Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S phones for 2020 are somewhat predictable in appearance and features, and they've leaked like crazy, but there are a few surprises. There's no smaller, more affordable model like last year's S10e, nor is there a separate 5G model.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued the following statement today regarding the recent court decision to allow the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint: "After a thorough analysis, New York has decided not to move forward with an appeal in this case." The merger is now expected to proceed quickly. T-Mobile claims the merger may close as soon as April 1st.
Google has updated its Gboard keyboard option for Android phones to include a new Emoji Kitchen feature, which lets you create sticker graphics based on custom combinations and variations of standard emoji. For example, when you tap the face-with-cowboy-hat emoji, it presents options for monkey cowboy, ghost cowboy, laughing cowboy, kissy cowboy, in love cowboy, pleading cowboy, and pensive cowboy. The feature is rolling out to all Gboard users starting this week.
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The GSMA mobile industry trade group has cancelled its annual Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain. An avalanche of companies have pulled out of the event in recent days, due to concerns over how the international event could potentially help spread the new coronavirus, even though that risk is extremely low thanks to quarantine measures put in place by China and other affected countries, and extensive preventative measures already announced for MWC. MWC is the largest trade show in the world for the mobile industry.
Essential Products is closing up shop. The company shipped one Android phone and promised more devices, but never gained much traction. Founder Andy Rubin is also one of the chief creators of Android, and before that, Danger. Rubin had a history of sexual harassment claims against him.
Samsung's second foldable phone takes a different approach: instead of folding larger, it folds smaller, much like Motorola's new razr foldable. It's cheap for a foldable, but still quite pricey. Sprint and AT&T will carry it in the US. After the Galaxy Fold debacle, is this one more durable? How does it feel to fold? What about the crease? Will it last? More than with most phones, you need a hands-on report to give you an honest assessment of this unique phone. Here it is.
Verizon will offer a special version of the smaller Samsung Galaxy S20 5G that supports both mmWave and sub-6 GHz flavors of 5G in the second quarter. The larger S20+ and S20 Ultra support both types of 5G, and Verizon will sell those models starting March 6th. But the standard S20 for the US only supports sub-6 5G, which Verizon won't launch until later this year. Verizon's special version will support its current (mmWave) 5G network as well its upcoming sub-6 5G network. Although the special version will launch later and include extra components to support mmWave, it will be the same price as the standard version: $1,000.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy Z Flip, its newest foldable phone. The phone forms a tall slab of a smartphone when open, but closes to a small square with a small outer touch-screen. It uses a new, ultra-thin flexible glass material to cover the flexible 6.7-inch screen that bends in the middle, The glass is designed to fold up to 200,000 times. "Flex Mode" enables a special split-screen interface in select apps when the phone is opened to an angle less than fully open. This can be used to set the phone down on a flat surface to take a long-exposure photo without a tripod. Purchase of the phone includes YouTube Premium. The phone will sell for $1,380 starting February 14th. It will be available in three color-shifting hues: Mirror Purple, Mirror Black, and Mirror Gold. In the US, Sprint and AT&T will offer it starting this Friday in Mirror Purple and Mirror Black, in "limited quantities".
Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S phones for 2020 are somewhat predictable in appearance and features, and they've leaked like crazy, but there are a few surprises. There's no smaller, more affordable model like last year's S10e, nor is there a separate 5G model. They're all large and expensive, and they all have 5G. A new top-end option has been introduced beyond the "plus" model: the S20 Ultra. The Ultra seems to be stepping on the toes of Samsung's Note series, offering a huge screen and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feature list for people willing to pay a premium. All three models have an all-new camera system with some new tricks. How well do the few features work? How do the phones feel in person? We have your hands-on report right here.
Samsung today announced its new flagship phones for 2020: the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra. In the US, all three models support 5G and are powered by Qualcomm's newest top-end Snapdragon 865 chipset paired with 12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The base model S20 supports sub-6 GHz 5G; the S20+, S20 Ultra, (and a special version of the S20 for Verizon) are the first phones in the US to support both sub-6 and mmWave flavors of 5G in one phone. The S20 series also supports DSS and SA 5G networks, technologies US carriers are moving quickly to deploy. Compared to last year's S10 and S10+, the S20 and S20+ are a bit taller, allowing larger batteries and slightly larger QHD+ displays. The new Ultra model is larger still, sporting Samsung's largest phone display yet at 6.9 inches diagonal. The cheapest S20 model costs $1,000, while the S20 Ultra starts at $1,400. All three have an all-new triple-camera system on the back (with standard, wide, and telephoto cameras), 120 Hz display refresh, and 8K video capture. The phones can capture 33-megapixel stills while recording 8K video and can upload 8K video to YouTube. The camera app also has improved night and Super Steady modes, as well as a new Night Hyperlapse mode, and a new "Single Take" mode that captures a variety of still and video clips at once and uses AI to suggest several best output options. The design of the S20 series is roughly similar to the S10 series, and carries forward most of the same features, such as a curved-edge display, curved glass on both sides, in-display fingerprint reader, Wireless Power Share, wireless and wired fast charging (25W fast charger included), Samsung Pay, and a memory card slot. The new S20 phones do not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but wired (USB-C) earbuds are included. A "Space Zoom" feature offers 10x digital zoom using new AI algorithms. Google Duo video calling has been integrated into Samsung's phone app, and — exclusive to 5G Samsung Galaxy phones — supports full-HD resolution.
- Galaxy S20: 6.2-inch display, 4,000 mAh battery, 128 GB of storage, 12 megapixel main camera (f/1.8, 79º), 12 megapixel wide camera (f/2.2, 120º), 64 megapixel telephoto and 8K video camera (f/2.0, 76º, 3x zoom via crop). 10 megapixel selfie camera. Available in Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, and Cloud Pink for $1,000. The Verizon version will also support mmWave 5G, but doesn't ship until Q2.
- Galaxy S20+: 6.7-inch display, 4,500 mAh battery, 128 or 512 GB of storage. The same cameras as the S20, plus a ToF depth camera. Both sub-6 and mmWave 5G. Available in Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, and Cosmic Black starting at $1,200.
- Galaxy S20 Ultra: 6.9-inch display, 5,000 mAh battery, 128 or 512 GB of storage, and the option for up to 16 GB of RAM. The same wide-angle camera as the other models, but upgraded main and tele cameras: The main camera sports 108 megapixels (f/1.8, 79º), using 9-to-1 pixel binning to produce high-quality 12 megapixel images by default. It also handles 8K video. The unique telephoto camera (48 megapixel, 24º, f/3.5) accomplishes a 10x optical zoom using a "folded" design with a prism to arrange most of the necessary lenses sideways. Supports 45W fast charging. Available in Cosmic Gray and Cosmic Black starting at $1,400.
A multi-state anti-trust lawsuit to stop the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile has failed. New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement saying "There is no doubt that reducing the mobile market from four to three will be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation, which is why the states stepped up and led this lawsuit. ... As we review our options, including a possible appeal, Americans should continue to hold the companies to account for their promises." If the states do no not appeal, the merger is likely to be completed as soon as April 1, 2020, according to a statement from the two companies. The ruling was issued today by the Hon. Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. New York and California led the coalition of 14 state Attorneys General opposing the merger. The FCC and DoJ approved the merger last year. Some assets from Sprint — including the Boost Mobile brand and customers — will be transferred to Dish, which has promised to use them build its own new 5G network.
Samsung aired a television commercial during the Oscars award show tonight that showed the company's next, unannounced foldable phone in detail. The ad was rich in visuals but light on details, encouraging viewers to tune in to the company's Unpacked event on Tuesday. Rumors say the phone will be called the Galaxy Z Flip. The flexible-screen form factor is roughly similar to that of the Moto razr. The ad shows a small, full-color outer touch-screen, and a hinge mechanism that can hold in place at multiple angles.
Sprint today announced WatchMeGo, a new watch device for kids that offers two-way communication and location tracking. The watch offers GPS, two-way voice messaging, and can receive text messages from parents. The companion app for parents (available for both Android and iOS) lets them see their child's location and set up geo-fenced "safety zones" so they're notified when their child enters and exits specified areas. Location history data is saved for 14 days. Parents can be alerted when the watch is taken off. The watch is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, has a durable Gorilla Glass face, and has an SOS button that will instantly alert parents. It has a 400 mAh battery, LTE, and a large 1.39" touch screen. The watch also has Bluetooth and a music player that can play music loaded over USB. The unique charger clips around the side of the watch. WatchMeGo is available starting today for $144. Service costs $10/month with auto-pay.
A security flaw has been found in Android that allows attackers to access a phone via Bluetooth with no user interaction required. Android's most recent monthly security update, released on February 3rd, fixes the flaw. The vulnerability is rated "critical" — the highest rating — for Android versions 8 and 9. In Android 10, the same bug allows a remote attacker to crash the Bluetooth system, but does not present the same security vulnerability. Attackers must be within Bluetooth range (typically around 30 feet) to exploit the flaw. Users can ensure they're not vulnerable by turning off Bluetooth until their phone receives the February update. There are ways to continue using Bluetooth in public while making it difficult to exploit the flaw. Attackers need to know your Bluetooth MAC address (device ID). This can be obtained in two ways: The first is if your phone is in Bluetooth "discoverable" (pairing) mode. Also, on some devices, the Bluetooth MAC address can be deduced from the Wi-Fi MAC address. Therefore users with a non-updated Android phone who are concerned about the issue should avoid pairing new Bluetooth devices while near any public areas, and keep Wi-Fi turned off on their phone.
Motorola has unveiled two new g-series phones for 2020: the Moto g Stylus and Moto g Power. The two phones are very similar, except the g Stylus has a built-in stylus pen and higher-end main camera, while the g Power has a larger battery. Both phones have a 6.4-inch full-HD+ display with a "hole punch" in the corner for the 16-megapixel selfie camera. Both are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip paired with 4 GB of RAM and running Android 10. Both have a water-repellent design, stereo speakers, dual-band Wi-Fi, fingerprint reader, memory card slot, USB-C, 10W fast charging, 3.5mm headphone jack, and FM radio. Both have excellent support for all US 4G networks — including bands 13, 14, 25, 26, 29, 30, 41, 66, and 71 — with LTE Cat. 13 speeds. Motorola also has a new feature that limits interruptions while gaming. The few differences between the phones are:
- Moto g Stylus: Has a built-in stylus pen designed to help you edit photos, jot down notes, sketch artwork, copy and paste text, and mark up screenshots. Removing the stylus while the phone is idle will automatically start the new Moto Note app, which lets you take quick notes without unlocking the phone. It has a 4,000 mAh battery and 128 GB of storage. The main camera has a 48-megapixel sensor and f/1.7 aperture, with laser auto-focus. It also has a 2-megapixel macro camera and 16-megapixel "action" camera that takes ultra-wide video in landscape orientation while holding the phone vertically. The Moto g Stylus will be available unlocked "this spring" for $300, and subsequently at Verizon, Metro, and Republic.
- Moto g Power: Has an extra-large 5,000 mAh battery that Motorola claims can power the phone for three days. It also has three rear cameras, but the main camera is 16 megapixel (f/1.7) and the wide-angle camera is 8-megapixel with standard orientation. Like the g Stylus, it has a 2-megapixel macro camera that can focus on objects just 2cm from the lens. It has 64 GB of storage. The Moto g Power will be available unlocked "this spring" for $250, and subsequently at Verizon, Xfinity Mobile, US Cellular, Consumer Cellular, and Republic.
Mophie has a new line of Powerstation portable battery packs that are designed specifically to support the connectors and charging options of the iPhone 11 series. All three of the new Powerstations can charge an iPhone quickly using 18W fast charging. The Powerstations themselves are charged with a built-in Lightning power input, for easy use with existing Apple chargers. The standard Powerstation has a 6,000 mAh battery and outputs power via a USB-C port designed to work with the USB-C-to-Lightning cable included with the newest iPhones. The step-up Powerstation Plus is similar except it has a built-in Lightning cable instead of USB-C port. The larger PowerStation Plus XL is similar to the smaller Powerstation Plus, but has an 8,000 mAh battery and adds Qi wireless charging (at 5W) for charging an additional device. All three new Powerstations also have a full-size USB port for charging other devices using common USB-A cables. All three are available now in black, gray, navy, and pink, from mophie.com, apple.com and in select Apple stores. The Powerstation is priced at $60; the Powerstation Plus at $80; and the Powerstation Plus XL at $100.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has released details of the FCC's proposal to re-arrange the C band, making available 280 MHz of additional radio spectrum for 5G in the US. The C band is a 500 MHz segment of spectrum from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz, which is currently used by fixed satellite companies to beam content to video and audio broadcasters, cable systems, etc. The FCC's proposal would move all existing users into the upper 200 MHz of that band, freeing up the lower portion (3.7 – 3.98 GHz) to be auctioned for new 5G service in the US. Moving the existing users will be costly and time-consuming, as it will require the launch of new satellites in some cases. The FCC will pay those costs, plus additional incentive payments of up to $9.7 billion if accelerated deadlines are met. If all of those deadlines are met, the first 100 Mhz of newly-allocated spectrum could be in use for 5G service as soon as September 2021, with the remaining 180 MHz in use as soon as September 2023. The incentive payments would be paid by 5G auction winners.
Google has updated its Maps app for iOS and Android with a new tab bar. The standard default view is now the "Explore" tab. A new "Commute" tab lets you specify your daily commute route and receive real-time traffic updates, travel times, and suggestions for alternative routes. It works for both driving and public transit. A "Saved" tab lets you see lists of your saved places, as well as upcoming reservations flagged by Gmail, and your saved maps. The new "Contribute" tab makes it easier to send Google reviews, recommendations, corrections, and photos to make Maps better. Finally, the new Updates tab highlights new places nearby, and new articles about places nearby.
The newest entry-level Nokia Android phone from HMD Global is the Nokia 2.3, which contains a 4,000 mAh battery that HMD claims can last through two days of use. It also has a 6.2-inch, 19:9, HD screen with small notch, MediaTek Helio A22 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, and 3.5mm headset jack. It has a 13 megapixel camera on the back plus depth camera for portrait mode, and a 5 megapixel camera on the front. An AI-powered "Recommended Shot" feature automatically captures alternate images before and after the shutter button is pressed and suggests the best one. It also has a multi-frame night mode. The frame is aluminum and the back has a "3D nano-textured" design. The 2.3 comes with Android 9 and two years of OS updates (including Android 10) plus three years of monthly security updates. The US version supports LTE in US bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 66, which means basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks (including Cricket and Metro brands). The Nokia 2.3 will come in Sand and Charcoal in the US. It will be available unlocked from Amazon and Best Buy for $129 starting February 9th.