Sprint today announced that its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will both offer the Samsung Galaxy S III beginning in June. The GSIII will include support for Sprint's LTE 4G network. Pricing and exact availability was not shared.
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.
Yahoo today announced that it has agreed to purchase Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash. Tumblr is a blogging platform that, by Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer's own admission, "couldn’t be more different" than Yahoo. Despite the differences, Meyer believes the two companies will be complementary to one another in the long run. Yahoo made a distinct promise "not to screw up" Tumblr. It will be operated as a separate company, and its leadership team will remain intact. Tumblr CEO David Karp said, "Our team isn't changing. Our roadmap isn't changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn't changing." Tumblr is accessible from the web, and also via dedicated smartphone applications for the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms. The Tumblr apps can be used to view the blog, as well as create posts, upload photos, make comments, and more.
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.
Google today announced updates to Google Now. The app now lets you set reminders based on time or location, and estimates commute times using public transit.
Google today announced that it will start directly selling a special version of Samsung's Galaxy S 4 flagship phone that is unlocked and ships with stock Android 4.2, essentially expanding the Nexus family of "pure Google" devices. The device sports LTE compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. It is bootloader-unlocked and will receive Android updates before most other phones, like Nexus devices. It ships June 26th for $649.
Google today launched a new streaming music service with a discovery engine for finding new music, to compete with Rdio and Spotify. Google Play Music All Access lets you start with any song and automatically build a custom streaming radio station of similar songs. Unwanted songs can be dismissed and re-ordered. The service is integrated into Google Play Music as Listen Now. The service works on Android phones and tablets, and the web, and integrates your own music library with the streaming catalog. The service launches today in the U.S. for $9.99/month, with a 30-day free trial. Users who sign up before June 30th can lock in a special $7.99 monthly rate.
Google today announced an update to its Google Cloud Messaging service, the behind-the-scenes system that allows apps to communicate with web services, and for those services to push notifications to Android devices even when the app is not running. The new service syncs notifications across devices, so that when a user dismisses a notification on their Android phone, it's dismissed on their Android tablet as well. The upgraded service is also now two-way, allowing apps to send data "upstream" from the app to a web service. As part of Google Play Services, the new features launch today and do not require a new version of Android.
T-Mobile today confirmed a report that originally appeared in TMoNews.com suggesting that the company had raised the price of the Apple iPhone 5. During the first month of availability, T-Mobile sold the iPhone 5 for a down payment of just $99, followed by 24 monthly payments of $20 each. Apparently, this was a promotional rate."As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile is committed to introducing the hottest new smartphones at unbeatable promotional prices--but we all know promotions are temporary," the company said in a statement to FierceWireless. "The great news here is that well-qualified customers, on approved credit, can still buy (16GB) iPhone 5 from T-Mobile for $149.99 down starting Monday, May 13." Now that the iPhone has been available for more than 30 days, T-Mobile is charging a higher down payment price, though the monthly payments remain unchanged.
A new service provider called Zact today announced its unique plan offerings. The company offers a large range of sizes for voice, text messaging, and data buckets that can be mixed and matched in any way. Any custom plan can be shared among any number of devices for $5 per device. Plans can be managed and changed at any time via an app on the Android phone. The company uses the Sprint 4G LTE network and offers two phones: the LG Viper for $399 and LG Optimus Elite for $199. A "Never Overpay Guarantee" automatically bills you only for the cheapest plan that fits your usage, even if you picked a more expensive plan for that month. Example rates include $24.22 for 1 GB of data, $64.31 for 3 GB of data, $5.28 for 1,000 text messages, and $9.43 for 500 voice minutes. The company also offers app-specific unlimited data, such as $5/month for Facebook, $1/month for Candy Crush Saga, or $5/month for maps and navigation. The company also offers parental controls that work directly via the Zact app. Parents can set limits and curfews, and even approve contacts. Phones will start shipping in June.
Consumer Cellular today announced the addition of two Android smartphones to its roster of devices, the LG 930 and the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate. The LG 930 (sold by AT&T as the Nitro HD), features a 4.5-inch HD display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera with HD video capture, front camera, DLNA wireless media streaming, and a memory card slot. The Galaxy Exhilarate includes a 4-inch screen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with HD video capture, front camera, and a memory card slot. The LG 930 is being sold for $300 and the Galaxy Exhilarate is being sold for $150. Both are available, without contracts, from Consumer Cellular's web site beginning today.
U.S. Cellular may soon offer its customers the Apple iPhone, according to CEO Mary Dillon. Dillon was coy about actually naming the iPhone, but said the company will sell "Apple products later this year." U.S. Cellular is one of the few major carriers that doesn't offer the iPhone. "By further strengthening our device portfolio, we'll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve," said Dillon. Dillon did not provide any more specifics about its plans. U.S. Cellular offers CDMA-based 3G service and has its own LTE 4G network in the 700 and 1700MHz bands. The company also reported earnings today and outlined its network plans moving forward. It expects to cover 87% of its existing 3G base with LTE 4G by the end of the year, which will include some 3,800 cities and towns in Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The company lost 51,000 customers during the most recent quarter and now claims to have 5.73 million subscribers.
Verizon Wireless has prepared an operating system upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The upgrade boosts the OS to Android 4.1.2 and makes a number of improvements to the device's performance. It adds IPV6 to the mobile hotspot feature, improves Exchange-based email syncing, adds airplane mode notifications, fixes text behavior when in landscape mode, and makes some fixes to the calendar and back-up assistant. The update also removes the Zappos application, which was preloaded on the device. The system update can be downloaded and installed over the air, though Verizon suggests that Note II owners use Wi-Fi. It is being distributed in waves and users will be notified when their device is ready.
Today the Obama Administration nominated Tom Wheeler to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission after current Chair Julius Genachowski vacates the post in the weeks to come. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will serve as the acting FCC Chairperson when Genachowski departs the FCC, and will hold that position until Wheeler's nomination is approved. "Tom will be a great FCC Chairman, and I urge his swift confirmation," said Genachowski. "I can attest to Tom's commitment to harness the power of communications technology to improve people's lives, to drive our global competitiveness, and to advance the public interest. The FCC's role has never been more essential, and with Tom's deep policy expertise and his first-hand experience as a technology investor, he is a superb choice to advance the FCC's mission of promoting innovation, investment, competition, and consumer protection." Congress must approve Obama's selection.
HTC today made a formal statement regarding litigation brought against one of its suppliers, STMicroelectronics, by Nokia. According to HTC, the lawsuit was filed solely against STMicroelectronics, and not HTC at all. Further, HTC says Nokia has not obtained an injunction against HTC in The Netherlands or any other country. As written, the judgment against STMicroelectronics states that HTC can use the microphones in question because they were purchased from STMicroelectronics in good faith. HTC will transition to another microphone maker once it uses all the microphones it purchased from STMicroelectronics. None of HTC's products, such as the One, are affected by the judgment against STMicroelectronics.
Documents seen on the Federal Communications Commission web site reveal a Kyocera device that may be headed to Verizon Wireless. The Kyocera C6750 includes the LTE and CDMA bands unique to Verizon, in addition to GSM and WCDMA bands used for global roaming. Other specs called out by the FCC include NFC, Bluetooth, and dual-band Wi-Fi. These features are typically reserved for smartphones, though the FCC documents do not confirm what type of device the C6750 is. Kyocera has not offered a phone through Verizon Wireless since the K323, which was sold from late 2006 through mid 2007.
Cricket Wireless today announced two new sets of plans, one for multiple lines and another for iPhones. The new family plan offers two smartphone lines for $40 per line per month. The plan includes unlimited voice minutes and text messages, 1GB of full-speed data (throttled thereafter), and Cricket's Muve Music service. Cricket also altered its iPhone service plans to match those it offers with Android smartphones. The base iPhone plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited talk and text (domestic), 1GB of full-speed data, and Muve Music. iPhone customers can also choose a $60 plan to get 2.5GB of full-seed data and unlimited international messaging, or a $70 plan to get 5GB of full-speed data and unlimited international messaging. All three of these plans include mobile hotspot. The new plans, which went into effect April 21, are available at Cricket stores and select retailers.
Bluegrass Cellular today announced a modest expansion of its LTE 4G network. Bluegrass Cellular is part of Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America program, and uses Verizon's spectrum, but its own equipment, to offer LTE services. The company first launched LTE in test markets of Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, and Radcliff late year. Today's expansion brings LTE 4G to Clarksville, Tenn., and Hopkinsville, Owensboro, Danville, and Richmond, Ky. Bluegrass Cellular expects to cover a total of 700,000 pops in these and other markets by June.
U.S. Cellular began accepting preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on Tuesday, but today announced that the device will include the S View Flip Cover at no extra charge. This accessory costs $59.99 when purchased separately. U.S. Cellular is asking $199.99 for the Galaxy S 4, though it has not yet specified an availability date for the smartphone other than "late April."
Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S 4 will be available from seven different wireless network operators before the end of April. The four national carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless, as will smaller carriers U.S. Cellular, Cricket, and C Spire, will each have customized variants of the device specific for their 4G LTE and 3G networks. Samsung said that individual carriers will announce exact availability and pricing during the course of the next few weeks. In addition to carrier availability, the GS4 can also be purchased at various electronics stores, including Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile, Costco, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Staples, Target, and Wal-Mart. The Galaxy S 4 has a 5-inch FHD display, 1.9GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel camera, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, and tons of Samsung software, including Air View and Air Gesture, Drama Shot and Eraser Shot, and Easy Mode and a customizable notification tray. Last, Samsung revealed a few more details about accessories for the GS4. The S View Flip Cover has a window through which GS4 owners can read text messages, answer or reject calls, and view the battery status. The S View Flip Cover, which is sold separately, retails for $59.99. Availability details of the cover were not shared.
U.S. Cellular today announced the ZTE Director, an entry-level Android smartphone similar to the Fury, which is offered by Sprint. Core features of the Director include a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz processor, 4GB of built-in storage with support for memory cards, and a 3-megapixel camera with video capture. The Director runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and also includes Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi and mobile hotspot. The ZTE is available beginning today from U.S. Cellular's web site, where it costs only a penny.
Crest Financial, an investor that opposes Sprint's proposed take-over of Clearwire, took firmer steps towards preventing the deal from taking place. Crest filed a preliminary proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that will be used to urge Clearwire stockholders to reject the proposed merger. Crest has argued for months that Sprint's offer significantly undervalues Clearwire's worth. Sprint initially offered $2.91 per share, but later raised its offer to $2.97 per share. Sprint's maximum offer was limited by Softbank, the Japanese carrier that is in the process of acquiring a 70% s take in Sprint.
Samsung has revealed plans to open 1,400 "Experience Shops" in Best Buy stores across the U.S. The dedicated, branded floor space will showcase Samsung phones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs, cameras, and accessories. Phones will be a particular focus, with prominent "Galaxy S" branding. The shops will be staffed with Samsung employees who can help with basic new-device setup as well as software updates. The rollout begins next Monday, and the company plans to have 900 open by early next month, with all 1,400 open by mid-year. Some of the shops will display the Galaxy S 4 before it goes on sale in the U.S.
U.S. Cellular today indicated via its web site that customers can preorder the Samsung Galaxy S 4 beginning April 16. U.S Cellular did not disclose pricing, nor availability, however.
The Institutional Shareholder Services, a company that helps companies better manage their large investments, today published a report suggesting that MetroPCS shareholders vote against T-Mobile's proposed acquisition of the smaller company. The report agrees with the position held by P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, which believes MetroPCS shareholders can get a better deal from another company. "Absent merging with T-Mobile, PCS will have enough cash on its balance sheet to dedicate to new spectrum and could continue operating as a stand-alone company," said ISS in its report. "It may well, as many commentators have suggested, have additional M&A opportunities in the offing, given its attractive assets. In light of the negative market response to this transaction ... and the potential for PCS to continue to thrive as a stand-alone company, shareholders should vote AGAINST this transaction," concluded ISS. Schoenfeld has been lobbying against the T-Mobile deal from the beginning, and is supported by other investors. The deal has been given full clearance by U.S. government agencies, and now hinges on a MetroPCS shareholder vote, to be held April 12. Shoenfeld and ISS are recommending that shareholders vote the transaction down. Earlier this week, T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere expressed optimism that the deal will proceed, despite, what he called, the interference from "greedy hedgefund managers."
The FCC today approved Sprint's version of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S 4 phone. The approval documents show support for GSM and WCDMA, in additional to Sprint's CDMA and LTE networks, indicating that the phone is intended to have global roaming capability. Last year's Galaxy S III for Sprint was the only Galaxy S III for a top-tier carrier without global roaming. The FCC also approved the Galaxy S 4 variant for U.S. Cellular (and, most likely, Cricket); it does not appear to support overseas networks.
BlackBerry today announced that owners of BlackBerry 10 devices in the U.S. now have access to more television programming in the BlackBerry World storefront. BlackBerry recently signed PBS, Univision, and Viacom to its list of content providers, each of which oversees a wide variety of channels and programming. According to BlackBerry, content from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, PBS, and others can be purchased directly from BlackBerry 10 handsets. The BlackBerry Z10 is already available from AT&T, and will become available from T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless this week. Pricing for the content varies.
Verizon Wireless today announced that its version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will receive Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean beginning today, March 19. The update includes Photo Sphere, the new predictive keyboard, and other features. It is being pushed over the air.
CBS today anounced the launch of its own app for iOS, with Android and Windows 8 apps to follow later this year. The app lets users stream full episodes of CBS shows. Prime-time shows will be available eight days after first broadcast, while daytime and late-night shows will be available within 24 hours. The app will merge with the CBS Connect App for live interaction and second-screen experiences with live broadcast shows. Shows streamed via the app will have "reduced commercial interruption" for the first few weeks of the app launch. Shows available include CSI, NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, and The Late Show with David Letterman.
Republic Wireless today announced the availability of the Republic Wireless Wi-Fi+ application. The app is meant to serve as a tool to help Republic Wireless customers test the connection quality and automatically log into millions of Wi-Fi hotspots with no authentication or other steps required of the customer. In addition to the network testing and login features, the app also helps Republic customers monitor how much Wi-Fi they use versus cellular data each month.The app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Verizon Wireless today revealed that both the Motorola Droid RAZR and RAZR MAXX will begin receiving the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean system update beginning today. The update adds Google Now, Project Butter, the Jelly Bean predictive keyboard and other new features. The update will be pushed over the air, though device owners can pull the update down manually via their device's settings menu.
AT&T today announced that it is offering Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to the HTC One X. The system update, which can be downloaded over the air, offers a number of improvements, including Google Now and Project Butter. The system update also makes the One X compatible with the Isis mobile payment service, and adds a number of AT&T-branded applications. The download is available beginning today.
The NFC Forum today announced that Google has raised its stake in the organization from the Principal level to the Sponsor level. This is significant because it gives Google a seat on the NFC Forum Board of Directors and the ability to vote on NFC Forum-led initiatives and standards.
Adobe today announced that Photoshop Touch is now available to smartphones. The photo-editing app was previously only available to tablets. The app works on the Apple iPhone and devices running Android. It carries forward many of the same features from the tablet version, and lets users edit photos, paste separate images together, as well as access 2GB of online storage. Photoshop Touch costs $4.99 and is available from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. For the iPhone, it requires iOS 5 and either the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. For Android, it requires Android 4.0 and up.
Twitter today made a brand new version of its mobile app available for Windows Phone 8. The new app brings the WP8 version in line with the Android and iOS versions in terms of design and features. It now has the Home, Connect, Discover, and Me tabs running across the top, and takes advantage of the WP8 Live Tiles for the Start screen. Users can also pin lists, favorites, and searches to the Start screen for quicker access to specific Twitter features. Twitter for Windows Phone 8 is a free download from the Windows Phone Store.
U.S. Cellular today announced that it will carry the Kyocera DuraPro starting February 27th for $150 before $50 mail-in rebate. The DuraPro - already offered by Sprint as the DuraXT - is water, shock, dust, and vibration resistant.
U.S. Cellular today announced plans to expand the footprint and availability of its LTE 4G network to 3,800 new cities and towns by the end of the year. Many of the towns are located in California, Kansas, and Nebraska, where U.S. Cellular has yet to launch LTE. U.S. Cellular already offers LTE 4G in a number of cities and states. The company said that 61% of its 3G customer base has access to LTE 4G today. That percentage will grow to 87% by the end of the year.
Operating system updates have become available to a number of Android smartphones in recent days. First, Sprint is delivering a small maintenance update to the LG Viper 4G. Though the update does not boost the version of Android running on the Viper, it does fix problems the Viper has connecting to Sprint's LTE 4G network. The update can be downloaded over the air. Second, U.S. Cellular is delivering the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update to the Motorola Electrify M. The update, which is being pushed in phases, adds Google Now, voice search, and improves notifications, among other new features. This update can also be downloaded over the air.
U.S. Cellular today announced that its customers can now make online purchases via their cell phones and have the transaction added to their monthly wireless bill. According to U.S. Cellular, subscribers use their phone number to make purchases on mobile web sites, which are confirmed via text message before being processed. The service is available to U.S. Cellular's postpaid customers in 26 states. The feature is available beginning today.