Samsung today announced two new components that will find their way into high-end phones later this year. The first is an 8-megapixel RWB (red-white-blue) image sensor based on ISOCELL technology. Samsung says it provides dramatically improved low-light performance by reducing noise and keeping colors more accurate when compared to back-side illumination sensors. Samsung believes it is ideal for user-facing cameras. Samsung also debuted a fourth-generation NFC radio that improves RF performance by 100% when compared to its predecessor. Samsung says this allowed it to reduce the size of the antenna. It can be attached to a smartphone battery without an extra booster integrated circuit. Together, these benefits will let smartphone makers add the NFC radio to their phones without compromising design. The ISOCELL camera module is expected to go into production during the second quarter, but the NFC radio is already being manufactured at volume.
Boost Mobile today introduced a new add-on for its service plans that provides unlimited calling to landlines and mobile phones in Mexico. The Todo Mexico plan costs $5 per month and can be added to Boost's $45 and $55 Data Boost plans. In addition to unlimited calling to Mexico, the Todo Mexico plan includes unlimited calling to Canada and unlimited international text messaging. Boost's move could be viewed as a response to recent changes made by AT&T, which now offers free calling to Mexico through its Cricket and GoPhone prepaid brands. The Todo Mexico add-on from Boost Mobile is available starting today.
Cricket Wireless today announced that all customers on its $50 and $60 plans can now make unlimited calls to Mexico. Cricket's subscribers can call landlines and mobile phones at no extra charge, though Cricket said calls to special or premium services may be blocked. The service also includes unlimited text, picture, and video messaging. The offer is not valid for Cricket's legacy CDMA customers. Cricket's Smart Plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited calling, messaging, and 5GB of LTE data. The Pro Plan costs $60 and doubles data to 10GB. The Advanced Plan, which is available for a limited time, costs $60 and includes 20GB of LTE data and expands free messaging to 35 more countries. Customers can get a $5 monthly discount if they sign up for auto-pay. Cricket is still offering incentives to T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost Mobile customers, who will receive a free month of service for switching. Cricket operates on AT&T's network. AT&T recently acquired Iusacell, a Mexican network operator, and rolled out unlimited calls to Mexico to its own customers for $5 per 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.
Cricket Wireless today added more data to its bottom two prepaid service plans in a bid to keep up with similar offers from Boost Mobile and MetroPCS. With Cricket's auto-pay discount, the Basic plan costs $35 per month and now includes unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB of high-speed data per month (up from 1GB). Cricket's Smart plan costs $45 per month and includes 5GB of high-speed data (up from 3GB), and the Pro plan costs $55 per month and includes 10GB of high-speed data. Existing customers will automatically receive the upgraded data allotments. Last, Cricket added an Advanced plan that includes 20GB of data for $55 per month. The Advanced plan will only be available for a limited time and requires an LTE-capable handset. Cricket will provide one month of free service to new customers who sign up for its Smart, Pro, or Advanced plans. The new rates go into effect today. Cricket is owned and operated by AT&T. LTE speeds are limited to 8Mbps. Customers who exceed their monthly limit will be throttled for the remainder of the billing period.
Boost Mobile today announced a $35 Data Boost plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB of high-speed data each month. Normally, Boost's $35 plan includes only 1GB of data. Customers who sign up for Auto Re-Boost, which automatically keeps their accounts up-to-date, will receive 2.5GB at no additional cost. Boost says the promotion kicks off Feb. 3 and can be paired with any of its phones. Boost also offers a $45 plan and a $55 plan, which include 5GB and 10GB of monthly data, respectively. Boost said it will take $100 off the price of any phone when customers port their number from another carrier. New customers who switch to Boost but don't port their number will receive their first month of service for free. The pricing promotions also start Feb. 3.
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.
Boost Mobile today announced that a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Prevail will reach its stores on Jan. 19. The Galaxy Prevail LTE adds LTE 4G connectivity; improves the screen from 4 inches to 4.5 inches; increases the size of the battery from 1750mAh to 2000mAh; and updates the operating system from Android 4.1 to Android 4.4. Other features include a 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and support for Sprint's HD Voice service. The Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE will cost $130. Boost Mobile does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Speed, an affordable Android smartphone with a 4.5-inch screen and a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor. The Speed runs Android 4.4 KitKat and comes with a 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel user-facing camera, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32GB. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, LTE with HD Voice, mobile hotspot, and a 2,000mAh battery. The ZTE Speed is available from BoostMobile.com starting today for $99.99. It will reach Boost Mobile retail stores in early January. Boost does not require contracts and service plans start at $35.
ZTE has decided to reduce the number of devices it will bring to market during 2015. Rather than flood the market with a range of handsets, ZTE will focus on just a few devices that offer its core experience. Zeng Xuezhong, CEO of ZTE's phone business, told the China Daily Report, "We had a large volume in the market, but it did not help increase our brand value. We have introduced a strategy to increase the value - instead of the volume - of our products by focusing on developing core technology in major devices. There will be more products equipped with high technology that will be launched next year, which will help boost our presence in the high-end mobile industry." ZTE has long sold entry-level and mid-range devices in the U.S., most often through prepaid providers. Recently, it offered higher-quality handsets in the ZMax and XMax. ZTE didn't say when it intends to next launch new smartphones for the U.S. market.
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.
Sprint today said its Boost Mobile and Sprint customers can now purchase eGift cards directly from their smartphones. Sprint added support for eGift cards to the Boost Mobile Wallet and the Sprint Money Express apps. Both apps already let Boost and Sprint customers manage checks, money transfers, payments, and cash from their device. Now, consumers can buy eGift cards from retailers such as Amazon, Babies 'R' Us, JCPenney, and others. eGift cards are sent to recipients via email with personalized messages from the sender. Boost Mobile Wallet and Sprint Money Express are free to download and use. The new functionality will be added to the app through an over-the-air update. Boost Mobile Wallet works on Android and iOS devices, but Sprint Money Express only works on Android.
Boost Mobile today extended a promotion that offers customers twice as much mobile data for a reduced price. The promo was originally announced in September and meant to expire on November 3. Boost will continue to offer the promotion for an unspecified amount of time moving forward. Right now, all three of Boost Mobile's plans include unlimited talk and text. The $35 plan includes 1GB of data; the $45 plan includes 5GB of data; and the $55 plan includes 10GB of data. Once the promotion expires, the prices will each go back up by $5 per month and the data allotments will drop back down to their normal limits. Shrinkage does not apply to the promotional rates. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network.
Samsung today indicated it plans to tackle anew the entry-level and mid-range smartphone segments after reporting a 60% drop in profits for its most recent financial quarter. The weakened profits reflects sluggish sales of its high-end smartphones, such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung's hold on the smartphone market has sunk three quarters in a row, forcing the company to reevaluate its strategy. "The mid-to-low end market is growing rapidly, and we plan to respond actively in order to capitalise on that growth," said Samsung Senior Vice President Kim Hyun-joon. The company said it would boost the appeal of its entry-level and mid-range devices by improving materials and features, while remaining competitive on price. Samsung has lost marketshare to low-cost rivals such as Xiaomi and Meizu in emerging markets, which represent the best opportunity for growth. The company recorded $3.9 billion in profits thanks to sales of televisions and memory chips.
Boost, Sprint, and Sprint Prepaid today revealed launch details for the Sharp Aquos Crystal. Boost is selling the Aquos Crystal beginning today for $150. Boost does not require contracts. Sprint will sell the Aquos Crystal beginning October 17 for $0 down and 24 payments of $10 with Sprint Easy Pay, or $240 outright. Last, Sprint Prepaid is selling the Aquos Crystal at Best Buy locations today for $150, and will sell it at RadioShack stores beginning October 21. The Sharp Aquos Crystal features a nearly borderless design, 5-inch display, 8-megapixel camera, and Harmon Kardon music enhancements.
Boost Mobile today said it will offer the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus beginning October 17. Boost is charging, in general, about $100 less than Apple is for the iPhones. Boost is selling the iPhone 6 for $550, $650, and $750 for the 16-, 64-, and 128-GB models, respectively, and the 6 Plus for $650, $750, and $850 for the 16-, 64-, and 128-GB models, respectively. Boost is a prepaid carrier operated by Sprint. It doesn't require contracts.
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.
Boost Mobile today announced a new promotion that offers twice as much data across its prepaid plans for less money. Beginning September 3, Boost is dropping the price of its three main plans From $40, $50, and $60, to $35, $45, and $55, respectively. All three plans include unlimited talk and text. The $35 plan jumps from 500MB to 1GB of data; the $45 plan jumps from 2.5GB to 5GB of data; and the $55 plan jumps from 5GB to 10GB of data. The promotion runs through November 3, after which the prices go back up to their normal rates and the data allotments drop back down to their normal limits. Shrinkage does not apply to the promotional rates. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network.
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.
Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Warp Sync, an inexpensive Android handset for Sprint's pre-paid network. The Warp Sync features a 5-inch display with Gorilla Glass 2 and a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor from Qualcomm with 2GB of RAM. The Warp Sync includes an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.6-megapixel user-facing camera. According to Boost Mobile, the Warp Sync is the first handset from ZTE capable of accessing Sprint Spark and offering HD Voice. Other specs include a 2,300mAh battery, mobile hotspot, Mobile ID packs, and Android 4.4 KitKat. The ZTE Warp Sync is available online beginning today for $180. It will reach Boost Mobile stores September 1. Boost Mobile does not require contracts.
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.
Boost Mobile today announced the LG Realm, an inexpensive Android handset, which is available contract-free beginning today for $80. The LG Realm, also sold as the Optimus Exceed 2, runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes several LG features, such as Knock Code, QSlide apps, and QuickMemo. The Realm features a 4.5-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3; a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage; a 5-megapixel main camera with VGA front-facing camera; and a 2100mAh battery. The LG Realm is HD Voice-capable. The Realm is available from Boost's web site and select retailers.
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.
Microsoft today revealed it has taken steps to further protect user data by encrypting some of its key services. Moving forward, Microsoft's Outlook.com email service is protected by Transport Layer Security encryption for both inbound and outbound mail. As long as the recipient's email service also supports TLS, emails will be fully protected as it travels between the two email servers. Microsoft also added encryption to its OneDrive cloud storage service as accessed both from desktops and from mobile devices. OneDrive uses Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption, which makes it more difficult for hackers to decrypt connections. Last, Microsoft announced a new transparency center, which will allow governments to access Microsoft code in order to ensure its integrity. Many companies are taking security more seriously in light of the data-gathering practices revealed last year by Edward Snowden.
Google today rolled out updates to its core productivity apps associated with Google Drive. The chief new feature is the ability to edit Microsoft Word documents - online or offline - natively with no need for plugins or conversions. Google Docs users will be able to make whatever edits they need to Word documents and send them back as Word files. Google Drive also brings Slides to mobile devices for the first time. Android smartphone and tablet owners can now create, edit, and interact with slide presentations on their mobile devices. Another new feature is called Suggested Edits. Using a new tool called Commenting Access, document owners can give others the ability to add comments or suggestions to documents, but not the power to make actual edits. This leaves the document owner in control. Last, Google has given Drive a performance boost both on mobile devices (Android and iOS) and the web. Google says Drive now takes advantage of background syncing so files load faster, and the cloud-based storage service delivers search results quicker, too. The new versions of Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides will be available in the Play Store and iTunes App Store beginning today.
Sprint today announced the availability of a new Sprint ID pack that aims to help people with cognitive and neurodevelopment disabilities. The ID pack hopes to improve math and reading skills via developmental games for children aged 6 to 18. The ID pack also provides educational tools and offers, and support apps for parents. Sprint ID packs, which typically include a bundle of apps, wallpapers, themes, and other content, are available to select Sprint and Boost Mobile Android smartphones and are free to download.
The European Commission and South Korea today announced plans to together define the future 5G wireless standard, as well as develop the technologies to support it. The two bodies signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G to increase the discussions and research around the topic. A wide number of companies will participate, including Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor, and Telefonica from Europe, as well as Samsung, LG, SK Telecom, and others in Korea. One of the key ideas behind 5G is not to just increase speeds, but to significantly boost capacity. Capacity improvements will help the 5G networks of the future handle all the potential devices connecting to them, such as phones, tablets, wearables, vehicles, and the broader Internet of Things. The collaboration has three main goals: First, to develop a broad definition of the key functionalities of 5G and create a time table for its creation by the end of 2015; Second, to kick off joint research in the pursuit of 5G by 2016 in coordination with 3GPP and ITU: and Third, to agree on global radio frequency bands for 5G in order to promote interoperability and roaming between carriers and countries. "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognize this," said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda. "This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardization. Today's declaration signals the our commitment to being global digital leaders." LTE, which is what most 4G networks use, has some room for growth in terms of speeds, but capacity is limited and the potential for global roaming is limited due to the wide number of spectrum bands used by carriers around the world. It is these and other issues that the EU and S. Korea hope to resolve in their pursuit of 5G.
Boost Mobile today announced the pending availability of the Kyocera Hydro Icon. The device is the latest in Kyocera's line of water-resistant Android smartphones, but goes one step further by meeting mil-spec 801G for protection against drops and vibration. Kyocera calls devices such as the Icon "everyday durable." It features a 4.5-inch qHD screen, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel user-facing camera, and 8GB of built-in storage with support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The device houses a 2,000mAh battery paired with Kyocera's Eco-Mode and MaxiMZR power management tools, and it supports wireless charging. Other features include Kyocera's Smart Sonic Receiver technology and support for LTE 4G. The Kyocera Hydro Icon will cost $150 when it goes on sale in Boost Stores June 17. Boost Mobile does not require contracts.
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.
Boost Mobile today introduced a series of new service plans for feature phones and smartphones alike. The three new plans, called Monthly Unlimited Select, all include unlimited voice minutes and messaging. The $40 plan includes 500MB of high-speed data, the $50 plan includes 2.5GB of high-speed data, and the $60 plan includes 5GB of high-speed data. Users who exceed their data allotment for the month will see their data speeds throttled to 2G for the remainder of the billing period. Monthly Unlimited Select plans are not compatible with Boost's "shrinkage" payment reduction program. The new Boost Mobile plans are available beginning today.
Boost Mobile recently added the Kyocera DuraShock to its lineup of ruggedized, prepaid phones. The DuraShock is a rebranded DuraCore, which was previously sold by Sprint. The DuraShock is a simple feature phone that offers mil-spec protection from drops, vibration, and dust, but it isn't waterproof and doesn't have a camera. It is a 3G phone that includes basic messaging and browsing apps, but no advanced features. Boost is selling the device for $60 without a contract.
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.
Boost Mobile today said a new promotion will allow customers of its Boost Mobile Wallet service to save money thanks to reduced fees. Between now and September 30, customers can send money to others for $0 in fees. The service is also offering free check loads with instant access to funds during the same period. Boost Mobile Wallet does not require account activations, does not charge monthly account maintenance fees, and does not charge overdraft fees. The service is meant to help make it easier for customers to perform select banking functions as well as send cash to others.
Microsoft today said that it will no longer require hardware makers to pay a licensing fee for Windows Phones or Windows tablets as long as they have a screen size of 9 inches or less. This means companies will no longer need to pay Microsoft to use its smartphone and tablet platforms in their hardware and devices. Theoretically, this should boost the number of companies interested in making Windows Phone and other Windows hardware.
Boost Mobile today announced a set of International "Minute Packs" that offer a pre-set number of international voice minutes for a fixed price, paid in advance and valid for one month. The new options help Boost customers in the U.S. reach friends and family abroad. Each "pack" includes unlimited international text messaging to any country, not just the country the voice minutes apply to. The price and number of minutes vary by country. Rates range from $10 for 1000 minutes to India or Malaysia, to $20 for 35 minutes to Cuba. Other examples include $10 for 250 minutes to Mexico, $20 for 350 minutes to the Dominican Republic, and $10 for 90 minutes to the Philippines.