Samsung today announced Milk Video, a video content discovery service for Galaxy-branded smartphones. Like Samsung's Milk Music, Milk Video has a refined user interface that makes browsing the best way to find new and interesting videos. According to Samsung, Milk Video will learn and refine its content recommendations every time people use it to create a more personal experience. Some of the content partners include Condé Nast, Funny Or Die, Red Bull, Vevo, and VICE. Samsung says it is working to score more content down the road. Milk Video is compatible with the Galaxy Note II, 3, 4, and Edge; Galaxy Mega; and Galaxy SIII, S4, S4 Mini, and S5 smartphones. It is free for owners of these devices to download from the Play Store.
Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.
Samsung said it will reduce the number of distinct smartphones it sells next year by 25% to 30% in a bid to reduce costs. Samsung didn't say exactly how many models it will eliminate from its lineup. The company is looking for ways to cut expenses and still remain competitive with makers of inexpensive handsets. Last month, Samsung said it "will increase the number of components shared across mid- to low-end models, so that we can further leverage economies of scale." The company reported a massive drop in profits during its most recent financial quarter thanks in part to slow sales of flagship models such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung has also lost a lot of ground in the entry-level segment in China.
Intel plans to combine its mobile chip business with its PC chip business so it can make its mobile chips more competitive. Intel has struggled against competitors Qualcomm and Samsung when it comes to supplying processors for smartphones and tablets. The company now believes combing its chip businesses will lead to more nimble operation. "The market continues to evolve rapidly, and we must change even faster to stay ahead," said CEO Brian Krzanich in an email to employees. The transition will take place during the first quarter of 2015. The new client-computing group will be lead by Kirk Skaugen, who will oversee sales of both application processors and wireless modems to smartphone and tablet makers. Intel processors are available in only a handful of smartphones sold in the U.S.
BlackBerry and Samsung today agreed to sell one another's security software. The joint effort is meant to help Samsung sell more phones and to help BlackBerry win more BES customers. Samsung's Knox security platform is embedded on many of its devices. It can be used to separate work and personal information, as well as secure that data on the device. BlackBerry's BES services allows businesses to remotely manage Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones. The companies think this partnership will appeal to businesses that want to use Samsung handsets for the Knox platform, but manage them via BES. BlackBerry's enterprise chief John Sims said the deal "isn't about one company displacing the other. This is about one and one makes three." BlackBerry's presence in the smartphone market has been reduced to practically nil in the face of stiff competition from Apple, Samsung, and others, while Samsung has long been making overtures to potential business customers.
Samsung hopes to differentiate its smartphones from its competitors' phones by using more curved displays. Samsung is on track to record a huge loss in profit for the year thanks to weaker-than-expected sales of phones such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. It has also lost ground to low-cost competitors in markets such as China. Now that big-screened phones are a healthy device category, Samsung is looking for different wants to set its products apart. One way it will do that is to use curved displays, such as the one on the Galaxy Note Edge. "A change in the platform can bring about a variety of new considerations," said Note Edge designer Kim Nam-su. "I think a curved screen is a big solution for overcoming those [competitive] challenges." Reuters suggests Samsung's ability to mass produce curved displays at a lower cost than its rivals gives it an advantage in this respect. The Note Edge is set to go on sale in the U.S later this month. Samsung also plans to resurrect sales of mid-range devices.
Samsung today announced new initiatives targeting the healthcare, home, and wearables markets. On the health front, Samsung revealed the Samsung Digital Health Platform and associated SDK. Samsung hopes developers will take advantage of the platform to help track information on personal health and fitness activity so it can be stored, managed, and shared in the Samsung Cloud server. The company introduced a bio processor so other OEMs can add health monitoring to their own wearables. Samsung debuted the Samsung Smart Home platform and SDK, something that it believes will help power smart homes of the future. The SDK will let developers create appliances that are controlled by Samsung smartphones or smart TVs. The company also showed off a new SDK for the Gear S smart wearable, and a virtual reality headset it created with Oculus. Developers interested in Samsung's health, home, and wearable tools can find more information via Samsung's developer portal.
Samsung has file a lawsuit against Nvidia in response to one that Nvidia filed against Samsung in September. Samsung says Nvidia is violating several of its patents pertaining to semiconductors. "We are pursuing necessary legal measures to defend our intellectual property rights and to ensure our continued growth in the IT industry," said Samsung. Samsung also sued Nvidia for false advertising over its claim that the Nvidia Shield has the world's fastest mobile processor. Samsung produced benchmark data suggesting Nvidia's Tegra chip isn't the fastest. Nvidia sued Samsung and Qualcomm earlier this year for violating patents it holds regarding graphics processing on mobile devices. The ITC has already agreed to hear Nvidia's case against Samsung.
Apple must face a lawsuit in federal court over vanishing text messages. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh said Apple has to hear the claim from Adrienne Moore, who says Apple blocked messages sent by iPhone users to her after she switched from an iPhone 4S to a Samsung Galaxy S5. Moore further claims that Apple's iMessage system interfered with her contract with Verizon Wireless. "Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple's intentional acts have caused an actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship," said Judge Koh. Just this week Apple released a tool that lets former iPhone owners delist their numbers from the iMessage service. The issue has been a problem for former iPhone users for years.
AT&T today announced that customers with the Samsung Ativ S Neo handset can update their devices to Windows Phone 8.1. The system update includes Cortana, expanded home screen panels, action center, new lock screen widgets, word flow keyboard and other improvements. The update is free and can be installed over the air.
Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.
RadioShack recently launched Defense Mobile, wireless service meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile resells access to AT&T and Sprint's networks, and offers the most popular devices available, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. According to RadioShack, Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Defense Mobile offers prepaid individual plans that start at $30 per month and family plans with scalable data for up to six lines starting at $110 per month. Defense Mobile includes bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. Defense Mobile service is available at 2,500 RadioShack locations around the country.
Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.
Samsung claims that if it honors a 2011 patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft it could be charged with collusion. The argument is the latest from Samsung, which owes Microsoft $1 billion in patent licensing fees, plus another $6.9 million in interest. Several technologies found in the Android operating system are patented by Microsoft. Nearly all Android device makers pay Microsoft to license those patents in their smartphones. Samsung agreed to do the same in 2011, though Microsoft cut it a bit if a break after Samsung agreed to continue to develop devices running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Part of the agreement entails Samsung sharing sensitive inside information with Microsoft. Samsung now contends that Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business earlier this year puts them into direct competition. It says if it pays the licensing fees, it could be seen as colluding with Microsoft in violation of the law. Microsoft sued Samsung over the unpaid licensing fees earlier this year and believes it has a strong case.
Sprint has expanded the availability of its "iPhone for Life" leasing program to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S5 Sport. Beginning today, new and existing customers can get an S5 or S5 Sport (16GB model) for $0 down and $20 per month via the Sprint Lease program. Customers lease the phone for 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, customers can turn in their GS5 or GS5 Sport for a new device; purchase the GS5 or GS5 Sport for the remaining balance; continue leasing the phone on a month-to-month basis; or return the device and terminate their service. Existing Sprint customers who lease a GS5 or GS5 Sport between now and January 15 will receive a $15 monthly bill credit. The loyalty credit applies to those Sprint customers on Unlimited My Way, My All-in, Simply Everything, and Everything Data (Share) plans. Sprint didn't say how long the service credit will be applied to customer bills.
Madstar Mobile today announced itself as "the newest national wireless carrier." The MVNO resells access to Sprint's 3G/4G networks and claims to offer the benefits of postpaid and prepaid services at the same time. It bills for service on a postpaid basis, but it doesn't require credit checks, deposits, or contracts. Madstar says customers can cancel their service at any time with no fear of ETFs. The company offers a range of feature phones, smartphones, and access points. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phones or finance them with monthly payments. For example, the HTC One (M8) is available for $665 or as low as $29 per month on an installment plan. Other handsets in Madstar's roster include the Apple iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, Kyocera Kona, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Alternately, customers can bring their own compatible device and port their existing wireless number if they wish. The least expensive service plan costs $22 per month and includes 250 voice minutes, 250 messages, and pay-as-you-go data. Plan pricing jumps by $11 increments, with the most expensive option topping out at $88 per month. It includes unlimited voice minutes, messaging, HD Voice, and 2GB of data "Our goal is to provide subscribers with a cost effective, convenient and reliable wireless service using the device of their choice,” said David Pearsall, Madstar Mobile's founder & CEO. "Wireless devices and service have become a necessity, not a luxury and should be affordable to everyone without the need to prepay now for the right to service later." The company is based in New Milford, Conn.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy A5 and A3, two mid-range smartphones meant to better compete with LG's L series and HTC's Desire devices. The A5 and A3 feature metal unibody construction and will come in a variety of colors. The two phones share most internal components. Both phones are powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 16GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 64GB. Each includes Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC radios along with a handful of internal sensors. The A5 and A3 share 5-megapixel user-facing cameras and some of the selfie modes seen most recently on the Galaxy Note 4, such as wide-angle selfie.
Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.
Samsung today indicated it plans to tackle anew the entry-level and mid-range smartphone segments after reporting a 60% drop in profits for its most recent financial quarter. The weakened profits reflects sluggish sales of its high-end smartphones, such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung's hold on the smartphone market has sunk three quarters in a row, forcing the company to reevaluate its strategy. "The mid-to-low end market is growing rapidly, and we plan to respond actively in order to capitalise on that growth," said Samsung Senior Vice President Kim Hyun-joon. The company said it would boost the appeal of its entry-level and mid-range devices by improving materials and features, while remaining competitive on price. Samsung has lost marketshare to low-cost rivals such as Xiaomi and Meizu in emerging markets, which represent the best opportunity for growth. The company recorded $3.9 billion in profits thanks to sales of televisions and memory chips.
Apple beat back a lawsuit brought on by a small Honolulu-based company over mobile device patents. GPNE alleged that nine Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, violated certain patents it holds regarding pager technology. GPNE is a patent holding and licensing firm. It doesn't make or sell products, but instead generates revenue through patent licensing fees and litigation. It was seeking $94 million in damages from Apple. The case was overseen by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose. Koh is a familiar character in Apple trials, and has presided over its large cases against Samsung. Apple was pleased with the court's decision. "Apple invents products that revolutionize industries, and relies upon the U.S. patent system to protect our innovation," said Apple said in a statement. "We urge congressional leaders to continue focusing on reform in this important area of patent law." Apple is often a target of patent firms seeking a payday.
Samsung recently revealed a forthcoming variant of its Galaxy Note 4 handset for Verizon Wireless. The Note 4 Developer Edition ships with an unlocked boot loader, and is free of Verizon-branded apps and services. Developers can use the device to test their apps on Verizon's network. The phone will be sold at the full retail price of $662. Samsung said the Galaxy Note 4 Developer Edition is coming soon.
Nokia today announced its HERE Maps app is now available to a wider range of smartphones. The company offered HERE Maps only to Samsung handsets earlier this month. Now, most devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and up with 1GB of RAM can install and use HERE Maps. The app, which is being offered as a beta, cannot be found in the Google Play Store. Instead, anyone interested in using HERE Maps on their Android handset will need to download the app directly from Nokia's web site and sideload it onto their device. HERE Maps offers a number of compelling features. For example. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time.
AT&T today announced the pending launch of the Galaxy Mega 2, a new version of Samsung's low-cost phablet. The Mega 2 features a 6-inch HD screen with a reduced bezel to help keep the footprint as small as possible. The phone adopts the design language of Samsung's Note series, to a certain degree, as well as the Note's split-screen multitasking, but the Mega 2 doesn't include a stylus. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, a user-facing camera, Samsung's Private Mode, and Samsung's battery management software. The device has a quad-core processor and a 2,880mAh battery. The Mega 2 runs Android with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The Galaxy Mega 2 costs $475 at full retail, or can be purchased for $19.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $23.75 per month with Next 12, or $150 with a new two-year contract. AT&T is still offering a $100 bill credit when customers activate a new or existing line with its AT&T Next plans. The device reaches stores October 24.
Samsung today announced the Exynos 7 Octa, a new application processor manufactured with Samsung's 20nm processes. The Exynos 7 Octa uses a big.LITTLE configuration with two banks of four cores each. One bank uses Cortex A57s for high-intensity calculations and the other uses Cortex A53s for low-intensity calculations. Samsung says this setup allows the Exynos 7 to deliver a 57% improvement in efficiency when compared to the older Exynos 5. The chip supports WQHD and WQXGA displays, and can push UHD content to TV sets. The processor can handle dual-camera 1080p HD video capture on devices equipped with front- and rear-facing cameras. The Exynos 7 includes the ARM Mali T-760 GPU, which Samsung says delivers a 74% improvement in 3D graphics performance. Samsung did not immediately say when the Exynos 7 Octa will reach consumer devices.
Samsung said it has developed new Wi-Fi technology that can transmit data at a rate five times faster than what's available to consumers today. The breakthrough relies on 60GHz spectrum and removes the barrier between theoretical maximum speeds and actual maximum speeds. Most of today's Wi-Fi uses 2.5GHz and 5.0GHz airwaves. Samsung claims its technology can push a 1GB movie file between devices in three seconds, or stream it in real time. Samsung expects to begin adding 60GHz Wi-Fi technology to a range of its products next year.
Xiaomi, the Chinese handset maker, recently announced it has hired Jai Mani to lead its product team in India. Mani worked on Google+ and other products within Google. Last year, Xiaomi coaxed Hugo Barra, part of the Android team, to leave Google. Barra, who said he and Mani worked together closely at Google, played a role in bringing Mani to Xiaomi. "You can think of it as the beginning of our R&D center development in India," said Barra to the Wall Street Journal. "The first person we hired is someone who's going to be the glue between our users in India, product feedback that we receive, and the engineering team we have in Beijing as well as the engineering team that we are going to be building fairly soon in India." Mani will be based in Bangalore. Xiaomi has already made significant progress against larger competitors such as Samsung in its home market of China, and has set its eyes on India as a place to grow further.
Nokia recently announced that its HERE Maps product is now available to Samsung's Galaxy smartphones. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Galaxy devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. HERE Maps can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store directly on handsets and is being offered first in beta form. It requires 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1 and up.
Samsung today announced the availability of Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite for the Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3. The plan extends warranty coverage to two years from the original purchase date of either phone. Subscribers to the plan will be eligible for three device replacements and/or repairs for accidental damage, including cracked screens or liquid ingress. The warranty also covers mechanical defects. Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite costs $129, and each replaced/repaired phone is subject to a $95 fee.
Nvidia announced that the U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to investigate Nvidia's claims that Samsung is violating Nvidia's intellectual property. Nvidia filed legal action against Samsung last month, alleging some of its devices violate patents pertaining to graphics processing on mobile devices. Nvidia called out the latest Samsung handsets, including the Galaxy Note 4, Note 3, and Note Edge, as well as the Galaxy S5, in the litigation Last year, Nvidia said it would license its processor designs moving forward, but it has yet to score any such deals. The company has filed similar litigation against Qualcomm.
AT&T today said it will sell the Samsung Rugby 4 beginning October 4. Samsung's Rugby series devices are ruggedized flip phones that include push-to-talk via AT&T's Enhanced PTT service. The Rugby 4, which was first announced in August, builds on the Rugby series' basics by adding Wi-Fi and noise suppression, and improving the speaker. The Rugby 4 boasts a mil-spec rating for toughness and GPS for navigation. The Rugby 4 will cost $100 with a two-year contract or $270 with no commitment. However, AT&T said new activations and eligible upgrades can snag the phone for $0.99 through December 31 when paired with an EPTT rate plan.
Microsoft has filed a suit against Samsung seeking to collect $6.9 million in interest. According to Microsoft, Samsung delayed payment of $1 billion in smartphone patent royalties owed Microsoft. When it did finally pay, the company omitted the accrued interest. Samsung believes Microsoft violated a 2011 patent-licensing agreement the two companies struck when Microsoft agreed to purchase Nokia's handset business in 2013. Microsoft's new legal filing asks a judge declare it didn't violate the 2011 agreement and demands Samsung pay the interest on the late patent royalties. Most makers of Android smartphones pay Microsoft patent fees due to several Microsoft technologies contained in Android devices. Motorola is the only company not paying patent fees to Microsoft, and the two companies are still embroiled in legal proceedings.
Samsung and the Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge are both MirrorLink compatible. MirrorLink is a connectivity tool for pairing smartphones and cars. It works across smartphone platforms and car manufacturers, and is the only vendor-neutral standard available. With MirrorLink aboard, the Note 4 and Note Edge will be able to connect to select in-car infotainment systems, allowing drivers to more safely access their phone's content when behind the wheel. Apple and Google have both announced their own connectivity solutions for cars, which are part of iOS 8 and Android Release L, respectively.
FreedomPop today announced a new direction for the company, as it plans to sell more low-cost hardware using its own brand. The first device to bear the FreedomPop name is the Liberty, a tablet that has a 6.7-inch screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. The Liberty includes a dual-core 1.2GHz Cortex A9 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The main camera captures 4-megapixel images and the selfie camera captures VGA images. The Liberty supports memory cards and includes a 2,400mAh battery. FreedomPop is marketing the Liberty as a phablet, but it is limited to Wi-Fi and does not include cellular capabilities. Liberty owners will receive 200 voice minutes and 500 messages for free; both services will require an active Wi-Fi network to function. (Some of FreedomPop's devices include cellular capabilities and roam onto Sprint's network.) Liberty said a larger, 10-inch tablet with LTE, called the Frenzy, will arrive next month. Further, a FreedomPop-branded, LTE-equipped Android smartphone will show up at some point down the road. The FreedomPop Liberty costs $89 and ships today. Last, FreedomPop said it plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy Note II and Note 3 in the days ahead for low prices.
Pantech, based in Korea, has staked a For Sale sign in its front lawn. The company, which declared the equivalent of bankruptcy last month, is seeking a buyer to scoop up the entire business. Pantech has been facing trouble all year long. It twice sought delays in debt payments and entered into court receivership in August. The company believes it will fetch a higher price if sold as a single entity (approx. $366 million) rather than broken up and sold in pieces (approx. $181 million). Bids for the company are due in early October. Pantech found itself unable to compete with Samsung and LG, which are also based in Korea. It faced financial losses six quarters in a row, which led to its debt problems and eventual bankruptcy.
Samsung recently said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will all offer its Gear S smartwatch "this fall." Samsung didn't say when the device will actually go on sale. The Gear S differs from Samsung's other wearables in that it has a cellular radio inside and can make/receive phone calls and messages. Pricing has yet to be revealed for the device itself, as well as for the plans connecting it to cellular networks. In an email, T-Mobile said the Gear S will be available for purchase on its Equipment Installment Plan, which breaks down payments over time.
AT&T today said it will offer the Samsung Galaxy Alpha beginning September 26. The device, which was announced earlier this year, features a metal frame and 4.7-inch 720p HD display. AT&T is asking $199 with a new contract, $25.55 per month with AT&T Next 18, $30.65 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $613 at full retail.
Verizon has made its Advanced Calling 1.0 feature available to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The free service will pass voice calls over Verizon's LTE 4G network rather than the cellular network. It offers high-quality voice calls and video calls. In order to enable the service, owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus need to use the settings tool to allow "voice & data" over LTE directly on their phone. Once enabled, the feature will appear as active in their Verizon account online. VoLTE calls only work between two Verizon VoLTE-enabled devices. The only other Verizon devices that support VoLTE right now are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G2.
Samsung today said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy Note 4 on September 19. The device won't ship, however, until October 17. Samsung said the Note 4 will be available in black and white, and it will be carried by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. Samsung said the phone will also be available at Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores, as well as from Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Individual carriers and retailers will provide their own pricing and availability details in the near future. AT&T was first to announce those details. AT&T said the Note 4 will cost $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18; $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12; $299.99 with a two-year agreement; or $826 at full retail. AT&T is offering a $100 bill credit to new/existing customers who activate a new line of service with the Note 4. Verizon is offering the Note 4 for $299 with a new contract and said Verizon Edge installment pricing will also be available. T-Mobile isn't accepting preorders until September 24, and it is asking for $0 down followed by $31.24 a month for 24 months.
Verizon Wireless has slowly begun to enable VoLTE on select devices on its network. To start, VoLTE is available to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. In order to use the service, subscribers need to download an app called Advanced Calling 1.0. More devices will supported over time. In order for VoLTE to work, both parties need to have VoLTE-capable phones and access to Verizon's LTE 4G network. The service, which is free to use, offers high-quality calls that are passed over the data network rather than the traditional voice network. Separately, Verizon Wireless said that, like AT&T, it is going to wait until 2015 to launch Wi-Fi Calling. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said it will eventually roll out the service, which is supported by the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it is not a priority. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call,'" said Shammo. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling to a growing number of handsets. T-Mobile just today launched its Personal CellSpot in order to help its customers experience better voice connectivity when in their homes.
GreatCall recently announced the Samsung Touch3, an Android smartphone designed specifically for senior citizens and older users. The Touch3's major selling point is the user interface, which has been stripped down to the bare essentials in order to make it easier to use. Select apps, such as the phone, messaging, camera, and help are front and center in large fonts so they can be found faster. The Touch3 offers the usual selection of GreatCall services, such as 5Star, Urgent Care, and MedCoach. The device itself features a 4-inch screen, 4-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and 8GB of built-in storage. The Touch3 is available from GreatCall's web site. It costs $150 and doesn't require a contract commitment.