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printed September 17, 2014
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AT&T Also to Sell LG G3 Vigor

Monday, 5:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T chimed in today to say it, too, will offer the LG G3 Vigor to subscribers. AT&T didn't specify how much the device will cost, nor when it will go on sale. Sprint also plans to sell the Vigor.


Sprint to Sell LG G3 Vigor

Monday, 2:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 3:56 PM

Sprint today announced the LG G3 Vigor, an affordable smartphone that places the volume and screen lock keys on the back, like LG's flagship devices. The phone has a 5-inch 720p HD display and quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor under the hood to keep costs low. Stand out features include LG's suite of specialized apps, such as Knock Code and Knock On, LG Gate for enterprise security, as well as QSlide Apps, QuickMemo, and LG's Smart Keyboard. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and is compatible with Sprint Spark. Sprint services on board include HD Voice and Wi-Fi Calling. The full retail price of the LG G3 Vigor is $312. Sprint also offering the G3 Vigor for $13 a month with Sprint Easy Pay.


T-Mobile Expands Wi-Fi Calling, Partners with GoGo

Sep 10, 2014, 3:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 10, 2014, 4:01 PM

T-Mobile today said it will make Wi-Fi calling available to all its postpaid customers for free. The move, announced at an event in San Francisco, is meant to help provide improved voice coverage in spaces where T-Mobile's network doesn't reach. Wi-Fi calls can be made from any open network. Even so, T-Mobile also debuted the T-Mobile Personal Cell Spot. This Wi-Fi hotspot, made by Asus, requires a $25 deposit and works with existing in-home internet service. It will permit T-Mobile customers to experience high-quality Wi-Fi calls when at home. It prioritizes voice functionality over data functionality. New phones sold by T-Mobile (including the iPhone 6) will be have this new functionality built in from the get-go, while older devices will receive an update to gain the new Wi-Fi calling features. The Personal Cell Spot will remain private; only those with the Wi-Fi password will be able to use it for calls and messaging. The Wi-Fi calling feature is free to use for all customers. T-Mobile offered a similar service back in 2007, called Hotspot@Home, but discontinued it in 2010. T-Mobile also announced a partnership with GoGo that will let its customers send and receive SMS/MMS messages from GoGo-equipped airplanes, as well as receive visual voicemail. The in-flight messaging service goes live September 17 and is free to all T-Mobile customers. The service will work with select phones at launch, including Samsung Galaxy S5, Apple iPhone 5s, HTC One, and LG G3 among others. More will be added over time.

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Google Plans to Add Bluetooth, GPS to Android Wear

Sep 2, 2014, 11:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is working on several updates to Android Wear that will introduce more features to the platform for wearables. Director of Engineering for Android Wear, David Singleton, told CNET that the first update to arrive will add certain Bluetooth functions to Android Wear. "We'll have an update coming that allows you to pair a Bluetooth headset with your watch. And that means you can play music stored on your watch directly on your Bluetooth headset," said Singleton. Google also plans to add support for GPS, meaning properly equipped devices will be able to track location data directly without an accompanying smartphone. These updates are expected to arrive later this year. The company is also working to make Android Wear compatible with a wide range of sensors. Google envisions Android Wear devices interacting with a broad scope of other devices in order to develop richer and more useful data for owners. According to Google, thousands of Android applications have already been updated with support for Android Wear, and Google created a separate section of the Play Store for compatible apps. Several Android Wear devices are currently available and LG, Asus, and others are expected to debut more Android Wear devices this week.


LG Debuts Round Android Wear Watch

Aug 27, 2014, 9:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G Watch R, a round smartwatch based on Google's Android Wear platform. LG already offers a square-shaped device called the G Watch. In designing the G Watch R, LG said it carefully weighed how consumers view watches as accessories and often require them to be stylish as well as functional. The G Watch R is made of stainless steel and features a 22mm calf-skin strap. According to LG, the G Watch R is the first wearable to feature a plastic OLED display, which measures 1.3 inches across the diagonal with 320 x 320 pixels. It is highly visible, even in direct sunlight. The G Watch R is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of built-in storage. It boasts an IP67 rating against water/dust intrusion, and can withstand up to 30 minutes in one meter of water. The device features a heart rate monitor, 9-axis gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, and barometer. It has a 410mAh battery, but LG didn't offer information on expected battery life. The G Watch R can run all apps compatible with Android Wear, and includes a number of LG-designed fitness apps. The LG G Watch R will go on sale in select markets early in the fourth quarter. Pricing and exact availability will be announced on a market-by-market basis.

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LG Shows Off the G3 Stylus

Aug 26, 2014, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G3 Stylus, a variant of the G3 that adds a stylus, but seriously ramps down the specifications. The device carries over the design language of the G3, but the 5.5-inch display goes from Quad HD (2560 x 1440) to qHD (960 x 540). The G3 Stylus also loses the G3's quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and instead includes a quad-core 1.3GHz processor. It offers a 13-megapixel main camera and 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. The G3 Stylus has 8GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and a memory card slot, and it boasts a removable 3,000mAh battery. The G3 Stylus runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat along with a number of LG's signature apps, such as QuickMemo, QSlide Apps, Knock Code, and the Smart Keyboard. LG didn't call out any specific features or applications customized for the stylus. The device is limited to 3G networks for now and goes on sale in Brazil, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa this fall. LG didn't indicate if a version of the G3 Stylus will reach the U.S.


LG to Adopt G3's User Interface for Most Phones

Aug 19, 2014, 6:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced plans to follow the trickle-down approach with its user interface. The company said it will push the UI found on this year's G3 handset, including the simplified camera software and adjustable keyboard, to its mid-range and entry-level handsets. LG said most devices released during the second half of the year, including smartphones and tablets, will adopt the newer user interface.


HTC to Offer Zoe, Other Apps to All Android Phones

Aug 13, 2014, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is prepared to make a version of its Zoe application available in the Google Play Store. The app is intended for all Android devices, which will be able to shoot their own Zoes and share the creative video-making process with others. HTC's Zoe is a camera feature specific to a select few of its smartphones, such as the HTC One (both M7 and M8). The new app will allow Samsung, LG, and other Android devices to shoot video clips and pair them with themes and pictures to create 30-second masterpieces. The critical element of the new app is the ability to share Zoes online and contribute to them. For example, HTC envisions multiple people using Zoe to capture an event, such as a wedding, and then adding their own clips to a longer community video that provides for a more compete representation of the event. Zoe will reach the Play Store later this week. HTC is not stopping at Zoe, according to Re/Code. HTC plans to make other apps available to all Android devices. The company has already broken out some of its proprietary apps, such as the gallery and calendar, so they may be updated more frequently outside of full OS upgrades. HTC has assembled a team of 260 people, collectively called HTC Creative Labs, to work on its apps both for HTC and non-HTC phones. HTC didn't say which apps might arrive next.


Boost Adds LG Realm to Prepaid Lineup

Aug 12, 2014, 4:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 12, 2014, 5:20 PM

Boost Mobile today announced the LG Realm, an inexpensive Android handset, which is available contract-free beginning today for $80. The LG Realm, also sold as the Optimus Exceed 2, runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes several LG features, such as Knock Code, QSlide apps, and QuickMemo. The Realm features a 4.5-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3; a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage; a 5-megapixel main camera with VGA front-facing camera; and a 2100mAh battery. The LG Realm is HD Voice-capable. The Realm is available from Boost's web site and select retailers.


Pantech Files for Bankruptcy

Aug 12, 2014, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Pantech filed for court receivership today, which is the South Korean equivalent of declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company has seen its share of the global market drop precipitously. More importantly, it is no longer able to compete against the likes of LG and Samsung in its home market, according to The Wall Street Journal, where a month long sales ban further crippled the company. Pantech has spent the last few years juggling with its finances. Last year, it accepted investments from Samsung and Qualcomm, which own 10% and 12% of the company, respectively. Even with these investments, Pantech owes creditors about $961 million - or double the amount of assets its has. Pantech only brought three models to the U.S. in 2013, and hasn't brought any in 2014. If Pantech's court receivership is accepted by the bank, it will have about a year to come up with a restructuring plan.


Virgin Mobile's Custom Plans Now Available at Walmart

Aug 11, 2014, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile USA's Custom plans launched at Walmart stores today. The plans, which were announced last month, allow customers to add only the service they want and alter their service day-by-day if they need to in order to manage their expenses. Virgin Mobile Custom allows families to activate up to five lines on a single account starting at $6.98 per line. The Base plan includes 20 texts and 20 voice minutes per month. Customers can choose to add unlimited texting for $10 or unlimited voice for $18. The Unlimited talk and text plan costs $35 per month. Customers can also choose select add-ons, such as unlimited access to Facebook or music streaming, which can be added monthly at as needed. Virgin Mobile Custom plans are available to three devices, including the ZTE Emblem, the LG Pulse, and the LG Unify, at select Walmart stores.


AT&T Scores LG G Vista

Aug 8, 2014, 9:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 8, 2014, 9:14 AM

AT&T today announced it will soon sell the LG G Vista, an inexpensive Android smartphone that offers a big-screen experience. The G Vista, which is already available from Verizon Wireless, has a 5.7-inch display with qHD (960 x 540) resolution. The volume and lock screen buttons are placed on the back of the device, similar to the G3. The G Vista is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It includes an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC and Isis for mobile payments, and a 3,200mAh battery. The LG G Vista runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The G Vista will cost $14.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $17.75 per month with AT&T Next 12, $50 with a new two-year contract, or $355 at full retail. It will be available beginning August 22.


Verizon Scores the LG G Vista, a Budget Phablet

Jul 31, 2014, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today began selling the LG G Vista, an inexpensive Android smartphone that offers a big-screen experience. The G Vista has a 5.7-inch display with qHD (960 x 540) resolution. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The design of the phone strongly resembles that of the LG G3. For example, the volume and lock screen buttons are placed on the back of the device. The G Vista is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It includes an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 1.3-megapixel selfie camera. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC and Isis for mobile payments, and a 3,200mAh battery. The G Vista carries over many of LG's proprietary apps and functions, such as KnockON and KnockCode, QSlide apps, QuickMemo, and Dual Window for multitasking. The LG G Vista runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and costs $100 with a new contract or $20 per month with Verizon Edge. It is available beginning today.


Virgin Mobile Debuts Custom Plans

Jul 30, 2014, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 30, 2014, 8:11 AM

Virgin Mobile USA today announced a new plan that gives customers more flexibility in managing their account. Virgin Mobile Custom is based on the ItsOn platform, which was used by Zact Mobile, a Sprint-based MVNO. ItsOn is what gives customers the power to change the features of their plans any time they want or need to. Virgin Mobile Custom allows families to activate up to five lines on a single account starting at $6.98 per line. The Base plan includes 20 texts and 20 voice minutes per month. Customers can choose to add unlimited texting for $10 or unlimited voice for $18. The Unlimited talk and text plan costs $35 per month. Customers can also choose select add-ons, such as unlimited access to Facebook or music streaming, which can be added on a recurring or non-recurring basis. These plans can be adjusted at any time during the month, even daily, directly from the customer's device. Customers can add or subtract the amount of voice, text or data they use with real-time price adjustments so customers know exactly what they'll be spending. Virgin Mobile Custom will be available on three devices at launch, including the ZTE Emblem, the LG Pulse, and the LG Unify

  • ZTE Emblem: The ZTE Emblem is similar to the Savvy, which is being sold by TracFone. It has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2GHz processor, and it runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. It costs $80
  • LG Pulse: The LG Pulse is a U.S. variant of the L70, which was announced earlier this year. It has a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2GHz processor, LG's QSlide and QuickMemo apps, and it runs Android 4.4 KitKat. It costs $100.
  • LG Unify: The LG Unify is a variant of the Optimus F3, which is already being sold by Virgin Mobile. It has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and LG's VuTalk and Q-Translator apps. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and costs $130.
The account holder can download the free Custom Control App from the Apple App store or Google Play Store to manage the devices and features of their various lines. Virgin Mobile Custom plans will be available beginning September 1.


Verizon Testing Unwanted App Removal on LG G3

Jul 25, 2014, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is trialling a new policy on the LG G3 that allows owners to remove bloatware. Like many smartphones, the G3 ships with preloaded applications selected by Verizon. Device owners have no say in which apps are preloaded and may find them useless or uninteresting. Typically, preloaded apps cannot be removed from smartphones. That changes with the LG G3. According to Verizon, preloaded "applications can be completely and entirely uninstalled by the customer via the standard uninstall process." Customers need to use the built-in Android app manager to delete any unwanted apps. Deleting apps frees phones of clutter and clears valuable storage space. Verizon didn't say if it will expand the trial to other devices.

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LG Mini-fies G3 with G3 s

Jul 17, 2014, 8:10 AM   by Rich Brome

LG today announced the G3 s, a smaller and more affordable version of the company's new G3 flagship phone. The phone shares the same front and back design as the G3, but in a smaller, lighter body that's 1 mm thicker. The display shifts from 5.5 inches to 5.0 inches with 720p resolution. The processor steps down to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip. The camera steps from 13 megapixels to 8, although it keeps the laser focusing system. Memory, battery, and Wi-Fi specs have been similarly scaled down. It does retain a memory card slot, removable battery, LTE, and NFC. The new model launches tomorrow in Korea as the G3 Beat, and "in the weeks that follow" in Europe as the G3 s. Pricing and US availability were not announced.


LG G3 Reaches Sprint Stores a Week Early

Jul 11, 2014, 10:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint said the LG G3 is available in stores and online beginning today. The device was originally expected to reach Sprint stores July 18, but it has arrived a full week early.


Google Camera Adds Android Wear Shutter Button

Jul 10, 2014, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google pushed out a small update to its Android camera application this week that makes it compatible with Android Wear devices. Specifically, owners of the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live will be able to remotely trigger their smartphone's camera from their smartwatch. The functionality includes a countdown timer, but not a viewfinder. Google Camera is free to download from the Play Store.


LG to Improve the G3's Keyboard

Jul 10, 2014, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced a pending software update to the G3's Smart Keyboard application that will bestow it with new features. The added functions include emoji suggestions based on keywords; application-based text suggestions that learn to predict salutations for specific contacts; improved next-word suggestions; bilingual word suggestions that don't require users to swap languages; and improved trace input, which allows users to swipe words rather than type them. LG said the keyboard app will be updated once the G3's global launch is complete. The software will be pushed to users' devices automatically. The G3 Smart Keyboard is powerful in that it allows users to adjust the height of the keys to better suit their hands and typing style.


Verizon Taking Preorders for LG G3, Ships July 17

Jul 10, 2014, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is now allowing customers to preorder the LG G3 via its web site. Verizon is asking for $99 with a two-year contract, $30 per month with Verizon Edge, or $600 at full retail. The device ships July 17 and is XLTE compatible.


Google Brings Screen Mirroring to Chromecast

Jul 9, 2014, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said its Chromecast HDTV plugin device can now mirror the screens of nearby Android smartphones and tablets. With screen mirroring, anything that appears on the phone or tablet's screen will appear on the TV. The feature can be used to share photos or view/interact with apps on the big screen. According to Google, screen mirroring is available as a beta to Nexus devices and select phones from Samsung, HTC, and LG. Mirroring requires the Chromecast app version 1.7, which should reach the Play Store in the coming days. The Chromecast is a HDMI dongle that plugs directly into TV sets. Users can cast content, such as music and movies, from select apps to the Chromecast via Wi-Fi.


LG Debuts KizOn Wearable for Kids

Jul 9, 2014, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the KizOn, a wearable device for children. Like many kid-focused products, the KizOn is more about delivering peace of mind to the parents than it is about providing the wearer with features and functions. The KizOn uses a combination of Wi-Fi and GPS to provide parents with up-to-date location data. Parents can call the KizOn from their own smartphone to talk to the child. If the child doesn't answer 10 calls in a row, the device will automatically pick up the eleventh call and allow the parents to listen to what's going on around the KizOn. The KizOn can place calls, but only to one preprogrammed number. Parents can change the preprogrammed number at any time through the KizOn app. The KizOn will be offered in several different colors and it is compatible with a handful of accessories for personalization. LG said the KizOn will debut in Korea on July 10, followed by North America and Europe later this year. Pricing was not revealed.


AT&T's LG G3 Reaches Stores July 11

Jul 7, 2014, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said its variant of the LG G3 will be available in stores starting July 11, with preorders starting July 8. AT&T is charging $199 for the G3 with a new contract, or $24.17 per month with AT&T Next 18, or $29 per month with AT&T Next 12 (no down payment required with the Next plans). AT&T is also kicking off preorders for the LG G Watch on July 8. The G Watch will join the G3 in AT&T stores July 11. It costs $229. AT&T said it will offer a 50% discount on select accessories for the G3 and G Watch for a limited time when purchased in stores.


Sprint to Begin Selling LG G3 July 18

Jul 3, 2014, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today revealed it will commence sales of the LG G3 on July 18 in stores, online and via telephone. Sprint is offering several different ways to pay for the device. With Sprint Easy Pay, for example, customers can buy the G3 with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $25. Preorders for the device begin July 11. The company is offering award cards for early adopters of the phone. New and existing customers who buy the G3 between July 11 and July 24 will qualify for a $150 gift card, and those who buy the G3 between July 25 and August 14 will qualify for a $100 gift card. T-Mobile plans to sell the G3 beginning July 16. AT&T and Verizon have yet to announced G3 availability.


Microsoft Joins Qualcomm-Backed AllSeen Alliance

Jul 2, 2014, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has joined the AllSeen Alliance, an effort backed by Qualcomm to provide a standard for connecting the Internet of Things. The alliance already has 50 companies on board, including LG, Panasonic, and Sharp. The group's goal is to make it easy for devices to interact with one another by devising a single standard through which they can communicate. Qualcomm's rivals, however, are prepared to form their own group, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters. The competing consortium may launch as soon as next week, and will seek to create its own standard for connecting the Internet of Things. Apple has already announced HomeKit, its own protocol for connecting smartphones and tablets to devices around the home. Further, Google recently released an SDK for its Nest thermostat, which will eventually allow smartphones, tablets, and other apps to interact with Nest. Multiple standards may make it more difficult for consumers to find devices that work with one another. Reuters didn't say which companies are going to support the competitor to AllSeen.


T-Mobile Now Accepting Preorders for LG G3

Jun 30, 2014, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile announced that customers can preorder the LG G3 beginning today. The device reaches stores July 16. The full retail price is $599. T-Mobile didn't immediately say what monthly pricing will be for Simple Choice Plans.


GIV Mobile Offering Free Phone to Customers

Jun 26, 2014, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

GIV Mobile today said it is offering potential customers a free Android smartphone when they prepay for two months of service. GIV is an MVNO that operates on T-Mobile's network. Its plans cost $40 and $50, and include unlimited talk and text and up to either 250MB or 2.5GB of 3G/4G data per month, respectively. GIV is giving away the Alcatel OneTouch for free, but also sells older flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the LG G2 at reduced prices. GIV is unique in that it earmarks 8% of customers' bills for donation to various charities. Customers are able to select up to three charities to which their donations can be sent. GIV launched in May 2013.


Google Shows More Details of Android Wear

Jun 25, 2014, 12:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided a deeper look at what Android Wear - its platform for wearable devices - will be able to do. Android Wear will first be deployed on smart watches, with LG, Samsung, and Motorola making the first wave of hardware. Much of Android Wear's functionality comes from Google Now and its voice-controlled searches and actions. The user interface includes multiple screens that are accessed by swiping up and down, and back and forth. Many of Android Wear's initial powers will center on interacting with smartphone-based notifications. The Google Now functionality adds tools such as voice reminders, voice search, and similar powers to the platform. Android Wear supports third-party apps thanks to the full SDK, which Google made available to developers today. The apps are automatically installed on Wear when the corresponding version is installed on the associated smartphone. The LG G watch and the Samsung Gear Live will be available for sale later today, with the Moto 360 arriving later this summer. Google didn't provide details about the hardware, but they can be ordered via the Google Play Store.

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Samsung Bumps Galaxy S 5 Specs in Korea

Jun 18, 2014, 8:31 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today introduced a new version of of its flagship Galaxy S 5 phone with a faster processor and higher-resolution display. The Galaxy S 5 LTE-A has a quad-HD display like the rival LG G3, the new Snapdragon 805 processor, and support for LTE-Advanced at speeds up to 225 Mbps. For now, it's available only in Samsung's home country Korea; no plans for global release were announced.


Virgin Offering $25 Monthly Smartphone Plan

Jun 17, 2014, 9:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile USA today announced a limited-time offer that drops the price of its entry-level smartphone plan to $25 per month. The Unlimited Talk and Text plan is available to select Android smartphones, including the LG Volt, LG Optimus F3, Kyocera Hydro Vibe, and several others. The plan provides unlimited domestic voice minutes and domestic messaging, but no data. Virgin says the devices all include Wi-Fi and can access data through hotspots. The idea is to give customers many of the benefits smartphones offer without the associated monthly cost. The plan is available to new customers only through September 2. Virgin is also offering a $5 Daily Mobile Hotspot plan that allows select handsets to act as mobile hotspots for up to five devices. The plan provides 250MB of data access and is compatible with the HTC Desire and EVO V 4G, iPhone 4s/5/5s, Kyocera Hydro Vibe, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Customers need to subscribe to Virgin's Beyond Talk monthly plan in order to use the $5 Daily Mobile Hotspot feature.


Europe and Korea Look to Define 5G

Jun 16, 2014, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 16, 2014, 8:00 AM

The European Commission and South Korea today announced plans to together define the future 5G wireless standard, as well as develop the technologies to support it. The two bodies signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G to increase the discussions and research around the topic. A wide number of companies will participate, including Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor, and Telefonica from Europe, as well as Samsung, LG, SK Telecom, and others in Korea. One of the key ideas behind 5G is not to just increase speeds, but to significantly boost capacity. Capacity improvements will help the 5G networks of the future handle all the potential devices connecting to them, such as phones, tablets, wearables, vehicles, and the broader Internet of Things. The collaboration has three main goals: First, to develop a broad definition of the key functionalities of 5G and create a time table for its creation by the end of 2015; Second, to kick off joint research in the pursuit of 5G by 2016 in coordination with 3GPP and ITU: and Third, to agree on global radio frequency bands for 5G in order to promote interoperability and roaming between carriers and countries. "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognize this," said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda. "This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardization. Today's declaration signals the our commitment to being global digital leaders." LTE, which is what most 4G networks use, has some room for growth in terms of speeds, but capacity is limited and the potential for global roaming is limited due to the wide number of spectrum bands used by carriers around the world. It is these and other issues that the EU and S. Korea hope to resolve in their pursuit of 5G.


LG Debuts SDK for the G3's QuickCircle Case

Jun 10, 2014, 7:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today made an SDK available to developers that will allow them to tap into the QuickCircle case accessory that goes along with the G3. The QuickCircle case handles several different tasks. First, the case has a circular window to the G3's screen through which users can view the time, place calls, send text messages, take photos, or listen to music. The case includes circular smart lighting to accentuate the design, and includes a Qi-based connector for wireless charging. The LG QCircle SDK will let developers customize their own apps and make them directly accessible from the QuickCircle window via LG's QCircle user interface. The SDK is free for developers to download. The LG G3 will be available in the U.S. later this summer.


ZTE Hopes High-End Phones Will Increase Sales

Jun 9, 2014, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today said it plans to push into the high-end smartphone market controlled by the likes of Apple, HTC, LG, Samsung, and Sony. According to Reuters, sales of ZTE's mid-range and entry-level handsets are strong, but margins are too thin. The company wants to use high-end handsets to help increase its margins. "We will make more and more premium smartphones," said ZTE's Zeng Xuezong to Reuters. The company wants to trade its image as a low-cost phone maker for one that rivals the current market leaders. "There is indeed a gap between the brand awareness of Chinese companies and those top global brands, and this is what our team is trying to build for consumers" with handsets such as the Nubia Z5, said Zeng. ZTE believes it can increase is worldwide sales from 40 million units in 2013 to as much as 100 million units by 2016. In the U.S., it is seeking to raise its marketshare from 6% to 10% by 2017 with the help of premium devices and by spending more money on marketing. Most of the ZTE handsets available in the U.S. are entry-level devices sold by prepaid or low-cost carriers.


Cricket Snags LG Optimus L70 for $50 After Rebate

Jun 4, 2014, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced the LG Optimus L70 smartphone will be available online and in stores beginning Friday for $50 after a $50 mail-in rebate. The L70 was announced earlier this year and is already being sold by MetroPCS and others.


Hands-On: LG G3

May 27, 2014, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The G3 from LG shows plenty of promise, though it is far more complicated than the "simple is the new smart" message LG used to describe it. Here is our initial hands-on report.

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LG Shows Off the G3, with Quad HD Display, at Global Events

May 27, 2014, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 27, 2014, 12:41 PM

LG today announced the LG G3, its flagship smartphone for 2014. The G3 follows design ideas set by the G2 and later refined by the G Flex. The defining feature of the device is the display, which is one of the industry's first quad HD (2560 x 1440) screens. It measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal, making for a pixel density of 538 pixels per inch. The G3 has a "metallic" (but made of plastic) rear cover to boost its visual and tactile appeal. Like the G2, the volume toggle and home buttons are placed on the back of the phone rather than the sides. LG claims this makes the buttons more natural to use when the device is held in the hand. The G3 has a 13-megapixel camera aided by optical image stabilization, laser-assisted auto-focus, and dual-LED flash. The device has a 2.1-megapixel user-facing camera with wide aperture. The G3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with four cores at 2.5GHz each. The device will come in several different configurations with respect to memory, including a 2GB model and a 3GB model. Internal storage will range between 16GB and 32GB. The G3 has a built-in 1W speaker with Boost AMP for improved sound reproduction. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery that is removable, and it supports wireless charging. The G3 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes a new, redesigned user interface from LG that is flatter and more closely resembles that of native Android. Some of the software features include a kill switch that owners can use to disable the device; Knock Code for personalized device security; Content Lock to secure and protect individual files; as well as Smart Keyboard for adaptive learning of the owner's typing habits; and Smart Notice for a personal assistant (akin to Siri or Cortana). The LG G3 supports global LTE networks and will be sold by all four major U.S carriers later this summer. It will be offered in a handful of colors.


T-Mobile Debuts VoLTE in Seattle

May 22, 2014, 11:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 22, 2014, 11:48 AM

T-Mobile today announced that it has launched VoLTE service in its home market of Seattle. T-Mobile claims that VoLTE service offers both voice and data in the same radio layer and offers call set-up times that are twice as quick. T-Mobile's VoLTE service includes HD Voice, though T-Mobile has offered HD Voice separately since last year. In order for HD Voice to work, both handsets need to be HD Voice-capable. According to T-Mobile, its VoLTE service uses Enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) to make sure calls don't drop when leaving LTE coverage regions. This is an LTE Advanced feature that assures seamless voice service no matter the technology used to connect the call. VoLTE will first be available to the LG G Flex, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy Light handsets. Owners of these devices will need to update the software of their phone in order to make use of VoLTE. T-Mobile said its VoLTE service will expand to new regions and devices over the months ahead. AT&T is launching VoLTE this week, and Verizon plans to launch VoLTE later this year.


LG Reveals QuickCircle Case Ahead of G3 Debut

May 22, 2014, 7:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today showed off the QuickCircle case, an accessory for the G3 smartphone that will be announced next week. The QuickCircle case handles several different tasks. First, the case has a circular window to the G3's screen through which users can view the time, place calls, send text messages, take photos, or listen to music. The case includes circular smart lighting to accentuate the design, and includes a Qi-based connector for wireless charging. LG says the case was designed to protect the G3, but also to show off the device's shape. It will be available in black, white, gold, aqua, and pink. LG didn't say how much the QuickCircle case will cost, nor when it will go on sale.


Boost, Virgin Land the LG Volt for $180

May 12, 2014, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Both Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today announced the immediate availability of the LG Volt (also known as the LG F90). LG announced the Volt earlier this year. It features a 4.7-inch qHD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, NFC, removable 3,000 mAh battery, tri-band LTE (Sprint Spark), IR remote control, and a memory card slot. The Volt runs Android 4.4 KitKat and has LG software such as QSlide, Knock Code, and Smart screen. The phone is available online and in stores beginning today for $179.99. The Boost model is blue, while the Virgin model is white.


LG Says F70 with LTE Coming to North America

May 9, 2014, 7:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the global launch of the F70 Android smartphone, which it first revealed at Mobile World Congress in February. The F70 is very similar to the F90, which is branded as the Volt for Sprint. The F70 features a 4.5-inch WVGA screen, quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage, and a 5-megapixel/VGA camera configuration. The F70 comes with support for HSPA+ and LTE networks, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC. It features a handful of LG user interface functions, such as Knock Code, Guest Mode, and Quick Window. LG said the F70 will reach Europe in May, followed by Asia, Central and South America, and North America later. No U.S. carriers have formally announced support for the F70.


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