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printed February 11, 2016
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Sprint Offering $200 In Credit for Trade-Ins

Monday, 10:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today is kicking off a limited promotion that will reward new and existing customers with $200 in credit towards a new device when they trade in a working smartphone. The credit can be applied to the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 5. Sprint says the $200 credit drops the monthly lease cost of the GS6 to $9.76 per month and the Note 5 to $16.67 per month. The $200 trade-in credit is available to shoppers at Sprint's retail stores starting today, and will be available online and via phone by the end of the week. Sprint says the device being traded in cannot be a lease, and existing customers must be upgrade-eligible to score the $200 trade-in credit. The offer can be combined with Sprint's current half-off rate plans to customers who switch from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless.


Samsung Galaxy S7 Clears FCC with Single Approval

Feb 4, 2016, 1:44 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC this week approved a pair of new Samsung phones that are almost certainly the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge (or equivalent). Unlike previous generations of the flagship phone, Samsung was able to have all U.S. carrier variants approved under a single FCC ID, indicating a new level of hardware standardization for the company. The phone will still come in specific variants for each carrier, each restricted to certain LTE bands, among other differences. The FCC documents reveal much about the network band and feature support of each variant. The phones are widely expected to be announced at a Samsung event scheduled for February 21st.

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T-Mobile Offering Free Phone to New Prepaid Customers

Feb 1, 2016, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile will give a free phone to new customers who sign up for one of its prepaid services. The free phone deal kicks off February 3 and includes the Coolpad Rogue, ZTE Obsidian, LG Leon, and Samsung Core Prime. Customers must select a Simply Prepaid, Simple Choice Prepaid, or Simple Choice No Credit plan valued at $40 per month and up in order to receive the free phone. Customers who opt for a Simple Choice No Credit plan can receive an extra $50 mail-in rebate when activating a second line. T-Mobile didn't say how long the free phone deal will be available.


Nokia and Samsung Settle Patent Licensing Deal

Feb 1, 2016, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it has reached an agreement with Samsung over the licensing of its wireless patents. The companies have been disputing the value of Nokia's patents since Nokia sold its handset division to Microsoft. Samsung said the sale violated the terms of the existing licensing agreement between the two. The firms have finally set new licensing terms, but did not disclose the financial details. Nokia is facing a similar issue with LG, and is expected to renegotiate licensing terms with Apple in the next few years. Even though Microsoft owns Nokia's former handset business, Nokia maintained ownership of its patent portfolio, which it continues to license out to other companies. Nokia's core business, however, is now its telecommunications networking equipment division. Nokia is currently integrating its telecom gear business with Alcatel-Lucent.


Samsung to Focus on Improving Smartphone Software

Jan 28, 2016, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to boost the appeal of its smartphones by making changes to its software. "The company will focus on strengthening the competitiveness of its software, along with hardware, services and wearable products," said Samsung. It will also debut "an enhanced product mix with the introduction of new lineups, such as the Galaxy A series." Samsung plans to fight a stagnating market by reinforcing its leadership in the flagship space while also increasing shipments of mass market handsets to improve profitability. The company recently reported its fourth quarter earnings, which saw Samsung bring in revenue of $44 billion and record a net profit of $5.1 billion — a drop of 40% compared to the year-ago period. Samsung will continue to foster growth in is chip, panel, Smart Home, IoT, and home appliances businesses with new technology and expanded lineups.


T-Mobile Kicks Off BOGO Handset Sale

Jan 27, 2016, 9:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is running a limited promotion for customers on Simple Choice plans that can help them save some cash on hardware purchases. Beginning today, new and existing customers can buy one phone at full price and get a second phone of equal or lesser value from the same manufacturer for half price. T-Mobile says the deal can be used for some of its flagship phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG V10. T-Mobile believes the promotion is idea for families or small businesses looking to upgrade their phones. It will allow customers to purchase up to six handsets at half price. No trade-in is required. T-Mobile didn't say how long the promo will be available.


Samsung Pushing Security Patch to Galaxy Phones

Jan 27, 2016, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has detailed a security update that's headed to its Galaxy smartphones. The update includes the most recent Android system-level security patch from Google, as well as fixes for vulnerabilities specific to Samsung's phones. Samsung says it is resolving seven problems that impact some of its devices, including the Galaxy S6. Several of the issues earned a critical rating and could lead to remote code execution. Samsung didn't say how quickly the security update will be delivered to its handsets.


Sprint Doubles LTE Plus Footprint

Jan 25, 2016, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it has doubled the availability of its LTE Plus coverage from 77 markets in November to more than 150 markets today. Some of the new markets include Boulder, Colo., West Palm Beach, Fla., Cleveland, Ohio, and Syracuse, N.Y. LTE Plus is the new brand name for what used to be Sprint Spark. LTE Plus is the company's tri-band LTE network, which uses 800MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz. Sprint is using carrier aggregation to increase capacity and beamforming to improve connections between cell sites and handsets. Sprint says these techniques have helped improve speeds and performance across its network. Sprint has more than a dozen handsets able to take advantage of these technologies, including the Apple iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6.


Samsung Kicks Off Sales of High-End Smartwatches

Jan 25, 2016, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today commenced the global rollout of the Gear S2 Classic New Edition, which comes in either 18K rose gold or platinum. Samsung said its gold smartwatch is plated, not solid, and the company not yet announced final pricing for either. The rose gold model ships with a white leather band, while the platinum version ships with a black leather band. More bands will be made available over time. The watches run Samsung's Tizen operating system and feature a rotating bezel to control the user interface. The Gears S2 Classic New Edition reaches China first, and will expand to other markets over time. Samsung hasn't said when the refreshed watches will reach the U.S.


Cricket Offers Discounted Phones to Switchers

Jan 21, 2016, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless is looking to entice people to switch to its network by offering discounts on a number of smartphones. Beginning January 22, consumers who port their number to Cricket can buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 for $399.99, a savings of $100 over the normal retail price. Cricket is making similar discounts, ranging from $20 to $50, available to a dozen other devices, including the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 ($109.99), ZTE Grand X Max ($99.99), HTC Desire 626s ($89.99), and Microsoft Lumia 640 ($79.99). The promotion runs for a limited time. Cricket's service plans start at $40 per month. Wireless carriers are competing for customers fiercely. With most Americans already carrying a smartphone, the only way for carriers to score new customers is to steal them from rivals.


Foxconn Makes a Play for Sharp

Jan 21, 2016, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 21, 2016, 1:00 PM

Foxconn has offered to buy Sharp for $5.3 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal. Foxconn's offer arrives just as Sharp is weighing a buyout offer from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Sharp, known for its LCD displays and IGZO technology, has required multiple bailouts over the last few years as weak financials plague its ability to compete. The main thrust of INCJ's potential investment is to keep the company based in Japan, where it would be merged with competitor Japan Display. Investors believe combining Sharp and Japan Display would lead to a stronger competitor to rivals Samsung and LG. The INCJ deal has the blessing of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but at about $2.6 billion is only half that of Foxconn's offer. Analysts cited by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters believe the final decision will be a political, and not a business, one. Foxconn is based in Taiwan.


MetroPCS Goes After Sprint Customers with Discounts

Jan 20, 2016, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 21, 2016, 12:47 PM

T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS is targeting Sprint customers with new service and handset discounts. Starting January 21, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who switch to MetroPCS can save up to 50% off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing. For example, a single ported line can save between 22% and 48%, while two or more lines can save between 23% and 50%, depending on a number of variables such as existing plan cost, new plan pricing, and local taxes. Customers who switch can keep the low rate plans as long as they remain with MetroPCS. The promotion includes unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, Data Maximizer and mobile hotspot. MetroPCS is offering switchers a free LG Leon LTE, Kyocera Hydro Wave, Samsung Core Prime, LG K7, or $50 rebate that can be applied to any phone sold by MetroPCS. Last, MetroPCS is offering its existing customers a $20 discount when adding an extra 5GB line. T-Mobile said the promotion will be available for a limited time, but didn't provide an end date.


Judge Bans Older Samsung Smartphones

Jan 19, 2016, 8:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has been commanded to stop selling several older smartphones after a new court ruling in California. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple's petition to block the sale of certain handsets that were found to violate some of Apple's patents. The court initially determined that a fine of $120 million was sufficient, but Apple appealed and an appeals court agreed that the fine wasn't enough. "The court finds that Apple will suffer irreparable harm if Samsung continues to use the infringing features, that monetary damages cannot adequately compensate Apple for this resulting irreparable harm, and that the balance of equities and public interest favor entry of a permanent injunction," said Koh in her new ruling. Samsung is no longer allowed to sell the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3, and Stratosphere. Few of these phones remain available for retail purchase. For example, some prepaid carriers offer the S3 as a free or entry-level handset, and the S3 is still being sold by Amazon.com. It's not clear how quickly retailers will have to pull their stock of these phones. Neither Apple nor Samsung commented on the latest decision.


Samsung's Note 5 Updated with Fix for Pen

Jan 19, 2016, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has updated the Note 5's internal hardware to prevent the S Pen from becoming stuck. "Samsung can confirm that the Note 5 internal S Pen mechanism has been changed to avoid the issue caused by inserting the S Pen incorrectly," said Samsung in a statement provided to Android Central. "As always, we recommend following proper instructions for storing the S Pen." Early buyers of the Note 5 discovered the S Pen could become permanently lodged in the stylus' housing if inserted blunt end first. Samsung did not say when the issue was corrected, nor how customers can tell if their Note 5 contains the updated hardware.


Boost and Virgin to Sell Samsung Galaxy J3

Jan 15, 2016, 10:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 15, 2016, 12:10 PM

Sprint today said its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will soon sell the Samsung Galaxy J3. This inexpensive Android handset includes a 5-inch 720p HD screen, a 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and a 2-megapixel selfie camera. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and carries 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 128 GB. The phone ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop and includes Samsung's Easy Mode for novice users. It packs a 2600mAh battery. The Galaxy J3 reaches Virgin Mobile stores today and Boost Mobile stores next week. It costs $179.99.


Samsung to Be Sole Manufacturer of Snapdragon 820

Jan 14, 2016, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 14, 2016, 8:26 AM

Qualcomm has selected Samsung to manufacture the Snapdragon 820 processor. Samsung is kicking off mass production of its second-generation 14nm LPP (Low-Power Plus) process, which is what it will use to make the Snapdragon 820. Samsung says its 3D FinFET structure on transistors provides gains in raw performance and power efficiency. For example, the 14nm LPP process delivers 15% faster speeds and 15% less power consumption when compared to its first-generation 14nm process. Qualcomm has traditionally used Taiwan Semiconductor to fabricate its silicon. Qualcomm said Samsung will be the only company to make its top-of-the-line mobile processor. The deal could earn Samsung as much as $1 billion. Qualcomm and Samsung both expect to see the 820 ship in consumer devices during the first half of the year. Samsung has seen profits drop over the last year and is looking to diversify its product mix. Samsung increased its investment in manufacturing facilities during 2015 in order to win exactly this type of business.


Samsung to Make Gear S2 Compatible with iPhone

Jan 5, 2016, 6:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it plans to add support for the Apple iPhone to the Gear S2 smartwatch later this year. The S2, which runs Tizen, is already compatible with Android handsets. Samsung didn't say what features will make the jump from Android to iOS, though it may drop a few. In the past, Samsung has restricted its smartwatch compatibility to its own handsets. Bringing iOS support to the S2 is an important change of direction for Samsung.


Samsung Trots Out New Finishes for Gear S2 Watch

Jan 5, 2016, 5:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed two new options for its Gear S2 smartwatch. The S2 Classic design will soon be available in platinum and rose gold. Other than the new colors and associated bands, the device itself is identical to the Gear S2 that launched last year. It has a 1.3-inch screen, can make phone calls, and runs Samsung's Tizen platform. Samsung said price points have yet to be determined, but the luxe wearables will reach consumers in February.

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Samsung Pay to Add Online Payments Next Year

Dec 29, 2015, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to expand Samsung Pay in 2016 to more devices, more retailers, and more markets. Wider "handset availability of Samsung Pay as well as online payment support is coming soon," said Samsung Pay exec Thomas Ko, speaking to Reuters. Specifically, the company will add Samsung Pay to less-costly devices. Right now, the mobile payment service is only available to several flagship models, such as the Galaxy Note 5. The company also plans to make it possible for consumers in the U.S. to make online purchases via Samsung Pay. This would negate the need for people to whip out their credit cards when buying items from web-based retailers through their phone. Ko did not said which markets Samsung plans to add to the service. Samsung Pay launched in Korea earlier this year followed by the U.S. It relies on NFC and MST technology and is accepted at most credit card retail terminals, which gives it an advantage over Apple Pay and Android Pay.


Samsung Forges Bio-Processor for Wearables

Dec 29, 2015, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is taking direct aim at the wearable market with a new processor custom-designed to monitor health and fitness data. The Bio-Processor combines Analog Front Ends (AFEs), a micro controller, a power management integrated circuit, a digital signal processor, and an eFlash memory chip into a single module. Samsung says this allows it to keep the size of the chip much smaller than if each component were to be used separately. The Bio-Processor has a total of five AFEs to take different measurements, including body fat, skeletal muscle mass, heart rate/rhythm, skin temperature, and stress level. The company believes the chip will help improve the type of data generated by wearables and provide users with even more data about their health. Samsung says the Bio-Processor is already in mass production and is available to device-makers in several reference designs, including wrist-based wearable and patch. Samsung didn't say if it will use the Bio-Processor in its own wearables, such as its Galaxy Gear smartwatch line. Samsung has spent the last year bolstering its processor and chip businesses to make up for losses in other divisions.


Samsung Crowns Its Galaxy A Series with a 6-Inch Phablet

Dec 24, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 24, 2015, 8:22 AM

Samsung has revealed the Galaxy A9, the largest of its refreshed Galaxy A series handsets with a 6-inch full HD display. The Galaxy A phones sit just below the Galaxy S phones in terms of features and specs. The A9 adopts the same metal-and-glass design as the A7, A5, and A3, which debuted earlier this month. The A9 is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor (formerly Snapdragon 620) with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Unlike the Galaxy S series, the A9 includes a memory card slot with support for microSD cards up to 128 GB. The Galaxy A9 boasts a 13-megapixel f/1.9 main camera and 8-megapixel user-facing camera. A 4,000mAh battery is sealed inside, although it supports QuickCharge for rapid charging. Last, the A9 adds a fingerprint sensor to the home button with support for Samsung Pay. The Galaxy A9 is launching in China first. Samsung hasn't said if the A9 will be sold in other markets.

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ITC Says Nvidia Infringed Samsung Patents

Dec 23, 2015, 1:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission found Nvidia guilty of infringing three patents owned by Samsung. The patents pertain to several basic circuit designs that allow them to be miniaturized. The case began when Nvidia accused Samsung of violating its patents. Samsung countersued. The ITC cleared Samsung of any wrongdoing earlier this month. "We are disappointed," said Nvidia spokesperson Hector Marinez. "We look forward to seeking review by the full ITC which will decide this case several months from now." This initial ruling will be reviewed by the full panel of ITC judges. The ITC has the power to ban products from entering the country and is often used to settle patent-related squabbles.


Apple Pay and Samsung Pay Target 2016 China Debut

Dec 18, 2015, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple and Samsung have each announced plans to launch their mobile payment platforms in China next year. Card-issuer China UnionPay has partnered with both companies and will allow its cardholders to add their accounts to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. UnionPay is similar to MasterCard and Visa in that it runs a card acceptance network. China is an important market for Apple and Samsung to enter, given its size. Apple Pay is available to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5. Both mobile payment services are already available in the U.S.


T-Mobile Slashes $100 Off Samsung Galaxy Flagships

Dec 16, 2015, 11:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has one last gift for holiday shoppers: $100 off Samsung's high-end smartphones. Starting Friday, the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 will enjoy a $100 discount. The promotional price is available until Dec. 23. Moreover, T-Mobile is offering a full year of Netflix to those who buy one of these Samsung handsets. The Netflix offer is available until Dec. 31. The discount and Netflix promotions are available to all customers, existing and new.


Samsung Pay Signs Up More Banks

Dec 15, 2015, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today expanded the availability of Samsung Pay to more people with the addition of new banks. The two key new partners are PNC Bank and KeyBank, which each have large footprints around the country. Some of the other new Samsung Pay supporters include Associated Bank, Cambridge Savings Bank, TCF Bank, Amegy Bank National Association, and California Bank. A wide selection of credit unions have signed up, too, including Central Florida Educators, Financial Center, Greater Kinston, Keypoint, Numerica, Utah Community, Achieva, Bayport, Bethpage, USC, and Navy Federal. Consumers who hold cards from these issuers will be able to add them to Samsung Pay and use them to make retail payments. Samsung Pay is more widely available in stores than Apple Pay or Android Pay because it supports both NFC and MST technology. Samsung Pay is available on the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5.


AT&T's NumberSync Hits Gear S2 Smartwatch

Dec 15, 2015, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said the Samsung Gear S2 now supports NumberSync. The service lets AT&T customers send and receive texts, as well as make and receive calls on the wearable from their primary phone number. AT&T plans to add the feature through a system update being pushed out today. The Samsung Gear S2 is on sale for $99 with a two-year agreement. Service costs $10 per month when added to a Mobile Share Value plan.


Samsung Wants Supreme Court to Decide Patent Case

Dec 14, 2015, 2:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung hopes the Supreme Court will weigh in on its patent fight with Apple. The company has filed an appeal, asking the high court to review the verdicts reached in Apple's patent-related lawsuit. Samsung has two chief complaints. First, Samsung believes the jury that found it guilty of copying Apple's designs wasn't given enough information from the judge to interpret the law accurately. Samsung also finds fault in how design-related patent damages are generated. "Samsung is escalating this case because it believes that the way the laws were interpreted is not in line with modern times," said Samsung. "If the current legal precedent stands, it could diminish innovation, stifle competition, pave the way for design patent troll litigation and negatively impact the economy and consumers." Samsung wrote Apple a $548 million check to pay the damages earlier this month — more than two years after the initial verdict. Samsung told Apple it wants its money back if the verdicts are reversed upon appeal.


AT&T Rolls Out Galaxy, iPhone BOGO Offer

Dec 11, 2015, 4:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today debuted a buy-one, get-one deal for the Samsung Galaxy S6, iPhone 6s, and a few other handsets. In order to score a free handset, customers have to buy one smartphone at full price on an AT&T Next 24 installment plan. The second (free) handset must be added as a new line of service. AT&T will cover the monthly device payments for the second device. Customers will be responsible for the balance of payments if service is cancelled before the device is paid off. Other eligible phones include the Galaxy S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5. The BOGO deal is available through Dec. 31.


Gift Cards Increase Samsung Pay's Appeal

Dec 10, 2015, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said Samsung Pay now supports a wide range of retailer gift cards. People can add their gift card balance to Samsung Pay and use it to make purchases as the corresponding retailer. Some of the merchants supporting gift cards in Samsung Pay include Toys'R'Us, Domino's, eBay, GameStop, Nike, and Staples. Samsung said more companies will support gift cards in the month ahead. Samsung Pay also adds the ability to purchase certain types of gift cards from within the app itself. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 smartphones. It uses both NFC and MST technology and is compatible with the payment terminals at a wide range of retailers around the country.


Walmart Intros Walmart Pay for Android and iOS

Dec 10, 2015, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart today announced Walmart Pay, its own mobile payment service for in-store purchases. Rather than rely on NFC or MST wireless technology, purchases are conducted through the Walmart app. This is what makes the service compatible with any Android phone and any iPhone. Customers can add most any credit or debit card to the Walmart app for supporting purchases. At checkout, users need to open the app and launch the camera. Using the camera, customers scan a code displayed at the register. This activates the transaction. The associate scans and bags the items and the final amount due is taken from the credit/debit card associated with the app. Customers will receive an electronic receipt that is saved in the app. Walmart Pay will be added to select stores beginning this month. Walmart expects to complete a nationwide rollout by the first half of next year. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay all allow users to tap their phones on retail payment terminals to make purchases, rather than open an app and scan a code. Walmart has resisted supporting these competitive mobile payment services in favor of its own.


Free Music Streaming Comes to Boost Mobile

Dec 9, 2015, 12:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today said customers can now stream music from several different services over its cellular network without impacting their monthly data allotment. Unlimited music streaming is available through Pandora, iHeartRadio, 8tracks, Slacker, and Samsung Milk Music. Customers who subscribe to Boost's 2GB, 5GB, and unlimited data plans can stream as much music from these providers as they wish each month. Boost said song downloads, video content, non-audio content, and other data sent via the music services (ads, images) will count against monthly data caps. Virgin Mobile, which has offered free music streaming from several services since October, added 8tracks and Samsung Milk Music to its supported streaming apps. Moreover, Virgin is now selling the LG G Stylo and the Tribute 2. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile are both owned and operated by Sprint.


Cricket Debuts New $100 Porting Promo

Dec 7, 2015, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 7, 2015, 1:41 PM

Cricket Wireless is offering people who port their number to Cricket today through Jan. 7 a $100 bill credit. A similar promotion, which gave switchers a $100 shopping card, was first unveiled during the Black Holiday shopping week. That promo expired Dec. 6. The new promotion is a bill credit, not a shopping card. Cricket says the promo can be combined with several of its other seasonal offers, such as discounts on the LG G Stylo and Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime.


Verizon to Bring WiFi Calling to Some Phones This Week

Dec 6, 2015, 7:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will be able to make WiFi-based voice and video calls beginning Dec. 8. Verizon is adding WiFi calling to its Advanced Calling application, which is typically used for HD Voice calls via VoLTE. Verizon said customers can opt to make calls over WiFi when at home or other areas where WiFi coverage is strong. WiFi calls made to U.S. numbers are free, while calls made to international numbers will be billed at standard rates. Verizon plans to deliver the feature to the GS6 and GS6 Edge through a software update in phases. Verizon said more Android and iOS devices will be given WiFi calling functions early in 2016. T-Mobile and Sprint have offered WiFi calling for some time, and AT&T rolled the feature out in October.


Cricket Offering Discounts On Older iPhones

Dec 4, 2015, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket today announced more holiday promotions that see significant price cuts to its lineup of smartphones. Beginning Dec. 4, new and existing customers can but the iPhone 5c for $179.99 or $229.99 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. Similarly, the iPhone 5s will cost $199.99 and $249.99 for the 16GB and 32GB models. These prices are in effect through Jan 7. Cricket is also offering incentives to people who switch from other carriers. Cricket will sell the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime to switchers for $29.99, the LG G Stylo for $49.99, and the ZTE Sonata 2 for $9.99. Customers who switch by Dec. 6 will receive a $100 shopping card.


Samsung to Pay Apple $548M for Patents - with a Catch

Dec 4, 2015, 8:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung will send Apple a check for $548 million to settle its ongoing patent litigation, according to FOSS Patents. The companies filed paperwork with a California court on Dec. 3 in which Samsung said it "has made arrangements to complete payment to Apple." Samsung may be cutting Apple a check, but the company reserves the right to seek reimbursement "in the event the partial judgment is reversed, modified, vacated or set aside on appeal." This case goes back to April 2011, when Apple sued Samsung over a number of patent- and design-related infringements. Apple was eventually awarded $1.05 billion in damages after Samsung was found guilty of willfully infringing on Apple's intellectual property. That original sum has since been whittled down during the appeals process. Apple and Samsung have already settled the majority of other lawsuits between them. Whether or not this payment marks the end of the road for this particular case is unclear.


Samsung Launches Refreshed Galaxy A Series

Dec 2, 2015, 8:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the a new trio of smartphones that fall in the Galaxy A series of handsets. The Galaxy A7, A5, and A3 share metal-and-glass designs with narrow bezels and premium materials. Each phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and features a 13-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel front camera. The include 16GB of storage and support memory cards up to 128GB. The A7 has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, 1.6GHz octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 3,300mAh battery; the A5 has a 5.2-inch full HD screen, 1.6GHz octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,900mAh battery; and the A3 has a 4.7-inch 720p HD screen, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 2,300mAh battery. The A7 and A5 support rapid charging and include NFC/MST for mobile payments. Samsung expects the Galaxy A series will launch in China this month, with other markets to follow in 2016. Pricing was not announced.


Samsung Mobile CEO to Cede Daily Management Duties

Nov 30, 2015, 8:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said J.K. Shin, the long-time leader of the company's mobile phone business, will cede control as part of the firm's annual personnel assessment. Samsung examines executive appointments across the company at the end of each year. Dongjin Koh will take Shin's place as president of Samsung's handset business where he will manage day-to-day operations. Koh previously spearheaded mobile research and development within the smartphone business. Shin will remain in a leadership role at the company, but will focus on long-term business plans and new market opportunities. Samsung has lost market share over the last year to rivals amidst fierce competition. Samsung hopes the leadership change will improve the performance of its revenue-generating mobile phone business.


Cricket Halves the Prices of Samsung Galaxy S Phones

Nov 30, 2015, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today cut the price of the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and S6 handsets by 50%. Through Dec. 3, the Galaxy S4 costs $99.99, the Galaxy S5 costs $199.99, and the Galaxy S6 costs $249.99. Customers need to activate the handset with a line of service in order to receive the discount. Cricket said the deal can be combined with its offer of a $100 gift card to those who port their number to Cricket through Dec. 6.


Unwired Planet Bests Samsung and Huawei In Patent Trial

Nov 24, 2015, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Unwired Planet landed its first courtroom victory in the U.K. this week after a judge agreed that Samsung and Huawei are violating patents owned by the company. Unwired Planet has 16 employees and 2,000 patents it purchased from Ericsson in 2013. The company filed a similar suit against Google, but Google settled the charges. The judge overseeing the Samsung/Huawei case deemed the patents "essential" to 4G communications, however, which means they must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. Unwired Planet said the ruling "goes a considerable way towards validating [our] portfolio." Samsung maintains that it is not violating the patents. Huawei didn't immediately comment on the decision. Tech companies often use patent-based litigation to win fees from competitors. Unwired Planet is a patent-holding company and doesn't make or sell telecommunications equipment or mobile phones.


Samsung Pay Gains Support for Chase Cards

Nov 23, 2015, 9:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

JPMorgan Chase account holders can now use their cards with Samsung Pay. Samsung has added support for Visa-backed Chase credit/debit cards to its mobile payment service. Chase was one of several prominent banks missing from the service at launch. Samsung Pay is more widely available than Apple Pay and Android Pay because it uses both NFC and MST technology to interact with retail payment terminals. NFC is more limited in scale, while MST is practically everywhere. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5.


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