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printed November 18, 2017
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Hands On with the HTC U11 Life

Nov 2, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC’s U11 Life looks almost as good as the company’s top-tier flagship handset. HTC dialed back some of the U11’s under-the-hood components in order to give the U11 Life a more attractive price point. The result is a compelling mid-range handset that will be sold by T-Mobile. Here are our first impressions.

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T-Mobile to Sell HTC U11 Life Mid-Ranger for $349

Nov 2, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced the U11 Life, a mid-range handset that resembles the company’s U11 flagship though it tones down specs to reach a reasonable price point. The U11 Life is almost identical to the U11 at a glance, but it trades the U11’s high-quality glass for plastic. HTC achieved the mirror-like finish by using a clear acrylic exterior with metallic paint on the inside surface. The point, according to HTC, is to give people a device that looks like a flagship at a more affordable cost. The U11 Life has a 5.2-inch full HD LCD display and it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The U11 Life has a 16-megapixel camera at f/2.0 on both the back and the front. Where the rear camera has phase-detection autofocus, the front camera has fixed focus. The device does include the U11’s squeezable Edge Sense feature for initiating certain actions. Other features include USB-C noise-cancelling earbuds, HTC Alexa voice assistant, IP67 water resistance, and Android 7 Nougat. (HTC will update the phone to Android 8 Oreo by the end of November.) Perhaps most importantly, the U11 Life will be widely available to U.S. consumers. T-Mobile plans to sell the phone and feature it in stores as a “Smart Pick.” The U11 Life will be sold unlocked from HTC starting on November 2 and should hit T-Mobile stores the following day, November 3. The U11 Life is priced at under $349.


Sprint Says It Has 10 HPUE-Capable Phones

Oct 26, 2017, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The recent release of the Google Pixel 2 means Sprint customers have access to 10 handsets that support HPUE. Sprint has been deploying HPUE tech on its 2.5 GHz spectrum since late last year. The primary benefit is better performance (higher speeds, more capacity) at the cell edge. The result is a wireless experience more like that of Sprint's mid-band 1.9 GHz spectrum. The devices able to access HPUE include the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+, and Note8; the LG G6, V30+, and X Charge; the ZTE Max XL and Warp 8; the Motorola Z2 Force; the HTC U11; and the Pixel 2. Apple has yet to release any iPhones that support HPUE. Sprint said it expects to offer many more HPUE devices before long.


Cricket Wireless Enlists In Military Exchanges

Oct 17, 2017, 2:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wirelss today said it has expanded its retail footprint to 122 post exchanges on U.S. military bases. This includes 83 Army and Air Force bases, 14 Marine exchanges, and 26 Navy exchanges. Servicemen and servicewomen will be able to purchase Cricket Wireless handsets, including the Risio 2, CoolPad, HTC Desire 550, and Sol 2, at their local exchange and enroll in Cricket’s low-cost, prepaid wireless service. Post exchanges will also offer SIM cards for bring-your-own customers.


Google to Buy HTC's Pixel Handset Team for $1.1 Billion

Sep 20, 2017, 9:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has agreed to purchase HTC's Pixel smartphone business, as well as acquire some employees and license intellectual property, for $1.1 billion in cash. HTC's Pixel engineers will be added to Google's existing hardware organization, where they will continue to work on the Pixel smartphone line. "In many ways, this agreement is a testament to the decade-long history of teamwork between HTC and Google," said Rick Osterloh, former Motorola executive and current senior vice president of Google's hardware business. "Together, we've achieved several mobile-industry firsts, including the first ever Android smartphone, the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1; as well as the Nexus One in 2010, the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014, and the first Pixel smartphone just last year." Osterloh said Google will continue to focus on its core capabilities, creating hardware that takes advantage of Google's software. HTC will retain its actual smartphone business. In a statement, HTC said the company "will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone, following the successful launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year." HTC will also retain its Vive-branded virtual reality business and invest in next-generation technologies, such as the internet of things, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. The companies did not say when they expect the deal to close.


HTC Halts Trading Shares Ahead of Major Announcement

Sep 20, 2017, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will cease trading shares of its stock in anticipation of a significant announcement to be made tomorrow. The news was first revealed by the Taiwan Stock Exchange, which said "shares of HTC Corporation ... will be halted starting from Sept. 21, 2017 pending the release of material information." HTC confirmed the halt in share trading, but did not provide a reason behind the action. Earlier this month, Bloomberg suggested that Google might acquire HTC, or a portion thereof. It is possible that HTC plans to announce a takeover by Google during the announcement, which is being made town-hall style at its Taipei headquarters. The company's response to the Taiwan Stock Exchange alert read, "HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation." HTC, once a dominant maker of Android handsets, has been fading for years in the face of competition from Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and others. The company's financial health has been in question many times due to weak sales. HTC never stopped making compelling smartphones, such as the One series, the U11, and Pixel devices for Google. Google may want to bring HTC's handset division under its wing for future Pixel smartphones.


Google Schedules Oct. 4 Phone Event As Pixel 2 XL Swings by FCC

Sep 14, 2017, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 14, 2017, 7:57 AM

Google today kicked off a teaser campaign for a phone-based announcement that will take place on October 4. The company launched a web site with the address of madeby.google.com, and it specifically asks people what they want from their phones. A similar-themed billboard appeared in Boston in recent days, more or less confirming that the company will announce its 2017 smartphones on October 4. At the same time, a new handset from LG was recently approved by the FCC that could be a new Pixel model. Though the FCC documentation reveals no details about the handset itself, the FCC does potentially give away the name. The LG phone approved by the FCC this week carries the FCC ID of ZNFG011C, which is similar to that of the HTC-made NM8G011A. In this naming convention it is important to note that the first three digits are the manufacturer codes (ZNF for LG, NM8 for HTC) while the latter five digits (G011A and G011C) are the model numbers. The HTC G011A, approved by the FCC in August, is believed to be a Pixel-branded device for Google similar to the HTC U11. The newly-approved LG G011C could be a variant of the LG G6 or V30, or a completely new handset. Google has relied on both HTC and LG to make Nexus- and Pixel-branded handsets in the past.


HTC to Let Users Customize Edge Sense Actions

Sep 7, 2017, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said owners of its U11 smartphone will soon be able to customize the possible range of actions when using the Edge Sense squeezable side feature. According to HTC, users will be able to map the squeeze function to just about anything they can tap on the screen. Edge Sense is unique to the U11, which has pressure-sensitive side edges. Squeezing the phone calls up one of several different actions. Moving forward, people will be able to map their preferred actions to the squeezing behavior. The feature is being rolled out later tonight in beta through an update to the Edge Sense app.


Google Details Final Release of Android 8.0 Oreo

Aug 21, 2017, 3:37 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced the final release of Android 8.0, and also named this version "Oreo". Members of the Android Beta program will receive an update to the final version today. Nexus and Pixel users will receive the update "rolling out in phases over the next several weeks". Google has been working with all of its partners to enable updates for other phones. In the coming weeks and months, other manufacturers will roll out the update to many recent phones. By the end of the year, phones from Essential, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sharp and Sony will have Android 8.0 Oreo. The update includes some minor new features, such as picture-in-picture and improved auto-fill, plus many important improvements for developers and overall performance.


FCC Docs Point to HTC-Made Pixel Phone with 'Active Edge'

Aug 16, 2017, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:27 AM

The FCC recently approved a handset made by HTC that could be the next Pixel smartphone from Google. HTC manufactured last year's Pixel and Pixel XL handsets for Google. The FCC confirms that the new model in question, G011A, includes LTE support for all four major U.S. carriers via bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 30, 41, and 66. The phone supports CDMA BC 0/1/10, providing full support for Sprint voice service. The FCC also confirms that the phone will have Bluetooth, GPS, and dual-band WiFi. Some sample screenshots provided by HTC for the phone's FCC e-label provide a few more details about the device. The G011A runs Android 8.0.1. Google-branded handsets, including the Nexus series and Pixel series, will be the first to run Android 8, suggesting the G011A could be a Pixel. According to these same screen shots, the device runs a baseband radio (Qualcomm part MW8998) that would only be paired with the Snapdragon 835 processor (Qualcomm part MSM8998). The wide LTE band support and potential Snapdragon 835 processor earmark the G011A as a flagship handset of some sort. Last, the screenshots from HTC reference something called "Active Edge" that can be used to "squeeze for your Assistant." The Active Edge sounds a lot like the Edge Sense that HTC pioneered on the U11 smartphone from earlier this year. On the G011A, Active Edge may activate the Google Assistant. Neither HTC nor Google has confirmed any aspect of the G011A or 2017 Pixel.


HTC Offering 3 Months of Amazon Music Unlimited to U11 Buyers

Aug 8, 2017, 1:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said anyone who buys the U11 smartphone between now and the end of September will be rewarded with three months of Amazon Music Unlimited for free. The service provides access to Amazon's library of millions of songs, which can be streamed to the U11. Amazon Music Unlimited also includes thousands of playlists, personalized radio stations, and voice controls via Amazon Alexa. It competes with Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. The limited promotion is available to new subscribers in the U.S. only.


HTC Bringing 60 FPS Recording to U11

Aug 7, 2017, 1:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said a future update will add 60 frames-per-second video capture to its U11 flagship. The feature will be rolled out to the U11 in various markets around the world over the next few months. Higher capture frame rates lead to smoother video playback, particularly at full HD and 4K resolutions. The update will be free for U11 owners to install.


HTC Brings Alexa to the U11

Jul 17, 2017, 7:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Owners of the HTC U11 can now take advantage of Amazon Alexa on their smartphone wherever they happen to be. HTC made its HTC Alexa app available to the U11 via the Google Play Store. Once installed, U11 owners will be able to use voice commands and queries to interact with Alexa, Amazon's artificial intelligent assistant. HTC says people can configure Alexa to suit their needs, such as answering directly to voice commands, or waiting until activated via the U11's Edge Sense squeezable sides. Some of the actions include listening to Amazon Music, receiving weather and news reports, managing shopping lists, and interacting with smart home devices. Together with the Amazon Alexa app, U11 owners can enable and configure some 15,000 skills — all accessible through voice commands. HTC announced Alexa integration when the U11 was first launched. The company has now brought the functionality to the device. The HTC Alexa app is free for U11 owners to download.


Cricket Wireless Lands the HTC Desire 555

Jul 14, 2017, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2017, 4:02 PM

Cricket Wireless recently added the HTC Desire 555 to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. The 555 is a variant of the Desire 530. The phone is made from a polycarbonate chassis with a soft-touch finish, and comes with HTC's signature BoomSound audio. The 555 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor. According to Cricket, other specs of the Desire 555 include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 720p HD video capture, a 5-megapixel front camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE, HD voice, and 16 GB of storage. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and includes HTC software features, such as BlinkFeed and Themes. The HTC Desire 555 costs $120 when activated on a Cricket Wireless prepaid service plan.


Sprint Gave Its Galaxy S8 a Speed Boost

Jul 12, 2017, 3:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has pushed a firmware update to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and in so doing improved the phone's LTE download speeds by about 20%. According to PCMag, the update resolves a software bug that prevented the S8 from properly connecting to Sprint's Band 41 LTE. Sprint says about 85% of its S8 customers have already applied the update, which was pushed last month. Sprint delivered a similar update to the HTC U11, which also gained a performance boost in download speeds.


Android's July Security Patches Are Here

Jul 5, 2017, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided details about its July 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found a significant number of vulnerabilities, of which it classified a dozen as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, for example, a Broadcom WiFi driver, an HTC sound driver, and an Nvidia video driver. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated July 1 and the second dated July 5. Google is distributing the patches directly to its own Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Over the air downloads will appear soon. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said to its knowledge none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Android handset makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.


HTC Testing More Squeezable Edge Sense Actions for U11

Jun 23, 2017, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today demonstrated a handful of new Edge Sense actions it is testing for the U11. In the video, posted to HTC's Facebook page, the company shows how Edge Sense can be used to zoom in and out of maps and photos, answer and end phone calls, dismiss alarms, and change views in the calendar. HTC did not say if or when any of these tools might be advanced to the U11, though it did ask its community of fans for suggestions on other potential Edge Sense actions. The U11 smartphone includes sensors in the left and right edges that when squeezed initiate a handful of actions.


HTC Says Red Version of U11 Coming to the US

Jun 19, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said U.S. customers can pre-order the red variant of the U11 smartphone beginning June 20. Other than the color, the red U11 is identical to the black, silver, and blue versions. The phone costs $649 when purchased from HTC.com. HTC offers financing for those with good credit. Stand-out features include the Edge Sense squeezable sides, quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, and high-quality 12-megapixel camera. HTC has other summer sales lined up that will be available between today and June 29. HTC has dropped the price of the U Ultra from $749 to $629, it has dropped the price of the HTC 10 from $699 to $499, and has dropped the price of the HTC Bolt from $600 to $500. HTC is also offering some discounts on select accessories. HTC didn't specify with the red U11 will actually ship.


HTC's U11 Officially Shipping As of Today

Jun 9, 2017, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC said its U11 flagship smartphone is now shipping to those who may have preordered the handset. The unlocked model is available from Amazon.com and HTC.com and Sprint stores are stocking the U11 starting today. The phone has what HTC calls a "liquid surface" glass panel, squeezable Edge Sense actions, and customizable USonic headphones with active noise cancellation. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, and Android 7.1 Nougat. It costs $649.


Google Says Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get Daydream

May 17, 2017, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.


Hands On with the HTC U11

May 16, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 16, 2017, 2:04 AM

The HTC U11 is the company's true flagship phone for 2017. It fills the Goldilocks spot in HTC's U series: better than the U Play, but smaller than the U Ultra, while also replacing last year's HTC 10. It has unique features like shortcuts triggered by squeezing the phone, noise-canceling earbuds, and full support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It's covered in sexy curved glass on both the front and back, and comes in several eye-catching, color-shifting hues. It has all of the power and features you'd expect from a flagship today, including a Snapdragon 835 processor. What's it like in person? Read on for our hands-on first impressions.

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HTC's U11 Just Wants To Be Squeezed

May 16, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced the U11, a flagship smartphone that responds to squeezes along the side edge. According to HTC, the U11 will open the camera, dictate and send a text message, or even open email with a gentle squeeze. HTC calls this feature Edge Sense and says it will work under most circumstances, such as when the owner is wearing gloves. Other notable features include: support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and HTC Sense Companion voice assistants; HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition speakers and custom-tuned USonic earbuds that now include active noise cancellation; and four microphones for 3D recording. The phone merges the visual appeal of the U Ultra with the specs of a modern flagship. The U11 is made from dual liquid glass surfaces and a metal frame that are resistant to water and liquid damage. The Super LCD 3 display measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and boasts quad HD resolution. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. HTC gave the U11 a Snapdragon 835 processor from Qualcomm with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Other specs include a 12-megapixel main camera with autofocus, BSI sensor, optical image stabilization f/1.7 aperture, and dual LED flash. Shooting modes include HDR Boost, manual, panorama, face detection, hyper-lapse, slow motion, and 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 16-megapixel sensor. HTC selected a 3,000mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 3.0 via the USB-C port. Like the U Ultra, the U11 nixes the 3.5mm headset jack but includes an adapter. The U11 supports most LTE bands for use the U.S. and will be sold by Sprint with HPUE for faster performance on the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum. HTC plans to sell an unlocked variant of the phone directly to consumers via HTC.com and Amazon.com. Preorders can be made starting today and HTC expects the phone to ship in June. It will be available in black, silver, and blue. The HTC U11 costs $700.

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HTC Cuts Price of U Ultra to $599

Apr 17, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today kicked off a week-long sale that sees some of the best-ever prices for its handsets. Notably, the new HTC U Ultra has been knocked from $749 down to $599, a significant cut for the smartphone. The U Ultra is an all-glass Android phone from HTC that boasts top specs. HTC also slashed the price of the A9 from $499 to $199, the HTC 10 from $699 to $499, and the Bolt from $600 to $450. The sale prices are good through April 23. HTC sells its phones unlocked via its U.S. web site.


Google, Seeking Patent Peace, Debuts PAX Licensing Network

Apr 3, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced PAX, a patent-licensing initiative for Android that the company hopes will help resolve and/or prevent patent-related threats. Companies that join PAX give each other royalty-free patent licenses that cover Android and Google applications on compatible devices. The founding members of PAX include Google, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, HMD Global, HTC, Coolpad, BQ, and Allview. Together, these companies own some 230,000 patents. Google says the patent pool will only grow as more companies join the network. "We believe PAX will further expand the openness of Android for its members, promoting patent peace that will free up time and money for members, who can then dedicate those resources to creating new ideas," said Google. PAX is free for companies to join. Electronics companies often use technology patents as revenue sources, and litigate in order to seek payment. PAX may help reduce patent-based litigation depending on which companies join and what patents are cross-licensed with the group.


Verizon's HTC 10 Scores Android 7 Nougat

Mar 30, 2017, 3:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently began pushing the Android 7 Nougat update to its variant of the HTC 10 smartphone. The update includes split-screen multitasking, Data Saver, simplified settings, faster app switching, and direct replies from notifications. It also includes the latest security patches. Verizon says the update is rolling out via WiFi over the next few weeks.


HTC U Ultra to Ship March 10

Mar 8, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC has indicated via its web site that the U Ultra, the company's flagship handset for 2017, will begin shipping on March 10. The $750 smartphone comes in black, white, or blue, and features a 5.7-inch screen, Snapdragon 821 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and personalized sound profiles. Software features include Android 7 Nougat with HTC Sense and HTC's new Sense Companion personal assistant. The phone is sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.


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

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

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


HTC to Drop Entry-Level Phones, Focus On Profits

Feb 16, 2017, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC plans to exit the entry-level phone market moving forward and will instead focus its handset portfolio on high-margin devices. The company made the comments during a conference call with media to discuss its fourth quarter financial results. HTC said it will continue to sell and support entry-level phones that are already in the channel, but the company will reduce the total number of new phones to six or seven for the 2017 calendar year. HTC cited the high level of competition in the entry-level space as one reason for dropping low-cost phones from its lineup, as well as the slim chance it will be able to create profits from such phones. The company said it needs to focus on profitability in its handset business moving forward and will thus make only mid-range and high-end devices. HTC announced the U Ultra (pictured) and HTC U Play at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. These phones are expected to go on sale in March.


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

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

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


HTC Exec Jason Mackenzie Departs After 12 Years

Jan 31, 2017, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC executive vice president Jason Mackenzie said today will be his last day with the company. Mackenzie has been with HTC since 2005. He spent the last year working at a global position, but previously served as the head of HTC's U.S. operations. Mackenzie did not say what his next move will be. His departure follows closely that of VP of Design Claude Zellweger, who recently accepted a position with Google's Daydream virtual reality team.


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

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

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


HTC Says One A9 to Start Receiving Nougat Today

Jan 16, 2017, 11:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC's Mo Versi today announced via Twitter that the late-2015 One A9 smartphone will be updated to Android 7 Nougat. HTC is pushing the system update to the unlocked variant of the phone first. The revised operating system will be delivered via an over-the-air update. HTC didn't say when carrier-branded versions of the One A9 will receive Nougat.


Hands On with the HTC U Ultra and U Play

Jan 12, 2017, 3:30 AM   by Rich Brome

The HTC U Ultra and U Play are the company's new high-end phones, replacing the iconic HTC 10 and One series. They sport flowing 3D curved glass on the back, and high-end specs. The U Ultra also has a secondary touch screen above the main display. The U series also includes a learning AI assistant, as well as traditional HTC features like UltraPixel cameras, BoomSound Hi-Fi, hi-res audio, and HTC Connect for wireless media streaming. What are the U phone like in person? We checked them out.

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HTC U Ultra Is New, Glass-Backed Flagship Phone

Jan 12, 2017, 3:30 AM   by Rich Brome

HTC today announced its new flagship phone, the HTC U Ultra, along with a smaller version, the U Play. Both phones have a new design with colorful glass on the front and back, and a metal frame. The rear glass is fully curved at all four edges, a first. HTC developed a unique process called optical spectrum hybrid deposition" to give the glass multi-layered color. Available colors are: blue, white, black, and pink. The U Ultra has a 2-inch secondary touch-screen above the main display, much like the LG V20. New "HTC Sense Companion" software uses an AI to learn about you and offer intelligent suggestions. It can learn which are your most important contacts and apps, and only surface those notifications on the second screen. It can also advise you when to charge the phone if your schedule indicates you may run out of power before bedtime. (The battery rates 3,000 mAh.) The HTC Sense Companion will be on both U-series phones, as well as other new HTC phones this year. The U Ultra's Super LCD 5 main display measures 5.7 inches and has Quad-HD resolution. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4 GB of RAM. HTC gave the U Ultra four microphones that are always listening, and it can record "3D audio". The main camera is a 12-mgeapixel UltraPixel sensor, similar to the HTC 10 but with improved PDAF (focusing). A 16-megapuxel camera graces the front. Other features include 64 GB of internal storage, memory card slot, Android 7.0, Hi-Res audio, Cat. 11 LTE, fingerprint sensor in the home button, NFC, and Quick Charge 3.0. It has a USB-C port with USB 3.1, but no 3.5mm audio jack. The U Ultra is now available for pre-order from htc.com for $750, in an unlocked version that will work with the LTE networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. It will ship in early March. The U Play has the same design but smaller, with a 5.2-inch display, no second display, and a more modest main camera and processor. Other features are similar. HTC has not announced plans for a US-compatible version of the U Play.

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HTC's Unlocked 10 Snags Android 7 Update

Nov 25, 2016, 11:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC said the unlocked variant of its HTC 10 smartphone should receive Android 7 Nougat beginning today. The update is being pushed out over-the-air to the U.S. version of the HTC 10, which was sold directly by HTC online. Beyond Nougat, the update also installs the latest Android security patches from Google and provides other system enhancements. The update measures 1.1 GB and should be downloaded via WiFi.


HTC to Sell the Bolt As the 10 Evo Overseas

Nov 22, 2016, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 22, 2016, 10:25 AM

HTC today announced the 10 evo, an international variant of the Bolt that will be sold in markets outside the U.S. The only significant difference between the Bolt and 10 evo is the latter's lesser support for LTE. It drops three-channel carrier aggregation and sticks to LTE bands more common in Europe and other markets. The HTC 10 evo is a unibody metal handset that boasts IP57 for protection against water and dust. It includes a 5.5-inch quad HD screen with curved glass, Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for microSD cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0. The user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and a selfie light. HTC gave the phone a 3,200mAh battery and the USB-C port supports Quick Charge 2.0 for rapid power-ups. The phone does not include HTC's trademarked BoomSound stereo speakers, but it does ship with BoomSound Adaptive Audio headphones. The 10 evo ships with Android 7 Nougat and the latest version of Sense UI from HTC. It goes on sale later this month.

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Hands-On with HTC Bolt for Sprint

Nov 11, 2016, 1:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The HTC Bolt is a mishmash of HTC's two best phones with a handful of unique features tossed in to give it some additional appeal. Under-the-hood specs such as three-channel carrier aggregation and a Snapdragon 810 push this unibody handset faster than many others. Here are our first impressions of this one-off for Sprint.

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HTC Bolt, with 3-Channel CA, Is a Sprint Exclusive

Nov 11, 2016, 1:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC and Sprint today announced the Bolt, the first smartphone to ship with support for three-channel carrier aggregation (3xCA) for Sprint's LTE Plus network. The HTC Bolt can aggregate three 20MHz LTE channels to improve wireless performance. Sprint claims theoretical max downloads via 3xCA can reach 450Mbps, but expects real-world speeds to be under 300Mbps. While the Bolt will be the first handset to ship with 3xCA active out of the box, Sprint said earlier this year the HTC 10 and 9, LG G5, and Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are all 3xCA-capable — they need only a software update to turn the functionality on. The HTC Bolt is a unibody metal handset that boasts IP57 for protection against water and dust. It includes a 5.5-inch quad HD screen with curved glass, Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for microSD cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0. It has phase-detection autofocus, optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, and 4K video recording. The user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and a selfie light. HTC gave the phone a 3,200mAh battery and the USB-C port supports Quick Charge 2.0 for rapid power-ups. The phone does not include HTC's trademarked BoomSound stereo speakers, but it does ship with BoomSound Adaptive Audio headphones. The headphones include microphones and work together with on-board software to fine-tune the EQ based on the owner's ear and surrounding environment for the best-possible sound. The phone ships with Android 7 Nougat and the latest version of Sense UI from HTC. The HTC Bolt reaches Sprint stores today (Nov. 11) for $25 per month for 24 months with an installment plan.

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HTC's Desire Series Goes Upscale with Desire 10 Pro and Desire 10 Lifestyle

Sep 20, 2016, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced the Desire 10 series, a re-imagining of its mid-range handsets. Both the Desire 10 pro and Desire 10 lifestyle feature metal designs with matte finishes and gold highlights. Other shared features include 5.5-inch screens with Gorilla Glass, memory card support, and microUSB. The phones run Android 6 Marshmallow and include the latest version of HTC Sense for customizing the user interface.

  • Desire 10 pro: The more upscale of the two phones has a full HD screen and is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor with 3 or 4 GB of RAM and 32 or64 GB of storage. The main camera includes a 20-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and laser-assisted focus, while the front camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and a selfie panorama mode. It has a 3,000mAh battery.
  • Desire 10 lifestyle: The lifestyle drops the display resolution to 720p and trades the MediaTek processor for a quad-core Snapdragon 400 with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage. The main camera includes a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and laser-assisted focus, while the selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.8. It has a 2,700mAh battery and BoomSound stereo speakers.
The Desire 10 pro will hit the market in November, while the Desire 10 lifestyle will arrive in late September. Pricing was not shared. HTC said the devices will initially be made available to markets outside the U.S. and didn't say if or when the devices might be sold to U.S. consumers.

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HTC Reveals the One A9s, Which Will Be Sold In US

Sep 1, 2016, 2:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced the One A9s, a less-expensive follow up to last year's A9. The A9s is a mid-range device that makes use of HTC's signature metal chassis design, but it dumbs down the specs a bit. The phone features a 5-inch 720p HD LCD screen and an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel BSI sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and RAW photo support. The front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with beauty mode and full HD video capture. Other specs include a 2,300mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.2, fingerprint sensor, BoomSound for the 3.5mm headset jack, and CAT6 LTE. HTC said the One A9s will be priced affordably. It will be sold worldwide, including in the U.S.


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