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The First HMD-Branded Phone for the US Now Available

May 20, 2024, 12:46 PM   by Rich Brome

The HMD Vibe is now available to buy unlocked. HMD is selling it directly on its web site. HMD has long made Nokia-branded phones, but is now branching out to offer its own brand as well as others. For $150, the HMD Vibe offers a 6.56" HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh, 13 megapixel camera, 4,000 mAh battery, Snapdragon 680 chip, 6 GB RAM, and 128 GB of storage (expandable). It will also be sold by TracFone.

HMD Moving Beyond Nokia with its Own Brand

Apr 24, 2024, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 24, 2024, 11:11 AM

HMD, maker of Nokia-branded phones, is launching a new line of phones under its own HMD brand. This comes as the company expands into other brand partnerships (including Barbie and Heineken) as well as white-label phones, while continuing to make Nokia-branded phones. In the US, the first HMD-branded phone will be the HMD Vibe (shown), an entry-level 4G Android phone for prepaid brands (like TracFone). It will have a 6.56" HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh, 13 megapixel camera, 4,000 mAh battery, Snapdragon 680 chip, 6 GB RAM, and 128 GB of storage (expandable). The Vibe is also available unlocked for $149. The new HMD Pulse lineup will come first to other parts of the world, and includes the Pulse, Pulse+, and Pulse Pro. All three are affordable and repairable Android smartphones. The Pulse Pro has 50 megapixel cameras on both the front and back. Its unusually powerful selfie camera also supports slow motion video and responds to a number of unique gestures for hands-free control. HMD claims these are the most affordable repairable phones in the world.

Motorola Brings More Affordable 5G Phones to its 2024 Lineup

Mar 12, 2024, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola has announced the 2024 editions of the moto g 5G and moto g power 5G, priced at $200 and $300, respectively (MSRP, unlocked). Both phones offer 5G, a vegan leather finish on the back, 120 Hz display refresh, 50 megapixel main camera, 5,000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage (expandable), NFC, fingerprint reader (on the side), and a headset jack. For the moto g 5G, NFC is a key addition compared to last year's version. For the extra $100, upgrades on the moto g power 5G (compared to the moto g 5G) include a sharper display (FHD+ instead of HD+), double the RAM (8 GB instead of 4), better front camera (16 megapixel instead of 8), an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera (instead of 2-megapixel macro), faster charging (30-watt instead of 18), and wireless charging. Compared to last year's moto g power 5G, improvements include more RAM, the wide-angle camera, NFC, wireless charging, and faster wired charging. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will all offer both phones. The moto g 5G (2024) will come to T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile first, on March 21st. Boost, Consumer Cellular, Cricket, TracFone, US Cellular, Xfinity, Google Fi, Optimum, Cox, Straight Talk, Total by Verizon, Simple Mobile, Walmart Family Mobile, and Visible will also offer it. The moto g power 5G (2024) will launch with Cricket on March 22nd, and later with Metro, US Cellular, Straight Talk, Total by Verizon, Walmart Family Mobile, and Visible as well. Motorola's g series for 2024 also includes the already-announced, 4G-only moto g play (2024), which retails for $150.

Samsung Launching Two New Affordable 5G Phones Today, Too

Jan 17, 2024, 3:25 PM   by Rich Brome

While Samsung's big news today is the new S24 series of flagship phones, the company is also quietly launching two new affordable 5G phones today: the Galaxy A15 5G and Galaxy A25 5G. The Galaxy A15 5G updates last year's A14 5G with a 6.5-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with 90 Hz refresh, a major upgrade for a phone that sells for $200. It also has double the built-in storage (128 instead of 64 GB), faster fast charging (25W instead of 15), and replaces the depth camera with a 5 megapixel wide-angle camera. Other specs carry over from the A14 5G, including a 5,000 mAh battery, 50 megapixel main camera, NFC, fingerprint reader, expandable storage, and a headset jack. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 6100+ chipset. Verizon, T-Mobile, Boost, and US Cellular started selling the phone today, and samsung.com indicates that AT&T may offer it as well. The Galaxy A25 5G doesn't seem to be nearly as popular with US carriers, as there are no indications that any of the big three national carriers plan to offer it. It's quite similar to the A15 5G, with the upgrades being OIS on the main camera, an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera, 4K video capture, and 120 Hz display refresh. It's powered by a Samsung Exynos 1280 chipset. For these upgrades, US Cellular shows a list price of $300. Boost and TracFone may offer it, as well.

Straight Talk Intros New Multi-Line Discounts

Jul 25, 2023, 8:17 AM   by Rich Brome

Straight Talk Wireless has tweaked its most popular plan to include significant new discounts for families with multiple lines on the same account. The Silver Unlimited plan still includes unlimited data, calls to Canada & Mexico, and 5 GB of hotspot data. The first line is still $45/month, but now a second line is just $30/month, a third line is $15, and a fourth line is just $10. That means four lines are now just $100/month, down from $180 previously. The new discounts only apply to the Silver Unlimited plan; Straight Talk's other plans remain unchanged. Straight Talk operates on the Verizon network and is available exclusively at Walmart, walmart.com, and straighttalk.com. Straight Talk was a brand of TracFone, and now part of the "Verizon Value portfolio of prepaid brands".

Nokia Refreshes Entry-Level Android Lineup for US

Jun 1, 2023, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

HMD Global today announced two new very affordable Nokia 4G smartphones for the US. The Nokia C110 and C300 will sell for $99 and $139, respectively. Both have an HD+ display, 13 megapixel main camera, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (expandable), IP52 water resistance, and Android 12. The Nokia C110 has a 6.3-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, and is powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 chip. The Nokia C300 has a 6.52-inch display, 4,000 mAh battery, fingerprint reader, macro and depth cameras, and is powered by a Snapdragon 662 chip. Both phones go on sale this month. The C110 comes in grey and will be available from Walmart, Target, Consumer Cellular, and Tracfone. The C300 comes in blue and will be offered by Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Consumer Cellular, and Tracfone.

Total Wireless Relaunches as Total by Verizon

Sep 21, 2022, 2:11 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today launched Total by Verizon, a relaunch of Total Wireless, a brand of TracFone, which is now owned by Verizon. Total by Verizon is "created to serve the upper end of the prepaid market: value-conscious consumers who want speed and connectivity, but also the freedom of no contracts". The standard unlimited plan is mostly unchanged at $50/month, including 10 GB of mobile hotspot data as well as limited international talk & text. A new $60 unlimited plan includes access to Verizon's faster 5G Ultra Wideband network, a subscription to Disney+, double the hotspot data, and expanded international talk & text. At the lower end, $30 and $40 plans offer 5 or 15 GB of data, respectively. For multiple lines, each additional line is only $35/month, regardless of the plan level. This is effectively a multi-line discount for plans $40 and up, with greater discounts at the high end. For example, the $60 plan would work out to just $40/month/line for five lines. Total by Verizon will be available at more than 50,000 retail locations, including Walmart, Target, and Dollar General.

Nokia Brings New Affordable Phones to T-Mobile, Boost

Aug 31, 2022, 4:34 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 31, 2022, 4:37 PM

HMD Global this week finally launched its Nokia G400 5G with T-Mobile. Way back in January, the company announced that the launch was planned for the second quarter of the year. HMD also just announced that Boost will offer its Nokia C200 and G100 4G phones "in the coming weeks". Those phones were also part of the January announcement, although carrier partners were not disclosed at the time. The G100 is arriving later than planned, but at a lower price of $140. The C200 is already available from TracFone. Further, HMD was named "the #5 Smartphone company in the U.S." according to IDC. "Nokia smartphones now account for 2.9% of the U.S. smartphone market". The company released new details of the G100 and G400 5G:

  • The G100 improves on the C200 with a larger 6.5-inch display, larger 5,000 mAh battery, a more powerful Snapdragon 662 chip, a fingerprint reader, and an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera. Other specs are similar, including a 13 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel front camera, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (expandable), fast charging, and a headset jack. It will sell for $140.
  • The G400 5G steps up to FHD+ display resolution with 120 Hz refresh, a 48 megapixel main camera, 16 megapixel front camera, NFC, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, and of course, 5G. T-Mobile is selling it for $234.

Nokia Phones Coming to New US Carriers in 2022

Jan 5, 2022, 11:12 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 5, 2022, 11:13 AM

HMD Global is teasing its lineup of Nokia phones for the US for first half of 2022. The five new phones will bring the company's presence to two new US carriers, representing "its largest U.S. expansion since launching in the market more than four years ago". The claim seems to refer to the number of phones launching across all US carriers, not the number of carriers, since the list does not include previous partners Verizon, AT&T, and Cricket. Instead, Nokia will launch new phones with Dish (Boost) and Consumer Cellular, while keeping T-Mobile, Metro, and TracFone on board. The first two phones to launch (in the first quarter) will be the most affordable: the Nokia 2760 Flip 4G feature phone for $79, and the Nokia C100 4G smartphone for $99. In the second quarter, the Nokia G400 will be the company's next affordable 5G phone. It will offered by T-Mobile and/or Metro, TracFone, Dish (Boost), and Consumer Cellular. It has an MSRP of just $239. The company will also bring the C200 and G100 4G phones to US carriers in Q2, for $119 and $149, respectively. Specs and further details are being withheld until closer to launch.

Nokia G300 Lands at TracFone with 5G

Oct 12, 2021, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Nokia's latest phone for the US is the G300, an affordable 5G phone for TracFone and Straight Talk. TracFone is making a big new push into 5G, having recently launched the Orbic Magic 5G. The Nokia G300 is cheaper at just $199. Key features include a 6.52-inch display, 4,470 mAh battery, 16 megapixel main camera, 5 megapixel wide camera, and 8 megapixel front camera. It has 4 GB RAM, 64 GB built-in storage (expandable), and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor. It also has a fingerprint reader, dual-band Wi-Fi, fast charging, and a headset jack. The Nokia G300 goes on sale next Tuesday, October 19th.

Orbic Reaches Beyond Verizon's Orbit with the Magic 5G

Oct 7, 2021, 10:24 AM   by Rich Brome

The Orbic Magic 5G is now available with TracFone. This is the first Orbic phone for a US carrier other than Verizon. According to the company, this "shows that Orbic is growing as brand into other channels." Orbic got its start in the US making entry-level phones for Verizon. The Orbic Myra 5G for Verizon launched recently and was the company's first mid-range phone, and first 5G phone. The Magic is identical to the Myra save for network frequency band support and the Snapdragon chipset inside. The Magic supports sub-6 5G and 4G on both the Verizon and T-Mobile networks, and uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 chipset. The Myra supports Verizon's mmWave "Ultra Wideband" 5G network, which required the higher-end Snapdragon 750G. The company confirmed this as the reason for the two different chipsets. Like the Myra, the Magic 5G has a 6.78-inch HD+ display, 5,000 mAh battery, 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, 6 GB RAM, 64 GB storage (expandable), and Quick Charge 3.0. TracFone is selling the Orbic Magic 5G for $300. Orbic is a brand of Reliance Communications.

Verizon Buys TracFone

Sep 14, 2020, 8:57 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon has reached an agreement to buy TracFone, the country's leading prepaid mobile provider and largest reseller of wireless services. TracFone operates a family of value-oriented brands that includes StraightTalk, Net10, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, PagePlus, Walmart Family Mobile, SafeLink, and ClearWay. As an MVNO, TracFone replies on other mobile networks. Out of 21 million total TracFone customers, 13 million already use the Verizon network. "Following the acquisition, Verizon expects to bring its award-winning 4G LTE and 5G networks and other innovative technologies to Tracfone customers". Verizon already offers its own prepaid service and has a prepaid subsidiary called Visible. Verizon expects to keep all 850 TracFone employees. The $6.25 billion deal is expected to close in about a year.

Samsung and LG Launch New Affordable Phones on US Carriers

Jul 13, 2020, 3:24 PM   by Rich Brome

US carriers have launched a flurry of new entry-level phones from LG and Samsung in recent weeks. The phones include three new models from each of the two manufacturers. They range in price from $60 to $260.

  • LG's new most affordable phone goes by many names and ranges in price from $60 to $160. It's offered by just about every carrier except Verizon. T-Mobile, Sprint, and Metro offer it as the Aristo 5. Boost offers it as the Tribute Monarch. U.S. Cellular offers it as the K8x. All of those versions come with 32 GB of storage. Only AT&T's version comes with just 16 GB of storage, which they offer from AT&T Prepaid as the Phoenix 5, or from Cricket as the Fortune 3. Oddly, Cricket also offers this phone as the Risio 4. The Risio 4 and K8x have a front camera that's downgraded from 5 to 3 megapixel. Key specs in common include a 5.7-inch HD display with notch, MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 2 GB RAM, and a 3,000 mAh Battery. It also has a 13-megapixel main camera, dedicated wide-angle camera, and a rear fingerprint reader.
  • LG Harmony 4: Currently available only from Cricket (for $140), this step-up model has a larger display (6.1-inch), larger battery (3,500 mAh), and more RAM (3 GB). It also has USB-C and a better front camera. Regulatory filings indicate it may also come to Verizon prepaid and TracFone using the Sprint network.
  • LG K51: Already available from T-Mobile, Metro, and Boost, this model is now available from Verizon for $168. Compared to the Harmony 4, it offers an even larger display and battery. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 processor.
  • Samsung A01: First launched on Verizon in April, Samsung's most affordable phone is now available from AT&T, Cricket, and Metro, for $115, $60, and $160, respectively. It has USB-C and fast charging, but no fingerprint reader.
  • Samsung A11: A big step up from A01, this $180 phone is now available from AT&T and Verizon. It will launch with Boost on July 21st at a limited-time price of $130. It has a 6.4-inch HD display with a hole-punch design, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, and a dedicated wide-angle camera.
  • Samsung A21: Now available from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Sprint, and Boost. While the standard price is $250, Metro is charging $260 while Boost is currently offering it for $200. It has a similar display and battery compared to the A11, but has upgraded cameras, MediaTek Helio P35 processor, 3 GB RAM, and NFC.

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.

ZTE's Cymbal-T Flip Phone Boasts Android, a Touch Screen and LTE

Nov 2, 2016, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE recently released the Cymbal-T, a flip phone that runs Android and includes a 3.5-inch touch screen. The Cymbal-T is a traditional clamshell with physical navigation keys and numerical dial pad. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 32 GB. It includes a 5-megapixel main camera with flash and autofocus. The user-facing camera is a fixed-focus, 2-megapixel job. Other specs include WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and support for LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The ZTE Cymbal-T operates on TracFone's network and is being sold by the Home Shopping Network with a starter kit, including car charger, case, and 1,200 air minutes, for $99.

Samsung Reveals the Galaxy E5 for Tracfone

Apr 13, 2016, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has published details about the Galaxy E5, a low-cost Android handset intended for Tracfone. The E5 has a 5-inch, Super AMOLED 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The phone includes an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and full HD video capture, and a 5-megapixel front camera for selfies. The phone ships with 16 GB of storage and supports memory cards up to 64 GB. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, and LTE. It runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Tracfone has not yet listed the Samsung Galaxy E5 for sale, so pricing and availability are unknown.

Sprint Phones Vanishing from Walmart

Dec 4, 2015, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's presence at the nation's largest retailer has dwindled in recent weeks, according to Fierce Wireless. Some 500 Walmart stores across the country continue to sell Spint handsets, but the majority of Walmart's 4,177 brick-and-mortar locations no longer have them in stock. Wave7 Research says T-Mobile prepaid and StraightTalk have replaced Sprint in some Walmart locations, and AT&T and Verizon Wireless are now the only postpaid carriers advertised by Walmart. Sprint declined to comment on Fierce Wireless' story, but it is worth noting that Sprint acquired an equity stake in the majority of RadioShack's retail stores earlier this year, which are now co-branded Sprint/RadioShack. StraightTalk is one of Walmart's two prepaid brands, the other being TracFone.

ZTE Selling the ZMax 2 Unlocked

Nov 23, 2015, 11:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today said it is making the ZMax 2 smartphone available to consumers unlocked. The phone was originally sold via TracFone earlier this year, but is now online directly from ZTE. The full price of the phone is $179.99, but ZTE is running a limited sale price of $129.99. The ZMax 2 has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen; quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; 8-megapixel main camera with full HD vide capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and LTE radios. The phone packs a 3,000 mAh battery. The ZMax 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is compatible with the networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, and their prepaid businesses, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS, respectively.

ZTE ZMax 2 Headed to GoPhone and TracFone

Sep 22, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 1, 2015, 11:42 AM

ZTE today announced the ZMax 2, a follow-up to its big-screened phone from early this year. The phone has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, which is smaller than the original's 5.7-inch screen. The device is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32GB. The ZMax 2 features an 8-megapixel main camera with full HD vide capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and LTE radios. The phone packs a 3,000 mAh battery, which is smaller than the original's 3,400 mAh battery. The ZMax 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. It will be sold by AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service (beginning Sept. 25) as well as TracFone.

Samsung Reveals the Galaxy J1 for TracFone

Jul 16, 2015, 1:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today published details about the Galaxy J1, an entry-level handset headed to TracFone. The J1 features a 4.3-inch screen, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The J1 can capture 720p HD video. The phone supports Bluetooth and WiFi. It ships with Android 4.4 KitKat. Pricing and availability details weren't immediately released. TracFone is a prepaid provider that sells phones via Walmart stores.

TracFone Settles with FCC Over Locked Phones

Jul 1, 2015, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TracFone has reached an agreement with the FCC concerning its policies for unlocking handsets. In February of this year it became mandatory for all carriers to unlock customer handsets and to properly disclose their unlocking policies to customers. TracFone did not have any sort of process for unlocking handsets in place, nor did it inform customers of their rights. Even so, TracFone later told the FCC multiple times that it was in compliance with the law. In order to settle with the FCC, TracFone agreed to transition to unlockable phones. It will allow eligible customers to receive new unlocked handsets, receive credit towards a new handset, or receive a partial cash refund in exchange for an unlocked handset. "Unlocking of cell phones has been widely embraced by the wireless industry and by consumers across the country," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. "Today's agreement ensures that millions of eligible TracFone customers will be able to use their phones on any compatible network they choose." TracFone has about 8 million customers, many of which should be able to benefit from today's enforcement action. TracFone has until September 1 to clearly notify customers about its new policies and when those customers will be eligible for unlocked devices. By May 2016, TracFone will need to launch some unlockable handsets and allow eligible customers to trade-in or receive credit. By December 2016, all phones launched by TracFone must be capable of being unlocked.

RadioShack Declares Bankruptcy, to Sell Stores to Sprint

Feb 5, 2015, 6:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

RadioShack today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed an agreement to sell approximately 1,750 of its stores to Sprint. Under the terms of RadioShack's Chapter 11 filing, RadioShack will sell the stores to Sprint and General Wireless, a subsidiary of one of RadioShack's major investors. Moving forward, these stores will be co-branded Sprint and RadioShack, with Sprint being the primary brand. Sprint will own about 30% of the real estate within each store to sell Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA products. The remaining 70% will be set aside for RadioShack to sell its own branded gear and other electronics. Sprint did not say what will happen to the AT&T, GoPhone, Net10 Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Tracfone phones that are currently offered by RadioShack. Presumably they will be no longer be sold. Sprint currently has more than 1,100 company-owned retail stores, which would more than double if the transaction is approved. RadioShack listed about $1.2 billion in assets and $1.39 billion in debts. A bankruptcy court will have to approve RadioShack's plans before Sprint can make its purchase official.

FTC Nails TracFone for $40M Over False Advertising

Jan 28, 2015, 12:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TracFone has agreed to pay customers $40 million to reimburse them for what the FTC labeled as deceptive advertising. From 2009 to 2013, TracFone advertised "unlimited data" plans for $45 per month. Despite the promise of unlimited monthly data, TracFone throttled customers who surpassed 3GB of data and cut off entirely some customers who surpassed 5GB of data. "The issue here is simple: when you promise consumers 'unlimited,' that means unlimited," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. TracFone began to disclose the data limits and throttling policies in 2013, but the FTC said, "In many cases, the disclosures were in very small print or on the back of packages or cards where consumers were likely to miss them." Millions of customers were throttled, according to the FTC. TracFone will refund an unknown number of customers $40 million and more clearly spell out its network management policies.

Hands-On: Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega and Pop Star

Sep 29, 2014, 7:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel revealed two new Android smartphones headed to Tracfone later this year, the Pop Mega and the Pop Star. Here are a few thoughts on these low-cost cell phones.

continued ▻

AT&T to Divest America Movil Stake to Carlos Slim

Jun 30, 2014, 10:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2014, 12:38 PM

AT&T plans to sell off its entire remaining stake in America Movil to Carlos Slim for about $5.6 billion. AT&T holds 8.3% of America Movil stock, but garners 24% of the company's voting rights. Carlos Slim's holding company, Inmobiliaria Carso, will pay AT&T $4.57 billion when the deal closes, followed by an addition $1 billion 60 days after closing. AT&T sold about half its stake in America Movil last June and already removed its designees from American Movil's board of directors. AT&T tipped the divestiture when it announced plans to acquire DirecTV earlier this year. AT&T hopes the sell off will improve its chances of gaining regulatory approval for its DirecTV acquisition. America Movil owns and operates TracFone wireless, the largest MVNO operating in the U.S. with 25 million customers.

TracFone, Others Socked with $14.4M in FCC Fines

Oct 2, 2013, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Federal Communications Commission is levying fines against a handful of network operators that it says violated rules governing the Lifeline program. According to the FCC, Assist Wireless, Easy Wireless, Icon Telecom, TracFone, and UTPhone all allowed some consumers to obtain more than a single Lifeline subscription. Consumers are allowed only one line, and the FCC believes the carriers in question knew, or should have known, that the duplicate lines were being given to ineligible people. The Lifeline program provides free phones and service to low-income Americans. The FCC is taking the action in order to reduce waste. The five carriers are being fined a total of $14.4 million, with the damages ranging between $1.23 million and $4.8 million per carrier. TracFone responded to the FCC's punishment, claiming that fewer than 850 of its customers were involved, who totaled only $8,000 in duplicate billing. "With almost 4 million Lifeline customers, obviously this is a very small percent. We do not believe that our conduct violated any rules or that the proposed FCC action is warranted."

TracFone Comes Straight on StraightTalk Throttling

Sep 30, 2013, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TracFone today provided some clarity on its data throttling policies for its StraighTalk and Net10 brands. According to TracFone, both its $45 and $60 unlimited plans for StraightTalk include 2.5GB of high-speed data. Customers who surpass the 2.5GB soft cap during a 30-day billing cycle will see their data reduced to 2G speeds for the remainder of the billing cycle. High-speed data will be restored when the customer re-ups for another 30 days. Similar limits apply to TracFone's $50 and $65 Net10 plans. TracFone was recently sued by consumers in California over falsely advertising StraightTalk's service as "unlimited" without defining the 2.5GB soft cap for throttling. TracFone is an MVNO owned by America Movil, and uses the networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The StraighTalk brand is sold at Walmart stores.

Huawei's First Windows Phone Hits Walmart this Month

May 9, 2013, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today announced that the W1, its first Windows Phone 8 smartphone, will be available at Walmart stores in the U.S. beginning later this month. The W1 is known as the Ascend W1 in other markets. It features a 4-inch LCD screen with 800 x 480 pixels, a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera with 720p video capture, 1.7GB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. Huawei did not say which carrier will provide service for the W1, but Walmart sells TracFone devices, and the W1 is compatible with TracFone's network. Pricing was not provided, nor was the exact release date.

Samsung Shows Off S275G Flip for TracFone

Feb 15, 2013, 4:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently revealed details about the S275G, a simple flip phone for TracFone. The S275 has two displays; the main display measures 1.75 inches and has 128 x 180 pixels, while the external display measures 1 inch and has 96 x 96 pixels. The S275G also includes a 1.3-megapixel camera with video capture and a dedicated camera button, basic music/video players, a WAP browser, and Bluetooth. TracFone has yet to add the Samsung S275G to its online store, so pricing and availability are not yet known.

TracFone Scores the LG Optimus Zip

Aug 8, 2012, 6:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG and TracFone today revealed the Optimus Zip, a new sideways slider that includes Android 2.3 Gingerbread and a full QWERTY keyboard. The Optimus Zip (also branded as the LG Enlighten / Optimus Slider) offers a 3.2-inch touch display with 320 x 480 pixels. Other features include a 3.2-megapixel camera with video capture, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0+EDR, and CDMA-EVDO 3G. The Optimus Zip is powered by an 800MHz processor, and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. TracFone has not yet announced pricing or availability for the Optimus Zip.

Simple Mobile Now Part of Tracfone

Jun 19, 2012, 2:18 PM   by Rich Brome

Tracfone Wireless, Inc. today announced that it has completed its previously-announced acquisition of Simple Mobile. Simple Mobile provides no-contract, SIM-only service on T-Mobile's GSM/HSPA+ network. Tracfone already offers SIM-only options under its Straight Talk and Net10 brands. Tracfone is a subsidiary of America Movil S.A.B. de C.V.

Samsung S125G Is a Simple Bar Phone for TracFone

Jun 11, 2012, 10:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed the S125G, an entry-level bar-style phone for prepaid provider TracFone. The S125G has a 1.52-inch display and focuses on simple voice features. It includes a speakerphone and a large numeric dialpad. Pricing and availability of the S125G have not been disclosed.

TracFone Scores the Samsung S425G Slider

Jun 11, 2012, 10:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed the S425G for TracFone, a sideways slider that includes a full QWERTY keyboard in addition to a standard numerical keypad. The S425G offers a 2.4-inch display with 240 x 320 pixels and runs a Java-based operating system. Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging applications are installed for keeping in touch. Other features of the S425G include a 2-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth, speakerphone, music and video players, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.

TracFone Snaps Up Simple Mobile

May 10, 2012, 4:05 PM   by Rich Brome

Prepaid MVNO TracFone today announced an agreement to acquire SIM-only prepaid MVNO Simple Mobile. Simple Mobile operates a SIM-card-only service where customers bring their own GSM phones. Simple uses T-Mobile USA's network. TracFone is also an MVNO, using a mix of other national carrier's networks. TracFone is owned by America Movil, which has operations across the Americas. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. The purchase price and other terms were not disclosed.

Samsung SCH-R375 Headed to TracFone

Jan 18, 2012, 4:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently published information about the SCH-R375c, a mono-block QWERTY phone that is intended for TracFone's network. According to Samsung, the r375 is based on a Java operating system and includes a full keyboard for messaging, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and stereo Bluetooth. TracFone has yet to list this device, and pricing has not been disclosed.

Samsung Outs T404 Messaging Phone

Nov 29, 2011, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 29, 2011, 11:56 AM

Samsung recently published information about the T404, a sideways slider feature phone that has a full QWERTY keyboard for messaging. The T404 features a 2.2-inch display with 240 x 320 pixels, a 2-megapixel camera with video capture, 40MB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards up to 16GB. Other features include Bluetooth, speakerphone, messaging software, and vibrate alerts. The T404 is sold by TracFone for $59.99.

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Straight Talk Lands LG Optimus Q

Nov 8, 2011, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Straight Talk recently added the LG Optimus Q to its lineup, the pre-paid carrier's second Android smartphone. The Optimus Q will cost $179.99 and require a $45 monthly plan. Straight Talk is operated by TracFone, and its Android devies run on Sprint's network.

Samsung T245G for TracFone Makes Appearance

Sep 23, 2011, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today published details about a new flip phone for TracFone. The T245G is an entry-level clamshall that has a basic feature set. It includes dual displays, a camera, and messaging functions. The T245G is not yet listed for sale on TracFone's web site.

Straight Talk Android Phones to Run on Sprint's Network

Sep 9, 2011, 3:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has confirmed that the Android devices sold by TracFone through its Straight Talk service will run on the Sprint network, rather than the networks of AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless. TracFone already has wholesale relationships with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, but Sprint appears to have scored an exclusive with respect to Android-based smartphones. The first such device is the recently announced Samsung Precedent, which sells for $149.99. TracFone's Straight Talk brand is sold through Wal-Mart stores, though it is owned by America Movil.

Samsung T528 Makes Appearance on Samsung Web Site

Jun 10, 2011, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has published details about a phone called the SGH-T528g. This bar-style touch phone has a 3-inch display and runs Samsung's TouchWiz 2.0 user interface. According to both Samsung and documents recently spotted on the Federal Communications Commission web site, it supports 850/1900MHz GSM/EDGE/WCDMA, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The T528 also sports a 2 megapixel camera with video capture and a full array of messaging and web-based applications. The device is sold by Tracfone.

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