LG has released design renderings for its next major phone. The three rear cameras are arranged in a "Raindrop" formation toward the corner of the phone. The main camera has a sticks out slightly, while the two other cameras sit flush behind the glass that covers the back of the phone. The phone will also feature glass that curves toward the sides on both the front and back, similar to Samsung flagship phones in recent years.
A new app for iOS called Krisp uses machine learning technology to filter out all kinds of background noise on your end while making voice calls. It can completely filter out background sound such as nearby conversations, screaming kids, barking dogs, coffee machines, air conditioners, etc. It offers calendar integration for easily joining conference calls, including Zoom, Webex, Hangouts, and more. It works as an alternate dialer, used in place of the built-in Phone app in iOS. The app is free to download from the App Store and offers up to 240 minutes of free noise-free calls per week.
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Samsung has a slew of new phones coming to the US in its more-affordable A-series, including one launching tomorrow for $110, and a 5G model launching this summer for $500.
- Galaxy A01: One of Samsung's most affordable phones at $110. Specs include a 5.7-inch HD display, 13 megapixel main camera, depth camera, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB storage, and a memory card slot. Verizon will launch the A01 tomorrow, April 9th, and the FCC has also approved versions specifically designed for AT&T and T-Mobile.
- Galaxy A51 (4G): A mid-range model selling for $400. Specs include a 6.5-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display, quad rear cameras, including a 48 megapixel main camera, 12 megapixel wide camera, plus macro and depth cameras, 32 megapixel selfie camera, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, in-display fingerprint reader, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. Launching tomorrow, April 9th. Verizon and Sprint will launch the A51 this week, and the version approved by the FCC for the US has excellent support for all US 4G networks.
- Galaxy A51 5G: A 5G version of the A51, with similar specs, except a larger battery (4,500 mAh) and more RAM (6 or 8 GB). Will sell for $500.
- Galaxy A71 5G: Similar to the A51 5G, but with a larger display (6.7-inch), better main camera (64 megapixel) and faster charging (25W instead of 15W). Will sell for $600.
- Galaxy A21: A $250 phone with a 6.5-inch HD display, 16 megapixel main camera, wide camera, macro camera, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, rear fingerprint reader, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.
- Galaxy A11: A $180 phone with a 6.4-inch HD LCD display, 13 megapixel main camera, wide camera, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, rear fingerprint reader, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.
Today is launch day for Quibi, the new video subscription service with original content created exclusively for mobile devices. There are a number of original shows available including A-list celebrities. Episodes are ten minutes or less and are filmed so they can be viewed in either landscape or portrait orientation. The service is $5/month after a 90-day free trial. The ad-free version is $8/month. The app is available for both iOS and Android.
Google has updated its Maps app with prominent filter options for restaurants offering Delivery and Takeout, to help people find and support local businesses during the pandemic. The feature is available in the Maps app for both Android and iOS.
TCL has announced select launch details for its first proper lineup of TCL-branded phones: the TCL 10 5G, 10 Pro, and 10L. The 10 5G will come to a "major" US carrier "later this year". Pricing of the 5G model in the US is yet to be determined, but it will sell for €399 overseas. Both the TCL 10 Pro and 10L will be available unlocked in the US in May, for $449 and $249, respectively. The 10 5G has a 6.53-inch full-HD LCD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset, 6 GB of RAM, four rear cameras, memory card slot, and a 4,500 mAh battery. The 10 Pro has similar specs except it has a 6.47-inch curved AMOLED display, an in-display fingerprint reader, and a Snapdragon 675 chipset. The affordable 10L has specs similar to the 10 5G except for a Snapdragon 665 chipset and a 4,000 mAh battery. We published additional details and a hands-on report in January.
The California Public Utilities Commission yesterday issued an order clarifying that it has not yet granted approval for Sprint and T-Mobile to merge in California, and the merger cannot proceed in that state until it does so. The Commission is scheduled to vote on the merger on April 16th.
T-Mobile is offering most customers with two or more voice lines free access to Quibi, the new mobile-only premium video streaming service launching April 6th. Eligible customers get a full year of Quibi free, and can continue receiving free access after that if they opt out of T-Mobile's free Netflix offer. Quibi is normally $5/month, or $8/month without ads. T-Mobile's offer is for the $5/month plan with ads. Quibi has a number of shows lined up featuring A-list celebrities. All episodes are 10 minutes or less, and are filmed so they can be viewed in either portrait or landscape video. To be eligible for the T-Mobile offer, customers must have two or more voice lines at standard rates on a Magenta or ONE plan. First Responder, Military, and Magenta Plus 55 plans are also eligible, as are small business customers with up to 12 lines. Customers have until July 7 to opt in to the offer.
Samsung has launched an unusual twist on phone trade-ins for its flagship S20 lineup. With the "guaranteed buy-back program", people who buy an S20 directly from Samsung can opt in to a program that will let them return the phone within two years for 50% of the purchase price. The phone must be in good condition, with a perfectly working display and no breaks or cracks. Customers must opt in to the program when making the initial purchase, and receive a credit with Samsung, not cash, when returning the phone.
T-Mobile has officially completed its merger with Sprint. For the moment, the merger has little effect on customers, but "Sprint" lives only as a brand of T-Mobile, not a separate company. As of today, Sprint is no longer trading under its own symbol on the stock exchange. Current Sprint customers can keep their plans for the near future. As a condition of regulatory approval, T-Mobile has committed to not raise prices for three years. But over time, the Sprint brand will be replaced by T-Mobile. The companies have been making technical preparations for the merger since it was announced. Most new phones introduced by Sprint and T-Mobile in the past year are capable of accessing both networks, ensuring a smoother transition. The companies have already announced expanded roaming for Sprint customers on the T-Mobile network, for Sprint customers with those newer phones. While all major US wireless carriers are deploying 5G in both sub-6 GHz and mmWave radio frequencies, the new T-Mobile will have the key advantage of access to mid-band frequencies in the form of Sprint's unique band 41 (2.5 GHz). 5G in this band can offer a unique balance between high speeds (like mmWave) as well as broad coverage (like other sub-6 bands). The company claims that combining the two networks into one will allow the company to offer "14 times more capacity in the next six years than T-Mobile alone has today", "average 5G speeds up to eight times faster than current LTE in just a few years", and "$43 billion in synergies for all shareholders", mostly from "reducing redundant cell sites and rapidly deploying spectrum and other technologies more efficiently." The new company announced plans to invest "$40 billion into its network, business and more over the next three years." The company also announced that Mike Sievert will replace John Legere as T-Mobile CEO effective today, one month earlier than previously announced.
Apple has acquired the popular weather app Dark Sky. Dark Sky announced that it is pulling its Android and Wear OS apps from app stores, and existing installations on those platforms will stop working on July 1st, 2020. The company is also phasing out its API service, which is used by other apps and services. Dark Sky won't accept any new applications to use its API going forward, and the API service will shut down at the end of 2021. The iOS version of the Dark Sky app will continue to be sold in Apple's App Store.
Planet Computers, known for its pocketable phones with "full" laptop-style keyboards, has revealed a new model — the Astro Slide — with a unique slide-and-tilt mechanism they call "RockUp". While the company's past models had a standard clamshell hinge that hid the main screen when closed, the main screen on the Astro Slide is always accessible, making it usable like a standard smartphone when closed. When slid open, the large backlit keyboard is available, and the screen can be tilted at an angle like a tiny laptop. The device has 6.53-inch display, MediaTek Dimensity 1000 chipset, 5G (sub-6), 4,000 mAh battery, and a 48-megapixel camera. It also has Android 10, two USB-C ports, a fingerprint reader, NFC, and wireless charging. The device is being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, with a starting price of $491 and an estimated ship date of March 2021.
AT&T is introducing a new $15 plan, and temporarily adding 10 GB of data to existing plans. The same offering is being made available under both of the company's prepaid brands: AT&T Prepaid and Cricket. The new $15/month comes with 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text. It will only be available for a limited time. T-Mobile recently launched a similar plan. For existing AT&T Prepaid and Cricket customers with capped data plans, the company is automatically adding an additional 10 GB of data for the next 60 days. These moves are intended to help customers unexpectedly operating from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samsung has started rolling out a significant software update for last year's Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10 series phone, which adds major new features first introduced on the company's latest S20 phones. In the Camera app, new features include Single Take, improved Night Mode, Night Hyperlapse, Custom Filters, and Pro Video (manual mode for video). In the Gallery app, Clean View uses AI to group similar photos together. The update also brings Quick Share and Music Share to the S10 and Note10. The update will be available "through an upcoming software update starting from March".
Google has redesigned its Podcasts app, and made a version available in Apple's App Store for iPhone users. Google Podcasts now stays fully synced between all platforms, including Android, web, and iOS, so you can pause a podcast on your phone and automatically pick up where you left off on the web. The new interface design has three tabs: Home, Explore and Activity. The Home tab features a feed of new episodes and gives you quick access to your subscribed shows. When you select an episode you want to listen to, you'll now see topics or people covered in that podcast. In the Explore tab, you can browse popular podcasts by category, and the app will make personalized show and episode recommendations. The Activity tab displays your listen history, queued up episodes, and downloads. For each show in your subscriptions, you can now enable automatic downloading and/or push notifications for when new episodes come out. The new Google Podcasts is available on iOS today and rolling out to Android this week.
Instagram has just launched Co-Watching, a new feature that "allows you to view Instagram posts together with your friends over video chat. You can start a video chat by tapping the video chat icon in the Direct inbox or in an existing Direct thread, then view saved, liked and suggested photos/videos by tapping the photo icon in the bottom left corner in an ongoing video chat." The new feature is designed to help people stay connected while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple has now fully launched Universal Purchase, a new feature of its App Store that lets customers make a single app purchase to gain access to that app across all of Apple's OS platforms, including macOS and iOS. For example, buying an app on your iPhone would automatically give you access to not only the iOS version, but also the macOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS versions of that same app, if they exist. Developers need to update their apps and App Store listings to support Universal Purchase.
Verizon is adding 15 GB of high-speed data to the plans of all wireless consumer and small business customers. Also, for low-income customers participating in the Lifeline program, the company is fully waiving the next two months of internet and voice service charges. The changes are automatic and require no action in the part of customers. These actions by Verizon are designed to help customers stay connected as they operate from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic.