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Fortnite's Biggest Battle Yet: App Stores

Yesterday, 3:37 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 5:54 PM

Epic Games, the maker of popular battle royale game Fortnite, has filed suit against Apple for anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior related to its iOS App Store policies. Epic is challenging Apple's monopoly on both app purchases and in-app purchases, and Apple's 30% cut. Instead of monetary damages, Epic is asking the courts to force Apple to change its policies. In apparent preparation for the suit, this morning Epic started offering a discount for players who purchased in-app content directly from Epic, instead of via the standard in-app purchase systems provided on iOS and Android, in violation of Apple and Google's policies. Apple quickly responded by pulling Fortnite from the App Store. Google pulled Fortnite from its Play Store hours later. Epic initially resisted listing Fortnite in Google's Play Store in protest of these policies, before relenting this April. Fortnite can still be installed on Android phones by working around the Play Store, but it can no longer be installed on iOS devices. Existing installations on both platforms still function for now.

Microsoft's Surface Duo is a new Category of Android Device

Wednesday, 10:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft is finally ready to launch the unique, dual-screen Surface Duo device it first revealed almost a year ago. The Android 10 device has two 5.6-inch OLED displays, joined by a narrow 360º hinge, which can work together as one 8.1-inch display. Microsoft has customized both the Android OS, and its suite of productivity apps for Android, to enable new dual-screen functionality. The Surface Duo will launch September 10th starting at $1399. It has excellent support for the 4G networks of AT&T and Verizon, and decent support for T-Mobile's 4G network, although it does not support band 71. It will be available unlocked as well as from AT&T. Key specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 or 256 GB of storage, Cat. 18 LTE, 3,577 mAh battery capacity, 18W fast charging, fingerprint reader, and USB-C 3.1 including video output to DisplayPort or HDMI. It has an 11 megapixel camera that supports 1080p video conferencing and 4K video capture. The 360º hinge lets the single camera face inward or outward. When open, the Surface Duo is just 4.8mm thick.

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Google Improves Lookout, its App for Blind and Low-Vision People

Tuesday, 10:48 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has added several major features to Lookout, its app that uses computer vision to help people who are blind or low-vision. The new features include the ability to scan longer documents into readable text, identify food products from their labels, and automatic flash. The updated Lookout app is available now for Android 6+ devices with over 2 GB of RAM.

Google Adds Bedtime Features to its Clock App

Tuesday, 10:43 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has updated its own Clock app with a Bedtime tab to help users maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The feature initially debuted on Pixel phones, but is now available for all Android (version 6+) phones. The new tab includes the ability to track your screen time at night, fall asleep to a variety of soothing sounds, and wake up more gently with visual cues from the Sunrise Alarm and your favorite sounds or song. It works in concert with the Bedtime features built into the Android OS, which remind you when it's time for bed and limit interruptions by keeping your phone dark and quiet while you sleep.

Google Turning Android Phones Into Earthquake Detection Network

Tuesday, 10:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is launching two new earthquake-related features on Android today. First, Google is enabling Android phones in California to receive alerts from the state's ShakeAlert early-detection network. In many cases, the notifications can give users a few seconds of warning before an earthquake, enough time to find cover. Second, Google has launched its own earthquake-detection system that uses the accelerometers in Android phones. Starting today, if "the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening." Eventually, Google plans to use this new data to power a notification system like the one in California. But initially, the system will only feed Google search results for searches such as "earthquake" or "earthquake near me".

Google Bringing Calendar, New App Categories to Android Auto

Tuesday, 10:06 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Tuesday, 10:14 AM

Google has added a Calendar app to Android Auto, and is working to allow navigation, parking, and EV charging apps from third-party developers. The Calendar app makes it easy to get driving directions to locations saved in calendar events, and call phone numbers saved with events. The company has also added a new Settings app to Android Auto. For the additional categories, Google is working with developers such as ChargePoint, SpotHero and Sygic to launch beta apps by the end of this year. The move follows Apple's announcement in June that it will allow parking, EV charging, and fast food ordering apps in CarPlay with the launch of iOS 14.

3.5 GHz Band for 5G Grows by 23%

Monday, 4:40 PM   by Rich Brome

The US Department of Defense has decided to allow commercial 5G services to operate in the 3450-3550 MHz frequency band in the lower 48 states. That 100 MHz swath of spectrum is immediately adjacent to the 3.5 GHz (3550-3980 MHz, specifically) band that the FCC is already preparing to auction off for new 5G service. Combining the two bands means the 3.5 GHz band in the US will now span a contiguous 530 MHz, a 23% improvement over what had previously been approved for commercial use. This "mid-band" spectrum is seen as ideal for 5G, allowing a good balance of broad coverage and high speeds. The FCC will now determine the rules and auction dates for this "new" spectrum. The DoD currently uses this radio spectrum for radar operations that support missile defense, countermortar capabilities, weapons control, electronic warfare, air defense, and air traffic control. Thanks to spectrum-sharing solution, the DoD will be able to continue using the band even as commercial operators start using it for 5G service in the lower 48 states.

Boost Intros New, Cheaper Plan Options

Monday, 9:55 AM   by Rich Brome

Boost has added three new entry-level plans for those on a budget and/or with limited mobile data needs. They are: $10 for 1 GB of high-speed data, $15 for 2 GB, and $25 for 5 GB. All offer unlimited talk and text. The company is also launching new high-speed data add-on packages, which can be one-time or recurring. They run $5/GB, available in 1 or 2 GB. The three new base plans join the company's $35 and $45 plans announced a month ago, which offer 10 and 15 GB high-speed data, respectively. The $45 "$hrink-It!" plan can be discounted down to $35 after six on-time payments. The company also offers "unlimited" data plans for $50–60/month, offering 35 GB of high-speed data and varying amounts of mobile hotspot data. Only the $60 plan allows HD video streaming. Boost was recently acquired by Dish Network.

Apple Bans Game-Streaming Services From iOS

Aug 6, 2020, 5:02 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has issued a statement explaining that it will not allow cloud-based game streaming apps like Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS unless each game available via the platform is individually submitted to Apple for review. That is not generally how game-streaming services work, and may be impractical for the providers of such services. Says Apple: "Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store."

Instagram Takes on TikTok with Reels

Aug 5, 2020, 5:09 PM   by Rich Brome

Instagram has launched a new feature called Reels, which are similar to Stories, but with a number of features copied from TikTok. When creating a Reel, users can add audio from the Instagram music library, add AR effects, and alter the speed of video. It also has an "align" feature to help you line up face and body position when editing clips together. Reels can be shared publicly, where a new space within Explore will help people beyond your followers discover your content. This type of algorithmic feed has been key the viral success of TikTok. Reels can also be shared more privately, like Stories. Reels has been in testing for some time in India and Brazil, but is now being launched in over 50 countries, including the US. The launch comes as Chinese-owned TikTok is under threat from the White House to sell its US operations to a US company or face a complete ban in the US market.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 Coming to Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T

Aug 5, 2020, 9:43 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 5, 2020, 5:11 PM

Samsung has revealed the first details of its next premium foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold2. Also, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T have all announced that they will offer the Z Fold2. Both screens have been made larger compared to the original Fold. The outer display is now a full 6.2 inches, covering most of the front surface, a huge improvement over the 4.6-inch display on the original Fold. The inner, flexible display has been enlarged from 7.3 to 7.6 inches. The flexible display is now protected by Samsung's UTG (Ultra Thin Glass) just like the Galaxy Z Flip. The hinge looks similar, but has been re-engineered using over 60 precision parts. The phone also has a small camera hole punch on both displays, and 4,500 mAh battery capacity. The Z Fold2 will come in Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze. Samsung is keeping full details under wraps until September 1st, when pre-orders will also go live. Read on for more photos.

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Samsung Intros New Earbuds and Watch

Aug 5, 2020, 9:16 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Watch3, its newest wearable devices. The Galaxy Buds Live are bean-shaped true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation. They feature a bigger, 12mm speaker compared to Galaxy Buds+, plus a bass duct and three microphones. Outside noise can be adjusted. They're available starting tomorrow for $170, and come in Mystic Bronze, Mystic White, and Mystic Black. The Galaxy Watch3 brings back the physically-rotating bezel, with a new, thinner bezel design that maximizes screen-to-body ratio. The Watch3 includes all major smartwatch features, including heart rate and sleep tracking. A new Trip Detection feature ensures that help is never too far away if you take a hard fall outdoors or in your home, allowing you to send a custom SOS message to emergency contacts. It's available in two sizes. The Bluetooth version starts at $400, while the LTE-enabled version starts at $450. Add $30 for the larger 45mm size. All versions are available starting tomorrow. Read on for a few hands-on photos.

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Samsung Galaxy Note20 Series: Beyond the Specs

Aug 5, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 6, 2020, 12:24 PM

Samsung just announced the Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra. The specs are impressive, but what else should you know about these super-phones? We take you a bit deeper with some first impressions, point out some things you may have missed, and explain some things that might be confusing at first glance.

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Galaxy Note20 Series Focuses on Video, Note-Taking

Aug 5, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today revealed its latest Galaxy Note phones: the Galaxy Note20 and Galaxy Note20 Ultra. On the software side, the new Note phones include an overhauled Samsung Notes app with free cloud sync, PDF annotation, nested folder structure, personalized handwriting neaten-ing, sound recordings time-synced with your own notes, and sync with both OneNote and Outlook. The S Pen supports five new gestures, allowing general Android navigation using only the S Pen as a remote control. The Note20 series also includes advanced video features such as 8K video capture, multi-track audio including remote mics (USB or Bluetooth), manual controls, variable-speed zoom, and the ability to use the extra mics in the new Galaxy Buds Live earbuds to better cancel out background noise. Updated Link to Windows integration now lets you access your mobile apps directly from your Windows 10 PC. The Note20 series also features 120 Hz display refresh, brighter screens, Snapdragon 865+ processor, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, 5G (including mmWave in most versions), and IP68 water resistance. The standard Note20 has a more rounded design, flat 6.7-inch FHD+ display, 4,300 mAh battery, 8 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage. The Note20 Ultra has a more sharp-cornered design, 6.9-inch QHD+ display with curved sides and the new Gorilla Glass Victus, 4,500 mAh battery, 12 GB RAM, 128 or 512 GB storage, and a memory card slot. The Ultra also adds UWB for precise relative positioning, similar to a feature introduced in the iPhone 11. At launch, the Note20 Ultra will support UWB for Point To Share file-sharing and digital key applications, with more uses planned. On the camera side, the two models take different approaches to implementing zoom, much like the S20 series. The standard model has a 12 megapixel standard camera, plus a 64 megapixel camera for 8K video and up to 3x real zoom. The Ultra model has a 108 megapixel main camera for 8K video and 1–4x zoom, plus a 5x optical tele camera (12 megapixel). Samsung's "Space Zoom" adds 10x digital zoom, for total zoom of 30x on the Note20 and 50x on the Ultra. Both models also have a 12 megapixel wide camera and 10 megapixel selfie camera with auto-focus. The standard model will come in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Green, and Mystic Gray, while the Ultra will come in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White. Select colors have a "haze" effect matte finish that resists fingerprints. Pre-orders start August 6th, will full availability on the 21st. The Note20 Ultra will start at $1300, while the standard Note20 will start at $1000. Most US carriers will offer the Note20 series, including Verizon and Xfinity Mobile. The phones will also be available unlocked. All pre-orders include a credit to spend with Samsung on accessories, etc.: $100 for the Note20 and $150 for the Ultra. The credit can be used for an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Bundle, which includes a Bluetooth game controller and 3 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with cloud gaming.

Motorola Brings Another One-Series Phone to the US Unlocked

Aug 5, 2020, 8:41 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola will offer its One Fusion+ phone unlocked in the US starting today. The mid-range phone is priced at $400. It's designed explicitly for other markets. It supports LTE in bands 2, 4, 5, and 66, as well as WCDMA in bands 2 and 5. Motorola says it's "compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile" but lack of support for LTE in band 12 could limit service and coverage in many areas. It's powered by a huge 5,000 mAh battery and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor. It has four rear cameras plus a 16 megapixel pop-up selfie camera. The main camera is 64 megapixel, while the wide camera clocks in at 8 megapixel. The phone also has 4 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, memory card slot, headset jack, 15W fast charging, and a fingerprint reader.

Samsung's Most Affordable 5G Phone Hits US This Month

Aug 4, 2020, 2:42 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile, Metro, and Verizon will all launch the Samsung Galaxy A51 5G this month, starting with T-Mobile on August 7th. The A51 5G is just $500, making it the most affordable 5G phone offered by US carriers to date. Verizon's model, which adds mmWave 5G, will run $550, according to a Verizon spokesperson. The A51 5G was announced in April. Compared to the 4G A51, the A51 5G adds not only 5G, but also a larger battery and more RAM. AT&T, Verizon, and Xfinity already offer the 4G version. Other specs include a 6.5-inch OLED display, four rear cameras, 32-megapixel front camera, fast charging, NFC, and a memory card slot.

Nearby Share, Google's Answer to AirDrop, Comes to Android

Aug 4, 2020, 12:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced Nearby Share, a new feature being added to Android 6 and newer that makes it easier to share files with other Android devices nearby. There are controls over visibility to prevent unwanted file transfer requests, and each transfer can be accepted or declined. The feature automatically selects the best technology to execute the transfer quickly, utilizing Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, WebRTC, or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. Google Pixel and certain Samsung phones will receive the feature starting today. Google "will continue to work with our partners to bring Nearby Share to more smartphones in the Android ecosystem over the next few weeks."

Xbox Cloud Gaming Launching on Android September 15th

Aug 4, 2020, 11:15 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft's Project xCloud cloud-based game-streaming service will officially launch September 15th as a "cloud gaming" feature included with the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service. Game Pass Ultimate costs $15/month, with an intro price of $1 for the first month. In addition to cloud gaming, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes access to more than 100 high-quality games for console and PC; exclusive member discounts, deals, perks, and Xbox Live Gold. Cloud gaming will be available via the "Xbox Game Pass" app for Android. An iOS version is planned, but not yet available. Razer and other companies are developing new phone accessories designed to work with the service, including "different types of phone clips..., travel controllers..., and exclusive Xbox-branded controllers that split apart and attach to the side of your phone." The new cloud gaming service replaces the Project xCloud "preview", which will end September 11th. Microsoft also revealed that it will have related news to share at tomorrow's Samsung event, where the next Note-series phone is expected to be announced.

WhatsApp Launches Fact-Checking Feature for Forwarded Messages

Aug 4, 2020, 10:57 AM   by Rich Brome

WhatsApp is adding to its features to fight the spread of misinformation. Already, messages forwarded more than five times have a special icon. Now, those messages will also have a search button next to them. The new "search the web" button performs a Google search on the relevant info, to enable message recipients to perform their own fact-checking. The feature is being rolled out starting today in the US, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and UK, for those on the latest versions of WhatsApp for Android and iOS.

T-Mobile Launches 5G SA Nationwide, Boosting 5G Coverage & Improving Latency

Aug 4, 2020, 9:51 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today enabled SA (standalone) mode on its nationwide 5G network. T-Mobile is the first carrier in the world to launch 5G SA technology on this scale. The launch immediately boosts T-Mobile's 5G coverage by 30%. It also improves the latency (responsiveness) of the 5G network by up to 40%, according to the company. The 5G network now covers nearly 250 million people in more than 7,500 cities and towns across 1.3 million square miles. Previously, T-Mobile's 5G network (like most 5G networks to date) only operated in NSA mode, which relies on a 4G LTE network for basic connectivity and setting up 5G data connections. T-Mobile's implementation of 5G NSA used a higher frequency band for the 4G connection, which restricted coverage. Now that 5G can operate on its own in band 71 (600 MHz) using SA technology, 5G coverage is much greater and can be accessed more reliably indoors.

Gabb Offers Updated Phone for Kids

Aug 4, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Gabb and ZTE have announced the Gabb Z2, an update to last year's Gabb Z1 phone for kids 8–14. Designed to be a kid's first phone, Gabb phones use Android, but do not offer Internet, games, social media, nor an app store. Gabb's basic plan offers only voice and text, while a new step-up plan also offers MMS for group and picture messaging. Compared to the Z1, the Z2 offers a larger display (5.5-inch) and battery (2,660 mAh), but in a physically smaller body. The Z2 also offers increased camera resolution (8 megapixel), HD display resolution, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Android 10. It also adds a music player app and a memory card slot. Despite the upgrades, Gabb will offer the Z2 for the same $100 price as the Z1. The Z2 will be available for pre-order starting August 8th.

Google Adds Live Captioning to Calls on Pixel

Aug 3, 2020, 2:02 PM   by Rich Brome

Google is updating the software on Pixel phones (Pixel 2 and newer) to enable its Live Caption feature to work during voice and video calls.

Google Reveals Pixel 4a; 5G Pixels Coming This Fall

Aug 3, 2020, 11:44 AM   by Rich Brome

The newest affordable Pixel phone from Google is the Pixel 4a, which starts at $349, making it the most affordable Pixel phone ever. (The Pixel 3a started at $399 at launch.) A 5G version will also be available this fall starting at $499. The Pixel 4a is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chip paired with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. The 4a is a relatively small phone, with a 5.8-inch OLED display that covers the front. A small hole punch in the corner accommodates the 8 megapixel selfie camera. The single rear camera is 12 megapixel with dual-pixel focusing. The phone comes with an 18W USB-PD fast charger for its 3,140 mAh battery. It also has a fingerprint reader on the back, headphone jack up top, stereo speakers, and NFC. It does not have water resistance nor wireless charging. It will be available in black (only) starting August 20th from Google, Best Buy, Amazon, Google Fi, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. Pre-orders from Google and Google Fi start today. Google also revealed that a 5G-enabled Pixel 5 will be announced in the "coming months" and be available this fall, but said little else about it.

Dish Buys Ting Mobile

Aug 3, 2020, 10:56 AM   by Rich Brome

Dish Network has made a unique deal with Tucows, the owner and operator of Ting Mobile. Dish is buying the Ting brand and its customers, who will join Boost customers under the new Dish wireless umbrella. Dish is also entering into a long-term deal for Tucows to provide billing, activation, provisioning, and funnel marketing services for Dish's wireless customers, starting with existing Ting customers. Dish will move Boost customers to the Tucows platform in the second half of 2021. Dish recently purchased Boost as part of a deal that facilitated government approval for T-Mobile to merge with Sprint. Dish uses the T-Mobile network for the time being, but has started building its own 5G network.

Sprint Brand Officially Retired

Aug 2, 2020, 4:36 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 2, 2020, 5:17 PM

The Sprint brand is no more, as T-Mobile today completes its effort to bring former Sprint stores and other assets under the T-Mobile umbrella with re-branding. Most Sprint stores closed early last night to give employees time to conduct the T-Mobile make-over. The Sprint web site is also gone; sprint.com now re-directs to t-mobile.com. Customers previously with Sprint can now access their accounts via t-mobile.com. The two companies legally completed their historic merger on April 1st. T-Mobile has not yet announced its timeline for phasing out legacy Sprint technology such as its CDMA network.

Netflix Adding Speed Controls to Mobile Apps

Aug 2, 2020, 2:42 PM   by Rich Brome

Netflix is rolling out variable speed playback to its mobile apps, starting with a rollout to Android users over the next few weeks. The company plans to test the feature with its iOS app and web playback as well. Four new playback speeds are available: 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.25x, and 1.5x. Similar features have been available in YouTube and podcast apps for some time.

Google, Apple Tweak COVID-19 Exposure Notifications to be More Useful

Jul 31, 2020, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today provided an update on the quickly-evolving Exposure Notifications System (ENS) they developed and launched in partnership with Apple to augment pandemic contact tracing efforts. The system now supports interoperability between countries and states, including a "national key server" run by the Association of Public Health Laboratories to allow the system to work across the 20 US states and territories using ENS with their own official public health apps. Also, "Bluetooth calibration values for hundreds of devices have been updated to improve the detection of nearby devices". As always, ENS is completely anonymous, does not track your location, and is opt-in. Google also explained the technical reasons users may be asked to turn on "location services" to use ENS, even though ENS does not us location data and ENS apps are prohibited from collecting location data. At a system level, in Android 10 and earlier, permission for an app to use Bluetooth is linked to "location services" because the app may connect to Bluetooth beacons, which are intended to mark locations. But ENS apps are prohibited from gathering this data. In Android 11, ENS apps will be given an exemption that allows the location services setting to remain off, since those apps cannot collect such data.

CVS to Accept Venmo and PayPal in Stores

Jul 31, 2020, 1:55 PM   by Rich Brome

CVS will start accepting PayPal and Venmo for touchless in-store payments nationwide by the end of this year. The option will work via QR codes and the customer's phone. The standard PayPal/Venmo QR code system works with a printed QR code at each register. The customer opens the app on their phone, scans the code, and enters the amount to be paid.

Nokia's First 5G Phone Coming to US

Jul 30, 2020, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 30, 2020, 3:30 PM

Nokia today announced that it will bring the Nokia 8.3 5G to the US "this autumn" as an unlocked phone capable of working on both AT&T and T-Mobile 5G networks. The 8.3 is the company's first 5G phone and was first revealed globally in March. A US launch is not surprising, since the specs of the 8.3 have always included support for US (sub-6 GHz) 5G networks. Key specs for the Nokia 8.3 5G include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, 6–8 GB of RAM, 6.8-inch full-HD display, 4,500 mAh battery, and a 64-megapixel main camera.

Google Offers New Free Backup Options for iOS and Android

Jul 30, 2020, 8:54 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has sweetened its Google One service to offer full, automatic phone backup for free for all Android phones. (Full automatic phone backup previously required a paid subscription.) The company is also launching a Google One app for iOS, which will offer a free backup service and storage manager for that platform. On iOS, Google One will be able to back up photos, videos, contacts, and calendar events. The Google One service on both platforms uses the 15 GB of storage that comes free with all Google accounts. Google One will continue to offer paid subscriptions that offer more storage and enhanced support.

Qualcomm Quick Charge 5 can Fully Charge Your Phone in Under 15 Minutes

Jul 27, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm today announced Quick Charge 5, the latest version of its standard for fast-charging battery-powered devices such as phones. Version 5 is a huge leap over Quick Charge 4, promising four times faster charging. Quick Charge 5 can charge a dead phone to 50% in just five minutes, and 100% in under 15. It does this using a massive 100 watt / 20 volt power supply, and supports even higher wattages and/or voltages. Because individual battery cells and charging circuits inside phones cannot support those power levels directly without overheating, it supports "stacked cell" designs with effectively two batteries (also called 2SnP) — and two or three separate charging circuits — in one phone. Quick Charge 5 can also offer greater efficiency and/or lower temperature while charging. It leverages — and is compatible with — the USB-PD standard. All Quick Charge 5 wired chargers will be able to supply at least 45 watts and 20 volts, while also being full backward-compatible with older versions of Quick Charge. Quick Charge 5 can also be used with wireless charging. Mobile devices with Quick Charge 5 are expected to ship with the next couple of months.

AT&T to Shut Off 3G in Early 2022

Jul 24, 2020, 3:10 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T has set a date for switching off its 3G WCDMA network. Starting February 2022, customers will need a 4G phone with VoLTE technology (a feature AT&T refers to as HD Voice) to connect to AT&T's network. Most smartphones released since 2014 support this technology, as well as most feature phones released in the last two-three years. Phones that will stop working include the Apple iPhone 5s and older, Samsung Galaxy S4 and older, the original Google Pixel, and the OnePlus 6T and older. Shutting down the 3G network will allow AT&T to allocate all of its airwaves to more-efficient 4G and 5G technologies, enabling greater network capacity and data speeds for 4G and 5G customers. AT&T sent an email to some customers earlier this week saying they needed to upgrade their phone without making clear the 2022 deadline. AT&T issued the following statement about the email: "This email was one of many planned to keep customers informed about the shutdown of our 3G network in early 2022. It should have included the date that certain devices would no longer be supported. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused and will be more clear in future updates."

AT&T Reaches "Nationwide" 5G Coverage, Adds Free 5G to More Plans

Jul 23, 2020, 12:41 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T has expanded its sub-6 GHz 5G network to 40 new markets, for total coverage of 395 markets. Major new markets include Houston, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Santa Fe, and Little Rock. The company also tweaked its plans to include 5G access at no extra charge on all unlimited-data plans, for both consumers and businesses. 5G access was previously limited to the company's top-tier plans, but will be included with "Unlimited Starter" plans starting August 7th. Some of AT&T's network remains 4G-only; but with 5G service now covering over 200 million people, it meets the FCC's definition of "nationwide" service. T-Mobile reached this threshold in December 2019.

Corning's Newest Gorilla Glass Protects Against Both Drops and Scratches

Jul 23, 2020, 10:53 AM   by Rich Brome

Corning's newest Gorilla Glass for phones is Gorilla Glass Victus, which the company claims provides improved drop and scratch resistance compared to Gorilla Glass 6 and the competition. Samsung will be the first company to use Gorilla Glass Victus "in the near future". Most advanced glass materials optimize for either drop protection or scratch resistance. For example, the first versions of Gorilla Glass focused on scratch resistance, while more recent iterations have focused on drop protection. Gorilla Glass Victus improves both, providing "up to a 2x improvement in scratch resistance" compared to Gorilla Glass 6, while also providing "drop performance up to 2 meters when dropped onto hard, rough surfaces", compared to 1.6 meters for Gorilla Glass 6.

Samsung Money Launches Today, Adds Exclusive Discounts

Jul 23, 2020, 10:29 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung Pay users can now sign up for Samsung Money in the new Money tab of the Samsung Pay app. Samsung Money is a debit card linked to a dedicated cash management account (similar to a checking account). Samsung has now sweetened the deal by announcing today that Samsung Money users will have access to exclusive "discounts on Samsung Galaxy smartphones, tablets, wearables, TVs, laptops, washers, refrigerators and more on Samsung.com".

Google Messages Adds Reactions

Jul 22, 2020, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 22, 2020, 2:14 PM

Google has updated Messages — its own standards-based rich messaging app for Android — to support emoji-like message reactions, similar to the reactions features in iMessage and Facebook. Available reactions are: like, love, laughter, surprise, sadness, anger, and dislike. The feature only works in "conversations with chat features enabled", referring to message threads using rich messaging (RCS) instead of standard text messaging SMS. Google and some US carriers have been increasingly supporting RCS on new Android phones in the past couple of years.

Asus ROG Phone 3 Pushes Specs Higher for Gaming

Jul 22, 2020, 11:54 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 22, 2020, 10:23 PM

Asus has unveiled its third generation ultra-premium gaming phone: the ROG Phone 3. The phone starts with flagship-level specs and pushes even further in every area related to gaming, including battery, display, sound, and accessories. Core specs include 5G, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset, up to 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM, up to 512 GB of UFS 3.1 storage, 6,000 mAh battery, 30W fast charging, 6.6-inch full-HD AMOLED display, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1. For gaming, the display offers 144 Hz refresh rate, 270 Hz touch sampling, 25ms touch latency, and HDR10+. The ROG Phone 3 has front-facing stereo speakers with dual dedicated amps, tuned by Dirac. Like its predecessors, the phone supports an array of unique accessories thanks to its dual USB-C ports (one on the bottom and one on the side). A dedicated fan accessory — now with an integrated kickstand — can augment the phone's extensive internal cooling system to ensure the processor doesn't throttle down due to heat. Other accessories include a physical gaming controller, dual-screen mobile dock, and a desktop dock for gaming with a full-size monitor and controls. The updated design includes a window on the back exposing the internal heatsink. The phone also includes a 64 megapixel main camera, 13 megapixel wide camera, macro camera, and 24 megapixel front camera. The ROG Phone 3 has excellent support for nearly all (sub-6) 5G and 4G networks in the US, including 5G NR in bands 2, 5, 41, 66, and 71, and 4G LTE in bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 25, 26, 29, 30, 41, 48, 66, and 71. The ROG Phone 3 will be available in North America in September. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

Samsung Adds 5G to the Galaxy Z Flip

Jul 22, 2020, 10:42 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, a variant of the company's folding-screen, clamshell-style phone that adds sub-6 GHz 5G and a faster processor, but is otherwise similar to the 4G version. In the US, it will be available for $1,450 starting August 7th from AT&T and T-Mobile, and unlocked from Samsung, Amazon, and Best Buy. The processor is Qualcomm's new, top-end Snapdragon 865+, compared to the older Snapdragon 855+ in the 4G version. The Z Flip 5G will support the sub-6 GHz 5G networks of AT&T and T-Mobile in bands 2, 5, 25, 41, 66, and 71, as well as 4G LTE in all US bands. The 5G variant looks identical to the 4G model, except it comes in new colors: Mystic Gray and Mystic Bronze, both with a haze finish that minimizes fingerprints. The Z Flip has a unique bending display featuring "flexible glass". The Z Flip also has a 3,300 mAh battery and 8 GB of RAM.

Motorola edge Launching This Month with $200 Discount

Jul 22, 2020, 10:09 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola is now taking pre-orders for its new edge high-end unlocked phone for the US, offering a limited-time $200 discount that brings the price to just $500. The edge ships July 31st and will be available from Best Buy, B&H Photo, Amazon, and Motorola.com.

T-Mobile Puts Its Cheapest Family Plan on Sale for Summer

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

T-Mobile is temporarily offering lower prices for accounts with four to six lines on its Essentials plan. Normally $30/month/line, families and small businesses with four lines can now sign up for the Essentials plan for just $25/month/line. Adding a fifth or sixth line is just $20/month/line. Unlike T-Mobile's pricier Magenta plans, Essentials plan rates do not include taxes and fees. The Essentials plan does include 5G data, but limits data speeds during network congestion (giving Magenta-plan customers priority), limits mobile hotspot use to 3G speeds, limits data in Canada and Mexico to 2G speed, and does not include data roaming for other countries. Nor does Essentials include perks like Netflix and Gogo, although it does include T-Mobile Tuesdays.

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