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printed May 25, 2015
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Google Delivering Project Fi Invites Slowly

Friday, 6:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi, its WiFi-and-cellular wireless offering, is moving forward slowly. Google emailed those who signed up for the project and said it won't be able to accommodate everyones' requests for months. "Over the past few weeks, we've been happy to bring the first customers onto Project Fi and the initial feedback has been very positive," said Google in the email. "We're sending invites as quickly as we can, while ensuring a high-quality experience. Given the number of requests we've received, we currently estimate that it will take until mid-summer to get to everyone." Google concluded by saying it will provide a way for people to check the status of their invites in a few weeks. Project Fi requires the Nexus 6 handset and runs on WiFi and the cellular networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, adjusting on the fly in response to the best possible connection. The service is priced at $10 per gigabyte, and Google will refund customers for the unused portion of their data allotment each month.

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Sprint Partners Making Headway in Rural LTE Push

Thursday, 6:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint says 16 of the 30 companies who've agreed to participate in its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program have launched their LTE networks. The Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program is similar to Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America initiative. Both programs lease spectrum to small, regional providers who build out coverage in their home market areas. Under the terms of the agreement, the larger carriers' customers can roam onto the regional LTE network and vice versa. The idea is to bring coverage to areas where the larger operators might not necessarily like to commit resources to build out their own network. Sprint would not say which of its partners have launched their LTE networks. Some of the partners include SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Phoenix Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, and United Wireless. "Our partners use a variety of LTE bands, including bands 4, 5, 12 and 25," said Sprint's Adrienne Norton. "We're continuing to work with our device OEMs to enable additional LTE bands to expand coverage for our domestic and international roamers." Sprint's LTE footprint covers about 280 million POPs. T-Mobile, which recently disclosed that it too has leased spectrum to regional operators, also covers about 280 million POPs. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both claim to cover about 308 million POPs.


Deutsche Telekom Will Consider 'Any Partner' for T-Mobile

Thursday, 6:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Deutsche Telekom executives today indicated they are still weighing the best path forward for T-Mobile US, especially when it comes to improving profitability. "It is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US," said CEO Tim Hoettges. "If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it." Deutsche Telekom owns 66% of T-Mobile US and last year attempted sell the company to Japan's SoftBank. T-Mobile has gained more than 8 million customers in the last year, but has done so at considerable expense. Deutsche Telekom said it is under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, but the German company is making it clear that it is open to suggestions.


T-Mobile Serving Up Variety of Memorial Day Promos

Wednesday, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a handful of device and service promotions that will become available over the holiday weekend. To start, T-Mobile is offering a free memory upgrade to buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. From May 23 through May 25, the 64 GB model will cost the same as the 32 GB model. Customers who buy the 32 GB will receive a $50 Visa gift card. Following their appearance on T-Mobile's web site earlier this month, the company shared pricing details for the LG Stylo and Leon. The Stylo will cost $289.92 at full retail or $12.08 per month and the Leon will cost $149.76 at full retail or $6.24 per month. T-Mobile Prepaid customers can score the Leon for free with an online rebate. T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS will also sell the Stylo and Leon for $199 and $49, respectively, after online rebates. Customers who switch to MetroPCS from a competing carrier will receive a free LG Leon or $50 toward the phone of their choice. Last, MetroPCS is recirculating the 4x100 promotion. Customers can get four lines with unlimited talk, text, and 2 GB of data per line for a total of $100.


Some AT&T Partners to Cease Selling Contracts

May 19, 2015, 4:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 19, 2015, 4:27 PM

AT&T today said some of its retailer partners are going to offer only AT&T Next plans beginning June 1. These retailers, like Walmart, may have national footprints, but the change is only being made in some locations that AT&T would not name. AT&T itself will continue to offer contracts at company-owned stores, as well as via its web site, telesales, and most other third-party retailers. "We regularly consider any number of offers that might appeal to our customers," said an AT&T spokesperson to Phone Scoop, "but [we] can share that two year contracts remain a part of our portfolio of offerings." AT&T said it believes customers prefer to have choice. While many of its customers are moving to AT&T Next plans -- which break up device payments over time -- some of its customers still want subsidized handsets and don't mind signing contracts to get them. The change being made by some of AT&T's retail partners does not represent a change in strategy for AT&T. AT&T Next plans are the carrier's response to T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which forgo contracts and also break up device payments over time. Sprint and Verizon have their own device payment plans, too. The device payment plans have become popular with consumers because they don't require contracts and often allow people to upgrade to new phones at a faster rate.


T-Mobile Leasing Spectrum In Effort to Expand LTE Coverage

May 15, 2015, 11:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently confirmed that it has leased some spectrum licenses to other carriers in order to help expand its LTE 4G coverage. "We're always exploring opportunities to enhance America's fastest 4G LTE network," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to FierceWireless. "Over the years, we've bought, sold and leased spectrum to roaming partners and we'll continue to discuss additional opportunities that will benefit our customers. This includes spectrum swaps, leasing spectrum and roaming agreements." T-Mobile did not provide any information with respect to which carriers it has leased the spectrum, nor in which markets. The strategy is similar to one pursued by Verizon Wireless. Verizon launched its LTE for Rural America program five years ago, wherein it leases spectrum to small regional carriers who build out LTE coverage.


T-Mobile Says LTE Footprint Now Matches Sprint

May 14, 2015, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the company's LTE 4G network now covers 280 million POPS. That's a slight improvement from the 275 million POPs T-Mobile said it covered at the end of April. With 280 million people blanketed by its 4G network, T-Mobile's coverage footprint is on par with that of Sprint, which also coves 280 million. AT&T and Verizon both claim to cover 308 million POPs. Ray offered a few more details about T-Mobile's progress. It is still on track to cover 300 million POPS by the end of the year. It plans to shutter its legacy CDMA MetroPCS network on June 21, and there are fewer than 300,000 customers still using that network in Dallas, Miami, and New York City. T-Mobile said it has 15x15 MHz LTE deployments in 150 markets, which the company will expand to 200 by the end of the year. T-Mobile charted an aggressive path for building its LTE network and has met or exceeded most of its goals over the past two years.


Boost, Sprint to Sell LG G Stylo for $199

May 13, 2015, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 14, 2015, 3:17 PM

Boost Mobile today announced the immediate availability of the LG G Stylo. The G Stylo, also being sold by T-Mobile, features a 5.7-inch 720p HD display and a stylus. It also carries a 8-megapixel camera main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 processor with 1 GB RAM, and 8 GB of internal storage. The Stylo supports memory cards up to 32 GB and packs a 3,000mAh battery. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user interface, which includes Knock Code and QuickMemo. Boost Mobile is selling the phone for $199.99. Sprint Prepaid will also sell the device at $199.99 beginning June 7.


T-Mobile to Carry LG G Stylo and Leon

May 12, 2015, 5:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently revealed it will soon sell the LG G Stylo and Leon handsets. The G Stylo features a 5.7-inch 720P HD display and includes a stylus. It also boasts a 13-megapixel camera, quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 processor with 2 GB RAM, and 16 GB internal storage. The Stylo also supports memory cards up to 128 GB and packs a 3,000mAh battery. The Leon, which LG announced earlier this year, has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display with a 5-megapixel main camera, a VGA user-facing camera, and a 1,900mAh battery. Both phones run Android 5.0 Lollipop and support T-Mobile's LTE 4G network. Pricing and availability are not yet certain. The news was first reported by TMoNews.


MetroPCS CDMA Network to Go Dark in June

May 8, 2015, 3:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile intends to shutter MetroPCS' legacy CDMA network by late June, according to information on the carrier's web site. The company recently said it had three major metro markets -- and about 500,000 customers -- still using its CDMA network. Moreover, MetroPCS parent company T-Mobile said a total CDMA network shutdown wasn't planned until the end of the year. Now, MetroPCS' web site says all customers need to transition to its GSM/LTE network by June 21, after which "phones operating on MetroPCS' legacy network ... are not guaranteed to have service." T-Mobile has already refarmed approximately 80% of MetroPCS' legacy CDMA spectrum for its own LTE 4G service. MetroPCS said customers with older phones can turn in their handsets for credit towards new devices compatible with its LTE network. T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS and has aggressively moved Metro's customers to its own network.


T-Mobile to Sell BlackBerry Classic May 13

May 7, 2015, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it would make the BlackBerry Classic smartphone available to customers beginning May 13. The Classic has been sold by other carriers for months. T-Mobile's decision to offer the phone marks a change of heart for the Uncarrier, which in the past actively campaigned to have its customers trade in their BlackBerries in favor of other smartphones. The Classic runs BlackBerry 10 and is a traditional bar-style phone with a square touch screen and physical QWERTY keyboard below it. It brings back the classic BlackBerry buttons, which means send/end buttons, a back button, menu button, and optical trackpad. The device supports both BB10 and Android apps. T-Mobile customers can pick up the Classic for $0 down followed by 24 payments of $18.33 per month. The full retail price is $439.92.


T-Mobile Courting Verizon Customers with Two-Week Trial

May 5, 2015, 7:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced the Never Settle Trial, which is aimed specifically at Verizon Wireless customers. The program will let Verizon customers test T-Mobile's service for a period of two weeks with no fear of commitment. The trial requires Verizon customers to port their number to T-Mobile, but they will hold onto their old Verizon phone. If at the end of the two-week period they wish to stay with T-Mobile, T-Mobile will pay off the customer's ETFs and remaining phone payments. At this point the customer will have to turn in their Verizon phone, buy a new phone from T-Mobile, and pair it with a Simple Choice plan. Verizon customers can sign up for the Never Settle Trial between May 13 and May 31. "With T-Mobile, you don’t have to settle for trickery, gimmicks and carrier [baloney] the way you do with Verizon," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "I'm so confident in our [superior] network experience that we're footing the bill so Verizon customers can give T-Mobile a try."


T-Mobile Adds Kyocera Rally to Prepaid Lineup

Apr 29, 2015, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kyocera today announced the Rally, a bar-style feature phone for T-Mobile's prepaid business. The Rally is a traditional cell phone that includes a 1.8-inch screen and a physical key pad for dialing numbers. The phone runs the Brew MP operating system and has some basic apps, including a calendar, to-do list, and stopwatch. The phone has a VGA camera with 1080p video capture, supports microSD memory cards, and includes 760mAh battery that provides up to four hours of talk time. The phone has Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and a 3.5mm headphone jack, as well. The Kyocera Rally costs $60.


Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro Takes Off with T-Mobile

Apr 29, 2015, 8:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro is available online and in stores for $149. T-Mobile customers can pay full price for the phone, or break the price down to 24 monthly payments of $6.24. The phone has a 4.5-inch qHD display and it is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a VGA sensor. The phone has a 2,000mAh battery and supports memory cards up to 32 GB. Alcatel says the Pop Astro supports VoLTE and T-Mobile's WiFi calling feature. The Pop Astro runs Android 4.4 KitKat.


AT&T, Verizon Pledge Support for LG G4, Too

Apr 28, 2015, 5:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless followed Sprint and T-Mobile today in announcing plans to sell the LG G4 later this year. Neither of the nation's two largest carriers said exactly when the phone will go on sale nor how much they'll charge for the new phone. Verizon did say its variant of the G4 will support VoLTE and HD Voice.


Sprint, T-Mobile Say LG G4 to Ship in June

Apr 28, 2015, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and T-Mobile followed LG's debut of the G4 smartphone with details of their own launch plans. Sprint said it will offer the G4 in black leather and metallic gray. T-Mobile didn't specify which colors it will offer, but is kicking off a preview program for the phone that will let consumers try the device for free. The program is officially a sweepstakes being run by T-Mobile, and it will give away a G4 once per day until the phone reaches stores. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile said how much they'll charge for the LG G4, but said the device isn't expected to reach carrier stores until June.


T-Mobile Nearly Done Integrating MetroPCS

Apr 28, 2015, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 28, 2015, 8:22 AM

T-Mobile today said it has migrated the majority of MetroPCS customers off the company's legacy CDMA network and onto its own LTE network. T-Mobile says fewer than 500,000 MetroPCS customers are still using the CDMA network. As a result, the company decommissioned MetroPCS' CDMA network in Atlanta and Detroit during the first quarter of the year, bringing the overall total to 8 market shutdowns, with only 3 major markets left. T-Mobile expects to shut down these remaining MetroPCS CDMA networks by the end of the year. T-Mobile has already refarmed approximately 80% of MetroPCS' spectrum for its 4G service. Speaking of which, T-Mobile today said its LTE network covers 275 million people and it expects to reach its goal of 300 million by the end of the year. T-Mobile has aggressively rolled out Wideband LTE service to 157 markets, and expects to cover 200 markets with Wideband LTE by the end of the year. Further, the Uncarrier continues to deploy LTE on its 700MHz spectrum. It added 700MHz coverage in Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Tampa, San Antonio, and Detroit during the first quarter, bringing the total coverage to 55 market areas. Last, T-Mobile says its winnings in the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction gave it licenses covering 97 million people.


Wireless Companies Form Alliance to Pressure FCC

Apr 27, 2015, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A handful of wireless companies and public policy groups have formed an alliance meant to pressure the FCC as it drafts rules for the upcoming 600MHz reverse spectrum auction. The alliance is called SaveWirelessChoice.com. Some of the companies include Sprint, T-Mobile, and Dish Networks, and some of the groups include the Competitive Carrier Association, Public Knowledge, Rural Wireless Association, among numerous others. The alliance hopes the FCC will hold the auction in early 2016, rather than mid-2016; and it wants a larger block of spectrum (at least 50%) reserved for smaller carriers. The alliance web site urges consumers to "stop AT&T and Verizon Wireless from controlling your wireless future," which it claims will lead to bad service, higher prices, and less innovation. In the most recent spectrum auction most of the winnings went to AT&T, Dish Networks, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued for a long time that the two largest carriers have too much market power, necessitating the need for the FCC to provide more opportunities for smaller carriers. "Creating an adequate reserve of quality spectrum for companies who don't already own more than one-third of the low-band spectrum in any given market will go a long way toward leveling the playing field for a competitive market that will benefit consumers for decades to come," said the group.


Defense Mobile Sheds Beta Label, Mission Is Go

Apr 22, 2015, 3:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Defense Mobile, an MVNO that targets military personnel, is coming out of beta status today with more coverage and more devices in its arsenal. During its beta trial, Defense Mobile resold access to AT&T and Sprint's networks. Now, it offers Verizon, too, and is in talks with T-Mobile. The company's service is meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Individual plans start at $30 per month and have names such as Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Family plans start at $95 per month with names such a squad, platoon, and battalion. The handset selection varies from entry level phones such as the Motorola Moto G up to today's premium handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The company offers bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. The company sells devices and services directly from its web site, but hopes to reach 25,000 retail distribution points around the country by the end of the year.


Google's Project Fi Wireless Service Offers Refunds for Unused Data

Apr 22, 2015, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 22, 2015, 12:49 PM

Google today announced Project Fi, which relies on a combination of cellular and WiFi networks to keep users connected wherever they roam. Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile to provide the cellular component. Google says Project Fi can automatically connect to over one million verified WiFi hotspots around the U.S, and all connections are encrypted. The goal is to make communicating simple no matter what device or network is being used. Calls made through WiFi connections will seamlessly hand-off to cellular networks with no interruptions. Google says Project Fi users' phone numbers "live in the cloud," so they can talk and text from just about any phone, tablet, or laptop. Project Fi takes a new approach with respect to billing. The basic plan costs $20 per month and includes talk, text, WiFi tethering, and international coverage in 120 countries. Google then charges $10 per gigabyte of cellular data in the U.S. and abroad. So, 1 GB of data costs $10 per month, 2 GB costs $20 per month, and so on. The unique idea here is that Google will refund people for the data they don't use. For example, subscribers who pay $30 for a 3 GB plan, but only use 1.4 GB, will receive a $16 refund from Google for the unused data. Google is offering Project Fi through an early access program. It requires the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which Google says was developed with Project Fi in mind. Nexus 6 owners can request invites starting today.


Google's Wireless Service to Launch Wednesday

Apr 21, 2015, 7:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is prepared to launch its wireless service as soon as tomorrow, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google's wireless service will rely on the mobile networks operated by Sprint and T-Mobile, in addition to WiFi. The service will only be available to the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which will be able to dynamically weave from network to network in order to find the strongest signal for calls, messaging, and mobile browsing. In what the Journal calls a key development, customers of Google's wireless service will only pay for the actual data they consume each month, rather than fork over money for buckets of data. Google confirmed last month that it is preparing a mobile service, but has not verified the Journal's details. Google's Sundar Pichai said during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona the company's wireless service will be offered on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Specifics such as pricing are still unknown. Sprint and T-Mobile both have large MVNO programs, which is, in effect, how Google's service will operate. Sprint and T-Mobile may renegotiate with Google if its service gets too big.


HTC Offering Camera Improvements to AT&T One M9

Apr 21, 2015, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is pushing out a system update to AT&T's version of the One M9 that improves performance of the camera. In addition to the camera, the update also fixes bugs and resolves some overheating issues. The new build number is 1.32.502.31. HTC warned that the update will reboot the phone several times and may take up to 20 minutes to complete. HTC has already pushed a similar update to the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the One M9.


Alcatel Launches Idol 3 Pre-Sale At Discounted $199 Price

Apr 17, 2015, 9:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel OneTouch today kicked off a limited pre-sale for the Idol 3 smartphone that drops the price by $50. The pre-sale starts immediately and runs through 11:59pm Pacific Time on April 20. Customers who order the phone during this initial pre-sale window will pay only $199.99 for the phone. After the pre-sale ends, Alcatel will begin accepting standard pre-orders on April 21 at the regular price of $249.99. Alcatel said the Idol 3 will ship in mid-May. The phone, which is compatible with the GSM networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, is being sold unlocked.


Walmart Family Mobile Stacks Plans with More Data

Apr 17, 2015, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart Family Mobile, which is run by T-Mobile, today added 500MB of data to its plans. The extra data allotment is being offered free of charge, and is applied automatically for existing customers. The entry-level plan costs $29.88 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, with access to 1GB of LTE 4G. For $10 more per month, customers will have access to 3GB of LTE 4G data each billing cycle. Customers who sign up for multiple lines can save $5 per additional line. The updated data offering goes into effect April 18. Walmart Family Mobile is a postpaid, no-contract service only available from Walmart.


T-Mobile Forced to Halt ZTE Zmax Sales Due to User Errors

Apr 16, 2015, 12:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has suspended sales of the ZTE Zmax handset because customers are forcibly removing the non-removable battery. The back panel of the Zmax is clipped - but not glued - on. Some owners have taken to removing the back cover and cutting into the device to replace the battery. Doing this is dangerous, and T-Mobile strongly suggests Zmax owners take their device to a T-Mobile store if the phone is misbehaving. T-Mobile complained to ZTE, which is examining how to remedy the situation. T-Mobile hasn't said if or when it will resume sales of the Zmax.


AT&T, Verizon Thwart Microsoft's App Deal with Samsung

Apr 16, 2015, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are limiting Microsoft's attempt to bulk up use of its mobile applications. Last month, Samsung agreed to preload Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype applications on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Verizon, however, won't pre-load any of the Microsoft apps on its versions of the S6 and S6 Edge. AT&T will include OneNote and Skype, but not OneDrive. The Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S6 and S6 Edge are shipping with all three Microsoft apps aboard. Neither AT&T nor Verizon commented on their stance against the Microsoft-made apps. Even though the trio of apps won't be pre-loaded, people who buy the S6 and S6 Edge from AT&T or Verizon are free to download the apps, as well as Microsoft's Outlook email and Office productivity apps, from the Google Play Store for free on their own.


Huawei's P8 Variant for U.S. Teased in FCC Approval

Apr 15, 2015, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome

The FCC this week approved a new Huawei phone for North America that bears a striking resemblance to the just-announced P8 global flagship. The phone approved by the FCC has small but distinct differences, such as a flash on the other side of the camera, matching Huawei's description of a more affordable P8 variant coming the U.S. The FCC approval covers a limited set of LTE bands - plus tri-band WCDMA - that makes it compatible with T-Mobile. In some areas, it may also work with AT&T's LTE network. Huawei has indicated that it plans to launch the U.S. variant of the P8 via unlocked channels in May.


Sprint Takes a Page from T-Mobile, Offers Free Roaming

Apr 10, 2015, 10:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new program called International Value Roaming. Customers who add International Value Roaming to their plan will be able to use mobile data and send/receive text messages for free in select countries. The data roaming may be free, but like T-Mobile's offering Sprint is limiting roaming speeds to 2G. Customers who want access to 3G and higher speeds when roaming will need to purchase a 1-, 7-, or 14-day Speed Pass. The 1-day pass starts at $15. The International Value Roaming program also includes reduced charges for voice minutes, which cost 20 cents each. Eligible countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K. Customers can add International Value Roaming to their service plan for free.


Hands On with the Huawei SnapTo

Apr 9, 2015, 6:50 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 9, 2015, 7:07 PM

Huawei's newest phone - announced this morning - is an affordable, mass-market Android phone that Huawei is selling unlocked in the U.S. It's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, including 4G LTE. It has a 5-inch HD display, but its specs are otherwise fairly low-end. Its name comes from a unique button shortcut that not only launches the camera, but takes a photo, too. How does it stack up for the $180 Huawei is asking? Read on.

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Huawei Intros Unlocked SnapTo for US Buyers

Apr 9, 2015, 9:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today announced the SnapTo, an unlocked Android smartphone for sale in the U.S. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat and is compatible with the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. Basic features include a 5-inch 720p HD display, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 2,200mAh battery. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video. It has a feature called Ultra Snapshot, which will automatically take a picture if the down volume button is pressed twice, even when the phone is locked. The front camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. Huawei said the device is available for pre-order starting today and general availability begins next week. It will be available online from Amazon.com. GetHuawei.com, BestBuy.com, Brandsmart USA, Frys.com and Fry's Electronic retail stores, NewEgg.com and other retailers. The SnapTo costs $179.99.


Cricket Offering Free Service to Switchers

Apr 8, 2015, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket today said new customers who switch to Cricket from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Boost, and other competitors will receive one free month of service after completing two months of service. In order to qualify, customers must subscribe to a $50 or $60 rate plan. The offer will only be available for a limited time.


T-Mobile Discontinues Sony Xperia Z3

Apr 6, 2015, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile confirmed via Twitter that it is no longer selling Sony's flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z3. T-Mobile offered the device for just 6 months. The Z3 is still for sale directly from Sony's U.S. web site. Sony is offering it unlocked for $569.


T-Mobile Updates Coverage Map with Customer Data

Mar 30, 2015, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today unveiled a new coverage map that it claims is far more accurate than the maps offered by its competitors. T-Mobile is populating the map with data generated by its own customers. The map shows coverage that's been verified by real customers and shows exactly where LTE, 4G, and 3G coverage is available. T-Mobile is using "Verified Coverage" icons to show where the data has been provided by its customers versus third-party companies. It is using a company called Inrix to verify and backup the customer data. T-Mobile said all coverage map data is updated twice per month, based on on-going customer usage. The map also details speed test data from third-party apps so customers can see what sort of speeds to expect in any given location. The new coverage map is live on T-Mobile's web site. T-Mobile said its LTE network covers 265 million Americans. It expects to cover 300 million Americans by the end of the year.


T-Mobile Asking $780 for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Mar 26, 2015, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile was the first carrier today to reveal pricing information for its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. T-Mobile listed the full retail prices at $679.92 and $779.76, respectively, for the two handsets. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge share nearly all specs and features, but the S6 Edge has a display that's curved on two sides. Customers can pre-order the phones beginning at 7:00 AM Pacific on March 27. The S6 will go for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $28.33, while the S6 Edge will require 24 monthly payments of $32.49. T-Mobile customers who order before April 12th can also receive a one-year Netflix subscription at no cost.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


AT&T, T-Mobile Share HTC One M9 Pricing Details

Mar 26, 2015, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


Lumia 640 Landing At T-Mobile In Near Future

Mar 25, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently added the Microsoft Lumia 640 to its web site and described the device as "coming soon." Microsoft revealed the Lumia 640 at Mobile World Congress earlier this month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and Microsoft's productivity apps. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10 later this year. T-Mobile didn't disclose exact availability or pricing, but Microsoft said the phone will reach stores in April for about $180. AT&T and MetroPCS also plan to sell the Lumia 640.


T-Mobile Tempting Galaxy S6 Buyers with Year of Netflix

Mar 25, 2015, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today revealed via Twitter that customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge will receive a year-long subscription to on-demand video service Netflix. T-Mobile didn't provide any other details about the promotion, nor has the company said when the latest smartphones from Samsung will go on sale.


AT&T Trudges Forward with 700MHz Interoperability

Mar 20, 2015, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently told the FCC where it stands with respect to interoperability in the 700MHz band and said it is making good progress. At issue is phones' abilities to roam between several different bands within the 700MHz A Block slice of airwaves, specifically Band 17 and Band 12. AT&T at first argued against the idea of adding support for Band 12, citing expenses and interference. It later reversed course and has recently finalized lab tests of its network multi-frequency band indicator (MFBI) capabilities. The carrier said it is "well into our field testing for all of our macro-cellular vendors and progressing well." AT&T is working with several of its competitors to fully test the interoperability between bands. Support for Band 12 is important mainly for smaller carriers, such as C Spire Wireless, but it is also important for T-Mobile, which plans to deploy LTE in the 700MHz band later this year. Phones that support more bands can be used across a greater range of carriers. "With recent 3GPP specification changes, it is now possible to build Band 17 devices that are upgradeable to Band 12 MFBI using software," said AT&T. "These devices require different filters/hardware than the legacy Band 17 devices. This requirement has been added to AT&Ts device requirements and RFP guidance." AT&T has committed to releasing Band 12-capable handsets later this year. Beginning Sept. 30, half of all new devices released by the carrier will be compliant.


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