Virgin Mobile today announced that the Samsung Galaxy Ring is now available for $179.99. The Ring features a 4.0-inch touch display, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash and 1080p HD video capture, 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera, and a 1.4GHz processor. The Ring runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and is compatible with Virgin iD packs. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi, and support for Virgin's CDMA 3G network. It is compatible with microSD cards up to 64GB and has a 1,750mAh battery. The device is for sale online and in stores beginning today.
C Spire Wireless today announced the availability of a new app called WiFi On, which will allow C Spire customers to connect to more than 14 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. The app was made by Devicescape and uses its partners to connect to the various Wi-Fi hotspot networks. With the app running in the background, WiFi On will automatically search for and connect to open, public Wi-Fi networks. The app is smart enough that it will turn the Wi-Fi radio off when there's little or no signal available. WiFi On works on any Android smartphone running Android 2.2 and up, and it will come preloaded on devices such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Samsung plans to introduce a version of the Galaxy S4 with LTE-Advanced on board, according to mobile chief J.K. Shin. "We'll be the first with the commercial launch of the advanced 4G version of the smartphone," said Shin. LTE-Advanced can attain download speeds that are about twice that of today's LTE. This new device will be sold in Korea as soon as this month, and Samsung is in talks with other carriers to sell the phone outside of Korea, though Shin didn't say which ones. The LTE-Advanced Galaxy S4 would mark the fifth variation of the device, following the S4, S4 Mini, S4 Active, and S4 Zoom. At the moment, there are no operational LTE-Advanced networks available in the U.S.
MetroPCS today announced that it has initiated sales of HSPA+ based smartphones in its retail stores. Earlier this week, MetroPCS began accepting unlocked HSPA+ phones in several markets, including Boston, Hartford, Las Vegas, and Dallas, and today announced that it is selling the LG L9 and Samsung Galaxy Exhibit as the first two HSPA+ phones. The company is working to switch its CDMA-based customers over to GSM-based devices, which run on T-Mobile's network rather that MetroPCS' as it integrates the two. MetroPCS will begin selling an HSPA+ and LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy S III on June 17. The company did not say when it expects to broaden the availability of these first HSPA+ phones and the BYOD service beyond the first few markets.
AT&T today made available a new series of plans for its GoPhone prepaid service and for the first time is allowing GoPhone customers to access its LTE 4G network. Plans for LTE 4G smartphones now start at $25 per month, which includes 250 minutes and unlimited messaging, with 50MB of data available for $5 more. The next step up costs $40 per month and includes 500 minutes, unlimited messaging, and 200MB of data, with additional data buckets available for $5 per 100MB. The highest tier plan costs $60 per month and includes unlimited minutes, unlimited messaging, and 2GB of data, with additional data available for $10 per 1GB. GoPhone plans do not require a contract. Customers may bring their own smartphone if they wish, or purchase a GoPhone smartphone. AT&T also announced that it has added the Samsung Galaxy Express to its lineup of GoPhone devices. The Express is an Android smartphone that includes LTE 4G and costs $249. AT&T updated its feature phone plans, which start at $35 per month for 500 minutes, unlimited messaging and unlimited data. The new plans go into effect June 21.
AT&T would like to strike more Wi-Fi roaming agreements with its international peers. Bill Hague, AT&T's executive vice president of international affairs, said that such agreements would benefit not only consumers, but the network operators, too. "Roaming agreements will increase revenue for everyone, and far more than anyone could do individually," said Hague while speaking at the Wi-Fi Globall Congress this week. "In much the same way as GSMA standardization secured its international success, so we need to do the same with Wi-Fi." Specifically, AT&T is looking at the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and its Passpoint program, which will allow cell phone users roam from cell network to Wi-Fi hotspots seamlessly, even in other countries. Passpoint and the Next Generation Hotspot (Hotspot 2.0) programs require that devices be certifed by the WBA, since a big piece of the puzzle is authentication of the user between the various networks. The standards are still in progress and the industry has yet to settle on one. Apple's recently-announced iOS 7 includes support for Hotspot 2.0, as does the Samsung Galaxy S4. The initiative is expected to go live for consumers early next year.
AT&T today posted a teaser video on its YouTube channel that suggests it will soon release a waterproof smartphone. The video depicts a device, which resembles the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, being dunked in water and accepting calls while submerged. The video says that more details will become available June 13.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S4 Zoom, a smartphone that looks more like a point-and-shoot camera than a handset. The Zoom features a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and boasts 10x optical zoom, Xenon flash, and optical image stabilization. The Zoom has new camera software that replaces traditional digital controls called the Zoom Ring, which Samsung says can be used to launch certain camera functions such as sharing a picture while on a phone call. Beyond the camera, the Zoom runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and has a 4.3-inch qHD display, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth, and support for various different LTE bands. The Zoom includes 8GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It is powered by a 2,330mAh battery. Pricing and availability were not announced.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy Ace 3, a new Android smartphone that helps fill out the low-cost portion of its portfolio. The Ace 3 features a 4-inch WVGA LCD screen and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and comes with many of the same software features found on Samsung's higher-end device, such as S Translator, Smart Stay, S Voice, and S Travel. The Ace 3 has a 5-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and software features such as Best Shot, Sound & Shot, and Best Photo. The Ace 3 also has a VGA user-facing camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 4GB of internal memory, and support for microSD memory cards. The Ace 3 will be sold in single- and dual-SIM versions, as well as 3G-only and LTE versions (the LTE version has a 1.2GHz processor and 8GB of memory). Availability and pricing will vary by market.
Boost Mobile today announced that it will offer the Samsung Galaxy S III with LTE on board beginning June 12. The GSIII costs $399.99 but does not require a contract. It can be paired with Boost's $55 monthly plan with shrinking payments.
Officials from the cities of New York and San Francisco today announced that they plan to meet with leading makers of smartphones later this month to discuss how to curb cell phone thefts. According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, 1.6 million cell phones are stolen each year from Americans. The city officials will meet with Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft on June 13, when they intend to enlist the companies' help by asking them to devise ways to quickly deactivate stolen devices so they will no longer work. U.S. network operators have already created a registry of stolen cell phones together with the Federal Communications Commission that is used to prevent them from accessing network services. Last month, New York Senator Charles Schumer reintroduced a bill that would make it illegal for people to alter the IMEI or other identifying numbers of devices. All these steps have been taken in an effort to reduce thefts and robberies of cell phones by drying up the secondary market for the stolen goods.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S4 Active, a semi-rugged variant of its flagship smartphone. The Active has an ingress protection rating of 67, which means it is fully sealed against dust and water. It can be submersed in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, and includes a water resistant earphone jack so owners can use headphones with their Active even when out in wet conditions. Samsung notes that the GS4 Active's water protection and new Aqua Mode camera features allow it to be used for underwater photography, and the screen can be used when wet or when wearing gloves. Most other features of the Active match those of the regular-issue GS4, including the 5.0-inch HD display, 2600mAh battery, 1.9GHz quad-core processor, and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system. The GS4's 13-megapixel camera has, however, been replaced with an 8-megapixel camera in the Active. Samsung said the Galaxy S4 Active will be available for sale in the U.S. beginning this summer. The version announced today supports GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE networks, but Samsung did not say which carrier might offer the GS4 Active. Pricing was not provided.
The U.S. International Trade Commission today ruled that Apple has violated a standard-essential patent regarding 3G technology owned by Samsung. Per Samsung's request, the ITC voted in favor of banning some Apple products, including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and 3G versions of the original iPad and iPad 2. Apple may appeal the decision with federal courts or ask the White House for a reprieve. Neither company offered a statement on the ruling.
Samsung today announced a smaller version of its flagship device, the Galaxy S4 Mini. The Mini swaps out the S4's 5-inch FHD display for a qHD 4.3-inch display; it drops the 13-megapixel camera down to 8 megapixels; and changes out the quad-core processor in favor of a 1.7GHz dual-core processor. The user-facing camera rates 1.9 megapixels and the Mini includes many of the same imaging features found in its larger stablemate, including Sound & Shot, Story Album, and Best Face. The Mini also carries over the GS4's multitude of apps, such as S Translator, S Health, WatchOn, Samsung Hub, and others. The Galaxy S4 Mini has 8GB of internal memory (5GB accessible by users), 1.5GB of RAM, and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It includes GPS and GLONASS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and an IR blaster for the remote control app. The device comes in several wireless configurations, including 3G only, and 3G with LTE 4G, depending on the region. The Galaxy S4 Mini runs Android 4.2.2 and will be available in black and white. Retail availability depends on the market.
Verizon Wireless has published the details of a system update that will soon be made available to the Samsung Galaxy S III. Among the many new features being prepped for last year's device is the split-screen multitasking mode available to Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Note/Note II devices. Other enhancements include fixes for the mobile hotspot function, the lockscreen, and USB tethering; new features for the camera, including Best Shot; improvements to the menu customization features; and better tools to manage photos and galleries. The system update will be pushed out over the air in the weeks ahead.
The U.S. International Trade Commission today indicated that its full panel will review two decisions made earlier this year by a judge regarding the on-going patent spats between Apple and Samsung. In particular, the ITC will look at one decision that found Samsung guilty of infringing on an Apple patent that pertains to selecting text, an a second decision that found Samsung innocent of infringing on an Apple patent that pertains to detecting microphones. Cases overseen by the ITC typically include an initial ruling made by a single administrative law judge which is then reviewed by the full ITC panel. The panel expects to make a final ruling over these matters on August 1.
T-Mobile USA today announced that the BlackBerry Q10 smartphone will be available online and in stores beginning June 5. The device will require a down payment of $99, followed by 24 equal payments of $20. The Q10 will support T-Mobile's LTE 4G network and features a physical QWERTY keyboard, as well as a 3.1-inch touch screen. It runs BlackBerry 10.1. T-Mobile also announced that the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit smartphone (pictured) is available beginning today for $19.99 down and 24 equal payments of $9. The Galaxy Exhibit, which is nearly identical to its predecessor, has a 3.8-inch 800 x 480 pixel screen, 5-megapixel main camera, 1-megapixel user-facing camera, and support for T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Samsung today indicated through one of its official Twitter accounts that the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S 4 is now available. It costs $199.99 for the 16GB model with a new contract.
Cricket today showed a sneak peek of two Samsung phones coming this summer. The Admire 2 sports a 4-inch screen and 4G LTE, while the Galaxy Discover is more basic with its 3.5-inch screen and stock Android interface. We checked them out. Read on for our first impressions.
Samsung today confirmed that it has made a $48 million investment in competitor Pantech, which gives it 10% ownership of the company. "The investment is aimed at solidifying our relationship with Pantech, a key component customer of Samsung," said the company in a statement. "Samsung will have no involvement in Pantech’s business management in any way or form." The two competitors already collaborate on semiconductor and display technologies. Pantech sells a mix of feature phones and smartphones in the U.S. through AT&T.
At a press briefing this morning, Cricket revealed that it plans to enable LTE roaming later this year on bands 4 (1700) and 25 (1900). Band 25 LTE is used exclusively by Sprint in the U.S. Band 4 (AWS) is used by many carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and soon, Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be Cricket's first phone to support band 25 roaming.
Cricket today announced plans to offer two new Samsung Android phones this summer: the Admire 2 and the Galaxy Discover (already offered in a GSM variant by Net10.)
- The Admire 2 is a new, mid-range Android phone with 4G LTE, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and Samsung's TouchWiz interface and camera features on top of Android 4.1. U.S. Cellular carries it as the Axiom.
- The Galaxy Discover is a basic Android phone with a 3.5-inch display, 3-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and stock Android 4.0 interface.
Cricket today announced that it will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on June 7 for $599.99. A financing option starts with a $59.99 down payment, plus monthly payments.
Powermat today announced that it has merged with PowerKiss. Powermat, based in the U.S., makes and markets wireless charging accessories. It backs the standard supported by the Power Matters Alliance. Before today, PowerKiss, which is based in Finland, backed a competing standard. Now that the two companies are one, they are together throwing their weight behind the PMA wireless charging standard. The PMA is mounting a challenge to competing standards Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power. Earlier this year, the PMA won support from AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, LG, Samsung, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, AT&T mandated that its handset partners incorporate the PMA wireless charging standard into their devices by 2014. Verizon Wireless supports the Qi standard. The consumer electronics industry has yet to settle on a single standard.
Sprint today announced that its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will both offer the Samsung Galaxy S III beginning in June. The GSIII will include support for Sprint's LTE 4G network. Pricing and exact availability was not shared.
Samsung today announced the availability of its revised TecTiles product. The first version of TecTiles that Samsung brought to market last year used an older protocol that preceded the finalized NFC specification. The effect is that newer devices, such as the Galaxy S 4, can not read those older tags. Samsung had to update its tags in order to be compatible with today's newer phones. In addition to the new TecTiles, Samsung has updated the TecTiles application, which is used to program the tags to initiate specific actions on smartphones and/or tablets. TecTiles can be ordered directly from Samsung.com, and the stickers will become available at select retails stores in June. They cost $14.99 for a pack of five.
Google today announced that it will start directly selling a special version of Samsung's Galaxy S 4 flagship phone that is unlocked and ships with stock Android 4.2, essentially expanding the Nexus family of "pure Google" devices. The device sports LTE compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. It is bootloader-unlocked and will receive Android updates before most other phones, like Nexus devices. It ships June 26th for $649.
Verizon Wireless today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be available online and in stores beginning May 23. The Galaxy S 4 will cost $199.99 with a new contract.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in San Jose ordered Google to disclose to Apple the search terms it is using to discover documents requested as part of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung. Apple had requested the terms earlier this week and Google balked, suggesting that the information could give Apple an advantage in the future. "The court cannot help but note the irony that Google, a pioneer in searching the Internet, is arguing that it would be unduly burdened by producing a list of how it searched its own files," said Judge Grewal. Google has two days to disclose the search terms to Apple. Apple believes that Google's Android operating system provides the "underlying functionality" in a number of Samsung smartphones that Apple alleges are infringing on its patents.
Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, today launched its new, no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network is first available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa, and will gradually expand across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. Data speeds will max out at 4Mbps over AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. One of the first devices offered by Aio is the Nokia Lumia 620 (pictured). The Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone that has a 3.8-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video record, and Nokia-exclusive applications. It costs $179.99 and does not require that customers sign a contract. Aio offers a handful of other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Express for $249.99, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $99.99, the ZTE Prelude for $49.99, and the Apple iPhone 4/4S for prices ranging between $349.99 for refurbished models to $499.99 for new models. Feature phones offered by Aio include the Samsung Denim for $29.99 and the ZTE Atair for $49.99. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
Samsung today released details about an unannounced Android smartphone for Straight Talk called the Galaxy Centura. The Centura is a bar-style phone that runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and has a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display. It is powered by an 800MHz processor and includes a 3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, 4GB of internal memory, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. It is for sale on Straight Talk's web site for $99.
Apple has asked the judge overseeing one of its patent-related lawsuits against Samsung to provide it with access to the Android source code from Google. According to Apple, Android "provides much of the accused functionality" in Samsung's infringing products. Apple believes it should have access to that data in order to separate which company's software provides which functions in Samsung's smartphones. Google says that Apple made a strategic decision to leave Google out of this particular lawsuit. As a third party, Google isn't entitled to the same protections that Samsung is. Google thinks providing this info to Apple would provide for future discovery and other details that it wouldn't normally receive. The judge has yet to make a decision on the matter.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is in the hot seat with investors and took fire at today's meeting from impatient shareholders who are waiting for the company's fortunes to turn around. Elop announced Nokia's plans to abandon Symbian, which he referred to as a burning platform, in February 2011. Elop decided then that Nokia would use Microsoft's Windows Phone platform for its smartphones moving forward. At the time, he predicted that the turn-around would take two years. That time has come and gone, and Nokia's share of the smartphone market is still grim. "You're a nice guy, and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough," said shareholder Hannu Virtanen to Elop. "Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road." Elop defended his decision, citing recent traction with its Lumia Windows phones, but also admitted that there's no Plan B. "We make adjustments as we go," said Elop. "But it's very clear to us that in today's war of ecosystems, we've made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line. And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and Android." Nokia has planned a press conference for May 14, during which it is expected to announce new Lumia smartphones.
Sprint's Network Vision project has been plagued by problems with its equipment providers, the company said in paperwork recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "During the second half of 2012, we experienced delays with vendor execution, backhaul connectivity delays, shortages in equipment such as fiber cable and antennas, as well as other regulatory and environmental issues," said Sprint. Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung are the three companies providing Sprint with its networking gear, each of which is responsible for a select geographical area of the country. "However, we expect that we will recover from these delays and we are still forecasting to have the majority of the sites on-air by the end of 2013 with expected completion of Network Vision deployment by the middle of 2014." Sprint has been slow to deploy its LTE network, which first launched during the second quarter of 2012. It had expected to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2013, but has revised that estimate downward to 200 million. It says it is still on track to reach 150 million POPs by the middle of 2013.
Consumer Cellular today announced the addition of two Android smartphones to its roster of devices, the LG 930 and the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate. The LG 930 (sold by AT&T as the Nitro HD), features a 4.5-inch HD display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera with HD video capture, front camera, DLNA wireless media streaming, and a memory card slot. The Galaxy Exhilarate includes a 4-inch screen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with HD video capture, front camera, and a memory card slot. The LG 930 is being sold for $300 and the Galaxy Exhilarate is being sold for $150. Both are available, without contracts, from Consumer Cellular's web site beginning today.
T-Mobile today is making a minor system update available to the Samsung Galaxy S 4. The update boosts the device to Android 4.2.2 and makes improvements to the visual voicemail and Isis applications. It can be downloaded over the air or installed via Kies.
AT&T today announced that it will offer the 32GB variant of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 beginning May 10. The 32GB GS4 will cost $249.99 with a new two-year agreement.
AT&T today announced that it is offering Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean to the original Galaxy Note. Jelly Bean introduces Google Now, actionable notifications, and many under-the-hood improvements to the code. In addition to the standard Jelly Bean features, this update also makes tweaks to the Popup Note and Popup Video tools that are part of Samsung's Touchwiz software. Android 4.1.2 for the Samsung Galaxy Note must be downloaded and installed via Samsung's Kies desktop software.
Verizon Wireless has prepared an operating system upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The upgrade boosts the OS to Android 4.1.2 and makes a number of improvements to the device's performance. It adds IPV6 to the mobile hotspot feature, improves Exchange-based email syncing, adds airplane mode notifications, fixes text behavior when in landscape mode, and makes some fixes to the calendar and back-up assistant. The update also removes the Zappos application, which was preloaded on the device. The system update can be downloaded and installed over the air, though Verizon suggests that Note II owners use Wi-Fi. It is being distributed in waves and users will be notified when their device is ready.
U.S District Court Judge Lucy Koh has set new dates for the on-going Apple-Samsung patent trial. Earlier this year, Koh slashed the jury's $1.05 billion award to Apple by about $450 million, saying that the jury had miscalculated the actual damages in the case last August. Koh ordered a new trial, now scheduled to take place beginning November 12, to determine the actual damages pertaining to 14 different Samsung devices. Koh also reinstated $40.5 million of the original damages awarded to Apple regarding the AT&T version of the Galaxy S II. Samsung is still on the hook for $599 million in damages from the other devices found by a jury last summer to copy and/or infringe on Apple's designs and patents.