Motorola today announced the moto g pure, the company's latest entry-level phone. The phone will be sold by essentially every carrier in the US, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, Metro, Boost, US Cellular, and Xfinity. Verizon will be the first to offer it, for $150 starting October 14th. Other carriers will offer the phone "in the coming months". Motorola will sell the phone unlocked for $160, with pre-orders starting October 14th. The phone will come in two variants: one for AT&T, Cricket, and Verizon — with support for AT&T's unique bands 14 and 30 — and the other for all other carriers, supporting T-Mobile's network and overseas 4G networks. Both variants will be powered by a MediaTek Helio G25 chip. The phone's features include a fingerprint reader on the back, basic water resistance, headset jack, and dual-band Wi-Fi. The HD+ display measures 6.5 inches. The 13 megapixel main camera is joined by a depth camera for portrait shots and a 5 megapixel front camera. Motorola claims two days of battery life from the 4,000 mAh battery. It has 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of storage, which is expandable with a memory card. It comes with Android 11 and Motorola promises one major OS upgrade plus two years of security updates (at least quarterly).
The FCC today started Auction 110, the third in a series of auctions to sell licenses for valuable C-band (mid-band) radio frequencies that offer a good mix of data speeds and coverage when deployed for 5G networks. All three major US wireless carriers have registered and qualified to bid in the auction. The most recent auction in the series was Auction 107, which was for the highest and widest range of frequencies in the band. In that auction, all three major carriers spent billions, with Verizon spending the most. Before that, Auction 105 — for the middle range of frequencies — saw Verizon and Dish Network come out on top. The current auction is for the lowest range of frequencies in the band: 3,450 – 3,550 MHz. The US government only decided a little over a year ago to allow commercial service in this new range of frequencies. The Department of Defense currently uses this radio spectrum for radar operations that support missile defense, counter-mortar capabilities, weapons control, electronic warfare, air defense, and air traffic control. Auction proceeds must cover 110% of the expected sharing and relocation costs for federal users currently operating in the band, which in this case is estimated to be over $14 billion.
Telecom infrastructure provider Syniverse recently disclosed to the SEC that it discovered a hack of its systems this year, which appears to have been ongoing since 2016. The compromise affects the Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) environment for 235 of its customers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The EDT handles a wide variety of sensitive customer data, including the content of SMS text messages, call records, data usage records, and billing details. Ninety-five of the top 100 mobile carriers in the world are Syniverse customers. Syniverse's systems allow different carriers around the world to connect to each others' networks, exchanging text messages between networks and enabling roaming agreements and billing.
Verizon today launched the TCL Flip Pro for prepaid customers. The same phone launched recently on US Cellular as the TCL Flip, and earlier this week as the Alcatel Go Flip 4 on T-Mobile. (Alcatel is a brand of TCL.) TCL says the Go Flip 4 is also coming to Metro by T-Mobile. The phone is an update to the Alcatel Go Flip 3, with a larger battery, new shortcut buttons on the keypad, and a modern USB-C connector. Other key features are similar, including KaiOS, which has its own app store and enables smartphone-like features such as Google Assistant and Google Maps. The phone also sports a 2-megapixel camera, memory card slot, headset jack, Wi-Fi, and a 1.44-inch color outer display. US Cellular and Metro sell the phone for $100, and T-Mobile for $96. Verizon sells it for $70 on prepaid and will bring it to their postpaid lineup "in the coming weeks".
For the first time, T-Mobile has won the title of Fastest Mobile Network in PCMag's annual nationwide drive test. T-Mobile's 5G network was the fastest in 24 out of 36 tested cities and regions. PCMag attributes the win to T-Mobile's use of mid-band spectrum (band 41, around 2,600 MHz) for 5G. This unique frequency band was originally owned by Sprint, and T-Mobile has been aggressively re-deploying it for 5G since merging with Sprint. Mid-band frequencies are ideal for 5G, offering a good balance of coverage and potential data speeds. AT&T and Verizon recently purchased C-band spectrum that will let them deploy mid-band 5G networks like T-Mobile starting by the end of this year. Verizon's "Ultra Wideband" mmWave 5G network is the fastest 5G network, but has very limited coverage. AT&T and Verizon's sub-6-GHz (non-mmWave) 5G networks are often barely faster than 4G. Looking only at 4G networks, AT&T was once again the winner.
Motorola describes the new Edge as their one premium phone for the US for 2021, (besides whatever RAZR they may or may not introduce.) It's not a flagship, but it's well above the usual affordable fare that Motorola has primarily focused on in recent years. It has a fast-refresh display and a whopping 108 megapixel main camera. It will be available soon unlocked, and later on with Verizon. But it's a bit of an odd duck, with an unusual spec mix that's unlike any other mid-range phone. It looks nice enough in photos, but what's it like in person? Read on for our first impressions.
Motorola today announced a new premium-tier phone: the Motorola edge (2021). The headline features are a 108 megapixel main camera and a large 6.8-inch display with adaptive refresh up to 144 Hz. It also has a large 5,000 mAh battery, 30-watt fast charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor, Wi-Fi 6E, and NFC. The 108-megapixel camera operates in 9-pixel pixel-binning mode by default, for excellent low-light performance with 12 megapixel output. It's accompanied by am 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a depth camera, and a 32 megapixel selfie camera. Verizon will offer a version supporting its mmWave 5G network, while the unlocked version has excellent support for the 4G and sub-6 5G networks of both T-Mobile and AT&T. The unlocked version will be available in blue for $700. It goes on sale September 2nd with a special price of $500 for a limited time. Pre-orders start August 23rd. Verizon and Spectrum Mobile will offer the Verizon version later this fall; pricing for that version is yet to be determined.
Orbic (which is actually a brand of Reliance Communications) has been low-key making low-end phones for Verizon for a few years, but now they're ready to step into the spotlight with a much more interesting 5G phone, the Orbic Myra 5G. It is designed to be one of the more affordable 5G phones in Verizon's lineup, but this mid-range phone goes beyond the basics with a 48-megapixel main camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip, huge 5,000 mAh battery, and 18-watt fast charging. But what is it actually like in person? Read on to find out.
Verizon is now offering the Orbic Myra 5G, the first Orbic phone in the US with 5G, and the first with mid-range specs. Orbic has been offering entry-level phones for Verizon since late 2018, including two Android smartphones and one feature phone. The Myra offers both sub-6 and faster mmWave 5G which Verizon brands "Ultra Wideband". It should also support mid-band 5G (band 77 / C-Band) when Verizon launches that network. The Myra uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 750G chip, alongside 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage (expandable). It has a large 6.78-inch HD+ display and large 5,000 mAh battery. Other features include Android 11, a 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, 16 megapixel front camera, Quick Charge 3.0 (18-watt charger included), and a headset jack. It's available from Verizon starting today for $349. Orbic is a brand of Reliance Communications.
The FCC has launched a new interactive map showing 4G LTE coverage for the whole US. It includes Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and US Cellular networks. The data is sourced from the carriers, but is required to meet standards intended to make the data uniform and allow apples-to-apples comparisons. "Specifically, it shows where customers can expect to receive 4G LTE broadband service at a minimum user download speed of five megabits per second (5 Mbps) and a user upload speed of one megabit per second (1 Mbps) based on propagation modeling." Another "voice" layer shows where users should be able to get basic service regardless of data speed.
Verizon has launched a new set of plans exclusively for mobile hotspot devices, with more options and more data than previously available. Verizon previously offered the same two plans for all "connected devices", from mobile hotspots to smartwatches, topping out at $30/month for 30 GB of full-speed data. The new plans offer up to 150 GB of full-speed data. The entry-level Essential plan is mostly similar to the old Unlimited plan, offering 15 GB of full-speed data for $20/month. Like the old plan, access to "Ultra Wideband" mmWave 5G is not included, and video streaming is limited to 720p. The new Plus plan offers 50 GB of full-speed data for $40/month. mmWave 5G is included, and customers can stream 4K video when using the mmWave 5G network. The Pro plan steps up to 100 GB of full-speed data for $60/month, while the Premium plan offers 150 GB for $80. The Essential and Plus plans are only offered as an add-on to an existing Verizon account, while the Pro and Premium plans are available as a stand-alone plan for an extra $30/month.
Messages by Google will come pre-loaded and be the default messaging app on all Verizon Android devices starting next year. T-Mobile made a similar announcement in March, as did AT&T earlier this month. That means all three top-tier mobile networks in the US have now standardized on Messages by Google as the default app for RCS. RCS is the industry standard for enhanced messaging, designed to replace SMS. RCS offers features like read receipts, higher-quality photos and videos, and end-to-end encryption for one-on-one conversations. Verizon is also working to enable RCS interoperability across all carrier networks, but has not yet committed to a timeline for that. Verizon continues to offer and improve its own messaging app, Message+, even though it will no longer be the default messaging app starting next year. Customers using Message+ will get "full access to RCS capabilities by the end of the year". Verizon is also teaming with Google "to provide a robust business-to-consumer messaging ecosystem using RCS." Verizon's announcement today is a huge step for the RCS standard, which has suffered a long and tortured road to full implementation. Although there's now a clear path to a seamless and consistent enhanced messaging experience for Android users in the US, Apple has yet to support RCS in iOS. This means enhanced messaging is not yet interoperable between Android and iOS devices.
Verizon has entered into a multi-year, $8.3 billion deal with Ericsson to expand Verizon's 5G network. The deal covers new mid-band coverage in the C band, as well as continued build-out of existing low-band and mmWave networks. The C band should offer a better balance of data speeds and coverage than most frequency bands currently in use for 5G. The deal with Ericsson includes Massive MIMO technology, which uses an array of 32–64 antennas to improve network capacity. Verizon has told investors it plans to spend $10 billion over the next three years to deploy 5G in the C band. Verizon spent $45 billion for its C band licenses, far more than any other company in that auction.
AT&T and Google have forged an agreement to make Google's Messages app the default messaging app for all AT&T customers using Android phones. T-Mobile made a similar commitment in March, leaving Verizon as the only top-tier US carrier to not standardize on Google's Messages app for next-generation rich messaging using the RCS industry standard. AT&T's move will help ensure AT&T and T-Mobile customers can enjoy interoperable rich messaging among Android phones between the two carriers. RCS is a replacement for SMS that offers better group messaging, typing indicators, and encryption, among other features. RCS offers features comparable to Apple Messages. However, Apple has yet to support the RCS industry standard, so iOS does not yet offer interoperable rich messaging with Android phones.
TCL today revealed the US launch details for its new 20 series of phones: the TCL 20 Pro 5G, 20S, and 20 SE.
- The 20 Pro 5G is an affordable flagship phone with 5G for $500. It has a curved-edge TCL AMOLED display, satin glass back, 48 megapixel Sony-made main camera, 16 megapixel wide-angle camera, and wireless charging. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chip with 6 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, and a 4,500 mAh battery. It has excellent support for all 5G and 4G US networks, including Verizon. It's available in Moondust Gray and Marine Blue.
- The 20S has a 64 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, huge 5,000 mAh battery, and 18W fast charging. It also has a Snapdragon 665 processor and 4 GB RAM. It has excellent support for Verizon and T-Mobile 4G networks, and decent support for AT&T. It runs $250 and comes in Milky Way Black and Frosted Blue.
- The 20 SE is only $190 but comes with 48 megapixel main camera, wide camera, 4 GB RAM, and huge 5,000 mAh battery. It has basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and comes in Nuit Black and Aurora Green.
US Mobile is once again offering a promo of 50% off the first year of service for new customers. The promo is available to anyone buying a US Mobile starter kit on amazon.com during Amazon's Prime Day sale, June 21–22. US Mobile did a similar promo for the launch of the OnePlus 9, but it was restricted to customers with that phone and US Mobile's "Super LTE" (Verizon) network. This new Prime Day promo is available for customers using any compatible phone, and for either network, including "GSM LTE" (T-Mobile). Customers will receive the discount as monthly service credits of up to $20.83, for a total of $250 over 12 months. Customers can choose from Custom, Shared Data, or Unlimited All plans. Customers buying the starter kit June 21–22 will receive a promo code that gets them the 50% off.
AT&T is shedding its WarnerMedia division, which includes HBO, CNN, DC Comics, Warner Brothers, TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network. In a complex deal, WarnerMedia will leave AT&T and merge with Discovery, Inc., to form a new media company. AT&T will receive $43 billion as part of the transaction. AT&T says the deal will create an opportunity for "stepped-up investment in growth areas", including mobile broadband. AT&T completed its purchase of Time Warner three years ago. Verizon sold its media division two weeks ago.
Nokia today announced the Nokia 2720 V Flip feature phone for Verizon. Styled after the Nokia 2720 offered by AT&T and T-Mobile almost 12 years ago, the 2720 V Flip is a modern 4G LTE feature phone. Running KaiOS, the phone offers Google Assistant and the ability to download select apps from the KaiStore. The phone also supports HD Voice, and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot. The main screen is 2.8 inches and the outer display is 1.3 inches. The phone has extra-large keypad buttons and display text can be enlarged up to 100%. An emergency button sends a message to five contacts, giving details of your location, after which it rings selected contacts until they answer. There's also a 2 megapixel camera on the back, just below the hinge, a 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot. Nokia claims the removable 1,500 mAh battery can last 26 days on standby. The Nokia 2720 V Flip will be available available May 20th for $80 at VerizonWireless.com or using the My Verizon app.
Verizon has reached an agreement to sell its Verizon Media business — which includes Yahoo and AOL — to Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. Verizon will retain a 10% stake in the new company, to be known simply as Yahoo. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021. Verizon bought AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017.
Verizon is exploring the sale of its media businesses, including Yahoo and AOL, according to the Wall Street Journal. Verizon bought AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017.
US Mobile today introduced a new category of plans that makes family plans more affordable than ever. The new Pooled Plan lets multiple lines share a set, customizable amount of data, as a cheaper alternative to unlimited plans (which US Mobile continues to offer.) Monthly pricing for Pooled Plans is $9/line, plus $2 per GB of shared 4G/5G data. For example, four lines sharing 8 GB of data would run $13/line/month. Customers can specify any amount of data to share, down to the GB. A new dashboard helps customers analyze current and past data usage in order to right-size their plan. Prices include taxes, but not a Regulatory Cost Recovery charge of $0.48 per line. The plans are available on the company's "Super LTE" network, which appears to be Verizon's 4G+5G network.
Verizon on Thursday will launch its 5G "Ultra Wideband" service in four new cities: New Orleans, LA; Fresno, CA; Riverside, CA; and San Antonio, TX. This will bring the total number of US cities with the service to 71. Ultra Wideband is Verizon's branding for mmWave 5G, a flavor of 5G that offers very high speed but limited coverage. mmWave 5G service is typically only available in the densest parts of downtown urban areas, as well as stadiums, arenas, train stations, and airports. Verizon also affirmed its commitment to launch 5G in C-band spectrum in the first quarter of 2022. C-band enables 5G service with a better balance between data speed and coverage. Verizon says its C-band 5G network will cover "an additional 100 million mobility customers" at launch.
Xfinity Mobile, the Comcast MVNO for Xfinity home internet customers, today introduced discounts for accounts with multiple lines. The discounts are greater for more lines, similar to what many other US carriers offer. While a single line of unlimited data remains $45/month, two lines are now $40 each, while four lines are just $30/line. Three lines are $33.33/line, to make the monthly total an even $100. Other aspects of Xfinity's mobile plan are unchanged. Xfinity Mobile runs on Verizon's 4G / 5G network.
Sony today announced its 2021 phone lineup for consumers: the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III. The two phones are both high-end models with similar specs and features, with the 5 III being the smaller of the two. Both phones have OLED displays with 120 Hz refresh and three 12-megapixel rear cameras. While the standard and wide-angle cameras are similar to last year's models, the new periscope-style telephoto camera has its own optical zoom feature, offering both 2.9x and 4.4x zoom. The main and telephoto cameras include OIS (optical image stabilization). The phones are powered by Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 888 chip and offer excellent support for the (sub-6) 5G and 4G networks of T-Mobile and Verizon. Other specs include 4,500 mAh battery with 30W USB-PD fast charging, Android 11, NFC, memory card slot, headset jack, and IP68 water resistance. The stereo speakers are the first in a phone to support 360 Reality Audio. The Xperia 5 III has a 6.1-inch display with FHD+ resolution, 8 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage. The larger Xperia 1 III has a 6.5-inch display with 4K resolution, 12 GB RAM, and 256 GB storage. The 1 III also adds a ToF camera, wireless charging, Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, and speakers that are 40% louder than last year's model. The Xperia 1 III design consists of frosted glass and "blasted" metal, available in black or purple. The 5 III has a mirror finish and will be available in black or green. Both phones will be ship in the US "this summer". Pricing is to be announced.
Samsung today announced the US launch of five new phones in the company's affordable Galaxy A series, including three 5G models. The Galaxy A32 5G will be the most affordable 5G model at just $280, and will be exclusive to T-Mobile (and Metro) at launch. Samsung is able to offer 5G at this prince thanks in part to the MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G chip in the A32 5G, whereas the two pricier 5G models use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G. Samsung announced the A32 5G and A52 5G a few weeks ago, but withheld US launch details at that time. The Galaxy A52 5G will run $500 and come to both AT&T and T-Mobile (including Metro). New is the Galaxy A42 5G, which is similar to the A32 5G but adds mmWave 5G for Verizon. It also swaps the 90 Hz LCD display for a 60 Hz Super AMOLED display, switches to an in-display (optical) fingerprint reader, and has double the storage at 128 GB. Most other keys specs are identical to the A32 5G. The A42 has a unique design on the back divided into four equal parts. Verizon starts selling the Galaxy A42 5G tomorrow for $400. All three 5G models will be available by the end of this week. The two more affordable 4G models are the A12 and A02s. We reported on the Galaxy A12 for AT&T on Monday. That model will also come to T-Mobile this week, and Verizon on April 29th. The most affordable model is the new Galaxy A02s (shown), "starting at" $110, although Verizon will sell it for $150 and T-Mobile says "Stay tuned for pricing details." The A02s has the same 6.5-inch HD display and huge 5,000 mAh battery as the A12, but with expected cost-trimming on the cameras (13 megapixel main and no wide-angle), processor (Snapdragon 450), and RAM (2 GB instead of 3). The A02s also loses NFC and the fingerprint reader, but keeps 15W fast charging, USB-C, memory card slot, and the headset jack. The A02s is distinguished by its textured design on the back, divided into sections diagonally. Verizon starts selling the A02s on April 29th; T-Mobile has yet to announce a launch date.
MVNO US Mobile today launched a special promo offering 50% off its plans for one year (up to a maximum of $250 saved for the whole year) when new customers activate a OnePlus 9 or OnePlus 9 Pro. US Mobile offers service on both the Verizon and T-Mobile networks, but this offer applies to customers signing up for the Verizon network, which US Mobile refers to as its "Super LTE network". US Mobile offers unlimited plans starting at $45/month for one line, or as low as $25/line for multiple lines. Non-unlimited plans range from $12/month for 1 GB of data to $30/month for 30 GB of data (all include unlimited talk and text). Prices do not include taxes and fees. All US Mobile plans include free access to 5G with compatible phones.
Bullitt Group today announced the CAT S62 Pro, the latest in its line of ruggedized phones for field professionals. The company is releasing the US version today, which has excellent support for T-Mobile and Verizon 4G networks, and will also work on AT&T. The S62 Pro is the third CAT-branded phone to feature a FLIR thermal imager, and sports the most advanced thermal sensor in a phone to date with full-HD+ resolution, a high-end spec for this type of sensor. It's also the first CAT+FLIR phone with a sleeker design instead of the odd hump hat extended from the top of the S60 and S61. The camera software includes FLIR's newest algorithms for combining thermal and visible imaging in real time, with several options and adjustable intensity. The software also includes new "analytic and reporting features typically found in higher end, dedicated thermal imaging products", including the ability to generate PDF reports of thermal conditions. The phone is also rated IP68 & IP69 for water and dust, as well as MIL-SPEC for thermal shock, high & low temps, vibration, humidity, and salt mist. It's fully washable with soap. The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 6 and works with gloves and wet fingers. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage (which is expandable). Other specs include a 5.7-inch FHD+ LCD display, 12 megapixel main camera, 4,000 mAh battery, and Quick Charge 4. Other features include 4K video capture, Android 10, NFC, fingerprint reader, and LED notification light. Bullitt promises an update to Android 11 and three years of security updates. The CAT S62 Pro is available today starting today for $699 unlocked.
Verizon this week announced that it will finally shut down "the last of" its legacy 3G CDMA network on December 31, 2022. Verizon has set and extended the date several times already, but now promises that "The date will not be extended again." Verizon started preparing for this transition many years ago, requiring that all new phones (including basic feature phones) support 4G LTE and VoLTE. Newer Verizon phones do not even support CDMA, and Verizon stopped activating new CDMA devices starting in 2018. Verizon says that less than 1% of its customers still access the CDMA network. Verizon is urging customers still using CDMA devices to upgrade as soon as possible, saying they may "experience a degradation or complete loss of service" "as we move closer to the shut off date" and the company "will only be able to offer extremely limited troubleshooting help on these older devices." The move is necessary in order to free up radio spectrum for more-efficient technologies such as 4G LTE and 5G NR, which means better service to customers using those new technologies (which is over 99% of Verizon customers).
OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, its newest flagship phones. The 9 Pro is a true flagship-class phone with a QHD AMOLED display with variable refresh from 1 to 120 Hz, and IP68 water rating, starting at $969. The standard OnePlus 9 is priced more like an "affordable flagship" at $729, but keeps many high-end specs like a Snapdragon 888 chip, 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, 120 Hz display, and wireless charging. Both models include "Hasselblad Camera for Mobile", which tunes the coloring of photos in auto mode "to bring more perceptually accurate and natural-looking colors to photos". The phones also include a Hasselblad Pro Mode, optimized for professionals who prefer to capture in 12-bit RAW for post-processing. OnePlus and Hasselblad have established a long-term partnership that will extend to phone sensors and optics in the future.
- The OnePlus 9 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, sub-6 GHz 5G (including the forthcoming C-band), 8–12 GB LPDDR5 RAM, 128–256 GB UFS 3.1 storage, 4,500 mAh battery, Warp Charge 65T fast charging, 15W Qi wireless charging, 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh and HDR10+, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2. Its main camera is 48 megapixel and can capture 8K video. A wide-angle camera clocks in at 50 megapixel and has a "Freeform" lens that reduces edge distortion. The wide camera doubles as a high-quality macro camera, and the camera app has a new Tilt-Shift mode. There's also an extra monochrome camera and a 16 megapixel front camera. Other features include Android 11, OnePlus' signature sliding alert switch, stereo speakers, NFC, and an in-display fingerprint reader. The lightweight frame is made from fiberglass-reinforced polymer. In the US, it will be available in two glossy finishes: Winter Mist (purple) or Astral Black. The base version is 8 / 128 GB for $729, with the 12 / 256 GB model going for $829 (in black only).
- The OnePlus 9 Pro builds on the standard model with numerous upgrades, including mmWave 5G, IP68 water resistance rating, aluminum frame, and 50W fast wireless charging. Battery and memory specs are the same. The display is slightly larger at 6.7 inches and has been upgraded with QHD+ resolution and curved sides. The display also features "Fluid Display 2.0", which automatically adjusts the refresh rate as needed from 120 Hz all the way down to 1 Hz, which saves battery life. This is made possible by an AMOLED display panel with a low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) backplane layer. The phone senses ambient light from both the front and back, to automatically adjust both brightness and color temperature of the display. As for cameras, the main 48-megapixel sensor has been upgraded to a custom-designed IMX789 sensor, co-developed with Sony, with OIS. The 50-megapixel wide camera is the same, but a 3.3x telephoto camera has been added, with 8 megapixel resolution and OIS. The Pro also adds laser focusing and an extra microphone for audio zoom when recording video. The OnePlus 9 Pro be available in glossy Morning Mist (silver) with 8 / 128 GB for $969. The step-up 12 / 256 GB version will run $1,069 and come in Morning Mist or matte Pine Green.
Verizon this week told investors what it plans to do with the C-band radio spectrum it purchased for $45 billion in a recent FCC auction. The company will use it to deploy mid-band 5G, filling a crucial gap in the company's 5G network. Currently, Verizon offers low-band 5G with broad coverage but data performance barely better (and sometimes worse) than 4G. This is available to all customers at no extra charge. Verizon also offers "Ultra Wideband" 5G service using mmWave frequencies. This offers very fast data rates but very limited coverage. Verizon only offers Ultra Wideband to customers on pricier unlimited plans, excluding those on metered plans or the basic Start Unlimited plan. The new C-band 5G service should offer a better balance of coverage and data speeds. Verizon told investors that it will treat the new mid-band 5G service the same as its mmWave Ultra Wideband service, restricting access to customers on premium plans. Verizon also stated that all new phones it launches going forward will support C-band (band 77). The company plans to spend $10 billion over the next three years on the physical infrastructure to add C-band 5G to its network.
Kyocera's ultra-rugged 5G phone, the DuraForce Ultra, is now available from Verizon for $900. The phone was announced two months ago and combines high-end specs with a body that's durable, washable, and certified for hazardous locations.
The FCC today announced the winners of Auction 107 for radio frequency licenses in the coveted "C-Band". Verizon spent $45.5 billion, well over half the $81.1 billion total spent in the whole auction. All major US carriers spent large amounts, with AT&T spending $23.4 billion, T-Mobile spending $9.3 billion, and US Cellular spending $1.3 billion. Auction 107 is for radio frequencies spanning 3.7 to 3.98 GHz. This band is unusually large at 280 MHz wide, giving it valuable high capacity for many users and/or fast data speeds. Spectrum in these "mid-band" frequencies is also valuable because it's ideal for building 5G networks that offer a good balance of fast data speeds and broad coverage. Most current 5G networks in the US offer only fast speeds or broad coverage, an issue that is particularly acute for Verizon at the moment. Auction 107 is likely to be the largest and most important of several C-band auctions the FCC is holding. Auction 105 was the first, though it raised only $4.6 billion. The next will be Auction 110, for 3.45 – 3.55 GHz. The FCC finalized its proposed rules for that auction earlier this week.
Google Fi and Verizon Prepaid recently launched new introductory deals for new customers / added lines. Verizon Prepaid is offering the third month of service for free, while Google is offering half off the first three months of service. Verizon also offers "loyalty" discounts that kick in starting on the fourth month.
Visible just launched a variety of new service offerings and revamped plans. Customers with compatible phones can now access Verizon's 5G network at no extra cost. The company's unlimited voice service now includes calling to Canada, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Visible also now supports phone activation via eSIM on iPhones launched in 2018 (Xs and Xr) and newer, "with Android devices coming soon". Finally, the company has tweaked its Party Pay plans and added a referral program. Whereas Party Pay shared plans were previously capped at four people, they are now unlimited, with groups of four or more paying $25/month each. The company has also launched a community forum to help people find Party Pay groups to join. (The company does not require that groups be related, and in fact nearly one third of all customers using Party Pay are in a group with someone they don't know.) The referral program reduces your bill to $5 the month after you refer a new customer.
Motorola and Verizon are running a Valentine's Day sale offering a $500 discount on the flex-screen razr (2019) and the 5G edge+. Both are normally priced at $1000, so the discount cuts the price in half, to just $500. That is, by far, the lowest price for a foldable phone to date. This discount is available to both new and existing customers, and does not require a new line nor trade-in, but it does require a "select unlimited plan" and is only available online. The sale started February 4th and runs through February 14th. Further discounts can lower the price to zero with an eligible phone trade-in. The companies are also offering a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) deal on the edge+ "with new line activation and premium unlimited plan."
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority today announced the completion of its project to offer cellular service in all 100 miles of underground tunnels and stations in the Washington, D.C. Metrorail system. Passengers can now receive uninterrupted AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon service on their phones throughout their entire journey. The project was mandated in a bill passed by Congress in 2008.
Sony today launched the Xperia Pro, a $2,500 phone designed specifically for video and photo professionals. The Xperia Pro has four mmWave 5G antennas for reliable connection to Verizon's Ultra Wideband 5G network (where available). This enables live broadcast of video and speedy upload of photos. It has unique wired input capabilities — including micro-HDMI — allowing it to connect directly to professional video and still cameras. The phone also comes with an External Monitor app for use with professional cameras. A "Network Visualizer" feature helps users find the strongest 5G signal for solid live video transmissions. The Xperia Pro was first announced last February. Since then, the specs have been boosted from 8 to 12 of RAM. Other specs are as initially announced, including 512 GB storage, memory card slot, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, 4,000 mAh battery, and a 6.5-inch OLED display with HDR and unique 1644 x 3840 pixel resolution. Its built-in triple rear cameras are all 12 megapixel and include standard, telephotos, and wide lenses, aided by "3D iToF" and RGB-IR color sensors. Additional features include water resistance, NFC, Wi-Fi 6, fast charging, and front-facing stereo speakers. It's available starting today from B&H Photo.
Kyocera today announced the DuraForce Ultra 5G UW, Kyocera's first 5G phone for the US and the first ultra-rugged phone in Verizon's 5G phone lineup. This ultra-rugged is certified military standard 810H to withstand drops of up to 5 feet directly onto concrete, water immersion (IPX6/IPX8), dust (IP6X), extreme temperatures, salt, fog, solar, shock, hazardous work environments and more. It's also fully washable and certified for Class I, Division 2 hazardous locations. Kyocera put its "virtually scratchproof" Sapphire Shield protection on both the display and camera lenses. It has a 24 megapixel main camera, 16 megapixel wide-angle (117º) camera, and an 8 megapixel front camera. It also has a ToF camera for fast auto-focus and advanced AR. The main camera supports pixel binning in low light, there's a multi-frame Super Night Vision mode, and an underwater mode. An Action Overlay "provides outdoor enthusiasts the ability to add elapsed time, distance, speed, G-force, altitude, date/time and map of route traveled to photos and videos". Dual front speakers provide 106dB of speakerphone and PTT volume for loud environments. The DuraForce Ultra also supports 802.11mc indoor positioning, CBRS, and Mission-Critical PTT (MCPTT). Other specs include a 4,500 battery, wireless charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 5.45-inch full-HD display that works with gloves and when wet, fingerprint reader on the side, and a 3.5mm jack that supports stereo audio and PTT controls. Pricing will be announced when it launches on Verizon, which will be "very soon", according to Kyocera.
Motorola today unveiled a full lineup of four new affordable phones, including three g-series models ranging from $169 – $299 and one 5G model for $399. All four feature large batteries (4,000 – 5,000 mAh) and large displays (6.5 – 6.8 inches). All four also include a fingerprint reader, multiple cameras, headset jack, memory card slot, USB-C connector, and a "water-repellant design" that protects against accidental spills, splashes, sweat, or light rain. They ship with Android 10 and Motorola promises one full OS version update plus two years of security updates. Moto's latest camera app supports AI scene detection and optimization, Google Lens, portrait mode, RAW format, Active Photos, Auto Smile Capture, Gesture Selfie, time-lapse, and slow-motion on all models. All four also support gestures such as Lift to unlock, Flip for DND (Do Not Disturb), Pick up to silence, and Fast flashlight, where a quick double-chop motion turns the flashlight on or off. All four phones will be available unlocked as well as from many US carriers.
- moto g play (2021): The most affordable at $170, this phone has a 6.5-inch HD display with notch, huge 5,000 mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 chipset, 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB built-in storage. Its primary 13 megapixel camera is assisted by a depth camera for portrait mode, and the front camera is 5 megapixel. It also has 10W fast charging. The new moto g play will be offered in the coming months by AT&T, Cricket, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Republic Wireless, Verizon, and Xfinity Mobile.
- moto g power (2021): Upgrades compared to the g play include: Snapdragon 662 chipset, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, up to 15W fast charging, "48 megapixel" main camera that outputs 12-megapixel photos using pixel binning, 2-megapixel macro camera, and an 8-megapixel front camera. The upgraded main camera enables a Night Vision mode and better low-light performance in general. The camera app also gains Cinemagraph mode, Group Selfie, and Spot Color for video. The fingerprint reader moves to the side and the display is slightly larger at 6.6 inches, with a corner hole-punch design. This new moto g power will sell for $250, although Best Buy will sell a variant with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage for $200. It will also come to Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Republic Wireless, US Cellular, Verizon, and Xfinity Mobile in the coming months.
- moto g stylus (2021): This model adds a stylus that stows in the bottom-right of the phone. It comes with two special apps: Moto Note and Coloring Book. The stylus also offers system-wide shortcuts and works with third-party apps. This is the only model of the four to come with a smaller 4,000 mAh battery, which Motorola says was necessary to make room for the stylus. It has several spec upgrades compared to the g power, including a larger 6.8-inch display with full-HD resolution, Snapdragon 678 chipset, 128 GB storage, 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, 16 megapixel selfie camera, and 4K video capture. It will sell for $300 unlocked. Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, and Republic Wireless will also offer it in the coming months.
- Motorola one 5G ace: Combines the best of the g power and g stylus specs (minus the stylus) while adding 5G (sub-6 GHz only) thanks to its Snapdragon 750G chipset. Other upgrades include 6 GB RAM, NFC, and an official IP rating for water resistance: IP54 for the T-Mobile version and IP52 for other versions. The display measures 6.7 inches with a centered hole-punch design, and the fingerprint reader is located on the back. It will run $400 unlocked. AT&T, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Republic Wireless, Verizon, and Xfinity Mobile will also offer it in the coming months.