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printed July 31, 2015
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Qualcomm Exonerated In ParkerVision Case

Today, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ParkerVision today said it lost an appeal of allegations that Qualcomm was infringing on some of its patents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a district court ruling maintaining that ParkerVision did not prove infringement of its patents by Qualcomm. The appeals court also agreed with the district court in denying Qualcomm's attempt to invalidate one of the patents. ParkerVision said, however, that the appeals court reversed the lower courts decision regarding the validity of ParkerVision's other claims. "We are highly disappointed with the appellate court's decision both with regard to infringement and validity of certain of our patent claims," said Jeffrey Parker, ParkerVision's Chairman and CEO. "Despite this setback, we will consider further options on appeal, and will move forward in our second infringement case against Qualcomm, HTC and Samsung." ParkerVision designs radio-frequency technology for wireless devices.

Samsung and MasterCard to Bring Samsung Pay to Europe

Today, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung won't launch Samsung Pay in the U.S. until later this summer, but the company is already looking to expand the service to other markets. Samsung today said it has partnered with MasterCard and the two will together offer the service to financial partners and retailers across the continent. Samsung Pay can take advantage of two different technologies, including NFC and MST, for mobile payments. NFC-equipped terminals are still somewhat limited in the U.S., but magnetic stripe technology is available in most retail environments. Samsung is already trialling the service in its home country of Korea. It is expected to arrive in the U.S. with the Galaxy Note 5, which Samsung is believed to be revealing at an Aug. 13 event. Samsung Pay will also be made available to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge via software updates. Samsung didn't say when it expects to launch Samsung Pay in Europe.

More Phone Makers, Carriers Support Android for Work

Yesterday, 8:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said support for its Android for Work program has swelled to 40 companies thanks to the addition of new carriers, phone makers, app developers, and management providers. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the U.S., and Rogers, Bell Canada, and Telus Mobility in Canada have thrown their weight behind Android for Work, marking the first time carriers have joined the program. This means people/businesses will be able to ask their carriers to provide the security, device management, and productivity tools included in Android for Work. Samsung is working with Android for Work, too, in conjunction with its own KNOX services. Silent Circle's forthcoming Blackphone 2 is another handset that will support Android for Work. Google says more than 10,000 businesses are testing, deploying, or using Android for Work. The program is meant to help offer secure connections to corporate information, the ability for IT to manage devices remotely, and access to Google's productivity apps.

Samsung to Adjust Price of Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Yesterday, 7:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung reported its second quarter earnings today and signaled some changes in its handset strategy. Despite the release of its flagship handsets during the quarter, Samsung's mobile phone business saw a 38% decline in profits when compared to the year-ago quarter. The company admitted that it misjudged supply for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge handsets. It made too many of the flat-screened S6 and not enough of the curved S6 Edge. The phones did not sell as well as Samsung hoped. In response, Samsung it "plans to firmly maintain its sale of premium smartphones by flexibly adjusting the price of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and launching a new model with a larger screen." Samsung has invited media to attend an event on August 13, where it is expected to reveal the Galaxy Note 5 along with a larger version of the S6 Edge. Samsung has in years past launched its Galaxy Note handsets during the first week of September at the IFA trade show. Samsung did not spell out exactly how it might alter the price of the S6 and S6 Edge moving forward. As a whole, Samsung recorded a second-quarter profit of $4.93 billion, a drop of about 8% year-over-year, on revenues of $41.7 billion.

Samsung Debuts 1.0μm Pixel Camera Module for Phones

Wednesday, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it has begun to mass produce a thinner camera module for high-end phones. The S5K3P3 uses pixels that are 1.0μm in size. The smaller pixels allow Samsung to shrink the depth of the sensor module by 20% to less than 5mm, making it ideal to use in thin designs. The S5K3P3 is a 16-megapixel sensor and Samsung claims it captures images that are on par with sensors with larger 1.12μm pixels. The S5K3P3 also uses Samsung's ISOCELL technology, which isolates the individual pixels from one another with physical barriers. This prevents color crosstalk between neighboring pixels, increases light sensitivity, and improves color fidelity in all lighting conditions. The S5K3P3 is already available in volume.

T-Mobile Launches RCS-Based Advanced Messaging

Jul 22, 2015, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced Advanced Messaging, a refresh of its base messaging service that adds several powerful features. Advanced Messaging is based on Rich Communications Services (RCS), which allows T-Mobile to offer near real-time chatting. Users can see when people are typing responses, see exactly when messages are delivered, and see when messages are read. T-Mobile's Advanced Messaging lets people instantly share photo and video files up to 10MB, as well. Advanced Messaging will first be available on the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. Owners of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 can enable Advanced Messaging through a simple system update. T-Mobile said more phones will launch with Advanced Messaging throughout the year, and it expects the service to become a standard feature across its product portfolio. T-Mobile Advanced Messaging is built to work across all devices, makers, platforms, and wireless operators. RCS is a standards-based technology and T-Mobile expects to introduce other RCS products in the future. Advanced Messaging will help T-Mobile compete with over-the-top messaging services, such as Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp, that offer many of the same features.

Samsung Reveals the Galaxy J1 for TracFone

Jul 16, 2015, 1:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today published details about the Galaxy J1, an entry-level handset headed to TracFone. The J1 features a 4.3-inch screen, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The J1 can capture 720p HD video. The phone supports Bluetooth and WiFi. It ships with Android 4.4 KitKat. Pricing and availability details weren't immediately released. TracFone is a prepaid provider that sells phones via Walmart stores.

Apple, Samsung to Adopt GSMA-Backed Electronic SIMs

Jul 16, 2015, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The GSMA said it is in advanced talks with Apple and Samsung to adopt the nearly-finalized electronic SIM card standard moving forward. The GSMA has been working with the industry on electronic SIMs for some time and is close to announcing a final standard. "We have got everyone back on one point, with Apple and Samsung agreeing to be part of that specification," said GSMA CEO Anne Bouverot. "We have been working with them and others to create an industry solution for machines and will agree on a solution for consumer electronics." Electronic SIMs would replace the plastic SIM cards used in today's cellphones. Electronic SIMs will make it far easier for consumers to change carriers and service plans without futzing with the physical SIMs. AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone have already voiced support for the forthcoming standard. "With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalize the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016," said the GSMA. Apple developed is own universal SIM card last year, but it was not widely adopted. The new electronic SIM will not appear in the new iPhones expected in September, according to the Financial Times. Apple and Samsung did not comment on the GSMA's statements.

ZTE Reveals the Axon Flagship Phone for the US In Full

Jul 14, 2015, 1:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2015, 1:35 PM

ZTE today announced the Axon phone, the first in what will be a line of flagship smartphones. ZTE will use the Axon brand in a way similar to how Samsung uses the Galaxy brand for its best phones. The Axon phone, says ZTE, was "Made in the U.S., for the U.S." The phone had a 5.5-inch quad-HD display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The Axon is powered by an octa-core 2.0 GHz Snapdragon 810 processor, with an Adreno 450 GPU and 4 GB of system memory. It has 32 GB of built-in storage. ZTE gave the phone a 3,000mAh battery with Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology for speedy recharging. The main camera captures 13-megapixel images and is joined by a 2-megapixel secondary camera to aid in focus and capture depth-of-field data. The main lens has an aperture of f/1.8, can shoot with shutter speeds as quick as 1/90,000th of a second, and captures 4K video. The selfie camera boasts 8-megapixels and an 88-degree field of view. Axon says the phone has high-fidelity sound playback and high-quality audio recording thanks to two microphones and software-based noise suppression techniques. It has two, dedicated chipsets (digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital converters). The phone was designed with what ZTE calls "Urban Prestige," which it claims "grabs your attention without shouting." The company perceives itself as becoming known for high style. It is made from metal and will be sold in blue, gold, or silver. It will be available via, Amazon, eBay, and Newegg starting July 27. The ZTE Axon, sold unlocked, will cost $449.88. Customers who order soon will receive a free pair of headphones (value $50).

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Samsung Aiming for 11K Phone Displays

Jul 10, 2015, 10:12 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung Display has started working on a mobile phone display that is over four times sharper than today's highest-resolution (quad-HD) displays. The new display would have a pixel density of 2,250 ppi (pixels per inch), compared to just over 500 ppi for today's quad-HD displays. By another measurement, if quad-HD qualifies as "2K", this new display would be "11K" resolution, with far more pixels than today's 4K UHD televisions. Samsung claims this sharpness would enable a 3D effect without glasses. The company hopes to have a prototype ready by early 2018. If used in VR applications - such as a phone paired with Samsung's Gear VR accessory - such a display would dramatically improve visible resolution. The lenses in VR goggles magnify the display such that pixels are clearly visible even with today's best quad-HD displays. Samsung displays are also used in Oculus Rift VR goggles.

New Group Working on Practical 5G

Jul 10, 2015, 9:34 AM   by Rich Brome

A large and diverse group of mobile companies have formed a new group to work on potential 5G radio technology. The group is focusing specifically on technologies that will work below 6 GHz, near the frequency bands of current mobile networks. Some recent "5G" demos have relied on much higher millimeter wave (mmW) frequencies, which have short range and cannot pass through walls. Many major players are exploring including mmW technology in 5G, but it is not expected to be the core of the standard. The new group - called FANTASTIC-5G (Flexible Air iNTerfAce for Scalable service delivery wiThin wIreless Communication networks of the 5th Generation) - includes Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, Sequans Communications, and Wings ICT Solutions, as well as several European mobile operators and research institutes. Their goal is a new air interface to replace LTE that is more efficient and flexible, supporting diverse needs from fast broadband to small, low-power sensors.

BlackBerry Debuts BES 12.2

Jul 8, 2015, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made BES 12.2 available to its business customers. The improved mobile device management platform adds a handful of features, especially those aimed at platforms other than BlackBerry. For example, BES 12.2 adds support for Samsung KNOX Workplace and Google's Android for Work, both of which are now integrated with BlackBerry Secure Connect Plus. BES 12.2 also adds support for the Apple Device Enrollment Program, which makes it easier for IT admins to add iPhones to BES. BlackBerry is focusing efforts on its software services businesses. The company recently reduced the number of employees designing smartphones.

Sprint Kicks Off Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime On July 10

Jul 7, 2015, 2:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced that it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime on July 10. The phone has a 5-inch qHD display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and a 2,600mAh battery. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is compatible with Sprint's LTE 4G network. Other radios include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi (with support for WiFi calling). Sprint said the phone will be available through its retail stores, web site, and telesales. The phone will cost $10 per month for 24 months with no money down; $30 (after $50 rebate) with a two-year contract; or for the full retail price of $240, sans contract. The Galaxy Grand Prime is already available from Cricket Wireless.

Helio Quietly Reboots On Sprint and Verizon's Networks

Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Helio, an MVNO that shuttered its doors years ago, is back. The company announced its return via Twitter and is once again offering prepaid service. The company operates on Sprint's network. Unlike before, however, Helio has a roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless, too, so customers will have greater network access when out and about. The basic service cost $29 per month, which includes unlimited voice, unlimited messaging (including international text), and unlimited 2G data capped at 128Kbps. Helio's web site does not say if or when it might offer 3G or 4G service. The $29 monthly plan includes all taxes and fees. The company supports a BYOD program, but requires handsets compatible with Sprint's network. It also sells a handful of older smartphones on its web site, including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, for $249 and $299, respectively. Helio said it will sell its own branded handsets soon. Helio is offering the first month of service for free with no commitment. Helio was originally launched in 2006 as a joint venture between SK Telecom and Earthlink. It was folded into Virgin Mobile, another Sprint property, in 2008. Helio ceased all operations in 2010. Helio is now backed by a company called UBI.

CTIA Says Smartphones Better Protected Against Theft

Jul 1, 2015, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.

Sprint's All-In Plan Includes Phone and Service for $80

Jun 30, 2015, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today introduced a new plan that combines the cost of a service plan with the cost of a handset in one monthly payment. The Sprint All-In plan costs $80 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, and a Sprint Lease on handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9. There are no up-front phone costs aside from a one-time, $36 activation fee. The $80 monthly rate does not include taxes. Sprint believes this is the simplest, most straight-forward plan in the market. Sprint will use soccer star David Beckham to advertise the plan, which is available in Sprint stores beginning today.

Samsung Researchers Make Battery Breakthrough

Jun 29, 2015, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A research team working at Samsung has discovered a new way to make lithium-ion batteries that could double the available battery life in devices such as smartphones. The method involves covering silicon nanoparticles with graphene, which prevents the formation of silicon carbide. "When paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the silicon carbide-free graphene coating allows the full cell to reach volumetric energy densities [that are up to] 1.8 times higher than those of current commercial lithium-ion batteries," explain the researchers. They believe this can serve as a prototype for eventually bringing the technology to market. The end result would be batteries that last almost twice as long as they do now. Samsung said this discovery is still in the early stages of development and did not provide a suggested timeline for commercial release.

Cricket Scores Distribution Deal with Meijer Stores

Jun 26, 2015, 10:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today said its goods and services will be available at 213 Meijer stores across the midwest beginning June 27. Consumers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky will be able buy prepackaged phone kits from phone makers such as HTC, Samsung, and ZTE. The stores will also sell Cricket's universal SIM card kits for those who already have a compatible device. Cricket Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.

Qualcomm Partners Up with Chinese Makers for 14nm Chips

Jun 24, 2015, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm plans to form a joint venture with Semiconductor Manufacturing International in China to develop 14nm chips. China's Huawei and Belgium's Imec will also participate in the venture. Competition in the semiconductor space is fierce and companies such as Samsung are trying to muscle their way in with improved manufacturing techniques of their own. Moreover, Qualcomm ran afoul of Chinese antitrust regulators earlier this year and was forced to pay a fine and reduce royalty rates. Partnering with Chinese companies is a way to help Qualcomm repair its image. Many of today's smartphones and tablets use chips made by Qualcomm. The denser the chip, the more efficient it can be. Focusing on the 14nm processes is vital for Qualcomm.

Hands On with Samsung Galaxy S6 Active

Jun 17, 2015, 5:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's newest semi-rugged handset, the Galaxy S6 Active, is a large and powerful phone. It's waterproof, dustproof, and comes with dedicated activity apps. Here is a first look.

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Samsung to Patch Keyboard Security Hole in A Few Days

Jun 17, 2015, 1:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 17, 2015, 1:56 PM

Samsung has responded to reports that a flaw in its keyboard software leaves Galaxy-branded smartphones open to attack. Specifically, a security firm called NowSecure discovered that language packs for the keyboard are updated through a plain-text, unencrypted connection. NowSecure says the problem is severe enough that it could let hackers: access sensors and resources, such as the GPS radio, camera, or microphone; install malicious apps; tamper with how apps work; eavesdrop on communications; and access sensitive personal data. "Samsung takes emerging security threats very seriously," said the company in a statement. "We are aware of the recent issue reported by several media outlets and are committed to providing the latest in mobile security. Samsung Knox has the capability to update the security policy of the phones, over-the-air, to invalidate any potential vulnerabilities caused by this issue. The security policy updates will begin rolling out in a few days." The problem stems from the use of Swiftkey's SDK. "In addition to the security policy update, we are also working with Swiftkey to address potential risks going forward." Swiftkey said its own apps do not pose any risk to consumers. The issue affects devices as far back as the Galaxy S4.

Samsung Releases Game-Recording App

Jun 17, 2015, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 17, 2015, 9:45 AM

Samsung this month made available an app that smartphone owners can use to record their game play. Game Recorder+ lets users capture game play and face-cam commentary with one touch. Samsung says the app can record audio directly from the source app, negating background noise. It also includes a Game Boost feature that Samsung claims will optimize system memory for better gaming and game recording. Game Recorder+ is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 4, S5, Note 3, S4, and Note 2 devices. Samsung said most games from the Play Store and Galaxy App store support recording. Game Recorder+ is free to download from the Google Play Store. Earlier this month, Google announced plans to launch a game-specific version of YouTube to highlight game play. Earlier this year, Amazon bought Twitch, which lets people record and share their gaming experiences. Samsung did not say if its Game Recorder+ app will be compatible with these services, but it can upload recordings to YouTube.

LG Agrees to Pay Nokia Royalties, But Rates Not Settled

Jun 16, 2015, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG has signed a patent-licensing agreement with Nokia over smartphone technology, but the companies have yet to agree on pricing for the patents. Nokia may have sold its handset business to Microsoft, but it retained many of the related patents for licensing purposes. Nokia and LG have agreed to enter arbitration to settle pricing for the patents in question. The arbitration period is scheduled to conclude within two years. In the meantime, LG will be able to use Nokia's patented technology in its own smartphones. Patent-licensing has been a contentious issue for smartphone companies over the years. Samsung is currently in a similar arbitration arrangement with Nokia, which should be settled soon. Nokia's patent business earned the company $649 million in 2014. Nokia's main focus is its telecommunications and networking gear business.

AT&T Intros the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active

Jun 8, 2015, 9:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 8, 2015, 9:56 AM

AT&T today announced the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active, a semi-rugged version of Samsung's flagship smartphone. It carries over most features of the standard model, such as the 5.1-inch quad HD display, 16-megapixel camera, and Exynos processor. The phone has an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust. The battery had been enlarged to 3,500mAh, and the S6 Active has activity shortcuts, such as to the flashlight. The phone will be available June 12 for $199.99 with a two-contract or through AT&T next plans. The Next 24 plan costs $23.17 for 30 payments; the Next 18 plan costs $28.96 for 24 payments; and the Next 12 plan costs $34.75 for 20 payments.

Samsung Signs Long-Term Agreement with ARM

Jun 3, 2015, 4:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to use ARM's graphic processing unit designs in its mobile devices for years to come. The company today signed a long-term agreement to license ARM's GPU designs, including the Mali-T820, T830, T860, T880, and all future Mali GPUs. Samsung already uses ARM's GPUs in its system-on-a-chip designs and will now continue to do so. ARM said Samsung will be able to create high-performance products that cover a range of price points for its portfolio of mobile devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Samsung designs and manufactures its own application processors, but also uses processors from other companies such as Qualcomm. Application processors are paired with GPUs, which handle tasks related to graphics. ARM doesn't actually make the GPUs. Instead, it licenses the GPU designs to companies that fabricate the chips.

Samsung Pay Launch Pushed to September

Jun 3, 2015, 2:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 3, 2015, 2:45 PM

Samsung has indicated its mobile payment service will not launch over the summer months as planned. Instead, Samsung Pay will get off the ground in the U.S. and Korea in September. The company confirmed the delay in a call Wednesday with investors. Samsung Pay was announced in March and will initially be available to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones. It supports both NFC and magnetic payment terminals, which means it should be more widely available than either Apple Pay or Android Pay, which are limited to NFC terminals. Samsung didn't provide a reason for the delay. The company said Samsung Pay will expand to Europe, China, Australia, and South America, as well as other high-end Samsung devices, later in the year. Apple Pay has been available since October 2014 and Android Pay is expected to launch with Android M in September or October.

Boost Mobile Scores Live Sports App

Jun 2, 2015, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.

A4WP and PMA Agree to Fully Merge

Jun 1, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 1, 2015, 2:13 PM

The Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance today agreed to merge operations. In February 2014, these same two organizations agreed to work together to create a single wireless charging standard. That means a core charging standard supporting a wide range of consumer, medical, military, and industrial applications has already been established, called Rezence. The organizations say today's news has been in the works for a while, and the integration process is underway and will follow with a coordinated product roadmap. A4WP president Kamil Grajski and PMA president Ron Resnick will remain in executive positions as chairman and president, respectively. The new organization claims to have more than 170 member companies, such as AT&T, Broadcom, Intel, MediaTek, Powermat, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, and Starbucks. The groups claim the merger will lead to better consumer access to wireless battery charging and power management products. The organizations said they'll debut a new, branded organization later this year. The Rezence standard competes with the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard.

MediaTek Helio P10 SoC Targets Mid-Range Smartphones

Jun 1, 2015, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MediaTek today announced the Helio P10, a system-on-a-chip that combines an application processor, graphics processor, and LTE modem. The Helio P10 runs eight 64-bit cores clocked at 2 GHz in coordination with a dual-core 64-bit 700MHz Mali-T860 graphics chip. It supports Cat 6 LTE and carrier aggregation for faster wireless performance. According to MediaTek, the P10 will be manufactured using its 28nm HPC+ processes, which delivers a 30% boost in efficiency compared to its older processes. (Intel, Qualcomm, and Samsung are all making chips via 14nm processes.) Some of the capabilities the Helio P10 enables include 12-megapixel cameras with RWWB sensors, video HDR, dual main cameras, and video face beautify; high fidelity, high clarity audio; and full HD display support at 60 frames per second via MiraVision 2.0, and adaptive picture quality. The Helio P10 will be available in the third quarter and is expected to be in consumer products before the end of the year.

Verizon Prepaid Now Selling Samsung Galaxy J1

May 27, 2015, 3:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the Samsung Galaxy J1 to its lineup of prepaid handsets. The J1 is a compact, entry-level Android smartphone. It includes a 4.3-inch WVGA display, quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 128 GB. The main camera sensor captures 5-megapixel images and records 720p HD video, while the selfie camera captures 2-megapixel images. The device supports Verizon's LTE 4G network in addition to WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy. It runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with Samsung's user interface elements and applications. Verizon is selling the Galaxy J1 for $99.99.

Avago Technologies May Buy Broadcom

May 27, 2015, 1:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Avago Technologies is in advanced talks to acquire Broadcom, reports the Wall Street Journal. Terms of the deal are not yet available, and the Journal's sources say the deal may not be signed. Broadcom's market valuation is about $28 billion and Avago's is about $34 billion. Broadcom makes wireless modems and other chips for mobile devices. It has struggled to compete in recent years with Qualcomm, Samsung, and others.

Samsung Debuts Iron Man Edition of Galaxy S6 Edge

May 26, 2015, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today unveiled an Iron Man-themed version of the Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone. The special edition handset features a red-and-gold design with Iron Man wallpapers and an etched Iron Man helmet on the back surface. The Iron Man edition ships with a wireless charging pad meant to look like an arc reactor from the Iron Man movies. Otherwise, the phone has all the same features as the standard S6 Edge. Galaxy S6 Edge Iron Man Limited Edition will be sold in Korea, China, and Japan. There's no world on U.S. availability for the handset.

T-Mobile Serving Up Variety of Memorial Day Promos

May 20, 2015, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a handful of device and service promotions that will become available over the holiday weekend. To start, T-Mobile is offering a free memory upgrade to buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. From May 23 through May 25, the 64 GB model will cost the same as the 32 GB model. Customers who buy the 32 GB will receive a $50 Visa gift card. Following their appearance on T-Mobile's web site earlier this month, the company shared pricing details for the LG Stylo and Leon. The Stylo will cost $289.92 at full retail or $12.08 per month and the Leon will cost $149.76 at full retail or $6.24 per month. T-Mobile Prepaid customers can score the Leon for free with an online rebate. T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS will also sell the Stylo and Leon for $199 and $49, respectively, after online rebates. Customers who switch to MetroPCS from a competing carrier will receive a free LG Leon or $50 toward the phone of their choice. Last, MetroPCS is recirculating the 4x100 promotion. Customers can get four lines with unlimited talk, text, and 2 GB of data per line for a total of $100.

Use Samsung Flow to Move Tasks Between Devices

May 19, 2015, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and Think Tank today introduced a beta app called Flow, which is meant to help people transition tasks from one Samsung device to another. It is similar in concept to Apple's Continuity feature for iOS and Mac hardware. Flow offers Samsung smartphone owners two distinct use-cases: transfer an activity or defer an activity. With transfer, people can work on a particular activity and then move it to another device and pick up right where they left off. For example, users can listen to clips on Soundcloud on their smartphone and then transfer the activity to their tablet without missing a beat. The deferring feature lets people defer an incoming activity request on one device if, for example, it's not the right device for that particular task. They can then pick up the activity on whichever other device they prefer when they're ready. According to Samsung, Flow supports existing applications through Android's share mechanism. Samsung expects to add more features, including notify, mirror, and divide, to Flow over time. For the moment, Flow is limited to the Galaxy S5, S6, and S6 Edge; Galaxy Alpha; Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge; and the Galaxy Tab S. The beta app is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Verizon Expands XLTE to 6 More Markets

May 19, 2015, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today marked the one-year anniversary of its XLTE service by expanding coverage to six additional markets. XLTE is now available in Marshalltown, Iowa; Madisonville and Owensboro, Ky.; Traverse City, Mich.; Meridian, Miss.; and Martinsville, Va. Verizon's XLTE coverage is available in more than 400 markets. It combines Verizon's 700MHz and AWS spectrum to boost capacity of its LTE 4G network. Verizon says it has more than 40 XLTE-capable devices, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6.

Appeals Court Says Samsung Didn't Copy Apple's Designs

May 18, 2015, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A federal appeals court today reversed part of a verdict won by Apple against foe Samsung regarding its designs and patents. Apple alleged Samsung copied its iPhone designs, or "trade dress," as part of its 2011-2012 lawsuit. Apple also sued over patent infringement. A jury agreed in August 2012 and awarded Apple $382 million for the trade dress violation and $548 million for the patent violations — totaling some $930 million. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed that Samsung violated Apple's patents, but said the iPhone's trade dress could not be protected. As such, the Federal court is sending the trade dress decision back to lower courts for reconsideration. Apple and Samsung have given up on most of their legal battles, but this particular case continues to wind its way through courts. Neither Apple nor Samsung offered immediate comment on today's decision.

Samsung to Fold Up Mobile Wallet App Ahead of Samsung Pay

May 18, 2015, 9:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has indicated to its customers and business partners that it plans to close the Samsung Mobile Wallet application on June 30. The app launched with the intent of competing with Apple's Passbook in that it is best used to store membership and loyalty cards for varied businesses. It was never meant to serve as a mobile payment application. Samsung admitted that, since its mid-2013 launch, the service has not seen the uptake it hoped. Samsung said users' and partners' Samsung accounts will be maintained without changes, but the Samsung Wallet app, including its APIs, will no longer function after June 30. Samsung is prepared to launch Samsung Pay later this year. Samsung Pay will be available to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and will power mobile payments at participating retailers.

Virgin Mobile Improves Data Allotments

May 15, 2015, 1:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile today announced the Data Done Right promotion, which kicks off May 16 at Walmart stores. The new plans offer 300 minutes, unlimited texting, and 3GB of high-speed data for $30 per month, or unlimited voice, texting, and 3GB for $40. These prices are $5 lower and each option includes 500MB more data. Accounts with more than one line have been improved, too. Two lines will have access to unlimited voice, unlimited messaging, and 6GB of data for $65; three lines get 10GB for $90; and four lines get 14GB for $115. The promotional plans are available to seven different handsets, including the Samsung Galaxy S6. Virgin did not say how long the promotion will run.

Home Depot Looking to Ring Up Apple Pay

May 6, 2015, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Home Depot hopes to offer Apple Pay to its customers following an upgrade of its in-store payment terminals. "It's something we'd like to do," said Home Depot spokesperson Steve Holmes to Bloomberg. Some Home Depot stores equipped with compatible terminals accepted Apple Pay for a short time, but the larger chain doesn't yet support Apple's mobile payment service. Home Depot is still negotiating terms with Apple and the deal is not yet final. With the new payment terminals, Home Depot may be able to accept other mobile payment services, such as Google Wallet and Samsung Pay. Home Depot did not say when it might launch support for Apple Pay. Support for Apple Pay has expanded rapidly through financial institutions, but has yet to grow its retail footprint significantly. Some of the country's largest retailers, including Target and Walmart, intend to support a competing mobile payment service still in development by the Merchant Customer Exchange.

TextNow Offering Unlimited Talk and Text, Plus 500MB for $19

Apr 30, 2015, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TextNow Wireless today announced new pricing for its service plans and added two handsets to its lineup. TextNow Wireless offers all customers unlimited talk and text and up to 500MB of data for $18.99 per month. Similar to Google's recently-announced Project Fi, TextNow runs on Sprint's cellular network but defaults to WiFi connections whenever possible. The service is available to most any device (phone, tablet, PC) for WiFi-based calling and texting, and customers can use their TextNow number no matter which form factor they choose. Customers can upgrade to 1 GB of cellular data for $26.99 per month, 2 GB for $39.99, or 4 GB for $59.99. All plans include taxes and fees. In addition to the reworked plans, TextNow Wireless now sells the Google Nexus 5 ($249) and Motorola Moto X ($149). TextNow Wireless already offers a number of new and refurbished Sprint devices, including the Moto G, LG Optimus F3, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy S4.

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