Cricket Wireless is looking to entice people to switch to its network by offering discounts on a number of smartphones. Beginning January 22, consumers who port their number to Cricket can buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 for $399.99, a savings of $100 over the normal retail price. Cricket is making similar discounts, ranging from $20 to $50, available to a dozen other devices, including the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 ($109.99), ZTE Grand X Max ($99.99), HTC Desire 626s ($89.99), and Microsoft Lumia 640 ($79.99). The promotion runs for a limited time. Cricket's service plans start at $40 per month. Wireless carriers are competing for customers fiercely. With most Americans already carrying a smartphone, the only way for carriers to score new customers is to steal them from rivals.
Nextbit announced the Robin last year, but the company is using CES 2016 to re-introduce the phone just ahead of its launch. This phone focuses on optimizing on-board storage using the cloud. The hardware was crafted by a former HTC designer, so some of its characteristics are rather familiar. Here are our first impressions.
Under Armour and HTC today announced UA HealthBox, a $400 box containing a suite of health and fitness hardware designed to work with the UA Record app for Android and iOS. The core device is the UA Band wrist wearable, which tracks basic heart rate and activity. It's designed to be worn 24/7, tracking both daily movement and sleep cycles. A more advanced, accurate heart rate monitor is included and designed to be worn during workouts and sport activity. As first reported by Phone Scoop over a month ago, the UA Scale — measuring both weight and body fat — is also part of the kit. It uses Bluetooth to identify the UA Band of the person standing on the scale and Wi-Fi to upload the data. The UA Record app collects and combines info from the hardware with food intake information entered by the user, to provide a complete health picture. The UA Band is similar to the HTC Grip device announced almost a year ago, but sacrifices GPS for a sleeker, smaller design that lasts longer between charges and can be worn 24/7. The new UA Band is encased in rubber and sports a thin white OLED display; it's controlled by touch gestures and a single physical button on the side. It also has an adjustable strap. The UA HealthBox can be pre-ordered immediately. It will go on sale January 22nd online and at UA Brand House stores in major U.S. cities. It will be available more widely later in Q1, including at third party sports retailers and internationally.
HTC representative Mo Versi said the unlocked variants of the One A9 and M9 will see system updates arrive in the next 24 hours. The A9 will be updated to Android 6.0.1, while the M9 will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. HTC hasn't said when carrier versions of these handsets will receive the same updates.
HTC is selling the Desire 626 for $149 today, which is $30 off the normal price, as part of its Holiday Hot Deals promo. The company is also offering 40% off all accessories while supplies last. The Hot Deal is available until the end of the day, Dec. 8.
HTC today said it has extended one of its Black Friday deals through January 7. Customers who trade in their current handset can get the One A9 for as little as $0 with a qualifying trade. The One A9 normally retails for $499.
HTC and Under Armour are collaborating on a scale, according to documents seen on the Bluetooth Special Interest Group web site. The Bluetooth SIG revealed a product named "UA Scale" with a description that reads "HTC and UA provide a Bluetooth scale to measure weight and body fat." The device has a Bluetooth 4.1 radio onboard, ostensibly so it can to connect to nearby smartphones and/or wearables. HTC announced a partnership with Under Armour earlier this year with the goal of introducing a range of connected fitness devices. A wearable, called the Grip, was expected to arrive before the end of 2015, but has been pushed out to 2016. Neither HTC nor Under Armour has said anything about the UA Scale.
HTC is offering online shoppers significant discounts today. Those who spend $650 or more at HTC.com can save 30%, those who spend $500 or more can save 20%, and those who spend $200 or more can save 15%. The sale is good for all products sold on HTC.com and runs through Midnight tonight.
AT&T and Sprint stores are now selling the HTC One A9. The phone's introductory price of $399 is no longer available, and HTC and its carrier partners are charging full price for the handset. AT&T is offering the One A9 for $17.34, $21.67, or $26 per month with its Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 payment plans, respectively. Alternately, customers can pay $99.99 if they are willing to sign a two-year contract. Sprint is leasing the One A9 for $20 per month, financing it for $29 per month, or asking for $199.99 up front with a contract. The One A9 sports a premium metal unibody design with thin profile. Key features include 5-inch full-HD display, 13-megapixel camera, fingerprint reader, NFC, and memory card slot.
AT&T today said customers can place orders for the HTC One A9 smartphone starting today. The phone will reach stores Nov. 6. AT&T is offering the One A9 for $0 down followed buy monthly payments of $17.34, $21.67, or $26 with a Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 plan, respectively. Alternately, the handset is available for $99.99 with a two-year contract. AT&T did not specify full retail pricing, though HTC is selling the One A9 unlocked via HTC.com for $399 through Nov. 6.
HTC today issued a statement clarifying that the announced $400 price for its One A9 in the U.S. is only a limited-time introductory sale price. On November 7, the price will jump to $500. The lower intro pricing is only for unlocked units purchased directly from HTC's U.S. web site. Full carrier pricing is expected to run closer to the $500 price.
HTC today said is will not launch a wearable with Under Armour this year as expected, and is now targeting early 2016 instead. The company first revealed the HTC Grip in March. In July, the company shelved the product in favor of other form factors. HTC now says those products won't make it to market before the year is over. "As we continue to develop the Connected Fitness platform and elevate our product offerings, Under Armour and HTC have decided to launch a fully integrated digital ecosystem of products early next year," said the company in a statement. "This global launch will provide the tools needed to help athletes of all levels track, manage, and improve their health and fitness. Our teams have done a remarkable job bringing these products to life and we're excited to share them with the public soon." HTC is using Under Armour's fitness platform to give its wearables life. Earlier this week, HTC announced the One A9, a new Android smartphone.
HTC said the unlocked One A9, announced today, will receive system updates from HTC quicker than most phones in the market. "This One A9 unlocked edition will provide you with every Android software update within 15 days of when Google first pushes to their Nexus line," said HTC's Jason Mackenzie during the phone's introduction. The One A9 is among the first phones to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Google itself has only recently pushed the system update to the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 smartphones. HTC has attempted to deliver Android system updates quickly in the past, but wasn't always successful. HTC is selling the unlocked One A9 directly via its web site for $399. U.S. carriers also plan to sell the device in early November, but carrier-branded variants will not be party to fast system updates.
The One A9 is HTC’s new flagship for late 2015. It replaces the One M9 in HTC’s current U.S. lineup. Although it’s a very high-end phone, it’s not really trying to compete with other flagships on cutting-edge specs and technology. Rather, HTC is aiming to create a flagship that competes on design. They’re also gunning for the iPhone, of course, and are following a similar strategy of focusing on design over specs numbers. The One A9 represents a few subtle but key shifts in strategy for HTC. How is the end result? Read on....
HTC today announced the One A9, a stylish handset that offers top-notch build quality and is among the first to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The A9 takes HTC's design in a slightly different direction when compared to the One M9 and M8. HTC retained the unibody metal construction, but flattened out the rear surface, rounded off the side edges, and curved the glass display slightly to meet the metal frame. The A9 is slim and, thanks to the 5-inch full HD display, smaller than many of today's flagships. HTC is positioning the phone as a sub-flagship. Rather than rely on the fastest silicon from Qualcomm, the A9 runs an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor (four cores at 1.5GHz, four cores at 1.2GHz) paired with 3GB of RAM an either 16GB or 32GB of storage. The A9 supports memory cards up to 2TB. The phone has a 13-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization, pro mode, timelapse capture, and Zoes. The front camera relies on HTC's UltraPixel design; both the front and rear can capture 1080p HD video. HTC added a fingerprint sensor to the front of the phone, which can be used to secure the handset or authorize Android Pay transactions. The phone has a non-removable 2150mAh battery that supports QuickCharge 2.0 and is forward-compatible with QuickCharge 3.0 for rapid charging. The device offers Dolby audio, but it doesn't have stereo speakers like some older HTC handsets. HTC added its own Sense 7.0 user interface to the Android 6.0 Marshmallow platform, though HTC says it is somewhat toned down compared to previous versions. The phone is available for order directly from HTC.com beginning today. It costs $399 and is sold unlocked and with Uh Oh Protection. HTC said U.S. carriers will announce pricing and availability separately. It will initially be available in gray and silver, with garnet and gold to follow.
HTC will sell an unlocked version of its new One A9 that can be used on Verizon's LTE network, even though the phone lacks the legacy CDMA technology found in all other Verizon phones to date. That makes the One A9 the first phone announced for use with Verizon in LTE-only mode. Verizon has upgraded its entire network footprint to LTE technology, including VoLTE (Voice over LTE, which enables voice calls using only the LTE network.) These upgrades make older CDMA technology obsolete, but the CDMA network will continue to operate until around 2021, and Verizon phones so far have supported the older CDMA technology in addition to LTE. Verizon has separately announced plans to offer an LTE-only phone by the end of this year, but has yet to announce one that it will sell directly. The One A9 variant in question will work with Verizon LTE after a software update, available shortly after launch. It will also work with AT&T and T-Mobile LTE and 3G networks. A separate version is designed for Sprint LTE and CDMA networks. HTC says previously-activated SIM cards (i.e., those pulled from a working Verizon phone) will have full support to voice, SMS/MMS, and data services via LTE on the One A9. Customers will not be able to activate a new Verizon SIM on the A9, nor can the A9 be activated in Verizon stores. The unlocked One A9 comes with an unlocked bootloader, 6 months of Google Play Music for free, and Uh Oh Protection. It costs $399 and will be available in the weeks ahead.
Boost Mobile today announced a trio of inexpensive handsets, including the Huawei Union. The Union has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It includes a 5-megapixel camera, 2,000mAh battery, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. The Huawei Union runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $79.99. Boost Mobile also announced pricing for the HTC 626s and the Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen), which cost $129.99 and $149.99, respectively. All three smartphones go on sale today.
HTC says it is on board with the concept of monthly security updates, but admits the reality is a different story. Jason Makenzie, president of HTC America, said the company "will push for them, but unrealistic for anyone to say guaranteed every month." The comment came in response to question posed to Makenzie about HTC handset security. Earlier this year, Google announced plans to push monthly security updates to Android handsets in the wake of the Stagefright vulnerability. Samsung and LG quickly followed suit. In order for the updates to reach HTC handsets, HTC has to take the security patch from Google, build it into their platform for each handset, and then seek carrier approval for those updated platforms. The process takes months from start to finish, and, thanks to sagging sales, HTC phones likely have a lower priority within their carrier partner labs than those from Samsung and LG. HTC today reported a near 50% drop in revenue for the quarter on weak smartphone sales, and recorded a loss of $138 million.
The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.
Cricket Wireless today announced a significant expansion of its retail footprint thanks to Target. Beginning Oct. 25, Cricket handsets and services will be available in some 1,600 Target stores around the country. Consumers will be able to purchase smartphones from HTC, LG, Samsung, and ZTE for prices ranging between $50 and $130, as well as SIM cards for BYOD customers. Cricket says the expansion means it now has a presence in 9,000 retail locations around the U.S.
HTC executive Jason Makenzie today said the company plans to start updating its smartphones to Android 6.0 Marshmallow before the end of the year. The One M9 and One M8 will be first to see the update, which will begin to arrive in December. Other HTC handsets will see Marshmallow in 2016, include the One M9+, One E9 and E9+, the ME, M8, and E8 EYE, as well as the Desire 826, 820, and 816.
Cricket Wireless today announced availability and pricing details for the HTC Desire 520 in addition to a slew of other discounts and deals. The Desire 520 reaches Cricket stores Sept. 11 for $99.99. The 520 is an entry-level Android handset. Cricket is also offering significant discounts to new customers who port their number from another carrier. For example, it will drop the price of the LG Risio from $49.99 to $19.99 and the price of the LG Stylo from $149.99 to $99.99. Customers can grab the Samsung Galaxy S4 for $299, the S5 for $399, or the S6 for $499. Last, Cricket is holding open enrollment for its device protection program, called Cricket Protect. The service covers damage and other issues for $7 to $10 per month, depending on the handset.
HTC today kicked off a short promotion that will reward buyers of the One M9 smartphone with $100 in Google Play Store credit. Buyers will need to scoop up the phone from HTC.com no later than Oct. 31 to claim the $100 in free app, music, movie, and game content.
Cricket Wireless today said the LG G Stylo and HTC Desire 626s are available at its stores and on its web site. The G Stylo costs $199.99 and the Desire 626s costs $149.99. Service plans for these Android handsets are as low as $35.
HTC announced that it will take several cost-cutting measures, including the elimination of jobs. HTC plans to cut about 2,250 employees, or 15% of its headcount by the end of the year, in order save money. Between the job reductions and other actions, HTC hopes to reduce expenses by about 35%. The company is also reorganizing a bit and will form new business units to help it better focus on selling phones, develop its virtual reality tech, and market its connected lifestyle products. Once a leading maker of smartphones, HTC's global share of the smartphone market has dropped to just 2% amid fierce competition at the high and low ends of the market.
Verizon Wireless today said the HTC Desire 526 and Desire 626 will reach its store shelves in the near future. The 526, which has a 4.7-inch qHD display and an 8-megapixel camera, will be available online and in stores starting Aug. 13 for $120 or $5 per month for 24 months. The 626, which has a 5-inch display and 8-megapixel/5-megapixel camera combination, will be available in the coming weeks. Verizon didn't say how much the 626 will cost. Both phones run Android 5.1 Lollipop, have 2,000mAh batteries, and support memory cards. They will be sold through Verizon's postpaid and prepaid businesses.
Nextbit today said it plans to fully reveal its first smartphone on Sept. 1. The company has not revealed any details about the handset just yet, other than to say it will make use of Google's Android platform and will hook into Nextbit's cloud services. "The idea is to take Android a step further, and extend beyond the hard specs of the phone to offer features that consumers have been clamoring for over the past few years," said the company. Nextbit is based in San Francisco and run by former Googler Tom Moss. HTC's former head of design, Scott Croyle, is also aboard. The company is backed by Google Ventures and other investment firms. The Nextbit phone will be available for order on the Sept. 1 launch date.
HTC today said it plans to make cuts to its employee base and reduce the number of handsets it releases in a bid to become more competitive with market leaders Apple and Samsung. "The cuts will be across the board," said HTC CFO Chialin Chang. "They will be significant." The company reported earnings today and recorded a loss for the second quarter. It predicted that it will lose money in the third quarter, as well. The company will trim jobs through the first quarter of 2016 in order to get a handle on expenses. HTC said it will bank on high-end models in emerging markets, such as India, where it has a solid share of handsets priced between $250 and $400. HTC didn't specify which handsets it might drop. The HTC One M9 is the company's flagship smartphone. It also sells the Desire 626s and Desire 520/526 entry-level phones.
ParkerVision today said it lost an appeal of allegations that Qualcomm was infringing on some of its patents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a district court ruling maintaining that ParkerVision did not prove infringement of its patents by Qualcomm. The appeals court also agreed with the district court in denying Qualcomm's attempt to invalidate one of the patents. ParkerVision said, however, that the appeals court reversed the lower courts decision regarding the validity of ParkerVision's other claims. "We are highly disappointed with the appellate court's decision both with regard to infringement and validity of certain of our patent claims," said Jeffrey Parker, ParkerVision's Chairman and CEO. "Despite this setback, we will consider further options on appeal, and will move forward in our second infringement case against Qualcomm, HTC and Samsung." ParkerVision designs radio-frequency technology for wireless devices.
Nextbit, a small San Francisco-based startup, today announced that it plans to build smartphones. The company is only teasing an Android handset at the moment, and said it will reveal more details about the device and its plans in the weeks ahead. Nextbit is run by CEO Tom Moss and counts among its staff at least two former HTC employees, including Scott Croyle, HTC's former head of design. "We want to set this off as something different," said Croyle, speaking to Recode. "We don't have to be for everybody." Nextbit already offers cloud-based storage. The company remained mum on the specifics regarding its smartphone plans, such as whether it will target the entry level, middle, or top of the market.
HTC has made a system update available to the T-Mobile variant of the One M9, and the phone earns some significant improvements with the new code. To start, it gains the camera enhancents given to the international edition earlier this year, as well as the kill switch required by California law. It also adds battery improvements and new support for Google Wallet. The update is being pushed out over the air.
HTC today said it is pushing back the launch of the HTC Grip, a wearable fitness devices it announced earlier this year. "After extensive wear testing and user feedback, we have decided to align Grip with the entire product portfolio for health and fitness launching later this year," said the company in a statement. "This will be a state-of-the-art comprehensive portfolio of products for this category powered by [Under Armour Record]." The Grip was expected to arrive in the spring.
HTC today said it plans to expand availability of the One M9+ outside of Asia to select European markets. The One M9+ is a slightly larger version of the M9 that has different camera and processor configuration. The design is similar to that of the One M9, including the metal materials and BoomSound stereo speakers. The screen measures 5.2 inches and has quad HD resolution (the M9 has a 5-inch full HD screen). The phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio X10 processor with eight cores clocked at 2.2 GHz (the M9 has a Qualcomm processor). The phone has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, with support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The M9+ has a 20-megapixel main camera with a 2-megapixel secondary camera to capture depth-of-field information (similar to the One M8). The front camera relies on HTC's ultrapixel design. HTC gave the One M9+ a fingerprint sensor, which is positioned on the front of the phone in the home button. Connectivity options include Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and LTE. The phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Sense 7. Pricing and availability will be announced by individual carriers. HTC hasn't said if the phone will be sold in the U.S.
Sprint today announced that its Sprint Prepaid service will offer the HTC Desire 626s in marshmallow white beginning July 19. The phone costs $129.99. Service plans start at $35 per month and do no require contracts.
HTC today announced several new additions to its Desire line of mid-range Android handsets. These devices tout style and affordability with a middling set of specs. More importantly, they'll be sold by virtually all U.S. carriers. Here are our initial impressions.
HTC today revealed a new family of Desire handsets. The 626 series (pictured) and 526/520 series share many features, though the former is a bit more mid-range and the latter is decidedly entry-level. Traits common to the 626, 626S, 526, and 520 include Qualcomm's 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor; 2,000mAh batteries; single-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS/GLONASS; support for 2 TB memory cards; and Android 5.1 Lollipop with HTC Sense.
- 626/626S: In keeping with prior Desire designs, the 626/626S are formed of polycarbonate and have variable color combinations. These larger Desire handsets have 5-inch 720p HD screens and 8-megapixel main cameras with 720p video capture. The 626 has 16 GB of storage, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The 626S has 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera.
- 526/520:The 526 and 520 share most design features, but differ in some key specs. They have a simple appearance and cheaper materials. The 526, intended for Verizon, has a 4.7-inch qHD screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1.5 GB of RAM. The 520, intended for Cricket Wireless, has a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM.
AT&T will begin updating the HTC One M9 to Android 5.1 Lollipop on July 15, according to HTC rep Mo Versi. Notably, the system update includes improvements for the camera. The update will be available over-the-air.
Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.
Sprint today introduced a new plan that combines the cost of a service plan with the cost of a handset in one monthly payment. The Sprint All-In plan costs $80 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, and a Sprint Lease on handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9. There are no up-front phone costs aside from a one-time, $36 activation fee. The $80 monthly rate does not include taxes. Sprint believes this is the simplest, most straight-forward plan in the market. Sprint will use soccer star David Beckham to advertise the plan, which is available in Sprint stores beginning today.
Cricket Wireless today said its goods and services will be available at 213 Meijer stores across the midwest beginning June 27. Consumers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky will be able buy prepackaged phone kits from phone makers such as HTC, Samsung, and ZTE. The stores will also sell Cricket's universal SIM card kits for those who already have a compatible device. Cricket Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.