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printed October 22, 2017
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Verizon Drops Screen Repair Cost to $29 for Insurance Enrollees

Thursday, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Repairing a cracked smartphone display just got cheaper. Verizon Wireless today said those who subscribe to its Total Mobile Protection device insurance program will be charged $29 per screen repair, down from the previous charge of $49. Verizon is holding an open enrollment for its Total Mobile Protection program beginning today. Customers can enroll any phone purchased during the last 24 months in the insurance program, which covers the cost of damage, loss, or theft. Total Mobile Protection includes next-day replacement phones when the circumstances warrant. Verizon says the company has 296 certified repair stores scattered around the country for screen repairs, though customers in 152 cities can choose to have a certified technician meet them at their home or office. Total Mobile Protection provides coverage for up to three claims per year, but it isn't cheap. The monthly cost for simple phones and tablets is $9, while most smartphones cost $11, and a family of devices costs $33. Insuring a single smartphone will cost $132 for a year. Open enrollment for Total Mobile Protection lasts through November 17. By way of comparison, AppleCare+ costs between $129 and $199 per year per iPhone, and screen repairs from Apple carry a $29 fee.


LG V30 Hits Verizon Stores Today for $840

Oct 5, 2017, 9:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today shared details concerning its variant of the LG V30. The phone is available from today for $35 per month for 24 months on a Verizon device payment plan. The total cost of the monthly payments comes to $840, which is about $40 more than what AT&T and T-Mobile ask for the handset. Verizon has several promotions on deck. First, people who purchase a V30 are eligible for a free Google Daydream View headset. Further, those who purchase a V30 between October 5 and November 6 can score a $200 Visa prepaid card. The LG V30 features a metal-and-glass design, 6-inch quad HD+ display, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor.


ZTE Blade Vantage Costs Just $50 from Verizon

Oct 5, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE and Verizon Wireless today announced the Blade Vantage, an inexpensive entry-level device for Verizon's pre-paid service. The Vantage includes a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.1 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The screen is protected by 2.5D glass that's curved along the edges and fitted into the plastic chassis. On the rear you'll find an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 lens and flash, while the front carries a 2-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.4 lens. Other hardware features include a 2,500mAh battery, support for microSD memory cards, Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE with mobile hotspot. It ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Verizon Wireless is selling the ZTE Blade Vantage for $50.

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Verizon Only Carrier to Sell Google Pixel, But There Are Options

Oct 4, 2017, 3:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is the only U.S. wireless operator that will officially sell the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL handsets, same as it was with last year's Pixels. Verizon's monthly pricing for the phones is in line with other flagship smartphones. For example, the 64 GB Pixel 2 costs $27.08 per month for 24 months, while the 128 GB model costs $31.24 per month. Similarly, the 64 GB Pixel 2 XL costs $35.41 per month for 24 months, while the 128 GB model costs $39.58 per month. The phone is available for pre-order from Verizon Wireless' web site and ships starting October 17. Alternately, consumers can buy either a Verizon or unlocked variant of the Pixel 2 / XL directly from the Google Play Store. Google asks customers to pay for the phones in full up front, though financing options are also available. The 64 GB Pixel 2 costs $649 and the 128 GB Pixel 2 costs $749. The 64 GB Pixel 2 XL costs $849 and the 128 GB Pixel 2 XL costs $949. Shipping and taxes are extra. People who choose to buy their Pixel 2 through Google have the option to trade in last year's Pixel (if they have one) at reasonably good rates. For example, an unlocked 128 GB Pixel XL garners a trade-in value of $410, or about half the cost of the new model. Best Buy sells the new Pixel 2 phones, too, though only the Verizon-branded version. For the moment, Best Buy is offering a $100 discount on all Pixel 2 models when activated on a new line with Verizon.


Google Refocuses Daydream View Headset

Oct 4, 2017, 3:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alongside the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, Google today introduced a new version of its Daydream View VR headset. Both new Pixel phones are Daydream-ready and function perfectly with the revised viewing hardware. Google says the lenses have been improved in order to create a wider, clearer field of view. The headset carries over the soft fabric covering and controller of the original, and it comes in fog, charcoal, and coral. Google says more than 250 Daydream titles are available to Android devices, and the amount of content available through YouTube VR has grown exponentially over the last year. Google's new Pixel handsets support ARCore augmented reality, too, and Google expects fun add-ons such as sticker packs will help people get off the ground with AR content. The new Google Daydream View will be available later this year for $99 from the Google Store, Verizon, Best Buy, AT&T, and Amazon.


Verizon Wireless Tweaks Prepaid Family Plan

Oct 3, 2017, 9:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today rolled out changes to its Verizon Prepaid Family Account, which lets subscribers take more control over the data available to each individual line. Data is available in 3 GB, 7 GB, 10 GB, and unlimited buckets. The first line costs $40, $50, $60, and $80, respectively, for each of these offerings. Lines two through five can be added to the first line at a small discount. For example, those who subscribe to the 3 GB plan will receive a $10 discount per line on lines two through five. Under this option, three lines would cost $100 per month: $40 for the first line, plus $30 each for the second and third lines. Customers who opt for the 7 GB plan will receive a $15 discount per additional line, while those who opt for the 10 GB or unlimited plans will receive a $20 discount per additional line. Each line enjoys its own data bucket, as data is not shared across the account. Verizon's prepaid service does not include taxes and fees in the pricing structure.


Google Intros 'Zero-Touch' Android Enterprise Deployments

Sep 21, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easier for businesses to configure and deploy Android handsets to employees with a new tool called zero-touch enrollment. Google says zero-touch lets companies configure purchased devices and ship them directly to employees completely preconfigured with corporate policies and controls all in place. Users need only sign in to gain access to their work apps and data. The new zero-touch enrollment tool is available on handsets purchased from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Google is working with Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, HMD Global, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim to ensure a wide selection of devices support zero-touch. Google indicated the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks. Businesses will be able to use a wide range of enterprise device management tools from the likes of BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, Suite, and VMware to configure zero-touch. Google encouraged businesses that are interested in zero-touch to contact their carriers directly.


Asus Reveals the ZenFone V for Verizon

Sep 18, 2017, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus recently unwrapped the ZenFone V, an Android smartphone that's exclusive to Verizon Wireless. The ZenFone V features a metal chassis with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass on the front. The handset sports a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with full HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor, Qualcomm's 2016 flagship chip, with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, an aperture of f/2.0, and phase detection autofocus. The front camera boast an 8-megapixel sensor with a GIF maker and aperture of f/2.0. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, high-resolution audio, fingerprint reader, and USB-C. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with Asus' ZenUI, and it comes in black. Pricing and availability have not yet been disclosed.


Essential Phone Now Compatible with Verizon's Network

Sep 18, 2017, 8:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says its smartphone, the PH-1, is now fully able to run on Verizon Wireless's network. The company announced the news via its Twitter account. Essential didn't say what changed, or what it might have updated to make the phone work more properly on Verizon's network. The handset is already for sale unlocked and from Sprint. Verizon does not actually sell the phone. The PH-1 is a high-end Android handset with a bezel-less design. It supports magnetic modules that attach on the back via magnets. It costs $699.


Apple Watch Series 3 Supports Carriers' One Number Calling and Messaging

Sep 13, 2017, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with an optional cellular radio. The LTE radio makes it possible for the smartwatch to connect to cellular networks on its own, without a nearby iPhone. According to AT&T, the Apple Watch Series 3 is compatible with its NumberSync service, allowing people to make and receive phone calls from their main mobile number on the wearable. In addition to calls, NumberSync allows people to send/receive text messages from their main number directly on the smartwatch. The phone does need to powered on somewhere in order for the service to work. NumberSync is built into AT&T's network, so it doesn't require third-party apps in order to function properly. AT&T charges a $10 per month fee to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing data plan. NumberSync is included for free. AT&T said it will waive the customary activation fee for the Apple Watch Series 3. Verizon Wireless customers will enjoy similar functionality via Verizon's NumberShare technology, which also allows people to make calls and send messages directly from their wrist over the cellular network. Like AT&T, Verizon is charging $10 per month to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing plan. T-Mobile, too, has a $10 Apple Watch Series 3 plan that includes one-number calling from either the phone or the watch. Sprint has not yet detailed a similar service. The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE goes on sale September 22 for $399.


Apple Refreshes the Apple Watch with LTE

Sep 12, 2017, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2017, 2:12 PM

Apple today updated its smartwatch with several new features. Notably, the Apple Watch Series 3 gains an optional LTE radio for connections when phones aren't around or available. The Watch includes an e-SIM to save space, and uses the display itself to act as the cellular antenna. The LTE radio will require a data plan from carriers, such as AT&T or Verizon. People will be able to sync and control apps without their iPhone, as well as make voice calls. Apple says the cellular connection supports streaming from Apple Music and works with Apple's EarPods for on-the-go listening during workouts. The Watch Series 3 contains a new W2 wireless chip from Apple to enable Bluetooth and other connections and a refreshed dual-core processor that's 70% faster than Series 2. It comes in a variety of casings and bands, including a new sport loop made from breathable fabric. The ceramic option is now available in white and gray. The Apple Watch Series 3 costs $329 sans cellular and $399 with cellular. Apple will continue to sell the Series 1 for $249. Preorders begin September 15 and the Apple Watch Series 3 goes on sale September 22.


U.S. Carriers Create Mobile Authentication Taskforce

Sep 8, 2017, 11:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Mobile operators in the U.S. today said they will work together to help customers more easily manage app and account authentication while also protecting consumers' privacy and identity. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, which will create a mobile authentication solution for consumer and business customers alike next year. The carriers are going to pool resources and analyze customer data and activity patterns on their respective mobile networks to accurately predict if people are who they say they are. They'll parse insights such as geo-location, network-based device behaviors, and SIM card recognition to determine identity and authenticate users. The four carriers are taking an open approach to the Mobile Authentication Taskforce and hope third-party organizations and developers will participate. The group didn't say exactly when it expects to roll out the initial offering. Finding new and secure ways to authenticate end users is becoming increasingly important as more personal information is available on mobile devices.


Kyocera Flips Out Over LTE-Only Cadence Feature Phone for Verizon

Sep 1, 2017, 3:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kyocera this week announced the Cadence, a flip phone for Verizon Wireless that supports LTE but not CDMA. In addition to LTE, the Cadence sports WiFi with voice over WiFi and HD Voice for clearer phone calls. The main display measures 2.4 inches with QVGA resolution, while the external monochrome display measures 0.9 inches with 128 by 36 pixels. The handset runs Kyocera's proprietary non-touch user interface and is powered by a 1.1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. It includes a fixed-focus 2-megapixel camera and a removable 1,430mAh battery. Other features include a headphone jack, Bluetooth, GPS, voice recognition, and WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices. The Kyocera Cadence is available from Verizon Wireless for $120.


Verizon Makes Unlimited Plans Pricier, More Complicated

Aug 22, 2017, 8:16 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today revealed revamped unlimited plans that aren't nearly as attractive as last month's plans. The standard Unlimited plan now costs $85/month instead of $80/month, and has been renamed "Beyond Unlimited". It offers unlimited calls, texts, and full-speed 4G LTE data up to 22 GB, after which data speed may be limited on busy towers. The plan includes HD video, but HD video on phones is now limited to 720p resolution, even for customers with older plans that did not previously limit video. (Tablets and laptops are allowed video at 1080p.) The plan also includes 15 GB of mobile hotspot data, up from 10 GB, and that change is retroactive to customers with the old plan. The company also unveiled a cheaper "Go Unlimited" plan for $75/month, which technically offers 4G LTE data, but may throttle data speeds at any time the network is busy, not just after 22 GB as with the more expensive plan. The cheaper plan also limits video to SD resolution and throttles mobile hotspot data to just 600 kbps. All of these new prices require paperless billing and auto-pay, or an extra $5/month fee applies.


Xfinity Says It's Now Available In All Comcast Markets

Aug 17, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xfinity, Comcast's wireless service, today said it has expanded its availability to every market in which Comcast has a presence. The low-cost service launched in April, but was limited to just a small selection of markets. Now, Comcast customers can take advantage of the wireless offering and tie it to their existing internet and television service. Xfinity has also tweaked its service plans. Moving forward, the company offers unlimited service (up to 20 GB of high-speed LTE 4G) for $45 per line per month. It also sells access for $12 per 1 GB, which can be shared across all the lines in a plan. Xfinity offers all customers unlimited talk and text and a base 100 MB of data to get them started. Taxes and fees are included in the pricing structure. Xfinity operates on Verizon's network, but will offload data traffic to Comcast-owned WiFi hotspots when they are available. Xfinity says it has 18 million such hotspots positioned around the country. Xfinity offers a number of popular phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Apple iPhone 7. Customers can pay full price up front or over time via monthly installments.


Decorating with the Asus ZenFone AR

Aug 15, 2017, 2:24 PM   by Rich Brome

The Asus ZenFone AR for Verizon is the first phone in the U.S. to support Google Tango, the advanced AR (augmented reality) platform for Android. It supports a small variety of apps so far. The most useful so far are online shopping apps that display virtual items for sale (such as furniture, decorations, fixtures, and appliances) in the room you're currently it. We take it for a spin by decorating a dingy subway station. Check out the full video to see Tango in action.

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Apple, Google, Others Weigh In On Supreme Court Data Case

Aug 15, 2017, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple and a handful of technology companies are asking the Supreme Court to carefully consider the potential adverse outcomes if law enforcement is given warrantless access to personal information, such as location data. The companies filed a brief with the Supreme Court, which will soon hear a case about how law enforcement gleaned a suspect's location by taking the data from a third party without a warrant. The case, and the companies' collective opinion, hinges on the third-party doctrine, which has been in place since a 1979 case. The corporations that signed the brief together collect, transmit, and hold terabytes of data and meta-data generated by their customers' use of their services. If the Supreme Court decides data held by third-parties should still be up for grabs, the corporations may have to provide it whenever law enforcement asks. They feel this violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees certain expectations of privacy, and could in turn convince people to use their online services less. "This transmission of data will only grow as digital technologies continue to develop and become more integrated into our lives. Because the data that is transmitted can reveal a wealth of detail about people’s personal lives, however, users of digital technologies reasonably expect to retain significant privacy in that data," argued the companies. "Fourth Amendment doctrine must adapt to this new reality." The signees include Airbnb, Apple, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Oath, Snap, Twitter, and Verizon. The companies filed the brief through the ACLU, which is participating in the upcoming case.


Moto Gamepad Mod Hits Verizon Aug. 25 for $80

Aug 10, 2017, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 10, 2017, 10:12 AM

Verizon Wireless recently provided details on the availability and cost of the Moto Gamepad Mod for the Z2 Play and Z2 Force smartphones. The Gamepad, available for preorder via Verizon's web site, will ship by August 25. Verizon said the Gamepad will be available online and in stores. The phone snaps in magnetically via the Mod connector. The pad features a standard set of gaming buttons and joysticks positioned on either side of the screen, in addition to a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port for charging. The Gamepad includes its own 1.035mAh battery, so it won't suck juice from the phone and in fact can provide the Z handset with up to 8 hours of gaming time. The Gamepad will cost gaming enthusiasts $79.99. The Moto Gamepad Mod is a Verizon exclusive, as is the new JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker Mod.


Verizon's 1900 MHz Spectrum In NYC Now Entirely LTE

Aug 8, 2017, 12:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 8, 2017, 12:40 PM

Verizon Wireless has completed refarming its 1900 MHz spectrum in the country's largest city, an effort first begun in 2014. The company recently converted the last remaining 10 MHz block from CDMA 3G to LTE 4G, which means Verizon is running LTE on 20 MHz of its Band 2 spectrum in New York City. Devices that support LTE in Band 2 should have access to Verizon's network in that spectrum in addition to the 700 MHz it already uses for LTE. The refarming leaves CDMA operational only in the 850 MHz band in NYC. This reduces access to Verizon's legacy 3G network. Verizon has committed to running CDMA / 1x through 2019, though it is still expected to convert some of its 850 MHz spectrum to LTE between now and then.


Verizon Rolls Out 'Up' Rewards Program with Major Caveat

Aug 7, 2017, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced Verizon Up, a rewards program for customers that promises free services, device discounts, and event tickets. Verizon claims its reward program is simple and straightforward. Verizon Up is baked into the MyVerizon application, so there are no forms to worry about. For every $300 customers spend on their wireless bill, they'll earn one reward credit. Each reward is worth one credit, so rewards can be earned on a one-for-one basis. Verizon will offer six rotating rewards each month that consumers can take advantage of immediately if they wish. Some examples include four free months of Apple Music, or three free months of HBO Now (both with subscription.) These are what Verizon calls Everyday Rewards, which will include others from the likes of Amazon, Headspace, and Electronic Arts. Up also includes Verizon Awards, which allow people to save credit towards device purchases ($10 per month), discounts on accessories, and bonus data. Verizon Up includes access to high-demand tickets in sports, music, and entertainment, as well as giveaways to events such as the Super Bowl. Verizon Up is free to join, but there are some major caveats. To start, reward credits expire 60 days after they are earned. Earning the credits requires $300 in payments on Verizon services only, which means the taxes and other fees on monthly wireless bills don't count toward the $300 total. Last, but not least, Verizon customers must join Verizon Selects in order to qualify for Verizon Up. According to the FAQs page for Verizon Up, Verizon Selects is a customer data collection program for advertising purposes. "Verizon Selects helps personalize your experiences and make advertising you see more useful across the devices and services you use," explained Verizon. "To do this, the program uses information about your web browsing, app usage, device location, use of Verizon services and other information about you (such as your postal/email addresses, demographics, and interests) and shares information with Oath." Further, Verizon said identifying customer data collected through Verizon Selects is shared with its vendors and partners. Verizon subscribers can sign up for Verizon Up starting today.


Hands On wth the Asus ZenFone AR

Aug 3, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

You can finally get a phone with Google's "Tango" AR technology in the US. The Asus ZenFone AR goes on sale with Verizon today. With support for Tango apps, it can scan the room and show you life-size, realistic virtual objects placed in the room in real time. It's also a powerful high-end phone with decent specs, especially in the camera department. What's it it like? We checked it out in person and have first impressions to share.

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Project Tango Asus ZenFone AR Hits Verizon Stores Today

Aug 3, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Asus ZenFone AR is available to U.S. consumers today from Verizon Wireless. The phone, initially announced in January, is the first to support both Google's Project Tango augmented reality platform and Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Asus says its PixelMaster 3.0 camera system uses Sony IMX318 sensors with a TriTech autofocus system. It includes 4-axis optical image stabilization for photos and 3-axis electronic stabilization for videos. Additional camera tools include low-light shooting, optimized presets, manual controls, and 4K video capture. Multiple microphones capture Hi-Res Audio and DTS virtual surround sound. The phone sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and a vapor cooling system. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. Verizon is selling the phone for $648, or $27 per month for 24 months on an installment plan. The phone will include the Wayfair augmented reality shopping application, which lets ZenFone AR owners add furniture and other items to their home virtually to see how it will look before making a purchase. People who order the phone from Verizon will be rewarded with a $25 Wayfair gift card. Asus is also selling unlocked versions of the phone directly to consumers with different RAM / storage combinations. The 6 GB / 64 GB model costs $599, while the 8 GB / 128 GB model costs $699.


Verizon Claims Real-World Speed of 953 Mbps in LTE-LAA Trial

Aug 3, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless says it has attained peak download speeds as high as 953 Mbps in a field test conducted on Boca Raton, Fla. The test was completed with commercially available equipment from Ericsson and Qualcomm using Verizon's cell tower and backhaul. The companies took advantage of four-channel carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM on a device equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. Verizon says it reached those speeds via LTE-LAA (licensed assisted access), which bundles together Verizon-owned spectrum with unlicensed spectrum, such as that used by WiFi networks. This type of gigabit LTE service will bridge today's LTE 4G networks with the 5G networks of the future. Verizon says multiple gigabit LTE devices are already available in the market, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, but it did not say if or when it might begin deploying LTE-LAA across its own network.


Motorola Moto E4 Plus Goes On Sale Aug. 3 for $180

Aug 1, 2017, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said the Moto E4 Plus, which it announced in June, will reach various sales channels later this week. The unlocked variant will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com starting August 3 for $180. Verizon Wireless plans to sell its own version of the Moto E4 Plus on August 3 too, though Verizon's pricing wasn't immediately available. Sprint, Ting, and other U.S. retailers will stock the Moto E4 Plus beginning August 11, with Republic Wireless to follow August 14. Motorola will also sell an Amazon Prime Exclusive version of the Moto E4 Plus, though pricing on the Amazon model wasn't announced. The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.


Moto Z2 Force Drops 'Droid' Branding On Verizon

Jul 25, 2017, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.


Verizon's Video Optimization Tests Have Customers Crying Foul

Jul 21, 2017, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 21, 2017, 12:47 PM

Verizon Wireless is throttling the speeds of Netflix and YouTube, according to customer complaints voiced on Reddit. Verizon's customers claim they are seeing Netflix and YouTube streams capped at 10Mbps, and some suggest the capped speeds are leading to degraded video quality. The issue is impacting customers who have limited and unlimited data plans. When asked for comment, Verizon told Ars Technica, "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." Verizon's statement doesn't necessarily reflect what its customers say is going on. If Verizon is indeed throttling the speeds of video apps, doing say may be a violation of the FCC's net neutrality rules that expressly forbid internet providers from throttling content.


Coral Blue Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go On Sale In US July 21

Jul 19, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said the Coral Blue variant of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets will become available to U.S. buyers starting July 21. According to Samsung, carrier-specific versions for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will be available at Best Buy stores, while the unlocked version will be available at Best Buy and Samsung.com. Customers looking to save some money can take advantage of a promotion at Best Buy stores between July 21 and July 29 that offers up to $400 off the cost of the handset with a carrier activation. Samsung said consumers can save up to $150 of the price of either handset when purchasing the phone directly from Samsung, as well as take advantage of Samsung's trade-on promo. Details concerning the promotions are available from Samsung's web site. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are already available in black, silver, and gray.


Verizon Selling the Ultra-Rugged Sonim XP5

Jul 13, 2017, 12:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the Sonim XP5 to its roster of rugged handsets. The XP5 is a bar-style feature phone that includes push-to-talk service (with a dedicated PTT button) for the working set. It meets mil-spec ratings for protection against physical abuse and carries an IP69 rating for protection against water, including jet sprays. Sonim says the phone can sit in 6.5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The phone has a 2.5-inch QVGA screen with a proprietary operating system. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera, extra-loud 104dB front speakers, a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm processor with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage, and support for HD Voice. The Sonim XP5 is available from Verizon Wireless for $336, or $14 per month on a payment plan.


Verizon Passes VoLTE Call Over Its Cat M1 Network

Jun 30, 2017, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it completed the first test call using VoLTE on its Cat M1 network. The achievement is worth noting because Verizon's Cat M1 network is reserved for machine-to-machine and IoT applications. Adding voice call capability to M2M and IoT gear opens up new doors for device makers, service providers, and app developers who will be able to connect with customers and end users in a new way. For example, the new technology will make it possible to voice-enable alarm panels or medical devices which can in turn allow people to reach out to and speak with people to gain entry to protected spaces or seek help. Verizon used Ericsson's network infrastructure and Qualcomm's modems to make the VoLTE Cat M1 call a reality. The company didn't immediately say if or when it might deploy voice-calling capability on its M2M/IoT network.


LG Intros the X charge, an Xfinity Mobile Exclusive

Jun 29, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2017, 7:13 AM

LG today announced the X charge, a smartphone that puts a priority on battery life. Similar to last year's X power, the X charge has an enormous battery with a capacity of 4,500mAh. LG claims the battery can push the phone through an "entire weekend" on a single charge. The power cell is embedded within the phone, but it supports rapid charging. Other features include a 5.5-inch 720 display, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the wide-angle selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and LED flash. LG says the X charge also includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with LG's software features, such as Gesture Shot. The LG X charge reaches Xfinity Mobile stores on June 30. The phone costs $180, or $7.50 per month. Xfinity Mobile is owned and operated by Comcast and runs on Verizon's network.


Motorola Z2 Play Hits Verizon Stores Today

Jun 29, 2017, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless began selling the Motorola Moto Z2 Play handset today. The Moto Z2 Play, announced earlier this month, has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. The Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera uses phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus and has an f/1.7 lens. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola's rapid TurboPower charger. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless is charging $408 for the Moto Z2 Play, or $17 per month on a payment plan. It comes in gray or gold. Moto Mods, such as the battery pack, projector, and speakers, cost extra. Motorola will sell an unlocked version of the phone with more color and storage options later this summer. For now, the Moto Z2 Play is only available from Verizon.


Alcatel Announces the Idol 5S with Stereo Speakers

Jun 27, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.


Verizon to Let Prepaid Customers Manage their Accounts Through My Verizon App

Jun 26, 2017, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its prepaid customers will soon have access to the My Verizon account management tool. Beginning June 28, prepaid customers can download and use My Verizon to pay bills, set up auto-pay, add data, and perform other account-related tasks. The app was previously reserved for Verizon's postpaid customers. My Verizon is free to download and will be available to customers of Verizon's $40, $50, $60, and unlimited prepaid plans.


Motorola's Moto E4 Hits Verizon Prepaid June 22

Jun 22, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 22, 2017, 10:23 AM

Motorola today said its recently announced Moto E4 smartphone will go on sale June 22 in the U.S. The handset will be sold by Verizon Wireless Prepaid online for $70. Motorola also plans to sell an unlocked version the phone for $130 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg. The company expects to offer the phone through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which will allow people to purchase the handset at a lower cost as long as they agree to view ads on the lock screen. The Moto E4 will reach Boost Mobile, Sprint, Flash Wireless, Jet.com, Republic Wireless, Target, and Ting in July. Motorola said the Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


Meet the LG Exalt, Verizon's First LTE-Only Flip Phone

Jun 15, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Exalt LTE to its lineup of inexpensive flip phones. The Exalt LTE has the distinction of being Verizon's first 4G LTE basic phone, according to the carrier. The handset includes LTE and UMTS/GSM radios, but the Exalt LTE does not support Verizon's legacy CDMA 3G network. That makes it unique among Verizon flip phones. In addition to LTE, the Exalt includes WiFi and a high-quality speaker for HD voice calls over either LTE or WiFi. The Exalt LTE has a 3.0-inch display with 400 by 240 pixels, a 1,470mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel camera. The Exalt LTE packs 8 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Verizon didn't say what operating system the Exalt LTE runs, nor what processor might be power the phone. The LG Exalt LTE is available online only for $168 at full retail or $7 per month for 24 months.


Verizon Closes Yahoo Acquisition, Launches Oath

Jun 13, 2017, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications today said it has finalized its purchase of Yahoo. Now that the deal is complete, Verizon is merging its Yahoo and AOL assets into a new media company called Oath. Oath encompasses some 50 brands, including HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, Makers, Tumblr, Build Studios, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and many more. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, a former Google exec, has resigned effective today. Yahoo's properties will be managed by Tim Armstrong, who already oversees Verizon's AOL business unit. The $4.8 billion deal was first announced in July 2016. The process suffered a major blow when Yahoo disclosed a material security breach that impacted more than 1 billion users. The two companies later agreed to drop the sale price by $350 million, with the final price tag landing at about $4.48 billion. Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses at Verizon, presided over the acquisition. Armstrong will report to her. The company is expected to shed as many as 2,100 jobs as it integrates AOL and Yahoo's properties. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.


BlackBerry Says CDMA Version of KEYone Now At Best Buy

Jun 13, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry Mobile today said the Verizon-ready, CDMA model of its KEYone smartphone is available at Best Buy stores. The phone is sold unlocked with support for Verizon's 3G and 4G networks. Earlier versions of the KEYone supported only GSM-based 3G service. The KEYone runs Google's Android operating system with BlackBerry Mobile's security and communications software on board. The phone's defining feature is the physical QWERTY keyboard. It costs $549.


Verizon Rehashes Prepaid Plans

Jun 2, 2017, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 2, 2017, 10:36 AM

Verizon Wireless today announced new options for its prepaid service. Beginning June 6, Verizon prepaid customers can select from four main plans: 3 GB for $40 per month, 7 GB for $50, 10 GB for $60, or unlimited for $80. All these plans include unlimited talk and text, international text to more than 200 countries,unlimited calling from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico, mobile hotspot, and carryover data. Users who exceed their monthly allotment will be throttled down to 2G speeds for the remainder of the billing period. Video is capped at 480p standard definition, and Verizon will prioritize its postpaid customers when the network is congested. For a limited time, Verizon is offering a $100 credit to customers who port their number from a competing carrier. Verizon prepaid offers phones such as the iPhone 7, Galaxy S8, and Pixel.


Motorola Moto Z2 Play Is Thinner, Lighter Than the Original

Jun 1, 2017, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 1, 2017, 8:55 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Play, a second take on the company's popular mid-range flagship. Like the original, the Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. At 5.9mm thick, the phone is a full millimeter thinner than its predecessor. In order to achieve this, Motorola cut the battery capacity from 3,510mAh to 3,000mAh. Despite the significant drop in capacity, Motorola claims total battery life is unaffected. Thanks to TurboPower, just 15 minutes of charging stuffs 8 hours of life into the battery. Another significant change is found in the fingerprint sensor, which now doubles as a trackpad for on-screen navigation. In terms of specs, the Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera now relies on phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus with dual focus pixels and an f/1.7 lens for better low-light performance. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless will be the only carrier to sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray or gold later this summer. The phone will cost $499. Motorola will offer the Moto Z2 Play directly to consumers through its Moto Maker web site with the option to improve RAM to 4 GB and storage to 64 GB. Motorola will sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray, gold, blue, and black.


T-Mobile Goes After Verizon Customers with Latest Promo

May 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile hopes its new "Get Out of the Red" deal will tempt Verizon customers to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is offering to pay the remaining balance on Verizon subscribers' handsets and allow them to use those same handsets on T-Mobile's network. Lots of caveats apply. In order to qualify for the deal, Verizon customers must be in good standing with Big Red and come to T-Mobile with an Apple iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Google Pixel, or Pixel XL. These phones have the proper radios to support T-Mobile's LTE network. The company is working to add other devices to the list. Verizon customers will need to port their number to T-Mobile, sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, buy a new T-Mobile SIM card, and sign up for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance plan for $15 per month. Once all these criteria are met, T-Mobile will pay the remaining balance on the Verizon iPhone or Pixel, whatever that may be. T-Mobile says customers will be reimbursed for their Verizon iPhone/Pixel balances within 15 to 30 days via prepaid MasterCard. T-Mobile is pitching the idea as an easier way to switch carriers as it doesn't require people to backup or transfer content from one phone to another. The offer works with Verizon handsets because by law Verizon's LTE phones must be unlocked. AT&T and Sprint customers cannot take advantage of this offer precisely because their phones are carrier locked. T-Mobile's Get Out of the Red promotion will be available starting May 31. T-Mobile is, however, throwing a bone to AT&T and Sprint customers. T-Mobile said it will pay off the remaining handset balance and/or early termination fee for AT&T/Sprint customers who port a number to T-Mobile and finance a new device on T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. Last, T-Mobile customers who already have two T-Mobile One plans will be able add two additional lines of service for the price of one. This promo requires autopay.


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