The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.
U.S. Cellular today announced several new initiatives it hopes will lure potential customers to the smaller operator. First, it is offering three new service plans. Customers can choose plans that cost $40, $50, or $60 per month. The first plan is for feature phones and includes unlimited voice and messaging, as well as an unspecified amount of simple web browsing. The second and third plans are for smartphones. The $50 option includes 500MB of data before throttling and the $60 option includes 2GB before throttling. U.S. Cellular added a device installment plan, too. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phone or break the device payments up over time. U.S. Cellular is not offering early upgrades, however. Last, U.S. Cellular will, for a temporary time, compensate new customers up to $350 if they switch from another carrier and join its Shared Connect plan with a device installment payment. U.S. Cellular's changes mirror those made by other companies in recent weeks, including Sprint and T-Mobile.
Sprint plans to add support for 700MHz Band 12 in some of its devices beginning next year. Sprint does not own any 700MHz spectrum, but hopes to use the 700MHz capabilities to forge better roaming agreements with small, regional carriers. It is part of Sprint's larger plan to expand the reach of its network through partnerships with competitors, such as the Competitive Carrier Association's Data Access Hub. Some of the carriers that support 700MHz Band 12 include U.S. Cellular and C Spire Wireless. Additionally, AT&T has agreed to support 700MHz Band 12 thanks to the FCC's interoperability agreement. Separately, Sprint has forged a partnership with NetAmerica and will together launch a project called the Smart Market Alliance for Rural Transformation. The partnership will operate similar to Verizon Wireless's LTE Rural America program in that Sprint will license its unused 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum to NetAmerica members that want to build LTE networks of their own. Companies that choose this path will also have the option of using Sprint's core network. Regional carriers that build LTE using Sprint's spectrum will be able to provide their own customers with roaming on Sprint's network, and vice versa. The program helps Sprint as much as it does smaller carriers, as Sprint doesn't offer coverage in many rural areas.
U.S. Cellular today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be available for preorder beginning March 21. The device will reach stores April 11. It will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract. U.S. Cellular is offering $50 in Google Play Store credit to those who preorder the phone. The Gear 2 and Gear Fit wearable devices will also go on sale April 11.
A German court today dismissed a lawsuit filed by IPCom against Apple over smartphone patents. The patent in question covered technology that prioritized emergency calls even when cellular networks were overloaded. IPCom was seeking more than $2 billion in damages against Apple. Courts in Germany have dismissed similar claims made by IPCom, which is a patent holding company. The court did not provide a reason for today's dismissal.
Transit Wireless today announced that it has begun Phase Two of its project to bring cellular and Wi-Fi wireless service to New York City's subway stations. The first step of Phase Two is to light up service at 11 more midtown Manhattan stations, including those at Grand Central Terminal, 34th St. Herald Square, and Bryant Park. The bulk of Phase Two, however, targets 29 stations in Queens. Transit Wireless is building a hub in Queens to help manage the infrastructure from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The Queens build out begins in March and should be complete by June. Transit Wireless has not said if or when it will offer subway station service in the boroughs of the Bronx or Brooklyn.
Motorola today released Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the U.S. Cellular variant of the Moto X. The update adds cloud printing, improves battery life, and resolves an email sync issue. The OS boost also includes several bug fixes. The update is free to download and install.
AT&T Mobility and Stelera Wireless have filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission seeking consent to transfer spectrum licenses from Stelera to AT&T. According to the FCC, Stelera acquired the licenses in 2006 at auction but later filed for bankruptcy. AT&T believes the transfer is in the public interest because it will put the spectrum to use to bolster its LTE 4G network. If approved, AT&T will gain 10 to 20MHz of AWS-1 A Block spectrum from Stelera in 55 counties in nine Cellular Market Areas across parts of Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. If the deal goes through, AT&T will hold a total of 56 to 180MHz of spectrum in the CMAs involved, including 20 to 50MHz of AWS-1 spectrum. No dollar value was placed on the spectrum transfer. Verizon Wireless filed a similar request with the FCC regarding Stelera's other spectrum licenses last year.
U.S. Cellular today unveiled a new no-contract plan that offers unlimited voice, unlimited messaging, and 500MB of 3G/4G data for $50 per month. Users who exceed 500MB of data in a single billing period will see their speeds throttled for the remainder of the billing period. Alternately, customers can choose a plan that includes unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of data for $65 per month. The new plans can be paired with smartphones and don't require customers to sign two-year agreements.
T-Mobile is expanding the availability of its ETF-reimbursement program to the customers of other, smaller carriers. Speaking to Re/Code, T-Mobile marketing chief Mike Sievert said the company will reimburse subscribers early termination fees if they come from regional carriers, such as U.S. Cellular and others, that require contracts. The deal provides potential customers with up to $350 per line to cover ETFs, and up to another $300 for device trade-ins. Additionally, T-Mobile expanded the number of handsets that it will accept as trade-ins to increase the appeal for consumers considering the jump. The program was first unveiled by T-Mobile during the recent Consumer Electronics Show.
Wilson Electronics announced the DT4G signal booster at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Wilson claims the device is the first-ever carrier agnostic signal booster, meaning it will improve the 2G, 3G, and 4G coverage of all network operators. The DT4G is meant for consumers who want or need to improve cellular coverage/availability inside their homes. Wilson says the DT4G can provide additional coverage inside most apartments, condos, or houses. Previously, Wilson's signal boosters were tuned for specific carriers. The DT4G will be available soon and carriers a $400 price tag.
U.S. Cellular today announced that it has made progress in repairing the damage done to its billing system when it switched to a new system last year. The company made significant changes to its billing processes in July 2013 and was immediately beset with billing issues. The problems led to a backlash from customers, who besieged the company's social media and support sites. U.S. Cellular claims that nearly all the erroneous bills generated by the system have been resolved. "Notwithstanding the progress our teams have been making in commercializing this new system, the experience we delivered to our customers was below our standards," said CEO Kenneth R. Meyers. "Individual customers have experienced delays in activation and billing backlogs, which have created customer confusion. As a token of our appreciation for our customers' patience, we issued reward points to every account in the program. This almost $50 million investment, which will impact profitability in the fourth quarter, is our way of showing customers they can and should expect more from us."
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has written a letter to the CEOs of the country's five largest wireless network operators requesting that they do more to help curb cell phone theft. Klobuchar points out that nearly one-third of all robberies involves a cell phone, and stolen mobile devices take a $30 billion toll on consumers each year. Lawmakers in California and New York recently attempted to convince the carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless) to add kill switches to their devices. The tool would allow consumers whose devices are lost or stolen to permanently deactivate their phone. Lawmakers believe that this will help curb the illegal resale of cell phones and eventually reduce robberies. Samsung developed such a kill switch, but carriers shot the idea down over fears of lost insurance revenue. "Your five companies [serve] more than 90 percent of the nation's wireless subscribers," wrote Klobuchar. "With that market share comes an obligation to do all you can to utilize technologies available to protect consumers. While I understand your companies are continuing to work with law enforcement on the stolen cell phone database, it is clear that consumers want and deserve a comprehensive strategy to prevent mobile device thefts." Klobuchar asked the carriers to send her information about any offers made by handset makers to add kill switches, and why they didn't adopt them; information on whether or not the carriers have considered devices with features similar to Apple's activation lock; and details on how each company will include kill switches on future products at no cost to consumers. Klobuchar gave the carriers until January 9 to respond.
Verizon Wireless today completed its planned acquisition of select assets from U.S. Cellular. Specifically, Verizon is snagging some of U.S. Cellular's spectrum, networking gear, and customers in the St. Louis, Mo., metropolitan area. The spectrum licenses cover approximately 110,000 POPs in an area greater than 1,700 square miles. U.S. Cellular customers in the affected region will receive a welcome letter from Verizon in the coming weeks. Verizon will continue to operate the assets as U.S. Cellular until Verizon completes its LTE build-out in the region, which is expected by mid-2014. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Facebook pushed out an update to its iOS application that enables auto-play for videos embedded in newsfeed posts. The videos will play silently until the user taps the screen to turn on sound. The update is free.
The Federal Communications Commission today approved changes today that will eventually lead to interoperability in the Lower 700MHz spectrum band. The order addresses interference concerns by modifying the technical terms governing the power used in the D and E Blocks. Further, the FCC believes Channel 51 will not disturb B and C Block, and wants to modify AT&T's existing B and C Block licenses to account for changes proposed by AT&T earlier this year. The FCC said, "The terms of the voluntary agreement serve the public interest by encouraging efficient use of spectrum and enabling consumers to enjoy the benefits of greater competition. The standards developed by several wireless providers, along with the Competitive Carriers Association, will also give consumers more choice in using their devices with large and small carriers alike and will promote widespread deployment of mobile broadband services, especially in rural areas." AT&T and Verizon Wireless operated their LTE 4G networks in the 700MHz spectrum band, as do several smaller carriers. The smaller network operators petitioned the FCC to create these interoperability changes so that their devices will work on their own networks, as well as those of their competitors. AT&T responded by saying, "We are pleased to see the FCC moving swiftly to address these interference issues consistent with the negotiated solution. The action the Commission takes today, under continued leadership by Chairwoman Clyburn, is a critical step to achieving 700Mhz interoperability that will in turn foster industry investment and deployment in the 700MHz band to the benefit of U.S. wireless consumers."
Verizon Wireless hopes to purchase some B Block AWS spectrum from U.S. Cellular, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Specifically, Verizon is eyeing 20MHz of AWS-1 spectrum in 53 counties in 14 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) across parts of Illinois and Missouri near the St. Louis region. According to the FCC, if the transaction is approved, Verizon would own 62-117MHz of spectrum across these CMAs, 40MHz of which would be AWS-1. Verizon said it wants the spectrum to supplement its LTE network in the region. Verizon is using AWS spectrum (1700MHz) in addition to 700MHz for its 4G network. It has already begun deploying LTE in the AWS band in some markets. The companies did not place a dollar value on the transaction. The FCC has accepted the paperwork and will begin the review process.
Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S4 Mini will become available from the top U.S. network operators beginning in November. The GS4 Mini was first announced in May. AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the phone. The Mini swaps out the S4's 5-inch FHD display for a qHD 4.3-inch display; it drops the 13-megapixel camera down to 8 megapixels; and changes out the quad-core processor in favor of a 1.7GHz dual-core processor. The user-facing camera rates 1.9 megapixels and the Mini includes many of the same imaging features found in its larger stablemate. The Mini also carries over the GS4's multitude of apps, such as S Translator, S Health, WatchOn, Samsung Hub, and others. The Galaxy S4 Mini has 8GB of internal memory (5GB accessible by users), 1.5GB of RAM, and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It includes GPS and GLONASS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and an IR blaster for the remote control app. Availability and pricing will be carrier dependent.
U.S. Cellular today announced that it will offer the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c beginning November 8. U.S. Cellular didn't announce pricing details. It is already for sale from most other U.S. carriers.
U.S. Cellular today announced new service plans that allow both consumer and business customers to share data between devices. U.S. Cellular's plans support up to 10 devices (25 for business customers), which can be made from a mix of basic phones, smartphones, tablets, and modems/hotspots. Smartphones have a monthly device connection charge of $40, basic phones cost $30, hotspots/modems cost $20, and tablets cost $10. Shared data packages start at 1GB for $50 per month and range up to 10GB for $100. All the plans include unlimited voice minutes and messaging. Data-only plans are available for tablets and hotspots/modems that start at $10 per month for 1GB of data. The same monthly device connection charges apply. U.S. Cellular still offers basic phone users its Talk and Text Only Plans, which include 450 minutes and unlimited messaging for $50. U.S. Cellular's new shared data plans are available beginning today.
U.S. Cellular has yet to properly rectify problems with its billing system that began earlier this year. In July, the company switched billing systems and immediately ran into trouble. Customers flooded the company with complaints. According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the issues haven't been resolved and are leading to double billing, erroneous billing, and other problems for customers. U.S. Cellular's Facebook page is full of customers lashing out at the company's inability to properly process billing and payments. In a letter sent to customers, U.S. Cellular said, "We are working to resume normal billing. However, these billing delays may cause you to receive multiple bills in a shorter period of time over the next few months. We have changed your due dates to allow you additional time to pay. We also are working individually with customers to handle account-specific issues." The company indicated that the issues may not be resolved until November. The problem has prompted Wisconsin consumer protection officials to launch an investigation.
AT&T today announced its commitment to supporting band 12 with its LTE network and devices in the 700 MHz range. The move will make it much easier for smaller carriers such as U.S. Cellular and Cricket to move forward with their LTE networks in the Lower 700 MHz band. AT&T has previously only supported band 17 and offered band 17 devices, which do not support the lower-frequency blocks of the 700 MHz band licensed by the smaller carriers. Band 12 is a superset of band 17, covering both the lower frequencies used by the smaller carriers and the higher frequencies used by AT&T. Manufacturers have tended to focus more effort toward phones for larger carriers such as AT&T (with band 17), leaving smaller carriers with few band 12 phones that work with their LTE networks. Now that AT&T has committed to offering band 12 devices, more devices should be available to the smaller carriers. AT&T previously objected to supporting band 12, citing interference concerns. The FCC has been re-examining the issue of 700 MHz band interoperability recently, putting pressure on AT&T.
Sony today unveiled two lens accessories for smartphones that put a new spin on the idea of improving the on-board camera. The Sony QX100 and QX10 are attachable lenses and also serve as stand-alone cameras. Both lenses connect to smartphones (Android and iOS) via Wi-Fi and, along with a companion app, can be used instead of the smartphone's built-in camera. The companion app uses the phone's screen as a viewfinder and offers some simple controls over shooting mode, zoom, point of focus, and others. The lenses can be mounted on smartphones with the use of clips, as well as used on their own. Both use Sony's EXMOR sensors and can be paired easily with devices via NFC. The QX100 has a 20.1-megapixel camera and offers 3.6x optical zoom while the QX10 offers an 18.2-megapixel camera and 10x optical zoom. The QX100 and QX10 lens-style cameras will be available later this month for $499 and $249, respectively. The come in black and white.
Sprint today reminded U.S. Cellular customers located in the St. Louis metropolitan area that it will shut down existing U.S. Cellular service on October 31. Sprint acquired some spectrum and assets from U.S. Cellular earlier this year. The shutdown will affect the customers, leaving them without service. Sprint is urging those who've not already switched to Sprint's devices and services to do so as soon as possible. Sprint says U.S. Cellular customers can port their existing number to Sprint, but they have to buy new devices, as their old ones are not compatible with Sprint's network. Sprint began notifying the customers in June, and is offering them incentives to update their device and service to either Sprint or Boost Mobile. Sprint intends to use the former U.S. Cellular spectrum in the St. Louis region to supplement its own network.
Apple has indicated that it opposes the Federal Communications Commission's mandate for interoperability in the 700MHz spectrum band. The FCC is weighing whether or not it should require all devices that use 700MHz spectrum to support all or most of the bands therein. AT&T and Verizon Wireless operate their LTE networks in Band Class 17 and Band Class 13, respectively, and Apple's iPhone works in both. The iPhone does not, however, support Band Class 12 in which smaller, regional operators, such as U.S. Cellular, operate. Smaller carriers have banded together and requested the interoperability measures, but the FCC has yet to act upon it. Apple's lawyers recently spoke to FCC representatives about the interoperability proceedings and called them unnecessary, problematic, and cost-inducing. AT&T also opposes the interoperability proposal. AT&T and others point to television channel 51 as the reason behind Band Class 17's creation in the first place, citing interference problems. A handful of interested parties met with the FCC to discuss the issue last month, but the FCC has not indicated when it may make a final ruling on the matter.
Samsung today announced that a handful of U.S. network operators will sell the Galaxy Mega 6.3. The Mega, which was announced earlier this year, features a 6.3-inch HD display, 1.7GHz dual-core processor, support for LTE and HSPA+, and 3200mAh battery. It also features an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.9-megapixel user-facing camera; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, and MHL; support for microSD cards up to 64GB; and 1.5GB of RAM. It runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung's TouchWiz software and applications. It will be sold in the U.S. by AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. AT&T said the Mega 6.3 will be available beginning August 23 for $149.99 with a new contract or for $24 per month with AT&T Next. Sprint said the Mega 6.3 will be available "later this year," but did not provide pricing. U.S. Cellular has yet to announce pricing and availability.
U.S. Cellular has named itself as the fifth U.S. carrier to sell Motorola's new Moto X phone. Pre-orders start today, and it will be available "later this month" in white and black for $200 after instant rebate.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, will launch nationwide later this year. The service uses NFC and allows smartphone owners to make tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. The service has been undergoing trials in Austin and Salt Lake City since last year. It was due to launch earlier this year, but faced delays. According to Isis, 25 of the top 100 retailers are installing terminals compatible with the system. Many consumers already own smartphones with the necessary NFC components inside.
U.S. Cellular has encountered trouble with its customer billing system after performing a system upgrade late last week. "We experienced system issues last Friday and over the weekend that affected the ability to process some customer transactions," said a U.S. Cellular representative to Phone Scoop in an email. "This is leading to longer than normal wait times when calling customer service, as well as extended wait times at our retail locations. The billing system is currently available through our Customer Service channel, but some stores are experiencing intermittent issues. We are working to fix these issues as soon as possible and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused." U.S. Cellular's Facebook page is rife with customer complaints about the billing system errors. According to U.S. Cellular, the new billing system will improve its ability to service customers once the ongoing issues are resolved.
U.S. Cellular today announced the pending availability of the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, its first Windows Phone 8 smartphone. The Odyssey, which is also sold by Verizon Wireless, is a compact WP8 device that has a 4-inch AMOLED display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 5-megapixel camera, and LTE 4G. It costs $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year contract. It will be in stores beginning Thursday, July 11.
U.S. Cellular and Samsung have published information about the Freeform 5, a QWERTY-equipped messaging phone. The Freeform 5 runs Qualcomm's BREW platform, which is used for feature phones, and it includes messaging features, adjustable wallpapers, and Samsung-developed widgets. The Freeform 5 features a 2.4-inch QVGA display, a full physical keyboard, a 3-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth, and Voice Commands. The device runs on U.S. Cellular's 3G network and has a 1000mAh battery. U.S. Cellular is selling the Freeform 5 for $69.99.
U.S. Cellular today announced that the ZTE Imperial will be available online and in stores beginning June 27. The Imperial supports U.S. Cellular's LTE 4G network. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and includes a 4-inch screen with 800 x 480 pixels, 1.2GHz Qualcomm dual-core processor, and a 5-megapixel main camera. The Imperial also offers a front-facing camera for video chats. Other features include Wi-Fi, GPE, and Bluetooth 4.0; 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The ZTE Imperial will cost $0.01 with rebate when paired with a new plan.
U.S. Cellular today announced that its board appointed Kenneth R. Meyers as President and Chief Executive Officer effective June 22. Meyers replaces Mary Dillon, who served as CEO from June 2010 until last week. Dillon has chosen to depart U.S. Cellular for another company. Meyers joined U.S. Cellular in 1987m and has filled a variety of roles there over the years. Meyers has already served in an executive capacity for TDS, the majority owner of U.S. Cellular, since 2007. "Leading U.S. Cellular is an honor and a tremendous opportunity," said Meyers. "U.S. Cellular has recently taken significant and decisive actions to improve its competitive position and strengthen its customer focus. I plan to build on these actions and leverage the passion of our dedicated associates to drive performance, growth and long-term profitability."
Samsung today announced the Galaxy Ace 3, a new Android smartphone that helps fill out the low-cost portion of its portfolio. The Ace 3 features a 4-inch WVGA LCD screen and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and comes with many of the same software features found on Samsung's higher-end device, such as S Translator, Smart Stay, S Voice, and S Travel. The Ace 3 has a 5-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and software features such as Best Shot, Sound & Shot, and Best Photo. The Ace 3 also has a VGA user-facing camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 4GB of internal memory, and support for microSD memory cards. The Ace 3 will be sold in single- and dual-SIM versions, as well as 3G-only and LTE versions (the LTE version has a 1.2GHz processor and 8GB of memory). Availability and pricing will vary by market.
U.S. Cellular recently added the LG Envoy II to its selection of basic feature phones. The Envoy II is an update to the Envoy that bumps the camera from 0.3-megapixels to 1.3-megapixels, and adds support for AWS spectrum. The Envoy II also sports dual displays, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, voice commands, text-to-speech and apps such as Accuweather, City ID, and Pacman. The LG Envoy II costs $69.99 with a two-year contract.
U.S. Cellular has added the LG Optimus F7 to its lineup of Android smartphones. The Optimus F7, which was announced by LG earlier this year, sports a 4.7-inch IPS display with 1280 x 720 pixels; 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage; an 8-megapixel main camera and 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera; and a 2,540mAh battery. The Optimus F7 runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and comes with an assortment of LG custom software, such as QuickMemo and Q Slide. It supports U.S. Cellular's LTE network and costs $99 with a contract, or $399 without a contract.
Google today announced a sweeping redesign of Gmail's inbox in desktop browsers, as well as the dedicated Android and iOS Gmail applications. The changes center on the addition of tabs to the inbox that are meant to help organize different types of emails into categories, such as updates, deals, messages from friends, and so on. Users can choose which of the five tabs they see in their inbox, and the order in which the tabs appear. Messages can be moved between tabs and certain senders can be prioritized to always be visible in the primary tab. The new mobile apps, which will become available gradually over the next few weeks, default to the primary tab view, but make it easy to view and interact with emails in the other tabs. According to Google, users can switch off the tabs and stick with a classic view of Gmail if they so wish.
Kyocera's new Hydro XTRM for U.S. Cellular sits at the high end of the Hydro lineup, with upgraded features like 4G and extra durability. You could also think of it as a "Torque Lite". Read on for our first impressions of this interesting new Android phone.
Kyocera today announced the Hydro Edge and Hydro XTRM, building on the success of the original Hydro. Like the original, the new models are affordable Android phones that are fully water-proof. The new models are slightly higher-end, however, both sporting a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, 4-inch glass display, 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, and Android 4.1. Both models also feature the unique Smart Sonic Receiver tissue-conduction speaker technology found in the Torque. Both have 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of built-in storage, and a memory card slot.
- Hydro Edge: Coming to Sprint and Boost this summer, this CDMA model also sports HD Voice and a back-side-illuminated camera sensor. Its processor clocks in at 1 GHz.
- Hydro XTRM: On sale with U.S. Cellular starting today, this model steps up with 4G LTE, a 1.2 Ghz processor, a front camera, shock (drop) resistance to military standards, and a large 2,000 mAh battery.
Sprint today announced that it has finalized its purchase of spectrum and customers from U.S. Cellular in a handful of mid-western markets. The transaction gives Sprint 20MHz of spectrum in Chicago, South Bend, Ind., and Champaign, Ill., and 10MHz of spectrum in St. Louis. In addition to the spectrum, Sprint also gains about 420,000 U.S. Cellular subscribers. Sprint and U.S. Cellular have already notified the affected customers about the transition, which will take several months to complete. According to Sprint, it is offering those U.S. Cellular customers handset and service plan options from its Sprint, Virgin, Boost, and payLo brands at little to no extra cost. Sprint plans to use the newly-gained spectrum to enhance its capacity in those markets.