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Update for T-Mobile Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Tweaks Performance

Today, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is pushing a minor update to its variants of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge that improves performance of several features. Specifically, the revised system should offer enhanced voice services on both phones. A bug impacting the volume and power buttons has been eradicated. Last, the update makes unspecified changes to Samsung Pay. The update is available as an over-the-air download. T-Mobile suggests S7 and S7 Edge owners download it via WiFi. The update may take a few days to reach all devices.

Nvidia and Samsung Strike Patent Deal, Drop Lawsuits

Yesterday, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nvidia today said it has settled its patent-related litigation with Samsung. The company first sued Samsung in 2014 over smartphone patents and was later sued in turn by Samsung. In October 2015, Samsung was cleared of violating Nvidia's patents. In December 2015, a law judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Nvidia was guilty of violating Samsung's patents. That initial ruling was set to be reviewed today by the full ITC panel. The settlement sees each company licensing a few minor patents from one another, but it does not establish a broad cross-licensing agreement, nor does it establish large royalty payments. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Samsung Prepping Expansion for Samsung Pay

Apr 27, 2016, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it plans to make its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K. later this year. The service is already available in the U.S. and Korea. In Korea, Samsung Pay will soon allow Woori Bank cardholders to withdraw cash from ATMs. Samsung said select ATMs will be fitted with the proper technology to sense Samsung Pay on Galaxy phones. Customers won't need to have their debit card to grab some cash. Samsung didn't say if it plans to expand the ATM functionality to other banks or other markets. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and magnetic strip technology to enable payments at most terminals that accept credit cards. Samsung also updated its SoundCamp music creation app, debuted new SDKs and APIs for its ConnectAuto program, announced an IoT platform called Artik Cloud, and expanded what developers can do with its Gear VR. The news was shared during Samsung's developer conference in San Francisco.

Older Sprint Galaxy Phones Get a Taste of Marshmallow

Apr 22, 2016, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport and Galaxy Note Edge. The update is being pushed in phases, which Sprint expects to complete by May 11 for the S5 Sport and May 2 for the Note Edge. In addition to the operating system update, Sprint says the Galaxy Note Edge is also receiving the latest security patches from Samsung and Google. Sprint did not say if the Note Edge update includes the improved Edge Panel behaviors that have been made available to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.

Samsung and The Weather Channel Team Up for Galaxy App

Apr 19, 2016, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and The Weather Channel have created an exclusive weather app only for owners of Galaxy-branded smartphones. The Weather Channel App for Samsung offers features the regular Weather Channel app does not include. For example, a tool called Smart Weather Wakeup will trigger users' alarm clocks a bit earlier than normal when bad weather may impact their routine. Another tool called Floating Shortcuts provides direct access to information such as current conditions or daily forecasts. The app includes new, dynamic weather backgrounds for Samsung phones, and targets Galaxy Edge models with customized alerts for the edge panel. The Weather Channel App for Samsung is available from the Galaxy Apps Store for the S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, and S7 Edge. Samsung said it plans to eventually expand the app's availability to other platforms, including the Gear S2 smartwatch and select Samsung Smart TVs.

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T-Mobile's Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+ Receiving Marshmallow

Apr 18, 2016, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has begun delivering the Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. The update brings the devices from Android 5.1.1 to Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow includes a handful of new features, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, and advanced app permissions. The S6 Edge+, in particular, is also receiving the improved Edge Panel behaviors from Samsung, which offer more content and a broader set of tools for personalizing the panels. The update clocks in at about 1 GB and must be downloaded over WiFi. T-Mobile recently provided the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with the same update.

Boost and Virgin Mobile Score Kyocera Hydro Reach

Apr 13, 2016, 11:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 15, 2016, 9:16 AM

Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge. It is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. The Hydro Reach is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device has a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Hydro Reach will go on sale April 15 from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. It will cost $99. Boost and Virgin also plan to add the LG Stylo 2 and Samsung Galaxy J7, both announced earlier this year, to their rosters. The Stylo 2 will reach Boost stores April 15 and Virgin stores May 9. It will cost $179.99. The Galaxy J7 hits Boost stores on April 15 for $229.99, and Virgin on April 19.

Samsung Reveals the Galaxy E5 for Tracfone

Apr 13, 2016, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has published details about the Galaxy E5, a low-cost Android handset intended for Tracfone. The E5 has a 5-inch, Super AMOLED 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The phone includes an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and full HD video capture, and a 5-megapixel front camera for selfies. The phone ships with 16 GB of storage and supports memory cards up to 64 GB. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, and LTE. It runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Tracfone has not yet listed the Samsung Galaxy E5 for sale, so pricing and availability are unknown.

Milk VR App Offers 360-Degree Content without a Headset

Apr 12, 2016, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has released an app for its Galaxy handsets, called Milk VR, that allows people to experience its library of 360-degree content without a virtual reality headset. The app lets Galaxy owners search for, download, and play 360-degree video content directly on their handset. Users play the downloaded videos and can then pan around the landscape. The videos are compatible with the Gear VR and can be played with or without the headset. The Milk VR app is available to the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5. It is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ Earn Updates from Verizon

Apr 11, 2016, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has made system updates available for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+. The update for the Note 5 resolves several issues that were introduced when the device was updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Specifically, it smoothes out trouble connecting to the internet, frequent data disconnection, and problems while loading files or web pages. The update for the S6 Edge+ installs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the latest Edge Panel features from Samsung. It also adds WiFi calling and improves the behavior of Live Broadcast. Verizon suggests owners of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ download the updates over a WiFi connection. The updates are free.

Verizon Now Selling the Samsung Convoy 4

Apr 8, 2016, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the Samsung Convoy 4 to its roster of simple flip phones. The Convoy 4 makes improvements over the previous generation device by adding GSM roaming capabilities and resistance to water. Core features include a 5-megapixel camera, support for push-to-talk services, and a mil-spec 810G rating for protection against shock, vibration, temperature extremes, and dirt. The Convoy 4 includes two screens, GPS, and support for microSD cards. It does not include LTE. The Convoy 4 costs $192 at full retail or $8 per month on an installment plan.

T-Mobile Rolls Out $80 12 GB Plan for Two Lines

Apr 7, 2016, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile kicked off a new promotion that offers 12 GB of data for two lines for $80 per month. Each line gets 6 GB of data in addition to unlimited talk and text. The deal also includes the standard list of T-Mobile features, such as Binge On, Music Freedom, and Data Stash. T-Mobile is also offering the LG K7 and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime to customers with no downpayment. The two-line plan will be available starting April 8. T-Mobile didn't say how long it will be available.

T-Mobile Debuts Enhanced Voice Services

Apr 6, 2016, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced the launch of Enhanced Voice Services, new technology that the company says delivers improved call quality. T-Mobile claims EVS improves call reliability in weak coverage areas, which means fewer dropped calls. It also improves clarity beyond what is produced by HD Voice thanks to an expanded audio range. EVS functions on LTE and WiFi, and doesn't require both the caller and recipient to have high-quality connections. Moreover, T-Mobile customers can enjoy EVS even when calling nonT-Mobile lines. EVS was installed on the LG G5 out of the box. The service is being added to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge through a software update. T-Mobile says the service will reach seven more phones by the end of the year.

Cricket Partners with Aaron's to Attract Lease-to-Own Shoppers

Apr 4, 2016, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced a new retail partnership with Aaron's that will make Cricket's SIM card starter kit available at about 2,000 Aaron's locations around the country. Aaron's offers goods on a lease-to-own basis. Consumers who lease a smartphone from Aaron's can now activate that phone on Cricket's network right at the Aaron's retail store. Aaron's online lineup of devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, LG G3, and Motorola Moto G. Lease prices are expensive. For example, Aaron's lists the Galaxy S5 retail price at $840. (The Galaxy S5 is available new from retailers such as for $360, unlocked.) Monthly lease costs from Aaron's run $90 per month for 18 months, which totals about $1,620. Finance charges are about $780 in this example. These prices don't include Cricket's service fees, which start at $40 per month.

Verizon Giving Galaxy S6, S6 Edge Taste of Marshmallow

Apr 1, 2016, 10:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has made Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow available to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones. The update adds Now on Tap, Doze, security patches, revamped home screen search tools, and updates to Live Broadcast. The S6 Edge, in particular, is being given the same Edge Panel features found on the new S7 Edge, which means a thicker panel, and more actionable content. Verizon recommends S6 and S6 Edge owners download and install the update over the air.

Walmart Slashes Price of iPhone By $100, Galaxy By $150

Apr 1, 2016, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart today said customers can save big bucks on Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones for the next three months. Walmart has cut the price of all iPhones by $100 (including the new iPhone SE) and all Galaxy phones (including the Galaxy S7) by $150. The rollback begins today and lasts through the end of June. The reduced prices will be available only in Walmart stores, and only to customers of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is not participating in the rollback program.

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AT&T, DirecTV to Reward Galaxy S7 Buyers with Free TV

Mar 31, 2016, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and DirecTV customers who buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 may become eligible for a free Samsung 48-inch TV. Consumers who buy a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, and sign up for AT&T and DirecTV are eligible for the free TV, as are existing AT&T customers who join DirectTV, and existing DirecTV customers who join AT&T. Consumers who already subscribe to AT&T and DirecTV are not eligible. The S7 or S7 Edge must be purchased on an AT&T Next plan, and people must have both AT&T and DirecTV to qualify — at least one of which must be new. The free TV offer will be available through April 30.

Cricket Launches Two Galaxy Amp Handsets from Samsung

Mar 30, 2016, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 4, 2016, 6:38 PM

Cricket Wireless today announced the Galaxy Amp Prime and Galaxy Amp 2 (pictured), two low-cost Android smartphones from Samsung. Both devices ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Samsung's software customizations, such as Quick Launch for the camera. The Amp Prime and Amp 2 both support micro SD memory cards up to 128 GB.

  • Amp Prime: This phone features a 5-inch screen screen and a 5-megapixel camera. The phone has Samsung's Easy Mode home screen experience, as well as Ultra Power Savings Mode to extend battery life. The Galaxy Amp Prime will available online and in stores on April 8th, for $149.99.
  • Amp 2:This smaller phone has a 4.5-inch 800 x 480 screen, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. The phone has a 2,050mAh battery. It will be available starting April 15 for $99.99.

Samsung Looks to Redefine Corporate Culture

Mar 24, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung hopes changing its rigid corporate culture will help it perform better as a business. The company believes emulating the behavior of startups can make it a more nimble firm, able to respond swiftly to opportunities. "We aim to reform our internal culture, execute as quickly as a startup company and push towards open communication and continuously innovate," said the company in a statement. Samsung relies on a top-down management style with multiple layers of executives. The firm intends to cut down on the number of internal meetings, flatten the management hierarchies, reduce weekend work requirements, and foster more open communication between ground-level employees and higher-up managers. The company has some 300,000 employees. Samsung is also transitioning control of the company from Lee Kun-hee to his son, Jay Y. Lee. Samsung has come under pressure to find new avenues towards profitability as its smartphone business has declined.

Supreme Court to Hear Apple v. Samsung Patent Case

Mar 21, 2016, 8:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Samsung's petition regarding its patent-based litigation with Apple. Samsung made the request in December and hopes the Supreme Court will reverse lower courts' decisions regarding the damages owed to Apple over the latter's design patents. Apple is seeking reimbursement for profits earned by Samsung for allegedly copying its smartphone designs. The case has been winding its way through various courts for five years now. Granting Samsung's request to hear the case doesn't mean Samsung has won anything; however, the Supreme Court can set precedent in how the victors in patent cases are awarded damages. It's not clear when the Supreme Court will review the Samsung/Apple case, nor when a decision might be made.

Sprint Last of Major Carriers to Launch Galaxy S7 BOGO

Mar 18, 2016, 12:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today followed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless by rolling out a buy-one, get-one offer for the Samsung Galaxy S7. Customers can lease or purchase the Galaxy S7 at full retail price and receive a second for free. Sprint's Galaxy Forever lease program costs $25.99 per month for 24 months and allows users to upgrade to a new phone after 12 payments. Sprint will credit the cost of the handset payment each month for the second/free S7. Customers who choose installment pricing for the S7 will pay $27.09 per month for 24 months to own the handset, with the second S7 available at $0 per month after a service credit. In either case, one of the handsets must be activated on a new line of service. Sprint says customers can mix and match between leasing and installment plans if so desired. Sprint is still offering new customers 50% off competitor rate plans, and will cover up to $650 in switching fees. Both new and existing customers who've already purchased the S7 are eligible for the BOGO offer. Sprint also rolled out a half-price lease deal for the 16 GB iPhone 6s, which costs $13.17 per month with a trade-in.

Sprint Claims to Reach 300Mbps Downloads with Galaxy S7

Mar 15, 2016, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it was able to achieve peak LTE speeds reaching 300Mbps on the downlink with the Samsung Galaxy S7. The phone, says Sprint, is among the first to support three-channel carrier aggregation, a feature in LTE-Advanced. In its lab, Sprint put together three 20 MHz channels in the 2.5 GHz band to push peak speeds in the S7 to 300Mbps. Sprint says the same setup can deliver 200Mbps in real-world situations. The carrier has already deployed two-channel carrier aggregation in its 2.5 GHz spectrum, delivering peak speeds of 100Mbps in more than 150 markets around the U.S. Sprint says it holds 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in a large number of top U.S. markets, which should allow it to offer three-channel carrier aggregation as part of its LTE Plus Network upgrade. Sprint is working to trim costs across the board. It recently cut its headcount and is hoping to reduce the costs associated with leasing tower space. Sprint didn't say how it will deploy its LTE Plus upgrade while also saving costs.

Verizon Trots Out Galaxy S7 Upgrade Plan

Mar 14, 2016, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the Verizon Annual Upgrade Program beginning with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The upgrade program allows customers who finance the S7 or S7 Edge to trade in their phone and upgrade to a new phone every year. Verizon says customers can upgrade to new hardware after just 30 days, as long as 50% of the phone's price has been paid. Customers who preordered the S7 or S7 Edge will be enrolled in the annual upgrade program automatically as long as they choose a device payment plan to finance the phone. Customers don't have to upgrade if they don't want to: Verizon says customers can continue to pay off their phones over 24 months, which they'll own at the end of two years just as before. Verizon says customers who switch (port in) from another carrier and activate an S7 or S7 Edge can receive a $100 bill credit, in addition to reimbursement for ETFs and other fees. Existing Verizon customers can receive up to $300 (varies by device) if they trade in an existing handset for an S7 or S7 Edge. The S7 costs $670 and the S7 Edge costs $780.

Verizon Rolls Out Promos Alongside Galaxy S7 Launch

Mar 11, 2016, 9:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today detailed several new promotions that are available to customers looking to save some green. To start, Verizon customers who by a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge on a device payment plan will be able to buy a Samsung Galaxy Core Prime for an additional $1 per month. The Core Prime is an entry-level Android phone ideal for younger users. Customers who trade in an old Fitbit and buy a new Fitbit priced $99 or higher can receive a $20 Visa gift card. Last, Verizon will waive its $20 activation fee for customers who bring their own phone and activate in on Verizon. These promotions will be available for a limited time.

Cricket to Snag Galaxy S7 March 18

Mar 9, 2016, 11:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless said it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy S7 starting March 18. It is charging $649.99 for the phone and will provide a free Gear VR headset to those who buy before April 1. Cricket's service plans start at $35 per month.

T-Mobile Rolls Out Galaxy S7 BOGO In Challenge to AT&T

Mar 9, 2016, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today countered AT&T's buy one, get one promotion for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge with one of its own. T-Mobile's deal requires customers to buy one S7 or S7 Edge at full price on an equipment installment plan. When adding a second line, T-Mobile will provide a debit card for the full value of the second phone through an online rebate for the second phone. (AT&T's program offers a monthly credit for the price of the second phone.) Families can get up to two GS7s from T-Mobile for free when buying two at full price. T-Mobile is offering several other benefits. Customers who buy the GS7 or GS7 Edge before March 18 will receive a Gear VR headset for free with a 6-game bundle, as well as a full year of Netflix. T-Mobile says the BOGO deal can be combined with several existing offers, such as covering the costs of switching from other carriers, and unlimited data for four lines for $150 per month. The Galaxy S7 costs $670 and the Galaxy S7 Edge costs $780. The GS7 is available for $0 down and $28 per month for 24 months, while the GS7 Edge requires a $60 down payment followed by $30 per month for 24 months.

AT&T Extends BOGO Offer to Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Mar 8, 2016, 3:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which reach stores March 11, will be eligible for a buy one, get one promotion the carrier has been running since last month. Both phones must be purchased via an AT&T Next installment plan. The first phone can be a new line or an upgrade, but the second phone must be a new line purchased with an AT&T Next 24 plan (req's 30 payments). Both phones must be added to a qualified plan, such as Mobile Share Value, which starts at $70 for two lines. Customers will need to pay sales tax on the two phones at the time of purchase and may need to make several monthly payments on both before AT&T credits up to $650 for the second phone spread out over the 30 month AT&T Next 24 plan. Subscribers who leave AT&T before they've made the 30 payments will need to pay for the remaining balance of the phone. AT&T didn't say how long the BOGO offer will be available.

Boost and Virgin Mobile Outline Galaxy S7 Launch

Mar 7, 2016, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both confirmed plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy S7 to their prepaid customers. Boost will kick off sales of the flagship handset on March 11, with Virgin to follow March 18. Both companies are asking for the full retail price, which is $649.99 for the 32 GB model. They are selling only the black variant. Boost has a promotion for families right now that offers 10 GB per line, while Virgin offers free music streaming via LTE. Boost and Virgin, which operate on Sprint's network, do not require contracts and offer low-cost service plans.

Verizon Delivering Marshmallow to Galaxy Note 5

Mar 4, 2016, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has made the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The phone gains the standard Marshmallow features, such as Doze and Now On Tap, as well as refreshed app icons and folders, Verizon's WiFi Calling service, and the most recent security patches. Verizon suggests users download the system update via WiFi.

Samsung Pay Rings Up Support from Wells Fargo

Mar 2, 2016, 9:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said Wells Fargo cardholders can now add their account to Samsung Pay and make mobile payments at participating retailers around the U.S. The company claims it has more than 5 million registered users for Samsung Pay in the U.S. and South Korea, and has support from more than 70 banks and credit unions in the U.S. alone. Samsung plans to expand Samsung Pay to Australia, Brazil, China, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K. later this year. Samsung Pay can be used on Samsung's flagship handsets, including the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, and S7 Edge. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and MST technology and is compatible with most retail terminals that accept credit cards.

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Appeals Court Exonerates Samsung in $120M Case

Feb 26, 2016, 10:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung won a reversal of a $120 million patent-related fine thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. The court found the iPhone's slide-to-unlock and auto-correct patents invalid. Moreover, the court said Apple was guilty of infringing on one of Samsung's patents. Samsung was initially found to violate the stated Apple patents back in 2014 and Apple was awarded $120 million in damages (far less than the iPhone-maker wanted). Earlier this year, a judge agreed with Apple's position that the fine wasn't enough and went so far as to ban some older Samsung phones from being imported to the U.S. The appeals court's decision today reverses the initial verdict. The court didn't say how the reversal will impact the import ban. Neither Apple nor Samsung provided immediate comment on the ruling.

Samsung Making 256 GB Storage Chips for Phones

Feb 25, 2016, 4:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has begun manufacturing memory modules that offer as much as 256 GB of storage. The new embedded memory chips use Universal Flash Storage 2.0. Samsung says UFS 2.0 can handle 45,000 input and 40,000 output operations per second, more than twice as fast as previous generations. The chip can move data at speeds up to 850Mbps, and write at speeds up to 260Mbps, which Samsung says is more than three times faster than high-performance micro SD cards. The 256 GB capacity is enough hold about 47 full HD movies. Samsung says the card is intended for mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablet, and laptops.

The Galaxy S7 Has Micro-USB for Gear VR

Feb 22, 2016, 12:43 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 22, 2016, 1:05 PM

When Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were announced this week, many people wondered why the phones have a micro-USB port instead of the newer USB Type-C connector. The competing LG G5 and a growing number of phones at all price points this year include Type-C. When asked, Samsung Director of Product Marketing Shoneel Kolhatkar indicated that compatibility with the existing ecosystem of Samsung accessories was the reason, but particularly Gear VR, the current version of which is built in a such a way that it can only work with micro-USB. USB Type-C connectors are reversible, (like Apple's Lightning connector,) and support much faster data and more power for charging.

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Samsung Targets Businesses with Device Program

Feb 22, 2016, 4:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Samsung Enterprise Device Program in order to help companies buy, secure, and manage mobile devices. The program is kicking off with the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets. The company plans to work with businesses' purchasing departments and will allow its customers to buy the same model over and over again up to two years after the phone's initial release. Samsung believes this will help companies maintain consistent fleets of devices. Samsung is also promising its business customers monthly security updates via KNOX, and mobile device management tools via Android for Work. The Enterprise Device Program is meant to help Samsung better compete with Apple for business customers.

Verizon Says 5G Trials Progressing Nicely

Feb 22, 2016, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today provided a snapshot of its progress in testing 5G wireless technology. The company has performed trials both in the lab and real-world environments, including residential and commercial areas, with partners Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, and Qualcomm. Verizon's 5G Technology Forum is examining millimeter and centimeter wave spectrum, beamforming, beam tracking, massive MIMO, wideband spectrum, and various antenna designs to help determine which prove best. So far, its testing delivers multi-gigabit speeds and single-millisecond latency. Verizon and its parters are testing various technologies in several spectrum, bands, including those proposed by the FCC as ideal for 5G. The International Telecommunications Union has not yet defined what the 5G standard will be. Companies such as Verizon are hoping their own tests are able to eventually contribute to the standard.

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Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Feb 21, 2016, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 23, 2016, 9:50 AM

Samsung's 2016 flagship smartphones are updates to last year's models. Each features modern specs and brings water resistance to the table, as well as support for memory cards. Samsung argues the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are a lot more than minor upgrades. Are those claims accurate? Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions of these new phones.

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Samsung Giving Gear VR Headset to Early GS7 Adopters

Feb 21, 2016, 2:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said consumers in select countries, including the U.S., who preorder the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge will receive a free Gear VR headset. Samsung didn't say how long the promotion will be available. Many U.S. carriers have also announced pricing for the pair of phones. The Galaxy S7 costs approximately $670 to $700, depending on carrier, while the larger S7 Edge has a much higher price point between $780 and $800, depending on carrier. Monthly payments for the phones range from about $30 to more than $40, depending on the terms. So far, AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have all said they'll sell the new handsets from Samsung. The device goes on sale March 11, but preorders start February 23.

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Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Are Waterproof

Feb 21, 2016, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 21, 2016, 1:30 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, upgrades to last year's designs that make under-the-hood refinements and add several new features. The GS7 and GS7 Edge maintain the glass-and-metal design of the GS6, but update the chassis to provide protection from water and other liquids. The GS7 has a 5.1-inch quad HD screen, while the GS7 Edge has a somewhat bigger 5.5-inch screen at the same resolution. Samsung added an "always on" function to the screen, similar to that of LG's G5 and Motorola's Moto X for displaying notifications. Samsung admitted it made a mistake with last year's handset by bringing back support for expandable storage in the GS7. The phones ship with 32 GB included, but support memory cards up to 200 GB. Samsung reduced the camera's pixel count to 12-megapixels, but increased the pixel size by 95% for better low-light performance. The main camera has a lens at f/1.7, and Samsung changed the sensor from the 16:9 aspect ratio to the 4:3 aspect ratio. The front-facing camera captures 5 megapixels. The GS7 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the GS7 Edge packs a 3,600mAh power cell with rapid and wireless charging. The phones rely on Samsung's octa-core Exynos processor with 4 GB of RAM. Samsung decided to stick with a micro USB port, rather than update to the newer USB Type-C port. The phones run Android 6.0 Marshmallow and include refreshed apps and services from Samsung. For example, the S7 Edge has the new Edge Panel content for expanded content. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be sold by all four major U.S. carriers. Preorders start February 23 and others will ship March 11. Pricing was not revealed.

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Samsung's Cellular-Equipped Watches Go On Sale March 11

Feb 18, 2016, 3:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 18, 2016, 4:25 PM

Samsung said the cellular variants of the Gears S2 Classic smartwatch will reach AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless on March 11. The Gear S2 supports 3G and HSPA 4G for connectivity. The Gear S2 can make/receive calls on its own, send and receive messages, as well as sync apps without a nearby smartphone. The wearable has a 1.2-inch screen with rotating bezel to control the Tizen operating system. Pricing is being set by the individual carriers.

Qualcomm Talks Up RF Module, LTE-U, Advanced Gaming

Feb 17, 2016, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm made a slew of announcements across its various business units today. First, it introduced the RF360, a next-generation suite of radio products for phones spanning entry-level through flagships. The portfolio includes what Qualcomm claims is the first 40MHz envelope tracker for tuning multiple antennas and switches, along with a power amplifier. The suite will lead to slimmer handsets that have better battery life and improved wireless performance. Next, Qualcomm said it has partnered with Samsung to create the Samsung LTE-U eFemto cell, which relies on the Qualcomm FSM9955 chipset. The eFemto is able to provide LTE service over unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band. The company has also added support for the Khronos Vulkan API to the Adreno 530 GPU. This graphics processor is paired with Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processor. Together, the 820, 530, and Vulkan API will lead to dramatically improved 3D gaming on mobile handsets. Qualcomm says several ODMs have agreed to make reference designs using the recently announced Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC for wearables. Borqs, Compal Electronics, and Infomark will generate designs that device makers can pick up and use in their own smartwatches and fitness bands. Last, Qualcomm says its Haven authentication framework now supports hardware-backed biometric fingerprint authentication for Tencent's WeChat mobile payment service. This means WeChat customers will be able to use their fingerprint rather than a PIN or password to authorize payments on their handsets. This tech is limited to China for now, but Qualcomm expects to see it expand over time.

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