T-Mobile today said most customers who have a service plan with two or more lines can snag another line for free. T-Mobile says this free line can be used for a phone, tablet, watch, or mobile hotspot. It will match the features of the least-expensive line that's already on the plan. For example, T-Mobile is offering two lines of the T-Mobile One plan for $100. This new deal would allow customers to score the third line of T-Mobile One at no extra charge. T-Mobile says the promotion is available to nearly all T-Mobile One, Simple Choice, and Simple Choice No Credit plans, as long as the account already has two or more lines of service. The free line is being given away in the form of monthly bill credits. Handset payments are not included. Customers who cancel one of their existing lines will lose the bill credits for the free line. Customers will need to subscribe to auto-pay to receive the free line, and it may make one or two payments before the bill credit is applied.
Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.
T-Mobile today said it is beginning to upgrade its 4G network with LTE-U this spring. LTE-U allows LTE to operate on the unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band, which is typically reserved for WiFi. Devices equipped with LTE-U will take advantage of available 5 GHz spectrum when needed to boost speed and capacity. If or when that 5 GHz spectrum experiences an uptick in WiFi use, the LTE-U devices will scale back their presence on the unlicensed spectrum and return to T-Mobile's cellular network for coverage. T-Mobile is relying on equipment from Ericsson and Nokia to make LTE-U a reality. At the same time, the FCC today approved the first devices to operate on LTE-U. The FCC's chief concern is that LTE-U doesn't interfere with the WiFi operation of 5 GHz equipment in the shared spectrum. The LTE-U Forum, WiFi Alliance, and myriad other technology players have helped shape LTE-U over the last few years. T-Mobile expects LTE-U to help it eventually deliver gigabit speeds over its wireless network. T-Mobile didn't say what mobile devices might have access to LTE-U once it goes live.
Verizon Wireless today said it plans to trial 5G technology in 11 U.S. markets later this year. This "pre-commercial service" will be offered to a very limited number of customers and not necessarily made available to consumers. The tests will involve the 5GTF spec Verizon developed past year. The trial markets include Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, Brockton, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Verizon competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are each testing their own variants of potential 5G technologies. The actual 5G spec has yet to be defined by the International Telecommunications Union, but carriers and telecom equipment makers around the world are hoping their technologies will be included in the final standard.
T-Mobile is prepared to improve its T-Mobile One unlimited service plan ($70) in the wake of Verizon's new unlimited plan ($80). Primarily, T-Mobile will give T-Mobile One subscribers access to high-definition video and 10 GB of LTE 4G mobile hotspot data. Previously, streamed video was limited to 480p definition and hotspot data was limited to 3G speeds. Verizon's new plan includes HD video and 10 GB of LTE hotspot data, but cost $10 more than T-Mobile's before taxes and fees. T-Mobile has matched the features of Verizon's plan without increasing its prices. Moreover, T-Mobile is offering these features to two lines for $100, and T-Mobile's plan includes taxes and fees. The news was shared by T-Mobile CEO John Legere via his Twitter account. Some details from still aren't clear; for example, whether "HD" means 720p or 1080p. The changes to T-Mobile's One unlimited plan, available to existing customers ad new customers alike, will go into effect Friday, Feb. 17.
T-Mobile today announced several promotions that customers can take advantage of over the next few weeks. To start, the company is offering a free pizza to customers who use its T-Mobile Tuesdays rewards program. T-Mobile said every line enrolled in T-Mobile Tuesdays can score a free pizza from Papa John's during one of the next four weeks. During the other three weeks, customers will be given a coupon for 25% off a regular menu item at Papa John's. On Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), T-Mobile is also including a free Lyft ride and free movie rental from FandangoNOW. Separately, T-Mobile is bringing back its free tablet offer. Any customer who finances either an LG G Pad X 8.0 or Samsung Tab E on a T-Mobile Equipment Installment Plan is eligible for free monthly reimbursements over a two-year period. In order to get the free tablet, customers will have to put the device on a T-Mobile One or other mobile internet plan with at least 6 GB of high-speed data. T-Mobile said the free table offer is available for a limited time.
T-Mobile today said it will refund the sales tax of smartphone purchases. The limited promotion is available for new devices purchased on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan and associated with either a T-Mobile One or Simple Choice Unlimited 4G LTE service plan. After the sale, customers can fill out a form online and receive a MasterCard gift card for 11.2% of the purchase price of the device, which exceeds the cost of sales tax in most cases. T-Mobile says the sales tax refund promotion can be applied to every phone it sells, and can be used with up to 12 lines. T-Mobile didn't say how long this promo will be available. Earlier this year, T-Mobile rolled the cost of monthly service taxes and fees into its plan pricing in order to simplify billing.
T-Mobile today further sweetened the pie for former AT&T customers by offering a free year of Hulu. The offer is a consolation prize of sorts. In December, AT&T kicked off a promotion wherein it gave AT&T customers a free year of DirecTV Now when they switched to T-Mobile. DirecTV Now has experienced a bumpy launch, collecting numerous complaints from customers who say the service doesn't work as advertised. T-Mobile said it wants to protect customers who took advantage of the initial offer. "To make things right for those new T-Mobile customers, the Un-carrier is giving everyone who participated in this deal a free year of Hulu — an awesome streaming service that actually works — on top of their free year of DirecTV Now," said the company in a statement. T-Mobile says all former AT&T customers who signed up for a free year of DirecTV will be eligible for the free year of Hulu Limited Commercials service. The switchers will be notified with a promo code in the weeks ahead.
T-Mobile said its T-Mobile One plan now includes all monthly taxes, surcharges, and fees. The company still charges those fees, but they are rolled into the advertised price of the plan in order to simplify what customers see on their bills each month. For example, a family of four that signs up today will pay $40 per line, or $160 total, with no additional fees visible on their monthly bill. Those fees are now included in the total price. The news was first announced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Trade Show. T-Mobile has been promoting it heavily via television commercials the last few weeks. In other T-Mobile news, the company's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, announced a free phone promotion. Starting today, customers who upgrade their phone, add a line, or get a new phone number can snag one of 15 different phones for free. Some of the options include the LG Aristo, Samsung Galaxy On5, ZTE Avid Trio, and Alcatel Fierce XL. Customers who port a number to MetroPCS will be able to pick a more expensive free handset, such as the HTC Desire 530, ZTE ZMax Pro, or LG K10. Last, MetroPCS is offering free data to those who sign up for its $50 plan. Typically, the $50 plan includes 5 GB of data. For a limited time, people who choose that plan will have access to 8 GB of data each month for at least a year. Additional 8 GB lines added to the same account will cost $30 per month.
The FCC today said the close of the fourth stage will mark the end of bidding in the auction for 600 MHz airwaves. The auction has been in progress since last May and worked its way through several stages. Television broadcasters agreed to give up portions of their spectrum holdings, which were then sold to wireless carriers. The repurposed airwaves will eventually be used for mobile broadband services and the TV stations relocated. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called the auction a success, but it fell far short of initial projections as far as generating revenue is concerned. "The world's first spectrum incentive auction has delivered on its ambitious promise. Reaching the Final Stage Rule means the benefits of the auction are indisputable," said Wheeler. "We will repurpose 70 MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis. On top of that, 14 MHz of new unlicensed spectrum — the test bed for wireless innovation — will be available for consumer devices and new services. The auction will provide $10.05 billion to broadcast television licensees who participated and billions towards deficit reduction." Broadcasters had expected to see as much as $86 billion for 126 MHz of licenses. When bidding in rounds two and three bottomed out, the amount of spectrum offered by broadcasters was reduced accordingly. "There is still a long road ahead to successfully implement the post-auction transition of broadcast stations to their new channels and bring the new wireless and unlicensed spectrum to market," noted Wheeler. "This will be an extremely important task for my successor and the new Commission; I wish them well." Wheeler is leaving his post at the FCC as President-Elect Donald Trumps takes office. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless all participated, but Sprint did not. The FCC hasn't said what new spectrum licenses the carriers and other bidders have won.
T-Mobile and MetroPCS both plan to sell the LG Aristo starting later this month. The handset is an entry-level device running Android 7 Nougat. Specs include a 5-inch HD display, 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and 16 GB of storage. Other features include microUSB, headphone jack, speakerphone, and WiFi Calling/VoLTE. The LG Aristo will reach T-Mobile stores on Jan. 25. It will cost $144, or $6 per month on a payment plan. The Aristo will hit MetroPCS stores on Jan. 23 at a cost of $59 after instant rebate.
ZTE today shared more information about its Project CSX handset, called Hawkeye. ZTE created a public campaign for Project CSX in 2016, which saw hundreds of entries. The final design, a self-adhesive handset that can track eye movement, was selected last fall. The device is a large Android slab that boasts a 5.5-inch full HD display. The phone will be powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone features two cameras on the rear, one with a 12-megapixel sensor and one with a 13-megapixel sensor with optical zoom. The user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. A 3,000mAh battery will provide power, and the USB-C port will allow for rapid charging via Quick Charge 2.0. Other features include a fingerprint reader, Dolby sound, NFC, and support for memory cards. ZTE says the Hawkeye includes LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 66 for AT&T/T-Mobile. The Hawkeye, currently available for preorder on Kickstarter, costs $199 and will ship with Android 7 Nougat when it goes on sale in the fall. Right now, the fundraising campaign has generated a bit more than $31,000 out of $500,000.
Alcatel today made its Idol 4S with Windows 10 smartphone available unlocked from the Microsoft Store. The Windows Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C. Other features include a wide-angle 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,000mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The Idol 4S with Windows is compatible with Continuum, which enables it to act like a full PC with the proper accessories. The phone is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 costs $470.
The FCC today took AT&T and Verizon to task for their zero-rated video services and said they may in fact be harmful to the market. The agency has spent time evaluating each of the zero-rated offerings from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. While the agency has no quibble with zero-rated services, per se, AT&T and Verizon's offerings may cross a certain line with respect to competition. "We ... have found that two of the plans present significant risks to consumers and competition in downstream industry sectors because of network operators' potentially unreasonable discrimination in favor of their own affiliates," said the agency in today's report. The FCC judged the offerings based on whether or not they amount to blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization, and if they don't violate those tenets, whether or not the services violate the general conduct rule with respect to data caps, transparency, and user choice. T-Mobile's BingeOn service, for example, is in the clear because it is open to all customers and all third-party services. AT&T's Data Perks program is okay, too, but its Sponsored Data program crosses the line because it likely violates the general conduct rule. The same is true of Verizon's go90 offering. "We are aware of no safeguards that would prevent [Verizon or AT&T] from offering substantially more costly or restrictive terms to enable unaffiliated edge providers to offer services comparable to [go90 and Sponsored Data] on a zero-rated basis," noted the agency. The FCC believes companies such as AT&T and Verizon that own both the content and the delivery mechanism may cause real harm to consumers and competition. The FCC didn't say what, if any, actions it might take next.
T-Mobile today announced KickBack, an automatic bill credit of $10 per line per month for lines that use 2 GB of data or less in that month. Starting January 22nd, customers of the company's Simple Choice and T-Mobile One plans can opt in to KickBack via the T-Mobile app, or via customer service. After January 22nd, new sign-ups for the T-Mobile One plan will automatically be opted in to KickBack.
T-Mobile today announced that its plans will now include all taxes and fees in the advertised price. The company's T-Mobile One plan is included in this policy, and the price will stay the same, but now include all taxes and fees. Furthermore, the company will phase out all other plans on January 22nd. T-Mobile One — with unlimited data and taxes and fees included — will be the only plan the company offers. Consumers already on other plans (including older T-Mobile One plans that do not include taxes and fees) can keep them as-is, but no other plans will be offered to consumers looking to switch carriers or plans.
Nuu Mobile this week announced the X5 smartphone during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The X5 is a flagship-class Android smartphone for those seeking alternatives to traditional postpaid carriers. The device offers a lot of value thanks in part to Nuu's unique mobile service plans. The X5 is a large slab that features a 5.5-inch full HD display. The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750T 1.5 GHz octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. Nuu selected Sony camera chips for the device, with a 13-megapixel BSI sensor on back and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor on front. The X5 supports U.S. LTE bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for compatibility with AT&T and T-Mobile. It also packs Bluetooth 4, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and an FM radio. Last, the phone contains a 2,950mAh battery, and it runs Android 7 Nougat out of the box. Nuu Mobile gave the X5 support for two SIM cards in a removable tray, but the handset also includes Nuu's Konnect i1 eSIM technology. The eSIM allows the X5 to roam in other countries at local wireless rates. Introductory pricing for roaming is approximately $2 per day for 500 MB of high-speed data overseas. People who exceed the daily data limit will be throttled, but will have full access to 500 MB again the following day. The eSIM means users don't have to hunt down a local SIM card when traveling; instead, they can simply activate the Konnect i1 service directly on the X5. The Nuu Mobile X5 goes on sale in March. Pricing wasn't announced, but all of Nuu Mobile's handsets cost less than $250.
T-Mobile today unveiled new pricing for Internet-of-Things connected devices, such as smart meters. The T-Mobile IoT Access pack includes 5 MB of data per month for $20 per year for the first year, and $6 per year after that. Moreover, customers can get unlimited data for their IoT equipment at 64Kbps for $25 per device per year. To help people get started, T-Mobile will cover the cost of a Sequans CAT1 module (up to $16 per module) via bill credits. The new pricing is effective immediately. T-Mobile expects its business customers, such as utilities more so than consumers, will take advantage of the IoT pricing, though it is available to anyone with a connected home.
T-Mobile this week pushed a device-killing, over-the-air update to all remaining Galaxy Note7 devices still being used by its customers. The update prevents the battery from charging, effectively rendering the phone useless. The idea is to convince people still using the Note7 to trade it in immediately. The Note7 suffers from a battery issue that may lead to overheating and fires. In some cases, Note7 owners reported car fires and house fires. Samsung was forced to recall the device earlier this year. T-Mobile competitors AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all plan to deliver the same update during the first week of January. All carriers are offering replacement devices and/or refunds.
T-Mobile today announced several new options for its T-Mobile One plan that adds various features for a few dollars more per month. To start, T-Mobile One customers can turn their plan into a T-Mobile One Plus line for $15 more per month. This nets unlimited 3G data speeds when roaming overseas; unlimited HD video passes; unlimited Gogo in-flight WiFi; voicemail-to-text transcription; and advanced caller ID. T-Mobile has made another option available called T-Mobile One Plus International. It adds unlimited high-speed mobile hotspot when traveling overseas; and unlimited calling from the U.S. to landlines in 70 countries and cell phones in 30 countries. The T-Mobile One Plus International line costs $25 more than the standard T-Mobile One line. Both new plans are already available from T-Mobile.
T-Mobile today said it will give AT&T customers who port their number to T-Mobile a free year of DirecTV Now. DirecTV Now is AT&T's new mobile television service. The service costs between $35 and $70 per month, depending on the package. T-Mobile will cover the entry-level $35 plan for up to 12 months, a total of $420, via monthly service credits. AT&T customers will need to activate at least two lines of service with a T-Mobile One plan. Existing T-Mobile Simple Choice customers can subscribe to DirecTV Now if they wish. T-Mobile has added DirecTV Now to its Binge On program, so T-Mobile customers can watch as much as they want at 480p without impacting their data buckets.
OnePlus has published new builds of OxygenOS for its OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T smartphones. OnePlus 3 owners who've signed up as beta testers can now access OxygenOS Open Beta 9. This beta is based on Android 7 Nougat. OnePlus says the beta expands screenshots, optimizes shelf design and other UI elements, and stabilizes battery and system performance. Beta testers who've already installed previous builds of the beta will be able to download Open Beta 9 over the air. Otherwise, the beta needs to be sideloaded from a PC. OxygenOS 3.5.4 for the OnePlus 3T is a bug-fixing update and does not include Nougat. For example, the update improves performance on T-Mobile's network. It also reduces lag when the battery is below 5%, restores GPS and auto-rotate behaviors when battery saver mode is turned off, resolves a camera bug, and increases stability system wide. The update is available as an over-the-air download.
T-Mobile today announced Digits, a new service that will let customers use the same phone number across multiple devices, or multiple numbers on a single device. The service makes use of T-Mobile's LTE network and works with virtually all connected devices, including phones, tablets, wearables, and computers. Digits relies on an app. Users can sign in on whichever device is most convenient and immediately have access to their phone number, complete with voicemail, text messages, call history, and other features. The service allows a single handset to support up to five phone numbers without requiring additional SIM cards. Similarly, a single number can be used across up to five separate devices. T-Mobile believes Digits will be particularly appealing to business customers, which will be able to assign a T-Mobile Digits number to workers, regardless of the carrier the employee already uses. Digits can run on phones that connect via AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, et al. Digits works natively with the dialer in Samsung's newer smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, S7, Note 5, and others. T-Mobile customers who have iPhones or other Android phones will be able to use Digits through a mobile app. T-Mobile is allowing a limited number of postpaid customers to test Digits, which is available as a beta. T-Mobile did not say how much the service costs. The company expects to fully launch Digits early next year.
Bandwidth.com today said it will divest its Republic Wireless business, spinning the company off into a separate business. Republic Wireless has been selling low-cost service since 2011. It relies mostly on WiFi, but when WiFi is not available its customers are able to connect via the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile. Bandwidth.com also powers Alphabet's Fi service and Microsoft's Skype service. Bandwidth.com's leadership feel Republic has grown enough thanks to its 300,000 subscribers and $100 million in annual revenue, and its time the company stood on its own. Moreover, Republic competes with Bandwidth.com properties such as Fi and it no longer makes sense to house competing products under the same roof. Once the spin-off is complete, Bandwidth.com chief operating officer Chris Chuang will be named CEO of Republic Wireless. Republic does not intend to make any immediate chances to its existing service plans.
AT&T said it is preparing a new service that will allow customers to stream more video content over the wireless network and conserve their data. Stream Saver, set to become available early next year, will downgrade streamed video to 480p so it chews through less wireless data. AT&T said it plans to alert customers when Stream Saver is available, and customers will be able to switch it on or off at will. Once customers activate it, all content Stream Saver can identify as video will be downgraded to DVD quality. Stream Saver does not impact the quality of music streamed from services such as Spotify. Moreover, Stream Saver does not allow for unlimited video watching via LTE; rather, it is a tool designed to help people reduce their data consumption when needed while still allowing them to enjoy video content over the network. By way of comparison, T-Mobile's BingeOn service allows for unlimited video streaming from select providers over LTE without impacting users' monthly data allotment.
Samsung is allowing owners of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge to experience an early look at its Nougat builds through the Galaxy Beta Program. The program is meant more for Samsung's benefit than that of end users, as it will use feedback generated by beta users to improve the experience and reliability for all users. Samsung says beta testers will have an opportunity to see its latest user experience elements based on Android 7.0 Nougat. The company hopes for direct feedback about the betas' performance, stability, and usability as it prepares the software for general release next year. Samsung warns that beta software is not official and may cause unexpected errors or malfunction. It may also not have the full feature set when compared to the final version. People will be able to leave the beta program and return their devices to official, functional builds of Android 6. The program is open to the Sprint-, T-Mobile-, and Verizon-branded variants of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge only. People will be required to download the Galaxy Beta Program application from the Galaxy Apps store and apply via the registration menu. A Samsung account (free) is required. Samsung expects to ship test builds of Nougat between now and the end of December.
A system update for the T-Mobile variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge should improve wireless speeds. Specifically, the update gives the built-in Snapdragon X12 LTE modem support for 256QAM on the downlink and 64QAM on the uplink. These wireless improvements are better table to take advantage of the 4x4 MIMO support pushed to the S7 and S7 Edge last month for a 133% increase in wireless speeds. The update is free to download over the air.
T-Mobile today introduced the SyncUP Drive, a plug-in device for cars that provides connectivity as well as safety and analytics tools. The SyncUP Drive plugs into most cars' OBD-II port and can be used to generate an in-car, rolling hotspot for keeping WiFi devices connected through T-Mobile's LTE network. The associated app also allows owners to analyze driving behavior, track the location of their car, set speed and geo-fence limits, and even receive diagnostic information about the car itself. The SyncUP Drive costs $150, but T-Mobile will give it to customers for free as long as they agree to a two-year service plan with a minimum of 2 GB per month. The SyncUP Drive is made by ZTE. Service plan pricing varies.
Alcatel today announced a new variant of the Idol 4S with Windows 10 Mobile on board. This handset carries over the chassis of the Android-based model, but changes a number of key specifications. For example, the Windows Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch full HD display and Snapdragon 820 processor, which differ from the quad HD display and Snapdragon 652 processor of the original. Further, the Windows version improves the camera to 21 megapixels and swaps microUSB for USB Type-C. Most other specs are the same. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 has a wide-angle 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,000mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The Idol 4S with Windows is compatible with Continuum, which enables it to act like a full PC with the proper accessories. It will be packaged with a set of virtual reality goggles for a limited time. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 hits T-Mobile stores November 10 for $470.
T-Mobile today announced a unique discount program for customers who buy an unlocked Google Pixel phone and switch to T-Mobile's new "One" unlimited plan. Customers will receive $325 back, spread out over 24 months, amounting to a $13.55 monthly discount for two years. The Pixel has excellent support for T-Mobile's LTE network, including Category 9 LTE and band 12. The offer is available to both new and existing T-Mobile customers.
T-Mobile today listed the "Alcatel IDOL 4S with Windows 10 VR" on its web site. The unique version of the Idol 4S not only runs Windows 10, but sports many of the upgrades available in the related BlackBerry DTEK60, such as the high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C connector, none of which are in the standard Idol 4S. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also includes free VR goggles (for a limited time) for use with "pre-loaded games and videos". Curiously, while the standard Idol 4S includes a Quad-HD display ideal for VR, this version steps down to a full-HD display, according to T-Mobile's specs. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also supports Windows Continuum, which lets you connect a screen and keyboard to turn the phone into a full Windows 10 computer. Other features of the phone include a memory card slot, stereo speakers, 8-megapixel front camera, and 4 GB of RAM. T-Mobile's specs do not mention NFC. Pricing and release date have yet to be announced. Microsoft is
T-Mobile today began selling the ZTE ZMax Pro — an affordable Android phablet with a 6-inch, full-HD screen, fingerprint reader, 32 GB of storage, 13-megapixel camera, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor — for $180. The company started selling the phone under the MetroPCS brand in August, but is now bringing it to the T-Mobile lineup. The phone also includes a 3,400 mAh battery, front glass with curved edges, memory card slot, 5-megapixel front camera, and FM radio.
BlackBerry today announced the DTEK60, the company's new flagship non-keyboard phone. The DTEK60 is based on the Alcatel Idol 4S and looks similar, but actually has significantly upgraded specs in nearly every respect. (The DTEK50 is essentially a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4.) The DTEK60 sports a fingerprint sensor, Quad-HD 5.5-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, NFC, and a memory card slot. Unlike the Idol 4S, it also packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 21 megapixel camera, and a USB Type-C connector with Quick Charge 3.0. The DTEK60 maintains the same 7mm thin profile as the Idol 4S, although with a larger camera bump for the upgraded sensor. As with all of BlackBerry's new phones, the DTEK60 runs Android with BlackBerry messaging and security software added. The phone supports LTE networks including those of T-Mobile and AT&T (including band 29.) The DTEK60 is available today directly from BlackBerry for $500 unlocked. Customers who order within the next two weeks will receive a free "soft shell" case and rapid charger.
T-Mobile today kicked off roaming cellular service in Cuba. T-Mobile customers will be able to use their T-Mobile phones to make calls, send messages, and surf the 'net when traveling in the Caribbean island nation. Voice calls cost $2 per minute, text and multimedia messages cost $0.50 to send but are free to receive, and data costs $2 per megabyte. T-Mobile's Cuba roaming costs are slightly cheaper than AT&T's, which also became available this week. T-Mobile says customers can use WiFi networks in Cuba to call back to the U.S. for free. T-Mobile customers have been able to place calls from the U.S. to Cuba since May.
Alcatel today said Amazon.com and Best Buy have agreed to sell four of its low-cost Android smartphones from the Pop and Pixi families. The Pop 4S costs $170, the Pop 4 Plus costs $120, the Pixi 4 (6-inch) costs $120, and the Pixi 4 (5-inch) costs $80. All four handsets are being sold unlocked with support for GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The phones were announced earlier this year.
Under poor network conditions, the iPhone 7 Plus with Intel inside does not perform as well as the iPhone 7 Plus with Qualcomm inside. Apple sourced the iPhone 7 Plus modem from both Intel and Qualcomm. This represents a major change for the company, which has relied solely on Qualcomm modems for years. The Intel modem (XMM7360) is found in the AT&T and T-Mobile variants of the iPhone 7, while the Qualcomm modem (MDM9645M) is found in the Sprint, Verizon, and unlocked variants of the iPhone 7. Cellular Insights conducted extensive signal tests on the iPhone 7 Plus in LTE Bands 12, 7, and 4 to see if any performance differences exist between the two modems. Under optimal network conditions both the Intel- and Qualcomm-equipped iPhones demonstrated an equal level of performance in speed and maintaining a connection. Under weak network conditions, however, the Intel-equipped iPhone 7 Plus posted speeds that were on average 30% slower than those of the Qualcomm-equipped iPhone 7 Plus. The slower speeds at the cell edge mean the Intel-based iPhone 7 Plus may be more likely to experience dropped VoLTE calls and other, similar behaviors. "In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem," said Cellular Insights in its report. Apple has not said why it selected modems from two separate suppliers for the iPhone 7 Plus.
The FCC today announced a $48 million settlement with T-Mobile over T-Mobile's failure to adequately disclose limits on data plans that they had marketed as "unlimited". The plans actually capped users at 17 GB per month, after which users experienced throttled speeds when and where the network was congested. The FCC felt these limits were inadequately disclosed and fined the company $7.5 million directly. T-Mobile is also required to give up to $35.5 million in discounts to affected customers, and give $5 million to schools. Going forward, the company has agreed to new rules regarding "unlimited" plans. It will be required to advertise such limits more clearly and alert users when they are approaching those limits.
T-Mobile today offered customers more information about its planned launch of the LG V20 handset. Customers may preorder the phone starting today. T-Mobile is asking for a down payment of $50, followed by 24 monthly payments of $30 per month. The full retail price of the handset from T-Mobile is $770. Customers that take advantage of T-Mobile's Jump! On Demand program can get the V20 for $0 up front and $34 a month over 18 months. T-Mobile is offering several promotions alongside its launch of the V20. To start, customers can receive a minimum $200 in credit toward the V20 when they trade in any working LTE smartphone. T-Mobile is also giving away a pair of Bang & Olufsen H3 headphones ($149 value) to those who buy the V20. The headphone offer must be redeemed online. The V20 is a follow-up to last year's V10. Its defining feature is a small second screen on the front for notifications and app shortcuts. The device is semi-rugged and includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel secondary camera (wide-angle), and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The T-Mobile variant is the first to support LTE in Band 66. The phone will also be among the first to ship with Android 7 Nougat and a new search tool from Google called In Apps. The device goes on sale October 28.
The FCC has wrapped up the initial phase of stage two of its incentive auction for 600 MHz airwaves, and drastically lowered the price for that spectrum. The initial clearing cost for all the 600 MHz spectrum was $86.4 billion, but bidders failed to come even close during the first round of bidding. Bidders offered up about $23 billion instead. The FCC was forced to go back to the spectrum license holders — in this case, broadcast television stations — and renegotiate a series of minimum prices for those licenses. The new clearing cost for stage two of the auction is $54.6 billion. Bidding will resume on Oct. 19. Most industry watchers assumed the reverse auction would need several rounds to reach completion. The 600 MHz airwaves are valuable due to their signal propagation characteristics. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating in the auction, but Sprint is not.
Alcatel today announced the Linkzone, a mobile hotspot for T-Mobile. The Linkzone connects to T-Mobile's LTE 4G network and can provide WiFi-based access to up to 15 other mobile devices, such as laptops and tablets. Alcatel says the Linkzone can reach download speeds as fast as 150Mbps under optimal network conditions. The hotspot has a web-based user interface for managing settings, security, and passwords, as well as an illuminated status panel on the device. The internal battery provides up to six hours of use, and it also supports microSD cards up to 32 GB and tethering via USB cable. The Alcatel Linkzone is available at T-Mobile stores nationwide for $80.