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printed January 18, 2017
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T-Mobile and MetroPCS Announce the LG Aristo

Yesterday, 10:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 a fingerprint reader, 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 Hawkeye Detailed In Full, to Feature Dual Cameras

Yesterday, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Idol 4S with Windows Now Available Unlocked

Yesterday, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


FCC Sees Potential for Harm in Zero-Rated Data Schemes

Jan 11, 2017, 3:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 11, 2017, 3:06 PM

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 Will Pay You To Use Less Data

Jan 5, 2017, 2:57 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2017, 3:08 PM

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.

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T-Mobile Ditches Separate Taxes and Fees

Jan 5, 2017, 2:53 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2017, 3:17 PM

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.

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Nuu Mobile Shows Off the X5 Smartphone with Konnect i1 eSIM

Jan 5, 2017, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 7, 2017, 3:40 PM

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.

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T-Mobile Wants to Talk to Your House

Jan 3, 2017, 6:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 3, 2017, 8:10 PM

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 Has Neutered Its Variant of the Galaxy Note7

Dec 29, 2016, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Jazzes Up Its T-Mobile One Plan

Dec 21, 2016, 9:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Tempts AT&T Switchers With Free Year of DirecTV Now

Dec 15, 2016, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Delivers Updates to 3 and 3T

Dec 15, 2016, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Looks to Redefine the Phone Number with 'Digits'

Dec 7, 2016, 12:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Republic Wireless to Become Independent from Parent Corp

Dec 1, 2016, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's 'Stream Saver' Doesn't Quite Mimic T-Mobile's BingeOn

Nov 11, 2016, 11:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 11, 2016, 2:40 PM

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 Rolls Out Nougat Test Program for Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Nov 10, 2016, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


T-Mobile's Galaxy S7 Gets Wireless Speed Boost

Nov 7, 2016, 3:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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T-Mobile's SyncUP Drive Creates In-Car Hotspot

Nov 7, 2016, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Makes the Idol 4S with Windows Official

Nov 1, 2016, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offers Unique Discount for Google Pixel Owners

Oct 27, 2016, 8:25 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 27, 2016, 8:56 AM

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 Outs Windows 10 VR Phone From Alcatel

Oct 26, 2016, 9:39 AM   by Rich Brome

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 Starts Selling ZTE ZMax Pro

Oct 26, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 26, 2016, 9:54 AM

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.

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BlackBerry DTEK60 Boasts Fingerprint Sensor and Top Specs

Oct 25, 2016, 8:21 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 25, 2016, 8:23 AM

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 Customers Can Now Roam In Cuba

Oct 21, 2016, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's Pop 4 and Pixi 4 Series Reach Amazon and Best Buy

Oct 20, 2016, 6:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


iPhone 7 Plus Intel Modem Not Equal to Qualcomm Modem

Oct 20, 2016, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


T-Mobile Fined by FCC for Limits on "Unlimited" Plans

Oct 19, 2016, 9:53 AM   by Rich Brome

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 Shares Pricing Details for LG V20

Oct 17, 2016, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


FCC Reverse Auction Drops Clearing Price to $54.6B

Oct 14, 2016, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Linkzone Mobile Hotspot Now Available from T-Mobile

Oct 12, 2016, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Google's Project Fi Gains Family Discounts

Oct 11, 2016, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 11, 2016, 11:49 AM

Google today made it less costly for users of its Project Fi wireless service to add multiple lines to their accounts. The first line still carries a $20 access charge, with data costing a flat $10 per GB. Moving forward, additional lines carry a $15 access charge (rather than $20) and they can be lumped into the shared data plan with the first line. Google charges per megabyte each month, so people who don't use their entire data allotment receive a refund at the end of the month. Project Fi doesn't throttle speeds for those who use more than their allotment, but those people will be billed for their additional usage. Project Fi, which relies on the wireless services of Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and open WiFi hotspots, is available to the Pixel and Pixel XL, as well as the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. Google is now offering discounts on the latter two when people choose to buy and activate them via Project Fi. Project Fi’s group plan is available starting today.


Sprint Is Last Major Carrier to Cease Note7 Sales

Oct 10, 2016, 2:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today followed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in discontinuing the Samsung Galaxy Note7. "Given recent issues reported in the media, Sprint is halting sales of replacement Note7 devices pending the conclusion of the investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung," said the company in statement provided to media. "If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note7 has any concerns, we will exchange it for any other device." Sprint's competitors halted sales of the Note7 a day earlier. Samsung said it has "adjusted" production of the Note7 as it continues to investigate the device's safety. All consumers who have a Note7 are urged to power it down and return it for a new phone.

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T-Mobile, Too, Halts Note7 Replacements

Oct 9, 2016, 7:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile this evening joined AT&T in putting a stop to exchanges, replacements, and sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note7. "While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note7 and exchanges for replacement Note7 devices," said the company. Customers can bring their new and/or replacement Note7 (along with any purchased accessories) to a T-Mobile store for a full refund and choose from any device in T-Mobile's inventory. The company said it will waive restocking fees, as well as allow those who preordered the Note7 to keep the free Netflix subscription, Gear FT, or SD card they might have received as a gift with the phone. Last, T-Mobile will give all Note7 customers a one-time $25 bill credit for the hassle. The carrier encourages all customers to stop using the Note7, power it down, and return it to T-Mobile as soon as practical. Sprint and Verizon are still selling the device.


AT&T Stops Exchanging the Galaxy Note7

Oct 9, 2016, 2:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T says it will not swap out the original Note7 for replacement devices. "Based on recent reports, we're no longer exchanging new Note7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents," said the company in a statement provided to media. "We still encourage customers with a recalled Note7 to visit an AT&T location to exchange that device for another Samsung smartphone or other smartphone of their choice." All four major carriers have said customers may bring their Note7 — original or replacement — to stores for a refund or exchange. The Note7 has vanished from the web sites of AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but it is still available from Verizon.com. Verizon hasn't said if or when it might halt sales/exchanges. Anyone with a Note7 should power it down and bring it bak to the point of sale as soon as possible.

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AT&T, T-Mo, Verizon to Allow Note7 Replacement Exchanges, Too

Oct 7, 2016, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless followed Sprint's lead today and said customers who have a replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 can exchange the phone for any other sold in carrier stores. T-Mobile specified that any customer can return any phone within the initial 14-day trial period, and that includes both replacement and new Note7 handsets. AT&T and Verizon will accept any replacement Note7, regardless of replacement/purchase date. Sprint implemented a similar exchange program late Thursday. The latest action is a response to a replacement Note7 that caused a fire aboard an aircraft.


T-Mobile to Sell LG V20 Starting October 28

Oct 6, 2016, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to sell LG's V20 smartphone beginning October 28. T-Mobile didn't say how much the phone will cost, only that pricing details will be shared closer to launch. T-Mobile customers who buy the V20 will be able to score a pair of Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3 headphones. 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 phone features Qualcomm's X12 LTE model for CAT12 at speeds up to 600Mbps. The T-Mobile model, in particular, is the first to support LTE in Band 66. The phone will be among the first to ship with Android 7 Nougat and a new search tool from Google called In Apps.


Asus' Zenfone 3 Series Goes On Sale This Month

Oct 6, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today announced pricing and availability for its Zenfone 3 family of smartphones. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition, Deluxe 5.7, Deluxe 5.5, and Laser will all be sold unlocked, directly to consumers via Asus' web site. The phones share nearly identical designs, with aluminum unibody chassis, full HD AMOLED displays, rear-mounted fingerprint readers, dual SIM card and memory card support, USB Type-C, Android 6 Marshmallow, and Asus' ZenUI 3.0. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition is the most significant of the bunch, as it is one of the first devices to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor aboard with 256 MB of built-in storage. The Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition and Deluxe 5.7 share most other features, including a Sony Exmor 23-megapixel camera with OIS/EIS, but the Deluxe 5.7 uses a Snapdragon 820 processor. The Deluxe 5.5 steps down the display to 5.5 inches, and includes a Snapdragon 625 processor with 4 GB of RAM and a 16-megapixel camera. The Zenfone 3 Laser is the budget-minded member of the family with a Snapdragon 430 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 13-megapixel camera. The phones support the GSM/LTE networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition costs $799, the Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 costs $499, and Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.5 costs $399. These three phones are available for preorder and will ship later this month. The Zenfone 3 Laser costs $199 and is shipping today.


T-Mobile to Prioritize Phones Over Hotspots

Oct 5, 2016, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 5, 2016, 7:28 PM

T-Mobile recently implemented a new policy that will favor phone performance over smartphone-based mobile hotspots when the network is congested. "Because we want to provide customers with the best on-device experience, our network is now designed to prioritize data on your T-Mobile smartphone, tablet or mobile internet devices, over smartphone mobile hotspot data," said T-Mobile on its web site. The company says most subscribers likely won't notice any change in performance when using their phone as a hotspot. T-Mobile did not say how slow smartphone hotspot speeds might be. The updated policy applies to all T-Mobile plans, including T-Mobile One and Simple Choice.


T-Mobile to Resume Galaxy Note7 Sales Oct. 5

Oct 4, 2016, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile says it will once again sell the Samsung Galaxy Note7 starting October 5. Samsung was forced to recall the Note7 in early September after reports of burns, fires, and explosions blamed on the device surfaced around the world. Samsung investigated and determined that a small percentage of about 2.5 million devices might have a bad battery. To be safe, Samsung halted sales and recalled the entire batch. Replacement Note7s have been available in the U.S. for a couple of weeks. Verizon and Sprint began selling the device again in late September. T-Mobile said the Note7 will be available online and in stores this Wednesday.


T-Mobile Giving Away Free LTE Roaming Until 2017

Sep 28, 2016, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its postpaid customers will have access to free, high-speed mobile data throughout South America and select European countries for the rest of 2016. T-Mobile customers will not have to take any action to enjoy free international roaming in these countries. Travelers will have unlimited high-seed data, unlimited texting, and low-cost voice calls when abroad. The free roaming applies to all of South America, as well as Armenia, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom in Europe. The promotion runs through Dec. 31, 2016. T-Mobile's Simple Global program has given travelers free access to 2G mobile data since 2013.


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