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Samsung to Pay Note7 Suppliers for Unused Parts

Oct 18, 2016, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it will pay its component suppliers for any Galaxy Note7 parts they may have already made. The company will also compensate suppliers for in-progress or unfinished parts, as well as any materials those suppliers purchased to manufacture the parts. Further, Samsung will look to give those suppliers orders for future devices to soften the economic impact of cancelling the phone. "Samsung will determine the inventory levels for the partner companies and carry out compensation quickly," said the company. It did not provide details on how much it might spend to compensate its parts suppliers. Samsung already said it expects the cancelled phone to cost it some $5.5 billion in profit between the fourth quarter of 2016 and first quarter of 2017. Samsung was forced to fully cease production of the phone and recall all units after defective batteries led to burns and fires.

Samsung Sets Up In-Airport Kiosks to Facilitate Note7 Returns

Oct 18, 2016, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has begun accepting Galaxy Note7 returns at airports in several countries. The action follows the recent ban from the Dept. of Transportation that makes it a federal crime to bring the Note7 on any airplane. Other countries have put similar bans in place. Samsung began accepting Note7 returns at airports on its home market of Korea, followed by Australia and some locations in the U.S., including San Francisco International Airport. The idea is to help prevent travelers from carrying the Note7 onto planes, which poses a safety risk, while also providing them with a replacement device (even if only temporarily). The booths are located before security checkpoints at "high-traffic" terminals. Samsung has not provided a list for U.S. airports, nor said if it will expand beyond those already in operation.

Samsung Kicks Off Production of 10nm SoCs

Oct 17, 2016, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it has begun producing systems-on-a-chip using its 10nm FinFET process. The SoCs will eventually be used in application processors for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Samsung's 10nm FinFET process relies on 3D transistors and new methods such as triple-patterning to generate significant improvements over its 14nm process. For example, SoCs made with the 10nm process are 30% smaller, require 40% less power, and can boost performance by up to 27%. Samsung believes the first devices to rely on its 10nm FinFET process will reach the market it early 2017, with more to follow throughout the year.

DoT Bans Galaxy Note7 From All Flights

Oct 14, 2016, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumers who still own a Samsung Galaxy Note7 will not be allowed to bring them onto airplanes at all beginning noon on Oct. 15. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation today classified the Note7 as a forbidden hazardous material under the Federal Hazardous Material Regulations. Passengers cannot transport the phone on their person, in their carry-on bags, or in their checked bags on any/all flights in the U.S. "We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident inflight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk." The FAA had previously asked Note7 owners to keep the devices powered off while aboard aircraft. This new ban replaces the previous action. The Dept. of Transportation said travelers who attempt to fly with the phone may face fines and criminal prosecution. Moreover, those who attempt to hide the phone in baggage will likely see the device confiscated. Flight crews will be instructed to keep an eye out for the device and take action if necessary.

Samsung to Reward Note7 Owners' Loyalty with Cash

Oct 13, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is offering a cash incentive to Galaxy Note7 owners if they stick with the Samsung brand. U.S. consumers who exchange their Note7 for any other Samsung handset will be rewarded with $100 in bill credits. Consumers who exchange their Note7 for a phone made by another company will be given $25 in bill credits. The financial incentive arrives as Samsung expands its recall of the Note7 to all devices, both the original and the replacement. The number of Note7s being recalled in the U.S. stands at about 1.9 million. Samsung hasn't said how many have even returned/exchanged. "We appreciate the patience of our consumers, carriers, and retail partners for carrying the burden during these challenging times," said Samsung Electronics America COO Tim Baxter. "We are committed to doing everything we can to make this right." There have been 96 documented cases of the Note7 overheating in the U.S., according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, with 15 of those coming from supposed safe devices.

Samsung Ceases Production and Sales of Note7

Oct 11, 2016, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today pulled the plug on the Galaxy Note7 handset, ostensibly putting an end to the embattled smartphone. Late Monday, the company asked carriers and retail partners to stop sales and exchanges of the phone while it continued its investigation. Today, the company went a step further. "Taking our customer's safety as our highest priority, we have decided to halt sales and production of the Galaxy Note7." The company urged all Note7 owners to power the device down and return it as soon as practical. A manufacturing defect of some mind impacted an unknown number of Note7 batteries, some of which overheated and caught fire causing burns and property damage. Samsung later identified what it thought were safe Note7 units and offered those as replacements. Unfortunately, a number of the Note7 replacement units deemed safe also caught fire. It's unclear what future the Galaxy Note series in general has now that Samsung has cancelled the Note7. Analysts cited by the Wall Street Journal suggest the cancellation could wipe about $2.8 billion in profit from Samsung's fourth quarter earnings. Investors have already punished Samsung's stock, and the company has lost some $17 billion in value this week alone.

Samsung to Halt Galaxy Note7 Sales Globally

Oct 10, 2016, 5:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung this evening said it will halt all sales of the Galaxy Note7 smartphone on a global basis. "Because consumers’ safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note7 while the investigation is taking place," said the company in a statement. "We remain committed to working diligently with appropriate regulatory authorities to take all necessary steps to resolve the situation." Samsung urged people who have either an original or replacement Note7 to power it down and return it to the point of sale.

Sprint Is Last Major Carrier to Cease Note7 Sales

Oct 10, 2016, 2:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today followed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in discontinuing the Samsung Galaxy Note7. "Given recent issues reported in the media, Sprint is halting sales of replacement Note7 devices pending the conclusion of the investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung," said the company in statement provided to media. "If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note7 has any concerns, we will exchange it for any other device." Sprint's competitors halted sales of the Note7 a day earlier. Samsung said it has "adjusted" production of the Note7 as it continues to investigate the device's safety. All consumers who have a Note7 are urged to power it down and return it for a new phone.

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Samsung 'Adjusts' Note7 Production; Verizon Halts Exchanges

Oct 10, 2016, 6:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today stopped short of saying it has halted production of the Galaxy Note7 and instead said it is making changes for safety reasons. "We are temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters," said the company in a statement provided to Android Central. The admission comes after a number of media sites claimed on Sunday that Samsung had halted production of the phone altogether. The Note7 was recalled on Sept. 2 after various owners reported fires and burns. Replacement devices were make available to consumers on Sept. 21, but over the course of the last week several replacement Note7s have also caused fires. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon halted their replacement programs Sunday. "Samsung is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the safety of replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones. While the investigation is underway, Verizon is suspending the exchange of replacement Note7 smartphones," said Verizon in a statement provided to The Verge. "Any Verizon customer concerned about the safety of their replacement Note7 smartphone may take it back to the original point of purchase to exchange it for another smartphone. Verizon online customers may also exchange their replacement Note7 smartphones at Verizon stores."

T-Mobile, Too, Halts Note7 Replacements

Oct 9, 2016, 7:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile this evening joined AT&T in putting a stop to exchanges, replacements, and sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note7. "While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note7 and exchanges for replacement Note7 devices," said the company. Customers can bring their new and/or replacement Note7 (along with any purchased accessories) to a T-Mobile store for a full refund and choose from any device in T-Mobile's inventory. The company said it will waive restocking fees, as well as allow those who preordered the Note7 to keep the free Netflix subscription, Gear FT, or SD card they might have received as a gift with the phone. Last, T-Mobile will give all Note7 customers a one-time $25 bill credit for the hassle. The carrier encourages all customers to stop using the Note7, power it down, and return it to T-Mobile as soon as practical. Sprint and Verizon are still selling the device.

AT&T Stops Exchanging the Galaxy Note7

Oct 9, 2016, 2:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T says it will not swap out the original Note7 for replacement devices. "Based on recent reports, we're no longer exchanging new Note7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents," said the company in a statement provided to media. "We still encourage customers with a recalled Note7 to visit an AT&T location to exchange that device for another Samsung smartphone or other smartphone of their choice." All four major carriers have said customers may bring their Note7 — original or replacement — to stores for a refund or exchange. The Note7 has vanished from the web sites of AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but it is still available from Verizon hasn't said if or when it might halt sales/exchanges. Anyone with a Note7 should power it down and bring it bak to the point of sale as soon as possible.

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More 'Safe' Note7s Burn and Catch Fire

Oct 9, 2016, 2:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following Thursday's report that a Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire on a plane, more stories have piled up suggesting the replacement Note7 being sold by Samsung and its carrier partners is not as safe as claimed. A Farmington, Minn., teen claims her replacement Note7 burned her hand and melted its case on Oct. 7. "It felt like pins and needles except a lot more intense," said Abby Zuis to KSTP. The Zuis family has receipts that detail the authenticity of the replacement handset. Earlier in the week, a Nicholasville, Ky., man was awoken in the middle of the night by smoke created by a burning Note7. "The whole room just covered in smoke, smells awful. I look over and my phone is on fire," said Michael Klering in a statement provided to WKYT. "The phone is supposed to be the replacement, so you would have thought it would be safe. It wasn't plugged in. It wasn't anything, it was just sitting there." Klering was sickened by the smoke and sought medical attention. He was diagnosed with acute bronchitis brought on by the poisonous fumes. Further, Klering claims Samsung erroneously sent him a text message that alarmed him. Samsung said to him, "Just now got this. I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it." Klering believes the message was intended for another Samsung employee. He is seeking legal help to determine what steps he might take next. Perhaps most troubling is that the Nicholasville event took place before the incident in which a replacement Note7 caught fire on a plane, prompting the plane to be evacuated and the flight to be cancelled. In all three cases, Samsung said it is working with authorities to determine the cause of the fires. The original Note7 was recalled Sept. 2 due to potentially hazardous batteries. So far, the replacement devices haven't fared much better.

AT&T, T-Mo, Verizon to Allow Note7 Replacement Exchanges, Too

Oct 7, 2016, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless followed Sprint's lead today and said customers who have a replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 can exchange the phone for any other sold in carrier stores. T-Mobile specified that any customer can return any phone within the initial 14-day trial period, and that includes both replacement and new Note7 handsets. AT&T and Verizon will accept any replacement Note7, regardless of replacement/purchase date. Sprint implemented a similar exchange program late Thursday. The latest action is a response to a replacement Note7 that caused a fire aboard an aircraft.

Appeals Court Says Samsung Owes Apple $120M

Oct 7, 2016, 10:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A federal appeals court today reinstated a $120 million patent verdict against Samsung. Samsung was initially found to be infringing on Apple's slide-to-unlock and autocorrect patents in 2014. Later, a three-judge panel reversed the decision and said Samsung didn't owe Apple damages. This week's decision was determined by a larger panel of judges that said the smaller panel didn't follow U.S. Supreme Court guidelines in reviewing the case. The court also upheld $160,000 in damages awarded to Samsung that Apple must pay over digital photo technology. Last year, Samsung paid Apple almost $550 million in damages stemming from a 2012 jury verdict. Apple hit Samsung with a number of patent-related complaints after the firm's Galaxy S handsets began to genuinely challenge the iPhone in the market.

Sprint to Allow Replacement Note7 Owners to Swap Phones

Oct 7, 2016, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint said on Thursday that customers who have a replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7, and harbor lingering doubts about its actual safety, can turn it in for any other device sold by Sprint. Sprint made the decision after a device deemed safe by Samsung burned up on an airplane, forcing passengers to evacuate and the airline to cancel the flight. "[Sprint] is working collaboratively with Samsung to better understand the most recent concerns regarding replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones," said the company in a statement provided to Recode. "If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note7 has any concerns regarding their device, we will exchange it for any other device at any Sprint retail store during the investigation window." Sprint did not say how long that window might be open. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless are still selling the replacement phones, despite the most recent setback for Samsung. Consumers who still have the the original Note7 are urged to exchange it at their local carrier store. Samsung recalled the device in early September after reports of burns and fires due to a faulty battery.

Samsung to Buy AI Startup

Oct 5, 2016, 6:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it has agreed to purchase Viv, an artificial intelligence startup run by the team that originally developed Apple's Siri. Siri's creators left Apple to form Viv, which is based in San Jose. Samsung plans to add Viv's artificial intelligence technology to its own Galaxy smartphones and other consumer electronics products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Samsung did not explain if Viv will have its own personality, or if it will be baked into Samsung's S Voice app, which is already on its phones. Samsung wants to ensure its devices can compete with the voice-activated personal assistants available on products from Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

Replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 Causes Fire On Plane

Oct 5, 2016, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire on a Southwest Airlines flight in Louisville, Ky., this morning, forcing the plane to be evacuated and causing damage to the plane's carpeting. The owner, Brian Green, says the Note7 was a replacement device with a marked box indicating the phone was safe. He swapped out his original Note7 at an AT&T store on Sept. 21. Replacement phones are supposed to have safe batteries and pose no risk of fire. The phone was powered down in Green's pocket when it overheated. Green tossed the phone on the floor where it began to emit smoke and eventually caught fire. The plane was still at the gate and Southwest evacuated the aircraft. No one was injured. Samsung initially expressed doubt about the phone's status as a replacement, but said it will work with authorities to determine the cause of the fire. Samsung was forced to recall the Note7 last month amid instances of it burning owners and igniting fires.

T-Mobile to Resume Galaxy Note7 Sales Oct. 5

Oct 4, 2016, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile says it will once again sell the Samsung Galaxy Note7 starting October 5. Samsung was forced to recall the Note7 in early September after reports of burns, fires, and explosions blamed on the device surfaced around the world. Samsung investigated and determined that a small percentage of about 2.5 million devices might have a bad battery. To be safe, Samsung halted sales and recalled the entire batch. Replacement Note7s have been available in the U.S. for a couple of weeks. Verizon and Sprint began selling the device again in late September. T-Mobile said the Note7 will be available online and in stores this Wednesday.

Samsung to Examine Overheating Replacement Note 7s

Sep 28, 2016, 10:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it will investigate claims from customers that their replacement Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are overheating. Some consumers in the U.S. and Samsung's home market of S. Korea say their new devices get too hot to use. "There have been a few reports about the battery charging levels and we would like to reassure everyone that the issue does not pose a safety concern," said Samsung in a statement. "In normal conditions, all smartphones may experience temperature fluctuations." For example, processor-intensive apps such as virtual reality or games will cause devices to warm up. Even so, Samsung said it will replace the replacements and examine them to be sure there are no on-going issues with the batteries. Samsung recalled 2.5 million Note 7s earlier this month after numerous reports of overheating, fires, and explosions. About 60% of consumers have exchanged their original Note 7 for a replacement device, and Samsung says 90% of those consumers are sticking with the Note 7 rather than opting for an alternative.

Samsung Adds Coupons to Samsung Pay

Sep 28, 2016, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has updated its Samsung Pay mobile payment service with the ability to search for and use coupons within the app. Samsung Pay users can upload membership and loyalty cards from select retailers, including grocers, convenience stores, and pharmacies. Coupons are linked to member accounts and savings are applied automatically during checkout with Samsung Pay. The app supports gift cards, too, as well as rewards programs. Samsung Pay now offers a cloud storage feature to help users restore membership and reward account details when adding Samsung Pay to a new device. Samsung says its mobile payment service works with over 500 banks nationwide, covering more than 80% of all U.S. debit and credit cards. To celebrate the service's first anniversary, Samsung is giving away 365 Samsung Gear S2 smartwatches. People can participate by interacting with Samsung's Twitter account on Sept. 28. Samsung Pay is available to the company's high-end devices, including the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S6 Active, S7, S7 Edge, S7 Active, Note 5 and Note 7.

Sprint and Verizon Resume Sales of Galaxy Note7

Sep 21, 2016, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and Verizon Wireless are once again selling the Samsung Galaxy Note7. Both companies' web sites list the device for sale and also reveal where the phone can be found at local stores. Supply of the device is limited, but determined consumers can buy the phone. Samsung and its carrier partners halted sales of the device early this month after Samsung discovered a quality issue with some batteries. About 2.5 million devices in total were recalled due to the possibility of fire risk, though the actual number of impacted devices isn't clear. Incidences of burns, fires, and explosions blamed on the phone have been reported in the media. On Tuesday, Samsung said about 500,000 replacement units are now available to original Note7 buyers who have yet to exchange their phones. Samsung and its carrier partners are pushing a software update to the Note7 so owners know whether or not their device is safe. Recalled devices will display an alert stating such, while safe devices will display a green power indicator in the status bar.

Samsung Says 500,000 Note7 Replacements Available

Sep 20, 2016, 3:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung Electronics America today said that 500,000 replacement Galaxy Note7 smartphones have been shipped to carrier and retail stores in the United States. The replacement devices will be made available starting September 21 to people who previously bought the Galaxy Note7 and need to exchange it for one with a known-safe battery. Further, Samsung plans to push a software update to all Note7s to help consumers identify safe devices from those that still might pose a fire risk. Once updated, new/safe Note7 units will display a green battery icon on the status bar found on the top right hand of the screen. Samsung and the U.S. CPSC urge everyone who bought a Note7 before September 15 to power down their device. A software update will be pushed to all recalled devices that will prompt owners with a safety notice urging them to turn the phone off and and exchange it. The notice will appear every time Note7 owners power up or charge their impacted phone. Note7 owners can visit Samsung's web site for more information.

US Government Issues Recall for Samsung Galaxy Note7

Sep 15, 2016, 3:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 15, 2016, 4:27 PM

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a formal recall for the Samsung Galaxy Note7. The CSPC says consumers should immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note7 devices purchased before September 15, 2016. The agency suggests consumers contact the carrier or other retailer from which they purchased the device to exchange the original Note7 for a new one with a different battery, refund, or other replacement. The recall applies to about 1 million devices shipped in the U.S. Prior to today's CPSC action, Samsung had recalled the device on its own. Samsung said, "We confirmed that new Note7 replacement devices will be available in the United States at most retail locations no later than September 21st, 2016." That means people waiting to exchange their Note7 for a new one will have to wait until next week. Consumers not willing to wait for a straight replacement can select another Samsung device, such as the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, and receive cash back for the price differential.

MTA Asks NYers to Turn Off the Samsung Galaxy Note7

Sep 14, 2016, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 15, 2016, 6:46 AM

The New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority is asking the public not to use their Galaxy Note7 smartphone on subways or buses. "MTA customers should turn off Samsung Galaxy Note 7 before entering station or boarding bus due to concerns device's battery can ignite," said the agency via its Twitter account. The MTA admits there have been no incidents on NYC's buses and subways, but it is asking customers and employees to avoid using the phone while transiting around the city. Earlier this month, the FAA asked airplane passengers to power the device down and avoid charging it while on board aircraft. Samsung issued a recall for the device after some Note7s overheated and caught fire. It recalled about 2.5 million units that might have shipped with a defective battery and could pose a risk of fire. The actual number of dangerous phones is likely much smaller. Samsung is offering customers a replacement device.

LG and Samsung Sued Over Hiring Practices

Sep 13, 2016, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A former LG employee is suing both LG and Samsung, alleging the companies have a no-recruit agreement between them in the U.S., which can impact employees' potential earnings. Accuser A. Frost, once an LG employee, claims a recruiter from Samsung reached out to him for a job, but later reneged saying, "I’m not supposed to poach LG for Samsung!" The recruiter went on to explain the companies have an agreement not to hire away one another's workers. Mr. Frost is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit. Silicon Valley companies have been taken to task in recent years for such agreements. For example, in 2015 Apple, Intel, Adobe, and Google agreed to pay some 64,000 workers $415 million to settle similar class-action lawsuits. Those companies never admitted wrongdoing. Neither LG nor Samsung commented on this latest legal action.

Samsung to Formally Recall Galaxy Note7

Sep 9, 2016, 4:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is now working with the U.S. government to more proactively recall the Galaxy Note7 smartphone. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now recommending Note 7 owners "to power them down and stop charging or using the device" while waiting for replacement devices. Samsung recalled the phones last week due to a risk of fire from the battery. Samsung and U.S. carriers have launched exchange programs to replace the impacted devices.

FAA Warns Consumers Not to Use Galaxy Note7 On Planes

Sep 9, 2016, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn't want people to use the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone on aircraft. "In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note7 devices, the FAA strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage," said the FAA in a statement. Samsung recalled the device due to the possibility of fires and/or explosions caused by the battery. The company already has an exchange program in place for U.S. consumers who may have purchased the phone. Anyone who bought the phone should exchange it at their earliest convenience. Since Samsung issued the recall, the phone has been blamed for igniting fires in a garage in South Carolina and a Jeep in Florida. The house and Jeep were total losses due to the fires. Local fire authorities have not yet confirmed the cause of those blazes.

Sprint Talks Up Its Free iPhone 7 Deal

Sep 8, 2016, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today unfurled its own offer for a free iPhone 7. New and existing Sprint customers can get a 32 GB iPhone 7 at no cost as long as they trade in a working iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy S7, or Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and sign up for any Sprint rate plan. Sprint didn't provide specifics about any possible differential in the trade-in value of high-capacity devices. Preorders start on Friday, September 9 at 12:01a.m. Pacific Time.

T-Mobile Debuts 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM to Double Speed

Sep 6, 2016, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced two significant updates to its network: first, it has launching 4x4 MIMO, and second, it has increased its network footprint. The 4x4 MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) technology falls under the LTE-Advanced category. It doubles the number of channels between cell towers and cell phones, which improves capacity and speed. T-Mobile has deployed 4x4 MIMO across 319 cities. Moreover, T-Mobile is adopting 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads. This technology boosts the number of bits that can be delivered per transmission. T-Mobile claims 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM together can double speeds, pushing them up to 400Mbps. The 256/64 QAM technology is already live on half of T-Mobile's network, with the rest to follow by the end of October. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be the first to take advantage of this tech with a software update planned for October, with more phones to be supported later. Last, T-Mobile says its LTE network now reaches 312 million Americans, or 99.7% of Verizon's LTE footprint.

Samsung Provides Note7 Exchange Details for US Customers

Sep 3, 2016, 4:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has launched a product exchange program for the Galaxy Note7. It says it has identified the batch of devices impacted by the battery problem and has halted all sales as a precaution. The company is offering people who bought a Note7 several options. First, customers can exchange their Note7 for a new Note7 beginning at some point next week. Second, customers can exchange the Note7 immediately for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. Samsung will replace any Note7-specific accessories customers may have purchased, and refund the price difference between the Note7 and S7/S7 Edge. Samsung said customers who take advantage of the exchange program will be given a $25 gift card or bill credit from the retail or carrier store. Samsung advises concerned customers to contact or visit the store in which they bought the phone. Customers may call Samsung (1-800-SAMSUNG) to resolve other concerns. The company this week recalled the device due to fires caused by malfunctioning batteries.

Samsung to Recall Note7 Amid Reports of Fires

Sep 2, 2016, 3:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 2, 2016, 4:23 AM

Samsung plans to recall the Galaxy Note7 smartphone after a handful of reports suggest the device may catch fire while charging. "We take every incident report from our valued customers very seriously. In response to recently reported cases of the new Galaxy Note7, we conducted a thorough investigation and found a battery cell issue. Because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note7." The company said it will replace the phones already sold, but preparing the replacements will take several weeks. For now, all sales of the phone are to be halted. Samsung did not say what owners of the Note7 should do with their device while awaiting their replacement.

Hands-On with the Samsung Gear S3

Aug 31, 2016, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is back with a new Tizen-based wearable. The Gear S3 takes last year's model and makes numerous refinements. Here are our first impressions of Samsung's latest smartwatch.

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Samsung's Gear S3 Gains LTE Radio and Software Refinements

Aug 31, 2016, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Gear S3 smartwatch, a Tizen-based wearable that will be available in several configurations. The Gear S3 will be sold in Classic and Frontier styles. The Classic style has a classier, more conservative look, while the Frontier has a thicker, more sport-centric look. Both the Classic and Frontier will be available as Bluetooth-only models, or with LTE for phone-free calling and data syncing. The Gear S3 features a 46mm face with 1.3-inch round display. An Exynos 7270 processor powers the phone and is accompanied by 768MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. The battery has been enlarged to 380mAh and Samsung claims the wearable will provide three to four days of uptime. Software refinements are extensive. Tizen OS 2.3.1 brings with it new health and fitness capabilities that are aided by a bevy of sensors, including altimeter, barometer, speedometer, and GPS. The wearable can automatically recognize and track walks, hikes, runs, bike rides, and rowing. An SOS function allows owners to secretly call an emergency contact and send their location data. The device can stream music over LTE or WiFi (Spotify) and pair with Bluetooth headphones for music/calls. The watch offers more options for the always-on display, expanding the color palette from just eight to an unlimited number. Last, the Gear S3 adds full support for Samsung Pay, including NFC and MST for mobile payments. The Gear S3 goes on sale during the fourth quarter. Samsung plans to release an updated Tizen SDK to developers so they may prepare their apps ahead of time.

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Samsung Releases Pink Gold Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge

Aug 25, 2016, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 25, 2016, 2:36 PM

Samsung today announced a pink gold version of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The new color will be available only at Best Buy stores in the U.S. For a limited time, customers who buy and activate the pink gold Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge from Best Buy will receive a $150 gift certificate to Best Buy. The pink gold handset goes on sale August 28. They be sold, carrier locked, to AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless customers.

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Samsung's Milk Music Sours, to Be Discontinued

Aug 20, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung says it will discontinue its Milk Music service in the U.S. on September 22. "We have made the strategic decision to invest in a partner model focused on seamlessly integrating the best music services available today into our family of Galaxy devices. We believe that working with partners will accelerate innovation, enhance device sales and provide amazing new experiences for our customers," said the company in a statement. Samsung built Milk Music using Slacker's library. The company created a unique, circular user interface for Milk and preloaded the app on its Android smartphones for several years. Samsung had a similar video service called Milk Video, but discontinued that service in November 2015. Samsung did not say what users of its Milk Music service can/should do with the app or their account once it is turned off. There are plenty of alternatives in the market, including Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music.

AT&T Spearheading Robocall 'Strike Force'

Aug 19, 2016, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and dozens of other companies are escalating the war on robocalls with a new Strike Force aimed at disrupting spammers' ability to call and pester consumers. AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson says carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers will all need to work together to create a play book to tackle the problem. "In parallel with technological solutions, we need our regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors. Shutting down the bad guys is a necessary step, and a powerful example to others. Our goal isn't complicated: Stop unwanted robocalls. Easy to say. Hard to do," said Stephenson in remarks made at the FCC's first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force. Industry player are gathering today to discuss initial plans and are expected to report back with more solid short- and long-term plans on October 19. Some of the companies participating in the Strike Force include AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Comcast, Ericsson, Google, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.

Samsung Accessories Land Alongside Note7

Aug 19, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 reaches U.S. stores today and with it some interesting accessories and companion products from Samsung. The new Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the Note7 and other recent Galaxy phones, has a new look, new color, and expanded field of view. It's available for $100 at carrier stores, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung. The Gear 360 camera (pictured), able to shoot 360-degree photos and video, will only be available online for $350. Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds are available, too. These $200 headphones are fully wireless, have built-in memory, and can track workouts. The less expensive Samsung Level Active headphones are sweat proof and can control music/calls for $100. Last, the Samsung Connect auto provides an AT&T-backed in-car hotspot via the OBD II port. The Connect auto can also send alerts to the driver and improve driving safety/efficiency. AT&T will sell the Samsung Connect auto online and in stores. The Galaxy Note7 is Samsung's flagship phablet for the year. It has a 5.7-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64 GB of storage, and the S Pen stylus. The Note7 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Intel Believes USB Type-C Will Replace 3.5mm Jack

Aug 17, 2016, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A planned update to the USB Type-C specification will give it more control over audio functions, paving the way for it to fully supplant the 3.5mm headphone jack on most phones. Speaking at the Intel Developers Forum, engineers Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail explained that the new USB audio standard lowers power usage through USB and defines how buttons on headphones can control music. The standard "will really make USB Type-C the right connector for audio," said Saunders. The 3.5mm headset jack is universally available on most consumer electronics, but is decades old. Dropping the jack will free up internal space, lowers the potential for interference, and negates the need for a digital-to-analog converter. Moreover, Saunders says the updated spec allows for software-based audio effects and signal processing that can, for example, cancel out nearby noise. Last, the updated USB-C spec improves support for video. Saunders says the new video capabilities will be good for working on a PC or watching a movie, but not necessarily for graphics-intensive gaming. USB-C is slowly gaining traction in smartphones. Samsung's Galaxy Note7 made the switch to USB-C, as did HTC 10, LG G5, and just-announced Huawei Honor 8. The connector is slim and reversible, and Type-C cables can push power in both directions.

Intel to Allow ARM Chip Builders to Use Its Foundry

Aug 16, 2016, 4:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intel today said companies that design and build ARM-based processors will for the first time be able to use Intel's manufacturing facilities to make them. Intel will allow its Intel Custom Foundry customers to use its 10nm FinFET process for ARM cores and Cortex series processors. The move gives Intel a toehold in the mobile processor market after it gave up on its own mobile processors earlier this year. It also gives chipmakers an alternative to existing foundries, such as those operated by Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor. The ARM Artisan platform includes High Performance and High Density Logic Libraries, Memory Compilers, and POP IP for future ARM mobile cores. Intel said LG plans to "produce a world-class mobile platform based on Intel Custom Foundry's 10 nm design platform." LG joins existing Intel Custom Foundry customers Spreadtrum, Achronix, and Altera.

AT&T Touts Galaxy Note7 Offers

Aug 2, 2016, 3:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today shared information about several promotions associated with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone. AT&T is selling the phone for $29.34 per month (for 30 months) with an AT&T Next plan, or for $36.67 per month (for 24 months) with an AT&T Next Every Year plan. Customers who buy a Note7 will be eligible for up to $695 in credit towards the purchase of a second Note7 with a new line of service. The credits will be applied monthly for 30 months. The customer is responsible for the remaining $155 difference, when taking into account the Note7's $849 sale price. Alternately, customers can buy a Note7 and get a free Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch with a two-year agreement, or buy a Note7 and get a Galaxy Tab E for $0.99. AT&T will make the Note7 available for preorder beginning August 3. It will reach AT&T stores August 19.

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