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printed August 18, 2017
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Sprint, T-Mobile Discount LG G6 and V20

Today, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and T-Mobile today both introduced promotions that make LG's flagship handsets more affordable. Sprint, for example, dropped the lease price of the G6 from $29.50 per month to $20 per month. That cuts the full cost of the phone from about $700 to $480, or a savings of $220 over time. T-Mobile is offering a buy-one, get-one promo on the G6 and V20. Customers who buy either phone on an equipment installment plan can get a second for free with the activation of a new line. T-Mobile sells the G6 for $20 down and $20 per month, or $500 in total. It sells the V20 for $0 down and $20 per month, or $480 in total. Customers will need to buy both devices and then register to receive a rebate to cover the cost of the second phone. The rebate comes in the form of a prepaid MasterCard for up to $500. LG is widely expected to replace the V20 with its new V30 flagship later this month.


T-Mobile Targets Rural Areas for 600 MHz Service, Starting with Cheyenne

Wednesday, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has activated its first 600 MHz cell site in Cheyenne, Wyo. T-Mobile is using Nokia equipment to provide LTE coverage across Cheyenne in the 600 MHz band. The Un-carrier plans to light up 600 MHz service in rural areas around the country first. Markets that can expect to see 600 MHz service by the end of the year include Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington. T-Mobile says deploying LTE on 600 MHz in these markets will improve its coverage from 315 million POPs today to 321 million by year's end. T-Mobile won the spectrum licenses in the reverse auction that concluded earlier this year. The government gave T-Mobile the licenses just two months ago. The company plans to deploy service on the 600 MHz airwaves as quickly as it can to help shore up weak coverage areas. The service may be up and running, but there are no devices yet that can use it. According to T-Mobile, Samsung and LG plan to release compatible handsets during the fourth quarter of the year.


T-Mobile Brings Smartpicks to Jump On Demand

Aug 9, 2017, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved its Jump On Demand program with the introduction of T-Mobile Smartpicks. The Smartpicks program is a leasing option that lets people score affordable phones with low monthly payments. The company described Smartpicks as "exactly what a huge portion of our customer base are looking for — these are devices with awesome screens, great cameras, and powerful processors that can run all the latest apps." T-Mobile says most Smartpick devices cost $7 or $8 per month with a small down payment. Alternately, the devices can be paired with the Jump On Demand program, which allows people to upgrade their phone more often. Customers who keep their Jump On Demand phone the full 18 months can return it for a new one or pay off the remaining balance to own it out right. Some of the phones available via the Smartpicks and Jump On Demand program include the new T-Mobile Revvl for $0 down and $5 per month, the Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime for $0 down and $7 per month, the LG K20 Plus for $0 down and $8 a month, the LG Aristo $0 down and $7 a month, and the ZTE ZMAX Pro for $0 down and $8 a month. The T-Mobile Revvl goes on sale August 10. All the other phones mentioned above are already available.


T-Mobile Announces Branded Revvl Smartphone

Aug 9, 2017, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 9, 2017, 1:58 PM

T-Mobile today announced the T-Mobile Revvl, a big-screened smartphone that boasts a sharp design, fingerprint reader, and low price point. The phone is made of plastic. The Revvl includes a 5.5-inch HD screen, 3,000mAh battery, and a 13-/5-megapixel camera setup with a rear-mounted flash and face detection. The phone ships with a 1.5 GHz MediaTek MT6738 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage, with support for microSD memory cards up to 128 GB. Other specs include LTE in Bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 66 with support for VoLTE and HD Voice; Bluetooth 4.2; and 802.11b,g,n WiFi with WiFi calling. The T-Mobile Revvl runs Android 7 Nougat and will be available starting August 10. The phone costs $5 per month on a payment plan with nothing down. The full retail price is $125.


T-Mobile Debuts Plan for Those Over Age 55

Aug 7, 2017, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today rolled out the T-Mobile One Unlimited 55+ offering, a wireless plan that includes two lines with unlimited talk, text, and LTE 4G data for a total of $60. That price includes taxes and fees, but requires autopay. T-Mobile says the plan includes its Simple Global, Mobile Without Borders (200 MB roaming max), Gogo Inflight, Digits, Mobile Hotspot, Un-contract, Carrier Freedom, and T-Mobile Tuesday benefits. There are some limitations. For example, video is streamed at 480p resolution, and T-Mobile will throttle users who exceed 32 GB per month when the network is congested. Mobile Hotspot is limited to 3G, not 4G, speeds. The plan only supports two lines and requires subscribers to buy a $25 SIM starter kit per line. The plan costs $5 more per line without autopay. T-Mobile says the T-Mobile One Unlimited 55+ will be available starting August 9.


Mint SIM Offering Bulk Plans for As Little As $15 Per Month

Aug 1, 2017, 10:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 1, 2017, 10:40 AM

Mint SIM today rolled out a new service plan offering that encourages customers to buy wireless access in multi-month bundles. Mint SIM now has nine different options for customers. The entry-level service plan includes unlimited talk and text with 2 GB of LTE 4G service. Mint SIM also offers a 5 GB plan and a 10 GB plan. Each of the 2 GB, 5 GB and 10 GB plans needs to be purchased in 3-, 6-, or 12-month bundles, and paid in full up front. For example, the 2 GB plan is available for $15 per month for three months, but requires an immediate payment of $45. Customers can buy the 2 GB plan for 6 months for a total of $108 up front, or for 12 months for a total of $180 up front. The 5 GB costs $60, $144, or $240 for 3, 6, or 12 months, respectively, and the 10 GB plan costs $75, $180, or $300 for 3, 6, or 12 months, respectively. Mint SIM is an MVNO that runs on T-Mobile's network. Customers can use their own unlocked GSM handset, or purchase a device directly from Mint SIM. Mint SIM is also launching a SIM card bundle at Best Buy stores. Customers can pick up a Mint SIM card for any of the nine bundled options at Best Buy retail locations in the U.S. and pair it with their own unlocked handset. Mint SIM would not say what the top 4G LTE download speed available to customers is, but it does throttle those who exceed their monthly data limit to 128 Kbps. The new Mint SIM service plans are available beginning today.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Approved by FCC

Jul 28, 2017, 2:07 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 28, 2017, 2:10 PM

The FCC today approved a new high-end Samsung phone that is almost certainly the company's forthcoming Note 8 flagship phone. If Samsung chooses a new branding for its Note series, this phone will be the spiritual successor to the ill-fated Note7. This new phone bears the model number SM-N950; the previous two Note models were the SM-N930 and SM-N920. As with the company's Note7 and S8, one hardware model will fully support all US carriers' networks, although software may differ. The FCC approval documents reveal no surprises. The new model appears to support all of the same basic features and radio bands as the Note7, plus the new band 66. There is no mention in this initial FCC approval of band 71, the new 600 MHz band that T-Mobile has said it plans to launch with Samsung and LG devices next month. It is possible for FCC approvals to be amended, however. Samsung has scheduled a major launch event for August 23 in New York City. Invitations to the event show an outline of a phone with a stylus, clearly indicating a Note-like device.


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.


Samsung Makes the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 Available Unlocked

Jul 24, 2017, 3:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today added the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 to its list of unlocked smartphones. The two inexpensive handsets will be available to purchase directly from Samsung's web site as well as select retailers starting July 28. The J7 (pictured) is the larger, costlier of the two with a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and $220 price tag. It also has a 3,300mAh battery, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel front camera with flash. The smaller J3 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and a $150 price point. The J3 also has a 2,600mAh battery, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. Both phones support expandable memory cards, support U.S. 3G/4G networks, and run Android 7 Nougat. They have been available from several U.S. carriers (AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS) for several months.


T-Mobile Offering Scam Protection to MetroPCS Subscribers

Jul 24, 2017, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it is extending the same scam-stopping tool its postpaid customers have enjoyed since April to its prepaid MetroPCS customers beginning July 25. T-Mobile introduced the network-based tool earlier this year to help identify and block potential scam calls. T-Mobile uses it to analyze every call that reaches the T-Mobile network against a global database of known scammers. If the number matches that of a scammer, T-Mobile will identify the call as a potential scam when it rings the subscriber's phone. Subscribers can then choose to ignore the call. This feature is called Scam ID and will be activated for all MetroPCS customers automatically. T-Mobile is also offering the ability for MetroPCS customers to block scam calls entirely. Subscribing to the Scam Block tool will prevent suspected scam calls from ringing even MetroPCS phones. T-Mobile says it has learned a lot about scammers since activating the tool earlier this year. For example, many scammers place calls during regular business hours between 8am and 5pm. T-Mobile updates its database of known and suspected scammers constantly and says alerting customers to scam calls helps prevent fraud. Both Scam ID and Scam Block are free. T-Mobile originally said Scam ID and Scam Block would reach MetroPCS customers during the spring.


T-Mobile Clearing Out iPhone 7 Inventory

Jul 21, 2017, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today introduced a limited-time offer to save big bucks on the Apple iPhone 7. The Uncarrier will give a $300 credit to those who trade in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus for an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Trade-ins must be owned outright, with no remaining payments or commitments. T-mobile says the value of the trade-in can be applied to the purchase of a new iPhone 7 immediately, with the remainder of the $300 offer to arrive later in the form of a prepaid MasterCard. The offer requires people to finance the new iPhone on an installment plan with a T-Mobile service agreement. Sales tax is due on the full price of the new handset at the point of purchase. T-Mobile says the offer can be combined with its iPhone memory upgrade program, which knocks $100 off the price of the 256 GB iPhone for a potential total savings of $400. The balance of the $300 offer will arrive up to 8 weeks after T-Mobile customers sign up for the promotion on T-Mobile's web site. The offer cannot be combined with T-Mobile's Carrier Freedom program.


T-Mobile Says 600 MHz Service Kicks Off In August

Jul 19, 2017, 3:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 19, 2017, 4:25 PM

T-Mobile today said it plans to begin offering service through its 600 MHz spectrum next month. The company revealed the news in its second quarter earnings statement. T-Mobile claims it will have 10 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum with LTE service blanketing 1.2 million square miles by the end of the year, with devices from LG and Samsung on deck to take advantage of the airwaves. T-Mobile says it plans to deploy 5G service on its 600 MHz spectrum holdings in the 2019/2020 timeframe. T-Mobile claims its 700 MHz deployment is essentially complete, with some 575 markets live around the country. T-Mobile's LTE network covers a total of 315 million people, and the Uncarrier will push coverage to 321 million across its various spectrum bands by the end of the year. The company is on target to open 3,000 stores this year, with 1,500 T-Mobile-branded locations and another 1,500 MetroPCS-branded locations. T-Mobile will have 17,000 points-of-sale available throughout the country by the end of the year. During the second quarter, T-Mobile says it added 1.3 million net connections, with 786,000 postpaid phone customers. The company recorded revenues of $10.2 billion with net income of $581 million.


FCC Bestows More 600 MHz Licenses

Jul 19, 2017, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today granted licenses for 600 MHz spectrum to those companies that placed winning bids during the incentive auction, which concluded earlier this year. The FCC has already distributed some of the 600 MHz licenses, including some to T-Mobile. Some of the entities being given control over their 600 MHz winnings today include Carolina West Wireless, Cellular South Licenses, East Kentucky Network, NE Colorado Cellular, Nsight Spectrum, SAL Spectrum, Spotlight Media Corp., The Alaska Wireless Network, and others. The FCC says these companies have filed all the proper paperwork and made the corresponding payments. "We grant these licenses because it will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity," said the agency. Winners of the 600 MHz spectrum auction are expected to use the repurposed TV airwaves to deploy mobile broadband.


MetroPCS to Sell Motorola Moto E4 from July 31

Jul 17, 2017, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 17, 2017, 9:32 AM

T-Mobile today said its prepaid unit MetroPCS will offer the Motorola Moto E4 smartphone beginning July 31. The handset features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. The phone costs $49 (after an instant rebate), but customers who port in to MetroPCS can get the Moto E4 for free. Verizon Prepaid, Sprint, Republic Wireless, and Ting already sell the Moto E4, and it is available unlocked from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg for about $130. The larger Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


MetroPCS Intros Summertime Deals on Phones and Service

Jul 11, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS today announced several promotions that run for a limited time. Customers who switch two lines to MetroPCS, for example, can score two LG K20 Plus handsets for free. Customers who add a line can snag the LG Stylo 3 Plus, or any device priced less than $99, for half price. Last, customers who subscribe to the $40 6 GB plan can add extra lines to their plan for $25 each, or switch to two unlimited lines for $80 per month. The unlimited plan limits video to 480p standard resolution and doesn't permit tethering. During network congestion, MetroPCS will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 32 GB of data in a single billing period. MetroPCS is owned and operated by T-Mobile.


Google Now Offering Project Fi to Really Small Businesses

Jun 27, 2017, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today expanded the availability of Project Fi to its G Suite customers. G Suite users are those associated with businesses and use Google's email, calendar, contacts, and other products through their employer. Until today Project Fi has been available to individual users and families or other small groups, but moving forward G Suite customers can sign up for the monthly wireless service. Google says Project Fi is still limited to just six users per group plan, so it is not a viable option for medium or large enterprises. Google said Project Fi will be available to all G Suite users in the U.S. within the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi and LTE service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to find the strongest/best signal. Project Fi only charges customers for data they use, rather than a large bucket. Plans start at $30 per month for talk, text, and 1 GB of data. A Pixel or Nexus Android smartphone is required.


Alcatel's A30 Plus Bumps Up the Screen, Processor, Camera and Battery

Jun 27, 2017, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced the A30 Plus, an improved version of the A30 we saw earlier this year. This entry-level Android handset includes a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen (up from 5.0 inches) and a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor (up from 1.1 GHz) with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor (up from 8mp) with time-lapse recording while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Alcatel says the phone's larger 3,000mAh battery (up from 2,460mAh) provides all-day life. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and is sold with LTE for AT&T and T-Mobile via Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 17. Alcatel is selling the phone for $130, but it is also available via Amazon's Prime Exclusive program for $80. The Prime version requires owners to view ads on the lock screen. The Alcatel A30 Plus ships July 10.


Alcatel's Modular A50 Parties with Light Up LED Accessory

Jun 27, 2017, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today followed through on its promise to bring the A5 LED to the U.S., though it has changed the phone's name to simply the Alcatel A50. The phone, first revealed in February, is compatible with a handful of modular accessories, the most significant of which features an LED-covere panel that can blink a few dozen LEDs with color. The LEDs can be used to serve as notifications for incoming calls, messages, or alarms. The included Color Catching 2.0 app lets owners create unique LED patterns and themes. Last, the LEDs can provide a light show when listening to music. Other modular accessories include a snap-on stereo speaker and a snap-on battery pack. These are sold separately. The A50 has a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM, 5.2-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with Face Beauty software. Other specs include Bluetooth, FM, GPS, and WiFi radios, and a 2,800mAh battery. It runs Android 7. LTE support is limited to Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, and 12, which makes it moderately compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone costs $150, or $190 with the LED rear cover. The phone is being distributed through the Amazon Prime Exclusive program for $100, or $130 with the LED rear cover. The Prime Exclusive program requires owners to view ads on the lock screen. The Alcatel A50 ships July 10.


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.


T-Mobile Hits 741 Mbps with LTE-LAA, Deploys LTE-U

Jun 26, 2017, 4:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 26, 2017, 4:29 PM

T-Mobile today said it, too, has successfully tested LTE-LAA in real-world trials. The company claims its LTE-LAA tests reached 741 Mbps in and around Los Angeles. Like the recent tests conducted by AT&T, T-Mobile's use of LTE-LAA combines airwaves that it owns along with unlicensed spectrum to push speeds upward. T-Mobile says it was able to aggregate 80 MHz between licensed and unlicensed spectrum in its trials to attain the 741 Mbps download rate. More importantly for the short term, T-Mobile has deployed LTE-U in some markets. LTE-U relies on public 5 GHz spectrum (same as WiFi) along with advanced network technologies including carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO to boost LTE performance. T-Mobile is offering LTE-U in Bellevue, Wash.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dearborn, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Richardson, Texas; and Simi Valley, Calif. More markets will score LTE-U service later this year. Right now, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the only device able to take advantage of LTE-U.


Nokia 6 to Be Available from Amazon Next Month

Jun 26, 2017, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 26, 2017, 8:24 AM

HMD Global, the company that makes Nokia-branded handsets, today said it will sell the Nokia 6 smartphone in the U.S. via Amazon. The 6 is the best of the three Nokia Android phones currently available, though it still falls in the entry-level segment. The Nokia 6 runs Android 7 Nougat, has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, includes stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, relies on a Snapdragon 430 processor with 3 GB of RAM, and a boasts a 16-megapixel main camera with an 8-megapixel front camera. It packs a 3,000mAh battery, as well as Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi, fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm headphone jack, and microUSB. LTE 4G support for U.S. networks is limited at best. It supports LTE Bands 2, 3, 4, 7, 12/17, 28, 38. It is only partially compatible with AT&T's 4G network because it is missing LTE Bands 29 and 30. The Nokia 6 is more compatible with T-Mobile's LTE 4G network. The matte black and silver color options are expected to go on sale in July for $229, with the blue and copper colors arriving later.


ZTE's Axon 7 Mini Wins Android 7.1.1

Jun 21, 2017, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 Mini smartphone. Like the same update that reached the larger Axon 7 earlier this year, today's update for the Axon 7 Mini adds support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixed bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. Android 7.1.1 Nougat heralds split-screen multitasking and better power management. People who own the Axon 7 Mini can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.


T-Mobile Now Selling the Coolpad Defiant for $100

Jun 16, 2017, 8:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the Coolpad Defiant to its roster of inexpensive Android handsets. The phone features a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor with 8 GB of storage. The Defiant also includes an 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 2,450mAh battery, and Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE 4G. The Defiant runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile says the phone is available online for $100 at full retail price or $4 per month for 24 months on an installment plan. MetroPCS plans to sell the Coolpad Defiant later this summer.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Offer for Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6

Jun 16, 2017, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said shoppers will be able to score a free Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, or LG G6 or V20 (pictured) through a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off June 16. Existing T-Mobile customers need to buy both phones on an installment plan and subscribe to an unlimited data service plan in order to qualify. New T-Mobile customers will need to activate both phones on the T-Mobile One plan. The BOGO offer requires customers to mail in a rebate form. T-Mobile will then mail a prepaid gift card within about eight weeks to cover the cost of the second handset. T-Mobile says it will reimburse customers for the cost of the lesser of whichever phones they purchase, up to $500 for the LG G6 or V20 and up to $790 for the Galaxy S8 or S8+. Customers will need to pay sales tax on both devices at the point of sale. The offer is contingent on customers staying through the 24 month installment plan. Those who leave T-Mobile before 24 months will need to cover the remaining balance of the two phones. T-Mobile warns that video is streamed at 480p and the top 3% of users may experience reduced speeds during network congestion.


T-Mobile to Light Up 600 MHz LTE This Summer

Jun 15, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to begin testing its newly acquired 600 MHz spectrum as soon as this summer. The FCC granted licenses for the spectrum this week following the years-long incentive auction process. T-Mobile won an average of 31 MHz (ranging from 20 MHz to 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC earlier this year, giving T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. T-Mobile had already voiced its intent to use some of its 600 MHz holdings for LTE service, and it is now preparing to do exactly that. The company expects to test LTE 4G on its 600 MHz this summer and commence commercial operations later this year "when new 600 MHz smartphones from Samsung and other manufacturers are anticipated to arrive." T-Mobile didn't say anything specific about the devices that will be able to access the 600 MHz spectrum, but the Samsung handset in question may be the Galaxy Note 8 flagship, which is expected by the end of summer. T-Mobile plans to cover more than 1 million square miles with LTE 4G in the 600 MHz band by the end of the year. T-Mobile is reserving some of its 600 MHz spectrum to operate some form of 5G service beginning in 2019.


T-Mobile Last Major US Carrier to Offer Kyocera DuraForce Pro

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

T-Mobile today added the Kyocera DuraForce Pro to its roster of Android handsets. The phone has been available to AT&T and Sprint customers since last year, and to Verizon customers since January. The DuraForce Pro includes a 5-inch full HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel wide-angle secondary camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The phone offers a fingerprint reader, NFC, Snapdragon 617 processor, 3,240mAh battery, memory card slot, dual front speakers, and push-to-talk. The device is fully ruggedized, washable, and can sit in 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. T-Mobile says its variant of the phone has new camera features, including an Action Overlay mode. This lets people record video with a "heads-up display" that includes speed, distance, altitude, elapsed time, and other data. The DuraForce Pro runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It costs $425.


Kodak Ektra Improves Camera and Lowers Price As It Makes US Debut

May 26, 2017, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Eastman Kodak and Bullitt Group this week launched the Ektra smartphone in the U.S. The handset was first announced in October 2016. Bullitt Group, which manufactures the Ektra, is the company behind other brand-name handsets, such as CAT. The Kodak Ektra is a camera-first smartphone and features a retro design. The Ektra has a 21-megapixel Sony IMX230 sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and dual LED flash. It includes optical image stabilization, phase-detection autofocus, and can capture 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor. The phone includes a 5-inch full HD screen, MediaTek Helio X20 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and a 3,000mAh battery. Kodak and Bullitt have improved the phone since it was first announced, particularly where the camera is concerned. The phone now includes support for RAW image capture, and has improved auto-focus, white balance, and color performance. Perhaps more importantly, Kodak and Bullitt have reduced the price significantly. In January, the companies said the phone would go on sale in April for $549. This week, the phone reached Kodak's web site for just $399, which makes it a much more compelling and affordable option. The Kodak Ektra is sold unlocked with support for the LTE networks of AT&T, T-Mobile, and their prepaid brands.


T-Mobile Digits Lets You Call or Text from a Phone, Tablet, PC

May 25, 2017, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 25, 2017, 10:49 AM

T-Mobile said it Digits service, first announced last year, will go live May 31. Digits allows customers to use the same phone number across multiple devices, or multiple numbers on a single device. The service operates over LTE and works with most connected devices, including phones, tablets, wearables, and computers. Digits relies on an app for Android and iOS devices, though T-Mobile says Digits is also built into the native dialer on certain Samsung phones (Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge +, S7, S7 edge, S8, S8+, Note 5) and the LG G5. T-Mobile customers sign in on whichever device is most convenient in order to access to their phone number, voicemail, text messages, and call history. The service allows a single smartphone to support up to five phone numbers without requiring additional SIM cards. Similarly, a single Digits number can be used across as many as five separate devices. T-Mobile has been beta testing the service since early this year and says the ability to send text messages from PCs is a favorite amongst early adopters. T-Mobile suggests Digits could be beneficial to business customers, as it would allow them to have their personal number and work number ring the same phone, negating the need to carry a second handset. It can serve families, too, allowing landline-based home phone numbers moved to T-Mobile to ring all devices on a family plan at the same time. Digits numbers can be assigned to run on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon phones through the Digits app. T-Mobile said every T-Mobile line will be upgraded to Digits on May 31 for free. A single Digits line can be used on customers' phones, tablets, and so on. New Digits lines added to an existing account (for example, a second number for one phone) cost $10 per month. For a limited time, customers who subscribe to the T-Mobile One Plus plan will be able to add a second Digits line at no extra cost. T-Mobile warns that Digits lines support 911 calls and texts, but reaching 911 via the main account line is best.


T-Mobile Ups Throttling Threshold to 32 GB

May 24, 2017, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it will allow customers to use more LTE data before potentially throttling them. Previously, T-Mobile would slow the mobile internet speeds of the heaviest users after they surpassed 30 GB of mobile data in a single billing period. T-Mobile bumped that threshold to 32 GB effective immediately, which means T-Mobile subscribers can use more data before possibly being hit with slower mobile data speeds. T-Mobile says customers who exceed the 32 GB threshold might see their top speeds dialed back only when the network is congested. T-Mobile anticipates this won't impact too many users (the top 3%). The 32 GB threshold resets each month. T-Mobile calls this practice "network prioritization" and says it is primarily used as a way to manage network load.


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.


Samsung Itself Offering T-Mobile Galaxy S8 BOGO

May 22, 2017, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has rolled out a simpler and more direct buy-one, get-one offer for the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Under the terms of Samsung's deal, customers must buy two Galaxy S8 handsets for full price and activate at least one on T-Mobile's network via Samsung.com. Samsung will then issue a rebate for up to $750 to cover the cost of one Galaxy S8 within seven to 10 days after the purchase is made. The rebate is applied as a refund directly to the original payment method, excluding taxes, shipping, or other fees. T-Mobile's buy-one, get-one offer, in comparison, requires new/upgrading customers to sign up for its monthly installment plan for both devices and wait up to eight weeks for a rebate card that can be applied to the second device. Samsung's offer lets customers pay off the second phone almost immediately. Moreover, it can be combined with the free entertainment kit offer, which includes the Gear VR with Controller headset and six free months of Netflix.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Sales of LG Stylo 3 Plus

May 17, 2017, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the LG Stylo 3 Plus to its lineup of Android smartphones. The device is a minor update to last year's Stylo 3. For example, it improves the 5.7-inch display to full HD resolution and jumps from a MediaTek processor to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone has a fingerprint reader on the back and include NFC for Android Pay. The Stylo 3 Plus includes a pen stylus and LG's latest pen-based features. It runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $225 at full retail or for $9 per month on an installment plan. The LG Stylo 3 Plus will reach MetroPCS stores in June.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Galaxy S8 Deal

May 12, 2017, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 13, 2017, 4:02 PM

T-Mobile today introduced a buy-one, get-one promotion for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Customers who add a line and finance both phones on an equipment installment plan will receive a gift card for the value of the second phone. The S8 costs $750. T-Mobile is asking for $30 down followed by $30 per month for 24 months. The larger S8+ costs $850, and for that model, T-Mobile is asking for $130 down followed by the same $30 per month for 24 months. In order to score the deal, customers may be hit with a $25 SIM starter kit or $20 line upgrade fee. T-Mobile says sales tax on both devices is due at the time of purchase. The prepaid MasterCard rebate may take as long as eight weeks to arrive and customers will be responsible for making all device payments. Customers who leave T-Mobile before the end of the 24-month financing program will need to pay the device balance. The BOGO deal is available starting today.


Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Goes On Sale for $329

May 9, 2017, 3:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today made the ZenFone 3 Zoom available from its web site for $329. The phone was first announced in January. The device relies on two cameras much like the iPhone 7 Plus to create a zooming effect. Both the standard and 25mm and 59mm lenses have 12-megapixel Sony IMX362 sensors. The main lens has an aperture of f/1.7. Other camera features include portrait mode, OIS, laser focusing, PDAF, RAW support, and a dedicated color sensor for improved white balance. The phone's user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor with a 140-degree panorama mode. The 3 Zoom includes a 5,000 mAh battery that can be used to charge other devices via USB-C. Specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 5.5-in full-HD display with Gorilla Glass 5, fingerprint sensor, memory card slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. It ships with Android 6 Marshmallow, but Asus indicated that Android 7 will reach the phone via update soon. The ZenFone 3 Zoom supports GSM/LTE networks, including AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone is sold unlocked.


T-Mobile Device Insurance Plan Adds ID Protection

May 5, 2017, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today rolled out a new option for those seeking to protect not only their expensive smartphone, but themselves. The new Premium Device Protection Plus monthly insurance plan adds McAfee Security for T-Mobile with ID Protection. Specifically, the ID protection service gives subscribers 24/7 access to lost wallet and ID restoration services with a $1 million insurance policy for potential loses. The revised insurance plan also now includes Tech Personal Help Desk, which T-Mobile says provides "VIP-level" personal support through T-Mobile's online and phone-based support staff. The Tech Personal Help Desk covers diagnostics and some self-service repairs for phone, tablets, hotspots, and even routers, TVs, and game consoles. The monthly insurance program already includes device protection, data protection, and AppleCare for iPhone owners. T-Mobile's new Premium Device Protection Plus monthly insurance plan will be available starting May 7. It costs $15 per month.


T-Mobile to Deploy 5G On 600 MHz Spectrum Starting in 2019

May 2, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to use some of its recently acquired 600 MHz spectrum to support a future 5G network. The company successfully won an average of 31 MHz (ranging between 20 MHz and 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC earlier this year. The winnings give T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. T-Mobile already voiced its intent to use the 600 MHz spectrum later this year for LTE. It appears T-Mobile will use the 600 MHz spectrum for 4G and 5G. The move is curious, as the 3GPP and other standards bodies are exploring much higher-band spectrum for 5G, including the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands. T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum will surely provide coast-to-coast coverage, but not necessarily the speeds expected of future 5G networks. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray countered this notion. "There’s no such thing as '5G spectrum,' and in the next decade we’ll see everything moving to 5G," remarked Ray. "Nationwide Mobile 5G will require both high-band and broad low-band coverage, and having unused nationwide 600 MHz spectrum means T-Mobile is in an ideal position to deliver." Ray insists the company's 600 MHz spectrum can support low latency, longer battery life, and improved capacity that are part of the in-progress 5G standard. Further, T-Mobile said it will eventually use it mid-band spectrum holdings (1700 MHz) and high-band spectrum holdings (28/39 GHz) to enhance its base 600 MHz 5G service, particularly in urban areas where T-Mobile has typically enjoyed the best coverage. T-Mobile claims it has 200 MHz of 28/39 GHz spectrum covering nearly 100 million people in major metro areas around the country. The company plans to work with chip makers, infrastructure vendors, device manufacturers, and the 3GPP to ensure that 5G will work on 600 MHz spectrum. The company did not specify what wireless technologies will be involved. T-Mobile expects to roll out 5G in 2019, with complete nationwide coverage completed by 2020.


T-Mobile Says It Will Start Using 600 MHz Spectrum This Year

Apr 13, 2017, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 13, 2017, 1:26 PM

"T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere about the company's 600 MHz auction winnings. The company successfully won an average of 31 MHz (ranging between 20 MHz and 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC. The winnings give T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. "That is a [big freaking deal] for our customers. This spectrum sets us up to bring the Un-carrier — and real competition — to wireless customers everywhere," noted Legere. Further, T-Mobile claims it will put some of the new spectrum (at least 10 MHz) to use later this year. T-Mobile began preparing for the 600 MHz spectrum in 2016, and it already has compatible equipment from Ericsson and Nokia on deck. T-Mobile expects devices with select chipsets from Qualcomm will support the 600 MHz spectrum before the end of 2017. "Our team has a history of deploying network technologies at record-breaking pace — including the fastest recorded LTE deployment in US history," remarked T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. "We're ready to break records again on 600 MHz." T-Mobile didn't specify which markets might first see access to 600 MHz services, nor did it say what handsets might support the new wireless broadband spectrum.


T-Mobile, US Cellular Named FCC Incentive Auction Winners

Apr 13, 2017, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today marked the official end of the incentive auction for 600 MHz airwaves. The agency said 50 wireless companies bid a cumulative $19.8 billion on some 70 MHz of spectrum that was put on offer by 175 television stations. In total, the FCC sold some 2,776 licensed spectrum blocks. An additional 14 MHz has been reserved for unlicensed use. The low-band spectrum is seen as ideal for wireless broadband due to its strong propagation properties. T-Mobile, Dish, Comcast, and U.S. Cellular are among the biggest winners, according to the FCC. T-Mobile said it won 45% of all low-band spectrum sold, covering 100% of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The company claims it scored 31 MHz of nationwide spectrum, a fourfold increase in its low-band holdings. The FCC will now embark on a 39-month odyssey that will see the owners of the spectrum give it up so it can be repurposed for wireless broadband. Some of the TV station owners have agreed to move to lower channels, while others will give up their licenses and remain on the air through spectrum sharing. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, "The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves. Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace." The auction was put in motion back in 2012, though bidding didn't begin until March 2016. The FCC says the auction will lay the groundwork for 5G services.


ZTE Quartz Is An Affordable Android Watch

Apr 10, 2017, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Quartz, the company's first Android Wear smartwatch. The Quartz offers core tools for a modern wearable, including Android Wear 2.0, LTE connectivity for standalone calls and messaging, and an IP67 rating for protection against liquids and dirt. The watch features a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 and it is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform. It includes a 500mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The Quartz also offers interchangeable wrist bands. The ZTE Quartz costs $199 and is compatible with T-Mobile's network. It will be available on TMobile.com beginning Friday, April 14 and in select T-Mobile stores beginning Friday, April 21.


T-Mobile Adds Free Roadside Assistance to SyncUp Drive

Apr 4, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved the appeal of its SyncUp Drive product by adding access to Allstate Motor Club. T-Mobile is updating the mobile app that accompanies its in-car diagnostics and mobile hotspot tool to include free roadside assistance. Customers who have the SyncUp Drive will need to accept the new terms of service and enroll themselves in the Allstate Motor Club through the mobile app. Once signed up, stranded drivers will be able to summon help with tire changes, tows, fuel delivery, lockouts, or jumps. In addition to roadside assistance, SyncUp Drive also offers vehicle diagnostics, speed alerts, location tracking, driver analysis, and an in-vehicle hotspot. The module costs $150, though T-Mobile is offering it for $2 per month when financed over 24 months ($48 in total). The new SyncUp Drive app is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.


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