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printed May 5, 2016
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BlackBerry Adds Swipe Typing to Priv's Keyboard

Tuesday, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry Priv smartphone owners can now swipe across the keyboard to input text, rather than press individual letters. BlackBerry says Priv owners have to turn on Type By Swipe manually, and can choose to swipe either on the software keyboard or the physical keyboard. Turning on swipe, however, disables the existing swiping gestures (for accessing symbols, deleting entire words, etc.) that are part of the Priv's physical keyboard. BlackBerry said it is looking at ways to allow Type By Swipe and its other swiping gestures to work at the same time. The Type By Swipe input tool was added to the Priv with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. Privs still running Android 5.1 can access these features by installing a new version of the BlackBerry keyboard app, available in the Google Play Store.


BBM for Android Gains Video Calling

Apr 28, 2016, 12:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 28, 2016, 12:45 PM

BlackBerry today said it is expanding BBM video calling to Android devices. The feature is rolling out in the U.S. and Canada first in beta. BlackBerry says Android users should be able to make video calls to other BBM users on Android and BlackBerry devices. The company plans to monitor how BBM video calling functions within the beta. Most Android users should be able to take advantage of the feature right away, and aren't required to sign up. Video calling in BBM will be expanded to the iPhone and other regions over time, with a global launch scheduled for July.


BlackBerry Priv Gets a Taste of Marshmallow

Apr 26, 2016, 8:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said Priv owners can expect to see the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update hit their devices in the days ahead. BlackBerry has been testing Marshmallow on the Priv for a couple of weeks. In addition to all the usual Marshmallow trappings, the update brings with it 200 new emoji, more keyboard gestures, and enhanced word prediction. BlackBerry took steps to improve the launcher, which now offers more control over the home screen, and increase the number of apps compatible with BlackBerry Hub. The update includes the latest security patches from BlackBerry, allowing Priv owners to set custom personal data permissions, better manage notifications for privacy purposes, and make use of S/MIME for adding digital signatures and encryption to emails. Last, BlackBerry added several new options to the camera, including a wider range of video frame rates, such as slow-motion. BlackBerry said unlocked, non-carrier devices will see the update first, but all Priv's should receive Marshmallow shortly.


Microsoft Rolls Out Lumia 950 BOGO Offer

Apr 25, 2016, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft is looking to clear inventory of the Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 smartphones, which means consumers can buy one at full price and get the second one for free. The deal is available via Microsoft's U.S. web store. Specifically, people who purchase the 950 XL at $649 will receive a Lumia 950, valued at $549, for free. Both devices are being sold unlocked with support for GSM carriers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The promotion is available while supplies last through May 2. Microsoft reported shipments of about 2.3 million Lumia phones in its most recent financial documents, which represents a steep drop from the 8.6 million it shipped in the year-ago period. The company admitted it is sitting on a lot of excess inventory of its flagship Windows 10 Mobile devices. Moreover, the company expects "year over year revenue declines to deepen as we work through our Lumia channel position." Cricket Wireless is expected to launch Microsoft's mid-range model, the Lumia 650, early next month. Microsoft has recently pushed a significant update to its Windows 10 Mobile platform and updated core apps such as email, Groove Music, and the Edge browser.


AT&T Drops BlackBerry Priv Price to $640

Apr 22, 2016, 8:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry said AT&T has lowered the price of the the Priv smartphone by $100. The phone now costs $640 at full retail, instead of $740, or $199 with a two-year contract, instead of $250. The lowered monthly installment plan prices are $26.67 with AT&T Next 18, $31 with AT&T Next 12, or $16 with AT&T Next 12 with a downpayment of $192. The Priv has been available since late last year. It is a slider with a full QWERTY keyboard. The Priv runs Android rather than BlackBerry's own operating system.


Sprint Reneges On the BlackBerry Priv

Apr 11, 2016, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint appears to have had second thoughts about selling the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. In January, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the device — initially an AT&T exclusive — would reach Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Since then, T-Mobile and Verizon have launched the Android-based slider. Sprint has not. When questioned on Twitter, the official SprintCares account told consumers, "Sorry to say but we will no longer carry the BlackBerry Priv. If this changes in the future we will update customers." When asked directly, a Sprint representative said to Phonescoop, "At this time, Sprint does not have an availability date to share for bringing a smartphone from BlackBerry into our device lineup." BlackBerry has not commented on Sprint's change in plans. BlackBerry sold only 600,000 smartphones during its most recent quarter and cut the Priv's retail price from $699 to $649.


BlackBerry Cuts Priv's Price By $50

Apr 7, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry has given the Priv a price cut. The smartphone maker dropped the price of the phone from $699 to $649. The company hopes the price drop will spur interest in the Android-based slider. The company sold about 600,000 smartphones during its most recent quarter, which was below expectations. BlackBerry has been transforming itself from a hardware business to a software and services business, but the company still needs hardware sales to generate revenue. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said if the company cannot make money selling smartphones, it will exit the smartphone business entirely.


BlackBerry Debuts Marshmallow Beta Program for Priv

Apr 4, 2016, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry is opening the Android OS in Beta Zone program so consumers can download and test Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the Priv smartphone. BlackBerry says space in the beta program is limited. Consumers who bought their Priv directly from ShopBlackBerry, Amazon.com, or Carphone Warehouse will be admitted into the beta program first. Those who purchased the Priv through a wireless network operator will have to wait. Registration will be open for the next two weeks. BlackBerry expects to push the first beta to devices over-the-air during the second week of April. The program will last between four and eight weeks. BlackBerry said beta testers will be expected to enable background diagnostic reporting so performance data can be analyzed by BlackBerry's development team. BlackBerry hopes beta testers will also provide direct feedback concerning speed, stability, and other factors. Android 6.0 Marshmallow adds features such as Doze and Now On Tap.


BlackBerry Makes BBM Privacy Features Free

Apr 4, 2016, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BBM users now have more control over their messages thanks to an update BlackBerry made available to Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. All three platforms now have unlimited use of the Retract and Timer features. Retract lets users retract messages and images they no longer want the recipient to see. Timer gives users control over how long messages, pictures, or location details can be viewed by a message recipient. Previously, these features were reserved for BBM Premium subscribers, which carries a monthly fee. BlackBerry added other tools to BBM, including Private Chat (removes names and avatars) and Edit (allows editing of sent messages) functions, message forwarding, and bug fixes. Changes specific to Android include the ability to mute notifications, scroll through pictures, and save pictures to camera roll. The update adds support for Android 6.0 and improves BBM voice call quality. For Blackberry devices, the latest BBM makes it possible to retract or edit messages sent to groups, as well as delete messages from just the sender's view of the conversation. For iOS devices, BBM refreshes the chat screen experience, allows users to capture and share larger videos, adds support for multi-select mode to handle bulk tasks, and makes it possible to save images to the camera roll. BBM is free to download from the Google Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store.


Facebook Pulls Support for BlackBerry 10, BBOS

Mar 18, 2016, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook has decided to cease supporting the BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS platforms. The company has chosen to discontinue its essential APIs for BlackBerry, effectively breaking the existing app. Earlier this week, the company updated the official BlackBerry Facebook app that replaced the native app with a simple web interface. BlackBerry users face a mandatory update to the Facebook app by March 31, at which point the app will cease to work on BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry 7.1 handsets. The change will impact BlackBerry 10 users more significantly, as Facebook functions will no longer be available through the BlackBerry Hub. This means messages, comments, notifications, and other content won't be pushed to the phone. Moreover, BB10 handsets will no longer be able to integrate Facebook contacts with their BlackBerry contacts, and won't be able to share photos and other content directly to Facebook. BlackBerry expressed disappointment with Facebook's decision. Last month, WhatsApp also announced plans to stop supporting BlackBerry.


Verizon Rolls Out Galaxy S7 BOGO Offer

Mar 18, 2016, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has made a Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge buy-one, get-one deal of its own available to smartphone shoppers. Beginning today, customers who buy one Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge can receive a second one for free as long as the second one is activated on a new line. Both phones must be purchased through an installment plan. Verizon will give buyers a prepaid card for the value of the phone. Verizon customers who've already bought a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge are also eligible for a free phone if they choose to activate a new line. AT&T and T-Mobile have similar promotions running right now.

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Verizon to Sell BlackBerry Priv Starting Today

Mar 3, 2016, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is now offering the BlackBerry Priv to customers. The device is available for purchase online beginning today, and will reach retail stores March 11. Verizon is selling the phone for $30 per month with an installment plan or at the full retail cost of $720. The Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Priv is already available from AT&T and T-Mobile.


BlackBerry Improves Priv's Launcher, Camera, and Keyboard

Mar 1, 2016, 8:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry has updated several apps for the Priv smartphone and added several compelling features along the way. The Priv Launcher now includes separate views of personal and work apps, allows users to remove shortcuts from the home screen via flicking gestures, enables pop-up widgets by default, and improves overlays so users can see more information about apps and other settings. The Priv Camera gains better slow-motion video capture, which can now record at 120 frames per second. The Priv Keyboard app (for the on-screen software keyboard) improves predictive typing accuracy and control. For example, predictive typing can now learn words with numbers, and can suggest names from the contact app when users address emails. The keyboard app also gains refined cursor control and full-word delete. All three apps are free to download from the Google Play Store.


WhatsApp Ending Support for Blackberry and Symbian OSes

Feb 28, 2016, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

WhatsApp plans to cease supporting a handful of older mobile operating systems by the end of the year. WhatsApp will stop working on devices running Android 2.1 and 2.2; all BlackBerry OSes, including BlackBerry 10; Nokia's S40 and Symbian S60 platforms; and Windows Phone 7.1. "While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future," explained WhatsApp in a blog post. WhatsApp suggests people relying on devices that run this operating systems upgrade to newer hardware if they wish to continue using WhatsApp. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $16 billion. Facebook says WhatsApp has more than 1 billion users worldwide.


Microsoft, Google, Facebook Back Apple

Feb 25, 2016, 4:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

More tech companies are backing Apple's position in the locked phone case against the FBI. Google and Facebook have said they'll file motions in support of Apple with the court, while Microsoft said it will file an amicus brief with the U.S. Department of Justice. Apple is refusing to help the FBI unlock a phone owned by the terrorist in the San Bernardino shootings. Apple believes doing so will put all iPhone owners at risk. A court has ordered Apple to unlock the device. The matter will reach court on March 1.


OmniVision Sensor Captures HD Video at 240 FPS

Feb 23, 2016, 2:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

OmniVision today announced the OV13870, a camera sensor for mid-range and high-end smartphones that records full HD resolution video at 240 frames per second for the ultimate in slow motion playback. It can also capture 4K/2K video at 60 fps or 720p HD video at 300 fps. The OV13870 is a 13-megapixel sensor built on OmniVision's PureCel Plus-S pixel architecture, which are larger pixels meant to help improve low-light performance. The sensor has a 12-bit analog-to-digital converter, uses phase detection auto focus, and supports dual-camera functionality. The OV13870 is already sampling and is expected to enter mass production during the second quarter of the year.


BlackBerry Trims More Workers

Feb 5, 2016, 2:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry has cut an unspecified number of employees at two facilities. The company confirmed that it let employees go at its Waterloo headquarters, as well as at a plant in Sunrise, Fla. "As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce," said the company in a statement. "This means finding new ways to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities, while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business. As a result, a small number of employees have been impacted. It also means that BlackBerry is actively recruiting in those areas of our business that will drive growth." BlackBerry CEO John Chen has focused on BlackBerry's core BES communications and device management business while winding down its phone business. Chen recently said BlackBerry will release as few as one or two new handsets per year if it stays in the hardware game. Chen has been vocal about killing off its smartphone business entirely if it can't turn a profit. BlackBerry didn't say what areas of the company were affected by today's job cuts.


T-Mobile Offers Families Unlimited Data for $150

Feb 3, 2016, 9:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today rolled out a new promotion that will give families of four unlimited talk, text, and data each for a total of $150 per month. Other options include four lines with 10 GB each for $120 per month, or two lines with 10 GB each for $100 per month. The promotion, which T-Mobile said will be available for a limited time, is open to new and existing customers and does not require port-ins, trade-ins, or handset purchases. T-Mobile said the new Family Match plan can be combined with the buy-one, get-one half-off offer currently available for certain phones.


Google, BlackBerry Make February Security Patch Available

Feb 2, 2016, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is now delivering a security patch to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 10 issues, of which five are considered to be critical. The two most severe problems could allow for remote code execution through a WiFi driver and a media server. Google found the vulnerabilities in January and alerted its hardware partners to the problems. The security patch is available via factory images from Google's developer web site, but the company will push the update out over the air in the days ahead. Google plans to provide a new version of Android 6 Marshmallow to the Android Open Source Project in a day or two. Google says to the best of its knowledge that the security holes were not exploited. BlackBerry, too, is pushing the February security patch to the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. Other phone makers are expected to deliver the patch in the weeks ahead.


T-Mobile Kicks Off BOGO Handset Sale

Jan 27, 2016, 9:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is running a limited promotion for customers on Simple Choice plans that can help them save some cash on hardware purchases. Beginning today, new and existing customers can buy one phone at full price and get a second phone of equal or lesser value from the same manufacturer for half price. T-Mobile says the deal can be used for some of its flagship phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG V10. T-Mobile believes the promotion is idea for families or small businesses looking to upgrade their phones. It will allow customers to purchase up to six handsets at half price. No trade-in is required. T-Mobile didn't say how long the promo will be available.


Cricket Offers Discounted Phones to Switchers

Jan 21, 2016, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


MetroPCS Goes After Sprint Customers with Discounts

Jan 20, 2016, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 21, 2016, 12:47 PM

T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS is targeting Sprint customers with new service and handset discounts. Starting January 21, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who switch to MetroPCS can save up to 50% off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing. For example, a single ported line can save between 22% and 48%, while two or more lines can save between 23% and 50%, depending on a number of variables such as existing plan cost, new plan pricing, and local taxes. Customers who switch can keep the low rate plans as long as they remain with MetroPCS. The promotion includes unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, Data Maximizer and mobile hotspot. MetroPCS is offering switchers a free LG Leon LTE, Kyocera Hydro Wave, Samsung Core Prime, LG K7, or $50 rebate that can be applied to any phone sold by MetroPCS. Last, MetroPCS is offering its existing customers a $20 discount when adding an extra 5GB line. T-Mobile said the promotion will be available for a limited time, but didn't provide an end date.


T-Mobile Shares Priv Launch Details

Jan 19, 2016, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said the BlackBerry Priv smartphone will reach company stores on January 26. Customers who choose T-Mobile's Jump On Demand leasing program can score the Priv for $0 down and monthly payments of $34. People interested in taking a more traditional purchasing route can finance the phone for $30 per month for 24 months, or pay the full retail price of $719. T-Mobile says the Priv is privy to all of the Uncarrier benefits, such as Music Freedom and Binge On. The BlackBerry Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The phone is already being sold by AT&T and will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.


AT&T Brings Back Unlimited Data for TV Customers

Jan 11, 2016, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said new and existing customers can once again select an unlimited data mobile plan — as long as they are also a customer of AT&T-owned DirecTV or U-Verse. The unlimited plan includes unlimited LTE 4G, unlimited voice, and unlimited messaging. The first line costs $100 per month, with the second and third lines costing $40 each. Adding a fourth line would be free. Other devices may be added to the unlimited plan as well, such as tablets ($40), watches ($10), and feature phones ($25). AT&T says the unlimited plan is "the first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016." AT&T's television customers who aren't yet wireless customers are eligible to receive up to $500 in credits when switching to AT&T with a trade-in. On the flip side, AT&T wireless customers who aren't already television customers can receive discounted service for the first year. AT&T and Verizon Wireless haven't offered unlimited data plans for several years, preferring instead to sell customers buckets of data access. T-Mobile and Sprint still offer unlimited data packages, but have raised prices in recent months. AT&T didn't say if the new unlimited plan is a permanent addition to its offering, or a limited promotion.


BlackBerry Priv Wins Support from Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

Jan 6, 2016, 2:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the Priv smartphone. T-Mobile's variant launches January 26. Sprint and Verizon haven't yet set sales dates. The Priv is already available from AT&T. The carrier deals are a major win for BlackBerry, which claims demand for the Android-powered device is robust.


BlackBerry to Remain In Pakistan After Issues Resolved

Dec 31, 2015, 9:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has come to an agreement with the government of Pakistan that will allow it to remain in the country. Last month, BlackBerry said it would leave Pakistan in order to protect the privacy of its users. The Pakistani government had demanded access to BlackBerry's servers and the company refused. Pakistan then issued a shutdown order. "We are grateful to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Pakistani government for accepting BlackBerry's position that we cannot provide the content of our customers' BES traffic, nor will we provide any so-called backdoors to our BES servers," said BlackBerry in a statement. "BlackBerry has decided to remain in the Pakistan market." The company thanked its customers in the country for their support. BlackBerry's business now focuses chiefly on providing secure communication services to businesses and governments. Providing a backdoor to its servers would have undermined its position.


BlackBerry Pushing Maintenance Update to Priv

Dec 1, 2015, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said Priv owners can download and install a system update that improves the performance and security of the Android-based slider. BlackBerry says the refreshed OS should deliver smoother performance across the board with greater stability and fewer app crashes. The camera should now be faster and better able to capture images in low light. Further, the update includes the most recent security patch from Google. BlackBerry says the update, which comes in at 475MB, is available to download over the air to handsets purchased directly from BlackBerry.com. Consumers who've purchased the Priv through carriers will have to wait until Dec. 7 for the update. Last, BlackBerry plans to update its camera, keyboard, Hub, and DTEK by BlackBerry Android apps in the days ahead. New versions of these apps will be available in the Google Play Store starting Dec. 14.


BlackBerry to Quit Pakistan Over Privacy Issues

Nov 30, 2015, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it plans to leave Pakistan by Dec. 30 due to disagreements with the Pakistani government over privacy. BlackBerry says Pakistan wants to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including emails and BBM messages. "BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive," said COO Marty Beard. "As we have said many times, we do not support 'back doors' granting open access to our customers' information, and have never done this anywhere in the world." BlackBerry said it has no issue assisting law enforcement agencies with investigations, but it cannot sanction wide-scale spying on its customers. "The privacy of our customers is paramount to BlackBerry, and we will not compromise that principle," said Beard. Customers should be able to use their BES-backed devices without issue through Dec. 30. The company regrets leaving Pakistan, but said protecting its customers is more important.


BlackBerry Loses Sales Exec

Nov 25, 2015, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry confirmed that Eric Johnson, the executive in charge of sales for business and government customers, has departed the company. BlackBerry's core business is providing device management software to exactly these types of customers. BlackBerry did not elaborate on the terms of Johnson's departure, but he filled a vital role in the company. BlackBerry has spent years attempting to rebuild its business. BlackBerry's handset division may have recently released the Android-based Priv smartphone, but sales of handsets have dwindled to fewer than one million devices per quarter. The bulk of BlackBerry's revenue comes from its BES product suite.


Cricket Tempts Switchers with $100 Reward

Nov 20, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today kicked off a promotions to entice consumers to port their number to Cricket. People who switch to Cricket between today and Dec. 6 will earn a $100 Cricket Shopping Card. The card can be used for monthly service, handsets, and accessories at Cricket stores. Cricket said it will let new customers combine this deal with existing mail-in rebate promos on select phones to save even more money. For example, Cricket is offering the LG Risio, Motorola Moto E, Nokia Lumia 635, and the ZTE Overture 2 for free after rebates. The rebates are available to all customers through Jan. 7. The $100 gift card is only available to new customers.


Verizon Offering 1GB of Free Data for the Holidays

Nov 20, 2015, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless customers can snag an extra 1GB of mobile data this month from Big Red. The promotional data offer can be redeemed online and will be added to the account holder's existing data allotment for the current billing period. Verizon said customers can get another free 1GB of data for their next billing period, too. Verizon is offering a range of other freebies to its customers in what it calls its "Thanksgetting" promotion. For example, people who shop online Nov. 25 can get a $5 iTunes gift card or a 30-day trial of Pandora One. Other freebies come from Lyft, Boingo, Gogo, and Amazon.


Hands On with the BlackBerry Priv

Nov 19, 2015, 8:17 PM   by Rich Brome

The Priv is BlackBerry's new flagship phone, but it's also much more than that. As the company's first phone to use Google's Android instead of a BlackBerry OS, it represents a major new strategic direction. It also comes as the company is considering whether or not to continue making phones at all, so its success is crucial. The Priv has a premium design with a slide-out keyboard, curved-edge screen, and high-end camera. How is it in person? Read on to find out.

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Sprint Offering 50% Off Competitors' Rates

Nov 18, 2015, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 18, 2015, 11:18 AM

Sprint said beginning November 20, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon customers who switch their number to Sprint will save 50% off their old rate plan. The 50% savings will be available to switchers through Jan. 8, 2018. Sprint is also offering up to $650 in reimbursement for ETFs and other fees, but requires new customers to trade in their old smartphone. The promotion is limited to a maximum of 10 lines per account. Subsidized devices require an extra $25 per month fee. The half-rate plan does not extend to unlimited music/video streaming, data carryover, tethering, or cloud services. Mobile hotspot consumption is pulled from the shared data plan. The discount does not apply to taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, or international services. Discounts vary based on the rates charged by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Not all competitor rate plans apply. Sprint offered a similar promotion last year.


Verizon Says BlackBerry Priv 'Coming Soon'

Nov 8, 2015, 10:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless took to its Twitter account to tease the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. "Priv by BlackBerry. The first-ever BlackBerry powered by Android. Coming soon," said the company. A link in the Tweet leads to a landing page on Verizon's web site where people can register for updates concerning the Priv. The Priv went on sale in the U.S. this week. It is a vertical slider with a 5.4-inch screen, physical QWERTY keyboard, and an 18-megapixel camera. It costs $699.


Sprint Offering Smartphone Buyers Free Amazon Prime

Nov 6, 2015, 9:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today unfurled a promotion that will award customers a year of Amazon Prime for free with the purchase of a new Samsung smartphone. Customers need to purchase or lease one of the newer Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, or Note 5. Sprint will then send a text message with a link to Amazon Prime, which customers may redeem for free. Amazon Prime normally carries a price of $99 per year. Prime includes free two-day shipping, unlimited access to streaming Prime Videos and Prime Music, as well as unlimited storage in Prime Photos. Sprint is also offering to lease the Galaxy S6 for $10 per month with a qualifying trade-in. This offer will be available for a limited time.


BlackBerry to Actively Patch the Priv Android Phone

Nov 4, 2015, 3:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry laid out its plans to secure the Priv in a blog post today. The company has devised a three-pronged approach to keeping the Priv secure in the face of outside threats. First, BlackBerry will issue the monthly security patches offered by Google. It will do so directly to handsets as well as through carriers and other reseller partners. Second, BlackBerry will force feed hotfixes directly to devices — circumventing carriers — when critical flaws need immediate resolution. Third, BlackBerry will give IT admins the ability to control which devices receive security updates and when those updates are delivered. Blackberry said it is committed to maintaining the security of its first Android handset, which is available for order online.


AT&T to Sell BlackBerry Priv November 6

Nov 2, 2015, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today revealed its launch plans for the BlackBerry Priv smartphone, which reaches stores Nov. 6. Customers will have several purchasing options for the phone. The Priv will cost $24.67 per month with a Next 24 plan, $30.84 with a Next 18 plan, or $37 with a Next 12 plan. Alternately, customers can pay $249.99 with a two-year contract, or the full retail price of $699. The Priv is BlackBerry's first Android smartphone. It is a vertical slider that has a 5.4-inch curved display, 18-mnegapixel camera, and 3,410mAh battery.


BlackBerry Finalizes Acquisition of Good Technology

Nov 2, 2015, 8:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has completed its $425 million purchase of Good Technology. Good Technology provides mobile email products as well as mobile device management tools to businesses. BlackBerry said the acquisition "is aligned with BlackBerry's strategy to offer [businesses] the most complete, end-to-end solution that secures the entire mobile enterprise, across all platforms." Good's Technology is available to iPhones and Android handsets, which BlackBerry now also manages under its BlackBerry Enterprise Server. BlackBerry recently debuted its first Android handset, which it is pitching as a highly-secure smartphone for business customers.


BlackBerry Priv Runs Android, Costs $699, Ships November 6

Oct 23, 2015, 9:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made the Priv, its first Android smartphone, available for preorder. The device is a vertical slider that includes a touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Like the BlackBerry Passport, the Priv's keyboard can be used to move the cursor around and scroll through web sites, emails, and documents. The Android operating system includes exclusive BlackBerry apps and DTEK for managing privacy. DTEK gives owners granular control over device permissions and what personal data is shared with third parties. The phone includes BlackBerry Hub for managing email, BBM, text messages, and other communications. The Priv has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen with curved edges. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with two cores at 1.8GHz and four cores at 1.2GHz. The processor is accompanied by an Adreno 418 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The camera has an 18-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, optical image stabilization, two-tone LED flash, and HDR, panorama, and burst modes. It can capture 4K video. The user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel camera with wide-angle selfie mode. The Priv packs an integrated 3,410mAh battery, which supports rapid charging and provides more than 22 hours of mixed user. Wireless radios include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and LTE (AT&T/T-Mobile). The phone costs $699 and will begin shipping Nov. 6.


Jury Says Apple Owes University $234 Million

Oct 16, 2015, 5:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Wisconsin jury said Apple owes $234 million for using the university's patented technology without permission. Apple was found to violate the patents, owned by the Wisconsin Academic Research Fund (WARF), earlier this week. The technology helps improve the efficiency of chips and is found in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors. WARF claimed Apple willfully violated the patents and sought more than $800 million. Apple argued it should pay less than the $110 million amount Intel paid to settle a similar lawsuit in 2009. Apple plans to appeal the verdict.


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