Samsung this week revealed the Galaxy XCover Pro, a new Android 10 phone "optimized for a variety of industries including retail, healthcare, logistics and manufacturing". It's just slightly larger than the Galaxy S10+, but with a rugged body military-rated for drops up to 1.5 meters, and rated IP68 for dust and water. Its flat screen measures 6.2-inches, sports full-HD+ resolution, and works with gloves and wet fingers. It has a 4,050 mAh removable battery that support 15W fast charging and charging docks with pogo pins. It also has a 25 megapixel main camera, 13 megapixel front camera, NFC, fingerprint reader on the side, and two programmable shortcut buttons. One of the buttons has be used for the PTT (walkie-talkie) feature of Microsoft Teams. It's powered by a Samsung Exynos chip paired with 4 GB of RAM. It has 64 GB of storage built-in and supports memory cards up to 512 GB. It will work on Verizon's network in the US and be available in the first half of 2020 for $500.
Transact — a leading supplier of student ID card systems — this week announced support for Google Pay, the primary digital wallet feature of Google's Android OS. The new capability allows students of participating colleges and universities to carry their student ID in their phone instead of a physical card. Students can simply tap their NFC-enabled phone on readers to access campus buildings, as well as payments for dining, laundry, vending, and retail. Apple Wallet has supported the Transact platform since late 2018, and additional student-ID systems since late 2019. Fifteen institutions have committed to the initial roll-out of Transact for Google Pay, including Arkansas State University, Chowan University, College of Coastal Georgia, Duke University, Georgetown University, Hamilton College, Johns Hopkins University, Marshall University, Mercer University, Roanoke College, St. Edward’s University, South Dakota State University, Temple University, The University of Alabama, and University of New Brunswick.
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CAT's latest rugged phone for the US market is the S32. It's a bit more affordable than past models at $349. It's rated IP68 for water and dust. It can withstand being submerged under 1.5 meters of water for up to 35 minutes. It also has a military rating for drop and shock. It has a 5.5-inch HD display covered in DragonTrail Pro glass that works with gloves and wet fingers. It has a 4,200 mAh battery. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio A20 processor with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, and Android 10. Features include NFC, 13 megapixel main camera, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and a user-assignable shortcut key on the side. The US variant will have full support for Verizon and T-Mobile 4G LTE bands, and decent support for AT&T, including band 14 for FirstNet.
CES is the world's consumer tech show. Every year we head out to Vegas to check out everything in person. We honor the standouts with our Best of CES awards. This year, four products wowed us, each for a different reason.
Coolpad is planning to introduce a new smartwatch later this year that will target the senior market, according to Coolpad US CEO Steve Cistulli in an interview with Phone Scoop. It will be based on the company's Dyno 2 smartwatch for children, but add an optical heart rate monitor and two-contact ECG sensor. It will also offer a new user interface tailored for the senior market. It will be offered under its own brand, while Dyno will remain a kid-focused brand. Similar to how the Dyno watches connect to a platform that allows parents to monitor their children, the new watch will allow adults to keep tabs on the whereabouts and health of their aging parents, and stay in touch more easily. Coolpad hopes the watch will enable more "aging in place" living.
Coolpad has a new version of its Dyno smartwatch for kids, and it's better in every way. The Dyno 2 is a "kids" smartwatch that slightly older kids might not be embarrassed to wear, thanks to new color and interface options. And they've upgraded the display, processor, and charging connector. It also has dramatically better LTE network support. A new feature called Quests lets parents game-ify chores. Like the original Dyno, it has an SOS button, full parental control, location tracking, voice calling, and text messaging. Coolpad it currently planning to ship it April for $190. Read on for more details and hands-on impressions.
Quibi, short for "quick bites", is a new video streaming service designed specifically for phones. It will launch in early April and cost $5/month, or $8/month for the ad-free version. To optimize for phone viewing, all content is available in both landscape and portrait orientation, and users can switch orientation at any time while watching. All Quibi content is original, filmed and framed specifically to work in both orientations. Also, all content is ten minutes or less, for viewing on the go. Quibi has been busy teaming up with big names and giving them big budgets to produce original content. They're working with, among others, Zac Efron, Idris Elba, Kristen Bell, Chrissy Teigen, Kendall Jenner, Tyra Banks, Steph Curry, and 50 Cent. The company has raised $1 billion. The top-tier programs are budgeted at up to $125,000 a minute. The company plans to roll out more than 175 original shows and 8,500 episodes within its first year.
Certain materials used in current phone cases can block the mmWave frequencies used in some 5G networks. D3O has developed a new, less-dense version of its D3O shock-absorbing material that lets mmWave 5G signals pass through unimpeded. D3O calls it D3O with 5G Signal Plus Technology. The material is impregnated with "micro-voids" to make it less dense. D3O says it can provide the same degree of shock absorption as its standard material. Gear4 (a Zagg brand) is the exclusive licensee and user of D3O material for phone cases, and will use D3O with 5G Signal Plus Technology in its 2020 cases for 5G phones.
A quick look at the new concept phone from OnePlus, including its unique electro-chromatic technology that seamlessly hides the cameras when not in use. Read on for technical details, video of the Invisible camera in action, hands-on photos, and impressions.
You may be familiar with phones you can squeeze, or that have touch-sensitive sides. Sentons makes those sensors, but they can do more than those simple actions. Much more. This quick video demos the more advanced possibilities, and gives you an up-close look at the ultrasonic sensors themselves.
Kyocera is at CES this year showing off mock-ups of 5G devices under development, including their next rugged smartphone for the US, which will have 5G. Kyocera's Product Planning Manager Curtis Wick confirmed to Phone Scoop that the company is still actively developing rugged smartphones for the US market, similar to the DuraForce Pro 2 that is currently offered by AT&T and Verizon. The mock-up shown at CES is not a functional prototype, nor the final design. But it shows the direction the company is going with its designs.
At CES this year, Google is showing off several new functions coming to Google Assistant on Android phones. Soon, you'll be able to say "Hey Google, read it" or "Hey Google, read this page" when you're viewing an article. When you do, it will use "new voice datasets to create more expressive and more natural sounding voices" for reading long-form content. The content can also be translated into 42 languages. Google is also adding two new voice actions for people to easily control their privacy. The first is "Hey Google, that wasn’t for you," which lets you tell the Assistant to forget what it heard if an unintended activation occurs. The other is "Hey Google, are you saving my audio data?" to learn about your privacy controls and go directly into the settings screen to change your preferences. Google added several other privacy-related commands recently, including "Hey Google, delete everything I said to you this week."
Sprint is shutting down its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand. Starting the week of February 2nd, Sprint will move current Virgin Mobile customers to Sprint's other prepaid brand, Boost Mobile. According to a Sprint statement to FierceWireless, "In most circumstances, customers can keep their current phone and will receive a comparable or better Boost Mobile service plan with no extra cost". All of Sprint's business plans are currently in a kind of limbo as the company awaits a court verdict on whether it will be allowed to merge with T-Mobile. The pending merger has put a pause on all major investments and strategic moves, which in turn has hurt business units such as Virgin Mobile.
PopSockets today announced PopPower, a Qi wireless charger with a hole in the middle to accommodate the company's popular PopGrip pop-out grip accessory. The $60 charger supports fast wireless charging on Apple and Samsung phones, as well as the new Qi Extended Power Profile (EPP) standard for 15W fast charging. The charger is only compatible with non-metallic PopGrips. The PopPower is available now from the PopSockets web site in three designs: Matte White, Mountainscape and Cosmic Cloud (shown).
Razer has introduced a new accessory that adds full-size physical game controls to a much wider range of phones than its previous Junglecat accessory. The Kishi comes in versions for both iOS and Android. The iOS version has a Lightning connector and is compatible with the iPhone 7 and newer. The Android version is designed to work with most phones that have a centered USB-C connector on the bottom. Kishi's controls are full-size and close to the ergonomics of a typical console game controller. The bottom of the right controller has a USB-C (or Lightning) connector for pass-through charging. The Kishi is powered directly by the phone, so it never needs charging. Kishi will be available in a few months for a price in roughly the same range as the Junglecat, which currently sells for $100. Read on for our hands-on impressions and notes.
Coolpad's first 5G phone will be offered as an unlocked phone in the US with wide support for most US 5G networks. It will sell for under $400, making it the most affordable 5G phone to date in the US. It will be fully compatible with the current and planned sub-6 GHz 5G networks of AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, supporting 5G NR in frequency bands 2, 5, 12, 25, 41, 66, and 71. That is, by far, the largest number of US 5G bands supported in a single phone announced to date. (It won't support the faster mmWave 5G networks offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, although those networks offer limited coverage in only the densest area of major cities.) This new phone will feature a 6.53-inch Full-HD+ display with HDR10 and a small notch, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chip, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, 4,000 mAh battery, and 18W fast charging. For cameras, it will have a 48 megapixel main, 8 megapixel wide, and a 16 megapixel front camera. It will also come with Android 10, 3.5mm headphone jack, THX-certified stereo speakers, and a memory card slot. A unique color gradient on the back fades from denim to sand. It will be available in the second quarter of 2020. The exact model name and additional details will be announced later.
Aukey's new Omnia USB-PD chargers use GaN technology to offer fast charging for all types of USB-C devices in unusually compact form factors. Aukey claims they are "the world's smallest PD chargers". The smallest is the size of an average phone charger, but offers up to 61 watts of power, enough to charge a standard laptop at full speed. It has a single USB-C output. Also available are slightly-larger 65W models with either two USB-C ports or one USB-C and one USB-A. The 100W models are slightly larger still, and come with either one or two USB-C ports. Chargers like these allow road warriors to carry a single compact charger for both their phone and laptop. All Omnia chargers feature foldaway wall prongs for compact stowage. The new chargers will be available in the second quarter of 2020. Pricing is yet to be determined.
The Bluetooth SIG today announced Bluetooth LE Audio, a new part of the Bluetooth standard designed to replace all previous audio profiles, which will now be referred to as "Classic Audio". LE Audio uses the Bluetooth LE radio, a version of Bluetooth optimized for low power consumption. LE Audio takes advantage of the broadcast capability of Bluetooth LE, which will allow one audio source to transmit to an unlimited number of Bluetooth devices nearby. Individuals will be able to use this feature to listen to music or watch video together. The broadcast feature is also designed for buildings such as theaters, airports, museums, gyms, and convention centers. Users will be able to choose a public (or password-protected) Bluetooth LE audio stream, much the same as choosing Wi-Fi networks today, and listen to the audio channel (or language) of their choice. Because it uses the LE radio and also a new "LC3" codec, LE Audio devices should use up to 50% less power compared to Classic Audio devices. Alternately, device makers can choose to offer much better sound quality using the same amount of power as Classic Audio devices. LE Audio also supports multi-stream and stream syncing. This will provide better native support for stereo true wireless earbuds, and allow earbuds to remain connected to multiple source devices simultaneously. The LE Audio spec also includes specific features to better support Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. LE Audio requires Bluetooth 5.2, a new version of the core Bluetooth spec that was formally adopted and published earlier today. The first LE Audio devices are expected to ship around the end of 2020.