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printed October 28, 2016
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Visual Guide to US Mobile Radio Bands

May 16, 2016, 1:37 PM   by Rich Brome   republished Today, 9:14 AM

Band 66? AWS? Lower 700 MHz? What does it all mean? We explain the arcane world of the radio frequency bands used for mobile phones in the US, in this one-of-a-kind, interactive, visual guide. Updated for the U.S. launch of band 66.

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Cricket Gives Most Popular Plan More Data

Today, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless customers can score more data on the prepaid carrier's most popular plan without raising their rates. Cricket's existing $50 service plan is improving from 5 GB of LTE data each month to 8 GB of LTE data starting today. The $50 monthly fee still includes unlimited talk and text, taxes included. Existing customers can upgrade online or by visiting a local Cricket Store. Cricket sells monthly plans that range from $30 to $70. People who take advantage of the Auto Pay tool can receive a $5 discount each month.

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Vine Shutting Down

Yesterday, 1:18 PM   by Rich Brome

Twitter today announced that it is shutting down Vine, its short-clip mobile video service. Existing content will remain at, but the mobile app will be discontinued in the coming months. Twitter launched in 2013, but is being wound down amid Twitter's efforts to cut costs and reach profitability.

T-Mobile Offers Unique Discount for Google Pixel Owners

Yesterday, 8:25 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 8:56 AM

T-Mobile today announced a unique discount program for customers who buy an unlocked Google Pixel phone and switch to T-Mobile's new "One" unlimited plan. Customers will receive $325 back, spread out over 24 months, amounting to a $13.55 monthly discount for two years. The Pixel has excellent support for T-Mobile's LTE network, including Category 9 LTE and band 12. The offer is available to both new and existing T-Mobile customers.

Qualcomm Reaches Deal To Acquire NXP

Yesterday, 7:19 AM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm today announced a deal to acquire NXP Semiconductors for $47 billion. NXP is a co-inventor and key patent holder of NFC technology. Qualcomm already integrates NXP "secure element" technology into its Snapdragon chips. NXP is the fifth-largest semiconductor maker, (excluding memory chips,) having purchased Freescale just last year. NXP is also a leader in chips for automotive networks, IoT, and most types of wireless radios. Qualcomm will purchase NXP's public shares for $110/share.

Microsoft Announces 3D Capture App

Wednesday, 6:29 PM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft today announced a new 3D Capture app for phones. Using only the phone's camera, it can capture an object's shape and texture for importing into the new 3D tools available in the new version of Windows 10, dubbed Windows 10 Creators Update. The app will be available soon for Windows 10 Mobile, followed by versions for Android and iOS.

T-Mobile Outs Windows 10 VR Phone From Alcatel

Wednesday, 9:39 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today listed the "Alcatel IDOL 4S with Windows 10 VR" on its web site. The unique version of the Idol 4S not only runs Windows 10, but sports many of the upgrades available in the related BlackBerry DTEK60, such as the high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C connector, none of which are in the standard Idol 4S. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also includes free VR goggles (for a limited time) for use with "pre-loaded games and videos". Curiously, while the standard Idol 4S includes a Quad-HD display ideal for VR, this version steps down to a full-HD display, according to T-Mobile's specs. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 also supports Windows Continuum, which lets you connect a screen and keyboard to turn the phone into a full Windows 10 computer. Other features of the phone include a memory card slot, stereo speakers, 8-megapixel front camera, and 4 GB of RAM. T-Mobile's specs do not mention NFC. Pricing and release date have yet to be announced. Microsoft is

T-Mobile Starts Selling ZTE ZMax Pro

Wednesday, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Wednesday, 9:54 AM

T-Mobile today began selling the ZTE ZMax Pro — an affordable Android phablet with a 6-inch, full-HD screen, fingerprint reader, 32 GB of storage, 13-megapixel camera, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor — for $180. The company started selling the phone under the MetroPCS brand in August, but is now bringing it to the T-Mobile lineup. The phone also includes a 3,400 mAh battery, front glass with curved edges, memory card slot, 5-megapixel front camera, and FM radio.

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Delta Adds "Find My Bag" Feature To Mobile App

Tuesday, 8:08 PM   by Rich Brome

Delta today launched a new version of its mobile app. The headline feature is an industry-first map view for tracking checked bagged. Taking advantage of the company's newly-launched RFID bag tags and scanner network, the app can show the exact spot within an airport where your bag was last scanned. The feature works at 84 domestic airports, and Delta will add this technology at international airports in the coming months.

Hands-On with Xiaomi MIX

Tuesday, 9:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 10:31 AM

Xiaomi calls the MIX a "concept" phone even though it will ship in early November. This handset is similar to small-batch bourbon in that it is refined in a way no other device can be and is meant for a small number of people who appreciate the nicer things. Here are our initial impressions.

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Hands-On with Xiaomi Mi Note 2

Tuesday, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Mi Note 2 is Xiaomi's new flagship handset. It combines premium design and materials with top-notch specifications and capabilities. If you're looking for a big-screen device that has it all, the Note 2 from Xiaomi certainly impresses. Here is Phonescoop's first look.

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BlackBerry DTEK60 Boasts Fingerprint Sensor and Top Specs

Tuesday, 8:21 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Tuesday, 8:23 AM

BlackBerry today announced the DTEK60, the company's new flagship non-keyboard phone. The DTEK60 is based on the Alcatel Idol 4S and looks similar, but actually has significantly upgraded specs in nearly every respect. (The DTEK50 is essentially a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4.) The DTEK60 sports a fingerprint sensor, Quad-HD 5.5-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, NFC, and a memory card slot. Unlike the Idol 4S, it also packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 21 megapixel camera, and a USB Type-C connector with Quick Charge 3.0. The DTEK60 maintains the same 7mm thin profile as the Idol 4S, although with a larger camera bump for the upgraded sensor. As with all of BlackBerry's new phones, the DTEK60 runs Android with BlackBerry messaging and security software added. The phone supports LTE networks including those of T-Mobile and AT&T (including band 29.) The DTEK60 is available today directly from BlackBerry for $500 unlocked. Customers who order within the next two weeks will receive a free "soft shell" case and rapid charger.

Xiaomi’s MIX Boasts 91% Screen Ratio, Ceramic Body

Tuesday, 6:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today revealed the Mix, a nearly bezel-less handset that targets the ultra premium market. The company calls the MIX a "concept" that will be sold in extremely limited numbers. It is meant to showcase the direction in which Xiaomi’s design and technology are headed. Xiaomi worked hard to maximize the screen size and also reduce the amount of surrounding bezel. The 6.4-inch screen stretches fully from side to side and all the way to the top edge. In order to accommodate the design, Xiaomi had to tackle several other logistical issues. For example, it moved the selfie camera to the bottom bezel, dropped the proximity sensor in favor of an ultrasonic sensor, and added a piezo-electric actuator (internal vibration) for reproducing earpiece sound. The result is a device that’s nearly all screen on front, with a ratio of 91.3%. Rather than use metal or glass materials for the back and sides, Xiaomi selected high-quality ceramic that is created in layers. The premium design relies on top components that mirror those of the Mi Note 2, including the Snapdragon 821 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, 16-megapixel Sony Exmor camera, and 4,400mAh battery with Quick Charge. The price will be about $675, but sales will limited to China.

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Xiaomi Reveals the Mi Note 2 Flagship

Tuesday, 5:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today announced the Mi Note 2, a high-end flagship phone with curved glass surfaces similar to the Galaxy Note 7. The device features an aluminum frame sandwiched between two pieces of shaped glass. The premium metal-and-glass materials are complimented by top specs. The phone has a 5.7-inch full HD screen and a Snapdragon 821 processor with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. The phone relies on a 23-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX318 sensor with 1.55micron pixels and an aperture of f/2.0. The camera captures video up to 4K and includes electronic image stabilization, but not optical images stabilization. The front cam snags 8-megapixel images at f/2.4, but is unique in that it includes auto-focus for sharper selfies. Xiaomi packed a 4,070mAh battery into the Mi Note 2 and it supports Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid power ups. The phone comes in several variants, including a world version with wide support for U.S. LTE bands. It runs Android, but the user interface is dominated by the MIUI. The Mi Note 2 goes on sale in November 1. Pricing for the world variant is about $500, with other models costing closer to $400. The Mi Note 2 will only be sold in China; Xiaomi says it made the multi-LTE band variant specifically for its China-based customers who often travel to the U.S.

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WiFi Alliance to Start Certifying WiGig Gear

Monday, 8:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The WiFi Alliance today said much faster WiFi is coming to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gear starting next year. The organization announced the WiFi Certified WiGig program, which will ensure compatibility between various WiFi technologies. WiGig operates in the 60 GHz band and allows for multi-gigabit speeds (up to 8Gbps) over shorter distances. The Certified WiGig program will allow WiGig equipment to work smoothly with other WiFi gear that operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, allowing for seamless handoffs between them. WiGig relies on beamforming to minimize interference and operates at distances up to 10 meters (33 feet). The WiFi Alliance says WiGig is ideal for in-room and other line-of-sight use cases such as virtual reality, gaming, and multimedia streaming. For example, WiGig would allow people to download an HD movie wirelessly in several seconds. The organization has already approved a handful of WiGig devices for testing purposes, including a Dell laptop, Intel modem, Peraso USB modem, Qualcomm WiFi router, and Socionext reference adapter. The WiFi Alliances says WiGig radios will appear in mobile devices next year, and expects half of all smartphones to include the technology by 2021.

iOS 10.1 Fixes Major Security Vulnerabilities

Monday, 5:52 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple's iOS 10.1 — released today — fixes several potentially-major security vulnerabilities in iOS. At least two of the issues could potentially allow an attacker complete control of the device after the user merely visits a web page with malicious code. All users should upgrade to iOS 10.1 immediately. In one issue with the "CoreGraphics" system software, viewing "a maliciously crafted JPEG file may lead to arbitrary code execution". JPEG is the most popular image format for photographic content, both on and off the web. In a separate issue with WebKit — which a large number of popular apps use to display web pages — "Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution". A number of other security and privacy issues are fixed by the 10.2 update, although most would be more difficult to exploit. iPhone and iPad users can update to 10.1 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

iOS 10.1 Available Today

Monday, 12:32 PM   by Rich Brome

iPhone and iPad users can now use the Software Update feature to get the final version of iOS 10.0, which adds Portrait Mode (blurred backgrounds) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Today also sees the release of watchOS 3.1 for the Apple Watch.

ZTE Tempo Lands At Boost for $70

Monday, 12:19 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE and Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Tempo, an Android phone that sells for just $69.99. The Tempo supports more LTE bands than many Boost phones — plus WCDMA and GSM — in bands suitable for Boost's Mexico roaming offering. The specs are otherwise what one might expect from an entry-level Android phone today, including a 4.5-inch display (not HD), 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, memory card slot, 1 GB of RAM, 2,200 mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 210 processor. It does support HD Voice and has an FM radio. It's available immediately.

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