Powermat today announced that it has merged with PowerKiss. Powermat, based in the U.S., makes and markets wireless charging accessories. It backs the standard supported by the Power Matters Alliance. Before today, PowerKiss, which is based in Finland, backed a competing standard. Now that the two companies are one, they are together throwing their weight behind the PMA wireless charging standard. The PMA is mounting a challenge to competing standards Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power. Earlier this year, the PMA won support from AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, LG, Samsung, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, AT&T mandated that its handset partners incorporate the PMA wireless charging standard into their devices by 2014. Verizon Wireless supports the Qi standard. The consumer electronics industry has yet to settle on a single standard.
ZTE today announced the Grand X2, an Android smartphone that uses Intel's 2.0GHz Z2580 Atom processor with 1GB of RAM. The Grand X2 features a 4.5-inch 720p HD IPS LCD screen that ZTE says measures 0.7mm thick, helping to keep the profile of the device thin. The Grand X2's camera captures 8-megapixel images and can shoot bursts of up to 24 pictures per second, It also includes a flash and face and scene recognition. The user-facing camera is 1 megapixel. The Grand X2 includes 8GB of on-board storage and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. The battery weighs in at 2,000mAh. The Grand X2 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and is expected to go on sale in select markets during the third quarter.
Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, today launched its new, no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network is first available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa, and will gradually expand across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. Data speeds will max out at 4Mbps over AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. One of the first devices offered by Aio is the Nokia Lumia 620 (pictured). The Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone that has a 3.8-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video record, and Nokia-exclusive applications. It costs $179.99 and does not require that customers sign a contract. Aio offers a handful of other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Express for $249.99, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $99.99, the ZTE Prelude for $49.99, and the Apple iPhone 4/4S for prices ranging between $349.99 for refurbished models to $499.99 for new models. Feature phones offered by Aio include the Samsung Denim for $29.99 and the ZTE Atair for $49.99. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
Microsoft has struck another smartphone patent licensing agreement, this time with Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE. Microsoft has similar deals already in place with companies such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Hon Hai, and 20 other companies. Microsoft maintains that its patent portfolio covers certain core technologies that are built into the Android platform. Microsoft is still attempting to get Google's Motorola unit to sign a similar agreement, but has been forced to resort to litigation to do so. Terms of the deal with ZTE were not disclosed.
Geeksphone today announced the availability of two developer phones running Firefox OS. The Keon and Peak were revealed earlier this year and were initially expected to go on sale in February. Both phones run the newest version of Firefox OS (previously known to as Boot-to-Gecko). Firefox OS is an open mobile platform based on Linux and HTML5. It uses web standards to run apps in lieu of a traditional operating system. Mozilla is giving Firefox OS to carriers and handset makers for free as a low-cost alternative to mainstream smartphone platforms. The Keon is an entry-level developer device with a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz processor and 3-megapixel camera. The Peak is a mid-range device with a 4.3-inch qHD display, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, and 8-megapixel camera. The Keon costs $119 and the Peak costs $194. Both ZTE and Alcatel have committed to launching Firefox OS devices this year, and Sprint said it would be interested in selling Firefox OS-based devices when they become available.
The Power Matters Alliance, a group pitching a wireless charging standard that competes with the Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power standards, has recently won new support from handset makers and carriers. The group announced this week that HTC, Huawei, LG, and Samsung have all joined the PMA, which already includes members such as AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, Kyocera, PowerMat, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, existing PMA member AT&T is asking its handset partners to integrate PMA-compatible wireless charging technology into their handsets by 2014. According to the PMA, there are already some 1,500 PMA-certified wireless charging stations at Starbucks coffee shops, airports, and other locations around the country. The Power Matters Alliance uses a wireless charging technology that is slightly different from those offered by Qi and A4WP. Each of the three standards allows devices to charge wirelessly when placed on a compatible charging pad. Verizon's handsets have incorporated Qi for years, which already has wide support from other carriers and handset makers. The electronics industry as a whole has yet to settle on one of the standards for all devices moving forward.
U.S. Cellular today announced the ZTE Director, an entry-level Android smartphone similar to the Fury, which is offered by Sprint. Core features of the Director include a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz processor, 4GB of built-in storage with support for memory cards, and a 3-megapixel camera with video capture. The Director runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and also includes Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi and mobile hotspot. The ZTE is available beginning today from U.S. Cellular's web site, where it costs only a penny.
ZTE today announced the Geek, what it says is the the first ZTE smartphone powered by Intel's new 32nm Atom Z2580 processor. The processor runs at 2.0GHz and is paired with 1GB of RAM. The Geek features a 5-inch 720p HD display, 8-megapixel main camera and 1-megapixel front camera, 8GB of built-in storage, and a 2300mAh battery. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. ZTE didn't say when or where the Geek would become available.
Sprint and Softbank have agreed to unofficial terms requested by the U.S. government with respect to purchasing telecommunications and wireless networking equipment from Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE. Softbank is in the process of acquiring a 70% stake in Sprint, and the agreement is meant to help ease the transaction though the approval process. Government regulators cannot mandate that Sprint and Softbank avoid equipment made by Chinese companies, but lawmakers wanted to make sure they had an ear to the ground when Sprint is purchasing gear. "I have met with SoftBank and Sprint regarding this merger and was assured they would not integrate Huawei in to the Sprint network and would take mitigation efforts to replace Huawei equipment in the Clearwire network," said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The U.S. government is concerned that equipment made by Huawei and ZTE could be used by the Chinese government to spy on the U.S. Huawei flatly denies that its products pose any sort of security risk.
In order to win U.S. government approval of its equity sale to Softbank, Sprint may have to allow government officials to unofficially greenlight networking equipment purchases. According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, the intent of the provision would be to keep Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE from selling their gear to U.S. companies. The U.S. government has long been wary of allowing Huawei and ZTE to provide telecommunications infrastructure due to fears about espionage. Sprint is selling 70% of itself to Japanese network operator Softbank for $20 billion. The Journal notes that any such provisions could not be spelled out explicitly, as that would violate international trade law, and would instead only require Sprint to let the government know when it is making telecommunications gear purchases. A law signed by President Barack Obama last week included a new cyber-espionage review process for U.S. government technology purchases. This law more explicitly states that the U.S. government needs to approve of IT purchases made by NASA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The intent behind this new law is the same as that being applied to the Sprint deal: the government wants to be able to restrict the sale of Chinese networking equipment to U.S. agencies. Huawei spokesperson Bill Plummer said to the Journal, "The adoption of such a policy would seem little more than a market-distorting political or protectionist exercise."
Cricket Wireless recently made the ZTE Engage LT available for sale via its web site. The Engage LT is a stripped-down version of the Engage, and includes entry-level specs for an Android smartphone. The Engage LT features a 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage; a 4-inch WVGA display; a 3.2-megapixel main camera and VGA user-facing camera; and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The device is compatible with Cricket's Muve Music service and includes SRS WOW HD sound and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. The Engage LT costs $179.99 after discounts when purchased from MyCricket.com. The original Engage, which debuted in 2012, is still available from Cricket and offers better specs (1.4GHz processor, 8-megapixel camera) for the same $179.99 price point.
ZTE today announced plans to embed the new Intel Atom Z2580 processor into its future smartphones. ZTE has already released at least one smartphone, the Grand X IN, with Intel processors inside. Intel revealed the dual-core Z2580 chip earlier this year. It offers clock speeds up to 2.0GHz per core and uses Hyper-Threading to help with multitasking. Intel claims the Z2580 delivers twice the computing power and three times the graphics performance of its predecessor while drawing the same amount of power. ZTE's news today follows an announcement it made several weeks ago wherein it promised to deliver a "super phone" based on the NVIDIA Tegra 4 platform before the middle of the year. ZTE didn't share any details of the device other than to say it will also use NVIDIA's i500 LTE modem. NVIDIA and Intel are both looking to steal marketshare from Qualcomm and its Snapdragon-branded mobile processors.
The ZTE Grand Memo pushes the boundaries of the phablet market with its 5.7-inch display. This massive phone crams tons of features into a slim package.
Sprint today announced the first LTE 4G phones for its prepaid brands, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. Boost will get the all-new Force, made by ZTE, as well as the HTC One SV, already offered by MetroPCS. Virgin, meanwhile, will get the Samsung Galaxy Victory, already offered under the Sprint brand. Both brands have previously only offered 4G phones that use Sprint's older WiMAX network. Sprint is committed to continuing WiMAX service through 2015, but eventually plans to phase it out in favor of LTE. The Force sports a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, front camera, and 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. Boost will offer the Force on March 7th for $200, and the One SV on the same day for $300. Virgin starts selling the Victory today for $300.
Mozilla today announced the main launch partners for the first Firefox OS phones. The company also provided some details of the OS' app marketplace. Alcatel (TCL,) LG and ZTE will all make Firefox OS phones, all of which will use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. The ZTE phone will either be called the Open (according to the press release) or Fire (according to reps at the press conference.) Telefonica will launch phones from all three manufacturers in Brazil, Colombia, Spain and Venezuela in mid-2013. Deutsche Telekom will launch the Alcatel One Touch Fire in Poland this summer, followed by additional countries. Huawei has also committed to make phones for the OS, although no carriers have committed to their efforts yet. Telnor will bring unspecified Firefox OS phones to Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary. America Movil will also bring Firefox OS phones to all of its Latin American markets. No U.S. carriers have committed to Firefox OS, although Mozilla expects the OS to reach U.S. shores in 2014. The Firefox Marketplace will support both downloadable and "one-time use" apps. The OS will also feature universal search, showing unified results from within apps and from the web.
ZTE and NVIDIA today announced that ZTE will deliver a "super phone" based on the Tegra 4 platform before the middle of the year. ZTE didn't share any details of the device other than to say it will also use NVIDIA's i500 LTE modem.
The U.S. International Trade Commission indicated that it will review InterDigital's patent-related complaints against Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE. The complaint was filed in January and alleges that the companies are violating its 3G and 4G technology patents. InterDigital is asking the ITC to block the offending products. In particular, the patents cover WCDMA, cdma2000, LTE, and Wi-Fi technology as used in the infringing companies' phones, laptop dongles, hotspots, laptops, and tablets. The complaint will be given to an administrative law judge, who will hold a hearing and issue a preliminary ruling. The ruling will then be reviewed by the full committee. InterDigital is a patent-holding company.
ZTE today sent out invitations to an upcoming event that promised "two major new mobile devices" related to "ZTEGrandMemo" and "ZTEMozilla". Mozilla's major contribution to the mobile space is Firefox OS, a phone platform built on web standards.
T-Mobile USA recently began selling the ZTE Aspect, an entry-level monoblock QWERTY device for messaging, on its web site. The Aspect features a 2.4-inch QVGA display, 3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and support for microSD memory cards. The Aspect, which is sold by AT&T as the Z431, runs a proprietary operating system and offers basic messaging and calling functions. The ZTE Aspect costs $69.99 and does not require a contract. It is compatible with T-Mobile's prepaid monthly service.
Geeksphone today announced two preview devices for Mozilla's Firefox operating system that are meant chiefly for application developers. The devices, called the Keon and the Peak, run the latest version of Firefox OS (previously known to as Boot-to-Gecko). Firefox OS is an open mobile platform based on Linux and HTML5. It uses web standards to run apps in lieu of a traditional operating system. Mozilla is giving Firefox OS to carriers and handset makers for free as a low-cost alternative to mainstream smartphone platforms.
- Keon: The Keon is what Geeksphone calls "all you need to begin." It has entry-level specs, such as a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz Snapdragon S1 processor with 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of built-in storage. It has a 3-megapixel camera and supports microSD cards, Wi-Fi, and GPS.
- Peak: The Peak is more of a mid-range device and features a 4.3-inch qHD IPS display, dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon S4 processor with 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of built-in storage. It has an 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera, in addition to support for microSD cards, Wi-Fi, and GPS.
ZTE is joining the club introducing a phone with a 5-inch 1080p full-HD display here at CES. It's big, thin, light, and the screen will impress the most jaded display critic. There's more to a phone, though. Read on for our impressions from spending some time with it.
ZTE today announced the Grand S, a new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean smartphone that claims to be world's thinnest at 6.9mm thick. Features of the Grand S include a full HD 1920 x 1080p display measuring 5 inches across the diagonal. The device is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. The Grand S has a 13-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. Both can record 1080p HD video. The device supports microSD cards up to 32GB, and LTE 4G networks. The device will be available in China during the first quarter of the year. No plans to sell it in the U.S. have been announced.
ZTE and Nuance today announced that ZTE will adopt Nuance's voice-based communication tools in its lineup of Android smartphones. This includes integration with a new Car Mode application developed by ZTE so drivers can interact with their phones using voice commands rather than physically touching their device. The Car Mode app can also put the device into a "do not disturb" mode, which temporarily blocks incoming calls and messages when the phone is in a moving vehicle. ZTE will deliver Nuance's voice technology in Android devices later this year.
InterDigital today filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, and ZTE. InterDigital alleges that the companies are violating its 3G and 4G technology patents, and is asking the ITC to block the offending products. In particular, the patents cover WCDMA, cdma2000, LTE, and Wi-Fi technology as used in the infringing companies' phones, laptop dongles, hotspots, laptops, and tablets. InterDigital filed similar litigation with the U.S. District Court of Delaware. There, it is seeking a permanent injunction against the companies, as well as compensatory damages. Earlier this week, InterDigital announced that Research In Motion agreed to license its LTE 4G patents.
Documents seen on the Federal Communication Commission's web site reveal details about an unannounced handset from ZTE. The ZTE F555, or Wombat, as it is referred to in the draft user manual, supports WCDMA in the 1700MHz band, earmarking it for T-Mobile USA. The FCC also confirms that the Wombat includes Bluetooth and support for GSM/EDGE in the 850/1900MHz bands. Images of the Wombat show it to be a bar-style device with a portrait QWERTY keyboard for messaging. Pictures also reveal that it has a 2-megapixel camera. The draft user manual suggests that the Wombat uses a non-smartphone operating system and includes only the most basic calling, messaging, and media features. The ZTE F555 Wombat has not been announced by ZTE nor T-Mobile USA. Pricing and availability details are not known.
The FCC today approved a version of ZTE's Grand X Android phone that appears to be designed for T-Mobile USA. In addition to sporting a T-Mobile logo on the back, the phone supports the WCDMA 1700 (AWS) network used by T-Mobile USA. ZTE has promoted the fact that its Grand X phones come with a recent and unaltered version of Android. The Grand X has a 4.3-inch IPS LCD display with qHD (960x540 pixel) resolution and a 5-megapixel camera. Other features include a 1-GHz dual-core processor, memory card slot, and removable battery. T-Mobile has not announced the phone and it's not clear when it might launch.
MetroPCS today announced the ZTE Avid 4G, an entry-level Android smartphone. The Avid runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and includes a 4-inch display with 800 x 480 pixels. Features of the Avid include a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, and 5-megapixel rear camera for imaging, and VGA front camera for video chats. The Avid can be used as a mobile hotspot, and supports MetroPCS's joyn messaging platform. It is available online and in stores beginning today for $149. It does not require a contract. MetroPCS is offering reduced-rate LTE 4G plans for a limited time, which range from $30 to $55 per month.
MetroPCS today indicated that its joyn service can now be used on a wider range of its Android handsets. The service initially launched on the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G. It now also works on the Samsung Galaxy S III and S Lightray 4G; the LG Connect 4G and Motion 4G; the ZTE Anthem 4G; and the Coolpad Quattro 4G. Joyn is a standards-based Android application that collects and merges messaging services, such as IM and SMS. The app lets users conduct threaded text conversations and supports presence, which lets users know when their friends are available. It also makes it easier to share photo and video content when the user is on an active phone call (this is traditionally not possible on CDMA-based devices). Last, it lets MetroPCS customers make voice and video calls to other joyn users via Wi-Fi.
Cricket Wireless today announced the ZTE Groove, a new Android smartphone that includes its Muve Music service. The Groove has a 3.5-inch HVGA display, an 800MHz processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera main camera with flash, and a VGA user-facing camera. The device runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and costs $129.99, though it is available via Cricket's web site for $79.99. Muve Music smartphone plans start at $50 per month. The ZTE Groove does not require a contract.
Sprint recently added the ZTE Flash to its roster of Android devices. The defining feature of this Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone is its 12-megapixel camera, which has an LED flash, autofocus, and shoots 1080p HD video. A user-facing camera shoots 1.1-megapixel images and captures 720p HD video. The Flash also has a 4.5-inch 1280 x 720 HD display; 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage; and LTE 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. According to Sprint, the Flash supports mobile device management, on-device encryption, and VPNs for businesses that need secure mobile phones. It is also ULE Platinum Certified for sustainability. The ZTE Flash costs $129.99 with a new two-year contract.
Novatel Wireless has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA, alleging that the companies are violating its intellectual property. Novatel claims ZTE is violating a "key patent related to the MiFi family of mobile hotspots and wireless data modems." Novatel says it invented the MiFi mobile hotspot and it is prepared to protect its intellectual property. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. This is the second such lawsuit that Novatel has filed against ZTE.
Sprint today announced the availability of a new Sprint iD pack that is aimed at making smartphones easier to use for seniors. The Active Senior ID pack includes 20 applications and services that Sprint believes can help to improve the smartphone experience for older users. For example, it includes access to WebMD, the AARP, MedsTimer, and a fall detector, among other services. The Active Senior ID pack is available on select handsets, including the LG Viper, Optimus Elite, and Marquee; the Motorola Photon 4G; the Samsung Galaxy Victory, Conquer 4G, Epic 4G, Galaxy S II, and Transform; the Kyocera Rise; and the ZTE Fury. The Sprint iD pack is free.
The Render is a Windows Phone device sold by U.S. Cellular. It's been around for a little bit, but today was the first time Phone Scoop had a chance to spend a few moments with it.
Vringo today filed a lawsuit against ZTE's operations in the U.K., alleging that the Chinese telecom equipment and handset maker is violating its patents. Vringo makes and markets a product called Facetones for smartphone platforms, but also recently acquired 500 mobile technology patents from Nokia. It is some of these 500 patents, many of which have been deemed standard essential, that Vringo alleges ZTE of violating. "ZTE has elected not to take a license to patents in Vringo's portfolio relevant to certain international standards, despite manufacturing and selling devices and equipment for a number of years that are said by ZTE to be compliant with those standards," said Vringo. Vringo called this lawsuit a first step in its "global licensing and enforcement program."
A draft report written by the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee concludes that both Huawei and ZTE should be prevented from expanding their businesses in the U.S. due the possibility that they could threaten the national security of the U.S. The draft report, which is set to be published in final form October 8, is the culmination of an 11-month investigation into the two corporations, which make wireless networking gear and cellular telephones. "U.S. network providers and system developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects," said a portion of the report. It also said Huawei and ZTE "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems." The authors of the report said that both companies were reluctant to hand over key documents about their relationships with the Chinese government. The authors also said they received "credible allegations" that suggested Huawei is guilty of bribery, corruption, discriminatory behavior, and other malfeasance. Huawei spokesperson Bill Plummer rejected the reports conclusions. "Baseless suggestions...that Huawei is somehow uniquely vulnerable to cyber mischief ignore technical and commercial realities, recklessly threaten American jobs and innovation, do nothing to protect national security, and should be exposed as dangerous political distractions from legitimate public-private initiatives to address what are global and industry-wide cyber challenges." Plummer's comments went submitted to Reuters via email. It's not clear how the report will affect Huawei and ZTE's existing business relationships. MetroPCS, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA all sell Huawei and/or ZTE handsets.
Cricket Wireless today announced that the ZTE Engage will be available starting October 2 for $249.99. The Engage is the altest smartphone compatible with Cricket's Muve Music service. The Engage features Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), a 4-inch display, a 1.4GHz CPU and an 8-megapixel camera. It will be available in Cricket-owned stores as well as Cricket's web site. It can be purchased without a contract.
Phone Scoop spends some time with the ZTE Engage and the Alcatel Authority, two new Android phones headed to Cricket in the coming weeks.
MetroPCS had the ZTE Anthem 4G on hand at an event in New York City. Here are our initial impressions.
Cricket Wireless will soon be announcing two new Android phones, the ZTE Engage and the Alcatel Authority. The Engage, which was spotted on the FCC web site earlier this month, features a 4-inch WVGA display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, and a user-facing camera. It also comes with SRS Audio and is compatible with Cricket's MuveMusic service. The Alcatel Authority has a larger, 4.3-inch WVGA display, 5 megapixel camera and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Both have single core 1.4GHz processors. Pricing and availability details for both devices, which will run on Cricket's 3G network, will be shared by Cricket in October.
MetroPCS today announced the ZTE Anthem 4G, ZTE's first Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone that is compatible with an LTE 4G network. The Anthem features a 4.3-inch WVGA display and it is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor. Other features include a 5-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture and a VGA user-facing camera; HDMI port and Dolby Surround; Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 3.0; and 512MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage, and support for microSD storage cards. The ZTE Anthem 4G will be available in the coming weeks for $219 after mail-in-rebate.