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printed October 21, 2017
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FCC Docs Reveal Samsung Galaxy S8 Active with Band 71 for T-Mobile

Today, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest the Galaxy S8 Active will be Samsung's first Band 71-compatible smartphone for T-Mobile. The government agency recently approved a new version of the SM-G892U, already sold as the Galaxy S8 Active by AT&T, this time with Band 66 and Band 71 aboard. These bands are only used by T-Mobile in the U.S. Band 71, in particular, is the new 600 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile is slowly deploying this year. T-Mobile had promised to release Band 71 devices from LG and Samsung before the end of the year. The V30 from LG was the first to arrive and it appears the Galaxy S8 Active from Samsung is the second. Neither Samsung nor T-Mobile has publicly announced this device and there's no indication of when it might go on sale.


Qualcomm to Support T-Mobile's 600 MHz with New RF Module

Tuesday, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm is expanding the number of LTE bands supported by its cellular antennas. Specifically, the company has designed a new RF front-end to support 600 MHz spectrum, or LTE Band 71. T-Mobile will be the primary beneficiary of the suite of RF modules. T-Mobile has a nationwide footprint of this low-band spectrum, which it has already begun to deploy in some rural areas, including Wyoming. Low-band spectrum has greater propagation characteristics when compared to mid-band spectrum, which means it travels further and can penetrate walls more easily. Qualcomm says its new RF module will also benefit IoT devices that use 600 MHz airwaves. Primarily, the QPM2622 and variants are designed for devices based on the Snapdragon 800 Mobile Platform, while the QAT3516 and variants can be used with the Snapdragon 800, 600, 400, and 200 Mobile Platforms. Qualcomm says its new RF front-ends are already sampling with select customers and it expects to see the modules in commercial devices by the end of the year.


T-Mobile to Restrict 'Mobile Without Borders' Data to 5 GB

Oct 14, 2017, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is shifting gears on the amount of data it offers to customers who travel to Canada and Mexico. Beginning November 12, customers on the T-Mobile One Simple Choice North American plan will only be able to use a maximum of 5 GB of 4G LTE, even if they have an unlimited data bucket at home. Customers who reach the 5 GB limit while roaming in Canada or Mexico will see their speeds limited to 128 Kbps until they return to the U.S. (Subscribers to the T-Mobile One Plus plan will see their roaming speeds cut to 256 Kbps.) Customers who have data buckets that are smaller than unlimited at home will have access to less than 5 GB of 4G LTE when roaming. T-Mobile said it is being forced to make the change in order to curb abuse. T-Mobile believes the change will impact less than 1% of customers who travel to Canada or Mexico.


LG V30 Goes on Sale October 6 for About $800

Sep 28, 2017, 11:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 28, 2017, 7:37 PM

LG and its carrier partners today announced pricing and availability for the V30 smartphone. Preorders for the handset commence October 5th, with an expected ship and in-store date of October 6th for AT&T, or 13th for T-Mobile. Exact pricing varies a bit by carrier, but the average retail price of the phone comes in at $800. T-Mobile, for example, is seeking $80 down and $30 a month on T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan. AT&T is charging $27 per month for 30 months on AT&T Next. AT&T has a limited buy-one, get-one deal on the V30, though it requires at least one port in and a subscription to DirecTV. The V30 is LG's camera-focused flagship. It has a 6-inch FullVision display, glass-and-metal design, and twin rear-mounted cameras.


T-Mobile To Buy iWireless

Sep 26, 2017, 5:13 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today announced that it will become the sole owner of iWireless (Iowa Wireless), expanding T-Mobile's reach in the Iowa area. iWireless is a leading regional wireless provider serving Iowa, western Illinois, and eastern Nebraska with 103 full service company stores and authorized dealers that serve approximately 75,000 customers. All of iWireless will be re-branded as T-Mobile. iWireless has been a T-Mobile affiliate and a jointly owned by T-Mobile and Aureon. T-Mobile is buying out the 50% owned by Aureon. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approval and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017 or early 2018.


Asus Brings ZenFone 4 Lineup to U.S.

Sep 22, 2017, 3:48 PM   by Rich Brome

Asus recently announced plans to bring its ZenFone 4 series of phones to the U.S. unlocked market this year. The lineup includes the flagship ZenFone 4 Pro, the mid-range ZenFone 4, and two versions of the ZenFone 4 Max, both of which have large batteries but otherwise lower-end specs. The ZenFone 4 Max 5.5" is available now, while the rest will go on sale in the coming months. All have basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile LTE networks, including bands 2, 4, 5, and 12.

  • ZenFone 4 Max 5.2": Has a 4,100 mAh battery, 5.2-inch HD LCD display, Snapdragon 425 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. Also includes a fingerprint reader, memory card slot, 13 megapixel camera, 5-megapixel wide-angle camera, and 8-megapixel front camera.
  • ZenFone 4 Max 5.5": Has a 5,000 mAh battery, 5.5-inch HD LCD display, Snapdragon 430 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a metal body. Other features are the same as the 5.2" version. (shown)
  • ZenFone 4: Has a 3,300 mAh battery, 5.5-inch Full-HD LCD display, Snapdragon 630 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and a glass back. It also sports NFC, USB-C, Cat. 12 LTE, and a better main camera with OIS and 4K video recording. Like the rest of the series, it has dual rear cameras and the touch screen works through gloves.
  • ZenFone 4 Pro: A flagship-class phone with all of the features of the ZenFone 4, plus a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 GB of RAM, an AMOLED screen, 3,600 mAh battery, fast charging, auto-focus front camera, 16-megapixel telephoto camera (instead of a wide-angle camera), laser focusing, and better support for AT&T's LTE network with bands 29 and 30.


T-Mobile, Sprint Reach Breakthrough On Potential Merger

Sep 22, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and Sprint have made significant progress in ironing out merger terms, according to Reuters. T-Mobile and Sprint have made a "major breakthrough" on a merger between them. As it stands, SoftBank, Sprint's parent, would own between 40% and 50% of the combined company, with Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, owning the majority stake. These terms are near final and will require due diligence before a deal is announced, which may happen as soon as the end of October, according to Reuters' sources. In addition to shareholder and board approval, the deal would face regulatory scrutiny from the U.S. government. SoftBank was forced to abandon an attempted merger with T-Mobile back in 2014 due to government pressure. The combined T-Mobile/Sprint entity would catapult to 130 million customers, putting it just behind rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile and Sprint declined to comment on Reuters' story.


Google Intros 'Zero-Touch' Android Enterprise Deployments

Sep 21, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easier for businesses to configure and deploy Android handsets to employees with a new tool called zero-touch enrollment. Google says zero-touch lets companies configure purchased devices and ship them directly to employees completely preconfigured with corporate policies and controls all in place. Users need only sign in to gain access to their work apps and data. The new zero-touch enrollment tool is available on handsets purchased from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Google is working with Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, HMD Global, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim to ensure a wide selection of devices support zero-touch. Google indicated the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks. Businesses will be able to use a wide range of enterprise device management tools from the likes of BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, Suite, and VMware to configure zero-touch. Google encouraged businesses that are interested in zero-touch to contact their carriers directly.


T-Mobile Ups Throttling Threshold to 50 GB

Sep 19, 2017, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it will allow customers to use more LTE data before potentially throttling them. Previously, T-Mobile would slow the mobile internet speeds of the heaviest users after they surpassed 32 GB of mobile data in a single billing period. T-Mobile bumped that threshold by 50% to 50 GB effective immediately, which means T-Mobile subscribers can use more data before possibly being hit with slower mobile data speeds. To put this into context, 50 GB of data allows customers to stream 2 hours of (standard definition) Netflix content every day with plenty to spare at the end of the month. T-Mobile says customers who exceed the 50 GB threshold might see their top speeds dialed back only when the network is congested. T-Mobile anticipates this won't impact too many users (the top 1%). The 50 GB threshold resets each month. T-Mobile calls this practice "network prioritization" and says it is primarily used as a way to manage network load.


Apple Watch Series 3 Supports Carriers' One Number Calling and Messaging

Sep 13, 2017, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with an optional cellular radio. The LTE radio makes it possible for the smartwatch to connect to cellular networks on its own, without a nearby iPhone. According to AT&T, the Apple Watch Series 3 is compatible with its NumberSync service, allowing people to make and receive phone calls from their main mobile number on the wearable. In addition to calls, NumberSync allows people to send/receive text messages from their main number directly on the smartwatch. The phone does need to powered on somewhere in order for the service to work. NumberSync is built into AT&T's network, so it doesn't require third-party apps in order to function properly. AT&T charges a $10 per month fee to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing data plan. NumberSync is included for free. AT&T said it will waive the customary activation fee for the Apple Watch Series 3. Verizon Wireless customers will enjoy similar functionality via Verizon's NumberShare technology, which also allows people to make calls and send messages directly from their wrist over the cellular network. Like AT&T, Verizon is charging $10 per month to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing plan. T-Mobile, too, has a $10 Apple Watch Series 3 plan that includes one-number calling from either the phone or the watch. Sprint has not yet detailed a similar service. The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE goes on sale September 22 for $399.


U.S. Carriers Create Mobile Authentication Taskforce

Sep 8, 2017, 11:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Mobile operators in the U.S. today said they will work together to help customers more easily manage app and account authentication while also protecting consumers' privacy and identity. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, which will create a mobile authentication solution for consumer and business customers alike next year. The carriers are going to pool resources and analyze customer data and activity patterns on their respective mobile networks to accurately predict if people are who they say they are. They'll parse insights such as geo-location, network-based device behaviors, and SIM card recognition to determine identity and authenticate users. The four carriers are taking an open approach to the Mobile Authentication Taskforce and hope third-party organizations and developers will participate. The group didn't say exactly when it expects to roll out the initial offering. Finding new and secure ways to authenticate end users is becoming increasingly important as more personal information is available on mobile devices.


T-Mobile Claims LTE-A Lab Downloads Reach 1.175 Gbps

Sep 8, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and its technology partners Nokia and Qualcomm today said they've reached peak download speeds in excess of 1.175 Gbps using LTE-A equipment in a lab. In order to reach these speeds, T-Mobile and its partners used the "4.9G" Nokia AirScale Base Station together with the Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE modem mobile test device. The X20 supports Category 18 for theoretical peak downloads of 1.2 Gbps. The network ran 12 independent streams of LTE data and relied on 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and three-channel carrier aggregation across 60 MHz of T-Mobile's network. T-Mobile says the test "demonstrated that commercially available 4G technologies can deliver unprecedented download speeds well beyond what customers experience today." T-Mobile and other carriers are developing 4.5G and 5G technologies even though the ITU has yet to define the standard's specifications.


T-Mobile to Give Some Customers Netflix for Free

Sep 6, 2017, 10:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 6, 2017, 1:13 PM

T-Mobile today said certain subscribers can enjoy Netflix at no additional cost. The company announced the program, called Netflix On Us, through one of its Un-carrier moves. Netflix is available to T-Mobile One customers who have a minimum of two lines and the taxes/fees included plan. T-Mobile says promos that include free lines and free phones are eligible for the offer. Customers need to associate their Netflix account with T-Mobile through the T-Mobile mobile application. Thereafter, T-Mobile will cover the Netflix bill on a monthly basis for as long as customers maintain their plan. It includes the standard subscription to Netflix, which typically costs $10 per month and permits up to two simultaneous streams. The offer can save customers up to $120 per year. Customers can subscribe to Netflix Premium, which includes more streams and higher-resolution video at $12 per month, and pay only the $2 difference in cost, which will appear on their monthly bill. The offer also includes Family Allowance at no extra cost, which will allow parents to manage their children's phone usage, such as time limits. Video streamed over T-Mobile's network is DVD quality (480p), rather than high definition. T-Mobile One Plus subscribers can stream at 1080p, though their rate plan costs a bit more each month. Customers on one of T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ plans or 2 Lines for $100 plans will need to switch to the newest T-Mobile One plan. Netflix is available to T-Mobile customers at no cost beginning September 12.


LG V30 First to Support T-Mobile's 600 MHz Spectrum

Aug 31, 2017, 8:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG and T-Mobile today said the new V30 flagship smartphone will be the first device capable of operating on T-Mobile's brand new 600 MHz spectrum, or Band 71. T-Mobile kicked off 600 MHz service in Cheyenne, Wyo., two weeks ago and today added Scarborough, Maine. T-Mobile is using the spectrum to provide LTE coverage to rural markets first, though it will also eventually deploy 5G technologies on that spectrum. T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum holdings give it nationwide coverage. The LG V30 is slated to reach T-Mobile later this year.


MediaTek's Helio P23 Chip Targets U.S. Mid-Range Phones

Aug 29, 2017, 6:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MediaTek today announced two new processors for mid-range handsets and one of them takes aim square at U.S.-bound smartphones. The Helio P23 system-on-a-chip is centered around eight ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz that are enhanced by Mali G71 MP2 GPUs. The SoC can be paired with memory modules up to 6 GB. The P23 supports dual camera configurations, a feature that has become popular on high-end handsets and some mid-range phones. The P23 can handle two cameras up to 13 megapixels in color/color, color/mono or wide/telephoto configurations for effects such as bokeh, or a single camera at 24 megapixels. MediaTek says the P23 includes its new Imagiq 2.0 suite, which helps minimize grain, noise, aliasing, and chromatic aberrations. A revised camera control unit helps manage auto exposure speeds. On the connectivity front, the Helio P23 packs CAT 7/13 LTE and what MediaTek calls its 4G LTE WorldMode modem, a radio that can handle many of the world's LTE frequencies. Among them is support for 600 MHz, which is being deployed by T-Mobile. This means phone makers can bring affordable handsets with support for two cameras and T-Mobile's new LTE network to U.S. consumers. The P23 also includes GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth, WiFi, and FM radios. Rounding out the feature set, the P23 offers MediaTek's CorePilot 4.0 technology to help manage thermals with power needs for efficient computing. The Helio P30, also announced today, has slightly higher specs than the P23 though it mainly targets China. MediaTek says the Helio P23 is sampling now and will be available in volume by the fourth quarter. It expects to see handsets with the Helio P23 inside during the early months of 2018.


Sprint, T-Mobile Discount LG G6 and V20

Aug 18, 2017, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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


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

Aug 16, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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


T-Mobile Brings Smartpicks to Jump On Demand

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

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


T-Mobile Announces Branded Revvl Smartphone

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

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


T-Mobile Debuts Plan for Those Over Age 55

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

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


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

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

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


Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Approved by FCC

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

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


Moto Z2 Force Drops 'Droid' Branding On Verizon

Jul 25, 2017, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.


Samsung Makes the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 Available Unlocked

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

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


T-Mobile Offering Scam Protection to MetroPCS Subscribers

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

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


T-Mobile Clearing Out iPhone 7 Inventory

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

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


T-Mobile Says 600 MHz Service Kicks Off In August

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

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


FCC Bestows More 600 MHz Licenses

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

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


MetroPCS to Sell Motorola Moto E4 from July 31

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

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


MetroPCS Intros Summertime Deals on Phones and Service

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

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


Google Now Offering Project Fi to Really Small Businesses

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

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


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

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

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


Alcatel's Modular A50 Parties with Light Up LED Accessory

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

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


Alcatel Announces the Idol 5S with Stereo Speakers

Jun 27, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.


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

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

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


Nokia 6 to Be Available from Amazon Next Month

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

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


ZTE's Axon 7 Mini Wins Android 7.1.1

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

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


T-Mobile Now Selling the Coolpad Defiant for $100

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

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


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

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

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


T-Mobile to Light Up 600 MHz LTE This Summer

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

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


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