Google is rolling out an update to the Google Keyboard application with a handful of new functions. To start, Android users can now adjust the height of the keyboard between short and tall, with five different heights available in between. This feature reflects what one seen on LG phones for several years. The keyboard can be set to left- or right-handed mode, allows full-word deletion, and adds a dedicated phone-like number pad for faster number entry. The Google Keyboard 5.0 is free to download from the Google Play Store.
LG Innotek revealed a new fingerprint sensor that works through glass, allowing LG and other smartphone makers to create devices free from buttons. LG Innotek was able to do this by carving a small furrow out of the back side of the glass. It then glued the sensor in this furrow with a new, strengthened adhesive. LG Innotek says the embedded fingerprint sensor is just as accurate and quick as those within physical buttons, and has a false positive rate of 0.002%. LG Innotek claims the cover panel glass is still impact resistant, despite the thinner area where the fingerprint sensor is located. The company believes the solution will give phone designers more freedom to innovate, for example, by creating waterproof, buttonless phones. LG Innotek did not say when it expects its under-the-glass fingerprint sensor to ship. Synaptics developed a similar solution last year.
LG Display plans to invest $396 million to improve its ability to manufacture flexible OLED displays and OLED lighting panels. The company will sink about $272 million into an existing facility in order to boost production capacity, and about $123 million to build a new production line dedicated to OLED lighting. Last year, the company committed close to $1 billion to build a new OLED factory. LG uses flexible OLED displays in some of its smartphones and wearable devices. The G5, LG's latest flagship handset, uses an LCD panel rather than OLED.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge. It is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. The Hydro Reach is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device has a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Hydro Reach will go on sale April 15 from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. It will cost $99. Boost and Virgin also plan to add the LG Stylo 2 and Samsung Galaxy J7, both announced earlier this year, to their rosters. The Stylo 2 will reach Boost stores April 15 and Virgin stores May 9. It will cost $179.99. The Galaxy J7 hits Boost stores on April 15 for $229.99, and Virgin on April 19.
T-Mobile kicked off a new promotion that offers 12 GB of data for two lines for $80 per month. Each line gets 6 GB of data in addition to unlimited talk and text. The deal also includes the standard list of T-Mobile features, such as Binge On, Music Freedom, and Data Stash. T-Mobile is also offering the LG K7 and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime to customers with no downpayment. The two-line plan will be available starting April 8. T-Mobile didn't say how long it will be available.
T-Mobile today announced the launch of Enhanced Voice Services, new technology that the company says delivers improved call quality. T-Mobile claims EVS improves call reliability in weak coverage areas, which means fewer dropped calls. It also improves clarity beyond what is produced by HD Voice thanks to an expanded audio range. EVS functions on LTE and WiFi, and doesn't require both the caller and recipient to have high-quality connections. Moreover, T-Mobile customers can enjoy EVS even when calling nonT-Mobile lines. EVS was installed on the LG G5 out of the box. The service is being added to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge through a software update. T-Mobile says the service will reach seven more phones by the end of the year.
Cricket Wireless today announced a new retail partnership with Aaron's that will make Cricket's SIM card starter kit available at about 2,000 Aaron's locations around the country. Aaron's offers goods on a lease-to-own basis. Consumers who lease a smartphone from Aaron's can now activate that phone on Cricket's network right at the Aaron's retail store. Aaron's online lineup of devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, LG G3, and Motorola Moto G. Lease prices are expensive. For example, Aaron's lists the Galaxy S5 retail price at $840. (The Galaxy S5 is available new from retailers such as Amazon.com for $360, unlocked.) Monthly lease costs from Aaron's run $90 per month for 18 months, which totals about $1,620. Finance charges are about $780 in this example. These prices don't include Cricket's service fees, which start at $40 per month.
LG has made an alternate home screen experience available to G5 owners that brings back the app drawer. The G5 initially launched with LG's UX 5.0 home screen experience, which removed the app drawer and kept all apps on the home screen panels. The Home 4.0 home screen experience is available to download from the LG SmartWorld app on G5 handsets. Once installed, it returns the app drawer to the home screen, leaving the panels themselves available for widgets and other customizations. Within the app drawer, G5 owners can arrange and hide apps however they wish. Users can switch between the 5.0 UX and Home 4.0 whenever they wish. The more traditional home screen experience is free to download from LG.
LG said its G5 smartphone will be available for sale in Korea starting March 31, with the U.S. to follow April 1. The G5 will reach other regions, including Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, over time. LG says more than 200 carriers plan to sell the phone. In the U.S., that includes AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, all of which will offer the phone on April 1. Along with the G5 itself, LG plans to sell the accompanying modules and accessories, called LG Friends. The two most notable Friends as the CAM Plus and Hi-Fi Plus, which are modules that plug directly into the bottom of the G5. The CAM Plus will be available in the U.S., but LG hasn't said if the Hi-Fi Plus will also be available. Other Friends include the 360 VR headset, 360 CAM, Rolling Bot, Tone Platinum, and H3 by B&O. Pricing for the LG G5 varies by carrier. The phone has a 5.3-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C.
Verizon Wireless is now taking preorders for the LG G5. The phone reaches stores on April 1. The company is offering the phone for installments of $26 per month for 24 months or the full retail price of $624. For a limited time, people who purchase the G5 can get the LG 360 CAM and LG battery bundle for free. The camera can take 360-degree video, while the battery bundle includes a spare battery and charging cradle. The other major U.S. carriers are also launching the G5 on April 1 with similar offers.
Following AT&T, Verizon Wireless today said customers can place orders for the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition with LTE. This wearable, delayed by several months due to manufacturing issues, has its own cellular connection to Verizon's network and can be used fully independent from a smartphone. It can make calls and send messages from the owner's main cell number. The wearable runs Android Wear and costs $499. Verizon will drop the price by $50 for those willing to sign a contract. It costs $5 per month to add the watch to an existing service plan. For a limited time, Verizon will sell the watch for $399 when purchased with the LG G5 or V10 smartphones.
Verizon Wireless added the LG K4 to its smartphone roster today. The phone is available online for $120, or $5 per month on an installment plan. The K4 is already being sold by Verizon's prepaid business as the Optimus Zone 3 and by Cricket Wireless as the Spree. The K4 includes a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, and 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The phone has 1 GB of RAM and improves storage from 8 GB on the Zone 3 / Spree to 16 GB in the K4. It supports memory cards up to 32 GB. LG's Quick Memo tool is on board, as are some of its camera modes, including Gesture Shot, Burst Shot, and Selfie Light. The K4 also has Knock On and Knock Code, as well as LG's customizable keyboard. The K4 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop.
Verizon Wireless is rolling out the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the LG V10 smartphone. According to Verizon, the update installs all the expected features of Google's latest platform, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, revised permissions, and silent mode. Verizon did not call out any new software unique to the V10. The update is available as an over-the-air download and Verizon recommends users connect to WiFi before installing.
Sprint said it will begin accepting preorders for the LG G5 on March 24. The device will reach stores April 1. Sprint is offering the phone via installment plan, with a contract, or at full price. Monthly payments for the phone will be $24 for 24 months; the retail price is $576. Customers willing to sign a two-year agreement can snag the G5 for $150 after a $50 mail-in rebate. Sprint says it will offer a minimum of $150 towards the G5 for phone trade-ins. Early adopters will be rewarded with a battery bundle, which includes a spare battery, charger, and USB-C to micro USB adapter. Sprint will sell the 360 CAM for $199.99 and the CAM Plus module for $69.99. Sprint said the phone is available with several of its ongoing promotions, such as half off service rates plans for those who switch from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless. Sprint will also pay ETFs and other switching fees up to $650.
AT&T customers interested in the LG G5 can preorder the modular smartphone starting today. The device will reach AT&T stores on April 1. AT&T is offering the G5 for $22.97 on an AT&T Next 24 installment plan (30 payments). Customers who want two LG G5 handsets can score the second for free as long as one of the two phones is activated on a new line and both are financed on the AT&T Next 24 plan. AT&T will reimburse the cost of the second phone spread out over the 30 monthly payments. The full retail price is $689. AT&T is also bringing back the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition with LTE. This wearable supports AT&T's NumberSync service and can be used with the customer's phone for taking calls and sending messages all from the same wireless number. AT&T will sell the LG smartwatch to customers for $99.99 with a two-year agreement when purchased with an LG G5 on an AT&T Next plan. Alternately, customers can purchase the watch for $0 down with 20 payments of $18. LG halted sales of the watch last year after discovering manufacturing problems. The issues have since been resolved.
T-Mobile today said customers can order the LG G5 online starting March 29. The phone will reach stores April 1. T-Mobile is offering several incentives to encourage early adopters. Customers who buy the G5 before April 5 will receive the LG 360 CAM ($200) for free. The 360 CAM lets people capture 360-degree video. Customers who by the G5 before April 17 will receive a battery bundle, which includes a spare battery and docking station ($80). T-Mobile is selling the G5 for $0 down and 24 payments of $26.25. The full retail price of the phone is $629.99.
LG today announced two more low-cost Android smartphones, filling in several open spots in its K range of devices. The K8 has a stylish design thanks to the use of curved glass edges and woven back panel and the K5 features a slim, metallic body.
- K8: The higher-spec'd of the two phones has a 5-inch 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The phone includes an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera for selfies. The K8 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and has LG software, such as Gesture Shot. It packs a 2,125mAh battery and will be sold in gold, indigo, and white.
- K5:This entry-level handset has a 5-inch FWVGA display and is powered by a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and support for microSD memory cards. The main camera captures 5-megapixel images, while the selfie camera captures 2-megapixel images. The K5 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, packs a 1,900mAh battery, and will be sold in gold, silver, and titan.
LG today said the Stylus 2 smartphone will be the first phone to ship with support for DAB+ for digital radio broadcasting. The phone has a dedicated DAB+ chipset and special application meant for digital radio broadcasts. DAB+, which is expected to replace traditional FM radio, doesn't consume mobile data and is free to use. Further, LG is providing broadcasters with the technical interface so they may create their own DAB+ apps. The Stylus 2 with DAB+ will first be made available to consumers in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. LG says DAB+ is already broadcast in 40 countries covering some 500 million people. LG hasn't said if or when the LG Stylus 2 will be sold in the U.S., nor if the U.S. variant will support DAB+. The phone has a 5.7-inch screen, 3,000mAh battery, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, and 13-megapixel camera. It includes a stylus and dedicated software for accessing popup menus, calligraphy, and more.
LG today said U.S. consumers can expect to see the G5 smartphone reach stores in early April. The modular smartphone will be available via AT&T, Best Buy, B&H, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. LG said carriers will be responsible for announcing their own release dates and pricing. The G5 has a removable bottom hatch that allows users to access the battery as well as add modules called LG Friends. The first two modules are a camera grip and stereo DAC. The phone also boasts dual rear cameras and a Snapdragon 820 processor. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Cricket Wireless today announced the LG Spree, a low-cost Android smartphone that goes on sale March 11 for $89.99. The Spree includes a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, and 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The phone has 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 32 GB. LG's Quick Memo tool is on board, as are some of its camera modes, including Gesture Shot, Burst Shot, and Selfie Light. The Spree also has Knock On and Knock Code, as well as LG's customizable keyboard. The phone includes a 1,940mAh battery. The LG Spree reaches Cricket stores on Friday.
Google today nixed the invite system it used for Project Fi and opened the MVNO service up to everyone. Project Fi relies on WiFi and cellular access from Sprint and T-Mobile to provide coverage around the U.S. Its software is able to dynamically jump from network to network in order to provide the best-possible speeds and service. Project Fi is novel in that it only charges people for the actual amount of data used each month, rather than for large buckets. Google says the first 10 months of the project have gone well and it is ready to move into the next phase. For the next month, anyone who activates Project Fi will be able to purchase the Nexus 5X handset from LG for $199.99. The phone's normal price is $349.99. Project Fi is only available to Nexus smartphones, including the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P. Basic service costs $20 per month, plus $10 per 1 GB of cellular data. Google refunds users for the unused portion of data each month.
LG has a handful of new phones on display in Barcelona that are not the G5. The Stylus 2, X cam, and X screen round out the middle of LG's profile and are interesting smartphones in their own right. Here is a look at each.
LG revealed the G5 today and it marks an impressive change of direction for the company in terms of design, materials, and functionality. The new metal chassis is impressive and so is the modular hatch that supports a handful of accessories. LG says it didn't want to build a me-too slab, and that's exactly what it's done. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions of the G5.
LG today announced its flagship handset for 2016, the G5. The phone represents a re-think from LG, which has altered the design and functionality entirely from earlier G models to help set it apart from competing phones. The G5's stand-out feature is a removable hatch that opens the battery compartment and also allows modular accessories to be added to the phone, such as a camera grip. Other significant changes include a shift from plastic materials to metal, and relocating the volume buttons from the back of the phone to the side. The power button, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor, remains on the rear panel. The G5 has a 5.3-inch quad HD display and is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM. The main screen includes an always-on feature similar to the V10, but without a separate screen. It has minima, power requirements. It comes with 32 GB of storage, but supports memory cards up to 200 GB. LG bestowed the G5 with dual rear cameras. The main shooter rates 16 megapixels at f/1.8 and a normal 75-degree field of view. The second camera rates 8 megapixels and has a wider, 135-degree field of view. Both cameras are assisted by laser focus and can capture 4K video. The user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and captures full HD video. Other hardware features include a 2,800mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0, USB Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and of course LTE. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and LG toned its user interface skin way back. The LG G5 comes in four colors (silver, titanium, gold, pink) and will be sold by major U.S. carriers come April. Pricing was not revealed.
Verizon Wireless today said it is providing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update to a handful of phones, including the HTC One M9, LG G4, and LG G3. For the M9, Marshmallow brings Android Pay support, customizable notifications, Google Now On Tap, Doze, bug fixes and other improvements. For the G4, Marshmallow adds WiFi Calling in addition to the standard upgrade list for Android 6.0. The G3 will see a straight update to Android 6.0 without added feature from Verizon. Verizon said Marshmallow is pushing out over the air starting today. It may take several days to reach all devices.
LG today showed off another new handset ahead of Mobile World Congress, the Stylus 2, a second act for last year's G4 Stylus. LG says the new stylus pen is more accurate thanks to a nano coating at the tip. Further, the accompanying software is more refined. For example, features such as Pen Pop toggle a popup menu, while Pen Keeper alerts users to a potentially lost stylus, and Calligraphy Pen lets users scratch notes that are redrawn with high-quality penmanship. The Stylus 2 has a 5.7-inch 720p HD screen and measures 7.4mm thick. The handset boasts a metallic frame containing a 3,000mAh removable battery and memory card slot. The phone is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. LG didn't call out any special features for the cameras. The device will ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. LG did not reveal pricing nor availability for the Stylus 2. More details will be made available during the MWC trade show in Barcelona.
LG has decided to delay the official debut of LG Pay, which was expected to mark its arrival at this month's Mobile World Congress trade show. "LG Electronics has delayed the official launch of LG Pay to the second quarter of this year to help the new LG flagship smartphone — G5 — receive more media attention," said an LG spokesperson to the Korea Times. LG denied the delay had anything to do with its progress in signing up partners for LG Pay. The company has already scored two deals with South Korean credit card companies. LG has teased the G5's arrival for several weeks now, and today announced the X cam and X screen phones ahead of MWC.
LG today announced two new smartphones that mark the launch of the X Series handsets. LG says rather than offer all the best features in a single device the X Series mid-range phones will focus on providing one advanced feature. The X cam and X screen, the first two phones in the series, dedicate themselves to the camera and screen features, respectively. The handsets were designed with care. The X cam, for example, has curved glass and a profile as thin as 5.9mm, while the X screen has a "glass fiber" exterior.
- X cam: The cam is defined by two rear-mounted cameras, one at 13 megapixels and the other at 5 megapixels. LG says this setup allows for creative photo taking. The cam also has a 5-megapixel front camera. Other specs include a 5.2-inch full HD screen, 1.14 GHz octa-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, a 2,520mAh battery, and support for LTE networks.
- X screen:The screen's stand-out feature is its secondary, always-on screen. The phone has a small 1.76-inch screen above the main display similar to last year's V10 handset. This second screen can be used to display the time, incoming notifications, app shortcuts, and other info. The X screen also includes a 4.93-inch 720p HD screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, a 13-/5-megapixel rear/front camera configuration, 2,300mAh battery, and LTE.
T-Mobile today made the LG K7 available for sale from its web site. The phone, announced last month, has a 5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, 5-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, and LTE 4G. T-mobile is selling the handset for $139.99 at full retail or for $5.84 for 24 months. Boost Mobile is selling the K7 as the Tribute 5.
LG touted another aspect of the unannounced G5, which will boast an "always on" display. In a picture posted to its Facebook page, the silhouette of a mobile device shows the clock, date, and notifications on the lock screen, similar to Motorola's Active Display. LG's own V10 handset has an always-on screen, though it is limited to a small, secondary panel above the main display. LG is expected to fully reveal the G5 at an event planned for February 21.
LG used its Twitter account to tease the G5, its next flagship phone. The handset will mark its debut at a press event to be held February 21 in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress trade show. LG didn't provide any details about the phone itself, other than the G5 name.
T-Mobile will give a free phone to new customers who sign up for one of its prepaid services. The free phone deal kicks off February 3 and includes the Coolpad Rogue, ZTE Obsidian, LG Leon, and Samsung Core Prime. Customers must select a Simply Prepaid, Simple Choice Prepaid, or Simple Choice No Credit plan valued at $40 per month and up in order to receive the free phone. Customers who opt for a Simple Choice No Credit plan can receive an extra $50 mail-in rebate when activating a second line. T-Mobile didn't say how long the free phone deal will be available.
T-Mobile is running a limited promotion for customers on Simple Choice plans that can help them save some cash on hardware purchases. Beginning today, new and existing customers can buy one phone at full price and get a second phone of equal or lesser value from the same manufacturer for half price. T-Mobile says the deal can be used for some of its flagship phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG V10. T-Mobile believes the promotion is idea for families or small businesses looking to upgrade their phones. It will allow customers to purchase up to six handsets at half price. No trade-in is required. T-Mobile didn't say how long the promo will be available.
LG today said it will introduce two high-end smartphones during 2016 to better compete with its rivals. The company believes the new flagship models and "a more cost-competitive value chain" will help it recoup profits and marketshare throughout the year. LG did not provide any details about these new phones, but it is highly likely the flagships will improve upon LG's G series and V series devices. LG reported its fourth quarter earnings today and said it generated a net profit of $301 million, a jump of 27% year-over-year that it attributes mostly to strong performance of its home appliance division. The company's handset division recorded revenue of $3.26 billion on shipments of 15.3 million phones. LG said it shipped 59.7 million phones in 2015 and saw improved sales in North America. LG has scheduled a press conference during the annual Mobile World Congress trade show next month. It is possible the company will announce new handsets at that time.
Google is about to make its Chrome browser much faster. The company is ready to use a new compression algorithm called Brotli, according to Google engineer Ilya Grigorik. Brotli can compress web sites in a way that makes them up to 26% smaller than Chrome's current algorithm, called Zopfli. Smaller web sites take less time to transit wireless networks. Brotli will be added to the next version of Chrome for desktop and mobile devices, though Grigorik did not say when that might be. It's possible Google will push a Brotli-equipped build of Chrome through its beta channel first.
Foxconn has offered to buy Sharp for $5.3 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal. Foxconn's offer arrives just as Sharp is weighing a buyout offer from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Sharp, known for its LCD displays and IGZO technology, has required multiple bailouts over the last few years as weak financials plague its ability to compete. The main thrust of INCJ's potential investment is to keep the company based in Japan, where it would be merged with competitor Japan Display. Investors believe combining Sharp and Japan Display would lead to a stronger competitor to rivals Samsung and LG. The INCJ deal has the blessing of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but at about $2.6 billion is only half that of Foxconn's offer. Analysts cited by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters believe the final decision will be a political, and not a business, one. Foxconn is based in Taiwan.
T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS is targeting Sprint customers with new service and handset discounts. Starting January 21, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who switch to MetroPCS can save up to 50% off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing. For example, a single ported line can save between 22% and 48%, while two or more lines can save between 23% and 50%, depending on a number of variables such as existing plan cost, new plan pricing, and local taxes. Customers who switch can keep the low rate plans as long as they remain with MetroPCS. The promotion includes unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, Data Maximizer and mobile hotspot. MetroPCS is offering switchers a free LG Leon LTE, Kyocera Hydro Wave, Samsung Core Prime, LG K7, or $50 rebate that can be applied to any phone sold by MetroPCS. Last, MetroPCS is offering its existing customers a $20 discount when adding an extra 5GB line. T-Mobile said the promotion will be available for a limited time, but didn't provide an end date.
Boost Mobile today said the LG Tribute 5 is now available online and in stores. LG announced the Tribute 5 as the K7 earlier this month. It features a 5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, 5-megapixel front and rear cameras, and a 2,125mAh battery. LG-sepcific functions include Gesture Shot, KnockON, and Knock Code. The Tribute 5, which runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, costs $99.99.
Verizon Wireless today revealed the LG Optimus Zone 3, an inexpensive Android handset for those who prefer prepaid services. This simple smartphone picks up where the 2014 Zone 2 left off. It has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 32 GB of storage, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The camera app includes LG's Gesture Shot and the selfie camera has a dedicated flash to help illuminate those self portraits. The LG Optimus Zone 3 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available beginning today for $69.99
T-Mobile and MetroPCS will both sell the K7 Android phone recently announced by LG. LG previously announced that Boost would carry the same phone branded as the Tribute 5.