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Samsung to Examine Overheating Replacement Note 7s

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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.

Hands-On with the Samsung Galaxy Note7

Aug 2, 2016, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 2, 2016, 1:41 PM

Samsung's Galaxy Note7 is its most refined and most advanced smartphone yet. This glass-and-aluminum slab adds features such as an iris scanner and water resistance to the fabled phablet series from Samsung. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.

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Verizon To Offer Rewards to Note7 Buyers

Aug 2, 2016, 11:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said customers who preorder the Samsung Galaxy Note7 or S7 Edge can snag a free Gear Fit2 fitness band or 256 GB memory card with their purchase. Verizon plans to sell other Note7-related accessories, such as the Gear VR, Gear 360 camera, and Gear IconX wireless headphones online and in stores beginning August 19. Verizon did not detail pricing information for its variant of the Note7.

Note7's Iris Scanner Can Unlock Folders and Web Sites

Aug 2, 2016, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced Samsung Pass, an identification tool that combines the iris scanner and fingerprint reader to verify identity. Samsung Pass will be able to replace passwords for select apps. The tool allows Note7 owners to protect folders and web sites, for example, making them inaccessible unless unlocked via the owner's iris scan. Further, Samsung is offering the tool to bank app makers so they can add iris-based security to their own apps. Six banks will support Samsung Pass at launch. Samsung Pass is included with the Galaxy Note7, which goes on sale August 19.

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T-Mobile Offering Free Gift with Note7 Purchase

Aug 2, 2016, 10:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy Note7 will receive one of three thank you gifts. Customers can select a Gear Fit2, 256 GB microSD memory card, or a free year of Netflix — each of which has a value of about $100. T-Mobile plans to sell all three colors (black, silver, blue) of the Note7. The device costs $849. Customers can pay the full price, or make a down payment of $70 and then monthly payments of $32.50 for 24 months. T-Mobile will begin accepting preorders at 12:01am August 3.

Samsung's Gear VR Headset Given a Redesign

Aug 2, 2016, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today introduced a brand new version of its Gear VR headset alongside the Galaxy Note7 handset. The new Gear VR improves the field of view from 96 degrees to 101 degrees and supports USB Type-C. The revised Gear VR will ship with adapters to make it backward compatible with microUSB-equipped handsets. The new headset has thicker padding and longer straps to allow for a more comfortable fit. The touchpad has been refined and placed in a deeper recess, making it easier to find and use. The Gear VR includes a dedicated Oculus Store button, too, to help people find content. The Gear VR will be available with the Samsung Galaxy Note7 later this month.

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Galaxy Note7 Borrows from S7 as Samsung Reworks Pen Features

Aug 2, 2016, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 2, 2016, 10:04 AM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note7, its premier smartphone for the year. The device is narrower than last year's model in order to make it easier to hold, and uses a sturdier aluminum frame with symmetric slabs of Gorilla Glass 5 on either side. The Note7's defining feature is the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED quad HD screen, which is twice as sensitive to pen input when compared to the Note 5. The S Pen stylus has been redesigned and now features a tip that is the same size as a standard ballpoint pen. The Note7's note-taking functions have been bundled together into a single application that opens when the pen is removed. People can use the Note7 to easily create GIFs by dragging the S Pen across (non-DRM) video as it plays. Many of the hardware elements were taken from the Galaxy S7. For example, the Note7 relies on a Snapdragon 820 processor (for the U.S. market) with 4 GB of RAM, and includes the same 12-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera as the S7. The Note7 will ship in one memory configuration: 64 GB with support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The phone includes a 3,500mAh battery and supports rapid charging and rapid wireless charging. It is certified IP68 for protection against water and dust. The Note7 is the first Samsung handset to make the jump to USB Type-C and it will will ship with an adapter (Type-C-to-micro) to help consumers. The phone includes both a fingerprint reader and iris scanner for biometric security. The Note7 ships with Android 6 Marshmallow and no firm commitment from Samsung about Android 7 Nougat. Samsung's new user interface is toned down, but adds the Edge UX found on Samsung's Edge-branded handsets. Samsung revised the camera UI, which now includes swiping gestures to change from mode to mode, or switch between the front/rear cameras. The Galaxy Note7 will be sold in black, silver, and blue in the U.S. Preorders start August 3, with the August 19 the expected ship date. Carriers will announced exact availability and pricing.

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Republic Wireless Improves Android Lineup

Jul 28, 2016, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Republic Wireless today said it has added nine modern smartphones to its lineup of Android devices. The new phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ($799), S7 ($699), J3 ($179), and S6 ($549); the Nexus 6P ($499) and 5X ($349); and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition ($349), G4 ($199), and G4 Plus ($299). Republic customers can pay full price for the handsets, or elect to pay via monthly installments that range broadly from $11 to $48, based on the cost of the phone. Consumers who already own one of these unlocked handsets can pick up a Republic Wireless SIM card starting August 11. Republic's service plans start at $15 per month, which includes unlimited calling, texting, and WiFi data. Plans that include cellular data cost $20 per month for 1 GB, $30 for 2 GB, and $45 for 4 GB.

Verizon Offering Bonus Data to Family Plan Subscribers

Jul 28, 2016, 10:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless says families of four can get 16 GB of mobile data for $150 per month thanks to a new bonus data promotion. Verizon charges $70 per month for its 8 GB (or, L) plan. Families that subscribe to the L, XL, and XXL plans can score an extra 2 GB of data per line. The bonus data is only available when customers activate a new line or upgrade an existing phone. Verizon says the bonus data will be available to each line as long as it remains active on Verizon's network. Bonus data will not carry over month-to-month. The $150 monthly price includes the $70 data charge, plus $80 in line access fees for four smartphones. Taxes and handset payments are not included. Verizon says the bonus data promotion will be available for a limited time. Customers who activate new lines of service will be eligible to receive a Samsung Galaxy J3 V handset for free ($7 bill credit applied on a monthly basis for 24 months). Verizon will allow new customers up to five free J3 Vs per account.

AT&T's Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Gain Security Patch

Jul 28, 2016, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T 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. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. In addition to the security update, the phones gain access to AT&T's WiFi Calling service. The update for the S7 and S7 Edge can be downloaded and installed over the air.

Samsung Hits Huawei with Handful of Complaints

Jul 22, 2016, 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

Jul 21, 2016, 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’s 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.

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