Blu Products today announced the Life One X3, a mid-range handset from the unlocked phone maker. The One X3 has a curved-edge glass screen and an aluminum frame painted in matte black. The display measures 5.5 inches and offers full HD resolution. Blu gave the One X3 an octa-core MediaTek 6753 processor at 1.3 GHz with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. An impressively large 5,000mAh battery lurks within in the chassis to provide more than a day of battery life. The One X3 sports two 13-megapixel cameras, one on front and one on back. Both cameras have their own flash and can capture full HD video. Other specs include Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 28) for moderate compatibility with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone ships with Android 7 Nougat. Blu says the One X3 is available from Amazon.com starting today. The standard retail price is $250, but the Life One X3 will be available for a limited time at $150.
T-Mobile has set its sights on the cable TV industry and hopes to disrupt that market beginning next year. The company today announced plans to acquire Layer3 TV, which already delivers internet-based television service in five markets around the country. T-Mobile will use Layer3 TV's technology to create and launch a new TV service that will be delivered over T-Mobile's LTE network. "People love their TV, but they hate their TV providers. And worse, they have no real choice but to simply take it — the crappy customer service, clunky technology and outrageous bills loaded with fees! That’s where we come in. We're gonna fix the pain points and bring real choice to consumers across the country," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. Legere insisted T-Mobile's TV service will be "disruptive" and will take full advantage of the latest technology and best content from today's top creators. In addition to T-Mobile's network, the as-yet-unnamed TV service will be supported by T-Mobile's retail stores, and sales and service organizations. Jeff Binder, CEO of Layer3 TV, added, "No market needs Un-carrier-ing more than pay TV, so we’re completely stoked to join T-Mobile in disrupting the status quo!" T-Mobile did not say how much it will pay for Layer3 TV, nor when this television service might launch, not what it expects to charge per month. The company already allows people to stream as much video via LTE as they wish, and offers some customers Netflix for free. T-Mobile competitors AT&T and Verizon each have their own television services, both mobile and in-home. T-Mobile needs to enter the TV space in some capacity in order to offer customers a similar set of services.
Huawei said its Honor 7X handset will be available to U.S. consumers beginning today. Anyone interested in the phone can pre-order it from the Honor web site. Available in black, gold, and blue, the Honor 7X costs $199 and is sold unlocked with support for GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The 7X has an aluminum unibody chassis with 2.5D curved glass and a 5.9-inch 2:1 aspect ratio display. It is powered by Huawei's Kirin 659 processor and has dual cameras, a fingerprint reader, a 3,340mAh battery, and Cat 6 LTE. It runs Android 7 Nougat with Huawei's EMUI 5.1 user interface on board.
T-Mobile's relatively new REVVL brand is all about affordability and popular features, like large screens and fingerprint readers. The REVVL Plus is the second in the series, made by Coolpad. It has a massive six-inch, 16:9 display, a fingerprint reader, and dual cameras. Otherwise, it's a pretty standard affordable Android phone. What's it like in person? We checked it out.
T-Mobile today said it will deploy 5G across much of the country within a few years using its low-band 600 MHz spectrum. “We’re committed to drive a 5G rollout by 2020 across the nation,” said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray during an investor conference. That doesn’t mean T-Mobile is ignoring high-band spectrum, which competitors AT&T and Verizon are pursuing. “There’s been a lot of discussion of millimeter wave and the kind of surgical, tactical deployments of 5G, and we’ll be there too. But we’ll deploy in the 600 MHz for 5G as we move into the next decade.” AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all pushing to deploy 5G technologies as soon as possible even though the standard has not been defined. Al three are already pushing out gigabit LTE, a stepping stone to 5G. AT&T is its own 5G technology in Houston and Indianapolis. T-Mobile didn’t say what markets might see potential 5G service first.
T-Mobile today revealed a holiday promotion that can net people a free flagship smartphone. Customers who purchase one new phone at full price will be able to snag a second for free, through monthly rebates. Handsets that qualify for the promotion include the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Note8, and S8 Active, and the LG G6, V20, V30, and V30+. The first phone will need to be financed through T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will then make the monthly payments on the second device over a 24-month period. T-Mobile said customers interested in the iPhone X can score up to $300 in rebates with an eligible trade-in, though there's no BOGO deal for the iPhone. The promotion kicks off November 17.
T-Mobile today said people who switch to MetroPCS and subscribe to an unlimited plan will enjoy a year of Amazon Prime for free. Amazon Prime gives people access to discounted shipping from Amazon.com, as well as access to Amazon's music and video streaming services, online photo storage, and other perks. Amazon Prime typically carries a cost of $99 per year. In addition to Amazon Prime for free, MetroPCS will give those who switch a free Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime smartphone. The free phone also requires customers subscribe to the unlimited plan. MetroPCS is offering four lines of unlimited service for $100. The J7 Prime has a 5.5-inch screen, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, 16 GB of storage, and a 3,300mAh battery. The phone normally sells for $209. MetroPCS said the Amazon Prime and free J7 Prime promos will only be available for a limited time.
Sprint and Hulu today said they've partnered together so Sprint customers can enjoy access to Hulu's content for free. New and existing Sprint Unlimited Freedom subscribers can add Hulu at no extra charge. Hulu has three services tiers: streaming with limited commercials for $8 per month, streaming with no commercials for $12 per month, and streaming with live TV for $40 per month. The Sprint promotion applies to Hulu's entry-level limited commercials plan. Sprint and Hulu hope to offer an upgrade option for Hulu's sports and news-focused live TV plan in the near future, but potential pricing wasn't revealed. Sprint Unlimited Freedom customers can stream HD content over the network, though only some of Hulu's content is available in HD. Sprint says customers can sign up for free access to Hulu starting November 17. The move by Sprint and Hulu mirrors a similar tie-up between T-Mobile and Netflix.
The Revvl Plus, made by Coolpad, is the latest smartphone to carry the T-Mobile brand. This big brother to the Revvl offers big features at a small price. The Revvl Plus cranks the screen size up to 6 inches with full HD resolution. The phone is powered by a 2.0 GHz octa-core processor with 2 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The Revvl Plus boasts dual cameras on the rear, a rare feature for a phone at this price point. The main sensor captures 13-megapixel HDR images while the secondary sensor captures 5-megapixel shots. The front camera has its own 8-megapixel camera. Other features of the Revvl Plus include fingerprint sensor, LTE, expandable storage, and 3,380mAh battery. T-Mobile plans to sell the phone starting November 17. It will cost $200, or $8 per month for 24 months with an $8 down payment. The Revvl Plus runs Android 7.1 Nougat.
T-Mobile today said more customers around the country should have access to faster wireless speeds. The company has reached several new milestones with respect to its wireless network. First, it has doubled its LTE-Advanced footprint to more than 920 markets. The company has deployed a trio of LTE-A technologies, including carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM, in 430 of those markets. Gigabit LTE relies on a combination of these three LTE-A technologies along with certain on-device components and proper backhaul. Together, these technologies are able to improve spectral efficiency, reduce congestion, and deliver the highest-possible speeds to handsets. Only a few devices equipped with the Snapdragon 835 processor with X16 LTE modem can access Gigabit LTE, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the LG V30. T-Mobile customers who own these devices and live in the 430 markets with carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM may be able to tap into Gigatbit LTE download speeds (800 Mbps). Gigabit LTE is a stepping stone to 5G and T-Mobile plans to keep moving forward. The company is prepared to launch LTE-License Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) later this year. LTE-LAA makes better use of unlicensed spectrum on small cells. T-Mobile did not provide a timeline for these network upgrades.
T-Mobile today said it plans to sell the LG V30+ later this month. The V30+ differs from the V30 in that it has double the internal storage — 128 GB instead of 64 GB. Other features of the V30+, including support for T-Mobile's Band 71 600 MHz spectrum, remain unchanged. The phone has a 6-inch quad HD+ display, Snapdragon 835 processor, wide-angle and standard cameras, and a 3,300mAh battery. The LG V30+ will be available in limited quantity for $130 down and $30 a month for 24 months. It goes on sale November 17. Until now, the V30+ has been a Sprint exclusive.
Samsung today said its rugged Galaxy S8 Active will soon be sold by T-Mobile and Sprint. The phone has been available from AT&T since earlier this year. Notably, the T-Mobile variant of the S8 Active supports Band 71, or 600 MHz spectrum, which T-Mobile is slowly lighting up with service in rural areas. Otherwise, the device is unchanged from the AT&T variant. The S8 Active has a metal frame with bumpers that are able to withstand drops up to 5 feet. Samsung says the phone meets mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse in addition to IP68 for protection against water. The phone has a 5.8-inch quad HD+ display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, but drops the S8's curved glass for a flat piece of hardened glass. Other features unique to the S8 Active include a larger 4,000mAh battery, and Samsung's Activity Zone software for tracking workouts and other activities. The S8 Active is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, boasts 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera, and includes a dedicated Bixby key. T-Mobile says the Galaxy S8 Active will require a $100 down payment followed by $30 monthly payments for 24 months. Alternately, customers can lease the phone for $100 down and $29 per month for 18 months. It will be available from T-Mobile's web site starting November 17 and should hit stores November 22. Sprint has yet to share pricing and availability details.
T-Mobile and Sprint today said they have ceased talks to merge into a single entity. The companies said they could not find mutually agreement terms. T-Mobile and Sprint have flirted with the idea of merging since 2014. Talks ramped up again earlier this year, but it appears the two companies weren't able to find a deal that worked for both organizations. "The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record. Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories — ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it." T-Mobile and Sprint have vast spectrum resources, but combining them would have been difficult. Moreover, T-Mobile is worth twice as much as Sprint from a market capitalization perspective and that threw a wrench in how the merged company would be led. Marcelo Claure, Sprint's CEO, said, "While we couldn’t reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination. We have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own. We know we have significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth. We look forward to continuing to take the fight to the duopoly and newly emerging competitors." AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two industry leaders, each have about twice as many customers as both T-Mobile and Sprint.
T-Mobile has approached Sprint with a new proposal, reports the Wall Street Journal, in an attempt to keep the potential merger of the two companies alive. Talks failed earlier this week when Masayoshi Son, CEO of Sprint parent SoftBank, appeared to walk away from the deal over a disagreement concerning which company would own the other. The terms of T-Mobile's new proposal are unknown, but Sprint is considering them according to the Journal's unnamed sources. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure have been in direct contact since Wednesday. T-Mobile ($49 billion) has twice the market capitalization of Sprint ($26 billion). This should put T-Mobile in the driver's seat concerning the terms of the merger agreement and ownership. The Journal's sources say a new deal could be reached within weeks, though they were certain to note talks could always fall through.
HTC today announced the U11 Life, a mid-range handset that resembles the company’s U11 flagship though it tones down specs to reach a reasonable price point. The U11 Life is almost identical to the U11 at a glance, but it trades the U11’s high-quality glass for plastic. HTC achieved the mirror-like finish by using a clear acrylic exterior with metallic paint on the inside surface. The point, according to HTC, is to give people a device that looks like a flagship at a more affordable cost. The U11 Life has a 5.2-inch full HD LCD display and it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The U11 Life has a 16-megapixel camera at f/2.0 on both the back and the front. Where the rear camera has phase-detection autofocus, the front camera has fixed focus. The device does include the U11’s squeezable Edge Sense feature for initiating certain actions. Other features include USB-C noise-cancelling earbuds, HTC Alexa voice assistant, IP67 water resistance, and Android 7 Nougat. (HTC will update the phone to Android 8 Oreo by the end of November.) Perhaps most importantly, the U11 Life will be widely available to U.S. consumers. T-Mobile plans to sell the phone and feature it in stores as a “Smart Pick.” The U11 Life will be sold unlocked from HTC starting on November 2 and should hit T-Mobile stores the following day, November 3. The U11 Life is priced at under $349.
Blu Products recently announced the S1, an inexpensive Android smartphone that's available unlocked from Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. One of the chief benefits of the S1 is its wide compatibility with U.S. LTE networks. It supports AT&T and T-Mobile, and, unusually, Sprint, as well as their prepaid services including Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, and MetroPCS. Blu says it also offers SIM kits for the S1 from Tracfone, Net10, and H2O. The S1 features a curved glass front with metallic paint on the smooth rear panel. The 5.2-inch display offers 720p HD resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the phone is powered by an octa-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek 6750 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and an LED flash, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS, and WiFi; 16 GB of storage and support for microSD memory cards; front-mounted fingerprint sensor; and a 2,800mAh battery. The Blu S1 runs Android 7 Nougat and is available online for $130 from Amazon and $180 from Best Buy.
Sprint and T-Mobile may not be merging after all. SoftBank, the majority owner of Sprint, plans to break off merger talks, according to Reuters. SoftBank and T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom haven't been able to agree on who will own the combined company. T-Mobile and Sprint are the country's third- and fourth-largest carriers, when measured by customers. The merged entity would have been better able to compete with market leaders AT&T and Verizon. SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom had widely been expected to announced merger details by the end of the month. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile commented on Reuters' report.
Amazon today announced that it will soon offer a slew of LG Android smartphones through its Amazon Prime Exclusives program. Among them is the LG Q6 (pictured), marking the first time this particular phone is being made available to U.S. consumers. The Q6, announced in July, features a 5.5-inch, 18:9 display with full HD+ resolution, curved aluminum frame, and minimized bezels. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes Google Assistant and facial recognition for unlocking the phone. The main camera has a standard-angle 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 100-degree, wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor. The Q6 is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and includes a 3,000mAh battery and NFC. The Q6 costs $300, but Amazon Prime members can buy it for $230 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. Handsets sold under the Prime Exclusives banner cost less because users agree to view advertisements on the lock screen. Amazon said the Q6 will become available in the coming months. Amazon is also slated to sell the LG G6 ($400), G6+ ($500), and X charge ($150), all of which have been for sale directly from carriers since earlier this year. All four phones are sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.
T-Mobile today unveiled a new promotion for its MetroPCS prepaid brand that offers big savings for families. Customers who add at least one new line of service can score four lines of unlimited talk, text, and LTE data for $100 per month. That price includes taxes and fees. Every line ported to MetroPCS will be eligible for a free smartphone. Some of the free handsets include the Alcatel Fierce 4 and Fierce A30; Coolpad Defiant; LG Aristo and K20 Plus; Motorola Moto E4; Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime and Galaxy J7 Prime; and the ZTE Blade Z Max and Avid Trio. Those who earn a free phone will have to pay sales tax at the point of sale. Though the plan is billed as unlimited, there are some stipulations. To start, video is limited to streams of 480p and tethering is not available. Further, customers who exceed 35 GB of data in a given billing period may see reduced speeds until the start of their next billing cycle.
Blu Products today announced the Vivo 8L, an update to the Vivo 8 that boasts a powerful selfie camera. The Vivo 8L is based around a 5.3-inch 720p HD screen with curved Gorilla Glass 3. Blu put a 1.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6753 processor under the hood with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. The selfie camera has a 20-megapixel, wide-angle sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and features such as smart scene detection and face beautification software. The main camera is based on a 13-megapixel Sony IMX258 sensor with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, HDR, PDAF/laser focus, and slow-motion video capture. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, WiFi, fingerprint reader, and 4,000mAh battery with rapid charging. It runs Android 7 Nougat and is sold unlocked with basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile. The Blu Vivo 8L costs $200, but Amazon.com is offering it for $150 starting today.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.