The Attorney General's office from New York is investigating if and how T-Mobile's proposed merger with Sprint might impact the MVNO and prepaid markets. Sprint and T-Mobile separately serve the prepaid space via their own Boost Mobile and MetroPCS brands, respectively, as well as MVNOs, such as Google-run Project Fi. With reduced competition, the New York attorney general is concerned that the tie-up between the two companies could lead to higher prices for prepaid consumers. Dozens of other states are participating in the probe, says the Wall Street Journal. This investigation mirrors a separate one underway with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has similar concerns. The $26 billion deal was proposed earlier this year and would see the nation's third- and fourth-largest carriers become one. Antitrust investigations are normal for such deals. Sprint and T-Mobile defended the deal in front on Congress on Wednesday. The companies insist the deal will create jobs and ensure the combined entity can compete with AT&T and Verizon.
AT&T has quietly increased the administration feed charged to its wireless customers from $0.76 to $1.99. Multiplied monthly by its 64.5 million postpaid wireless customers and the increase boosts AT&T's revenue by some $800 million per year. AT&T says the fee has not been raised in several years. "This is a standard administrative fee across the wireless industry, which helps cover costs we incur for items like cell site maintenance and interconnection between carriers," claimed the company in a statement. The increase was first noticed by BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk. All carriers tack vague fees onto monthly bills. The move comes just a week after AT&T closed its acquisition of Time Warner. "Presumably the administrative fee is another way to help AT&T fund its network build and Time Warner acquisition going forward," said Piecyk.
The U.S. Department of Justice is exploring what impact the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile will have on smaller carriers and MVNOs. Sprint and T-Mobile separately serve the prepaid space via their own Boost Mobile and MetroPCS brands, respectively, as well as MVNO's, such as Google-run Project Fi. With reduced competition, the Justice Department is concerned that the tie-up between the two companies could lead to higher prices for prepaid consumers. Reuters says the Justice Department "has been speaking with small wireless operators that buy access to the major wireless networks at wholesale rates, and is seeking their opinions about the merger." David Glickman, CEO of MVNOs Ultra Mobile and Mint Mobile confirmed that he'd been asked similar questions about the merger by the Justice Department. The $26 billion deal was proposed earlier this year and would see the nation's third- and fourth-largest carriers become one. Antitrust investigations are normal for such deals. No one from the Justice Department or T-Mobile commented on the investigation.
At least one person thinks Sprint and T-Mobile should be required to divest their respective prepaid businesses if they are allowed to merge. Peter Adderton, founder and former CEO of Boost Mobile, firmly believes the market will become less competitive — particularly in the prepaid space — if Sprint and T-Mobile are allowed to merge without any divestitures. “If this merger is approved without the divesture of Boost Mobile and/or MetroPCS, the new combined entity will hold a 40% market share in the prepaid segment — which I would argue has the effect of being a monopoly or extreme dominance in the category,” said Adderton in a press release. “This level of market domination virtually always leads to rising prices, more onerous terms and conditions and lower service quality, and young and credit-challenged prepaid subscribers simply can’t afford that.” Sprint owns and operates Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, while T-Mobile owns and operates MetroPCS. Sprint and T-Mobile “will have significant incentive to restrict network access to competing MVNOs. If that happens, MVNOs, who already run on extremely tight margins, have little or no opportunity to make a profit, and we can expect many of them to close their doors,” argued Adderton. Boost, Virgin, and MetroPCS do not own or operate their own networks, so it’s unclear how Adderton believes such a divestiture could work. Each would have to be given spectrum and other assets to launch functioning service around the U.S. Though Adderton said “I would love to take control of it, that’s not the driver here.” Instead, he insists his goal is to ensure the wireless market remains competitive. Adderton plans to take his case to Congress as well as the public. Sprint and T-Mobile believe their proposed merger will pass regulatory scrutiny, but the government has yet to make its case.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off sales of the LG Fortune 2, an affordable Android phone. The Fortune 2 is a rebadged variant of the K8 (2018) and Tribute Defiant (sold by Boost Mobile). The Fortune 2 includes a 5-inch HD screen, quad-core MediaTek processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The Fortune 2 has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a removable 2,500mAh battery. Other features include LTE 4G with HD Voice, WiFi with mobile hotspot and WiFi Calling, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. Cricket Wireless is selling the LG Fortune 2 for $100.
T-Moble says it has attained download speeds of 1.3 Gbps using LTE-LAA technology from Nokia. The result was reached in a lab using Nokia's commercial Nokia AirScale Micro RRH platform. The companies paired licensed and unlicensed bands using five-channel carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and LAA on 14 antenna layers. LTE-LAA is a stepping stone between today's 4G and future 5G networks. T-Mobile says it plans to deploy LTE-LAA in small cell configurations in high-traffic urban locations to help densify its network, boost speeds, and improve capacity. T-Mobile didn't say what markets might gain access to this network technology, nor what devices might support it.
Boost Mobile recently added the LG Tribute Dynasty to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. This device includes a 5-inch HD display and is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The Tribute Dynasty has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other features include a 2,500mAh battery; Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE; and microUSB and headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The LG Tribute Dynasty costs $100, but is on sale at the moment for $60. The phone is already available at Boost Mobile stores. Sprint said it will carry the phone starting Jan. 12.
Blu Products recently announced the S1, an inexpensive Android smartphone that's available unlocked from Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. One of the chief benefits of the S1 is its wide compatibility with U.S. LTE networks. It supports AT&T and T-Mobile, and, unusually, Sprint, as well as their prepaid services including Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, and MetroPCS. Blu says it also offers SIM kits for the S1 from Tracfone, Net10, and H2O. The S1 features a curved glass front with metallic paint on the smooth rear panel. The 5.2-inch display offers 720p HD resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the phone is powered by an octa-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek 6750 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and an LED flash, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS, and WiFi; 16 GB of storage and support for microSD memory cards; front-mounted fingerprint sensor; and a 2,800mAh battery. The Blu S1 runs Android 7 Nougat and is available online for $130 from Amazon and $180 from Best Buy.
Qualcomm has added to its roster of mobile processors with the Snapdragon 636 Mobile Platform, a high-performance chip that is meant for phones with less-than-flagship price points. The platform is built on a 14nm FinFet process and relies on the Kryo 260 CPU, which Qualcomm says is 40% faster than the Snapdragon 630 it replaces. The 636 was designed with 18:9, full HD+ displays in mind, and puts Qualcomm's TruPalette and EcoPix tools to work along with the Adreno visual processing subsystem to create dynamic screen experiences. The Adreno 509 GPU boosts gaming performance by about 10% and also improves 3D rendering. Qualcomm says the 636 processor is paired with the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem, with peak download speeds of 600 Mbps. On the imaging front, the 636 includes the 14-bit Qualcomm Spectra 160 ISP, which supports capture of up to 24 megapixels. Last, the Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec supports HiFi audio, with up to 192kHz/24bit support and the ability to playback lossless audio files. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 636 is already in production and will reach commercially available devices bt November.
ZTE today announced the Blade Force smartphone for Boost Mobile. This Android handset includes support for Sprint's High Performance User Equipment technology and two-channel carrier aggregation for better performance near the cell edge. The Blade Force has a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 427 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports external storage cards up to 128 GB. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 5-megapixel camera. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and FM radio. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat and is available online starting today for $130.
ZTE today announced the Tempo X, an entry-level Android smartphone for Boost Mobile. This affordable handset features a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution and a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. ZTE gave the device a 5-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. Other hardware features include a 2,200mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio, and of course LTE 4G. The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat and costs $80. It is available from Boost Mobile online starting today.
Sprint-owned Boost Mobile today said taxes and fees are now included in the cost of its monthly service plans for new and existing customers. Boost's current customers will not need to do anything to reap the benefits of this change, which will be automatically adopted on all bills after September 8. Moreover, Boost Mobile is rolling out a promotion to entice consumers to switch. The company is offering those who port to Boost Mobile four lines for $100 with unlimited talk, text, and data on all four lines. International services will cost extra. Sprint says streaming for all Boost customers is mobile optimized with video up to 480p and music up to 500 Kbps. Games are limited to streams of 2 Mbps. Sprint will slow down speeds when the network is congested. Boost Mobile's plans start at $25 per month.
Boost Mobile today rolled out a new "back to school" service offer that gives families less-costly unlimited service. The new Unlimited Gigs plan costs $50 for one line, which includes unlimited talk and text; 8 GB of mobile hotspot; optimized video, gaming, and music streams; and unlimited 4G LTE data for most everything else. Additional lines on the Unlimited Gigs family plan cost $25 each, up to a total of five lines. The pricing matches that exactly of a recent promotion kicked off by competitor MetroPCS. The new Unlimited Gigs offer will be available starting August 22. Boost Mobile continues to offer its 3 GB plan for $35 per month. Additional lines on the 3 GB plan cost $25 each. Boost Mobile is owned and operated by Sprint.
Motorola today provided details about a handful of new modular attachments for the Moto Z2 Play and other Moto Mod-compatible handsets. The Moto GamePad snaps onto the back of Moto's phones and provides dual control sticks, a d-pad, and four action buttons. The GamePad includes its own built-in 1,035mAh battery and costs $80. The JBL SoundBoost 2 is a new attachable speaker that provides 10 hours of playtime. The SoundBoost 2 is water-repellant, comes in red, black, or blue, includes a kickstand, and has an improved shape for better hand fit. It costs $80. The TurboPower Pack is a snap-on battery mod for quickly recharging Moto handsets on the go. Motorola says it can add an extra day of battery life when kept in place one time, or can provide a rapid recharge at 15W when users need to power up in a hurry. It costs $80. Last, the Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging combines a shell case and battery in one Mod. It costs $40. Motorola said all the new Moto Mods will be available when the Moto Z2 Play launches later this summer. The new Mods will be backward compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the Moto Z, Z Force Droid, Z Play, and Z Play Droid.
Boost Mobile today unveiled a new marketing campaign to drum up interest in the carrier and also debuted several new promotions. The Project Switch campaign, which includes television commercials, highlights how simple it is for consumers to switch from their carrier to Boost Mobile. The company revealed a new store design in the TV spot and said it expects to open more than 1,000 of these next-generation retail locations before the end of the year. Boost says the stores make it easier for customers to interact with retail staff. In order to entice customers to make the switch, Boost Mobile announced a new multi-line offer that includes unlimited high-speed data for up to four lines for $100. The first line costs $100 per month and lines 2-4 are free. A fifth line can be added for $30. The promotion requires port-ins from competing carriers. Boost Mobile says multimedia streamed over the network will be optimized for mobile (480p video, 500Kbps music, 2Mbps games). Speeds may be reduced if the network is contested. Last, Boost Mobile is offering free phones to people who port in from another carrier and activate a new line. Customers can snag up to four free phones (select models) along with the $100 monthly plan. The promotional plan and handset offer are available beginning today.
Sprint's prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today launched the ZTE Prestige 2, an entry-level Android handset. The Prestige 2 has a 5-inch FWVGA display and it is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone has two 5-megapixel cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The main camera has a flash. Other specs include a 2,035mAh battery, memory card support, HD voice, roaming in Mexico, mobile hotspot, and LTE 4G. The phone costs $80, but Boost Mobile is selling it online for $52. Virgin Mobile is offering the ZTE Prestige 2 for $50. It runs Android 6 Marshmallow.
ZTE today announced the Max XL, a big-screened Android smartphone headed to Boost Mobile. The Max XL's defining features are the 6-inch full HD display and massive 3,990mAh battery. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass. ZTE says the Max XL is also the first for Boost Mobile to include support for HPUE for better LTE speeds at the network edge. HPUE is a technology Boost Mobile parent company Sprint is working to deploy this year. The Max XL's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The device runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Other specs include an octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, support for memory cards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM radio. The ZTE MAX XL smartphone is available online today at Boost Mobile for $129.99.
ZTE today said it appointed Cheng Lixin, the executive behind the company's North American mobile phone business, to run its global mobile phone business. The move comes after ZTE settled with the U.S. government over allegations that it violated international trade sanctions against Iran. ZTE paid a $900 million fine to make the allegations go away. Lixin has led ZTE's mobile efforts in the U.S. since 2010. The company has grown its marketshare in the U.S. during that time thanks to low-cost handsets, which it sells through pre-paid carriers such as Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. Lixin's predecessor has taken a seat on the company's corporate board. The change is effective immediately. ZTE has not yet named a new executive for the U.S. market.
Sprint-owned Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today both kicked off sales of the LG Stylo 3. The device, first announced late last year, features a 5.7-inch 720p display. It is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core processor from MediaTek with 3 GB RAM, 16 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. Other features include a removable 3,200mAh battery, FM radio, and fingerprint sensor. The Stylo 3 includes a new stylus. LG said it improved screen feedback for a more natural feel. The revised pen-based software includes PenPop 2.0 (memos are never out of sight), Pen Keeper (warning system to prevent stylus loss), and Screen-Off Memo (note-taking even when the screen is off). Both prepaid carriers are asking $180 for the phone, which is available online and in stores.
Sprint intends to relaunch its Virgin Mobile brand later this year and will use the prepaid service to shake things up. "We've put most of our attention in the postpaid handset business, which is where 80% of the profit in this industry comes from," said CEO Marcelo Claure. "Now that that business is stable, we're putting a lot of energy into Boost and Virgin." Claure has spent the last 18 months trimming costs at Sprint and getting its network strategy under control. With these tasks largely on track, the company is now focusing on its prepaid brands, which it has de-emphasized for a while. "I envision Virgin as being our disruptive brand," said Claure. "You're going to see us test different models. One model we're testing that we like is, rather than subsidizing handsets, actually providing free airtime with no subsidy on the handset. So you're going to see Virgin be our disrupter brand. And you're going to see Boost be a very strong brand that can give good competition to both Cricket and Metro." Claure didn't say when it might actually unveil the new, "disruptive" Virgin Mobile.
ZTE and Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Tempo, an Android phone that sells for just $69.99. The Tempo supports more LTE bands than many Boost phones — plus WCDMA and GSM — in bands suitable for Boost's Mexico roaming offering. The specs are otherwise what one might expect from an entry-level Android phone today, including a 4.5-inch display (not HD), 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, memory card slot, 1 GB of RAM, 2,200 mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 210 processor. It does support HD Voice and has an FM radio. It's available immediately.
Verizon Wireless today said it will kick off sales of the LG Stylo 2 V on Oct. 20. The phone will cost $240, or $10 per month for 24 months. The Stylo 2 V, like the variants already sold by Boost and Cricket, has a 5.7-inch screen with stylus, a 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, memory card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by an octa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon processor, which is a change from the other versions, with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The Stylo 2 V runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both made the LG Tribute HD smartphone available via their web sites. The phone is a small step up from the low-cost Tribute 5. The Tribute HD boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen, which is improved over the Tribute 5's FWVGA display. The Tribute HD is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor with 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with an automatic selfie mode. The phone relies on a 2,100mAh battery and supports LTE 4G as well as roaming in Mexico. The Tribute HD runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Boost Mobile is selling the Tribute HD for $80, and Virgin Mobile is selling the Tribute HD for $99. Service plans start at $30.
Sprint and Boost Mobile today revealed plans to sell the LG X power smartphone. The X power, announced by LG earlier this year, features a 4,100mAh battery that delivers up to two days of battery life. The version sold by Sprint and Boost Mobile differs from other versions of the phone in that it relies on a 1.8 GHz octa-core Helio P10 MediaTek processor, rather than a Snapdragon chip from Qualcomm. The 64-bit MediaTek processor is accompanied by 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The X power also includes a 5.3-inch 720p screen and runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Other specs include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 5-megapixel front camera with selfie light. The phone accepts memory cards up to 128 GB. The phone reaches Boost Mobile stores today for $130 and will hit Sprint stores September 23 for $150.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, will sell the Apple iPhone 7 beginning September 23. Boost and Virgin will not be selling the iPhone 7 Plus. The company didn't provide specific release details, but customers should expect to pay full retail price for the handset. The 32 GB iPhone 7 costs $649.
Corning this week announced Gorilla Glass SR+, a scratch resistant glass intended for smartwatches and other wearables. Corning says Gorilla Glass SR+ is strong and provides the same optical clarity and touch sensitivity of its normal glass while also boosting resistance to impact damage by 70%. Gorilla Glass SR+ is also easier to read in bright light. Corning says wearables with the new glass are on deck for later this year.
Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Warp 7, a low-cost, big-screened Android smartphone. The Warp 7 features a 5.5-inch 720p HD display, 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. It packs a 3,080mAh battery and supports expandable memory cards up to 64 GB. The ZTE Warp 7 can roam on GSM networks in Mexico and has an FM radio. The device runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and costs $99. It will reach Boost Mobile stores September 5.
Verizon Wireless today said it has launched LTE Advanced service in 461 markets around the country, covering some 288 million POPs or 90% of Americans. Verizon's LTE Advanced relies on two- and three-channel carrier aggregation to boost speed and capacity. Verizon says LTE Advanced delivers a 50% improvement in download and upload speeds compared to its traditional LTE network. Close to 40 devices sold by Verizon are compatible with LTE Advanced. Many of the newest phones (Galaxy Note7, Moto Z Droid) will support LTE Advanced out of the box, though some devices will require system updates. Verizon customers can take advantage of LTE Advanced's faster speeds at no additional cost.
Sprint today announced Unlimited Freedom, a service plan that provides unlimited talk, text, and data for two lines at $100 per month. Sprint says the Unlimited Freedom plan offers "optimized streaming" for "video, gaming, and music" and "unlimited LTE data for most everything else." Specifically, video resolution is capped at 480p resolution when streamed over the network, while games are capped at 2Mbps, and music is capped at 500Kbps. The first line costs $60 per month, the second line costs $40, and lines three through eight cost $30 each. A family of four costs $160 per month before device payments, taxes, and fees. Further, Sprint's Boost Mobile prepaid brand has a simpler, unlimited offer called Unlimited Unhook'd. For $50 per month, Boost customers get unlimited talk, text, optimized videos/music, and unlimited data for everything else. Additional lines cost $30 per month for lines two through five. Boost is offering a starter line, too, that costs $30 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Both Sprint's and Boost's new unlimited plans will be available starting August 19.
Facebook today brought Instant Articles to Messenger for the Android platform. Instant Articles load faster on mobile devices, up to 10x quicker than traditional mobile links. Facebook believes adding Instant Articles to Messenger will boost the number of interactions with web content shared through Messenger. Instant Articles are signified by a lightning bolt in the corner. Facebook expects to bring Instant Articles to Messenger for iOS in a few weeks.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile U.S. today announced the immediate availability of the Alcatel Dawn, a low-cost Android handset. The Dawn features a 4.5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor, and 1 GB of RAM. The phone includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 8 GB of storage, 1,780mAh battery, support for LTE, and a memory card slot for microSD cards up to 32 GB. The Dawn runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and costs $69.99. Service plans from Boost and Virgin start at $35. The Alcatel Dawn can be purchased online.
Sprint's prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today announced plans to sell the LG K3 handset. The phone is available from both carriers' web sites today and will reach Boost Mobile stores next week. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and features a 4.5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor clocked at 1.1 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a 1,940mAh battery. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with flash, while the front camera has a VGA sensor and a selfie light. Both cameras include LG's shooting tools, such as Cheese Shutter and Gesture Shot. The LG K3 costs $79.99.
Google today said it has supplemented Project Fi's cellular coverage with the addition of U.S. Cellular. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which will boost Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi subscribers will begin to roam onto U.S. Cellular's network where coverage exists over the coming weeks.
Sprint today said its customers will be able to stream all the 2016 Copa AmÃ©rica Centenario soccer matches on their phones of free. The tournament, which is being held in June, will be streamed via the fuboTV app. Sprint is giving its postpaid and Boost/Virgin prepaid customers free access to the fuboTV app for 60 days. After the trial ends (60 days for Sprint, 30 days for Boost/Virgin), customers can continue the subscription for $9.99 per month, or drop the app. In addition to free access to the live matches, Sprint will not count streamed games against customers' data buckets. Sprint is sponsoring the tournament, which is taking place in the U.S. for the first time, and will have an on-site presence at all the games. The sponsorship includes several giveaways and awards that customers can access through the fuboTV app.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge. It is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. The Hydro Reach is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device has a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Hydro Reach will go on sale April 15 from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. It will cost $99. Boost and Virgin also plan to add the LG Stylo 2 and Samsung Galaxy J7, both announced earlier this year, to their rosters. The Stylo 2 will reach Boost stores April 15 and Virgin stores May 9. It will cost $179.99. The Galaxy J7 hits Boost stores on April 15 for $229.99, and Virgin on April 19.
Microsoft is giving Skype a boost of intelligence thanks to Cortana and Skype Bots. With Cortana integration, Skype users will be able to do things such as manage their calendar and contacts without leaving the Skype app. Cortana will also be able to interact with bots, which Microsoft said will allow people to perform tasks such as book hotels and order pizza by conversing with the app itself. Bots are available in preview form within the messaging part of Skype, but will eventually be added to audio and video calling, too. A new version of Skype for Android, iOS, and Windows enables the bots. Companies will be able to create their own bots for Skype via Microsoft's developer program. People will be able to add the bots they want to their contact list. Microsoft revealed the bots are part of its larger vision for voice-activated computing.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both confirmed plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy S7 to their prepaid customers. Boost will kick off sales of the flagship handset on March 11, with Virgin to follow March 18. Both companies are asking for the full retail price, which is $649.99 for the 32 GB model. They are selling only the black variant. Boost has a promotion for families right now that offers 10 GB per line, while Virgin offers free music streaming via LTE. Boost and Virgin, which operate on Sprint's network, do not require contracts and offer low-cost service plans.
Boost Mobile today announced its own promotion aimed at converting customers from competing carriers to Boost. Boost says AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers who port their numbers to a Boost Mobile family plan can see monthly savings up to 50%. Boost is offering 10 GB of high-speed data per line starting at $60 for two lines, $85 for three lines, and $110 for four lines. Further, Boost says it will provide a free phone (or $50 discount) for every line ported to Boost Mobile from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. Customers can get up to four free phones when activated with a new family plan. Boost Mobile said this offers will be available for a limited time, but didn't set a specific end date. Boost Mobile's parent company, Sprint, has offered a similar promotion for several months.
Sprint says it has a new strategy in mind for its prepaid brand Virgin Mobile. During a call with analysts today, Sprint execs said the company is de-emphasizing Virgin at the moment in favor of Boost Mobile, and has gone so far as to pull Virgin advertising ahead of a the new strategy's debut. Sprint did not say what it plans to do with Virgin, though it did admit it is not pursuing the pre-paid space as aggressively as rivals Cricket and MetroPCS. "You've got to figure out where do you want to fight and where do you want to grow," said CEO Marcelo Claure. "We are keeping the customers that matter." Claure also took the opportunity to reassure investors and customers that its network improvement plan will not be disruptive. "This is not a rip-and-replace strategy," said Claure, calling the implementation a "progressive build" that will make changes for the better. The company is expected to relocate some cell towers and make greater use of small/macro cells to densify its network. It may also shift some backhaul operations to microwave in order to cut down the fiber carriage fees it pays to AT&T and Verizon. Claure still believes Sprint can become the No. 1 or No. 2 network in terms of absolute performance in 80% of the country's markets within two years.
Boost Mobile today unfurled new multi-line plans for families. There are now two basic tiers for families. The first includes unlimited talk/text and 1.5 GB of high-speed data per line, while the second includes unlimited talk/text and improves data to 5 GB per line. The first tier costs $70 per month for two lines, $90 for three lines, and $100 for four lines. The second tier costs $70 for two lines, $95 for three lines, and $120 for four lines. Boost Mobile throttles users who exceed their monthly data cap, but doesn't charge overages. In addition to the new plan rates, Boost revealed several other promotions. For example, it debuted Boost Dealz, a way for customers to earn credit each month by watching ads. The free app is available to Android phones and shows ads and special offers when users unlock their handset. Boost will reward customers with $5 for every month the app is active on their phone. For a limited time, new customers can get up to two free smartphones when activating a family plan. Customers can gain unlimited talk/text to and from Mexico with 8 GB of data for $5 more per month. Boost says customers can pay their bills up to 14 days late before seeing their service disrupted, and can receive incoming calls/messages even when accounts are 60 days past due. Customers who enroll in Auto Re-Boost will receive $5 off their current plan. Moreover, customers who make on-time payments will receive 500 MB more high-speed data for every three timely reimbursements. Last, Boost Mobile offers free mobile hotspot on all plans, and offers unlimited music streaming with Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, Samsung Milk Music, and 8tracks.