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printed July 26, 2016
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Samsung Hits Huawei with Handful of Complaints

Friday, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has sued Huawei in China for patent infringement. The Korean phone maker says several of Huawei's devices, including the Mate8 and Honor line, are violating six of its technology patents. Samsung is seeking $24 million in damages as well as a ban on the manufacture and sale of the devices in question. The lawsuit is a tit-for-tat response to a similar lawsuit filed by Huawei against Samsung earlier this year. Samsung said it attempted to resolve the matter through negotiation, but has been unable to strike a deal with Huawei. "It has regrettably become necessary to take legal action in order to defend our intellectual property," said Samsung. Tech firms often use patent-based lawsuits against rivals as a negotiation tactic.


Consumer Cellular Adds Alcatel Pop 3 and Others to Lineup

Thursday, 11:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular recently added four phones to its roster of inexpensive devices, including the Alcatel Pop 3. The Pop 3 (pictured) has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 8 GB of storage, 5-megapixel camera, and FM radio. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $100. Consumer Cellular also added the Samsung Galaxy J3 for $125, the ZTE Avid 828 (Avid Plus) for $70, and the Consumer Cellular 101 flip phone for $30.


AT&T's Galaxy Note 5 Wins A Security Patch

Jul 19, 2016, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. The security update for the Note 5 can be downloaded and installed over the air.


AT&T Rolls Out Bogo for GoPhones

Jul 18, 2016, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that its GoPhone prepaid customers can buy one eligible phone and receive a second for free. The buy one, get one deal goes into effect July 22 and includes phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Express Prime or LG Phoenix 2. The handsets must each cost at least $59.99 in order to be eligible for the buy one, get one deal. Customers must activate both devices on either the $45 or $60 monthly GoPhone plan. The promotion runs through September 22. GoPhone does not require credit checks or contracts.


Verizon's Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Earn July Security Patch

Jul 15, 2016, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. The patch plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. These security updates can be downloaded and installed over the air. Verizon patched its versions of the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+ earlier this week.


Mastercard Adds Retail Mobile Payments to Bank Apps

Jul 15, 2016, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Android owners will soon be able to use their own mobile banking app — rather than Android Pay or Samsung Pay — to make tap-and-go payments in stores. Mastercard has expanded its Masterpass program to mobile devices so consumers can make contactless payments at various retailers. Mastercard first introduced Masterpass in 2014 to power in-app and online payments. Customer credit card data is stored in the cloud and tokenized for security, allowing people to make purchases with one click. Mastercard is extending Masterpass to its banking customers so those banks can add contactless payment capabilities to their own apps. Some of the first banks to support contactless payments include Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Fifth Third Bank, KeyBank, People‚Äôs United Bank, and Virginia Credit Union. Mastercard says 17 banks in total plan to add mobile payments to their apps in the near future. (One glaring omission at launch is JPMorgan Chase, which has so far shunned Android Pay. Chase is working on its own mobile payment service that has yet to launch.) Contactless, Masterpass payments will be available at more than 5 million retail locations across 77 countries that accept contactless payments via NFC. In the U.S., BJ's Wholesale Club will be among the first to support the bank-based mobile payment tool, with JetBlue, Saks, Lord and Taylor, Subway, and The Cheesecake Factory to follow shortly. It will be up to the individual supporting banks, such as Citi, to add contactless payments to their mobile apps.


Samsung Flagship Phone, Likely Note 7, Clears FCC

Jul 14, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC has approved an unannounced handset from Samsung that is most likely the Galaxy Note 7. The device, model name SM-N930U, is banded identically to Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphone, which marks the N930U as a probable flagship or other high-end phone. The device supports LTE 4G in the various bands used by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as the corresponding carrier bands for WCDMA/CDMA 3G. Other technical features confirmed by the FCC include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The FCC did not post images, user manuals, or any other details regarding the Samsung N930U, nor do the documents refer to the device as the Note 7. Samsung has scheduled an event on August 2 in New York where it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 7 in full. The timing of the N930U's FCC approval falls in line with a potential August launch.


T-Mobile, Verizon Updating Security on Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge+

Jul 14, 2016, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are sending out the July 1 Android security patch to their variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ smartphones. Google made the security patch available last week. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. These security updates can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Nokia and Samsung Expand Patent Agreement

Jul 13, 2016, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia and Samsung have broadened an existing patent cross-licensing agreement to include more intellectual property. The companies ended patent litigation between the two in February with an initial cross-licensing agreement. Nokia and Samsung have built on that initial agreement to more fully take advantage of each company's offerings. Nokia and Samsung did not say what technologies the patents include, nor how much money is involved. Nokia did say, however, that the deal will push expected revenue from its patent-licensing business to more than $1 billion for the year. Nokia chiefly focuses on wireless networking infrastructure. Samsung operates a networking business, too, in addition to its consumer electronics, display, memory, and other component businesses.


T-Mobile Giving Away Galaxy On5, J7 to Families

Jul 12, 2016, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is kicking off a new promotion that will let family plan subscribers score a free Samsung smartphone. The free phones are tied to specific service plans. Families who subscribe to T-Mobile's 6 GB Simple Choice plan pay $30 per month per line for service and can receive a free Samsung Galaxy On5 smartphone ($140 value). The $30 cost is applied to the first four members of the family, with additional lines costing $20 each per month. Similarly, families who subscribe to T-Mobile's 10 GB Simple Choice plan pay $40 per month per line for service and can receive a free Samsung Galaxy J7 smartphone ($240 value). The $40 cost is applied to the first four members of the family, with additional lines costing $30 each per month. In both cases, families can get up to 12 free phones. The price of the free phone is covered via monthly service credits over a period of two years. Once the two-year period is over, the customer owns the phone outright. Customers who cancel service before the two-year period is over will be responsible for the balance of the phone's cost. T-Mobile's back-to-school promotion begins July 13.


Samsung's Olympic Galaxy S7 Edge Is Ready for the Games

Jul 7, 2016, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S7 edge Olympic Games Limited Edition smartphone. The hardware is identical to the consumer version of the S7 edge, but the Olympic variant packs lots of content specific to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Samsung says the colors of the Olympic Rings will be featured widely throughout the user interface, such as the home/lock screens and notification bar. The device will also include Olympics-themed wallpapers. Samsung plans to give 12,500 of the devices to athletes along with the Gear IconX Bluetooth headphones. A limited number (only 2,016) of the Olympic-themed Galaxy S7 edge will be made available to consumers in Brazil, the United States, China, Germany, and Korea. Samsung said the Galaxy S7 edge Olympic Games Limited Edition will be available beginning July 18th, but it did not disclose pricing. The standard model costs $770.


Samsung Shows Off First UFS Memory Cards

Jul 7, 2016, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced a range of Universal Flash Storage memory cards meant for today's intense video applications. The UFS spec has been used for embedded memory modules since 2015, but this is the first time UFS has appeared in removable memory cards. UFS is a generational leap faster than the eMMC standard still used by the majority of devices today. Samsung's new UFS cards have a read speed of 530Mbps, which is five times faster than that of microSD cards. Samsung says this is fast enough to read an entire HD movie in about 10 seconds. Write speeds reach 170Mbps, which is about twice the speed of today's top microSD cards. Samsung says the fast read/write speeds will be ideal for dSLR cameras, drones, 3D/VR cameras, and action cameras. In order for the cards to achieve this performance two sets of connectors are needed, which allow for simultaneous reading and writing thanks to separate, dedicated paths for each action. The cards are similar is size to microSD cards, but have a different shape. The shape and double connector requirements make the UFS cards incompatible with the today's microSD slots. Samsung hasn't said if or when the company might introduce UFS cards to its smartphones or tablets. Moreover, the industry at large has not publicly agreed to transition from microSD to UFS. Samsung's UFS cards will be available in 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB capacities. Pricing and availability were not disclosed.


Walmart Pay Now Available At All 4,600 Stores Nationwide

Jul 6, 2016, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart today said Walmart Pay, its mobile payment service, is now available at all of its stores across the country — more than 4,600 locations. The service, first announced last year, competes with Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. It works with both Android and iOS smartphones. Rather than rely on NFC or MST for tap-and-go transactions, Walmart Pay involves the Walmart mobile app. Customers can add most any credit or debit card to the Walmart app for 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. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay all allow users to tap their phones on retail payment terminals to make purchases. Walmart has resisted supporting these competitive mobile payment services in favor of its own. The company says customers rate the experience highly and are using it increasingly.


MetroPCS Targets Families With Latest Offerings

Jul 6, 2016, 8:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS today unrolled a handful of promotions that may appeal to customers with multiple lines. For example, people who port in their number to MetroPCS will receive $60 to spend on any smartphone that MetroPCS sells. The company says this means nine of its handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy On5, will effectively be free to switchers. New lines added to existing family plans can receive 5 GB of LTE data for $25 per month as long as one of the other lines has equal or more data. MetroPCS claims its new plan offerings can save Sprint, Boost, and Virgin Mobile customers up to $180 per year if they switch. The promotions go into effect on July 7.


H2O Wireless Improves Data Offerings

Jul 6, 2016, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

H2O Wireless, an MVNO that operates on AT&T's network, has increased the data available on its prepaid service plans. The company offers plans that range from $30 to $60, all of which include unlimited talk and text in the US and unlimited text to more than 50 international destinations. The $30 plan includes 500 MB of 3G data and the $35 plan includes 500 MB of LTE data per month. The data improvements impact H2O's more costly plans. The $40 plan jumps from 1 GB to 3 GB, the $50 plan jumps from 2 GB to 4 GB, and the $60 plan jumps from 3 GB to 4.5 GB. The company offers a 10% discount on monthly plans when customers sign up for auto-pay, so the $60 plan, for example, would cost $54. H2O sells a variety of older Android handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, the original Moto X, and others. Customers may bring their own unlocked, compatible GSM device if they wish.


Verizon Intros Trade-In Program for $300 Off Flagship Phones

Jul 1, 2016, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said customers can trade in an old flagship smartphone for up to $300 off a new flagship smartphone. The promotion is limited to certain handsets. For example, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6, and S6 edge/edge+; HTC M9; Apple iPhone 6; and LG G4 and V10 are eligible to trade-in for $300. The phones must be in good working order and good cosmetic condition. Other phones traded in will receive a lesser amount to be determined by Verizon. The program also requires customers to activate a new line, upgrade, or switch to Verizon and then purchase a new device on a monthly payment plan. Customers can use the $300 toward the Apple iPhone 6S or 6S Plus; HTC 10; LG G5; Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, and Note 5; and the Moto Droid Turbo 2 or Maxx 2 .(Customers interested in the Turbo 2 or Maxx 2 are allowed to trade-in phones with broken screens.) Verizon suggests customers perform the trade-in at Verizon's stores, where credit for the value of the trade will be applied immediately, but the company is also offering the promotion through its web site. New customers will receive the $300 via a gift card, while existing customers will be given an account credit. Verizon's didn't say how long the trade-in program will run.


Olympics to Be Offered In Virtual Reality for Samsung Gear VR

Jun 30, 2016, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

NBC today said that it will provide virtual reality coverage of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but only to the Samsung Gear VR headset. NBC plans to capture about 85 hours of virtual reality programming, including the opening and closing ceremonies, and select competitions. Some of the sports include men's basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing. NBC plans to create highlight packages of these sports, as well. NBC said the VR content will not be offered in real time, and will instead be delayed by about a day. The content will be made available through then NBC Sports app. Compatible smartphones include the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, and S7 Edge. A Gear VR headset is required, and interested consumers will need to authenticate their pay TV cable account before accessing the Olympics VR coverage.


Samsung Intros Unlocked Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Jun 30, 2016, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2016, 10:34 AM

Samsung today said U.S. consumers can buy unlocked variants of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The devices are identical to those sold by carriers, but are unlocked and can be used on any GSM/CDMA network in the U.S. and abroad. The unlocked S7 and S7 Edge support LTE in Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, and 41, making them highly compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Moreover, the devices ship without carrier apps and instead come with a clean build of Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Samsung's TouchWiz. The unlocked Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are available from Samsung.com, Amazon, Best Buy, Ebay, Sam's Club, and Target.com. The S7 costs $670 and the S7 Edge costs $770.


Verizon, Samsung Offer Small Cell for Improved In-Home Coverage

Jun 29, 2016, 1:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the 4G LTE Network Extender for homes and small businesses. The small box provides LTE coverage in buildings up to about 7,500 square feet, including services such as HD Voice and high-speed data. Verizon says the 4G LTE Network Extender supports up to seven devices at a time, with an eighth channel reserved for emergency calls. The device, made by Samsung's networking business, is self-optimizing and can learn its surroundings to provide better coverage. Verizon says the box needs a wired broadband connection to function. Further, it requires broadband service with minimum speeds of 10Mbps down and 5Mbps up, and Verizon recommends broadband service with 20Mbps down and 10Mbps up for optimum performance. The device does not rebroadcast or boost local signal; instead, it uses the broadband connection as backhaul and creates its own LTE cell for connectivity. Users will be able to transition seamlessly between in-home LTE and Verizon's macro LTE network when stepping outside. The 4G LTE Network Extended goes on sale June 30 for $250.


Innovative Keyboard Case is Both Wireless and Battery-Free

Jun 22, 2016, 5:20 PM   by Rich Brome

One2Touch has a new keyboard case for Android phones called SlimType that uses NFC technology in a unique way to connect to a phone. Most keyboard cases have a battery or physical connector that adds bulk. The SlimType, however, draws power from the phone using NFC, and also uses NFC to communicate with the phone, eliminating the need for a Bluetooth radio. The standard SlimType model is no thicker than a typical leather flip case. The current model is optimized for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, but can work with some other Android phones with NFC. A larger model adds a rigid kickstand. An even larger non-case model provides a full-size keyboard. The standard model is available now from Amazon for $40. Read on for our hands-on impressions and more about the clever technology behind it.

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AT&T's Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 Earn Marshmallow

Jun 22, 2016, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today began distributing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. The update includes the standard list of Marshmallow features, such as Now On Tap, Doze, and improved permissions. It also adds support for AT&T Video Calling. The update resolves bugs and security issues and smoothes out performance, as well. AT&T says the update is being pushed out over the air and should be downloaded via WiFi. It may take a few days to reach all users.


Verizon Pushing Security Patch to Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Jun 17, 2016, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a security update to its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The phone is receiving the June security patch from Google, which resolves a number of vulnerabilities. Google published details of the June security patch earlier this month. It plugs 21 holes, of which a handful could have led to remote code execution. Verizon says the update also optimizes device performance and takes care of a few other bugs. The update will appear automatically, but may also be initiated manually from the phone. The update can be downloaded via WiFi or LTE. Verizon recently pushed the same update to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.


Verizon Picks Up Samsung's Galaxy J3

Jun 17, 2016, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 17, 2016, 9:14 AM

Verizon Wireless has added the Samsung Galaxy J3 to its lineup of inexpensive smartphones. The J3, which has been for sale from Boost Mobile and other carriers since early this year, has a 5-inch 720p screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 16 GB (postpaid) or 8 GB (prepaid) of storage, 5-megapixel main camera with flash, 2-megapixel front camera, and 2,600mAh battery. Notably, Verizon's version of the phone ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Earlier versions of the phone shipped with Lollipop. The phone costs $168 at full retail, which breaks down to $7 per month for 24 months. Verizon is also offering the phone for $40 with a two-year contract, or for $110 when purchased from Verizon's prepaid service. The Samsung Galaxy J3 is available online starting today. It will reach Verizon's stores on June 23.


Walmart Kicks Off Walmart Pay Trial In Alabama

Jun 16, 2016, 2:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart today launched its mobile payment service, Walmart Pay, at 120 of its retail stores in Alabama. The service, announced late last year, works with Android and iOS smartphones. Rather than rely on NFC or MST for tap-and-go transactions, Walmart Pay involves the Walmart mobile app. Customers can add most any credit or debit card to the Walmart app for 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 initially expected to deploy the technology around the country by mid-year, but Alabama is the first statewide deployment so far. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay all allow users to tap their phones on retail payment terminals to make purchases. Walmart has resisted supporting these competitive mobile payment services in favor of its own. CurrentC, another mobile payment app developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange, was recently cancelled. Apple and Google have both outlined plans to expand their mobile payment services to the web in the months ahead.


Samsung to Buy Cloud Company Joyent

Jun 16, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it has agreed to acquire Joyent, a U.S.-based cloud services provider. Samsung will use Joyent's assets to support various products, including mobile devices, internet of things, and its own cloud-based software. Samsung's competitors, such as Apple and Microsoft, offer cloud services like iCloud and OneDrive to help tie together their respective ecosystems. Joyent will help Samsung fill that gap in its online services. Joyent will continue to operate as a standalone company and will retain its current client base. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions.


T-Mobile and MetroPCS to Sell Samsung Galaxy On5

Jun 15, 2016, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it and its prepaid brand MetroPCS will kick off sales of the Samsung Galaxy On5 later this month. The On5 is an inexpensive Android smartphone with a 5-inch 720p HD display, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel front camera. The On5 is powered by a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, and the phone includes 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. A memory card slot lets users expand storage up to 128 GB. The phone runs Android 6 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, including East Home. Samsung gave the On5 a 2,600mAh battery. MetroPCS will sell the Galaxy On5 starting June 27 for $59 (after $70 rebate) and T-Mobile will sell the phone starting June 29 for $140, or $5.83 per month for 24 months.

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Verizon Delivers Security Patch to Galaxy S7, S7 Edge

Jun 13, 2016, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a security update for its versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Both phones will receive the June security patch from Google, which resolves a number of vulnerabilities. Google published details of the June security patch earlier this month. It plugs 21 holes, of which a handful could have led to remote code execution. Verizon says the update also optimizes device performance and takes care of a few other bugs. The update will appear automatically, but may also be initiated manually directly from the phone. The update can be downloaded via WiFi or LTE.


Facebook Turns On Support for 360-Degree Photos

Jun 9, 2016, 12:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today made it possible for people to upload and view 360-degree imagery. The tool includes support for panorama-style photos, as well as full 360-degree photos or photo spheres. Facebook says it will call out 360-degree images with a little compass icon, and users will be able to interact with them both on mobile devices as well as the web. People can view 360-degree photos through Samsung's Gear VR headset, as well. Facebook says a number of organizations, such as NASA, have prepared 360-degree photos that will be available on Facebook soon. Facebook plans to update its Android and iOS mobile apps in the next couple of days, which will include the ability to upload 360-degree photos. Facebook already supports 360-degree video.


Verizon to Delete Its Paid Visual Voicemail Service

Jun 8, 2016, 9:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said it will discontinue its $2.99 Visual Voicemail service come July 8. All customers who use the Visual Voicemail app will be transitioned to Verizon's free, basic voicemail service. Verizon says customers won't lose their existing voicemails, but may need to make room in their voicemail inbox, as well as reset their voicemail greeting. The list of phones impacted by the change is significant, including old and new models from BlackBerry, Casio, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Pantech, and Samsung. Verizon did not say why it is discontinuing the Visual Voicemail service.


MCX to Discontinue CurrentC On June 28

Jun 7, 2016, 6:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Merchant Customer Exchange said that its CurrentC mobile payment service will be shut down in its current form later this month. "We will be concluding our beta on June 28, 2016," said the MCX web site. "Please stay tuned for new information on CurrentC as our future plans evolve." CurrentC is a mobile payment service created by a collection of retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, Dunkin Donuts, Kmart, Old Navy, Kohl's, Lowes, and others. It was meant to compete with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. The service was initially beta tested in Columbus, Ohio. Last month, MCX delayed the national rollout of CurrentC and said it planned to evaluate its future. Now, according to the MCX web site, the organization said it has "not yet determined the future timing of CurrentC, but we will keep you posted." None of the retailers that supported CurrentC have announced plans to support the other mobile payment services being used by today's smartphone owners.


Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Jun 6, 2016, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is back with another semi-rugged variant of its flagship smartphone. The Galaxy S7 Active is tougher than the standard S7, but offers most of the same specs and features. If you need a phone that's built stronger than most, the S7 Active fits the bill. It's more than enough phone for the outdoorsman, field worker, and, well, the downright clumsy.

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Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Built for the Adventurous and the Accident-Prone

Jun 6, 2016, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S7 Active, a semi-rugged version of its S7 flagship smartphone. The Active has a sturdier metal frame with rubber-coated corners to help protect it. The S7 Active is certified to mil-spec 810G, which means it can handle shock, vibration, fog/humidity, dirt, and temperature extremes. It also has an IP68 rating for protection against liquids; the Active can sit in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Like previous Active-branded handsets from Samsung, the S7 Active carries over most features from the standard S7. It is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, it supports memory cards, and has a hardened, shatter-resistant 5.1-inch quad HD screen. The S7 Active relies on the same 12-megapixel main camera from the S7, as well as the same 5-megapixel user-facing camera. It boasts a large number of radios (Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi), and includes some 15 LTE bands. At 4,000mAh, the Active has a 33% larger battery than the S7, and it supports adaptive fast charging in addition to wireless charging. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface customizations and apps. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active hits AT&T's web site and retail stores beginning June 10. The device will cost $26.50 per month on an AT&T Next plan, or $33.13 per month on an AT&T Next Every Year plan. The full retail price is about $795.

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Samsung Reveals Gear Fit2 Fitness Band and Gear IconX Fitness Earbuds

Jun 2, 2016, 5:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced two new fitness-themed wearables. The Gear Fit2 is a second-generation, wrist-worn activity tracker with GPS and heart rate monitor. Like the original, the Fit2 has a curved, Super AMOLED touchscreen that can be used to track activity as well as check notifications. The device can record workouts automatically, transfer fitness data to Samsung's S Health app, and play locally stored music. The Fit2 runs the Tizen operating system, has a 200mAh battery, and goes on sale June 10. The IconX is a pair of Bluetooth wireless earbuds that are wholly free of wires. Each earbud contains its own 47mAh battery. The carrying case holds another 315mAh battery to recharge the earbuds. The IconX are activated when users place them in their ears. The earbuds are able to track distance, speed, duration, pulse, and burned calorie data; offer voice guidance for feedback during workouts; and store and playback 1,000 songs thanks to 4 GB of internal storage. The earbuds feature capacitive controls to make them easier to use. The Gear IconX will go on sale during the third quarter. Samsung did not reveal pricing details for the new wearables.


MetroPCS Selling LG K10, Samsung Galaxy J7 Online

Jun 2, 2016, 1:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS recently added the LG K10 and the Samsung Galaxy J7 (pictured) to its roster of low-cost Android smartphones.

  • K10: The K10 relies on LG's older design language and features rear-mounted volume controls. It has a 5.3-inch HD screen with 2.5D arc glass, a 1.27 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel selfie camera with flash. The K10 has 16 GB of storage and ships with a 2,200mAh battery. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and costs $160, but MetroPCS is selling the LG K10 for $99 after rebates.
  • Galaxy J7: The J7 is a mid-range phone that resembles many of Samsung's inexpensive handsets. The J7 has a 5.5-inch HD screen, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 13-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel selfie camera — both with an LED flash. The J7 offers 16 GB of storage and ships with a 3,000mAh battery. It also runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. MetroPCS is selling the Galaxy J7 for $180 after a $50 rebate.


Verizon's Samsung Galaxy S5, Note 4 Gain Marshmallow

Jun 2, 2016, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has begun pushing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones. The update delivers core features from Marshmallow, such as Now On Tap for contextually relevant search, Doze for better power management, and expanded permissions for more explicit control over apps. The new software also brings with it WiFi Calling, high-quality audio, Android for Work, and refreshed app icons. Verizon recommends that S5 and Note 4 owners download and install the system update via WiFi. The update will reach most devices over the next few days, but users can manually update if they wish.


KFC to Accept Android, Apple, and Samsung Pay

Jun 1, 2016, 2:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

KFC said its U.S restaurants will soon support Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. Some stores will accept the three mobile payment services beginning today, and KFC expects all stores to support Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay by the end of the summer. KFC's deployment is notable in that it supports multiple services at once. Android Pay and Apple Pay require NFC-equipped retail terminals, while Samsung Pay can use NFC- and MST-based terminals. KFC said it will accept mobile payments at the drive-thru as well as in-store. The deployment is part of a series of investments that KFC is making to improve its stores.


Samsung Giving Away Gear VR to Galaxy S Buyers

Jun 1, 2016, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 1, 2016, 3:01 PM

Samsung said it will give a Gear VR headset to people who buy one of its Galaxy S smartphones between now and June 19. The qualifying handsets include the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy Note 5. Consumers who buy one of these phones from a participating retailer (carrier stores, Best Buy, CostCo, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart) can submit a claim form and Samsung will ship the headset. Samsung says the device must be purchased on an installment plan, purchased with a contract, leased, or bought outright to qualify for the offer. Samsung says it has 600,000 Gear VR headsets to give away. If more than 600,000 people submit claim forms, Samsung may choose to reward people with a $100 gift card to Samsung.com.


Batman-Themed Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition Swings Into Action

May 27, 2016, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has revealed the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition, inspired by Batman and the game of the same name. Samsung says the Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition package includes a customized Galaxy S7 edge with black styling, gold detailing, and the Batman logo stenciled onto the back. The package also includes a Gear VR headset, along with Injustice game credits and Oculus VR content vouchers. The underlying handset is unchanged from the standard version of the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition will be sold in China, Singapore, Korea, Latin America, Russia, and other yet-to-be-named markets. It goes on sale in early June. Pricing was not disclosed.


ZTE Taps BMW to Help Design the Axon 7 Flagship

May 26, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 26, 2016, 1:37 PM

ZTE today announced the Axon 7, its flagship smartphone for 2016. ZTE designed the phone with the help of BMW Group's Designworks studio. The Axon 7 has a unibody aluminum design and clean lines; it comes in gold and silver finishes. The device features a 5.5-inch quad HD display with 2.5D curved glass. The phone is powered by a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor with either 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM. The processor and 3,140mAh battery together support Quick Charge 3.0 and can deliver a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The main camera includes a 20-megapixel sensor from Samsung with optical and electronic image stabilization, sapphire lens, and an aperture of f/1.8. The selfie camera has an 8-megapixel camera. The phone can capture video up to 4K. Other standout features include dual AKM HiFi audio chipsets with Dolby Atmos software and stereo speakers, support for Google's Daydream virtual reality platform, support for memory cards, and a quick fingerprint sensor located on the back. The device adopts a USB Type-C connector. The Axon 7 ships with Android 6 Marshmallow and MiFavor 4.0 user interface, portions of which BMW's Designworks helped configure. The phone supports all U.S. LTE bands. It will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile and launch, with Sprint and Verizon compatibility coming later in the year. The Axon 7 is sold with Axon Passport 2.0, ZTE's two-year warranty plan that protects consumers from busted screens and other damage. The Axon 7 goes on sale in China today, but will reach the U.S. soon. The phone is priced under $500 and will be sold directly to consumers via ZTEusa.com, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, ebay, and Newegg.

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Huawei Sues Samsung Over Patents

May 24, 2016, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei has filed lawsuits against Samsung in the U.S. and China, alleging the smartphone maker is using its patented technology without permission. Specifically, Huawei believes Samsung is infringing on a patent related to LTE wireless technology. "We hope Samsung will stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei," said the company in a statement. Samsung did not immediately comment on the matter. This marks the first time a Chinese phone maker has filed a lawsuit against foreign firms; typically, Chinese firms have been the defendants in patent cases. Handset manufacturers often resort to patent lawsuits to force negotiations for royalties.


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