FreedomPop today announced that customers interested in its service can supply their own device if they so wish. The company already sells the Samsung Galaxy SII for $159, and today added the HTC EVO 4G to its roster for $119. If customers aren't interested in these phones, they can supply their own Sprint-compatible handset and activate it with FreedomPop. FreedomPop is an MVNO that uses Sprint's network. It relies on VoIP to route calls over Sprint's data network. FreedomPop offers 200 voice minutes, 500 texts and 500 MBs of data for free, and also has an unlimited voice and text plan for $4.58 per month. Customers can select from a handful of different data options.
Samsung recently published details about the SGH-T199, a simple feature phone bound for T-Mobile. The T199 is a traditional candybar-style device with a small, 2-inch display and numerical keypad on the front. Other than basic calling, SMS/MMS, and browsing, the T199 offers few features, though it is capable of downloading apps through an on-board content store. The device has a 400MHz single-core processor, 128MB of RAM, 800mAh battery, and support for T-Mobile's HSPA network, but not LTE. It doesn't include a camera or expandable memory. The Samsung T199 has yet to appear on the web sites of T-Mobile and MetroPCS, so pricing and availability aren't available.
MetroPCS announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is in stores and online beginning today. The GS5 costs $649 and can be paired with Metro's $40 no-contract plans.
Samsung today published an infographic explaining how its Milk streaming music service works. The company launched Milk earlier this year. It is based on Slacker's music engine and gives Galaxy-branded device owners free, ad-free streaming. The infographic suggests, however, that Milk is ad-free for only a limited time and will eventually include advertisements for basic service. The premium version, which Samsung indicates will launch soon, will cost $3.99 per month and include an ad-free experience as well as other exclusive features. Samsung did not say when this switch might be made.
AT&T today announced the availability of the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system for the Samsung Galaxy S4. The update is being rolled out gradually, but owners can manually download using the system settings. The update is free.
Samsung has committed to releasing a smartphone based on its Tizen platform by the end of the second quarter. Speaking to Reuters, Yoon Han-kil, SVP of Samsung's product strategy, said two Tizen-based devices will arrive this year. The first will be a high-end handset and the second will target the middle of the market. It's unlikely either device will reach the U.S., however. "We had tried to launch (Tizen) with DoCoMo and Orange ... but couldn't because of poor market conditions. We have changed our strategy and will release the phones in a few countries where we can do well," explained Yoon. The company will target emerging markets where demand for top-notch equipment isn't as high. Samsung has delayed plans to release Tizen-based phones several times. Tizen is based on Linux. Samsung is working with Intel on the platform, which the company recently added to its Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches.
The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.
PayPal today made a new version of its mobile app available explicitly for the Samsung Galaxy S5. The app, first announced in February, lets GS5 owners make payments across the web by swiping their finger on the GS5's fingerprint sensor. PayPal says the feature can be used with most online merchants and mobile apps that accept PayPal, in addition to select retail stores. Further, PayPal launched a separate app for Samsung's Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches. The watch-based app lets people save and redeem offers, check their balance, receive payment notifications, and check-in at local stores. Both the smartphone and smartwatch apps are free to download.
AU Optronics recently unveiled a high-resolution screen for smartphones. The AMOLED panel measures 5.7 inches across the diagonal and has QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution. AU says the panel has a pixel density of 513 pixels per inch. To put that in perspective, Apple's iPhone 5s has 326 pixels per inch and the Samsung Galaxy S4 has 441 pixels per inch. The new screen makes use of in-cell touch technology, which helped AU Optronics keep the thickness at 0.57mm. The drivers for the panel allow for up to 10 points of touch input. AU Optronics didn't say when the panel would reach mass production for devices. The company also revealed a high-contrast 1.6-inch AMOLED for wearable devices. AU Optronics claims both screens are power efficient.
Samsung indicated via its web site that developers will soon be able to buy a developer edition of the Galaxy S5. The device will be compatible with Verizon's network. Samsung didn't say how much the developer edition will cost, nor what special tools might be included, nor exactly when it will go on sale. The standard edition Galaxy S5 launches at most carriers today.
Samsung's Download Booster, a feature of the Galaxy S5 meant to improve file download speeds, has been removed from the device by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. The companies did not provide a reason for cutting the app. T-Mobile will be the only major U.S. carrier to support the feature. Download Booster splits file downloads between Wi-Fi and LTE in order to create faster speeds. AnandTech reports that Download Booster only works with files from apps such as the Google Play Store, YouTube, Facebook, and the browser that are larger than 30MB. Download Booster's usefulness will vary depending on local network connections.
C Spire Wireless recently revealed that it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy S5 as soon as May. The company didn't share pricing details, however. The GS5 reaches most major carriers this month.
Verizon Wireless recently made the previously unannounced Samsung ATIV SE available for preorders on its web site. The SE is a high-end Windows Phone that features a 5-inch full HD display protected by Gorilla Glass and offers three columns for Live Tiles on the home screen. The phone clearly draws its design inspiration from Samsung's Galaxy-branded Android devices. The SE is powered by a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The device supports microSD cards up to 64GB for additional storage. The SE includes a 13-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone supports Verizon's LTE network in the U.S., but can also roam onto HSPA networks in more than 200 countries around the world. Other radios include Wi-Fi (with support for mobile hotspot), Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and NFC. The SE includes several Samsung apps and services, such as its WatchOn television remote control, Samsung Link for sharing content across devices, a photo editing app, and ATIV Beam, which can be used to send files to other smartphones via NFC pairing. The ATIV SE runs Windows Phone 8 and includes the usual set of apps from Microsoft, such as Office and XBox Live. Verizon is selling the Samsung ATIV SE for $199.99 with a contract or $599.99 without a contract. Verizon is accepting preorders, and currently says the phone will ship by April 12.
Sprint today confirmed a report that its Spark smartphones cannot make phones calls and surf the web at the same time. The issue, first noticed by Consumer Reports, affects only Sprint Spark LTE smartphones and not normal LTE smartphones. For example, the first version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 released in April 2013 can conduct voice calls and data sessions over LTE at the same time, but the newer Spark version of the GS4 cannot. "Sprint Spark devices leverage eCSFB technology (enhanced Circuit Switch Fall Back) which enables single radio functionality in the handset," said Sprint in an email to Phonescoop.com. "This allows Sprint to leverage the many benefits of Network Vision, including the ability to utilize multiple CDMA and LTE spectrum bands efficiently. Simultaneous voice and LTE is not supported on new Sprint Spark devices." Sprint went on to claim, however, that Spark, which uses a tri-band LTE configuration, does offer much better data service, much better voice service, and better battery life. Phones sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM-based operators have long been able to talk and surf at the same time.
Samsung recently updated its ChatOn messaging application for Android devices and added several new features. One of the most prominent new powers is the ability to recall sent messages, even if the message has already been read. The app now supports file transfers up to 1GB (limited to 5 transfers per day); lets users attach location data to messages via Glympse; and includes SMS support for one-on-one message threads. The app also has an improved user interface for both single and group conversations. ChatOn for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Sprint today said it will update its Windows Phone smartphones, the HTC 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo, to Windows Phone 8.1 this summer. It will provide more specifics closer to the availability date.
AT&T today made Android 4.4 KitKat available to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. In addition to the operating system upgrade, the update makes tweaks to the user interface, lets users set the default messaging app, improves GPS performance, adds wireless printing, and makes it easier to access the camera from the lock screen. The update is free to download and install.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said the company is prepared to expand the availability of HD Voice to the entire country on or about July 1. HD Voice provides clearer voice calls between two HD Voice-compatible phones. The service is available in a few markets and on more than a dozen devices, including the Apple iPhone 5s/5c, LG Nexus 5, and Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3. Sprint had hoped to expand HD Voice to more markets last year, but is now on track to deliver on that commitment by July.
Sprint announced its plans to sell the Samsung Galaxy S5. It is accepting pre-orders for the phone beginning today. Customers may choose between two different financing options. Customers can pay $199.99 (after rebate) with a new two-year contract, or pay $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $27.09 with Sprint's Easy Pay option. The GS5 is compatible with Sprint Spark, its faster LTE service that is available in 18 markets around the country. Customers who choose to sign up for a Sprint Framily Plan with the GS5 are eligible for a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. Sprint will also offer the Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit wearables beginning April 11 for $299, $199, and $199, respectively.
T-Mobile today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be available for preorder beginning March 24. T-Mobile is offering the device for $0 down, followed by 24 monthly payments of $27.50 (~$660 total over two years). Those who preorder before March 31 will be eligible for $120 off the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. T-Mobile indicated that more than 500,000 people have preregistered for information about the GS5, but people who actually preorder before March 31 will be the first to receive it once it goes on sale. T-Mobile didn't say when the device might ship, nor did it announce plans to carry the Gear 2 or Gear Fit wearable devices.
U.S. Cellular today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be available for preorder beginning March 21. The device will reach stores April 11. It will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract. U.S. Cellular is offering $50 in Google Play Store credit to those who preorder the phone. The Gear 2 and Gear Fit wearable devices will also go on sale April 11.
AT&T today announced when the Galaxy S5 will go on sale and how much it will cost. Preorders for the device begin Friday, March 21. The GS5 will cost $199.99 with a new contract or $25 per month with an AT&T Next plan. The full retail price for the phone will be $649.99. AT&T says the phone will begin shipping in early April. AT&T also announced the availability of the Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit wearable devices. The Gear 2 will cost $299, the Gear 2 Neo will cost $199, and the Gear Fit will cost $199. Preorders start March 21 and they will ship in early April. AT&T is offering a $50 discount off the price of a Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo when purchased together with the Galaxy S5.
Google today formally introduced its effort to port Android to wearables. The company announced Android Wear, a version of the Android operating system that will start with watches and eventually move on to other form factors. Google's immediate vision for wearables - and watches in particular - include some basic functions. Google believes smart wearables should provide useful information when the wearer needs it, such as posts, social network updates, and messaging notifications. Google thinks wearables should be able to answer questions, such as "OK Google." Google's Android-based wearables will include Google Now, its voice-based assistant, for performing searches and issuing commands. Android Wear will give people a better way to monitor their health and fitness, such as help with exercise goals and provide fitness summaries. Last, Google sees wearables as the key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear will let users access and control other devices - music players, phones, TVs - through Google Now. Developers interested in Project Android Wear can sign up to participate in a preview. Developers will be able to customize their app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear, for example. Google said that more resources, including APIs, will be available to developers soon. Google also noted that it is working with Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung to create Android Wear-based watches, which should arrive later this year.
Samsung today made a software developer kit for its new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches available to app writers. Developers will be able to use the SDK to create their own apps for the two smart wearables. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo don't run Android, and instead run Samsung's own Tizen operating system. Tizen is based on Linux and other open standards. Samsung also highlighted a number of apps that will be available to the Gear 2 watches at launch, which include CNN, MapMyFitness, iHeartRadio, Expedia, eBay, Conde Nast, and others.
Google recently indicated that devices running Android 4.3 and older will not be allowed to make tap-and-go payments via Google Wallet. The change goes into effect April 14. Moving forward, Android devices will need to run Android 4.4 KitKat and up to make NFC-based mobile payments. Additionally, Google said mobile payments will no longer be possible from the Samsung Galaxy Note III, HTC Evo 4G LTE, and the Google Nexus 7 (2012). Google did not provide a reason for making the change.
Sprint today relaunched its own-branded prepaid service, which used to run under the name Sprint As You Go, but is now called Sprint Prepaid. The initial list of devices being offered by Sprint Prepaid includes the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (Spark compatible), Samsung Galaxy S3 (LTE compatible), Motorola Moto G (3G only), and the Apple iPhone 4S (refurbished). According to Sprint, more smartphones will be available soon, and feature phones will launch on Sprint Prepaid next month. Smartphone plans start at $45 per month, which includes unlimited voice minutes and messaging, but only Wi-Fi data. Spending $60 per month gains users unlimited cellular data (speeds throttled after 2.5GB) in addition to unlimited voice/messaging. Sprint Prepaid does not require credit checks or contracts, but it still eligible for the Sprint Buyback program for turning in or recycling old phones for a discount on new devices. Sprint Prepaid is available beginning today. Sprint is still offering its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA prepaid brands.
Samsung today highlighted some of the third-party applications it plans to install on the Galaxy S5 smartphone, and claims their total value exceeds $600. Most of the freebies take the form of limited-time memberships to web sites or services that would otherwise charge for their use. For example, the Galaxy S5 will include a six-month subscription to the Wall Street Journal and a 12-month subscription to Bloomberg/BusinessWeek. It will also include a $50 voucher for PayPal merchants, 50GB of Box storage for six months, 50GB of DropBox storage for two years, and 1TB of Bitcasa storage for three months. Several fitness subscriptions will be included, as will gaming credits. Smartphones are often sold with third-party apps and services pre-loaded. The Samsung Galaxy S5 will go on sale worldwide in April.
Samsung today launched a free music streaming service explicitly for owners of its Galaxy-branded smartphones and tablets. The service, called Milk, is powered by Slacker and includes more than 200 curated radio stations, as well as the ability for people to create, listen to, and save their own stations. The service doesn't cost anything, and doesn't include ads. Milk is only available to Samsung phones and tablets, and can be downloaded directly from the Google Play Store.
AT&T has improved its LTE network in Chicago and several other markets by using an LTE-Advanced technique called Carrier Aggregation. GigaOm confirmed the soft launch with AT&T SVP of Network Technologies Kris Rinne. With Carrier Aggregation, AT&T has combined the channels of its existing spectrum to double the capacity. AT&T is running LTE in both the 700MHz and AWS bands in Chicago. By aggregating the channels together, AT&T can deliver theoretical peak download speeds of 110Mbps to devices with the proper radio support. At the moment, AT&T is selling only one device with Carrier Aggregation, the Unite mobile hotspot. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is expected to be the first smartphone to support Carrier Aggregation in the U.S. AT&T did not name the other two markets that have access to Carrier Aggregation, but said that more markets on are on the way. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of deploying Carrier Aggregation in their own LTE networks.
Apple's request to ban an array of Samsung smartphones and tablets was denied by a U.S. District Judge. Apple already won a guilty verdict against 26 different Samsung devices that were found to infringe on its patents. A jury awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages, but Apple still sought to prevent Samsung from selling the infringing products in the U.S. Though Apples' request was denied, the damages owed to Apple by Samsung were finalized by the judge overseeing the case. The Korean company must now fork over about $930 million for violating Apple's patents.
Sprint today said it will update a handful of its Samsung smartphones to Android 4.4 KitKat. The company is already pushing KitKat to the Galaxy S4 and Note 3, but will also deliver updates to the Galaxy Note II, GS4 mini, GS III, Galaxy Mega, and Galaxy Tab 3 7.0. According to Sprint, the update includes the standard check list of KitKat goodies, and also adds a new lockscreen shortcut to the camera. The timing of the updates will vary by device.
FreedomPop today announced the Privacy Phone, what it bills as a secure smartphone to protect users from hackers, government agencies, and spyware. The Privacy Phone uses 128-bit encryption to secure voice calls and text messages. It provides anonymous internet browsing and prevents online marketers from tracking web activity. The Privacy Phone also prevents data monitoring from third parties, and bypasses web site restrictions so it can connect to any site. FreedomPop says the Privacy Phone shields users from viruses and malware, blocks malicious web sites, and prevents phishing attacks. The Privacy Phone is a Samsung Galaxy S II that FreedomPop has refurbished with its own software. The device costs $189 and is offered without a contract. FreedomPop is providing three months of unlimited voice and messaging with 500MB of data for free, after which the service plan will cost $10 per month.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today both announced plans to sell the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Both companies, which are owned and operated by Sprint, said the GS5 will be compatible with Sprint's Spark LTE service. Pricing was not discussed, but the prepaid carriers said the GS5 will arrive during the second quarter with contract-free, flexible service options.
Samsung recently announced two additions to its family of Exynos mobile processors. The Exynos 5 Octa 5422 is an eight-core processor meant for premium devices. It uses a big.LITTLE configuration with four ARM Cortex A15 cores at 2.1GHz for intensive calculations and four ARM Cortex A7 cores at 1.5GHz for low-power calculations. According to Samsung, the 5422 can support displays with greater-than-HD resolutions, such as WQHD (2560 x 1440), as well as image processing techniques that help reduce power requirements by 10%. The 5422 was developed with a 28nm processes and will be available for mass production during the first quarter. Samsung also announced the Exynos 5 Hexa 5260, a six-core chip that targets mid-level devices. It includes two ARM Cortex A15s at 1.7GHz and four ARM Cortex A7s at 1.3GHz. Samsung claims this chip makes a significant jump in performance when compared to the previous generation chip, and it can support up to WQXGA screens, full 1080p HD video capture/playback, and external displays. The Exynos 5260 is already in volume production.
Samsung hopes its new smartwatches will make enticing companions to the Galaxy S5 and other smartphones. The Gear 2 is a re-do of Samsung's original smartwatch, while the Gear Fit is a fresh take on wearables.
Samsung today made new SDKs available to app writers seeking to target the Galaxy S5 smartphone and Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches. The software developer kits, which are free to download starting today, provide developers with the tools they need to create apps for the devices. The Samsung Mobile SDK 1.5 adds APIs that can hook into the GS5's fingerprint scanner, as well as the motion-detection function, and split-screen mode for developing apps that can operate on TV and mobile devices at the same time. Samsung's S Health service gets its own SDK, which will allow developers to latch their own apps into the fitness and health functions of the GS5. There are separate SDKs for the Gear 2 and Gear Fit. The Gear 2 runs Samsung's Tizen operating system, but the Gear Fit runs a proprietary operating system. Apps for the Gear Fit will be more limited in scope.
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 smartphone today in Barcelona. Those expecting a great leap forward are bound to be disappointed, but the Galaxy S5 makes progress all the same. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.
AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile each today affirmed that it will off the Samsung Galaxy S5 when it goes on sale in April. Exact sales dates and pricing were not shared by the carriers.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy Gear Fit, a health-focused wearable that offers a simpler experience than the more capable Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches. The Gear Fit has a curved 1.84-inch display with 432 x 128 pixels. The Fit has a number of sensors and can track steps, exercise, heart rate, and sleep. It includes a stopwatch, timer, schedule, relay, and media controller. The plastic strap is changeable, and it is resistant to water and dust thanks to its IP67 rating. It connects to smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy and comes with a 210mAh battery that provides three to four days of battery life. The Fit can keep owners up to date thanks to notifications from Galaxy smartphones, such as incoming calls, emails, text messages, alarms, and other apps. The Gear Fit will be available globally starting from April.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S5, the fifth-generation of its flagship smartphone. It borrows a bit from the design language of the Galaxy Note 3 in that it is less round around the edges and more square - what Samsung calls the "modern glam look." The phone is more refined, but is also clearly a member of the Galaxy S family. Samsung worked to improve the camera, which rates 16 megapixels. The autofocus function has been sped up to help improve time-to-capture, as has the HDR function which can now work with video. Samsung has added a depth of field control to help blur the background, called Selective Focus. The video camera can capture 4K Ultra HD video. The GS5 puts more of an emphasis on health and fitness with revised S Health apps and services. S Health interacts with a built-in pedometer to help track activity, and a heart rate monitor tracks the owner's heart health. Samsung also has worked to incorporate S Health with third-party apps. The phone features a 5.1-inch 1080p HD screen, dual-band Wi-Fi with 2x2 MIMO, and Category 4 LTE speeds. The GS5 has what Samsung calls a Download Booster, which uses Wi-Fi and LTE together to increase download speeds over the air. Like the GS4 Active, the GS5 is water and dust resistant thanks to an ingress protection rating of IP67. The device has a 2,800mAh battery and Ultra Power Saving Mode, which turns the display black and white and shuts down all but the most essential apps and services to save battery life. It is powered by a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM; NFC and Bluetooth 4.0; and it comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage. It supports microSD cards up to 128GB. Last, the GS5 adds a fingerprint scanner for biometric security and a trick swipe-to-pay feature. The device will be available globally beginning in April.