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printed November 29, 2015
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Unwired Planet Bests Samsung and Huawei In Patent Trial

Nov 24, 2015, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Unwired Planet landed its first courtroom victory in the U.K. this week after a judge agreed that Samsung and Huawei are violating patents owned by the company. Unwired Planet has 16 employees and 2,000 patents it purchased from Ericsson in 2013. The company filed a similar suit against Google, but Google settled the charges. The judge overseeing the Samsung/Huawei case deemed the patents "essential" to 4G communications, however, which means they must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. Unwired Planet said the ruling "goes a considerable way towards validating [our] portfolio." Samsung maintains that it is not violating the patents. Huawei didn't immediately comment on the decision. Tech companies often use patent-based litigation to win fees from competitors. Unwired Planet is a patent-holding company and doesn't make or sell telecommunications equipment or mobile phones.

Samsung Pay Gains Support for Chase Cards

Nov 23, 2015, 9:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

JPMorgan Chase account holders can now use their cards with Samsung Pay. Samsung has added support for Visa-backed Chase credit/debit cards to its mobile payment service. Chase was one of several prominent banks missing from the service at launch. Samsung Pay is more widely available than Apple Pay and Android Pay because it uses both NFC and MST technology to interact with retail payment terminals. NFC is more limited in scale, while MST is practically everywhere. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5.

LG to Jump Into Mobile Payments Fray

Nov 19, 2015, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG has indicated it plans to offer a mobile payment service called LG Pay. The company has signed agreements with the largest credit card issuers in South Korea, Shinhan Card and KB Bookman Card. LG said LG Pay will work with all its phones, but it did not describe what technology it will use to power the system. Apple Pay and Android Pay use NFC, while Samsung Pay relies on NFC and MST for interacting with retail terminals. LG will launch LG Pay in Korea first, but the timeframe is unclear.

Google Adds Cellular Support to Android Wear Platform

Nov 11, 2015, 9:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Android Wear platform now broadly supports cellular connections for making calls, sending messages, and syncing data, says Google. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, which was announced last month, is the first Android Wear device to support cellular networks. LG, Samsung, and others have sold cellular watches in the past, but none ran Android Wear. Google said cellular-equipped Android watches will automatically switch from Bluetooth or WiFi to cellular when needed for connectivity. Google fully expects people will be able to use their Android smartwatches to answer calls, read emails, dictate text messages, and manage their fitness all while on the go. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are offering cellular service to the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE. The watch is available for pre-order starting today.

Samsung Exynos 8 Processor Includes LTE Modem

Nov 11, 2015, 7:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 11, 2015, 7:12 PM

Samsung today introduced the Exynos 8 Octa processor, a system-on-a-chip that is the first from Samsung to also feature a Category 12/13 LTE modem. The chip is made with Samsung's 14nm process. The Exynos 8 Octa supports four custom cores Samsung designed based on ARM's v8 architecture, which are paired with four Cortex A53 cores. The Exynos 8 is 30% faster and 10% more power efficient than the older Exynos 7 CPU, and supports wireless download speeds up to 600Mbps. Samsung paired the Exynos 8 with ARM's Mali-T880 GPU to power 3D gaming and virtual reality. Samsung says the SoC delivers rich multimedia experiences. The Exynos 8 Octa is intended for mid- to high-end smartphones. Samsung expects to ship it in volume by the end of the year. Samsung used its Exynos processors — rather than Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips — in the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5.

More Android Phones to Save Data via Opera Max

Nov 9, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opera today said a total of 14 smartphone makers are now preinstalling its Opera Max data savings software on their devices. Max can reduce data use on Android smartphones by about 50% by compressing images, video, and other data as it transits the network. This includes apps outside of the browser, such as Instagram and YouTube. The list of phone makers putting Opera Max on their phones includes Acer, Cherry Mobile, Evercoss, Fly, Hisense, Mobiistar, Micromax, Oppo, Prestigio, Samsung, Symphony, Tecno, TWZ, and Xiaomi. Opera Max is intended mostly for people using metered data connections. Opera hopes to see Opera Max on 100 million Android phones by 2017.

Sprint Offering Smartphone Buyers Free Amazon Prime

Nov 6, 2015, 9:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today unfurled a promotion that will award customers a year of Amazon Prime for free with the purchase of a new Samsung smartphone. Customers need to purchase or lease one of the newer Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, or Note 5. Sprint will then send a text message with a link to Amazon Prime, which customers may redeem for free. Amazon Prime normally carries a price of $99 per year. Prime includes free two-day shipping, unlimited access to streaming Prime Videos and Prime Music, as well as unlimited storage in Prime Photos. Sprint is also offering to lease the Galaxy S6 for $10 per month with a qualifying trade-in. This offer will be available for a limited time.

Samsung Gear S2, LG Watch Urbane First to Support AT&T's NumberSync

Nov 2, 2015, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said the Samsung Gear S2 and LG Watch Urbane will be available online Nov. 6. These two LTE-connected wearables will be the first to support NumberSync, the service from AT&T that lets customers send and receive texts, as well as make and receive calls on the wearable from their primary phone number. The Gear S2 (pictured) will reach AT&T stores Nov. 20 for $0 down and $15 per month with an installment plan, or for $199.99 with a two-year contract. Cellular service for the Gear S2 costs $10 per month when added to a Mobile Share Value plan. Pricing for the LG Watch Urbane is identical, but it reaches stores Nov. 13.

Samsung Pay Wins Support from More Banks

Oct 27, 2015, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 27, 2015, 12:25 PM

Samsung today said Samsung Pay will soon be supported by more financial institutions. This means a broader range of consumers will be able to add their credit or debit cards to Samsung Pay. Some of the new banks include Chase, PNC Bank, TD Bank, SunTrust, Fifth Third Bank, First Hawaiian, Key Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union, Virginia Credit Union, Associated Bank, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, and People’s United Bank. Each of these card issuers will be added to Samsung Pay over the next few months. The American Express, MasterCard, and Visa payment networks already support Samsung Pay, and Samsung said Discover will join early next year. Moreover, Samsung Pay will soon add support for gift cards, loyalty cards, and store-issued credit cards. Samsung Pay is compatible with NFC- and MST-equipped terminals, unlike Apple Pay and Android Pay, which only work with NFC. Samsung says about three-quarters of payments made so far via Samsung Pay have been at MST-equipped terminals. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 on AT&T, Sprint. T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

Chase Bank Reveals Its Own Mobile Wallet Plans

Oct 26, 2015, 4:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

JPMorgan Chase plans to launch a competitor to Apple Pay and Android Pay that will allow cardholders to make payments with their smartphones. Chase Pay is expected to debut on Android and iOS devices soon, though the company won't market it aggressively until next year. In its favor, Chase has signed a deal with the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a group containing some of the country's largest retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy. Many of the MCX retailers have so far shunned Apple Pay, limiting Apple's ability to push into more stores. Chase promised it would cut MCX members' costs if they sided with Chase, and it is also offering higher levels of security for Chase Pay merchants. The financial institution hopes to see merchants offer their own customers benefits for using Chase Pay rather than rival mobile payment services. Chase cardholders may continue to use Apple Pay, which Chase still supports. Chase has not yet added support for Android Pay and Samsung Pay, however, both of which launched in the last month or so. JPMorgan Chase is the country's largest bank and counts about 94 million credit and debit cards.

Microsoft May Give Windows 10 Mobile Payments

Oct 20, 2015, 2:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft is weighing what to do with the mobile wallet app that's part of the Windows 10 Mobile platform. The operating system already has a basic wallet app (since Windows Phone 8) for storing credit card and loyalty card data, but it stops short of making mobile payments. Joe Belfiore, corporate VP of Microsoft's operating systems group, said, "Windows is going to have a wallet concept. You've seen it on phones before. We're going to continue to iterate it. We're going to think about the range of payment scenarios." Belfiore did not say if or when any type of mobile payment service might launch, nor what technology it might rely on. However, the spec page for the recently announced Lumia 950 says the smartphone includes "secure NFC for payment." When asked exactly what that referred to, Microsoft told Phone Scoop, "We have nothing to share." Belfiore admitted that mobile payments are not easy to implement. "[Mobile payments] is just one of these things that is a massive network of complexity," Belfiore said. "I think the biggest challenge is, what effect will cause enough of the right things to align that you’ll get a good experience with all the places that you want it to happen in?" Apple, Google, and Samsung all offer mobile payment platforms that vary a bit in how they function. Despite support from handset makers, carriers, retailers, and financial institutions, mobile payments have yet to go mainstream. Even so, it would behoove Microsoft to make sure its smartphone platform can compete with the industry leaders.

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Verizon Says Samsung Pay Update Pushing This Week

Oct 20, 2015, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today confirmed that it is enabling Samsung Pay on the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and S6 Edge+ through a software update. "After the update, customers will be able to download and install the [Samsung Pay] app from the Google Play Store," said Verizon in an email to Phone Scoop. "The update will be pushed out to customers in phases this week." Verizon said S6 and S6 Edge owners can manually download the update via the system settings. Verizon's competitors have already enabled Samsung Pay on their Samsung handsets. The service supports both NFC and MST for mobile payments and is available at a wide range of retail locations. Samsung Pay competes directly with Android Pay on Android smartphones. Android Pay is limited to NFC-equipped retail terminals.

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T-Mobile Says Samsung Gear S2 Reaches Stores Nov. 15

Oct 15, 2015, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said customers can buy the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch online and in stores starting Nov. 15. T-Mobile is charging $360 for the watch, but also offers it for $15 per month for 24 months. Service costs $5 per month.

Verizon Kicks Off Preorders for Samsung Gear S2

Oct 15, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 15, 2015, 8:21 AM

Verizon Wireless today began accepting preorders for the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch. The wearable, announced earlier this year, runs Samsung's Tizen platform and includes a cellular radio for calls and other functions. The smartwatch costs $350 at full retail, or $300 with a two-year contract. Service for the Gear S2 costs $5 per month when added to a smartphone plan. The device will reach stores Nov 6.

Capital One Adds NFC-Based Payments to Android App

Oct 14, 2015, 10:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Capital One today added tap-and-go mobile payment powers to its Android application, independent of services such as Android Pay or Samsung Pay. Capital One cardholders can add their debit card or credit card to the Capital One Android mobile app and make secure payments anywhere contactless payments are accepted. The app supports receipt capture for credit card transactions and makes use of the MasterCard Digital Enablement Service and Visa Token Service platforms for security. The app requires Android 4.4 and up, as well as on-board NFC. Capital One says the contactless payment feature is compatible with most modern Android handsets. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store and competes directly with Google's own mobile payment offering.

Samsung Shows Off Second Tizen Smartphone

Oct 14, 2015, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed the Z3, a new smartphone running its homegrown Tizen platform. The handset makes use of design language similar to that of the Galaxy S series and comes in black, gold, or silver. The Z3 has a 5-inch HD screen, 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and a 2,600mAh battery. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with Samsung software such as Beauty Face Mode, and a 5-megapixel front camera with automatic selfie capture. Samsung's Tizen platform is a Linux-based, open-source operating system. Like the first Tizen phone, the Z3 will not be sold in the U.S.: it is limited to quad-band GSM and dual-band HSPA. It is launching in India for about $130.

Samsung Cleared In Nvidia Patent Case

Oct 9, 2015, 2:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is not infringing on patents held by Nvidia, says the U.S. International Trade Commission. Nvidia filed the lawsuit more than a year ago, wherein it claimed Samsung's Exynos chips made use of Nvidia's technology without authorization or payment. Nvidia made similar claims against Qualcomm, targeting the company's Snapdragon processors. A law judge cleared Samsung of violating two of three Nvidia patents, and declared the third invalid. With an initial ruling in the books, the decision will be reviewed by the full ITC council before a final judgment is rendered. The ITC has the power to enact import bans and is often used as a venue for tech companies to play out patent-related squabbles.

Apple: A9-Driven Battery Variances Limited to 2-3%

Oct 9, 2015, 7:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has responded to a series of claims that suggest there are palpable differences in battery life produced by the Samsung- and TSMC-sourced A9 processor in its new iPhones. Both Samsung and TSMC are making the A9 processor for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung's version uses a 14nm process and has a slightly smaller footprint than the TSMC 16nm chip. Several benchmark tests (AnTuTu, Geekbench, et al) imply that Samsung's A9 drains the battery up to two hours sooner than TSMC's A9. Apple says such tests aren't realistic and real-world variances are in the order of 2-3% — or about 12 to 15 minutes per day under normal usage. "Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state," said Apple in a statement provided to Techcrunch. "It's a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other." Such variances fall into acceptable norms for most consumer electronics.

Samsung Says LoopPay Hack Didn't Harm Customer Data

Oct 8, 2015, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said a recent hack of subsidiary LoopPay did not impact Samsung Pay, its mobile payment service. Samsung purchased LoopPay in February to bolster its Samsung Pay product, which is able to use NFC and LoopPay's MST technology to make mobile purchases in retail stores. "Samsung Pay was not impacted and at no point was any personal payment information at risk," said Samsung in a statement. "This was an isolated incident that targeted the LoopPay office network, which is a physically separate network from Samsung Pay." Samsung Pay launched just a few weeks ago. It allows owners of the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 to pay for goods and services at a wide range of businesses around the U.S. LoopPay's MST technology makes Samsung Pay much more widely available than Android Pay and Apple Pay, which are limited to terminals with NFC.

Verizon Says Support for Samsung Pay On the Way

Oct 6, 2015, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today voiced support for Samsung Pay and said the service will be added to compatible phones through a future software update. Samsung Pay initially launched with support from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but Verizon only said it was "consiodering" the mobile payment service. Verizon did not say what delayed its commitment to the app, but now it is on board. Samsung Pay will be added to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and S6 Edge+. Verizon didn't say when it plans to deliver the update.

Sony to Spin Off Camera Sensor Unit

Oct 6, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it plans to split its imaging sensor business from the rest of the company. The move is meant to help the unit remain competitive against OmniVision and Samsung, its chief rivals. Earlier this year, Sony committed $374 billion to bolster the unit's manufacturing capacity in order to meet growing demand for high-quality sensors. Sony's sensors are found in a range of smartphones and tablets, including the Apple iPhone. Sony has not set a price for the unit, nor said if there are any initial bidders for the business. Sony will hold onto its smartphone and PlayStation businesses for now.

HTC: Monthly Security Updates Not Likely

Oct 5, 2015, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC says it is on board with the concept of monthly security updates, but admits the reality is a different story. Jason Makenzie, president of HTC America, said the company "will push for them, but unrealistic for anyone to say guaranteed every month." The comment came in response to question posed to Makenzie about HTC handset security. Earlier this year, Google announced plans to push monthly security updates to Android handsets in the wake of the Stagefright vulnerability. Samsung and LG quickly followed suit. In order for the updates to reach HTC handsets, HTC has to take the security patch from Google, build it into their platform for each handset, and then seek carrier approval for those updated platforms. The process takes months from start to finish, and, thanks to sagging sales, HTC phones likely have a lower priority within their carrier partner labs than those from Samsung and LG. HTC today reported a near 50% drop in revenue for the quarter on weak smartphone sales, and recorded a loss of $138 million.

Wireless Companies Agree to Support More Remote Wipe Tools

Oct 2, 2015, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.

Cricket Jumps Into 1,600 Target Stores

Oct 1, 2015, 9:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 1, 2015, 12:51 PM

Cricket Wireless today announced a significant expansion of its retail footprint thanks to Target. Beginning Oct. 25, Cricket handsets and services will be available in some 1,600 Target stores around the country. Consumers will be able to purchase smartphones from HTC, LG, Samsung, and ZTE for prices ranging between $50 and $130, as well as SIM cards for BYOD customers. Cricket says the expansion means it now has a presence in 9,000 retail locations around the U.S.

Samsung's Gear S2 and S2 Classic Go On Sale Oct. 2

Sep 30, 2015, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said its latest set of smartwatches, the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic (pictured), will reach U.S. stores on Friday, Oct. 2. The S2 will cost $299.99 and the S2 Classic will cost $349.99. The wearable will first be sold at a select number of retailers, including,, Best Buy, and Macy's. According to Samsung, the cellular variant of the S2 and S2 Classic will be available from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless later this year. Pricing for the wireless model has not yet been revealed. The second-generation Gear smartwatches run Samsung's Tizen operating system and feature a unique rotating bezel that cycles through the user interface.

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BlackBerry Shows Off the Priv

Sep 29, 2015, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today posted some official images of the forthcoming Priv smartphone. The Priv is a vertical slider that runs Android. It offers a full QWERTY keyboard and can be managed by BlackBerry's enterprise software, making it a secure handset for business users. The images shared by BlackBerry clearly reveal a curved display, similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. BlackBerry will share more details about the phone in the weeks ahead.

Samsung to Pour Milk Video Down the Drain Nov. 20

Sep 28, 2015, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today indicated via the Google Play Store that it will discontinue its Milk Video app and service for Android smartphones. "While we remain committed to providing premium entertainment services, we have decided to end support for the Samsung Milk Video app as of November 20, 2015," said Samsung. The app debuted about a year ago and offered video content from select providers. People who've installed the app will not be able to use it to watch videos after Nov. 20. Samsung did not provide a reason for canceling the app. Milk Video was no preloaded on some of Samsung's most recent handsets, such as the Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6 Edge+. Samsung's Milk Music application is still available to Android devices.

Samsung Pay Launches In the US

Sep 28, 2015, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today made its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, available to U.S. consumers. The service is compatible with only a few phones, including the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+, S6 Edge, and S6. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular support Samsung pay, but Verizon Wireless does not. Consumers can add their American Express, Bank of America, Citibank, or USBank MasterCard or Visa credit/debit card to the service, but it lacks support for Chase at launch. Samsung Pay differs from Apple Pay and Android Pay in one significant respect: it supports both NFC and MST transactions. MST, in particular, is more widely available than NFC and works with most regular credit card terminals used by retailers around the country. Samsung Pay is secured via fingerprint, and credit card information is tokenized so it is protected during transactions. Samsung will reward Note 5 and S6 Edge+ owners who activate Samsung Pay with a free wireless charger or a free wallet flip cover (through Oct. 11). Samsung Pay is free to set up and use.

Samsung Offering Up to $120 Toward Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+

Sep 27, 2015, 9:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it will make several monthly device payments for people who buy a new Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6 Edge, or S6. Under the terms of the promotion, Samsung will reward customers with up to $120 in payments towards their new phone as long as they register with Samsung and buy the device through an installment plan with their carrier. Customers must purchase the Galaxy smartphone between Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, and claim the promotion by Oct. 16. Samsung will then cover device payments through the end of the year. Further, Samsung is offer a $100 Google Play gift card to anyone who turns in a working iPhone (4s and up) when they purchase the new Galaxy handset. The offer is valid with most U.S. wireless network operators, with the exception of AT&T.

Samsung and Expedia Partner On Travel App

Sep 23, 2015, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and Expedia today announced Expedia for Samsung, an app meant to help Samsung Galaxy device owners find and book trips. The app features what Expedia calls the Samsung Collection, a launch screen that helps people discover new destinations. The app also offers deals exclusive to Samsung device owners, such as the best rates on hotel pricing. Expedia for Samsung offers a dedicated customer support line, too, that can be used as needed for help during trips. Expedia is offering early adopters $50 off their first hotel stay (minimum $250 stay required). Expedia for Samsung is free to download from the Galaxy App Store.

Verizon Talks Up Android Pay, Says Still Looking at Samsung Pay

Sep 18, 2015, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today took the time to tout the benefits of Android Pay, the new mobile payment app and service from Google. Android Pay is a relaunch of Softcard, which Google bought from Verizon (and AT&T/T-Mobile) earlier this year. Verizon subscribers who own NFC-equipped Android handsets can download the Android Pay app from the Google Play Store, associate their debit/credit card, and make payments at a number of participating retailers, such as Macy's and Jamba Juice. Verizon said it is still evaluating whether or not it will support Samsung's mobile payment service, called Samsung Pay. Verizon already supports Apple Pay on the iPhone.

Samsung Makes S Health Available to All Androids

Sep 18, 2015, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently updated its S Health application and in so doing made it compatible with all Android devices running 4.4 KitKat and up. The app was previously only available to Samsung-branded handsets. S Health lets people track diet and exercise, set fitness goals, and manage training programs. S Health is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Court Says Samsung Phones Should Have Been Banned

Sep 17, 2015, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

An appeals court today said a lower court was wrong to deny Apple's request of an injunction against select Samsung smartphones. In May 2014, a jury awarded Apple $120 million in a case against Samsung concerning patents. Despite the victory, the court did not agree with Apple's wish to ban the offending handsets. The U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the lower court "abused its discretion" by denying the injunction. The appeals court did not detail what steps Apple may take next, nor did it say if the ban should now be put in place. Apple did not immediately offer comment on the decision.

Bank of America Apps Add Biometric Authentication

Sep 15, 2015, 10:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Bank of America today updated its Android and iOS apps with biometric security. Consumers who own handsets with fingerprint sensors — such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Apple iPhone 6 — can now use their fingerprint to secure the Bank of America app. In addition to fingerprint login, the BofA app includes a redesigned account overview screen and security center, and a bank-by-appointment feature for setting up in-person meetings. The Bank of America app is free to download via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

Cricket Kicks Off Fall Promotions, Adds HTC Desire 520

Sep 10, 2015, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced availability and pricing details for the HTC Desire 520 in addition to a slew of other discounts and deals. The Desire 520 reaches Cricket stores Sept. 11 for $99.99. The 520 is an entry-level Android handset. Cricket is also offering significant discounts to new customers who port their number from another carrier. For example, it will drop the price of the LG Risio from $49.99 to $19.99 and the price of the LG Stylo from $149.99 to $99.99. Customers can grab the Samsung Galaxy S4 for $299, the S5 for $399, or the S6 for $499. Last, Cricket is holding open enrollment for its device protection program, called Cricket Protect. The service covers damage and other issues for $7 to $10 per month, depending on the handset.

Samsung Reveals 6GB High-Speed RAM Chips

Sep 9, 2015, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is preparing 6GB memory chips for flagship smartphones and tablets. Samsung today announced it has begun production of 12-gigabit, low power double data rate 4 mobile DRAM based on its 20nm processes. The 12Gb LPDDR4 chip follows the same path set by Samsung's 8Gb module, announced last year. It allows smartphone vendors to create RAM modules up to 6GB by pairing two together. Today's flagships include up to 4GB of RAM, though many still ship with 3GB. According to Samsung, the new 12Gb chip is 30% faster than the previous 8Gb LPDDR4 chip and is 20% more power efficient. The module supports input/output data rates of up to 4.26Gbps, which is swift enough to support 4K video recording and playback, and continuous shooting of images exceeding 20 megapixels. Samsung said it expects to deliver 6GB modules to phone makers in the near future.

Samsung to Slice 10% of Workforce at Korea Headquarters

Sep 8, 2015, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is prepared to lay off as much as 10% of the employees at its headquarters in South Korea, says the Korea Economic Daily. The company is likely targeting employees in the human resources, public relations, and finance departments. At last count, Samsung had about 99,000 employees at its South Korea headquarters, which means close to 10,000 workers may lose their jobs. The move is meant to help control costs. Samsung's latest wave of smartphones (Galaxy S6, S6 edge) haven't resonated with consumers as the company hoped, and Samsung has seen sales numbers drop for five months straight. Since April, Samsung has lost more than $40 billion in market value. Samsung did not confirm the Korea Economic Daily's report, which cited unnamed sources.

Verizon Looking to Be First to Deploy 5G

Sep 8, 2015, 8:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless wants to stay ahead of the curve and be among the first to launch fifth-generation (or 5G) wireless network technology. The company plans to begin field tests at its Innovation Centers, which are dedicated sandboxes for testing apps and services, located in San Francisco and Waltham, Mass., at some point in 2016. Verizon will use gear supplied by partners Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Cisco, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung to conduct the trials. Moreover, Verizon expects to reach "some level of commercial deployment" as soon as 2017, according to Roger Gurnani, chief information and technology architect for Verizon. Verizon's timeline is ambitious, especially considering 5G hasn't been defined. The International Telecommunications Union only agreed on the basic framework for developing what will eventually become the 5G wireless data specification in June of this year. The 5G roadmap is being referred to as IMT-2020, which the ITU hopes to have finalized by the year 2020. The core definition of 5G will be wireless networks that can transmit data at speeds up to 20Gbps. Most of today's LTE networks are allowing for connections as fast as 50Mbps in real-world conditions. Verizon's Gurnani said the company is targeting real-world speeds that are 30 to 50 times faster than current LTE 4G. Verizon didn't say if it intends to adhere to the ITU's vision for what 5G technology should truly be. Verizon is the first U.S. network operator to put 5G on its public roadmap, but others are sure to follow quickly.

Gear S2 Ships In October, Works with Non-Samsung Phones

Sep 3, 2015, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said its Gear S2 smartwatch will ship worldwide beginning in October. Exact pricing details for the various models, however, remain elusive. The wearable is made to serve as a companion for Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, but the Gear S2 will work with any Android handset running Android 4.4 and up. Previous Samsung wearables required Samsung handsets. Expanding to all Android phones gives the Gear S2 a much larger potential customer base.

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Hands On with Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch

Sep 3, 2015, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's second-generation Gear S smartwatch is a well-conceived and executed wearable. The snazzy UI is leagues better than Android Wear and the hardware isn't too bad, either. Here are our first impressions.

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