ZTE today said it appointed Cheng Lixin, the executive behind the company's North American mobile phone business, to run its global mobile phone business. The move comes after ZTE settled with the U.S. government over allegations that it violated international trade sanctions against Iran. ZTE paid a $900 million fine to make the allegations go away. Lixin has led ZTE's mobile efforts in the U.S. since 2010. The company has grown its marketshare in the U.S. during that time thanks to low-cost handsets, which it sells through pre-paid carriers such as Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. Lixin's predecessor has taken a seat on the company's corporate board. The change is effective immediately. ZTE has not yet named a new executive for the U.S. market.
Sprint-owned Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today both kicked off sales of the LG Stylo 3. The device, first announced late last year, features a 5.7-inch 720p display. It is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core processor from MediaTek with 3 GB RAM, 16 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. Other features include a removable 3,200mAh battery, FM radio, and fingerprint sensor. The Stylo 3 includes a new stylus. LG said it improved screen feedback for a more natural feel. The revised pen-based software includes PenPop 2.0 (memos are never out of sight), Pen Keeper (warning system to prevent stylus loss), and Screen-Off Memo (note-taking even when the screen is off). Both prepaid carriers are asking $180 for the phone, which is available online and in stores.
Sprint intends to relaunch its Virgin Mobile brand later this year and will use the prepaid service to shake things up. "We've put most of our attention in the postpaid handset business, which is where 80% of the profit in this industry comes from," said CEO Marcelo Claure. "Now that that business is stable, we're putting a lot of energy into Boost and Virgin." Claure has spent the last 18 months trimming costs at Sprint and getting its network strategy under control. With these tasks largely on track, the company is now focusing on its prepaid brands, which it has de-emphasized for a while. "I envision Virgin as being our disruptive brand," said Claure. "You're going to see us test different models. One model we're testing that we like is, rather than subsidizing handsets, actually providing free airtime with no subsidy on the handset. So you're going to see Virgin be our disrupter brand. And you're going to see Boost be a very strong brand that can give good competition to both Cricket and Metro." Claure didn't say when it might actually unveil the new, "disruptive" Virgin Mobile.
ZTE and Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Tempo, an Android phone that sells for just $69.99. The Tempo supports more LTE bands than many Boost phones — plus WCDMA and GSM — in bands suitable for Boost's Mexico roaming offering. The specs are otherwise what one might expect from an entry-level Android phone today, including a 4.5-inch display (not HD), 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, memory card slot, 1 GB of RAM, 2,200 mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 210 processor. It does support HD Voice and has an FM radio. It's available immediately.
Verizon Wireless today said it will kick off sales of the LG Stylo 2 V on Oct. 20. The phone will cost $240, or $10 per month for 24 months. The Stylo 2 V, like the variants already sold by Boost and Cricket, has a 5.7-inch screen with stylus, a 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, memory card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by an octa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon processor, which is a change from the other versions, with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The Stylo 2 V runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both made the LG Tribute HD smartphone available via their web sites. The phone is a small step up from the low-cost Tribute 5. The Tribute HD boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen, which is improved over the Tribute 5's FWVGA display. The Tribute HD is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor with 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with an automatic selfie mode. The phone relies on a 2,100mAh battery and supports LTE 4G as well as roaming in Mexico. The Tribute HD runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Boost Mobile is selling the Tribute HD for $80, and Virgin Mobile is selling the Tribute HD for $99. Service plans start at $30.
Sprint and Boost Mobile today revealed plans to sell the LG X power smartphone. The X power, announced by LG earlier this year, features a 4,100mAh battery that delivers up to two days of battery life. The version sold by Sprint and Boost Mobile differs from other versions of the phone in that it relies on a 1.8 GHz octa-core Helio P10 MediaTek processor, rather than a Snapdragon chip from Qualcomm. The 64-bit MediaTek processor is accompanied by 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The X power also includes a 5.3-inch 720p screen and runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Other specs include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 5-megapixel front camera with selfie light. The phone accepts memory cards up to 128 GB. The phone reaches Boost Mobile stores today for $130 and will hit Sprint stores September 23 for $150.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, will sell the Apple iPhone 7 beginning September 23. Boost and Virgin will not be selling the iPhone 7 Plus. The company didn't provide specific release details, but customers should expect to pay full retail price for the handset. The 32 GB iPhone 7 costs $649.
Corning this week announced Gorilla Glass SR+, a scratch resistant glass intended for smartwatches and other wearables. Corning says Gorilla Glass SR+ is strong and provides the same optical clarity and touch sensitivity of its normal glass while also boosting resistance to impact damage by 70%. Gorilla Glass SR+ is also easier to read in bright light. Corning says wearables with the new glass are on deck for later this year.
Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Warp 7, a low-cost, big-screened Android smartphone. The Warp 7 features a 5.5-inch 720p HD display, 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. It packs a 3,080mAh battery and supports expandable memory cards up to 64 GB. The ZTE Warp 7 can roam on GSM networks in Mexico and has an FM radio. The device runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and costs $99. It will reach Boost Mobile stores September 5.
Verizon Wireless today said it has launched LTE Advanced service in 461 markets around the country, covering some 288 million POPs or 90% of Americans. Verizon's LTE Advanced relies on two- and three-channel carrier aggregation to boost speed and capacity. Verizon says LTE Advanced delivers a 50% improvement in download and upload speeds compared to its traditional LTE network. Close to 40 devices sold by Verizon are compatible with LTE Advanced. Many of the newest phones (Galaxy Note7, Moto Z Droid) will support LTE Advanced out of the box, though some devices will require system updates. Verizon customers can take advantage of LTE Advanced's faster speeds at no additional cost.
Sprint today announced Unlimited Freedom, a service plan that provides unlimited talk, text, and data for two lines at $100 per month. Sprint says the Unlimited Freedom plan offers "optimized streaming" for "video, gaming, and music" and "unlimited LTE data for most everything else." Specifically, video resolution is capped at 480p resolution when streamed over the network, while games are capped at 2Mbps, and music is capped at 500Kbps. The first line costs $60 per month, the second line costs $40, and lines three through eight cost $30 each. A family of four costs $160 per month before device payments, taxes, and fees. Further, Sprint's Boost Mobile prepaid brand has a simpler, unlimited offer called Unlimited Unhook'd. For $50 per month, Boost customers get unlimited talk, text, optimized videos/music, and unlimited data for everything else. Additional lines cost $30 per month for lines two through five. Boost is offering a starter line, too, that costs $30 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Both Sprint's and Boost's new unlimited plans will be available starting August 19.
Facebook today brought Instant Articles to Messenger for the Android platform. Instant Articles load faster on mobile devices, up to 10x quicker than traditional mobile links. Facebook believes adding Instant Articles to Messenger will boost the number of interactions with web content shared through Messenger. Instant Articles are signified by a lightning bolt in the corner. Facebook expects to bring Instant Articles to Messenger for iOS in a few weeks.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile U.S. today announced the immediate availability of the Alcatel Dawn, a low-cost Android handset. The Dawn features a 4.5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor, and 1 GB of RAM. The phone includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 8 GB of storage, 1,780mAh battery, support for LTE, and a memory card slot for microSD cards up to 32 GB. The Dawn runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and costs $69.99. Service plans from Boost and Virgin start at $35. The Alcatel Dawn can be purchased online.
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.
Google today said it has supplemented Project Fi's cellular coverage with the addition of U.S. Cellular. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which will boost Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi subscribers will begin to roam onto U.S. Cellular's network where coverage exists over the coming weeks.
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.
Microsoft is giving Skype a boost of intelligence thanks to Cortana and Skype Bots. With Cortana integration, Skype users will be able to do things such as manage their calendar and contacts without leaving the Skype app. Cortana will also be able to interact with bots, which Microsoft said will allow people to perform tasks such as book hotels and order pizza by conversing with the app itself. Bots are available in preview form within the messaging part of Skype, but will eventually be added to audio and video calling, too. A new version of Skype for Android, iOS, and Windows enables the bots. Companies will be able to create their own bots for Skype via Microsoft's developer program. People will be able to add the bots they want to their contact list. Microsoft revealed the bots are part of its larger vision for voice-activated computing.
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.
Boost Mobile today announced its own promotion aimed at converting customers from competing carriers to Boost. Boost says AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers who port their numbers to a Boost Mobile family plan can see monthly savings up to 50%. Boost is offering 10 GB of high-speed data per line starting at $60 for two lines, $85 for three lines, and $110 for four lines. Further, Boost says it will provide a free phone (or $50 discount) for every line ported to Boost Mobile from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. Customers can get up to four free phones when activated with a new family plan. Boost Mobile said this offers will be available for a limited time, but didn't set a specific end date. Boost Mobile's parent company, Sprint, has offered a similar promotion for several months.
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.
Boost Mobile today unfurled new multi-line plans for families. There are now two basic tiers for families. The first includes unlimited talk/text and 1.5 GB of high-speed data per line, while the second includes unlimited talk/text and improves data to 5 GB per line. The first tier costs $70 per month for two lines, $90 for three lines, and $100 for four lines. The second tier costs $70 for two lines, $95 for three lines, and $120 for four lines. Boost Mobile throttles users who exceed their monthly data cap, but doesn't charge overages. In addition to the new plan rates, Boost revealed several other promotions. For example, it debuted Boost Dealz, a way for customers to earn credit each month by watching ads. The free app is available to Android phones and shows ads and special offers when users unlock their handset. Boost will reward customers with $5 for every month the app is active on their phone. For a limited time, new customers can get up to two free smartphones when activating a family plan. Customers can gain unlimited talk/text to and from Mexico with 8 GB of data for $5 more per month. Boost says customers can pay their bills up to 14 days late before seeing their service disrupted, and can receive incoming calls/messages even when accounts are 60 days past due. Customers who enroll in Auto Re-Boost will receive $5 off their current plan. Moreover, customers who make on-time payments will receive 500 MB more high-speed data for every three timely reimbursements. Last, Boost Mobile offers free mobile hotspot on all plans, and offers unlimited music streaming with Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, Samsung Milk Music, and 8tracks.
Google is about to make its Chrome browser much faster. The company is ready to use a new compression algorithm called Brotli, according to Google engineer Ilya Grigorik. Brotli can compress web sites in a way that makes them up to 26% smaller than Chrome's current algorithm, called Zopfli. Smaller web sites take less time to transit wireless networks. Brotli will be added to the next version of Chrome for desktop and mobile devices, though Grigorik did not say when that might be. It's possible Google will push a Brotli-equipped build of Chrome through its beta channel first.
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.
Boost Mobile today said the LG Tribute 5 is now available online and in stores. LG announced the Tribute 5 as the K7 earlier this month. It features a 5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, 5-megapixel front and rear cameras, and a 2,125mAh battery. LG-sepcific functions include Gesture Shot, KnockON, and Knock Code. The Tribute 5, which runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, costs $99.99.
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.
T-Mobile and MetroPCS will both sell the K7 Android phone recently announced by LG. LG previously announced that Boost would carry the same phone branded as the Tribute 5.
LG introduced two mid-range phones today as part of its new K Series. The K7, which is the smaller of the two phones, will be sold in the U.S. as the Tribute 5. Here are our first impressions of this camera-centric Android smartphone from LG.
LG today said the newly announced K7 Android smartphone will be sold in the U.S. before too long. Rather that use the global K Series branding, Boost Mobile will sell the device as the Tribute 5. LG expects the K7/Tribute 5 to hit stores during the first quarter of the year. Boost Mobile has not confirmed pricing nor availability.
Sony is looking at sulfur to help improve the performance of rechargeable batteries. Sony says using sulfur as an electrode material can increase the energy density from today's limit of 700Wh/L to 1,000Wh/L. This boost would give a lithium-sulfur battery 40% more capacity when compared to a lithium-ion battery of the same volume. Sony would use sulfur for the positive electrode and lithium for the negative electrode. Sulfur has low voltage, but much greater capacity potential. The company is also investigating magnesium-sulfur batteries. Sony hopes to commercialize the Li-S batteries in smartphones by 2020.
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.
Google today released a new version of the Android Wear SDK for developers. The SDK boosts the API level from 22 to level 23, which introduces the new runtime permissions required in Android 6.0 Marshmallow and up. Google revised how Android handles permissions in order to give end users more control over what features apps may access. Google has been aggressively pursuing developers to make sure their apps are compatible with the new permissions model. The SDK adds support for sound to Android Wear apps, which means smartwatches equipped with speakers will be able to offer sound effects. The SDK also includes support for the x86 architecture, which is vital for the Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch, which uses an Intel, rather than ARM, processor. The SDK includes a new emulator for developers, as well. All new watches need to run the most current version of Android Wear (v1.4, based on Marshmallow). Google said it will soon mandate that existing Android Wear watches be updated to comply with API level 23, but it has not yet decided when. The revised Android Wear SDK is free for developers to download.
Boost Mobile recently added the ZTE Prestige to its roster of inexpensive Android smartphones. The Prestige has a 5-inch display with 854 by 480 resolution, and is powered by a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The Prestige features a 5-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and 2-megapixel front camera for selfies. The phone has a 2,300mAh battery and supports Boost Mobile's LTE 4G network. The ZTE Prestige runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available online for $99. Boost Mobile does not require contracts. Service plans start at $35 per month.
Boost Mobile today announced a trio of inexpensive handsets, including the Huawei Union. The Union has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It includes a 5-megapixel camera, 2,000mAh battery, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. The Huawei Union runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $79.99. Boost Mobile also announced pricing for the HTC 626s and the Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen), which cost $129.99 and $149.99, respectively. All three smartphones go on sale today.
Apple today said it has purchased a startup called VocalIQ. The U.K.-based firm has been working on artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Its software employs deep learning to help computers speak in a more natural way by taking cues from their interactions with humans. Adding VocalIQ's technologies to its own could help Apple improve the way Siri responds to and interacts with iPhone owners. Siri is Apple's voice-activated personal assistant. Apple confirmed the acquisition, but did not say what it intends to do with VocalIQ.
Boost Mobile today announced "Growing Data" plans that will increase the amount of data available to customers who make their payments on time. The plan starts at $35 per month (or $30 with reboost), and includes 2GB of data and unlimited talk and text. After customers make three on-time payments, their monthly data bucket will increase by 500MB to 2.5GB. Awarded data will grow to 1GB after six on-time payments, 1.5GB after nine on-time payments, and so on up to a maximum of 3GB of extra data after 18 on-time monthly payments. Growing Data is available to the $35 and $45 monthly plans at no additional cost. Boost's $60 plan already includes unlimited data, talk, and text.
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.
SoftBank has purchased yet more shares of Sprint stock, boosting its stake in the company to just over 80%. SoftBank shelled out $73 million for about 16.8 million shares. Earlier this month, SoftBank made an $87 million investment in Sprint. The moves have helped Sprint's stock price rally, increasing the company's value by about $6 billion. SoftBank believes Sprint's turnaround plan will work and CEO Masayoshi Son said he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Sprint recently fell behind T-Mobile in terms of subscribers.