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printed March 28, 2017
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Samsung Says No Refurbished Galaxy Note7s In the US

Today, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Galaxy Note7 fans in the U.S. will not be able to buy a refurbished model, reports Reuters. Samsung "will not be offering refurbished Galaxy Note7 devices for rent or sale in the U.S.," according to a statement provided by the company. On Monday, Samsung announced plans to sell reconditioned Note7s in select markets, though it has yet to say where. Phones that cannot be reconditioned will be broken down into their individual components so Samsung can scavenge them for use in other devices.


Samsung Plans to Sell Refurbished Galaxy Note7

Yesterday, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 9:42 AM

Samsung plans to bring back the Galaxy Note7, despite the massive recall that spelled the phone's demise last year. The company will sell refurbished versions of the phone, though Samsung is still determining where via talks with regulatory authorities and carriers. Samsung didn't detail exactly how the phone has been refurbished. It was pulled from store shelves shortly after launch due to faulty batteries. Presumably any refurbished units would, at a minimum, include brand new batteries. Note7 units that aren't refurbished for sale will be broken down into individual components so Samsung can recover chips, camera modules, and rare metals found within the phone. Samsung did not say when it expects to resurrect the Note7.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Include 'Bixby' Voice-Based User Interface

Mar 20, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 20, 2017, 9:29 AM

Samsung today announced Bixby, a new voice-based user interface that will mark its debut on the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. it is not a personal assistant, per se, though it includes those functions. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands (such as "Hey, Bixby") to get the interface working. Samsung is targeting a handful of core behaviors with Bixby. For example, it is embracing something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8, which Samsung plans to announce at a March 29 event in New York City, will feature a dedicated Bixby button, something Samsung says will reduce friction in calling upon Bixby for help. Galaxy S8 owners will be able to press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 will be Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. Further, the company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps. Samsung intends to push Bixby across most of its products tline, including tablets, PCs, and even appliances.


Samsung to More Consistently Update Unlocked Galaxy Phones

Mar 14, 2017, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it plans to update unlocked devices as often as monthly, according to ZDNet. "Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing security updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis," said the company in an emailed statement. "However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis." Unlocked models of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were last updated in December, but Samsung said it will push the March update to those devices soon. Samsung didn't say whether or not the update will include Android 7 Nougat. Carrier variants of the S7 and S7 edge have already begun to receive Nougat.


FCC Reveals Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge

Mar 9, 2017, 3:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC recently published a few details about two unreleased Samsung phones that are likely the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 edge. The FCC approved the SM-G950 (S8) and SM-G955 (S8 edge) and confirmed some features shared by the handsets. For example, the phones include wide support for U.S. 4G networks, including LTE Bands 29, 30, and 66, which are among the newest used by AT&T and T-Mobile. The FCC shows two versions of the phones so far, one with CDMA and one without. The CDMA variant is compatible with the networks operated by Sprint and Verizon Wireless, but also includes LTE support for AT&T and T-Mobile. The FCC confirmed additional radios, including NFC, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Photos and detailed specifications of the phones remain unknown. Samsung plans to unveil the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge at an event in New York City scheduled for March 29.


Samsung Exec Denies All Charges

Mar 9, 2017, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jay Y. Lee, the chief of Samsung, pled not guilty in court today. Lee is charged with bribery and embezzlement in a case that has also ensnared South Korea President Park Geun-hye. Lee's lawyers claim the prosecution's case is built on conversations and other evidence that was not witnessed first hand. "It is unclear what kind of order Lee Jae-yong is supposed to have given" regarding the bribes, said Lee's lawyer, Song Wu-cheol. Samsung itself and other executives caught up in the case also denied any wrongdoing. The office for the special prosecutor believes Lee arranged for about $36 million in bribes to be paid to the office of President Park to facilitate certain low-level mergers. Park herself was impeached in December and has no governmental powers pending a review of the case by Korea's Constitutional Court. The prosecutors believe the case against Lee, which they are calling the "trial of the century," will be wrapped up by the end of May.


Facebook Trots Out Virtual Reality App for Samsung Gear VR

Mar 8, 2017, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced Facebook 360 for Gear VR, a dedicated app to help Samsung device owners find and consume 360-degree Facebook content. The app is available to compatible Galaxy devices, such as the Note 5, S7, and S7 edge. The app features four main feeds for finding VR content. The Explore tab lets people find the most popular VR content from media companies and organizations, while the Following tab lets people find the content created and shared by their friends and family. The app also allows people to save 360-degree content from their News Feed into a dedicated folder, as well as relive memories via the Timeline function, which highlights the user's own 360-degree photos and videos. The Facebook 360 for Gear VR app also supports social interactions, such as likes. Facebook claims there are more than 25 million 360-degree photos and more than 1 million 360-degree videos available on Facebook. The Facebook 360 for Gear VR app can be found within the Oculus app on compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones.


Verizon's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Earn Android 7 Nougat

Mar 6, 2017, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today made Android 7 Nougat available to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones. Android 7 brings native split-screen multitasking, and myriad other features to the year-old Galaxy devices. Some of the new tools include: better battery management software; photo effects previews; more ways to customize the always-on display; Samsung Pass for additional fingerprint-based security; performance mode for adjusting processor output; a revised keyboard with more language options; and more control over mobile hotspot connections. Notably, the update also removes Verizon's go90 mobile video application. Verizon recommends users download the operating system update via WiFi. Android 7 Nougat is rolling out the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge over the next few days.


Samsung Exec's Bribery Trial to Start Next Week

Mar 3, 2017, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said executive Jay Y. Lee, arrested last month on embezzlement and bribery charges, is scheduled to go on trial as soon as March 9. Lee was indicted on the charges this week, following his Feb. 17 arrest. The South Korea special prosecutor alleges that Lee paid the office of Korean President Park Geun-hye about $37 million in bribes to facilitate government approval of certain business deals. Those deals gave Lee the leverage he needed to ascend to the company's top executive spot. Samsung has denied that the company and Lee acted improperly, even though President Park Geun-hye herself has been impeached by the Korean government. Special prosecutor Park Young-soo suggested to reporters that "the upcoming Samsung trial could be the trial of the century, that the entire world will be watching." Samsung is South Korea's largest business.


Cricket Drops Price of Unlimited Plan, Says HD Voice On the Way

Mar 1, 2017, 10:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today lowered the price of its unlimited service plan to $60 per month for a single line. The plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data (speeds capped at 8Mbps), with taxes and fees included. Families can save on additional lines; a second line costs $50 per month, a third line costs $40, a fourth line costs $30, and a fifth line costs $20. Together, families can get four lines of unlimited service for $180 or five lines for $200. The company is offering a choice of several free handsets to those who switch to Cricket, including the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2, the LG Spree, the ZTE Sonata, or the Alcatel Streak. Last, Cricket plans to improve its service in the months ahead with new features, including HD Voice and WiFi calling.


Samsung to Push RCS Messaging On Its Own Handsets

Feb 28, 2017, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it intends to adopt Rich Communications Services messaging on its smartphones. RCS is a more advanced messaging standard that supports group chats, video messaging, and more. Samsung acquired RCS technology when it picked up NewNet late last year. Samsung plans to work with overseas carriers such as Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom, SK Telecom, T-Mobile, and Vodafone to enable RCS on its devices. Samsung's move follows a similar one made by Google, which is working with a wider selection of phone makers and carriers to bring RCS to Android devices around the world. Samsung is one of only a few device makers not supporting Google's RCS push, and now we know why.


Samsung Executive to Be Charged with Bribery

Feb 28, 2017, 3:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The special prosecutor's office in South Korea today said it will charge Samsung Executive Jay Y. Lee in a bribery case that has shaken the country. Lee isn't standing alone, however, as the special prosecutor is eying four other Samsung executives. "The five executives will face charges including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas," said Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office. Samsung's Lee was arrested earlier this month on the charges. The case also involves President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached by the Korean government in December 2016. Lee and others are alleged to have paid Park to help facilitate certain business dealings. One March 6, the special prosecutor plans to make an announcement regarding its investigation into President Park. Samsung SDI, the company's memory and business, today named Jun Young-hyun as CEO. Jun will be officially appointed next month.


Samsung Talks Up 5G Ecosystem, Verizon Teases 5G Phone

Feb 26, 2017, 4:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed a number of 5G-related projects it is working on, including a home router, a base station, core network infrastructure, and a mobile chipset. The 5G Home Router is of particular interest, as Samsung said it would serve as an in-home replacement for fiber-to-the-home for broadband service. The router would sit in a window and communicate with a nearby 5G Radio Base Station and deliver 1 Gbps speeds to the home. Samsung likened the setup to today's LTE small cells, which have helped carriers densify their networks in urban areas. Verizon Wireless personnel joined Samsung on stage during the presentation and mentioned that the company hopes to see a phone able to use Samsung's 5G in-home gear by this time next year. Verizon is already planning to trial its own fixed 5G service in 11 markets in the new few weeks. Samsung went on to say that it will use 3GPP Release 16 specs for now while the ITU continues its work on the 5G standard. Samsung hopes to be able to upgrade its equipment along the way until the 5G standard is ratified.


Samsung Adds a Controller to Its Oculus-Designed Gear VR Headset

Feb 26, 2017, 3:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced a new version of its Gear VR headset, which now comes with a controller in tow. Controllers dramatically help the VR experience by allowing people to interact with a wider range of content when exploring new worlds. Samsung says the controller includes home, volume, and back keys and features a comfortable grip so it is easy to hold securely. The controller attaches to a strap on the headset for safekeeping when not in use. The Gear VR headset has 42mm lenses with 101-degree field of view and distortion correction to help minimize motion sickness. It supports both micro USB and USB Type-C ports. Samsung didn't list the price nor mention the release date.


Samsung to Announce Galaxy S8 On March 29 In NYC

Feb 26, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung used its press conference at Mobile World Congress to tell everyone that the Galaxy S8 is right around the corner. In a short teaser video, Samsung said the phone will make its worldwide debut on March 29 at Lincoln Center in New York City. The company shared a silhouette of a device with the words "Unbox Your Phone" in the invitation. The Galaxy S8 will replace the Galaxy S7 at the top of Samsung's lineup and serve as the company's flagship for 2017. The phone will go head-to-head with the LG G6, which was announced earlier today, and the Apple iPhone 7.


Samsung Makes Its Secure Folder A Downloadable App

Feb 24, 2017, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today released its Secure Folder through the Galaxy Apps Store. Secure Folder is a protected space for smartphones that can store files, documents, images, videos, or other content that the owner wishes to lock away. Samsung says the Secure Folder can act as a way for people to set up separate profiles for apps on the phone, as well, ensuring that only the protected content is available to those profiles. Samsung expects people will use standard tools such as PIN, pattern, passcode, or biometric verification (fingerprint) to access and manage the Secure Folder. The Samsung Secure Folder has ben around for a while, but it has always been preloaded directly to devices by Samsung. This marks the first time the app is available on its own as a separate download. Samsung is making the app available to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge first, with other models to follow later.


More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Feb 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.


Samsung's Exynos 9 Chip Uses 10nm Process, Boasts Gigabit Modem

Feb 23, 2017, 11:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Exynos 9 Series 8895 application processor for premium mobile devices. The chip relies on Samsung's 10nm FinFET process with 3D transistors. This results in a 27% performance boost while chewing through 40% less power when put up against Samsung's 14nm tech. The 8895 bakes in support for Category 16 LTE with 5xCA for 1 Gbps downloads, and Cat 13 LTE with 2xCA for 225 Mbps uploads. Samsung says the Exynos 9 Series 8895 has an octa-core design with four of Samsung's own CPUs paired with four ARM Cortex A53 cores. It supports the ARM Mali G71 GPU for 3D graphics, 4K quality virtual reality, and 4K video playback up to 120fps. A separate processing unit handles biometric security (iris and fingerprint) for protecting mobile payments, and a Vision Processing Unit is able to scan and recognize its surroundings for panoramic image processing and machine vision. The Exynos 9 Series 8895 is already in mass production and Samsung said it will appear in devices soon. The company is widely expected to debut its 2017 flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, in March. The Galaxy S8 will likely rely on the Exynos 9 Series 8895 processor.


Samsung Heir Arrested On Bribery Charges

Feb 17, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jay Y. Lee, a top executive at Samsung, has been arrested after a judge agreed that the special prosecutor's allegations of corruption warranted legal action. Lee has been under investigation for months over $37 million in payments that investigators say were used as bribes. The special prosecutor is also charging Lee with perjury, embezzlement, and hiding assets overseas. Lee has for the last several years been groomed to take over the company following the heart attack of his father. Some of the money, allege the prosecutors, was used to grease a contentious merger between two Samsung businesses that helped pave the way for Lee's ascension. The scandal has gripped South Korea since last year, as President Park Geun-hye is also involved. In a brief statement, Samsung said, "We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings." Lee wasn't necessarily involved in managing the day-to-day operations of the company, but was involved in top-level decision making. Samsung may have to reorganize its executive structure to account for Lee's potential absence.


Korea Prosecutors Take Second Stab at Samsung Exec

Feb 14, 2017, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

South Korea's special prosecutor's office is taking another run at arresting and charging Samsung executive Jay Y. Lee. Lee faces possible embezzlement, bribery, and asset-related charges tied to S. Korea President Park Geun-hye. Specifically, the prosecutor's office believes Lee payed Park to facilitate a merger of two lesser Samsung businesses that, in turn, helped pave the way for Lee's succession within the organization. "Samsung has absolutely never bribed the president seeking something in return or sought illicit favors," said Samsung Group in a statement. Last month, a Seoul-based court rejected the procesutor's attempt to charge Lee. Lee is a member of the family that controls a majority stake in Samsung and has been groomed to lead the organization. A court will have to approve the presecutor's new request.


Apple Backs Qi Wireless Charging Standard

Feb 13, 2017, 3:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has joined the Wireless Power Consortium, according to IHS Technologies and the WPC's own web site. Apple is listed as a backing member of the organization, which is behind the Qi wireless charging standard. This is the first time Apple has appeared to support either of the two competing standards. Apple is not backing the AirFuel Alliance (formerly the Power Matters Alliance) wireless charging standard, at least not according to the Alliance's web site, where Apple is not listed as a member. Apple's membership in the WPC does not necessarily mean the company plans to bring wireless charging technology to its mobile devices; rather, it means Apple can contribute its own technology to the standard, as well as take advantage of the standard's existing feature set. Many of Apple's competitors already back at least one of the two major wireless charging standards. Samsung, for example, supports both Qi and AirFuel, which makes its devices compatible with most wireless chargers. Wireless charging is one of a handful of technologies that Apple's iPhone has yet to adopt.


Google Bringing Original Content to YouTube Kids App

Feb 13, 2017, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has a handful of new programs for its YouTube Kids service on deck. Specifically, subscribers to YouTube Red (Google's ad-free version of YouTube) will be able to watch four kid-focused series called Hyperlinked, DanTDM Creates a Big Scene, The King of Atlantis, and Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force. Google said it worked with Susanne Daniels to develop the shows, which are currently in production. Google expects these four shows to reach YouTube this spring with more originals to debut later this year. In addition to the new programming, Google plans to release a version of YouTube Kids for certain LG and Samsung Smart TVs. The Smart TV app will let children access their favorite YouTube Kids content — all with the same parental controls available to the mobile app — from their television set.


Verizon Rolls Out Trade-In Offer to Match New Unlimited Plan

Feb 13, 2017, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a promotional trade-in offer that will give a free flagship-class phone to those who switch from other carriers. The offer requires users to select Verizon's new $80 monthly unlimited plan. It also requires a working trade-in that is fully paid off. Customers will need to port their number in from a competing service provider. Customers can then select the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, or LG V20. Verizon will provide up to $792 toward the cost of the phone spread out over 24 months. In order to get one of the above phones for free, switchers will need to trade-in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung Note 5, LG G5, LG V20, or the HTC 10. Customers who have an older phone to trade, such as the Apple iPhone SE, Samsung Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G4, LG V10, or HTC M9, will need to pay $5 per month for the "free" phones being offered by Verizon. Verizon Wireless didn't say how long this promotion will be available.


T-Mobile Brings Back Free Pizza and Tablet Promos

Feb 10, 2017, 8:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced several promotions that customers can take advantage of over the next few weeks. To start, the company is offering a free pizza to customers who use its T-Mobile Tuesdays rewards program. T-Mobile said every line enrolled in T-Mobile Tuesdays can score a free pizza from Papa John's during one of the next four weeks. During the other three weeks, customers will be given a coupon for 25% off a regular menu item at Papa John's. On Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), T-Mobile is also including a free Lyft ride and free movie rental from FandangoNOW. Separately, T-Mobile is bringing back its free tablet offer. Any customer who finances either an LG G Pad X 8.0 or Samsung Tab E on a T-Mobile Equipment Installment Plan is eligible for free monthly reimbursements over a two-year period. In order to get the free tablet, customers will have to put the device on a T-Mobile One or other mobile internet plan with at least 6 GB of high-speed data. T-Mobile said the free table offer is available for a limited time.


Google Pixel Gains Access to Home Control Functions

Feb 9, 2017, 4:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones to control some smart home products through the Google Assistant. Pixel owners can now interact with Belkin Wemo and Honeywell smart home products, for example. Users will need to add each smart home product manually to their Pixel via the app. Once added, people can utter requests such as, "Ok Google, turn the temperature up downstairs" to adjust the thermostat. This functionality requires the latest version of Google Play Services as well as the latest Google app.

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CPSC Wants Safer Batteries, But Admits to Limitations

Jan 25, 2017, 8:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

In the wake of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 recall, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission hopes to see more safeguards put in place with respect to battery-powered products. The CPSC commended Samsung and its carrier partners for the successful recall of the Note7, which has so far enjoyed a 97% return rate, but noted that the majority of the annual 400 consumer product safety recalls "result in a frustratingly and dangerously low consumer response rate." The agency plans to improve its ability to asses high-density battery technology and spot gaps in safety standards moving forward, and at the same time warned that the agency has limited capacity to handle such tasks. "CPSC is a vital health and safety agency, but we have nowhere near the resources and people power that Samsung does. Not even close," said Chairman Elliot F. Kaye in a statement. "In fact, Samsung employed more engineers and staff to work on just this issue than CPSC has employees at our entire agency. At a minimum, industry needs to learn from this experience and improve consumer safety by putting more safeguards in place during the design and manufacturing stages to ensure that technologies run by lithium-ion batteries deliver their benefits without the serious safety risks." Samsung this week explained that the Note7 was impacted by two separate battery flaws. The flaws led the device to sometimes overheat and catch fire. The company was forced to cancel the device in September 2016 and recall some 2.5 million units worldwide.


T-Mobile's 'Taxes Included' One Plan Now In Effect

Jan 23, 2017, 9:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said its T-Mobile One plan now includes all monthly taxes, surcharges, and fees. The company still charges those fees, but they are rolled into the advertised price of the plan in order to simplify what customers see on their bills each month. For example, a family of four that signs up today will pay $40 per line, or $160 total, with no additional fees visible on their monthly bill. Those fees are now included in the total price. The news was first announced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Trade Show. T-Mobile has been promoting it heavily via television commercials the last few weeks. In other T-Mobile news, the company's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, announced a free phone promotion. Starting today, customers who upgrade their phone, add a line, or get a new phone number can snag one of 15 different phones for free. Some of the options include the LG Aristo, Samsung Galaxy On5, ZTE Avid Trio, and Alcatel Fierce XL. Customers who port a number to MetroPCS will be able to pick a more expensive free handset, such as the HTC Desire 530, ZTE ZMax Pro, or LG K10. Last, MetroPCS is offering free data to those who sign up for its $50 plan. Typically, the $50 plan includes 5 GB of data. For a limited time, people who choose that plan will have access to 8 GB of data each month for at least a year. Additional 8 GB lines added to the same account will cost $30 per month.


Samsung Exec Says No Galaxy S8 At Mobile World Congress

Jan 23, 2017, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung mobile chief Koh Dong-jin said the company does not plan to announce its 2017 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, at next month's Mobile World Congress trade show. Samsung has in years past used the international event to show off new S-branded handsets, including the S6 in 2015 and S7 in 2016. Koh did not say when the Galaxy S8 will be announced, though it is widely expected to go on sale by April. Koh made the comments regarding the S8 to Reuters after the company announced the results of its probe into the Galaxy Note7 battery fire issue. Samsung blamed the fires on two separate battery defects. The company accepted responsibility for the issue and put in place an eight-step quality assurance program for assuring future batteries and smartphones are safe. "The lessons of this incident are deeply reflected in our culture and process," said Koh during the briefing. "Samsung Electronics will be working hard to regain consumer trust."


Samsung Blames Note7 Recall On 2 Battery Problems

Jan 22, 2017, 8:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said problems created during the manufacture of the Galaxy Note7's battery caused the phone to sometimes overheat and burst into flame. The company says two separate battery defects are at fault, but maintains nothing was wrong with the phone itself. In the first battery, a design flaw led the external casing to be too small to accommodate the internal components. The tight fit caused some electrodes to bend and others to break. This led the battery to short-circuit, overheat, and in some cases ignite. In the second battery, which was made by a third-party supplier, a welding defect introduced during manufacturing led to similar short-circuiting, overheating, and ignition problems. Samsung said this third-party battery was rushed to market, which may have played a role in creating the defect. Samsung tasked some 700 engineers to test some 200,000 Note7 smartphones for problems. The company checked various components, such as the USB port, wireless charging components, iris scanner, processor and radio, and other parts to ensure they didn't play a role in the phone's thermal problems. Samsung says three independent, external investigating firms reached the same conclusions. In sum, Samsung says the battery is to blame for the Galaxy Note7's fire problems and the resulting recall of the handset. The company has introduced new quality checks in its manufacturing processes — and demanded the same checks from its parts suppliers — to ensure problems like this do not arise again.


Samsung Galaxy S7, Myriad Others On Deck for Android 7

Jan 19, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has detailed which handsets will receive the Android 7 Nougat operating system update. Some of the core changes to the platform include a refreshed Quick Settings panel, OS-level support for split screen multitasking, four new performance modes, and Samsung Pass, which allows people to secure various aspects of their Samsung account with a fingerprint. The company this week began distributing the new operating system to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. It also plans to update the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, Note 5, Tab A with S Pen, Tab S2 (LTE), Galaxy A3, and Galaxy A8 to Android 7. As for timing, Samsung said this collection of devices should see Nougat at some point during the first half of the year.


Korea Won't Arrest Samsung Scion

Jan 18, 2017, 3:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A court in South Korea today rejected a request to arrest Samsung executive Lee Jae-yong. Prosecutors in a government bribery case wanted Lee held on counts of bribery, embezzlement, and perjury. The Seoul Central District Court didn't provide a reason for rejecting the prosecutor's request. The investigation pertains to a possible $36 million bribe Lee is alleged to have paid Korea President Park Geun-hye in order to facilitate the merger of several Samsung business units. Lee is being groomed to take over the family-run company at some point down the road. His arrest would have put the succession plan in jeopardy.


Researchers Devise Fire-Resistant Battery

Jan 18, 2017, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adding a flame-retardant to select elements of lithium ion batteries many prevent fires, according to researchers at Stanford University. The researchers figured out how to create a nonwoven electrospun separator out of triphenyl phosphate and coated it with a heat-activated polymer. The separator sits between the anode and cathode within batteries. The thermal-triggered coating would melt in the event a battery overheats, thus releasing the triphenyl phosphate flame retardant into the battery. The researchers claim this more or less suppresses combustion almost immediately. The researchers' method doesn't impact the battery under normal temperatures and can be fine-tuned to handle thermals generated under normal use. Such technology may have prevented the fire-catching Galaxy Note7 problem Samsung dealt with last year. The researchers note further safety testing is needed before the technology can be used in consumer devices.


Verizon to Further Cripple Thousands of Unreturned Note7s

Jan 17, 2017, 7:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is prepared to take another drastic step in order to convince thousands of customers still holding onto the Samsung Galaxy Note7 that it's time to return the phone. "In spite of our best efforts, there are still customers using the recalled phones who have not returned or exchanged their Note 7 to the point of purchase," said a Verizon spokesperson to Fortune. "The recalled Note 7s pose a safety risk to our customers and those around them." Verizon is prepared to put the handsets into a special category on its system that will allow them to call only 911 or Verizon customer service. Moreover, Verizon notes that in some cases the customers have already been reimbursed for the phone so Verizon might bill those customers the full retail cost. Verizon has already updated its variant of the Galaxy Note7 so the phone cannot be charged and is useless as mobile device. Samsung recalled the Note7 in September after a number of units overheated and caught fire.


S. Korean Authorities to Arrest Samsung Heir On Bribery Charges

Jan 16, 2017, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Prosecutors in South Korea plan to arrest Lee Jae-yong, the heir to Samsung's massive array of businesses. The special prosecutor's office is recommending Lee be charged with bribery, embezzlement and perjury, though the warrant must be approved by a Korean court before it can be served. The bribery charges pertain to alleged actions that took place in 2015 between Lee and President Park Geun-hye, South Korea's leader. Lee is said to have paid Park's government a total of $36 million in bribes in order to facilitate government approval of the merger of two lower Samsung affiliates. The merger helped pave the way for Lee's succession plan, which has been in the works for several years. Samsung is a family run business, though it is also publicly traded. If Lee is arrested and held, three co-CEOs will continue to run Samsung's day-to-day business operations, but Lee's path to succession will become much less clear. President Park has already been impeached by the Korean government, which is weighing whether or not to remove her from office. It appears Park may be the real target here. "We believe the bribery is linked to the president," said a spokesperson for the special prosecutor's office. Park is said to have profited from widespread corruption since taking office. Lee's arrest would be another black mark in Samsung's book, which has suffered in recent months from the Note7 recall.


FAA to Halt Galaxy Note7 Warnings Thanks to 96% Return Rate

Jan 11, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said this week that the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration are no longer requiring airlines to warn passengers about the Galaxy Note7 during boarding. Samsung says high participation of its refund and exchange program has helped it collect most outstanding devices. "By leveraging our digital technology to target each device, we've had over 96% of Galaxy Note7 phones returned to date," said the company in a statement. "Together with our wireless carriers, we have taken aggressive action to limit the remaining phones' ability to work as mobile devices, further enhancing participation in the recall." Over the last few weeks, U.S. carriers have distributed a system update to remaining Note7 handsets that prevents them from charging, effectively rendering them useless. Samsung thanked consumers, airlines, airports, and the government for their patience during the recall. Samsung was forced to cancel the phone after a number of units overheated and caught fire.


Samsung's Gear Smartwatches Now Work with iOS

Jan 7, 2017, 3:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has followed through on a promise it made last year and made the Gear S2, S3 and Gear Fit2 compatible with iOS. iPhone owners can download the Gear S app to use with their Samsung-branded wearable. Samsung says the exact Gear S features available to iOS phones will vary a bit by device, but all users can expect to use the GPS, speedometer, and other sensor for tracking workouts and monitor fitness. Fitness tools include distance and route traveled, pace, calories, and heart rate. The Samsung Gear S application is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy A5 and A3

Jan 5, 2017, 6:39 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 7, 2017, 7:11 PM

Samsung is bringing much of its acclaimed S-series design and features to its much more affordable A-series in 2017. In the A3, A5, and A7, you'll find a premium metal-and-glass design, water resistance, fingerprint security, Samsung Pay, Super AMOLED displays, and USB-C. What are they like in person? Read on for our first impressions.

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Samsung Intros Refreshed Galaxy A Series

Jan 2, 2017, 3:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, A5, and A3, three new handsets that fill in the middle of Samsung's lineup of Android phones. All three phones feature metal frames, glass front and back panels, IP68 protection against water and dust, dedicated camera buttons, and support for Samsung Pay. Each phone ships with Android 6 Marshmallow and supports memory cards up to 256 GB.

  • A7: The largest of the new Galaxy A series (pictured), the A7 has a 5.7-inch full HD display with a 1.9 GHz octa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. It boasts front and rear 16-megapixel cameras, both of which have an aperture of f/1.9 for better low-light performance. The A7 includes a 3,600mAh battery with rapid charging.
  • A5: The A5 lands in the middle of the Galaxy A series with a 5.2-inch full HD display, 1.9 GHz octa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. It includes front and rear 16-megapixel cameras. The A5 packs a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging.
  • A3: The A3 is the smallest of the three Galaxy A handsets with a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, and a 1.6 GHz octa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. It includes a 13-megapixel main camera and an 8-megapixel front camera, both at f/1.9. The A3 includes a 2,350mAh battery with rapid charging.
Samsung said the Galaxy A series will ship in Russia later this month with other markets to follow later.


Samsung Releases Focus, a Combined Email and Calendar App

Dec 30, 2016, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently made a new productivity app called Samsung Focus available to its Android devices. Focus handles basic productivity functions, including email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and memos all in a single application. Focus supports Exchange, IMAP, and POP email services with functions such as push synchronization (email, contacts, calendar events) and support for multiple accounts. People will be able to use their Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Exchange, Office 365, IBM Notes, and other email services with Focus. Users can easily join conference calls and add tasks/events from emails, and take advantage of unified search across all the functions. Samsung Focus is free to download from the Google Play Store for Samsung smartphones running Android 6.0.1 and up.


T-Mobile Has Neutered Its Variant of the Galaxy Note7

Dec 29, 2016, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile this week pushed a device-killing, over-the-air update to all remaining Galaxy Note7 devices still being used by its customers. The update prevents the battery from charging, effectively rendering the phone useless. The idea is to convince people still using the Note7 to trade it in immediately. The Note7 suffers from a battery issue that may lead to overheating and fires. In some cases, Note7 owners reported car fires and house fires. Samsung was forced to recall the device earlier this year. T-Mobile competitors AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all plan to deliver the same update during the first week of January. All carriers are offering replacement devices and/or refunds.


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