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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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.
Sony today discussed pricing and availability details for the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact (pictured) smartphones. The XZ will cost $700 and it goes on sale via Amazon and other online retailers October 2. The X Compact will cost $500 and will reach Amazon and others September 25. The XZ is a flagship handset with 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, and 23-megapixel camera, while the X Compact is a smaller sub-flagship with a 4.6-inch screen, Snapdragon 650 processor, and 23-megapixel camera. Both devices run Android 6 Marshmallow and are sold unlocked with AT&T/T-Mobile LTE compatibility.
Blu today announced the Blu Life One X2, a successor to the Blu Life One X. The Life One X2 features a 5.2-inch full HD display with curved glass, a metal chassis, and a fingerprint reader for biometric security. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 or 4 GB of RAM and 16 or 64 GB of storage. The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with phase-detection autofocus and LED flash, and the selfie camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with a forward-facing LED flash. The phone supports Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology for rapid power-ups. The Life One X2 supports LTE Bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for AT&T, MetroPCS, and T-Mobile. Preorders for the phone kick off today from Amazon.com. Consumers who preorder Sept. 22 or 23 will receive a 10% discount. The 2 GB / 16 GB model costs $150 and the 4 GB / 64 GB model costs $200. Blu didn't say when the Life One X2 will ship.
T-Mobile and Ericsson today said lab tests demonstrate the power of forthcoming 5G technology. The two firms pushed data speeds to 12 Gbps over a wireless connection, with latency as low as 2 milliseconds, in the 28 GHz band. The companies also conducted a voice call between 4G and 5G networks, and say 8x8 MIMO can transmit four 4K video streams over the network at the same time. T-Mobile and Ericsson expect to continue testing this technology in the lab and the field during the back half of 2016. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said, "At T-Mobile, we will put 5G to work for people, like we always have with new technologies. And, true wireless 5G on our network has the potential to change things radically, accelerating long-term trends, creating immersive experiences and increasing mobile productivity and entertainment for everyone." Ray doesn't expect 5G will begin to reach consumers until 2020.
FCC documents indicate that the LG V20 variants for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will be the first phones to support LTE in the new band 66. Band 66 includes the AWS-1, AWS-3, and AWS-4 frequencies. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all purchased new AWS-3 spectrum in 2015, but have yet to deploy it. When they do, it will require phones that support band 66. AWS-1 — also known as band 4 — is already deployed by all three companies. AWS-4 is owned by Dish Networks, which has yet to announce firm plans for that spectrum.
T-Mobile today said it plans to operate its 2G GSM network through the year 2020. The company has optimized its 2G network to run on less spectrum alongside its LTE 4G network. The vast majority of T-Mobile handsets connect via LTE. T-Mobile is keeping its 2G GSM network alive specifically for Internet of Things and machine-to-machine devices. As such, T-Mobile is attempting to lure away AT&T's IoT and M2M customers by offering free SIM cards and free 2G service through the end of the year to any subscribers that switch. Many IoT and M2M applications require little bandwidth and generally access the network only periodically. T-Mobile is going after AT&T because AT&T plans to shut down its 2G network at the end of this year.
T-Mobile will give a free Apple iPhone 7 to customers who trade in an iPhone 6 or newer when they preorder the new phone. The offer is being made available to new and existing customers. T-Mobile says an iPhone 6 trade-in (any storage capacity) will net a 32 GB iPhone 7. Customers have to own the trade-in outright, it must power on, and it must be free of water and screen damage. Customers who trade in a device with more memory (or an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus) will be given extra credit towards purchases of the 128 GB iPhone 7, etc. T-Mobile says customers may also elect to pay some cash up front for pricier models. For example, customers who trade in an iPhone 6 but want the iPhone 7 Plus will need to pay $120 up front. The free device is being offered through bill credits over a period of 24 months. After 24 months, the customers will own the iPhone 7. Customers can walk away from T-Mobile at any time during the 24-month period by paying off the phone balance or giving the phone back to T-Mobile. T-Mobile also said it will carry the Apple Watch Series 2 (online only) and the new Beats Powerbeats headphones in an exclusive magenta color. Last, MetroPCS will carry the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus beginning September 23. T-Mobile pre-orders for the new iPhones kick off Friday, September 9th at 12:01a.m. Pacific Time.
T-Mobile today announced two significant updates to its network: first, it has launching 4x4 MIMO, and second, it has increased its network footprint. The 4x4 MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) technology falls under the LTE-Advanced category. It doubles the number of channels between cell towers and cell phones, which improves capacity and speed. T-Mobile has deployed 4x4 MIMO across 319 cities. Moreover, T-Mobile is adopting 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads. This technology boosts the number of bits that can be delivered per transmission. T-Mobile claims 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM together can double speeds, pushing them up to 400Mbps. The 256/64 QAM technology is already live on half of T-Mobile's network, with the rest to follow by the end of October. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be the first to take advantage of this tech with a software update planned for October, with more phones to be supported later. Last, T-Mobile says its LTE network now reaches 312 million Americans, or 99.7% of Verizon's LTE footprint.
T-Mobile today announced new promotions that will be available as part of its T-Mobile Tuesday customer thank you program starting Sept. 6. T-Mobile customers who've downloaded the T-Mobile Tuesdays app will be able to redeem a free 6-inch sub from Subway, a free Lyft drive (up to $15), and a free VUDU movie rental ($5.50). On Sept. 13, PetSmart and Buffalo Wild Wings will join T-Mobile Tuesdays with promos of their own. T-Mobile claims the program is a success, with 4 million customers taking advantage of 14 million rewards since its June launch.
The FCC's 600MHz incentive auction is proceeding slowly and may need to be reset. After 27 rounds of bidding, the total amount bid has reached only $23 billion, far short of the $88.4 billion clearing cost set during the reverse part of the auction earlier this year. The FCC will likely end bidding on the licenses that attracted the most interest and then go back to the television broadcasters to reset the clearing costs for the remaining licenses to drive demand. Some analysts believe the auction made need to reset prices several times before it can come to an end. The 600MHz airwaves are the last low-band spectrum that will be made available to wireless carriers. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as is Dish Networks and myriad other entities. The spectrum is being sold by television broadcasters, many of which have had the spectrum for decades.
Alcatel today announced the Fierce 4, a large, budget-conscious Android smartphone that will be sold by MetroPCS. The Fierce 4 features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core, 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus and a 5-megapixel front camera with an extra-wide 84-degree field of view for more inclusive selfies. The phone supports memory cards up to 128 GB; runs on Metro's LTE 4G network; includes a 2,500mAh battery; and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Alcatel Fierce 4 will be available nationwide at MetroPCS stores beginning today for $69. Alcatel says the Fierce 4 will reach T-Mobile later this fall.
T-Mobile today made several adjustments to its T-Mobile One plan in order to halt the firestorm of criticism the plan has received. First, T-Mobile One subscribers will be able to use an unlimited amount of mobile hotspot data at speeds up to 512Kbps. Hotspot speeds were capped at 128Kbps in the first incarnation of T-Mobile One. Second, T-Mobile is offering HD day passes for $3. Customers can pay $3 to stream as much HD video as they want, providing a bit more flexibility than the monthly add-on originally announced by T-Mobile. The day passes are good for 24 hours. Third, T-Mobile is introducing T-Mobile One Plus, an enhanced version of the plan that includes unlimited mobile hotspot, unlimited use of HD day passes, and 256Kbps free international roaming. According to T-Mobile, the unlimited HD day passes don't cost anything, but they must be toggled on each time the customer wants to use them. The phone will still default to standard definition video until the day pass is turned on. The HD day pass will expire automatically, resetting the device to standard definition at the end of each day. The T-Mobile One Plus add-on will cost $25 extra per month. Last, T-Mobile is launching its T-Mobile One plans five days earlier than originally announced. The plan will be available beginning September 1. The starting price is $75 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 4G data. T-Mobile One subscribers can use up to 26 GB of 4G LTE data before they might encounter throttling on congested cell sites. The price drops to $70 per month if customers use auto-pay.
Google this week made its WiFi Assistant feature available to all Nexus devices. The tool is a direct carryover from Google's Project Fi. The WiFi Assistant lets Nexus owners automatically and securely connect to more than one million free, open WiFi hotspots that are certified by Google. Users won't be required to sign in or set up accounts to access the WiFi. Moreover, Google manages the connection and ensures it is protected. Google says the tool can help improve average connection speeds and lower monthly data consumption, regardless of which wireless carrier provides cellular service to the phone. The Google WiFi Assistant is available to Nexus devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Nordic countries. Google says it will roll out over the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi for calling and data, but also hops onto Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular when WiFi is not available.
AT&T today said it has signed an interconnect agreement with Cuba's Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA). The agreement will eventually allow AT&T customers to roam on ETESCA's network when traveling to Cuba. AT&T hasn't said when it will make such roaming available and will announce pricing at a later date. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already have similar agreements in place with ETESCA.
AT&T and dozens of other companies are escalating the war on robocalls with a new Strike Force aimed at disrupting spammers' ability to call and pester consumers. AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson says carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers will all need to work together to create a play book to tackle the problem. "In parallel with technological solutions, we need our regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors. Shutting down the bad guys is a necessary step, and a powerful example to others. Our goal isn't complicated: Stop unwanted robocalls. Easy to say. Hard to do," said Stephenson in remarks made at the FCC's first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force. Industry player are gathering today to discuss initial plans and are expected to report back with more solid short- and long-term plans on October 19. Some of the companies participating in the Strike Force include AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Comcast, Ericsson, Google, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.
The Samsung Galaxy Note7 reaches U.S. stores today and with it some interesting accessories and companion products from Samsung. The new Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the Note7 and other recent Galaxy phones, has a new look, new color, and expanded field of view. It's available for $100 at carrier stores, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung. The Gear 360 camera (pictured), able to shoot 360-degree photos and video, will only be available online for $350. Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds are available, too. These $200 headphones are fully wireless, have built-in memory, and can track workouts. The less expensive Samsung Level Active headphones are sweat proof and can control music/calls for $100. Last, the Samsung Connect auto provides an AT&T-backed in-car hotspot via the OBD II port. The Connect auto can also send alerts to the driver and improve driving safety/efficiency. AT&T will sell the Samsung Connect auto online and in stores. The Galaxy Note7 is Samsung's flagship phablet for the year. It has a 5.7-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64 GB of storage, and the S Pen stylus. The Note7 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile One, a truly unlimited rate plan that includes all-you-can-eat data, messaging, and minutes. T-Mobile says the new T-Mobile One plan includes many of the Uncarrier benefits, such as T-Mobile Tuesdays, Stock Up, WiFi Unleashed, Carrier Freedom, Mobile Without Borders, and Global Freedom. The plan includes unlimited video streaming at standard definition and unlimited hotspot usage at 2G speeds. The first line costs $75 per month. Adding more lines to create a family plan costs $55 for the second, and $25 for lines three through eight. A family of four, says T-Mobile, can subscribe to the unlimited T-Mobile One plan for $180 per month. If all lines are subscribed to Auto Pay, the price for each line drops by $5 per month for a total of $160 for four. There are some extra fees involved. Customers who want to stream HD video over LTE will need to cough up an extra $25 HD video access fee. Customers can get unlimited LTE data for their tablet for $20 per month when paired with a phone line, or for $70 if the tablet is the only line. Customers can add 5 GB of LTE high-speed tethering for $15 per month. Wearables cost $5 per month to add to a T-Mobile One plan. Last, T-Mobile made it clear that customers who exceed 26 GB of LTE data in a given billing cycle will be throttled back to 2G speeds if/when they encounter network congestion. T-Mobile said the T-Mobile One plan will be available starting September 6. Customers may switch to the new plan or stick with their current plan.
The FCC today approved new Kyocera phones that seem to match the just-announced DuraForce Pro. One supports both CDMA and LTE 2/4/5/13, a combination unique to Verizon. A separate version compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks was also approved today.
Verizon Wireless has followed T-Mobile in making the HTC Desire 530 available for sale. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. Verizon is selling the phone for $144 at full retail or $6 per month on a payment plan.
T-Mobile today said customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy Note7 will receive one of three thank you gifts. Customers can select a Gear Fit2, 256 GB microSD memory card, or a free year of Netflix — each of which has a value of about $100. T-Mobile plans to sell all three colors (black, silver, blue) of the Note7. The device costs $849. Customers can pay the full price, or make a down payment of $70 and then monthly payments of $32.50 for 24 months. T-Mobile will begin accepting preorders at 12:01am August 3.