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Justice Department Staff: Block Sprint + T-Mobile Merger

Wednesday, 9:12 AM   by Rich Brome

Internally, the US Justice Department's antitrust division has recommended the agency file a lawsuit to block the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, according to a Reuters reports citing two sources familiar with the matter. The final decision on whether to allow the merger now lies with political appointees at the department. That decision is expected in about a month, the two sources said. Earlier this week, two FCC commissioners announced their support for the deal, after Sprint agreed to shed its Boost prepaid brand. Both the FCC and DoJ must approve for the merger to proceed.


Wiko's First US Phone is The Ride, an $80 Phone for Boost

Tuesday, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

French phone maker Wiko today made its US debut with launch of the Ride, an $80 Android phone available now from Boost. The Ride is an entry-level phone with a 5.45-inch display, 5 megapixel main camera, 2 megapixel selfie camera, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and a 2,500 mAh removable battery. It has a memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and runs Android version 9 (Pie). Wiko is a 5,000-person company that makes phones with a focus on design that are popular in Western Europe. To support its US operations, the company is opening offices in Plano, TX and Atlanta, GA.


FCC Chair Pai Recommends in Favor of T-Mobile / Sprint Merger

Monday, 10:40 AM   by Rich Brome

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he will recommend the agency approve the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. To secure the recommendation, the companies have promised to divest the Boost prepaid brand and not raise prices for three years. With Commissioner Brendan Carr also announcing his support, the deal seems close to FCC approval. The Department of Justice must also approve the deal.


Hands On with the Moto g7 Series

Feb 7, 2019, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Moto's new g-series phones bring up-to-date features, upgraded specs, and clean Google software to three models ranging from $200 to $300. This year's series moves to a notched-screen design, steps up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and supports USB-C across the board. They will all launch with Android 9 (Pie). All three will eventually come to US carriers, most by this spring.

  • Moto g7 play: The most affordable at $199, it has a 5.7" HD display, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, 13 megapixel camera, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, 3.5mm headset jack, and FM radio. It will be available from Boost, Virgin, US Cellular, Ting, and Republic, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
  • Moto g7 power: The main feature is its huge 5,000 mAh battery, which Motorola claims will last for three days. It builds on the specs of the g7 play, stepping up to a larger 6.2" display, 3 GB of RAM, and a higher-quality 12-megapixel camera. It will be available for $249 from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Cricket, Xfinity Mobile, Republic, Ting, and Consumer Cellular, as well as unlocked from most major retailers.
  • Moto g7: Higher-end but with a normal-size (3,000 mAh) battery, this flagship of the g series has a curved glass back, full-HD 6.2" display with a smaller notch, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, 4K video capture, and dual cameras for portrait effects. It also has a more advanced camera app, with new features like automatic group smile capture, hi-res digital zoom using multiple frames, hyperlapse video, and RAW output. The camera also integrates with YouTube Live and Google Lens. It will be available unlocked from most major retailers for $299 this spring, followed by launches with Google Fi, Republic Wireless, and Ting.
Read on for our first impressions, including photos and a video.

continued ▻


New Google Apps Help Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Communicate

Feb 4, 2019, 6:08 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has two new apps rolling out designed to help the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing use their smartphones to understand people speaking aloud around them. Live Transcribe is an app that listens, converts speech to text, and simply displays a live transcript on the screen of what's being said aloud nearby. Haptic feedback lets the user know when someone has started speaking. An icon provides a visual indicator of volume and background noise. The app uses the Google Cloud Speech API, and thus requires a decent data connection. It works in 70 different languages. It can use the phone's microphone, or an external mic. Sound Amplifier is the other app; it filters background noise and boosts quieter sounds, making it easier for the hard-of-hearing to hear what's important around them. It's designed for use with wired headphones. The filtering effects can be fine-tuned for each ear. Live Transcribe is available in a limited beta, while Sound Amplifier is available to everyone today in the Play Store. Both apps will pre-installed on Pixel 3 phones going forward.


Instagram Slashing Fake Likes and Fake Followers

Nov 19, 2018, 1:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today said it is taking steps to reduce what it calls "inauthentic activity" across the social network. The company says more accounts have begun to use third-party apps to boost their follower numbers and inflate like counts. The company plans to put a stop to this. "We will begin removing inauthentic likes, follows, and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity," said Instagram. The company is relying on machine learning to discover such accounts and delete fake followers and likes. "This type of behavior is bad for the community," said Instagram and "also makes these accounts less secure." Instagram will alert users who've put such apps to effect that the fake followers and likes have been removed from their account. Instagram will also have these account holders change their password. The social network's new measures will be "ongoing." Moreover, people who continue to use third-party apps to inflate their profiles "may see their Instagram experience impacted." The company plans to take additional measures in the weeks ahead.


FCC Proposes Changes for Use of 3.5GHz and 6GHz Bands

Oct 23, 2018, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today proposed two separate actions meant to free up more spectrum for wireless broadband use. The first covers the rules governing the 3.5 GHz band (Citizens Broadband Radio Service). The agency believes simplifying the already-established 2015 rules will make the 3.5 GHz band more attractive for investment. Most importantly, the FCC wants to change the size of Priority Access Licenses (PAL) from census tracts to counties and extend PAL license terms from three years to 10, as well as make those licenses renewable. Other proposals would ensure seven PALs are in each license area, rural and tribal entities would be allotted bidding credits, would establish end-of-term performance requirements, and would allow for the partition and disaggregation of PALs. The FCC's Republican commissioners all believe this will boost carrier interest in the band. As proposed, the size of the PALs was a compromise. Smaller wireless providers wished to keep the PALs at the tract level, while larger providers hoped to see the PALs become much larger. The agency's lone Democrat says the rules are a backward step and dissented in the vote, which passed 3-1. Separately, the agency unanimously agreed on a proposal to open up the 6 GHz band to unlicensed access. The agency wants to free up 1200 MHz for used by unlicensed WiFi devices in the 6 GHz band, which technically falls between 5.925 GHz and 7.125 GHz. This band is mostly used by license holders that beam microwaves point-to-point, and by the Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Cable Television Relay Service. Any unlicensed devices used in the band could not interfere with these existing, licensed services. A handful of other rules would regulate indoor versus outdoor use of the 6 GHz band. The FCC is accepting comments on the proposed changes.


Boost Mobile Lights Up the Coolpad Illumina

Oct 16, 2018, 9:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2018, 12:10 PM

Boost Mobile today announced the Coolpad Illumina, an affordable Android phone that runs the lightweight Android Go platform. Android Go is designed for low-spec'd devices and includes simplified versions of core apps such as Gmail, YouTube, and Maps. The Illumina has a 5-inch screen and it is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. A 5-megapixel camera graces the rear and a 2-megapixel camera faces the user. Other features include a 2,150mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Boost Mobile is selling the Coolpad Illumina for $40 after an instant $40 credit.


Facebook Says Hackers Accessed Users' Personal Data

Oct 12, 2018, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today provided an update on last month's hack. The hackers used accounts under their control to access the tokens of some 400,000 users. Using automated techniques, the hackers then boosted that number into the tens of millions. Facebook now says that 30 million accounts were definitely impacted, which is less than the 50 million it had originally estimated. Of those 30 million accounts, 15 million had their name and contact details (phone number, email address) scraped. For 14 million, the hackers stole their name, contact data, as well as username, gender, location, relationship, religion, hometown, birthday, device types, education, work, and locations/posts in which they were tagged. For 1 million people, the hackers didn't access any information. Facebook says users can check to see if their information was stolen via its online Help Center. The social network also plans to proactively email people to let them know what data was taken and how they might protect themselves. Facebook says the hackers did not compromise Instagram, Messenger, Messenger Kids, Oculus, Pages, payments, WhatsApp, or Workplace. The investigation is ongoing and Facebook is cooperating with law enforcement.


Boost Mobile Picks Up the LG K30 for $150

Sep 25, 2018, 4:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 25, 2018, 6:14 PM

Boost Mobile today added the LG K30 to its list of inexpensive Android phones for $150. The K30 is a rebadged variant of the K10, which LG announced earlier this year. The K30 has a U-shaped metal frame and a 5.3-inch 720p display and a 1.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Photo tools include bokeh/portraits and a Low Light Noise mode that works with HDR to reduce grain and provide more contrast in low-light shots. Other features include a 2,880mAh battery and fingerprint reader; GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and FM radio; and a microUSB port. It comes in black and ships with Android 8.1 Oreo. Boost is also offering a deal to those who switch. The prepaid carrier will provide four lines for $25 each, with unlimited talk and text; optimized video, game, and music streaming; and unlimited music streaming from select partners. The deal for switchers will be available through Nov. 15.


State AGs Join Justice Department in Assessing Sprint/T-Mobile Impact On MVNOs

Jun 28, 2018, 8:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Increases Admin Fee In Move that Scores It $800 Million

Jun 28, 2018, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Justice Dept. Probing Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Effect on MVNOs

Jun 7, 2018, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Boost Founder Wants to See Boost/MetroPCS Divested If Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Goes Through

May 22, 2018, 4:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Selling the LG Fortune 2 for $100

Apr 13, 2018, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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-Mobile and Nokia Hit 1.3Gbps Downloads Using LAA

Feb 23, 2018, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


LG Tribute Dynasty Lands at Boost Mobile Stores

Jan 6, 2018, 5:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Unlocked Blu S1 Compatible with Most U.S. Carriers

Nov 1, 2017, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 6, 2017, 1:23 PM

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's Snapdragon 636 Targets Sub-Flagships

Oct 17, 2017, 10:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Blade Force for Boost Mobile Boasts HPUE

Oct 10, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Intros the $80 Tempo X for Boost Mobile

Sep 19, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Boost Mobile Bundles Taxes and Fees Into Service Plan Cost

Sep 8, 2017, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Matches MetroPCS Unlimited Offer

Aug 14, 2017, 9:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Debuts New Round of Moto Mods to Accompany the Moto Z2 Play

Jun 1, 2017, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering 4 Lines with Unlimited Data for $100

May 11, 2017, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Inexpensive ZTE Prestige 2 Hits Boost and Virgin Mobile

Apr 25, 2017, 9:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Max XL Packs 6-Inch Full HD Screen for $130

Apr 25, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 US Mobile Phone Exec Promoted to Global Role

Apr 19, 2017, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Boost and Virgin Mobile Selling LG Stylo 3 for $180

Mar 14, 2017, 1:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Planning to Use Virgin Mobile As Market 'Disrupter'

Jan 7, 2017, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Tempo Lands At Boost for $70

Oct 24, 2016, 12:19 PM   by Rich Brome

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 Adds a 'V' to the LG Stylo 2

Oct 19, 2016, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


LG Tribute HD Hits Boost and Virgin Mobile

Oct 3, 2016, 10:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Sell MediaTek-Equipped Variant of LG X Power

Sep 16, 2016, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Boost, Virgin to Sell iPhone 7 Starting September 23

Sep 9, 2016, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Gorilla Glass SR+ Targets Wearables

Aug 31, 2016, 5:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Scores the ZTE Warp 7

Aug 30, 2016, 11:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 30, 2016, 12:38 PM

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 Debuts LTE Advanced with 50% Faster Speeds

Aug 29, 2016, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Debuts Unlimited Plan of Its Own

Aug 18, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Adds Instant Articles to Messenger for Android

Jul 14, 2016, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


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