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Samsung Launches Its Own Find-My-Device Service

Yesterday, 9:45 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has officially launched SmartThings Find, a device-tracking solution roughly similar to Tile, as well as Apple and Google's respective Find My services. "SmartThings Find uses Bluetooth Low Energy and ultra-wideband (UWB) technologies to help people find select Galaxy smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and earbuds." Uniquely, it can utilize the UWB feature of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold2 to help you find lost devices quickly using an AR interface. It also supports common features of competing platforms such as offline device finding and secure, private crowdsourced device finding. It can help you navigate to lost devices on a map, and, when nearby, "ring" those devices. SmartThings Find is available within the SmartThings app on phones and tablets running Android 8 or later, and can be used to find Galaxy phones and tablets, as well as Galaxy Watch devices running Tizen 5.5 or later, and Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Buds Live.


Google Adds VPN to High-End Google One Plans

Thursday, 2:57 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has added a VPN feature to its Google One service at the 2 TB and higher levels, which start at $10/month or $100/year. The feature will roll out in the "coming weeks" for Android, and will come to other platforms including iOS in "coming months". Like any VPN, it offers extra security when using public Wi-Fi hotspots or any untrusted internet connection.


LG K92 5G Makes 5G More Affordable in US

Thursday, 9:31 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Thursday, 9:52 AM

LG today unveiled the K92 5G, its entry into the growing surge of phones designed to bring 5G to more affordable price points. The K92 5G will be sold by AT&T, Cricket, and US Cellular starting at just $359, breaking the $399 barrier for the first time. The K92 5G is the second phone to be announced for the US that uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 chipset, following the OnePlus Nord N10 5G earlier this week. The 690 is specifically designed to enable more-affordable 5G phones such as these. Nokia, Motorola, and TCL have also announced that they will use the 690 in forthcoming phones. The 690 supports only sub-6 GHz 5G, not mmWave. The LG K92 5G has a large 6.7-inch full-HD display, 4,000 mAh battery, Quick Charge 4, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. Its quad rear cameras include a 64 megapixel (f/1.78) main camera, 5 megapixel wide camera, 2 megapixel macro camera, and depth camera. The 16-megapixel front camera sits in a large centered hole punch. It also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, NFC, and stereo speakers. It will ship with Android 10. It will be available from US carriers "shortly".


Yahoo Mobile Launches ZTE Blade A3Y for $49

Wednesday, 3:59 PM   by Rich Brome

Yahoo Mobile has launched the ZTE Blade A3Y, an exclusive purple version of ZTE's Blade A3 preloaded with native Yahoo mobile apps such as Yahoo Mail Pro, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Weather. The A3Y is essentially the same phone as the Blade A3 Prime offered by Visible and the Z2 offered by Gabb. The phone is available now on yahoomobile.com for $49. Certain new customers may qualify to get the phone for free.


T-Mobile Doubles Mid-Band 5G Coverage

Wednesday, 10:10 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today announced the launch of 5G in the 2.5 GHz band (AKA mid-band or band 41) in nearly 200 new cities and towns this month, bringing its total 5G coverage in this band to nearly 410 cities and towns. T-Mobile is currently the only carrier with licenses for any significant amount of mid-band spectrum in the US. Mid-band provides a better balance of potential data speeds vs. coverage, compared to other bands currently used for 5G in the US. The launch includes several major markets such as New Haven, Wichita, St. Louis, Hoboken, Newark, Asheville, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Columbus, Allentown, Knoxville, Manassas, Richmond, Milwaukee, Aurora (IL), and Troy (NY). T-Mobile plans to cover 100 million people with mid-band 5G by the end of the year. The FCC is in the process of auctioning off several new swaths of mid-band spectrum for 5G, which will allow competing carriers to offer similar 5G service. Verizon spent $1.9 billion for licenses in the most recent mid-band auction.


The TCL 10 5G UW Offers Full-Featured 5G on Verizon for $400

Tuesday, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Getting a 5G phone for Verizon just got a lot more affordable with the introduction of the TCL 10 5G UW. The phone is notable for several reasons. First is the $400 price point, a full $150 lower than Verizon's cheapest 5G phones before today. The $400 price point matches T-Mobile's cheapest 5G phone, the REVVL 5G, which is also made by TCL. In fact, the two phones are closely related, sharing many specs and the same "T790" technical model number. The TCL 10 5G UW is also notable for including faster mmWave 5G, a feature that usually carries a price premium. No competing phone near this price point includes mmWave, and Verizon's 5G phones usually carry a $50-100 premium because Verizon requires that all of its 5G phones include mmWave. The 10 5G UW is also notable for being the first TCL-branded phone in the postpaid lineup of Verizon, the largest carrier in the US; this marks a major milestone for the TCL brand. Finally, the 10 5G UW includes several high-end specs one might not expect in such an affordable phone, such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G — a chip also found in some flagship-level phones — as well as 6 GB RAM, HDR10 display, and a 48-megapixel main camera. The premium design sports Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and 3D curved Gorilla Glass 5 on the back covering a subtle, dark prismatic crystal design. Additional specs include a 6.53-inch full-HD display, 128 GB storage plus memory card slot, 4,500 mAh battery, fast charging, and Super Bluetooth for connecting up to four audio devices simultaneously. It also has a wide-angle camera, macro camera, NFC, rear fingerprint reader, and a headset jack. It ships with Android 10 but TCL promises an update to Android 11 is on the way, along with at least two years of quarterly security updates. The TCL 10 5G UW will be available from Verizon starting this Thursday Oct. 29th.


OnePlus Bringing Affordable Nord Series to North America, Including 5G Model

Oct 26, 2020, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

OnePlus today announced two new models in its Nord series of affordable phones. The new OnePlus Plus Nord N10 5G and Nord N100 will be the first Nord-series phones to be offered in North America. Specific US launch dates, sales channels, and pricing will be announced at a later date. Both phones share a very similar design, with a corner-hole-punch display on the front, and a stand-alone fingerprint reader on the back.


Boost Offers New $10 Plan

Oct 22, 2020, 1:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Boost has sweetened the value of its cheapest plans, temporarily offering 2 GB of high-speed data with unlimited talk and text for just $10/month. The offer is only available to new customers who bring their own unlocked phone compatible with the T-Mobile network. Further, the 2 GB of monthly data is only for the first three months, after which it becomes 1 GB of monthly data. A step-up plan with similar terms runs $15/month for 4 GB of monthly data, stepping down to 2 GB after three months. This limited-time offer is available until the end of the year.


NASA Taps Nokia to Build 4G Network on the Moon

Oct 22, 2020, 10:06 AM   by Rich Brome

NASA has awarded a contract to Nokia to build and deploy a 4G LTE network on the surface of Earth's moon. Nokia will build an ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened LTE base station and deploy it on the lunar surface using a lunar lander from partner Intuitive Machines in late 2022. The contract is one of many issued by NASA as part of the overall Artemis program which aims to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon, including humans, by the end of the decade. "The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video."


Apple Updates iPhone 12 Pricing

Oct 16, 2020, 10:16 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 20, 2020, 3:53 PM

Apple has revised its pricing for the iPhone 12 and 12 mini for T-Mobile, matching the $30 "instant discount" for AT&T and Verizon that puts the starting price at $799 and $699, respectively. That means iPhone 12 series pricing is now the same for all major US carriers. The iPhone 12 and 12 mini do not come with the instant discount when purchased "SIM-free". That means an effective $30 premium for purchasing an iPhone 12 or 12 mini SIM-free. The iPhone 12 Pro models have consistent pricing across carrier and SIM-free options.


Verizon Expands Affordable 5G Lineup with Motorola One 5G

Oct 15, 2020, 10:11 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today launched the Motorola One 5G for $550, matching the price of the Samsung Galaxy A51 5G, Verizon's cheapest 5G phone before today. AT&T sells the One 5G for $445, but Verizon's version adds support for mmWave 5G, which Verizon calls Ultra Wideband.


OnePlus 8T Brings Ultra-Fast Charging to US

Oct 14, 2020, 9:47 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 14, 2020, 12:09 PM

OnePlus has revealed the OnePlus 8T, an update to its flagship phone. Compared to the OnePlus 8 launched in April, the new 8T has a faster display refresh at 120 Hz (up from 90), and 65-watt fast charging (up from 30). The battery is also slightly larger at 4,500 mAh (up from 4,300). The included 65W charger can deliver "a full day's charge" in 15 minutes, or a 100% charge in 39 minutes. To achieve this, the 8T has dual batteries and 12 temperature sensors inside. Also new are a video portrait mode and new always-on display options. Finally, the display is now flat instead of having curved sides. Other features and specs are similar to the OnePlus 8, including the Snapdragon 865 chip, 6.6-inch full-HD AMOLED display with HDR10+, 8 or 12 GB RAM, 128 or 256 GB storage, 48 megapixel main camera, 16 megapixel wide camera, 5G, NFC, stereo speakers, and an in-display fingerprint reader. It will come in Lunar Silver and Aquamarine Green, and ships with Android 11. The OnePlus 8T will sell for $749 in the US. That's $50 more than the starting price for the OnePlus 8, but it's also the version with maximum RAM and storage (12/256 GB). It will be available from OnePlus and Amazon on October 23rd, with pre-orders starting today. T-Mobile will also offer it at a later date as the OnePlus 8T+ 5G, which adds an IP68 water and dust rating, and fully supports T-Mobile's 5G SA (stand-alone) network at launch.


Apple Intros Four 5G iPhones

Oct 13, 2020, 2:04 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 16, 2020, 9:59 AM

Apple today announced the iPhone 12 series, the company's largest lineup of new iPhones to date. All four new models share same new design with flat metal sides and thinner bezels than previous iPhones. All four also include a bevy of high-end features, including:

The four iPhone 12 models and their differences:


Verizon Launches Nationwide 5G

Oct 13, 2020, 12:43 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 13, 2020, 2:41 PM

At Apple's iPhone 12 launch event, Verizon announced the launch of its nationwide sub-6 GHz 5G network, offering broad 5G coverage from Verizon for the first time. The network covers over 200 million people spanning 1,800 cities and towns. The company also detailed plans to continue expansion of its mmWave "Ultra Wideband" network, offering even higher speeds in select dense areas. The company is launching mmWave 5G in 19 new cities today, including Baltimore, Hartford, Jersey City, Las Vegas, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Tucson. That bring Verizon's mmWave city count to 55, a number they expect to reach 60 by the end of the year.


Google Duo Gains Screen Sharing

Oct 8, 2020, 1:46 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has added screen sharing to its Duo video-calling app.


Google Adds Sound Notifications to Android Accessibility Features

Oct 8, 2020, 1:44 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has added a helpful new feature to Android for anyone with hearing loss or simply wearing headphones. Sound Notifications provides push notifications for critical sounds around you, including baby sounds, water running, smoke and fire alarms, appliances beeping, dog barking, and door knocking. There's also a timeline that shows past detected noise events. The feature uses offline AI. Many Android phones already have this feature, but it can also be added by downloading both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from the Google Play app store.


Google Assistant Gains Customizable Actions Within Third-Party Apps

Oct 8, 2020, 1:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today launched third-party app integration for Google Assistant. This lets Android users perform specific actions within their favorite apps with a single "Hey Google..." command. For example, you can now say "Hey Google... new TikTok video", "send money with Venmo", "order Dunkin", "book a Lyft", "Tweet", "my friends' birthdays in Facebook", or "search cozy blankets on Etsy". Users can further customize the feature by adding their own shortcuts, such as "Hey Google, lace it" as a shortcut for "Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt". Users can explore and customize the new Shortcuts features by saying "Hey Google, show my shortcuts". The feature is available now on all Assistant-enabled Android phones.


Google Fi Launches 5G

Oct 8, 2020, 1:20 PM   by Rich Brome

Google Fi today launched 5G phones and 5G service, now that Google has launched its own 5G Pixel phones. Google Fi will include 5G service with all plans at no extra charge. They are offering the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra, S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, and A71 5G.


T-Mobile Successfully Tests Carrier Aggregation with 5G

Oct 6, 2020, 9:32 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has successfully tested the world's first 5G standalone (SA) data session with New Radio Carrier Aggregation (NR CA) on a commercial smartphone. Carrier aggregation lets a mobile device on a wireless network use more than one frequency band simultaneously, boosting available bandwidth and therefore increasing data speeds. Carrier aggregation has long been a standard feature of 4G (LTE) networks, but is just now coming to 5G (NR) networks. T-Mobile's test used an LG Velvet phone with a MediaTek Dimensity 1000C chipset to connect to Ericsson network equipment over two bands: band 41 (2.5 Ghz, AKA mid-band) and band 71 (600 MHz, AKA low-band). T-Mobile says CA boosts download speeds on its band 41 by 20 percent on average initially.


Google, Snapchat Take Stand Against Automatic "Beauty" Filters

Oct 5, 2020, 10:06 AM   by Rich Brome

Google and Snapchat have created new guidelines for face-retouching features in phone camera apps. Google conducted multiple studies and consulted experts, finding that retouched photos can "negatively impact mental wellbeing" and "quietly set a beauty standard that some people compare themselves against". The new guidelines state that face-retouching features should be off by default, stay off when turned off, provide clear indication when they are turned on, and avoid the term "beauty", using value-neutral terms and iconography instead. The two companies have committed to following these guidelines in their own products, and encourage other companies in the mobile industry to follow.


New York Launches COVID-19 Exposure Notifications

Oct 1, 2020, 1:49 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Oct 2, 2020, 11:45 AM

New York State has launched COVID Alert NY, its official app enabling the COVID-19 Exposure Notification system developed by Apple and Google. New York is the largest US state to date to launch an app using the system, and joins ten other states that have already launched similar apps: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming. New York's app supports the national key server that allows Exposure Notifications to work across state lines, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Exposure Notifications is an opt-in system that uses Bluetooth to track which phones come near which other phones, how closely, and for how long. When someone reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, the service can alert other people that may have come into contact with that person, so they can get tested as well. The service does not track users' locations, and protects privacy by using randomly-generated, frequently-changed ID codes to keep everyone anonymous. The system is more effective the more people participate. New York's app is available now for Android and iOS. Several other states are working on similar apps they plan to launch soon, including California, Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, DC. New York's app was developed by NearForm, which also developed Exposure Notification apps for New Jersey, Scotland, and Ireland.


Google Details 5G Pixels

Sep 30, 2020, 2:06 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 30, 2020, 3:03 PM

Google today announced its 5G Pixel phones for 2020: the Pixel 5 and "Pixel 4a (5G)". The confusingly-named Pixel 4a (5G) actually has more in common with the Pixel 5 than with the Pixel 4a. Both have a large OLED display (6–6.2 inches) with HDR, large battery (roughly 4,000 mAh), the exact same high-quality camera arrays, Titan M security chip, and are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip. The key differences are that the Pixel 5 has wireless (and reverse wireless) charging, water resistance, aluminum (vs. polycarbonate) body, and 8 GB RAM instead of 6. However only the Pixel 4a (5G) has a 3.5mm headset jack. The new Pixels include several new camera features. Night Sight in Portrait Mode lets you take portrait shots with blurred backgrounds even in very low light. Portrait Light lets you simulate a studio light and position it anywhere relative to your subject. That feature can also be applied to existing photos in Google Photos. Video mode now lets you choose from three different stabilization modes, including a new Cinematic Pan mode. The main camera is the same 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.7 aperture that Google has used in Pixel phones for the past year. The two new 5G models also have a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a departure from the Pixel 4 which had a telephoto camera instead. A new Hold for Me feature lets you assign Google Assistant to monitor a call on hold and alert you when a person is on the line. Extreme Battery Saver lets you pick which apps are essential and shuts down everything else to prolong battery life up to two days. Hold for Me and Extreme Battery Saver will come older Pixel phones via software update. Google has also improved its Recorder app, which records audio while transcribing it to text, even offline. Now, you can crop and remove sections of audio by simply editing the text. The Pixel 5 will be available unlocked in mint or black starting October 15th for $699. Pre-orders are open now. It will also come to Verizon with mmWave 5G for the same price, at a later date. The Pixel 4a (5G) will be available unlocked in November for $499, in black or white. Verizon will sell a version with mmWave 5G for $600, and will start taking pre-orders for that version October 29th.


Facebook Links Messaging Platforms

Sep 30, 2020, 12:37 PM   by Rich Brome

Facebook has started testing the ability to send direct messages between its Instagram and Facebook Messenger apps. Facebook is also updating messaging in Instagram to be more like Messenger, adding features such as vanishing messages, selfie stickers, custom emoji, and new ways to block unwanted messages. The new features are currently being "tested in select markets and will expand globally in the coming months." Facebook announced plans to integrate its various messaging platforms last year, eventually including WhatsApp.


AT&T Intros Mix-And-Match Unlimited Plans

Sep 29, 2020, 10:35 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T has tweaked its unlimited postpaid service offering to allow mix-and-match family plans. AT&T calls this "Unlimited Your Way". Each family member can now choose the unlimited plan right for them, while taking advantage of multi-line discounts. For example, with a five-line account where two customers wanted the Unlimited Elite plan, AT&T previously required that all five family members have the Unlimited Elite plan for $45/line/month, running $225/month total. Now, AT&T will allow three of the five lines to choose the Unlimited Starter plan (for example) instead, which runs $30/month/line, for a total of $180/month, a $45/month savings. The details of each Unlimited plan are otherwise unchanged from what AT&T announced almost a year ago. Verizon debuted mix-and-match plans over two years ago.


LG Wing Launches October 15th for $1000

Sep 29, 2020, 10:03 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon will start taking pre-orders for the LG Wing on Oct. 1 for $1000, with full launch on Oct. 15. AT&T and T-Mobile will offer the Wing at a later date.


2020 razr Launches Friday with $200 Discount

Sep 29, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola's newest razr foldable phone will launch Friday, Oct. 2nd with AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as unlocked from Motorola, Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H. For a limited time, the unlocked version is being offered with a $200 discount, bringing it to $1,199.


Amazon Enters the Ring with Luna, its Game Streaming Service

Sep 24, 2020, 5:27 PM   by Rich Brome

Amazon today announced Luna, the company's entry into the new field of cloud-based gaming. The service will be available on a variety of platforms, including iOS and Android. Starting today, gamers can sign up to request an invitation for the "early access" period that starts next month. It will cost $6/month during "early access". Final launch date and pricing were not announced. The iOS version will be available from the start and runs as a web app, thereby sidestepping the App Store policies that have tripped up Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud on iOS. The Android version will be available in a few weeks. Although gamers can use their own Bluetooth game controllers, Luna works best with the official Luna controller, which runs $50. Like Google's Stadia controller, it connects directly to the cloud via Wi-Fi, offering lower latency. The Luna controller has built-in Alexa, which can launch games by voice, for example. Luna offers Twitch integration, and makes it easy to pause a game and pick up right where you left off on another device. Luna will offer several different "channels" of games that users can subscribe to individually. Luna+ is the channel included with a basic subscription, and will include around 50 titles at some point during the Early Access period, with more added over time. The initial slate will include Resident Evil 7, Control, Tacoma, Rez Infinite, Metro Exodus, The Sexy Brutale, Overcooked! 2, and more. Ubisoft will also offer its own channel for Luna, also with around 50 titles.


Verizon Adds TCL-Branded $80 Phone to Prepaid Lineup

Sep 24, 2020, 11:43 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today launched the TCL Signa, the first TCL-branded phone to be launched by one of the big three US carriers. Previously, most TCL-made phones offered in the US bore the company's Alcatel brand. Although the Signa is an $80 entry-level phone for Verizon prepaid customers, it marks a major step in TCL's effort to expand the TCL brand in the US mobile market. Verizon lists the phone as the "Alcatel TCL SIGNA" on its web site, but the phone itself bears just the TCL and Verizon logos. The Signa has a 5.5-inch HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, 3,000 mAh battery, 8 megapixel main camera, USB-C, Android 10, dedicated Google Assistant button, memory card slot, and headset jack. It's available now for $80.


New Coalition Will Fight for Better App Store Policies

Sep 24, 2020, 9:10 AM   by Rich Brome

A new alliance of app developers have come together to form the Coalition for App Fairness. The new organization will pressure Apple and Google to change their app-store policies and commission rates to be more favorable to developers. The group includes Epic Games (developers of Fortnite), Spotify, Basecamp, and the developers of Tinder and ProtonMail. The group claims that Apple and Google collect excessive commissions and give unfair advantages to their own products and services. One specific demand is the ability to use third-party payment services for certain transactions. The nonprofit group is registered in Washington, DC and plans to push for legal and regulatory changes governing how the companies operate app stores.


Nokia Updates Entry-Level Phones

Sep 24, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Nokia this week introduced two new entry-level Android phones, and started taking pre-orders for its first 5G phone.


Adobe Acrobat Reader can now Reformat PDFs for Easy Reading on Phones

Sep 23, 2020, 11:33 AM   by Rich Brome

Adobe has released a new version of its free Acrobat Reader app for iOS and Android that can intelligently reformat the content of PDF files to make it easier to read on a mobile phone. The new feature, called Liquid Mode, uses Sensei, Adobe's AI engine. It converts all content into a single column the width of the phone screen, eliminating the need to zoom in or scroll sideways. All text is automatically made large enough to read easily, and also made searchable. The tool also automatically identifies headings and sections, auto-generating a table-of-contents menu for navigating longer documents. Controls also let the user adjust the font size and line spacing.


MWC 2021 Postponed to June

Sep 23, 2020, 10:59 AM   by Rich Brome

Next year's Mobile World Congress — the mobile phone industry's largest global trade show — has been postponed from March to late June. The 2020 edition was cancelled at the last minute just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting, and the hope is that this new date will coincide with widespread vaccines that will enable large in-person events once again.


Samsung Expands Galaxy S20 Series With More-Affordable Fan Edition

Sep 23, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 24, 2020, 8:55 AM

Samsung has a new, more affordable Galaxy S20 phone that starts at $699 while keeping the S20 specs and features that Samsung says surveyed users cared about most. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition (abbreviated "FE") keeps flagship-level specs in many areas. This includes Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 865 chipset, large (6.5") AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh, 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, LPDDR5 RAM, DeX, memory card slot, IP68 dust and water rating, and a metal frame. It also has triple rear cameras (12 megapixel main, 12 megapixel wide, and 8 megapixel tele), 32 megapixel selfie camera, NFC, in-display optical fingerprint reader, and Samsung's latest advanced camera features such as Single Take and Space Zoom (30x). Most US carriers will offer three color options: Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy, and Cloud Lavender. Verizon will also offer a Cloud Red option. The unlocked version from samsung.com will come in those four colors plus Cloud Orange and Cloud White. Most US carriers are expected to offer the Galaxy S20 FE. Most versions will only support sub-6 GHz 5G, but a version that also supports mmWave 5G will be available from Verizon for $750, ($700 after $50 instant discount when choosing a two-year payment plan and either: adding a new line, or upgrading while on a premium Unlimited plan). While the 6.5" screen and 4,500 battery are closer to the $1200 S20+, the S20 FE naturally makes a few compromises compared to the $1000 S20 to achieve its low price: less RAM at 6 GB, a full-HD screen that's perfectly flat, no 8K video capture, and a polycarbonate back instead of glass. Pre-orders start today and include a $70 credit (for accessories, for example) on samsung.com. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition ships on October 2nd.


Boost Launches New $100 Phone from Coolpad

Sep 22, 2020, 10:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Boost this week launched the Coolpad Legacy Brisa, a new Android phone for $100. It replaces the original Coolpad Legacy released in the middle of last year. It has similar design and features, but improvements include a Snapdragon 665 processor, 16 megapixel selfie camera, and a slightly larger display at 6.53 inches, thanks to a more modern notched design. Like the original Legacy, it sports full-HD display resolution, large 4,000 mAh battery, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB storage, memory card slot, 16 megapixel main camera, rear fingerprint reader, and USB-C.


Jabra Intros Elite 85t Earbuds, Adds ANC to Elite 75t with Update

Sep 22, 2020, 9:36 AM   by Rich Brome

Jabra today announced the new Elite 85t true wireless earbuds, a successor to the well-reviewed Elite 75t series. In a first, Jabra also announced a major firmware update for existing Elite 75t earbuds that adds Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). The new Elite 85t upgrades the speakers and mics, moving from 6mm speakers (in the 75t) to 12mm, and from four microphones to six, for improved wind noise protection and call clarity. While the 75t is gaining basic ANC via firmware, the 85t features Jabra Advanced ANC, using a dedicated ANC chip. The ANC and HearThrough features (piping in ambient sound) are fully adjustable. Similar to the updated 75t, the 85t features 5.5 hours of battery life with ANC on, and 25 hours total with the charging case. Also like the 75t, the 85t's charging case can be charged using standard Qi wireless charging. While the 75t was rated IP55 (water-resistant) against dust and water, the 85t is rated IPX4 (protected against splashes). Jabra Elite 85t will be available for pre-order in October, and for sale in November, for $229. Titanium/Black is the only color available at launch. In January, they will also be available in Gold/Beige, Copper/Black, Black, and Grey.


Qualcomm Fills out 7-Series with Snapdragon 750G

Sep 22, 2020, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 22, 2020, 10:13 AM

Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon 750G, the fourth 7-series chip the company has announced this year. The 750G replaces last year's 730G but adds 5G, has 20% better CPU performance, 10% better graphics performance, and 20% better AI performance. The 750G supports new AI-based technology for echo cancellation and noice suppression. It also supports HDR gaming, cameras up to 192 megapixel, and 4K video capture with both HDR and live bokeh. Its X52 5G modem supports both sub-6 and mmWave 5G, as well as advanced 5G features like SA networks and DSS. It's made using an 8nm manufacturing process. In Qualcomm's 2020 lineup of Snapdragon SoCs to power smartphones, the 750G sits between the 768G and the 732G (which was announced last month but lacks 5G). The 7 series powers high-end (but not quite "flagship") phones. Most 7-series chips now carry the "G" designation to indicate they're suitable for gaming phones. The Snapdragon 750G will appear in phones before the end of 2020.


WeChat and TikTok Still Available in US; Future Uncertain

Sep 21, 2020, 11:34 AM   by Rich Brome

Popular Chinese-owned apps WeChat and TikTok narrowly avoided a US government ban on new downloads Sunday night. On Friday, President Trump directed the US Department of Commerce to issue a ban on US companies (including Apple and Google) facilitating downloads of — or updates to — the WeChat and TikTok apps specifically, citing national security concerns. It would have also banned financial transactions using WeChat in the US, and gone into effect on Sunday, Sept. 20th. A judge issued a last-minute preliminary injunction temporarily preventing the ban from going into effect against WeChat, citing free-speech issue raised by WeChat users who sued to stop the ban. Separately, the Trump administration signaled that it might approve a proposed deal whereby Oracle and Walmart would take a 20% stake in a new "TikTok Global" company. TikTok would also move data from US users to a new cloud infrastructure provided by Oracle. Microsoft also offered to take over TikTok's US operations, but Current TikTok owner ByteDance is said to have focused on doing a deal with companies favored by the Trump administration. Oracle's Larry Ellison is a vocal supporter and fundraiser for Trump. Under the proposed deal, Chinese ByteDance would initially retain a controlling 80% stake in TikTok Global, but the new company would be required to have an IPO on a US stock exchange, with American ownership expected to "grow over time." To allow time for the proposed deal to reach a more firm agreement, the Dept. of Commerce delayed its ban on TikTok downloads by one week, to September 27th.


New Sensor Could Shrink Phone Bezels

Sep 17, 2020, 11:22 AM   by Rich Brome

A new optical sensor from ams could enable phone makers to make display bezels even thinner, for truly all-screen designs. The optical sensor works from underneath an OLED display, similar to new technology that allows the front camera to be placed under the display. The sensor detects proximity, ambient light levels, and ambient light flicker. Most phones today have such a sensor, but need to make room for it in the bezel area above the display. The sensor incorporates several specific innovations, including compensating for display output when sensing ambient light, and dispersing infrared light from the proximity sensor to avoid activating OLED materials and introducing visible display distortion. The part is available to manufacturers now for sampling.


US Carriers Launch ZenKey, a Network-Based Login for Apps

Sep 17, 2020, 10:24 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have officially launched ZenKey, a new way quickly log in to apps that leverages the authentication that happens automatically every time your phone connects to the cellular network. Apps must be updated to support ZenKey, and developers have the option of enabling ZenKey as the primary login, or as the second token in two-factor logins, replacing PIN codes sent my text message, for example. Customers must also download the ZenKey app (available for both iOS and Android) to start using ZenKey. Currently, only a handful of apps support ZenKey login, (mostly the carriers' own apps,) but carriers hope more apps will add support.


Verizon Intros Simpler, Cheaper Plans for Watches, Tablets, Hotspots

Sep 17, 2020, 9:03 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has introduced new Unlimited data plans for non-phone devices including smartwatches, tablets, and mobile hotspots. The new $10/month plan intended for smartwatches covers both watches with their own phone number and those using NumberShare to share a phone number between a phone and a watch. It includes 15GB of top-speed 4G LTE data, plus unlimited voice and texting. Previously, Verizon charged up to $15/month for just 1 GB of data. Existing customers will automatically be switched to the new pricing. The $20 plan, intended for tablets and hotspots, also includes 15 GB of top-speed data but adds hotspot functionality. Finally, a new Unlimited Plus plan for $30/month doubles the "premium" 4G data allotment to 30 GB and includes unlimited 5G data. Customers with a higher-end Unlimited phone plan (Do More or Get More) can get a 50% discount on Unlimited Plus, bringing it to just $15/month. The new plans are available starting today.


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