Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.
Motorola showed off the Droid Turbo today, a high-end handset headed to Verizon Wireless. Motorola says the phone is tough, powerful, and smart. Here are our initial impressions of the latest Droid.
Motorola and Verizon Wireless today announced the Droid Turbo, a high-end handset that claims to offer two days of battery life. The Droid Turbo's design is in keeping with Droids past and comes in several finishes, including metallic fiber and ballistic nylon. Motorola says the Droid Turbo is tough enough for everyday abuse, though it is not ruggedized. The innards are protected by a water-repellent coating. The Droid Turbo has a 5.2-inch AMOLED quad HD display (2560 x 1440 pixels) that's protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It is powered by a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor with an Adreno 420 GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor. It has 3GB of RAM. The phone features a 21-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash, and auto HDR. It can capture 4K video and slow-motion in 720p HD. The user-facing camera captures 2 megapixels and 1080p HD video. The battery measures 3,900mAh and supports Turbo Charge technology (developed by Qualcomm). It can deliver 8 hours of up-time after being charged for just 15 minutes. The device supports Verizon's LTE 4G network and includes Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, and a handful of internal sensors. The Droid Turbo runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat (upgradable to Android 5.0 Lollipop) with Motorola's unique features on board, such as Active Display, Voice, and Droid Zap for sharing content with nearby devices. The Motorola Droid Turbo will be available October 30. The 32GB model costs $199 with a contract or $25 per month with Verizon Edge, while the 64GB model costs $249 with a contract or $27 per month with Verizon Edge. For a limited time, Verizon is offering all Droid Turbo customers a minimum of $100 for trade-ins, no activation fees, and early access to the Verizon Edge program. Last, Verizon says any customer who breaks the screen of their Droid Turbo during the first year of ownership will receive one free screen replacement.
Softcard announced that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald's locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald's restaurants. Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard (formerly Isis) competes with Apple Pay.
Google today pushed out an update to its Android Wear platform that adds two key features and grants wearables even more independence. First, Android Wear devices will now be able to track location via GPS without requiring a nearby smartphone. This means people will be able to leave their phone at home when they go for a jog or walk. Further, the update adds the ability to play local music files stored on the wearable itself. This means Android Wear device owners can put music on their watch, listen to it via Bluetooth headphones, and leave their phone at home. Google noted that tens of thousands of Android apps have been updated with Wear compatibility. Last, Google said the Sony Smart Watch 3 is now available for preorder through Verizon Wireless for $250. It will reach the Play Store in the weeks to come.
Samsung recently revealed a forthcoming variant of its Galaxy Note 4 handset for Verizon Wireless. The Note 4 Developer Edition ships with an unlocked boot loader, and is free of Verizon-branded apps and services. Developers can use the device to test their apps on Verizon's network. The phone will be sold at the full retail price of $662. Samsung said the Galaxy Note 4 Developer Edition is coming soon.
Verizon Wireless this week altered the terms of its Edge service plans so customers will now have to pay off more of their device before they can upgrade. Verizon Edge is the company's monthly installment option. Under the old system, customers could upgrade after 12 months or once they've paid 60% of the handset's cost. Under the new system, customers have to wait 18 months or pay off 75% of their handset's cost before they can upgrade. Because it is increasing the number of monthly payments, Verizon is decreasing the amount of each monthly payment by $5. Verizon has also changed the cost of its single-line plans. Verizon is now asking for $75 per month for unlimited talk/text and 2GB of data. The same plan used to cost $60. Now, $60 buys 1GB of data and unlimited talk/text. The changes went into effect October 16.
Transit Wireless and the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority today said more New York City residents will gain access to cellular service when using the subway. To start, Transit Wireless has completed Phase 2 of the project, which means 11 new stations in Manhattan and 29 stations in Queens are now connected with cellular and Wi-Fi service. Phase 3 will add service to Flushing Main Street Station in Queens, as well as stations in Lower Manhattan, West Harlem, and Washington Heights throughout 2015. Transit Wireless' project has seven phases in total, which will eventually bring connectivity to all 277 subway stations in New York by 2017. Wireless service is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Google today announced Android 5.0 Lollipop and with it the first few devices to run the new operating system, the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. The Nexus 6 is a large-screened smartphone made by Motorola. It has an aluminum frame and a 6-inch quad HD display with a 13-megapixel main camera. The camera includes optical image stabilization and HDR+ for improved low-light shots. The device has stereo-speakers with high-fidelity sound and comes with a turbo charger for fast charging. Google claims the device can get up to six hours of battery time after plugging it in for just 15 minutes. The Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November. Google will sell an unlocked version through the Play Store, and the Nexus 6 will also be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. The device costs $649 at full retail, which is $200 more than the Nexus 5. The Nexus 9 tablet is made by HTC and features an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 screen with a brushed aluminum design. It is run by a dual-core Tegra K1 64-bit processor with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. Other features include an 8.0-/1.6-megapixel camera configuration; BoomSound speakers; dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE; and a 6,700mAh battery. The Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores starting November 3. The Wi-Fi model starts at $399.
Verizon Wireless has revived its Droid Does web page in order to tease an upcoming handset announcement. The site features a clock counting down to Noon on October 28 when, ostensibly, Verizon will show off the new phone. In recent years Motorola has been the only company to manufacture Droid-branded handsets for Verizon. The last three phones bearing the Droid name were last year's Droid Mini, Droid Maxx, and Droid Ultra.
T-Mobile today announced it will sell the Sony Xperia Z3 online and in stores beginning October 29. Customers can place preorders for the device starting at Noon on October 15. Preorders may arrive before the device reaches stores on October 29. T-Mobile is asking for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $26.25. The Z3 smartphone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is waterproof. It also features a 20.7-megapixel camera, compatibility with Sony PS4 Remote Play for gaming, and Sony's lifelogging service. Verizon Wireless is also selling the Z3, rebadged the Z3v, beginning October 23.
Sprint, T-Mobile, and others want the FCC to "carefully scrutinize" a number of AT&T's proposed low-band spectrum acquisitions. AT&T has asked the FCC for permission to purchase 700MHz spectrum from a range of small companies around the country. AT&T's competitors argue its low-band spectrum purchases should trigger the FCC's spectrum screen and require extra examination for their effects on competition. Low-band spectrum is highly valued for its propagation characteristics, and AT&T and Verizon Wireless already control a significant amount of low-band spectrum around the country. Sprint and T-Mobile claim the FCC has yet to fully define what triggers the spectrum screen with small-scale deals. They believe AT&T is taking advantage of the FCC's lack of clarity on the issue. AT&T responded by saying, "AT&T is confident that after a careful, enhanced factor review, the Bureau will conclude that both of these small deals will cause no harm to competition and will result in significant public interest benefits."
Sony today announced that Verizon Wireless will sell the Xperia Z3 as the Xperia Z3v. Verizon said the two companies plan to work more together, not just with smartphones, but with other products. For example, Verizon already sells the Sony Z2 tablet. The Z3 smartphone, which Sony debuted last month, has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is waterproof. It also features a 20.7-megapixel camera, compatibility with Sony PS4 Remote Play for gaming, and Sony's lifelogging service. The Verizon variant of the Z3 differs from the global model in that it features Qi-based wireless charging, while the global model does not. It also has minor exterior color variances. The Z3v will go on sale October 23 at most Verizon outlets. For a limited time, customers will receive a $200 discount if they purchase the Z3v handset and Z2 tablet together. Further, Verizon will sell the Sony Smart Watch 3 later this year. Pricing and exact availability of the Smart Watch 3 will be revealed later.
Verizon Wireless today announced a new product offering from partner Slacker Radio. For $2 per month, Verizon customers can subscribe to Slacker Radio Tones, which provides access to Slacker's entire music library for ring tones and ringback tones. The service includes unlimited access to ringback tones, unlimited ringtone downloads, the ability to set up to 25 personalized ringback tones, and the ability to assign ringback tones and ringtones to specific contacts. Slacker Radio Tones does not include unlimited access to Slacker Radio.
Verizon Wireless today announced the pending availability of the HTC Desire 612. The 612 is sold as the 610 by other carriers. The 612 is an affordable Android phone with a 4.7-inch display, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, 4G LTE, and a memory card slot. It sports a clean design inspired by the HTC One, but in high-quality plastic. Like the One, it features BoomSound dual front speakers and Zoe video functions. Verizon is offering the phone for free with a new two-year contract and for low monthly fees via Verizon Edge. The company also noted that customers who upgrade their line to a More Everything Plan will receive an extra 1GB of data per month for 24 months.
Google has enabled MMS within Google Voice on more than 100 networks in North America, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S. Google Voice was previously limited to sending and receiving only SMS messages. For the moment, Verizon has not enabled MMS via Google Voice, and Google didn't say whether or not it intends to. Some of Google Voice's features have recently been ported to Google's Hangouts app/service, such as the ability to make voice calls.
The FCC revealed on Wednesday that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless - three of the nation's top four carriers - plan to participate in the upcoming AWS-3 spectrum auction. Dish Networks also plans to bid for airwaves, alongside myriad smaller entities. According to the FCC, 80 companies plan to make bids for AWS-3 spectrum, though 47 of the applications were deemed incomplete. The auction begins November 13, but completed applications and down payments are due from all bidders by October 15. Sprint does not plan to participate in this auction. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.
Verizon Wireless today said it will not move forward with a "network optimization" plan that would have throttled the mobile data speeds of its heaviest users. Verizon announced its intent to slow down the speeds of grandfathered-in unlimited data customers based on monthly usage and local cell-site conditions, but met with resistance from both the government and customers. The company has apparently had a change of heart. "Verizon is committed to providing its customers with an unparalleled mobile network experience," said the company in a statement. "At a time of ever-increasing mobile broadband data usage, we not only take pride in the way we manage our network resources, but also take seriously our responsibility to deliver exceptional mobile service to every customer. We've greatly valued the ongoing dialogue over the past several months concerning network optimization and we've decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans. Exceptional network service will always be our priority and we remain committed to working closely with industry stakeholders to manage broadband issues so that American consumers get the world-class mobile service they expect and value." Earlier today, Verizon Wireless boosted its highest data plan allowance from 50GB per month to 100GB per month, a sign that the company's network isn't hitting the capacity constraints it earlier implied were the reason behind the plan to throttle customers.
Verizon Wireless today followed AT&T and Sprint with its own limited big data offering. Beginning October 2, Verizon customers with shared lines can increase their data allotments significantly. Shared lines with 12GB of data can jump to 15GB of data for the same $110 monthly fee. Similarly, the 16GB plan jumps to 30GB, the 20GB plan jumps to 40GB, the 30GB plan jumps to 60GB, the 40GB plan jumps to 80GB, and the 50GB plan jumps to 100GB. Monthly prices range all the way up to $375 for the (now) 100GB plan. Customers who choose Verizon Edge when purchasing or upgrading their smartphone using these promotions, or who bring their own device, can add those phones to More Everything plans for $15 per month in addition to the plan fees. The doubled-data promotion is available until October 31.
A major RadioShack shareholder plans to invest more cash in the business in order to improve its liquidity. RadioShack is facing a cash crisis. As of last month it had just $30.5 million in the cash and owed creditors $658 million. Standard General is still discussing the particulars with RadioShack and its other creditors. The hedge fund, along with new, unnamed investors, believe they can buy out RadioShack's loans and get the company back on its feet. Standard General raised its stake in RadioShack from 7.08% to 9.8%, making it the single largest shareholder. The investors hope to shore up RadioShack ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season. RadioShack sells cell phones and wireless service from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless alongside other consumer electronics.
Verizon Wireless today announced that its variant of the Moto X will be available beginning Friday, September 26. Customers can order preconfigured versions of the device, or use Moto Maker to design their own. Verizon is selling the 16-GB model for $99 with a new contract and the 32-GB version for $150 with a new contract. Verizon also plans to sell the Moto X through its Verizon Edge plans, which require monthly fees. Last, customers who sign up for a More Everything plan with at least 1GB of data will receive an extra 1GB of data per month for up to 24 months.
Verizon Wireless is weighing whether or not to sell its cell towers to a third party, reports Reuters. Earlier this month Verizon's Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo indicated the company is interested in such an idea. Verizon has hired TAP Advisors to help it plan for and execute the sale, according to sources cited by Reuters. AT&T sold its cell towers to Crown Castle last year for $4.85 billion. Sprint has also divested the management of its cell towers. Verizon has yet to make any official announcements.
Samsung recently said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will all offer its Gear S smartwatch "this fall." Samsung didn't say when the device will actually go on sale. The Gear S differs from Samsung's other wearables in that it has a cellular radio inside and can make/receive phone calls and messages. Pricing has yet to be revealed for the device itself, as well as for the plans connecting it to cellular networks. In an email, T-Mobile said the Gear S will be available for purchase on its Equipment Installment Plan, which breaks down payments over time.
Verizon has made its Advanced Calling 1.0 feature available to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The free service will pass voice calls over Verizon's LTE 4G network rather than the cellular network. It offers high-quality voice calls and video calls. In order to enable the service, owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus need to use the settings tool to allow "voice & data" over LTE directly on their phone. Once enabled, the feature will appear as active in their Verizon account online. VoLTE calls only work between two Verizon VoLTE-enabled devices. The only other Verizon devices that support VoLTE right now are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G2.
Samsung today said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy Note 4 on September 19. The device won't ship, however, until October 17. Samsung said the Note 4 will be available in black and white, and it will be carried by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. Samsung said the phone will also be available at Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores, as well as from Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Individual carriers and retailers will provide their own pricing and availability details in the near future. AT&T was first to announce those details. AT&T said the Note 4 will cost $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18; $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12; $299.99 with a two-year agreement; or $826 at full retail. AT&T is offering a $100 bill credit to new/existing customers who activate a new line of service with the Note 4. Verizon is offering the Note 4 for $299 with a new contract and said Verizon Edge installment pricing will also be available. T-Mobile isn't accepting preorders until September 24, and it is asking for $0 down followed by $31.24 a month for 24 months.
Verizon Wireless today announced it has expanded the reach of its "XLTE" footprint by 22 markets. Verizon's LTE network runs on 700MHz almost nationwide, but it has been adding coverage in the 1700MHz band throughout the year and marketing the dual-band 700/1700MHz coverage as XLTE. According to Verizon, four out of five of its LTE markets have access to this dual-band coverage, which is available in about 400 cities and towns across the country. Verizon didn't name the 22 new markets that launched today.
Verizon Wireless has slowly begun to enable VoLTE on select devices on its network. To start, VoLTE is available to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. In order to use the service, subscribers need to download an app called Advanced Calling 1.0. More devices will supported over time. In order for VoLTE to work, both parties need to have VoLTE-capable phones and access to Verizon's LTE 4G network. The service, which is free to use, offers high-quality calls that are passed over the data network rather than the traditional voice network. Separately, Verizon Wireless said that, like AT&T, it is going to wait until 2015 to launch Wi-Fi Calling. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said it will eventually roll out the service, which is supported by the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it is not a priority. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call,'" said Shammo. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling to a growing number of handsets. T-Mobile just today launched its Personal CellSpot in order to help its customers experience better voice connectivity when in their homes.
Subway today announced it has partnered with Softcard and will begin accepting Softcard-based mobile payments on October 1. Softcard, which launched last year as Isis, is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The service allows smartphone owners to link their credit card to the Softcard app on their phone and use it to make mobile payments at select retailers nationwide. Subway said it will accept Softcard at 26,000 locations around the U.S. Further, the company is offering $1 back on every purchase made with American Express Serve through 12/31. Last, Subway will eventually add its Subway Card Rewards Program to the Softcard app, which will let customers earn rewards points when making mobile payments. Softcard is available to a wide number of Android smartphones through a dedicated application.
Sprint today confirmed that it will skip an upcoming spectrum auction. "Sprint has decided not to participate in the FCC's AWS-3 auction, but will continue to evaluate the opportunities presented by the upcoming 600MHz incentive auction," said Sprint spokesman Jeffrey Silva to Bloomberg. Auction 97 will see 1,614 spectrum licenses sold by the government to wireless network operators. The auction will start November 13, with a trial auction scheduled for November 10. The spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. AT&T, Dish Networks, Verizon Wireless, and many smaller companies plan to participate in the auction. The FCC has another auction, for 600MHz spectrum, scheduled for mid 2015. AT&T and Verizon already have significant low-band spectrum holdings, while Sprint does not. Sprint is more interested in the 600MHz spectrum for this reason. Low-band spectrum is valued for its propagation characteristics.
Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest that Verizon Wireless will soon have its own version of the HTC Desire 610. Based on the model number (OP90300), SKU (HTC331ZLVW), and spectrum support, a newly approved phone made by HTC is earmarked for Big Red. The 610 is an affordable Android phone with a 4.7-inch display, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 8-megapixel main camera, front camera, 4G LTE, and a memory card slot. It sports a clean design inspired by the HTC One, but in high-quality plastic. Like the One, it features BoomSound dual front speakers and Zoe video functions. HTC announced the Desire 610 earlier this year, and it is already being sold by AT&T.
RadioShack is considering whether or not to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as its cash reserves dwindle. The company ended its most recent quarter with just $30.5 million in cash on hand, with debts totaling $658 million. It has lost money 10 quarters in a row as electronics buyers shun the chain for larger retailers or the web. Filing for bankruptcy would help protect RadioShack's remaining cash reserves, and could set the stage for a reorganization of the firm. The company is also weighing taking on investments and cited liquidation as a last resort. Earlier this year RadioShack announced plans to close 1,100 stores, but later reduced that number to 200 after investors balked. RadioShack sells wireless service from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, as well as several prepaid brands.
Verizon Wireless will offer customers the iPhone 6 for free when they trade in an old iPhone. The iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5c, and 5s qualify for the deal, which provides a $200 credit towards the iPhone 6 16-GB device price when customers sign a new two-year contract. The trade-in offer is not available for the iPhone 6 Plus.
Softcard, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said it is "actively working with Apple to enable Softcard on the iPhone in 2015," according to CEO Michael Abbott. Softcard said Apple's decision to support NFC is "very significant and sets the stage for rapid scale adoption of mobile commerce." Softcard (the new brand name for Isis) has been available to Android smartphones since November 2013 and the iPhone via a special case since early 2014. Apple today separately announced its own mobile payment service called Apple Pay. Apple Pay will use NFC and properly-equipped retail terminals to power tap-and-go payments. Apple Pay launches in October with support from a number of banks and retailers.
Sprint today matched T-Mobile's move to increase the appeal of its trade-in program. Beginning immediately, Sprint will meet or beat all AT&T's, T-Mobile's, and Verizon's buyback pricing on all new lines of service to ensure the best trade-in values. T-Mobile on Monday said it would meet or beat competitors' trade-in programs, as well as give customers a $50 credit if they find a better deal. According to Sprint, T-Mobile's program is limited to one trade-in per line. Sprint's program isn't offering $50 in additional credit, but Sprint will accept up to three trade-ins per line and up to five trade-ins per calendar year. Further, Sprint customers can trade in old devices any time. Sprint offers up to $300 for trade-ins, depending on the phone and its condition, which can be put towards new purchases or account credit. Sprint has always been serious about accepting device trade-ins and has a significant recycling program.
Motorola today announced the 2nd-generation Moto X. The new Moto X sports a larger, 5.2-inch AMOLED full-HD screen, Snapdragon 801 processor, and 13-megapixel camera with 4K video capture. It's also thinner and sports an aluminum frame and sides and Gorilla Glass front with a curved beveled edge. The new Moto X is available with custom color combinations and materials through Moto Maker, now including leather backs and custom accent colors on the front. New infrared sensors allow the phone to automatically wake up and show the time when your hand is near the front, and wave gestures silence calls and alarms. The hands-free voice activation phrase can now be customized to something other than "OK Google Now". Turbo charging can add eight hours of battery life in just 15 minutes. A best-shot feature captures several photos before you press the shutter, and uses face recognition to automatically suggests a better shot if you were late to capture. The new Moto X will be available with Moto Maker customization on both AT&T and Verizon. It will cost $99 on contract or $499 unlocked and ship later this month.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said its new name will be Softcard. The service will remain the same, only the name is changing. Isis announced its intent to rebrand earlier this year to avoid any association with ISIS.
T-Mobile today voiced support for the HTC One for Windows on its web site. The company will sell the device in the weeks ahead. It is already sold by Verizon Wireless, and will also soon be sold by AT&T. The One for Windows runs Windows Phone rather than Android.
Verizon Wireless today announced the pending launch of its delayed VoLTE service. The service will go live in the coming weeks, and will allow select devices to connect HD Voice calls and Video Calls. Advanced Calling 1.0 uses Verizon's LTE 4G network and requires that both devices have LTE coverage. Callers will be able to see who among their Verizon Wireless contacts are available for HD Voice and Video Calling with simple icons in the contact application. Both participants need to be Verizon customers. HD Voice and VoLTE-backed Video Calling won't work if a Verizon customer calls someone who uses a competing network. The audio portion of Video Calls will be in high-definition, and calls can be switched from voice-only to video and back with ease. According to Verizon, VoLTE service will launch nationwide and arrive on compatible devices through a software update. Verizon didn't say which devices will be compatible, but HD Voice and Video Calling over VoLTE will be free to use. T-Mobile offers VoLTE-backed HD Voice over much of its LTE footprint. AT&T launched VoLTE in May in a handful of markets.
Sprint today announced a new unlimited plan that it says undercuts the competition. The plan, which will be available beginning August 22, provides a single line of service with unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month. Sprint claims the offering beats T-Mobile's best price by $20 per month, and that similar options aren't available from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. There is a catch. In order to qualify for the plan, customers need to either bring their own device, pay full retail for a device, or sign up for Sprint's Easy Pay financing plan. The Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan for single lines follows a complete overhaul of Sprint's family share plans, which offer savings to four or more lines of service.
T-Mobile today said it will give current customers unlimited LTE data for a full year if they convince an AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon customer to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is likening the program to "throwing a lifeline" to those on competing networks. Not only does the current customer receive unlimited LTE for a year, but so does the new customer. Customers who already pay for unlimited data will receive a $10 monthly credit instead. The referral program kicks off August 29. Customers will then be able to enter their own number and the number of a friend who's ported their service, which must be reported within 30 days of the friend's activation. The referral program runs for a limited time, but T-Mobile didn't immediately indicate an end date. It doesn't apply to pre-paid plans, and is limited to one referral per account.