Cricket today showed a sneak peek of two Samsung phones coming this summer. The Admire 2 sports a 4-inch screen and 4G LTE, while the Galaxy Discover is more basic with its 3.5-inch screen and stock Android interface. We checked them out. Read on for our first impressions.
Samsung today confirmed that it has made a $48 million investment in competitor Pantech, which gives it 10% ownership of the company. "The investment is aimed at solidifying our relationship with Pantech, a key component customer of Samsung," said the company in a statement. "Samsung will have no involvement in Pantech’s business management in any way or form." The two competitors already collaborate on semiconductor and display technologies. Pantech sells a mix of feature phones and smartphones in the U.S. through AT&T.
At a press briefing this morning, Cricket revealed that it plans to enable LTE roaming later this year on bands 4 (1700) and 25 (1900). Band 25 LTE is used exclusively by Sprint in the U.S. Band 4 (AWS) is used by many carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and soon, Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be Cricket's first phone to support band 25 roaming.
Cricket today announced plans to offer two new Samsung Android phones this summer: the Admire 2 and the Galaxy Discover (already offered in a GSM variant by Net10.)
- The Admire 2 is a new, mid-range Android phone with 4G LTE, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and Samsung's TouchWiz interface and camera features on top of Android 4.1. U.S. Cellular carries it as the Axiom.
- The Galaxy Discover is a basic Android phone with a 3.5-inch display, 3-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and stock Android 4.0 interface.
Cricket today announced that it will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on June 7 for $599.99. A financing option starts with a $59.99 down payment, plus monthly payments.
Powermat today announced that it has merged with PowerKiss. Powermat, based in the U.S., makes and markets wireless charging accessories. It backs the standard supported by the Power Matters Alliance. Before today, PowerKiss, which is based in Finland, backed a competing standard. Now that the two companies are one, they are together throwing their weight behind the PMA wireless charging standard. The PMA is mounting a challenge to competing standards Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power. Earlier this year, the PMA won support from AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, LG, Samsung, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, AT&T mandated that its handset partners incorporate the PMA wireless charging standard into their devices by 2014. Verizon Wireless supports the Qi standard. The consumer electronics industry has yet to settle on a single standard.
Sprint today announced that its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will both offer the Samsung Galaxy S III beginning in June. The GSIII will include support for Sprint's LTE 4G network. Pricing and exact availability was not shared.
Samsung today announced the availability of its revised TecTiles product. The first version of TecTiles that Samsung brought to market last year used an older protocol that preceded the finalized NFC specification. The effect is that newer devices, such as the Galaxy S 4, can not read those older tags. Samsung had to update its tags in order to be compatible with today's newer phones. In addition to the new TecTiles, Samsung has updated the TecTiles application, which is used to program the tags to initiate specific actions on smartphones and/or tablets. TecTiles can be ordered directly from Samsung.com, and the stickers will become available at select retails stores in June. They cost $14.99 for a pack of five.
Google today announced that it will start directly selling a special version of Samsung's Galaxy S 4 flagship phone that is unlocked and ships with stock Android 4.2, essentially expanding the Nexus family of "pure Google" devices. The device sports LTE compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. It is bootloader-unlocked and will receive Android updates before most other phones, like Nexus devices. It ships June 26th for $649.
Verizon Wireless today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be available online and in stores beginning May 23. The Galaxy S 4 will cost $199.99 with a new contract.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in San Jose ordered Google to disclose to Apple the search terms it is using to discover documents requested as part of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung. Apple had requested the terms earlier this week and Google balked, suggesting that the information could give Apple an advantage in the future. "The court cannot help but note the irony that Google, a pioneer in searching the Internet, is arguing that it would be unduly burdened by producing a list of how it searched its own files," said Judge Grewal. Google has two days to disclose the search terms to Apple. Apple believes that Google's Android operating system provides the "underlying functionality" in a number of Samsung smartphones that Apple alleges are infringing on its patents.
Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, today launched its new, no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network is first available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa, and will gradually expand across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. Data speeds will max out at 4Mbps over AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. One of the first devices offered by Aio is the Nokia Lumia 620 (pictured). The Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone that has a 3.8-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video record, and Nokia-exclusive applications. It costs $179.99 and does not require that customers sign a contract. Aio offers a handful of other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Express for $249.99, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $99.99, the ZTE Prelude for $49.99, and the Apple iPhone 4/4S for prices ranging between $349.99 for refurbished models to $499.99 for new models. Feature phones offered by Aio include the Samsung Denim for $29.99 and the ZTE Atair for $49.99. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
Samsung today released details about an unannounced Android smartphone for Straight Talk called the Galaxy Centura. The Centura is a bar-style phone that runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and has a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 display. It is powered by an 800MHz processor and includes a 3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, 4GB of internal memory, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. It is for sale on Straight Talk's web site for $99.
Apple has asked the judge overseeing one of its patent-related lawsuits against Samsung to provide it with access to the Android source code from Google. According to Apple, Android "provides much of the accused functionality" in Samsung's infringing products. Apple believes it should have access to that data in order to separate which company's software provides which functions in Samsung's smartphones. Google says that Apple made a strategic decision to leave Google out of this particular lawsuit. As a third party, Google isn't entitled to the same protections that Samsung is. Google thinks providing this info to Apple would provide for future discovery and other details that it wouldn't normally receive. The judge has yet to make a decision on the matter.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is in the hot seat with investors and took fire at today's meeting from impatient shareholders who are waiting for the company's fortunes to turn around. Elop announced Nokia's plans to abandon Symbian, which he referred to as a burning platform, in February 2011. Elop decided then that Nokia would use Microsoft's Windows Phone platform for its smartphones moving forward. At the time, he predicted that the turn-around would take two years. That time has come and gone, and Nokia's share of the smartphone market is still grim. "You're a nice guy, and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough," said shareholder Hannu Virtanen to Elop. "Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road." Elop defended his decision, citing recent traction with its Lumia Windows phones, but also admitted that there's no Plan B. "We make adjustments as we go," said Elop. "But it's very clear to us that in today's war of ecosystems, we've made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line. And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and Android." Nokia has planned a press conference for May 14, during which it is expected to announce new Lumia smartphones.
Sprint's Network Vision project has been plagued by problems with its equipment providers, the company said in paperwork recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "During the second half of 2012, we experienced delays with vendor execution, backhaul connectivity delays, shortages in equipment such as fiber cable and antennas, as well as other regulatory and environmental issues," said Sprint. Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung are the three companies providing Sprint with its networking gear, each of which is responsible for a select geographical area of the country. "However, we expect that we will recover from these delays and we are still forecasting to have the majority of the sites on-air by the end of 2013 with expected completion of Network Vision deployment by the middle of 2014." Sprint has been slow to deploy its LTE network, which first launched during the second quarter of 2012. It had expected to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2013, but has revised that estimate downward to 200 million. It says it is still on track to reach 150 million POPs by the middle of 2013.
Consumer Cellular today announced the addition of two Android smartphones to its roster of devices, the LG 930 and the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate. The LG 930 (sold by AT&T as the Nitro HD), features a 4.5-inch HD display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera with HD video capture, front camera, DLNA wireless media streaming, and a memory card slot. The Galaxy Exhilarate includes a 4-inch screen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with HD video capture, front camera, and a memory card slot. The LG 930 is being sold for $300 and the Galaxy Exhilarate is being sold for $150. Both are available, without contracts, from Consumer Cellular's web site beginning today.
T-Mobile today is making a minor system update available to the Samsung Galaxy S 4. The update boosts the device to Android 4.2.2 and makes improvements to the visual voicemail and Isis applications. It can be downloaded over the air or installed via Kies.
AT&T today announced that it will offer the 32GB variant of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 beginning May 10. The 32GB GS4 will cost $249.99 with a new two-year agreement.
AT&T today announced that it is offering Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean to the original Galaxy Note. Jelly Bean introduces Google Now, actionable notifications, and many under-the-hood improvements to the code. In addition to the standard Jelly Bean features, this update also makes tweaks to the Popup Note and Popup Video tools that are part of Samsung's Touchwiz software. Android 4.1.2 for the Samsung Galaxy Note must be downloaded and installed via Samsung's Kies desktop software.
Verizon Wireless has prepared an operating system upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The upgrade boosts the OS to Android 4.1.2 and makes a number of improvements to the device's performance. It adds IPV6 to the mobile hotspot feature, improves Exchange-based email syncing, adds airplane mode notifications, fixes text behavior when in landscape mode, and makes some fixes to the calendar and back-up assistant. The update also removes the Zappos application, which was preloaded on the device. The system update can be downloaded and installed over the air, though Verizon suggests that Note II owners use Wi-Fi. It is being distributed in waves and users will be notified when their device is ready.
U.S District Court Judge Lucy Koh has set new dates for the on-going Apple-Samsung patent trial. Earlier this year, Koh slashed the jury's $1.05 billion award to Apple by about $450 million, saying that the jury had miscalculated the actual damages in the case last August. Koh ordered a new trial, now scheduled to take place beginning November 12, to determine the actual damages pertaining to 14 different Samsung devices. Koh also reinstated $40.5 million of the original damages awarded to Apple regarding the AT&T version of the Galaxy S II. Samsung is still on the hook for $599 million in damages from the other devices found by a jury last summer to copy and/or infringe on Apple's designs and patents.
Samsung today announced that it has begun production of a new, faster memory module for smartphones and tablets. Samsung's 4Gb low power double data rate 3 (LPDDR3) mobile DRAM chip uses the company's 20nm processes, and can transmit data up to 2.1GB per second per pin. To put that in perspective, Samsung claims it can transmit three HD movies, totaling 17GB, in less than one second with the new memory chip. Beyond the raw speed improvements, the chip delivers 30% better performance and 20% greater power efficiency when compared to Samsung's previous-generation 30nm chip. Though production of the new memory module is under way, Samsung doesn't expect to reach volume production until later this year.
Sprint today said that it has enough inventory of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on hand to begin sales via Sprint stores, telesales, and online. Sprint had expected to launch the GS4 earlier this month, but inventory constraints led to a brief delay. Sprint said it expects to receive new shipments of the GS4 daily moving forward.
Samsung said that it plans to soon offer a new version of its TecTiles, or programmable NFC tags, that will be compatible with the company's newer smartphones. The first version of TecTiles that Samsung brought to market last year used an older protocol that preceded the finalized NFC specification. The effect is that newer devices, such as the Galaxy S 4, can not read those older tags. "TecTile 2 will use the current NFC technology on the market, allowing Samsung customers to further incorporate NFC into their daily lives," said Samsung in a statement provided to Phone Scoop. "As industry standards continue to evolve, Samsung remains committed to meeting those standards and adapting its technologies if necessary." The updated TecTiles 2 will be available in the coming weeks.
Verizon Wireless announced via one of its official Twitter accounts that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be available for preorder beginning April 25. The GS4 will cost $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year agreement. According to Verizon, the Galaxy S 4 will not reach its retail stores until May 30. Verizon didn't say when it would ship devices ordered through its web site.
Sprint today followed T-Mobile USA in announcing a slight delay of its planned availability of the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Sprint initially expected to offer the device through all sales channels beginning Saturday, April 27. Now, it expects to have only online and telesales availability on the 27th, with retail availability to follow at a later, unspecified date. As with T-Mobile, Sprint cited unforeseen inventory problems for the delay.
Microsoft has struck another smartphone patent licensing agreement, this time with Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE. Microsoft has similar deals already in place with companies such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Hon Hai, and 20 other companies. Microsoft maintains that its patent portfolio covers certain core technologies that are built into the Android platform. Microsoft is still attempting to get Google's Motorola unit to sign a similar agreement, but has been forced to resort to litigation to do so. Terms of the deal with ZTE were not disclosed.
T-Mobile USA has indicated that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will not be available through its web site on April 24 as originally planned. The company said that an unforeseen inventory problem will delay the GS4's availability by five days. T-Mobile now expects the Galaxy S 4 to go onsale April 29. It apologized for the inconvenience to its customers.
Verizon Wireless confirmed via one of its official Twitter accounts that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 won't arrive until some point in May. It didn't share more specific details than that. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA will all get the GS4 out the door before the end of April.
The Power Matters Alliance, a group pitching a wireless charging standard that competes with the Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power standards, has recently won new support from handset makers and carriers. The group announced this week that HTC, Huawei, LG, and Samsung have all joined the PMA, which already includes members such as AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, Kyocera, PowerMat, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, existing PMA member AT&T is asking its handset partners to integrate PMA-compatible wireless charging technology into their handsets by 2014. According to the PMA, there are already some 1,500 PMA-certified wireless charging stations at Starbucks coffee shops, airports, and other locations around the country. The Power Matters Alliance uses a wireless charging technology that is slightly different from those offered by Qi and A4WP. Each of the three standards allows devices to charge wirelessly when placed on a compatible charging pad. Verizon's handsets have incorporated Qi for years, which already has wide support from other carriers and handset makers. The electronics industry as a whole has yet to settle on one of the standards for all devices moving forward.
U.S. Cellular began accepting preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on Tuesday, but today announced that the device will include the S View Flip Cover at no extra charge. This accessory costs $59.99 when purchased separately. U.S. Cellular is asking $199.99 for the Galaxy S 4, though it has not yet specified an availability date for the smartphone other than "late April."
Sprint today announced its specific launch details of the Samsung Galaxy S 4. The GS4 will be available at Sprint stores beginning April 27 and will cost $249.99 with a new line of service or eligible upgrade. Sprint is offering a $100 discount on the GS4's price to new customers who switch their number from a different carrier, which drops the out-of-pocket cost to $149.99. Preorders for the Galaxy S 4 begin April 18. Sprint's Unlimited Everything plans start at $79.99 per month.
T-Mobile USA today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be available online beginning April 24 and in stores May 1. It will require a downpayment of $149.99 and 24 monthly payments of $20. T-Mobile is only selling the 16GB model, and has no plans to sell the 32GB or 64GB models.
Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S 4 will be available from seven different wireless network operators before the end of April. The four national carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless, as will smaller carriers U.S. Cellular, Cricket, and C Spire, will each have customized variants of the device specific for their 4G LTE and 3G networks. Samsung said that individual carriers will announce exact availability and pricing during the course of the next few weeks. In addition to carrier availability, the GS4 can also be purchased at various electronics stores, including Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile, Costco, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Staples, Target, and Wal-Mart. The Galaxy S 4 has a 5-inch FHD display, 1.9GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel camera, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, and tons of Samsung software, including Air View and Air Gesture, Drama Shot and Eraser Shot, and Easy Mode and a customizable notification tray. Last, Samsung revealed a few more details about accessories for the GS4. The S View Flip Cover has a window through which GS4 owners can read text messages, answer or reject calls, and view the battery status. The S View Flip Cover, which is sold separately, retails for $59.99. Availability details of the cover were not shared.
AT&T has begun accepting preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on its web site. AT&T is listing the 16GB model for $199.99 with a new contract ($639.99 full price) and a ship date of April 30. No formal announcements about the GS4's availability have been made, however.
Facebook today made Facebook Home, its new launcher and user interface overlay, available to select Android smartphones. Facebook Home replaces the stock launcher on the device with one that presents Facebook content, such as the news feed, on the home screen. Facebook Home is preinstalled on the HTC First, which also happens to go on sale today from AT&T for $99, but it can also be installed on the HTC One X, One X+, One, and Samsung Galaxy S 3 and Note II. Separately, Facebook also updated the Facebook Messenger application for Android devices. The revised Messenger app carries over one of the main features of Facebook Home, called Chat Heads (pictured). With Chat Heads active, Android device owners can keep conversations with friends always at hand by placing a little icon with the friend's head in it on the home screen. Both Facebook Home and Facebook Messenger are free to download from the Google Play Store.
AT&T today said that the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update is available to the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. The update, which must be installed through a PC via Kies, adds the typical set of Jelly Bean features.
Sprint today announced that Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean is ready for the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE. The system software, which can be downloaded and installed over the air, adds Google Now, Android Beam, Project Butter, actionable notifications, and Swype, as well as giving Google Maps indoor walking directions and Zagat ratings. The update is free to install and use.
Samsung today introduced the Galaxy Mega line, two new smartphones that stretch the upper limits of the "phablet" category, but aren't as high-end as the Galaxy Note II. The two Mega devices share many features, with the main difference between them being screen size. One has a 6.3-inch display, and the other has a 5.8-inch display. Both the Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Mega 5.8 run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and are chock full of Samsung's TouchWiz software and applications. Some of the apps on board include Story Album, S Travel, ChatON, IR Blaster, S Translator, Drama Shot, AirView, and Group Play. Other shared features include 8-megapixel main cameras with 1.9-megapixel user-facing cameras; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, and MHL; support for microSD cards up to 64GB and 1.5GB of RAM; and sensors such as accelerometer, proximity, and geomagnetic (compass).
- Mega 6.3: Hardware features that set the Mega 6.3 apart include its larger, HD screen, 1.7GHz dual-core processor, support for LTE and HSPA+, 3200mAh battery, and 8/16GB internal storage options.
- Mega 5.8: This slightly smaller handset has a qHD display, 1.4GHz dual-core processor, support for HSPA+, 2600mAh battery, and 8GB of internal storage.