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printed July 30, 2016
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AT&T's Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Gain Security Patch

Thursday, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. In addition to the security update, the phones gain access to AT&T's WiFi Calling service. The update for the S7 and S7 Edge can be downloaded and installed over the air.


FCC Wants Carriers to Step Up Anti-Robocall Efforts

Jul 22, 2016, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today asked the country's major telephone providers to improve consumer tools for blocking robocalls. The FCC said robocalls continue to be one of the top complaints filed by consumers. Wheeler sent letters to AT&T, Bandwidth Comms, Frontier, Level3, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon asking them to make blocking tools available to consumers as swiftly as possible. "Consumers want and deserve more control over the calls they receive," wrote Wheeler in a blog post. "I am calling on the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of technical standards that would prevent spoofing of caller ID and thus make blocking technologies more effective. All of these companies have been asked to respond within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues." The FCC said it will continue to investigate consumer complaints against robocalls and prosecute whenever possible.


T-Mobile Gives Away Free Service in Brazil for Olympics

Jul 21, 2016, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its postpaid customers will have access to free mobile data and calling in Brazil for the entire month of August in honor of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. T-Mobile customers will not have to take any action to enjoy free roaming in Brazil. Those who travel to Brazil will have unlimited high-seed data, unlimited calling to the U.S., and unlimited texting worldwide during their visit. T-Mobile said it is supplying the families of Olympic athletes with free T-Mobile service and a Galaxy S7 Olympic Edition handset through October. AT&T debuted its own roaming plan for Brazil earlier this summer, but it costs $50 to add to an existing service plan. About 100,000 Americans are expected to make the trip to Brazil to watch and participate in the games.


AT&T's Galaxy Note 5 Wins A Security Patch

Jul 19, 2016, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. The security update for the Note 5 can be downloaded and installed over the air.


AT&T Rolls Out Bogo for GoPhones

Jul 18, 2016, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that its GoPhone prepaid customers can buy one eligible phone and receive a second for free. The buy one, get one deal goes into effect July 22 and includes phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Express Prime or LG Phoenix 2. The handsets must each cost at least $59.99 in order to be eligible for the buy one, get one deal. Customers must activate both devices on either the $45 or $60 monthly GoPhone plan. The promotion runs through September 22. GoPhone does not require credit checks or contracts.


LG's K10 Hits AT&T Stores July 22

Jul 18, 2016, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it plans to launch the low-cost LG K10 on July 22. The K10, announced earlier this year, features rear-mounted volume controls and home screen button. It has a 5.3-inch HD screen with 2.5D arc glass, a 1.27 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel selfie camera with flash. The K10 has 16 GB of storage and ships with a 2,300mAh battery. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The K10 will cost $6 per month for 30 months on an on AT&T Next plan. The full retail price is $179.99.


FCC Names Final Set of Reverse Auction Bidders

Jul 15, 2016, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today published a list of the 62 bidders who've made upfront payments and qualified to bid in the reverse auction for low-band TV spectrum. As expected, the list contains familiar names, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. A significant number of small companies plan to bid, as well, such as Alaska Wireless and Cellular South. Collectively, bidders will need to cough up more than $86 billion to purchase the 126 MHz of 600 MHz airwaves up for auction. The forward portion of the auction begins August 16.


Kyocera Hydro Shore Washes Up On GoPhone

Jul 15, 2016, 11:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T's prepaid brand, GoPhone, plans to sell the Kyocera Hydro Shore through Walmart stores beginning July 16. The Hydro Shore is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. It is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device includes a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Walmart has priced the Kyocera Hydro Shore for GoPhone at $80. (AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless is selling the Hydro Shore as the Hydro View for $50, or as low as $30 with a new account.)


Samsung Flagship Phone, Likely Note 7, Clears FCC

Jul 14, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC has approved an unannounced handset from Samsung that is most likely the Galaxy Note 7. The device, model name SM-N930U, is banded identically to Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphone, which marks the N930U as a probable flagship or other high-end phone. The device supports LTE 4G in the various bands used by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as the corresponding carrier bands for WCDMA/CDMA 3G. Other technical features confirmed by the FCC include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The FCC did not post images, user manuals, or any other details regarding the Samsung N930U, nor do the documents refer to the device as the Note 7. Samsung has scheduled an event on August 2 in New York where it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 7 in full. The timing of the N930U's FCC approval falls in line with a potential August launch.


FCC Sets Framework for 5G Airwaves

Jul 14, 2016, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today adopted a new set of rules that will govern next-generation 5G networks and technologies. Specifically, the FCC defined and opened up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum above the 28 GHz band. The "Upper Microwave Flexible Use" service will exist in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands for 5G in the U.S. Under the terms set forth by the FCC, the airwaves will be divided into exclusive use licensing, shared access, and unlicensed access to help meet the variety of potential 5G use cases. Opening up this set of airwaves completes what the FCC says is a balanced set of spectrum for wireless broadband in the low, mid, and high frequencies. Wireless companies are still developing the technologies that will eventually become 5G. AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been pushing their tech aggressively and expect to begin real-world trials as soon as late this year.


AT&T Pushing Marshmallow to BlackBerry Priv

Jul 14, 2016, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is rolling out the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update to its variant of the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. The update includes core Marshmallow features, such as Doze and Now On Tap, as well as the June security update from Google. BlackBerry made its own security improvements, updated the keyboard and notifications, and refined battery life. The update is free download over the air.


AT&T Exploring Use of Drones to Boost Coverage

Jul 13, 2016, 12:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it is testing how best to use drones within its business and went so far as to suggest using them to enhance coverage at live events such as concerts. AT&T is already using drones to inspect cell towers, but it imagines them doing much more. "Connecting drones to our nationwide LTE network lets us capture data and feed it directly to our systems," wrote AT&T's John Donovan in a blog post. "In turn, this can allow us to make changes to our network in real time. By using drones to inspect a cell site, we're able to conduct inspections more quickly and safely — and even access parts of a tower that a human simply could not." Since AT&T's drones are already connected to its network, it sees a future wherein the drones become part of the network itself. "Possible uses include Flying COWs (Cell on Wings) providing LTE coverage at large events or even rapid disaster response," continued Donovan. "A Flying COW may even be able to provide coverage when a vehicle is unable to drive to a designated area." AT&T plans to demonstrate these and other capabilities this week at a technology conference in San Francisco. AT&T did not say if or when it might actually provide LTE coverage via drone.


Cricket Jumps Into Sam's Club Stores In Retail Push

Jul 11, 2016, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced another expansion of its retail footprint with the addition of 400 Sam's Club Stores. Cricket says its phones and services are now available at more than 13,500 retail points around the country. Cricket's plans range from $40 to $70 per month. Cricket is owned and operated by AT&T.


AT&T and Verizon Kick Off Interoperable VoLTE Calling

Jul 6, 2016, 9:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have begun allowing some customers to place VoLTE calls to one another. The carriers' deployment of interoperable VoLTE is woefully behind schedule. AT&T and Verizon first promised to launch the improved calling by the end of 2015, but only got as far as limited trials. "Currently, we are working with Verizon to allow our customers to enjoy that clear audio quality and video calling features when placing VoLTE calls to Verizon customers and vice versa," said an AT&T spokesperson to Fierce Wireless. "In December, we saw the first VoLTE exchange between our customers and Verizon's in limited, select areas. We're working with others on this same feature, too." AT&T didn't say which markets support interoperable VoLTE, and Verizon did not comment on the deployment at all. There's no word if or when interoperable VoLTE will expand to a greater number of AT&T and Verizon customers. VoLTE requires both the caller and recipient to have compatible handsets and LTE coverage in order to function properly. VoLTE paves the way for HD voice calling, as well as RCS-based services, such as rich messaging and video calls.


AT&T Adds Touch ID Support to MyATT App

Jul 6, 2016, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 6, 2016, 9:40 AM

AT&T today made it possible for iPhone owners to use their fingerprint to sign into the myATT app. The personal account tool now supports Touch ID for quick, secure logins. Touch ID is available to the iPhone 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE. AT&T's myATT app is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


H2O Wireless Improves Data Offerings

Jul 6, 2016, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

H2O Wireless, an MVNO that operates on AT&T's network, has increased the data available on its prepaid service plans. The company offers plans that range from $30 to $60, all of which include unlimited talk and text in the US and unlimited text to more than 50 international destinations. The $30 plan includes 500 MB of 3G data and the $35 plan includes 500 MB of LTE data per month. The data improvements impact H2O's more costly plans. The $40 plan jumps from 1 GB to 3 GB, the $50 plan jumps from 2 GB to 4 GB, and the $60 plan jumps from 3 GB to 4.5 GB. The company offers a 10% discount on monthly plans when customers sign up for auto-pay, so the $60 plan, for example, would cost $54. H2O sells a variety of older Android handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, the original Moto X, and others. Customers may bring their own unlocked, compatible GSM device if they wish.


'AT&T Thanks' Program Rolls Out First Offer

Jun 30, 2016, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said its customer appreciation program, called AT&T Thanks, is ready to offer its first perk: Ticket Twosdays. Postpaid customers can score a free movie ticket when they buy one at full price for a Tuesday showing. Qualifying customers can get a free ticket each week by visiting AT&T's web site, where they have to verify their number/account in order to receive a coupon code. AT&T said AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group are participating in Ticket Twosdays. Another promo includes priority pre-sales to Live Nation concerts. AT&T says customers will be able to purchase concert tickets and VIP packages ahead of general availability. The Live Nation ticket program doesn't kick off until the fall. There is no cost to take advantage of AT&T Thanks, nor is there an app to download. T-Mobile launched its own customer appreciation program earlier this month.


FCC Incentive Auction Racks Up $86B In Clearing Costs

Jun 29, 2016, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 29, 2016, 12:11 PM

The FCC today said that the reverse portion of its incentive auction is now complete. Bidding for 600 MHz television airwaves is over, and the cost to clear the 126 MHz spectrum target exceeded $86.4 billion. The FCC expects to begin the forward portion of the auction soon, which will see wireless companies bid on the spectrum blocks. Carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, but Sprint is sitting out. The auction drew lots of interest from individual bidders, too. It's not clear how much the FCC expects to make from auctioning off the airwaves moving forward, but bidders will need to meet or exceed the $86.4 billion at a minimum. The airwaves are vital low-band spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. "Today, bidding concluded in the reverse auction, establishing the cost for clearing 126 MHz in the TV band for wireless use," said the FCC's Gary Epstein in a prepared statement. "Strong participation from broadcast stations made this initial clearing target possible. Now the action shifts to the forward auction, which will give wireless bidders the opportunity to compete for this beachfront spectrum to meet America's growing mobile data needs."


Blu R1 HD Revealed In Full

Jun 29, 2016, 8:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today announced the Blu R1 HD, an inexpensive Android smartphone that will be sold unlocked starting July 12. The R1 HD boasts curved Gorilla Glass 3, a metal frame, and soft-touch paint job on the rear cover to give it a premium feel. The screen measures 5 inches with 720p HD resolution and the phone is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6735 processor with 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. The R1 HD includes an 8-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash, while the selfie camera — which has an LED flash of its own — captures 5-megapixel images. The phone can record video up to 1080p HD. The Blu R1 HD runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and comes with support for two SIM cards and microSD cards up to 64 GB. The phone is sold unlocked and is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile (LTE in Bands 2, 4, 7, 17). The device costs $100, but will be sold exclusively by Amazon for $50 with ads and promotions appearing on the lock screen. A second variant includes 16 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM for $10 more.


Motorola's Refreshed G Series Streets July 12

Jun 28, 2016, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said its fourth-generation G series smartphones will go on sale beginning July 12. The G4 will cost $199 and the G4 Plus (pictured) will cost $249. The phones will be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, CarToys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola.com, Sam's Club, and Walmart. Further, Republic Wireless will offer both phones with its service starting July 28. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are sold unlocked with support for most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


Qualcomm Develops 5G Test Platform

Jun 27, 2016, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm has created what it calls a prototype 5G system and trial platform. The 5G New Radio (NR) prototype is able to function across a wide range of spectrum bands, primarily below 6 GHz, and can achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates and low latency. Qualcomm says the prototype uses some of the designs that may be used in the final 3GPP standard for OFDM-based 5G NR air interface. The 3GPP is already studying the 5G NR, which may become a part of Release 15. The 5G NR includes a base station and end-user equipment for testing 5G technologies. It supports wide RF bandwidths over 100 MHz for testing speed, latency, and the various technologies that make these speeds possible. The prototype is something that telecommunications equipment vendors and wireless network operators will put to use as they work to develop and help define 5G. The FCC recently said more action is needed to push 5G forward. Some U.S. carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, plan to test 5G networks as soon as late 2016 and early 2017. The standard for 5G has not yet been defined, but technology firms of all stripes are hoping to contribute to the final standard.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Summer with Free LTE In Europe

Jun 23, 2016, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its customers will be able to use an unlimited amount of high-speed mobile data across Europe this summer. Specifically, customers can enjoy the highest-possible speed, up to and including LTE 4G, throughout the European Union between July 1 and August 31. T-Mobile customers can already use unlimited 2G data in more than 140 countries. The high-speed summer roaming includes unlimited free texting and $0.20-per-minute voice calls, but not tethering. T-Mobile may terminate or restrict service for misuse or excessive roaming. T-Mobile is also giving every person who flies in the U.S. this weekend (including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon customers) a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi on their smartphone. The free WiFi offer is available from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 on all domestic flights that offer Gogo WiFi. Last, T-Mobile added Belize to its list of Simple Global countries, which means T-Mobile customers can use 2G data and send messages for free, and make low-cost calls when traveling to Belize. Free roaming in Belize begins July 1.


AT&T's Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 Earn Marshmallow

Jun 22, 2016, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today began distributing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. The update includes the standard list of Marshmallow features, such as Now On Tap, Doze, and improved permissions. It also adds support for AT&T Video Calling. The update resolves bugs and security issues and smoothes out performance, as well. AT&T says the update is being pushed out over the air and should be downloaded via WiFi. It may take a few days to reach all users.


AT&T Rolls Out Roaming Package for Rio Olympics

Jun 20, 2016, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today unveiled a new roaming offer specifically for customers who plan to travel to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The add-on costs $50 and includes 30 voice minutes, unlimited texting, 1 GB of data, and unlimited WiFi access at 1,000 hot spots around Rio de Janeiro (requires AT&T's hot spot app). Customers who exceed the usage limits will be billed on a per-use basis for the remainder of their stay in Rio. AT&T said customers can sign up starting June 22. The package is good for 30 days from initiation and runs through September 18. The package expires automatically.


AT&T Brings WiFi Calling to Android Phones

Jun 15, 2016, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today launched WiFi Calling on Android. Starting with the LG G4, AT&T customers will be able to make/receive calls and send/receive text messages via WiFi. AT&T said customers with compatible phones will receive a notification once the feature is available to them. A small software update is required. AT&T said WiFi Calling is available to customers with postpaid accounts set-up for HD Voice service. The phone will automatically make calls via WiFi when it detects limited or no cell coverage. WiFi calls are billed based on the number being called, so AT&T customers can call U.S. numbers via WiFi free of charge when abroad. AT&T said it expects WiFi Calling to be available on more Android devices soon. WiFi Calling has been available to the iPhone since last year.


Appeals Court Upholds FCC's Net Neutrality Rules

Jun 14, 2016, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules. The decision, which came from a three-judge panel in a 2-1 vote, is a major victory for the FCC and a blow to internet companies such as AT&T and Verizon. Internet service providers and others argue the FCC doesn't have the authority to establish net neutrality rules, but the appeals court disagreed. The FCC's rules set clear guidelines on how internet providers are allowed to treat the data that flows across their networks. The basics prevent internet providers from blocking apps/services, prevent them from throttling data speeds, and prevent them from initiating paid prioritization schemes to give some companies preferred service. The rules also reclassify broadband services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which will treat them like common carriers. AT&T, an opponent of the rules, said, "We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal."


Immersion Files Patent Complaint Against Apple

Jun 7, 2016, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. International Trade Commission today said it plans to investigate allegations made by Immersion that Apple and AT&T are violating its patents. Immersion develops touchscreen and haptic technology and says Apple and its partner AT&T are infringing on those patents. Companies often use the ITC to file patent lawsuits due to the agency's ability to ban products from entry into the country. Apple and AT&T did not respond publicly to the complaint.


Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Built for the Adventurous and the Accident-Prone

Jun 6, 2016, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S7 Active, a semi-rugged version of its S7 flagship smartphone. The Active has a sturdier metal frame with rubber-coated corners to help protect it. The S7 Active is certified to mil-spec 810G, which means it can handle shock, vibration, fog/humidity, dirt, and temperature extremes. It also has an IP68 rating for protection against liquids; the Active can sit in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Like previous Active-branded handsets from Samsung, the S7 Active carries over most features from the standard S7. It is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, it supports memory cards, and has a hardened, shatter-resistant 5.1-inch quad HD screen. The S7 Active relies on the same 12-megapixel main camera from the S7, as well as the same 5-megapixel user-facing camera. It boasts a large number of radios (Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi), and includes some 15 LTE bands. At 4,000mAh, the Active has a 33% larger battery than the S7, and it supports adaptive fast charging in addition to wireless charging. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface customizations and apps. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active hits AT&T's web site and retail stores beginning June 10. The device will cost $26.50 per month on an AT&T Next plan, or $33.13 per month on an AT&T Next Every Year plan. The full retail price is about $795.

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AT&T Expands 5G Trials, Claims 10Gbps Speeds

Jun 6, 2016, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced plans to extend its 5G testing to three more cities. AT&T will continue to test in Austin, Texas, and will also begin testing in Atlanta, Ga., Middletown, N.J., and San Ramon, Calif. AT&T says it recently reached a milestone in testing: it pushed speeds higher than 10Gbps with partner Ericsson. AT&T's tests are all being performed in labs, though the company says its labs are able to simulate real-world environments and scenarios. For example, AT&T can test how its 5G network might react at a sporting event, where a large number of customers might connect at the same time. Aside from speed, latency is an important aspect of 5G. AT&T says its early latency tests are promising, though it declined to share any numbers. Latency needs to be as close to zero as possible for situations such as self-driving cars, so they may react appropriately to unexpected changes in driving conditions. AT&T believes it will move to outdoor testing of fixed locations in Austin and Middletown by the end of the summer. The company hopes its progress will help it contribute to the international 5G standard, which has yet to be defined. Last, AT&T said it has added partner Nokia to the list of vendors helping it with 5G. Nokia is, specifically, researching millimeter wave spectrum use, beamforming, and higher levels of throughput.


AT&T to Launch 'Thanks' Appreciation Program This Summer

Jun 2, 2016, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced plans to offer subscribers perks and other benefits in a new customer appreciation program called AT&T Thanks. AT&T said customers won't have to enroll to participate and there are no waiting periods or fees. Starting later this summer, AT&T will kick off Ticket Twosdays, which will reward postpaid customers with a free movie ticket when they buy one at full price for a Tuesday showing. Qualifying customers can get a free movie ticket each week. Another promo includes priority pre-sales to Live Nation concerts. AT&T says customers will be able to purchase concert tickets and VIP packages ahead of general availability. AT&T Thanks will also offer unique content to DirecTV subscribers, which will be available to in-home television sets as well as mobile devices. Last, the program will offer customers individualized offers, such as accessory discounts and free data. AT&T didn't say when AT&T Thanks will officially start.


ZTE Taps BMW to Help Design the Axon 7 Flagship

May 26, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 26, 2016, 1:37 PM

ZTE today announced the Axon 7, its flagship smartphone for 2016. ZTE designed the phone with the help of BMW Group's Designworks studio. The Axon 7 has a unibody aluminum design and clean lines; it comes in gold and silver finishes. The device features a 5.5-inch quad HD display with 2.5D curved glass. The phone is powered by a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor with either 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM. The processor and 3,140mAh battery together support Quick Charge 3.0 and can deliver a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The main camera includes a 20-megapixel sensor from Samsung with optical and electronic image stabilization, sapphire lens, and an aperture of f/1.8. The selfie camera has an 8-megapixel camera. The phone can capture video up to 4K. Other standout features include dual AKM HiFi audio chipsets with Dolby Atmos software and stereo speakers, support for Google's Daydream virtual reality platform, support for memory cards, and a quick fingerprint sensor located on the back. The device adopts a USB Type-C connector. The Axon 7 ships with Android 6 Marshmallow and MiFavor 4.0 user interface, portions of which BMW's Designworks helped configure. The phone supports all U.S. LTE bands. It will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile and launch, with Sprint and Verizon compatibility coming later in the year. The Axon 7 is sold with Axon Passport 2.0, ZTE's two-year warranty plan that protects consumers from busted screens and other damage. The Axon 7 goes on sale in China today, but will reach the U.S. soon. The phone is priced under $500 and will be sold directly to consumers via ZTEusa.com, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, ebay, and Newegg.

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T-Mobile to Buy Chicago-Area Spectrum to Boost Coverage

May 25, 2016, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has agreed to buy 700 MHz spectrum from Leap in order to bring its "extended-range LTE" coverage to the Chicago metropolitan area. Specifically, T-Mobile is snagging A-Block 700 MHz spectrum covering Chicago, Elgin, Joliet, Waukegan, Evanston, Naperville, Aurora, Gary, Rockford, De Kalb, Janesville, Bloomington, Normal, Kankakee, Kenosha, and others. Leap Licenseco, the company that holds the spectrum licenses, is owned by AT&T. T-Mobile will turn on LTE in the low-band spectrum once the transaction is completed. T-Mobile has been using 700 MHz spectrum to supplement its main LTE network for some time. This deal will allow it to offer low-band coverage to 269 million Americans, including the top 10 U.S. markets. T-Mobile already offers LTE in the Chicago area via its AWS spectrum. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal must be reviewed by the FCC.


AT&T's GoPhone Service Adds More Data to Plans

May 24, 2016, 4:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today made its GoPhone prepaid service plans more attractive by adding more high-speed data without changing the price points. The $45 plan improves from 2 GB of LTE data each month to 3 GB, and the $60 plan improves from 5 GB to 6 GB. The latter also includes unlimited talk and text from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, as well as talk, text, and data roaming in the same two countries. The new data allotments will be applied to all accounts automatically. Customers who enroll in auto-pay will receive a $5 service credit each month.


Freetel Kiwami and Priori3 Up for Preorder

May 23, 2016, 11:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Freetel Wireless today made the Kiwami and Priori3 handsets available for preorder. The Kiwami is a flagship-class device with a 6-inch quad HD screen and 21-megapixel camera. The device costs $350. The Priori3 is more of an entry-level device with a 4.5-inch screen and 8-megapixel camera. The Priori3 costs $89. Both phones support LTE in the 2, 4, 7, and 17 bands, which means they are partially compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's 4G networks. Freetel said the devices will ship beginning in June. The Freetel Musashi flip phone will be available later this summer.


AT&T to Revamp Phone Purchasing Options

May 23, 2016, 10:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it intends to reduce the number of handset financing options from four down to two. Beginning June 9, AT&T will offer new and existing customers the AT&T Next Every Year plan and the AT&T Next plan. The first will allow customers to upgrade to a new device every year, as long as 50% of the phone is paid off at the time of upgrade. Device payments are broken up over 24 months, but customers trade in the device at 12 months for a new phone. The second option, AT&T Next, lets customers upgrade every two years as long as 80% of the device is paid off at the time of upgrade. Device payments are broken up over 30 months. AT&T said customers can always choose to trade in old phones for credit toward new devices, and may also choose to make a down payment on new phones to help reduce monthly payment amounts. Customers who cancel service will need to make the balance of device payments. Customers with low credit may need to leave a deposit.


AT&T Resurrects the 'Cingular' Brand for Flip Phone

May 23, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently added the Cingular Flip to its lineup of inexpensive feature phones. The phone is made by TeleEpoch and bears the model number M3620, but AT&T named it the Cingular Flip to give it some visibility. The Flip is a basic feature phone with a large keypad, 2.8-inch screen, and 2-megapixel camera with video capture. The phone has user-programmable keys, large text options, and a basic web browser. Other features include Bluetooth 2.1, UMTS 3G, and a single-core MediaTek processor with 64 MB of RAM and 128 MB of storage. The Cingular Flip runs the Nucleas Plus 2.1 operating system and simple apps such as calendar, alarms, address book, and text messaging. The Cingular Flip is available online and in stores for $60.


AT&T Adds More Phones to Extended BOGO Promo

May 20, 2016, 10:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today added a handful of new handsets to a buy one, get one free offer the carrier has had in place since February. The extended BOGO promotion now applies to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the Microsoft Lumia 950, the HTC One A9, and the Kyocera DuraForce. The other handsets already included in the offer are the Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus; Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, S6 Active, and Note 5; and LG G5 and V10. The offer lets new and existing customers buy one phone at full price and receive a second one for free. The two handsets must come from the same manufacturer. AT&T says both phones must be purchased via its AT&T Next installment plan. The first phone can be a new line or an upgrade, but the second phone must be a new line purchased with an AT&T Next 24 plan (req's 30 payments). Both phones must be added to a qualified plan, such as Mobile Share Value, which starts at $70 for two lines. Customers will need to pay sales tax on the two phones at the time of purchase and may need to make several monthly payments on both before AT&T credits up to $650 for the second phone spread out over the 30 months. The offer is available through June 30.


AT&T's Highest-Paying Customers Gain Mexico/Canada Roaming

May 16, 2016, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said some of its customers will soon be able to roam in Mexico and Canada at no extra charge. Customers who subscribe to AT&T's 15 GB Mobile Share plan can text, talk, and surf in Mexico as if they were at home in the U.S. Customers who subscribe to AT&T's Unlimited Mobile Share plan and AT&T TV service can talk, text, and surf in Mexico and Canada. Even though roaming does not cost extra, customers need to add the AT&T Roam North America feature each phone and tablet in their plans before traveling. AT&T said customers who consume more than 50% of their minutes, messages, or data in Mexico two or more billing periods in a row may lose roaming access. People who surpass 22 GB of LTE data in a given billing period will be throttled. The company said other fees and restrictions apply, but did not spell them all out. The AT&T Roam North American feature will be available to regular and business customers starting May 20.


AT&T's GoPhone Adds the LG Phoenix 2

May 13, 2016, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service recently made the LG Phoenix 2 available from its web site. This entry-level Android smartphone includes a 5-inch 720p HD screen and is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The Phoenix 2 has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash, burst shot and gesture shot, and a 5-megapixel front camera. The phone has 16 GB of storage and supports memory cards up to 32 GB for additional storage. The Phoenix 2 ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and LG included some of its core software tools, such as KnockON, Knock Code, Quick Memo, and QSlide apps. It has a removable 2,125mAh battery and features LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The phone costs $99. GoPhone does not require contracts.


AT&T's HTC One M8 and M9 Get Marshmallow Today

May 12, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T will begin distributing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to its variants of the HTC One M8 and One M9. HTC's VP of Product, Mo Versi, shared the news via his Twitter account. The update brings the two phones inline with the software seen on the HTC 10. The update will be pushed out over the air, which should be downloaded via WiFi. AT&T customers who own the M8 or M9 can check for the update through the settings menu.


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