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printed October 9, 2015
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Siri May Get a Boost Thanks to Apple's Acquisition of VocalIQ

Oct 2, 2015, 4:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Reward On-Time Payments with More Data

Oct 1, 2015, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Gives Customers More LTE Data

Sep 17, 2015, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Invests Another $73 Million in Sprint

Aug 19, 2015, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

ZTE Brings Warp Elite to Boost Mobile

Aug 18, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 18, 2015, 9:14 AM

ZTE today announced the Warp Elite, a big-screened Android handset for Boost Mobile. ZTE calls the Warp Elite an update to the Warp Sync, which is also sold by Boost Mobile. The Warp Elite features a 5.5-inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass 3 with 720p HD resolution. The phone is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and support for Qualcomm's QuickCharge 1.0 technology. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone is compatible with Boost's LTE network and supports HD Voice. It also includes Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi, and the battery has a capacity of 3,000mAh. The ZTE Warp Elite runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available beginning today for $179.99.

Qualcomm Refreshes Adreno GPUs and ISP Tech

Aug 12, 2015, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today announced its next-generation graphics chips, which it claims deliver significant performance improvements compared to the previous generation. The company also showed off new image signal processing technology that will boost smartphones' imaging abilities. The Adreno 530 and 510 are the first two 5xx series GPUs. Qualcomm says they are 40% faster and 40% more power efficient when compared to the Adreno 430 GPU. The new GPUs offers a wide range of graphics and compute APIs, such as OpenGL ES, Renderscript, and Vulkan. The GPUs offer support for 64-bit virtual addressing, shared virtual memory, and co-processing with 64-bit CPUs. Other features include improve fine-grain power management, new compression techniques, and the ability to push 4K video at 60 frames per second over HDMI 2.0. Qualcomm Spectra ISP is the company's new image signal processing unit, which Qualcomm claims brings dSLR-quality image capturing to smartphones. Qualcomm Spectra ISP produces more natural skin tones thanks to 14-bit ISPs. It supports up to three simultaneous cameras, and image sensors up to 25 megapixels at 30 frames per second with no shutter lag. Qualcomm says its hybrid autofocus framework and new algorithms support "next-generation computational photography." The new ISP is also more power efficient and produces less-noisy images. The Adreno 530/510 and Spectra ISP are being introduced with the forthcoming Snapdragon 820 processor. Qualcomm says devices with the Snapdragon 820 are expected to reach consumers during the first half of 2016.

Boost Mobile Adding Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate to Roster

Jul 29, 2015, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate, two low-cost Android handsets. Shared features between the two handsets include support for LTE, 5-megapixel rear cameras, 2-megapixel front cameras, and the Google Now launcher.

  • Conquest: The Conquest (pictured) features an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust. The larger of these two smartphones boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen with Dragontrail Glass and 1.2GHz quad-core processor. The Conquest runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and costs $129.99.
  • Elevate: The Elevate has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display and quad-core 1.1GHz processor. It relies on a 2,000mAh battery to get it through the day. The Elevate runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $99.99.
The Conquest is available today and the Elevate will become available in August. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network and does not require contracts.

Boost and Virgin Add Data Packs for Prepaid Plans

Jul 28, 2015, 1:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Wireless USA brands today made available new data packs for customers seeking a bit more data. The $5 pack provides 1 GB of high-speed data and the $10 pack provides 2 GB of high-speed data. Boost's existing plans offer unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, but limited buckets of LTE 4G data. Virgin's plans offer a variety of talk, text, and LTE data buckets ranging from 1 GB to 3 GB. The $5 and $10 data packs can be added to any of Boost's or Virgin's plans.

Qualcomm Intros Wireless Charging Through Metal

Jul 28, 2015, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today announced new technology that allows metallic handsets to charge wirelessly. Most wireless charging pads are tolerant of some metal in the charging field, but Qualcomm says it was able to boost the sensitivity enough, via Near Field Magnetic Resonance technology, to allow for wireless charging through metal handset enclosures. Qualcomm's WiPower is based on the A4WP's Rezence standard and can deliver up to 22 watts of power to charge handsets wirelessly. Rezence pads can handle several different devices, with varying charging requirements, at a time. Qualcomm did not say when it expects to see the metallic device charging technology reach consumer handsets.

Sprint Spreads the LG Tribute 2 to Virgin and Sprint Prepaid

Jul 20, 2015, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the LG Tribute 2 is now available from Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid. The Tribute 2 has LG's signature rear-placed buttons, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's Knock Code, QuickMemo, and selfie camera tools. The screen measures 4.5 inches and offers 854 x 480 resolution. The Tribute 2 also includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of ROM. Virgin Mobile is selling the phone as the LG Tribute 2, but Sprint Prepaid has rebranded it to the Tribute Duo. It costs $99. Sprint-owned Boost Mobile is already selling the Tribute 2.

ZTE Max+ for Boost Bumps Up Specs

Jul 17, 2015, 8:10 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 17, 2015, 10:08 PM

Boost Mobile today listed the new ZTE Max+ for sale on its web site. The spec bump improves the memory, processor, and battery compared to original Max. The internal storage memory has been boosted from 8 GB to 16, and the RAM has also been doubled, from 1 GB to 2. The processor has been updated to the newer Snapdragon 410. The embedded battery receives a modest boost from the already-large 3,200 mAh up to 3,400 mAh. The design is also updated, featuring a rounded gold back. Other specs are similar, including the huge 5.7-inch 720p display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1-megapixel front camera, and memory card slot. The Max+ runs Android 5.1 and supports HD Voice. Like the original Max, the Max+ supports 4G LTE, but only in the primary band of the Sprint network, not the two other bands necessary for the faster Sprint Spark service. The Max+ is selling for $199, which is $100 less than the original Max at its debut.

HTC Debuts New Desire 626 and 526/520 Range

Jul 15, 2015, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today revealed a new family of Desire handsets. The 626 series (pictured) and 526/520 series share many features, though the former is a bit more mid-range and the latter is decidedly entry-level. Traits common to the 626, 626S, 526, and 520 include Qualcomm's 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor; 2,000mAh batteries; single-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS/GLONASS; support for 2 TB memory cards; and Android 5.1 Lollipop with HTC Sense.

  • 626/626S: In keeping with prior Desire designs, the 626/626S are formed of polycarbonate and have variable color combinations. These larger Desire handsets have 5-inch 720p HD screens and 8-megapixel main cameras with 720p video capture. The 626 has 16 GB of storage, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The 626S has 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera.
  • 526/520:The 526 and 520 share most design features, but differ in some key specs. They have a simple appearance and cheaper materials. The 526, intended for Verizon, has a 4.7-inch qHD screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1.5 GB of RAM. The 520, intended for Cricket Wireless, has a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM.
HTC said these phones will become broadly available from many U.S. carriers, including T-Mobile and MetroPCS, AT&T GoPhone and Cricket Wireless, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. Pricing, colors, and availability will vary by carrier.

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Boost Mobile's Latest Hotspot Costs $50

Jul 14, 2015, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today debuted the Netgear Fuse, a mobile hotspot that can provide up to 10 hours of web surfing for up to 10 devices via WiFi. The hotspot has a 2,500mAh battery and a 1.77-inch display, which provides device status info. Alongside the hotspot, Boost has two new hotspot plans. Customers can access up to 1.5GB of mobile data for $25 per month or up to 10GB of data for $50 per month. The Netgear Fuse is available online for $50 starting today. It will reach Boost Mobile stores in August. Boost Mobile does not require contracts.

Boost Mobile Scores LG Volt 2 and Tribute 2

Jun 29, 2015, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 29, 2015, 11:24 AM

Boost Mobile today announced the LG Volt 2 and LG Tribute 2, updates to two of last year's big sellers for the prepaid carrier. Both devices share several hardware features, such as LG's signature rear-placed buttons, 1.2 GHz quad-core processors, LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi. They also boast similar software, such as Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's Knock Code, QuickMemo, and selfie camera tools.

  • Volt 2: The second-generation Volt (pictured) improves the screen from a 4.7-inch qHD display to a 5-inch 720p display. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the front camera has been improved from 1.3 megapixels to 5 megapixels. It has a 2,540mAh battery.
  • Tribute 2: The less expensive of these two handsets keeps the screen at 4.5 inches, but improves resolution from 800 x 480 pixels to 854 x 480 pixels. The 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of ROM are carried over from last year's phone. It has a 1,900mAh battery.
The LG Volt 2 and Tribute 2 are available from Boost's web site beginning today. The Volt 2 cost $149.99 and the Tribute 2 cost $99.99.

Boost Offering to Slice MetroPCS, Cricket Bills In Half

Jun 19, 2015, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 19, 2015, 12:23 PM

Boost Mobile today introduced a limited promotion aimed at enticing MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless customers to switch. Boost will cut the monthly service fees in half for Metro and Cricket customers that sign up for Boost service between now and July 20. Boost says the halved bills can save Metro and Cricket customers between $20 and $30 per month for up to one full year. For example, MetroPCS is charging $40 a month for unlimited talk/text and 2.5GB of LTE data. Customers who port their number to Boost can get that same service plan for $20 per month. Similarly, Cricket charges customers who have unlimited talk/text and 10GB of data $60 per month. Boost will charge only $30 for that same plan. After the year-long promotion expires, customers will automatically be migrated to the Boost plan with a comparable amount of monthly data. Boost operates on Sprint's network. Sprint is offering a similar promotion to customers who switch from AT&T or Verizon Wireless.

Samsung Releases Game-Recording App

Jun 17, 2015, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 17, 2015, 9:45 AM

Samsung this month made available an app that smartphone owners can use to record their game play. Game Recorder+ lets users capture game play and face-cam commentary with one touch. Samsung says the app can record audio directly from the source app, negating background noise. It also includes a Game Boost feature that Samsung claims will optimize system memory for better gaming and game recording. Game Recorder+ is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 4, S5, Note 3, S4, and Note 2 devices. Samsung said most games from the Play Store and Galaxy App store support recording. Game Recorder+ is free to download from the Google Play Store. Earlier this month, Google announced plans to launch a game-specific version of YouTube to highlight game play. Earlier this year, Amazon bought Twitch, which lets people record and share their gaming experiences. Samsung did not say if its Game Recorder+ app will be compatible with these services, but it can upload recordings to YouTube.

Alcatel Conquest Coming to Boost

Jun 10, 2015, 2:30 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today approved the Alcatel One Touch Conquest for Boost Mobile. FCC documents show an Android phone with a colorful design, tri-band LTE, Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, a camera with flash, and a front camera. Slots on the side accept a memory card and the SIM card. The battery does not appear to be removable. The phone would be Alcatel's second phone for a Sprint brand, and first smartphone. Alcatel has made significant inroads into the U.S. market in recent years, mostly with T-Mobile.

iOS 9 Improves Battery Life

Jun 8, 2015, 1:13 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple's iOS 9 will boost iPhone battery life in two ways. A new low-power mode can be switched on to extend battery life up to three hours, according to the company. Additional under-the-hood changes improve battery life one hour in typical usage scenarios, in all modes.

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Boost Mobile Scores Live Sports App

Jun 2, 2015, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.

Boost, Sprint to Sell LG G Stylo for $199

May 13, 2015, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 14, 2015, 3:17 PM

Boost Mobile today announced the immediate availability of the LG G Stylo. The G Stylo, also being sold by T-Mobile, features a 5.7-inch 720p HD display and a stylus. It also carries a 8-megapixel camera main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 processor with 1 GB RAM, and 8 GB of internal storage. The Stylo supports memory cards up to 32 GB and packs a 3,000mAh battery. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user interface, which includes Knock Code and QuickMemo. Boost Mobile is selling the phone for $199.99. Sprint Prepaid will also sell the device at $199.99 beginning June 7.

Verizon Prepaid Offering 1GB Data Bonus for Auto-Pay

May 1, 2015, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is offering its prepaid customers 1 GB of bonus data if they sign up for auto-pay. In order to qualify for the extra data, customers need to have the $45 or $60 prepaid plan. With auto-pay enabled, subscribers to the $45 plan will see their data allotment improve from 1 GB to 2 GB per month, while subscribers to the $60 plan will see their data allotment jump from 2.5 GB to 3.5 GB. Existing customers will see their bonus data appear after their next automatic payment. Verizon said this offer will only be available for a limited time. A handful of other pre-paid providers, including the likes of Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless, also offer discounts for using auto-pay.

Boost Mobile Adds Miami-to-Cuba Calling Plan

Apr 16, 2015, 10:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today introduced a new calling plan that lets people in Miami call relatives and friends in Cuba. Cuba didn't have cell phones until 2008, and U.S. government sanctions against the country have only recently been relaxed. The Boost Mobile Cuba Monthly Connect plan costs $50. It includes unlimited talk and text, 5GB of high-speed data, and 15 minutes of voice calls to Cuban numbers. For a limited time, Boost will provide an additional 25 minutes of calling time to Cuba during the first month of service when customers port their number to Boost. Existing customers can score 50 minutes of Cuba voice minutes and unlimited international texting for $15 above and beyond their existing plan price. The Cuba Monthly Connect plan is only being offered at Boost Mobile retail stores in the greater Miami area.

Sprint to Open 1,435 RadioShack Stores April 10

Apr 9, 2015, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint said it will re-open 1,435 RadioShack stores tomorrow that it acquired from General Wireless. The move will double the number of company-owned stores and give Sprint a much wider retail footprint around the country. The stores will be co-branded Sprint-RadioShack, but Sprint will be the main brand associated with each location. Sprint plans to build a store-within-a-store covering approximately one third of the retail space in each location. It will use this space to sell Sprint-, Virgin-, and Boost-branded hardware and service plans. Sprint said RadioShack's products and accessories will also be available at each location. General Wireless is holding into about 310 RadioShack stores. Sprint acquired the stores as part of RadioShack's bankruptcy restructuring.

Cricket Offering Free Service to Switchers

Apr 8, 2015, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket today said new customers who switch to Cricket from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Boost, and other competitors will receive one free month of service after completing two months of service. In order to qualify, customers must subscribe to a $50 or $60 rate plan. The offer will only be available for a limited time.

Sprint Offering Galaxy S6 and Service For $80 Per Month

Mar 26, 2015, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is hoping to attract customers to its network with a combined promotion that includes the Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Sprint Unlimited Plus service plan for $80 per month. The plan includes the 32GB GS6 for "free" after a $20-per-month credit with a 24-month lease; unlimited talk, text, and data; international value roaming; and annual upgrades. Customers who want the 64GB or 128GB models can get them for $85 and $90 per month, respectively, with the same service plan. Families interested in the Galaxy S6 can score four of them with unlimited talk and text, and 20GB of shared data for a total monthly price of $200 per month. Annual upgrades would cost another $10 per line per month. Customers looking for the Galaxy S6 Edge can snag one for $85 per month ($5 per month after $20-per-month lease credit) with the Sprint Unlimited plan. Customers not interested in contracts or leases can pay full price for the Galaxy S6 ($649.99) and pair it with a Boost Mobile plan. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale in Sprint stores April 10, with pre-orders beginning March 27.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.

Cricket to Sell Motorola Moto E Beginning March 13

Mar 10, 2015, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced plans to sell the second-generation Motorola Moto E starting on March 13. The phone features LTE 4G, a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, quad-core 1.2GHz processor and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone costs $129.99 and does not require a contract. Service plans start at $35 per month. Cricket is offering a free month of service to customers who switch from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost.

Sprint to Sell Motorola Moto E Across Its Prepaid Brands

Mar 6, 2015, 10:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it plans to sell the Motorola Moto E from Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid this month. The Moto E, which has a larger screen and supports LTE 4G, is available in white from Boost Mobile beginning today for $99.99. The black model is available today from Sprint Prepaid at Best Buy and RadioShack stores. Sprint said Virgin Mobile (via Walmart) will offer the Moto E beginning March 9. The device has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Samsung Intros 8-Megapixel Selfie Sensor

Mar 3, 2015, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering Unlimited Calls to Mexico for $5

Feb 20, 2015, 9:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Follows AT&T's Lead with Unlimited Calls to Mexico

Feb 10, 2015, 9:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Declares Bankruptcy, to Sell Stores to Sprint

Feb 5, 2015, 6:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Adds More Data to Low-Cost Plans

Jan 30, 2015, 9:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 30, 2015, 11:06 AM

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 Offering More Data to People Who Auto-Pay

Jan 22, 2015, 3:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering No-Contract Shared Data Plans

Jan 16, 2015, 10:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 16, 2015, 10:14 AM

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's Samsung Galaxy Prevail Being Updated with LTE

Jan 6, 2015, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Trots Out the ZTE Speed for $99

Dec 23, 2014, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 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 to Focus On Fewer Phones for 2015

Dec 22, 2014, 10:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Sell Nokia Lumia 635

Dec 16, 2014, 10:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 30, 2014, 9:57 AM

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 Fishing for Prepaid Customers with $100 Lure

Dec 12, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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