Apple has expanded the scope of its Reuse and Recycling Program to include smartphones, tablets, and PCs not made by Apple. Customers can take their old smartphones directly to Apple Stores and receive credit towards new Apple gear for turning them in. Customers who don't have access to Apple Stores can mail in their devices for credit. Apple will recycle just about any old phone, tablet, or computer for free. Apple says not all devices are eligible for credit and suggests customers check eligibility (online) before heading to Apple Stores. According to Apple's web site, it is accepting handsets from Sony, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and BlackBerry. Apple has partnered with Brightstar and DataServ to handle the actual device recycling processes. The expanded Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is available in the U.S., the U.K., and select European countries.
LG today said its new mid-range handsets, the Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy, are going on sale in South America. The phones will be made available across Latin America first, but will soon also reach Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and, eventually, North America. So far, none of the major U.S. network operators has voiced support for these phones. Until they do, the devices will only be sold overseas. The phones range from the 4-inch Joy to the 5-inch Magna.
Seniors Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, announced a new service that gives subscribers direct phone access to a doctor at all times. TeleMED Assist provides customers with unlimited calls to doctors for emergency, urgent, or non-urgent purposes 24/7. Over-the-phone medical consultations are included in the service, which costs $30 per month for singles or $40 per month for couples. TeleMED Assist is a separate service and does not require a Seniors Wireless telephone account. Seniors Wireless offers a handful of standard service plans ranging from $10 to $30 per month. The company has several handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5 and Note 3, the Sharp Aquos Crystal, the LG Vigor, and the Apple iPhone 4. Seniors Wireless competes with GreatCall, which also offers access to health professionals over the phone. Both target the over 55 set.
Facebook today announced a new feature called "On This Day" that shows users what they were doing on that particular day in years past. Users will be able to see items such as status updates, photos, posts from friends, and other things they may have shared or been tagged in on Facebook. Users will be the only ones able to see their On This Day content unless they choose to share it with friends. Users will be able to edit or delete those old posts if they wish. Facebook said the feature is rolling out to web and mobile users over the next few weeks.
U.S. Cellular today said it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on March 26. Customers can choose from several different payment options. The phone costs about $630 at full retail, but U.S. Cellular is also offering contract pricing ($150 with two-year commitment) or monthly payments ($31.50 for 20 months). U.S. Cellular will have both the silver and red models on hand. The device features a curved design, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and Snapdragon 810 processor. Sprint is already selling the G Flex 2, but other carriers have yet to announce their plans.
Google's forthcoming wireless service will only be available to the Nexus 6 handset at launch, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, the Journal says Google's wireless service will "weave together" access from T-Mobile and Sprint's cellular services, in addition to WiFi. The service won't be available to older Nexus handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and Nexus 4. The Nexus 6, made by Google's former Motorola unit, went on sale last year and is available directly from Google online. At the Mobile World Congress trade show this week, Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed plans to offer wireless service on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Android 5.0 Lollipop is able to automatically pick the best wireless service (cellular or WiFi) based on a given app's needs. Google did not comment on the Journal's report.
AT&T today said it will sell the LG Watch Urbane smartwatch in the near future. AT&T didn't say if it will sell the Watch Urbane LTE. The Watch Urbane runs Android Wear. Pricing and exact availability are still to be announced.
LG used Mobile World Congress 2015 to kick off its new range of mid-tier devices. The Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy bring LG's high-end design aesthetic to affordable price points. They would do well for both pre-paid and post-paid carriers. Here are our first impressions.
LG today announced a variant of its Watch Urbane smartwatch that adds support for LTE and NFC. Because Google's Android Wear platform doesn't yet support LTE and NFC, the Watch Urbane LTE runs LG's proprietary wearables platform. LG said its own platform offers most of the same features found on the Android Wear version of the Watch Urbane. With LTE, the Watch Urbane can make and receive phone calls, send and receive messages, enable carry out push-to-talk conversations, and perform other network-centric tasks without requiring a nearby smartphone. The Watch Urbane LTE has a 1.3-inch 320 x 320 P-OLED display, Qualcomm 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage, and a bevy of sensors for tracking motion and other metrics. LG significantly increased the size of the battery from 410mAh to 700mAh to accommodate the LTE radio's power requirements. LG claims the watch can last for days in standby mode. The Watch Urbane LTE is protected from water and dust thanks to its IP67 rating. LG didn't disclose pricing or availability.
LG today announced the global launch of the G Flex 2, its second-generation curved handset. LG said major carriers in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, and the U.K are rolling the device out first. Sprint has already said when it will sell the phone, though AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have remained mum on their G Flex 2 plans. LG said a second wave of operators in North and South America, Europe, and Asia will begin selling the G Flex 2 later in March. LG first revealed the G Flex 2 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.
LG today announced four new smartphones that target the middle of the market. The devices will run Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user experience, and are named the Magna, Spirit, Leon, and Joy. Shared features include 1.2GHz quad-core processors with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. The Magna and Spirit have LG's rear-positioned button array and a slight curve to them, which LG says helps the devices fit better in the hand. The Leon and Joy are normal slab-style handsets. The devices will be sold in a mix of 3G (HSPA+) and 4G (LTE) configurations. The LTE handsets will have metallic rear covers while the 3G ones will have plastic rear covers.
- Magna: The largest of the four handsets has a 5-inch HD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, and 2,540mAh battery
- Spirit: The Spirit has a 4.7-inch HD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1-megapixel user-facing camera, and 2,100mAh battery.
- Leon: The Leon has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display with an 8- or 5-megapixel main camera, a VGA user-facing camera, and a 1,900mAh battery.
- Joy: The smallest of the quartet has a 4-inch WVGA display, 5-megapixel main camera, VGA user-facing camera, and a 1,900mAh battery. Some variants may ship with an 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, and Android 4.4 rather than Android 5.0.
Sprint today said it will sell the LG G Flex 2 beginning March 13. Preorders for the device commence Feb. 20. The G Flex 2 will be available via Sprint Easy pay, which costs $21 per month for 24 months. The suggested retail price is $504. Sprint didn't say how much the phone will cost with a two-year contract. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.
Sprint today said owners of the LG G3 should be able to update their devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop beginning today. Lollipop adds a wide range of new features, including Material Design, improved notifications, updated lock screen, upgraded Google Services, integrated messaging, and support for Google TV. The update also improves battery performance. Users can download and install the update over the air.
LG today unveiled the Urbane, its latest smartwatch based on Google's Android Wear platform. The Urbane's most compelling feature is the design. It trades the plastic shell seen on the LG G Watch R for a metallic enclosure that comes in gold or stainless steel. The Urbane has a thinner profile than the G Watch R, giving it a classier, more polished look that LG says works for both men and women. The specs are almost identical to those of the G Watch R. It has a 1.3-inch 320 x 320 P-OLED display, Qualcomm 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, 410mAh battery, and a bevy of sensors for tracking motion and other metrics. The Urbane is protected from water and dust thanks to its IP67 rating. LG said more details, such as pricing and availability, will be announced on a market-by-market basis later this year.
AT&T has made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variant of the LG G3. In addition to Lollipop, the system update includes a number of stability fixes and performance improvements. The update can be downloaded and installed via WiFi.
LG today announced the VR for G3, a custom version of Google's virtual reality cardboard headset made for the G3 smartphone. LG is offering the VR for G3 for free to people who buy the G3 smartphone. According to LG, the G3 is suited well to Google Cardboard thanks to the positioning of the buttons on the back surface rather than the side. Google Cardboard, as the name implies, is a foldable piece of cardboard that creates a virtual reality headset. The headset relies on a smartphone, which is placed inside the cardboard. The headset has special lenses that interact with VR apps and games on the screen. In addition to the free headset, LG is offering a free VR game download. The VR for G3 will be made available in select markets later this month.
Following reports of poor performance of its flagship Snapdragon 810 processor, Qualcomm today rounded up support from a handful of handset makers that plan to use the chip. LG and Xiaomi have already committed to using the processor in the G Flex 2 and Mi Note Pro, respectively, and reiterated their trust in the processor. Motorola, Sony, Oppo, and Microsoft today also offered statements in support of the processor and suggested they each plan to use the 810 in forthcoming handset designs. Last week, Qualcomm lowered its revenue outlook for the year after stating that a "large customer" decided to pass on using the Snapdragon 810 in its own flagship device. Earlier in January, Samsung claimed the 810 overheated. The Snapdragon 810 is a premium mobile processor with a quad-core design, advanced GPU, and support for Cat 9 LTE.
LG said it will begin selling the G Flex 2 in its home market of Korea on Jan. 30. The phone will reach other markets in the "coming months." Several U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have said they'll sell the phone but none has said when or for how much. The G Flex 2 will cost Koreans approximately $830 when it goes on sale next week. Separately, an LG executive refuted reports that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor overheats. Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Samsung plans to drop the Snapdragon 810 chip from its forthcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone due to overheating issues. "I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip's performance is quite satisfactory," said Woo Ram-chan, vice president for mobile product planning at LG. Woo said the chip emits less heat than other devices. "I don't understand why there is a issue over heat." LG uses the Snapdragon 810 in the G Flex 2.
MetroPCS today unveiled a new rate plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and LTE 4G data for $50 per month. Customers can sign up for the promotional plan between today and April 5. Once signed up, users can keep the unlimited LTE 4G data plan indefinitely. In order to use this plan, however, customers have to have a MetroPCS-branded LTE-capable handset. Customers cannot supply their own, unlocked handset. MetroPCS also increased the data available to its existing plans by 1GB each. For example, its $40 plan now includes unlimited talk, text, and up to 2GB of LTE (improved from 1GB), and a $50 plan with unlimited talk, text, and up to 4GB of LTE (improved from 3GB). These plans are available to BYOD customers and MetroPCS-branded devices. Last, MetroPCS said customers can buy the Samsung Galaxy Light for $49 and the LG F60 for $59. MetroPCS does not require contracts.
Sprint today increased the number of devices eligible for its leasing program by adding the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Sprint said new and existing customers can lease the G3 for $15 per month for 24 months or the Note 4 for $25 per month for 24 months. Customers can take the devices home for $0 down. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the device in and lease another or return the device (as long as it is in working order) and terminate their service. Sprint already offers leases on the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5.
Virgin Mobile today announced a new plan available exclusively to Walmart customers that includes sharable data without contracts. The plans are available to four specific phones for between two an four lines per account. The two-line plan costs $65 per month and includes unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of shareable data. The three-line plan costs $90 per month and boosts shared data to 8GB. The four-line plan costs $115 per month and includes 12GB of shared data. Users can manage their shared data with Virgin Mobile's account application. Top-ups costs $10 per 1GB. The plan includes parental controls and low-cost international options. Virgin is also offering an add-on that provides unlimited monthly access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pandora for $5 per month per line. Using these apps/services won't impact subscribers' monthly data allotments as long as they subscribe to the add-on plan. The four handsets capable of accessing the shared data service are the HTC Desire 510, LG Tribute, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. More devices will be compatible with the plan by the end of February. Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans will be available beginning Jan. 17. Last, Virgin announced two revised single-line plans. For $35 per month, Virgin customers get 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed of data. For $40 per month, users get unlimited voice and messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed data.
The first high-end phone with the Firefox OS recently went on sale in Japan, and it's a thoroughly unique phone. Most obviously, it sports a gold-tinted case that's completely transparent. But with LTE and NFC, it's also a new direction for Firefox OS, which previously only found its way into quite low-end devices. Further, the marketing is unique, specifically targeting tech-minded consumers for whom a hackable, open-source OS is a major selling point. We spent a few moments with one.
TCL Communications, the parent company of Alcatel OneTouch, today confirmed to Phone Scoop that it has acquired the Palm brand and plans to revive the failed tech company. "We are interested in the brand because we believe the brand has value," said TCL CEO George Guo. "It was once a very strong brand and there are many fans of this brand around the world, including people at TCL." TCL intends to resurrect Palm with new hardware, software, and services -- but not on its own. It will ask the community to contribute ideas for potential new devices, operating systems, and apps. It will commit engineers and its manufacturing resources to the project, but hopes much of the R&D will come from the tech community at large. TCL said it hasn't worked out the details of how this community-driven revival will function, but it is confident it can restore luster to the brand. "Palm was an original pioneer and we want to keep it that way. We want to attract the people who have ideas on how to revive the brand in a meaningful way." Guo shot down the idea of using webOS, which is owned by LG, and ran on the Palm Pre, Pixi, and other phones. "We are open to all ideas, but probably not webOS," said Guo. "Palm built by Palm fans is the intent." TCL expects to eventually offer both Alcatel- and Palm-branded products in the US. TCL said it couldn't comment on the terms of the acquisition. It will provide more details as they are developed.
Volkswagen today took the diplomatic route with respect to enabling smartphone connectivity in its cars. Beginning with select models later this year, Volkswagen's second generation modular infotainment platform will support Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms, in addition to the platform-agnostic MirrorLink spec. The company said Android Auto will support devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony, while CarPlay will support Apple's iPhone. The services will allow smartphone owners to access their device content, apps, and services through the infotainment console of their Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Golf will be the first model to support these connectivity platforms.
In addition to AT&T and Sprint, U.S. Cellular plans to carry the LG G Flex 2 "this spring", according to spokesperson Katie Frey. No further details were revealed.
AT&T will carry the 32 GB version of the G Flex 2 that LG just announced at CES. Sprint will also offer the phone. Pricing and availability date for both carriers will be announced at a later date.
LG is back with another bendable phone. It's best to think of the G Flex 2 as a curved LG G3 - especially since it carries over most of the specs.
LG today announced the G Flex 2, a second-generation curved Android smartphone. The device makes dramatic improvements over the original in terms of design, features, and usability. The screen shrinks to 5.5 inches across the diagonal, but ups the resolution from 720p to 1080p HD. The plastic OLED panel has a Gorilla Glass 3 coating to help prevent damage, and the rear shell's self-healing powers have been improved, too. The G Flex 2 relies on a quad-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage, depending on the market. The device supports external memory cards up to 2TB and runs Cat. 6 LTE with Carrier Aggregation. The Flex 2 has a smaller 3,000 mAh battery than its predecessor, but it supports fast charging for a 50% charge in under 40 minutes. The phone offers Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, and WiFi. Like the LG G3, the main camera sports a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and laser focus. It can record 4K video. The user-facing camera captures 2.1-megapixel pictures and 1080p HD video. The Flex 2 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user interface skin on top. It will be sold in silver and red. LG said it will be available "soon" but it didn't specify where or for how much.
Google today announced Cast for Audio, a new version of its Chromecast technology that will allow people to cast audio content from their device to properly equipped speakers, receivers, and soundbars. According to Google, compatible audio equipment from Sony, LG, and HEOS by Denon will arrive in the U.S. this spring, with others to follow. The audio equipment will have built-in radios that can receive cast content and/or access it from the web. The initial batch of apps to support Cast for Audio include Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn Radio. Google says many more are on the way. The technology competes with Apple's AirPlay.
It's the big day in Las Vegas for big companies to hold big press conferences, and the morning belongs to LG. A tweet from Qualcomm has all but confirmed rumors of a new, high-end LG phone with a Snapdragon 810 processor. This liveblog will bring you all of the phone-related details as they happen on stage.
Qualcomm today suggested a new high-end smartphone is on deck for a big CES reveal. The company tweeted, "A new Snapdragon 800 powered smartphone is launching next week," along with an image and hashtag for the Consumer Electronics Show. The device pictured resembles LG's high-end G series, which features buttons placed on the back of the phone, though neither Qualcomm nor LG confirmed any other details about the device in question.
Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.
Microsoft today said that it will begin pushing the Lumia Denim system update to its Windows Phones en masse beginning next month. The update is already trickling out to a few phones in select markets, but all Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 will see the update at some point next month. According to Microsoft, improved imaging is the most significant new feature of the update. Notably, the camera app should function much faster, especially on devices such as the Lumia 930, 830, 1520, and Icon. In addition to speed, the camera will gain a feature called Moment Capture, which records 4K video at 24 frames per second with each and every frame saved as an 8.3-megapixel image. Users can snag a single frame from the video as a stand-alone image if they wish. Another new camera function is called Rich Capture. With it, the camera takes over settings such as auto HDR, dynamic flash, and dynamic exposure so users can focus on getting the shot and not on futzing with the camera app. Microsoft also notes the camera app makes use of new algorithms to improve focus and exposure. The Denim update also adds live folders, SMS merging, and other improvements. Microsoft first announced Lumia Denim in September.
Microsoft recently updated its Torque application for Android Wear and carried it over from smartwatches to smartphones. With Torque, Android Wear and Android smartphone owners can shake or twist their device to launch Bing Voice Search. Bing Voice Search requires internet access, but can be controlled through a wide variety of voice commands to check the weather, perform simple math, or search for information. Torque works with most Android smartphones, and works best with the Asus Zen Watch, LG G Watch, and Samsung Gear Live Android wearables. Torque is free.
Verizon Wireless announced an over-the-air software update should hit the LG G3 beginning today that adds VoLTE capabilities. VoLTE passes voice calls over Verizon's LTE data network rather than its voice network. A handful of phones already support VoLTE. VoLTE offers HD Voice when both the sender and receiver have LTE coverage and VoLTE-capable handsets. Verizon recently said it plans to expand its selection of VoLTE handsets. Mike Haberman, vice president of network performance for Verizon, said the initial uptake of VoLTE by customers has been excellent.
LG today announced several changes to its business, including the appointment of several new executives. Jong-seok Park, who served as president and CEO of LG Mobile Communications, is being replaced by Juno Cho. Cho was most recently the president of LG Corp, LG Electronics' holding company. Park is being moved to the newly created position of Chief Technology Advisor. LG also said it will merge of its Home Appliance and Air Conditioning & Energy Solution business units to create a consolidated LG Home Appliance & Air Solution Company. LG shuffled about a dozen other executives throughout its top ranks. All the changes are effective December 1.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG GizmoPal, a wearable for children meant to provide parents with peace of mind. The wearable can make and receive phone calls, though only to/from a limited set of numbers. Parents can easily mange the GizmoPal through an app (Android and iOS), and use it to track their child's location throughout the day. The GizmoPal costs $80 and can be added to a More Everything plan for $5 per month. It will be available in select stores Nov. 26 and all Verizon sales channels by Dec. 11. It comes in either blue or pink.
Verizon today added the LG Transpyre to its prepaid lineup. This basic Android phone is essentially the same phone as the LG Tribute offered by Virgin Mobile, except with more memory and a better front camera. The phone has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel main camera, and 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor. Other features include 4G LTE, a memory card slot, and a removable battery. Verizon is currently offering the Transpyre for $100 with a no-contract prepaid plan.
MetroPCS recently began selling the LG F60 handset through its web site. The F60 was announced last month. It features a 4.5-inch WVGA display and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM. The device has a 5-megapixel main camera with Gesture Shot and Touch & Shot, and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. The device includes Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and LTE, and relies on a 2,100mAh battery for power. The F60 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes LG's Knock Code. MetroPCS is selling it for $100 after a mail-in rebate. The full retail price is $160.
LG today said it will soon begin distributing Android 5.0 Lollipop to its G3 smartphone. LG will deliver Lollipop to G3 owners in Poland first, followed by "other key markets in the near future." The company claims it is the first handset maker to offer Android 5.0 to its existing device base. LG also said it will soon publish a schedule detailing the Lollipop upgrade for other LG phones. The G3 is available from the major U.S. carriers, but neither they nor LG made any specific announcements regarding Lollipop's arrival on the G3 in the U.S. LG happened to manufacture both the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5 smartphones, which should be among the first to receive Lollipop. The Nexus phones will be updated directly by Google.