 months. The new Sprint Framily Plan goes into effect January 10. Additionally, Sprint named the next set of markets in which it will offer Sprint Spark. They include Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Lauderdale. Last, Sprint said that Sprint Spark will be available to Virgin Mobile customers who own the Netgear Mingle Hotspot.
Ting, an MVNO that runs on Sprint's network, says it is the first to offer devices compatible with Sprint's Spark service. Sprint Spark relies on tri-band LTE devices to boost mobile broadband speeds on its data network. Spark is only available in five markets right now, but will expand to about 100 by the end of 2014. According to Ting, its variants of the Samsung Galaxy Mega, Galaxy S4 Mini, and LG G2 are all able to interact with Spark. Ting CEO Scott Allen told Fierce Wireless that Sprint's willingness to allow its MVNO customers to offer Spark demonstrates "Sprint's commitment to wholesale and their good faith as partner." Other providers that use Sprint's network, such as Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, have yet to claim that they offer Spark-compatible devices.